Ginger Orange Cranberry Sauce

Fresh Ginger Orange Cranberry Sauce
this is what it looks like when it’s done cooking

Are you in need of a last minute recipe to bring to a thanksgiving potluck? Are you looking for a recipe that spices things up without taking you so far from those learned thanksgiving flavors? Do you just like to read what I type and hear my voice in your head? Then this is the post for you.

So I know we all have a special fondness for the can-shaped blob of cranberry sauce that we crack open and slop into a bowl just before you sit down because you almost forgot about it. Believe me, I get it – I still make stuffing from a box after the teachings of my grandfather. But did you know that fresh cranberry sauce is literally the easiest thing on earth to make? Everything you need to make it sauce is already in the cranberries, so there’s no need for corn starch or other thickeners; just cranberries, sugar, and water. Done. But of course with something this simple, I can’t resist the opportunity to jazz it up just a touch. My secret ingredient? Ginger. Combined with a splash of red wine and fresh orange juice, and will surely put that old jelled can to shame.

A fair warning, you may think this recipe calls for a lot of sugar – not at all. The tartness of cranberries cannot be overstated. Be sure to taste once it’s cooked. Also, I like to puree my sauce as some of the fibers that don’t break down from the cranberries can be a bit unpleasant to eat. Pureeing gets rid of this problem, but if you’re down for chunky rustic sauce, skip the puree and leave it just like the photo.

By the way, remember the post I did on ginger syrup? This would be an excellent opportunity to use it!

Ginger Orange Cranberry Sauce Puree
Pureed.

Ginger Orange Cranberry Sauce – RECIPE PDF

Orange Julius Cocktail

So this is perhaps my favorite culinary concoction from Labor Day weekend – an Orange Julius cocktail. You remember Orange Julius, right? The stands you’d find in malls when you were a teenager serving icy blended drinks that tasted like creamcicles. Perhaps they still exist, but the ones I knew of all closed long ago. I crave that flavor, so we decided to try and recreate it. I remembered Alton Brown had a recipe on his orange show that he called an Orange Delicious (because Orange Julius is a copyrighted name – oops). I used a variation of that recipe as the basis for my drink. Instead of freezing orange juice and using whole milk I used orange sherbet and a bit of heavy cream. Not gonna lie, it’s pretty damn good. We made a pitcher of mix and then allowed everyone to spike their drinks with absolut mandarin as desired.

I never measure anything, but here’s a rough idea:

  • 6 cups of orange juice
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pint orange sherbet
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • zest of 1 orange

Blend it all together, add vodka as desired, and voila. A cool summer cocktail treat. Mmmm!!!

Frozen Mint Lemonade

The obnoxiously hot summer weather has been inspiring me to dream up cold and classy concoctions that won’t empty my bank account. Yes, I know a lot of you live for hot weather, but I would personally take snow over 99 degree weather anyway. But, whatever floats your boat.

Yesterday I was mindlessly wandering around the grocery store (as I often do) when my eye caught a half gallon bottle of Simply Lemonade. Now I have to tell you, I never EVER drink lemonade. Like, ever. But for some reason, the idea of a clean, crisp, cold, citrus drink just sounded really good to me. Maybe the heat is effecting my brain… and apparently making me crave citrus… Anyway, I didn’t want “just” lemonade, I wanted something a bit more substantial. Something with a bit more pizzazz.

I knew I wanted to make it frozen, but throwing juice in a blender with ice cubes just doesn’t really do it for me. The blender I own (a Magic Bullet, thank you very much) is nowhere near powerful enough to adequately pulverize ice to make a homogenous frozen beverage. In fact I would venture to say most home blenders aren’t powerful enough to do that. And you know, even if they were, all it’s going to do in the end is water the drink down. Who wants that? Yes, one could make ice cubes out of the lemonade, but I didn’t really feel like waiting for them to freeze. So, to substitute ice I grabbed a pint of lemon sorbet. Good frozen texture with the taste of lemon built in. Delish.

Now one could easily just blend the lemonade with the sorbet and call it a day. But the starving artist wants to take it a step further. It needs something to give it an extra punch – a totally unique twist: fresh mint. I love fresh mint in any form, particularly in my ice tea. If you’ve never tried it, do it. It adds such an incredible effervescence. Blending it into frozen lemonade makes it a truly heavenly summer drink.

To make it, start with 2 scoops of sorbet, 1 cup of lemonade, and about 6 leaves of mint. I also added in a secret ingredient: I scoop of cool whip. Totally optional, but kind of fun. Makes it kind of like a “lemon julius”. Blend it up really good and see how it is. Too thick, add some more juice. Too thin, more sorbet. So. Effing. Amazing.

Here are some ideas to shake it up even more:

  • Add a few drops of vanilla to make a sort of “lemon julius”
  • Add a handful of fresh or frozen raspberries or blueberries
  • Add a shot (or two) of vodka, perhaps some Absolut Citron, for a lovely adult beverage for your next summer party
  • Instead of lemonade and lemon sorbet, try orange juice and orange sherbet, or perhaps some