Dining In

Cranberries for Christmas
By Nancy Finch, Food Columnist

Dining InEat them. Drink them. Sauce them. Salad them. Or, hang them on the Christmas tree!

What could we possibly be talking about but cranberries?

If you eat them as is, you won’t eat more than one. This isn’t like popping a strawberry in your mouth. But, in muffins, bread, juice, sauce — cranberries are not only good, but wonderful for adding color to your plate, your table or your tree.

We’re suggesting some ways to use cranberries to enjoy yourself or for gift giving. Cranberry Vinegar? Well, why not? Raspberry vinaigrette is quite the rage. Give friends a bottle of your own homemade cranberry vinegar and some good olive oil for an easy, and inexpensive, gift combination. Just don’t tell how easy to make cranberry vinegar was.

It may be named "trail mix," but Margarita Cranberry/Peanut Trail Mix is great for gifts or for your holiday party table. Dried cranberries add color and a piquant taste to this distinctive and tasty mix.

And again, for gifts or your own holiday party punch, how about Cranberry Wassail? If you want to go the gift route, use colorful, beribboned mugs with the wassail recipe and packaged spices as part of your gift. For your own party, the cranberry wassail is cheery red, spicy and, if you use the brandy, gives a nice little warming kick for a cold seasonal evening.

And while you’re doing all that cranberrying, let the little ones thread berries on heavy thread for their addition to the tree.

Cranberry Vinegar


bullet2 c white vinegar
bullet2 c fresh or frozen cranberries (8-oz. pkg.)

Directions: Combine vinegar and cranberries in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and boil gently until the cranberries pop. Pour into a glass or plastic container. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 3 days. Put 2 coffee filters in a wire-mesh strainer. Pour into filters, letting vinegar strain into a bowl. Discard cranberries. Pour vinegar into a decorative glass bottle. Store refrigerated up to 3 weeks. Makes 1 3/4 cups.

Cranberry Wassail


bullet1 32-oz. bot. cranberry juice cocktail
bullet11/4 c apple juice
bullet1 T sugar (or more, to taste)
bullet1 3-inch cinnamon stick
bullet1/2 t whole allspice
bullet2 slices orange, garnish
bullet4 whole cloves, garnish
bullet1/2 c brandy, optional

Directions: Combine all ingredients, except garnishes and brandy, in a large saucepan. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Strain punch to remove spices. Place in a heat-proof punch bowl. Stir in brandy. Garnish with orange slices studded with cloves. Makes 10 4-oz. servings.

Margarita Cranberry/Peanut Trail Mix


bullet1/3 c peanut oil
bullet2 T lime juice or tequila
bullet1/4 t cayenne pepper or to taste
bullet3 T dry instant Margarita mix
bullet11/2 c Spanish peanuts
bullet11/2 c cocktail peanuts
bullet3 c crisp corn cereal squares
bullet3 c crisp rice cereal squares
bullet2 c tiny cheese fish crackers
bullet1 c sweetened dried cranberries
bulletSalt to taste

Directions: Heat oven to 250 degrees. Using skillet, heat peanut oil. Stir in tequila or lime juice, cayenne pepper and Margarita mix, mixing well. Add peanuts, stirring until coated. In large roasting pan, combine remaining ingredients, except for dried cranberries. Stir in peanut mixture, coating well. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Stir in dried cranberries. Add salt to taste. Spread on paper towels to cool. Store in airtight containers. Makes 12 cups.


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