Cranberry Apple Cake

Cranberry Apple Cake

Cranberry Apple Cake

I have always loved cranberries in anything. When I was a kid, my mom always got the canned cranberry sauce during the holidays. You know the kind…. it slithers out of the can with a juicy plopping noise and has ridges on it from the can. I loved it and would eat all of it when no one was looking (sorry, Steve) Know what? I still love it. But even more than that, I love other cranberry filled treats. Every year, I make homemade cranberry sauce (as well as having the plopping canned kind). I love to spice it up with orange zest and spices and use brown sugar instead of (or in conjunction with) white sugar. All of that adds so much depth to the sauce. So, years back, when I saw a recipe for Ina Gartens Easy Cranberry Apple Cake; a saucy fruit bottom covered by a dense cake, in a November issue of “Womans World” (I admit to a strange liking for that magazine even still), I cut that page out and knew I would make it someday.Well, it took me about 6 years or so, but I have finally made it. And, oh……gosh…. I am totally in love!

You all know I don’t rhapsodize over foods that often. I’ll say, “this was wonderful” or even “this was amazing”, but then I leave it at that. But not this time.. This time I am telling you that you have got to make this cake. It looks so simple when you read the recipe and when you see the finished cake…. just a homey little cake. But once you try it, if you have any love for cranberries, you will find yourself planning out how to store many extra bags of cranberries this season so you can continue to have this year round. It is sooooo good! I’ll be making this for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, for groundhog day, for Herbert Hoovers birthday, when the groundhog sees his shadow (or when he doesn’t)  I changed this enough to make it more to my families liking. Not enough to warrant saying it’s no longer Inas recipe, but as uppity as it may sound to some, I honestly feel that what I did only made this better. The original recipe only called for cinnamon (and a fairly scant amount) in the fruit part. I added extra cinnamon, extra orange zest, some cloves and used dark brown sugar. I also used about 1/2 cup more of chopped apples. The cake part was also fairly plain, not that that’s a bad thing. But I added some extra cinnamon to it as well as some orange oil (you could use orange zest if you don’t have orange oil) and extra vanilla and that was enough to make it go from good to “yum!”. The cake is unleavened, so it’s dense like a pound cake. Ina always calls for extra large eggs, which I never have, so when I use one of her baking recipes, I sub in an extra yolk for every two extra large eggs. The sweet, moist cake combined with the sweet tart fruit is amazing. Throw some lightly sweetened whipped cream on it and it takes it totally over the top.

You know the drill…. but I really stress it this time! GIT TO COOKIN’!

Cranberry Apple Cake

  • 1 12 ounce bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped tart apple (it called for peeled, I didn’t bother peeling.)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 eggs, room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled somewhat
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange oil (or 1 tablespoon orange zest)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup flour combined with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a ten inch pie plate, if, like me, you don’t have that, use a DEEP 9 inch cake pan. Not the typical shallow kind but one at least 1 inch deep. Wilton makes them for a good price. You could also probably sub a 13×9 pan, but watch your bake time.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the cranberries, apples, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice,  cinnamon and cloves. Let sit while you make the batter.
  3. In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer on medium, beat the eggs for two minutes. Add in the sugar, butter, vanilla, orange oil (or zest), and sour cream. Beat just until combined.
  4. On low speed, add in the flour mixture. Beat just until combined.
  5. Pour the fruit mixture into the prepared pan. Smooth the top, then pour the batter over the top of the fruit. Smooth again.
  6. Bake at 325 for 55 to 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean and the fruit is bubbly at the edges. Serve warm or at room temp. Then plan on making another. And another.

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Creamy Pumpkin Maple Flan

Creamy Pumpkin Maple Flan

Creamy Pumpkin Maple Flan

Have I ever mentioned that I keep my husband around in spite of some near fatal flaws? Well, if I haven’t… I do. I’m a sweetheart that way. I mean, this is a man who claims to not like doesn’t like sweets and is married to a blogger who makes mainly sweets. he also doesn’t like wings, which I adore, won’t eat mushrooms… which I adore… hates Bleu Cheese…which I adore…prefers white wine whereas I prefer red… and so on. You seeing a pattern here?

But the worst sin of all? He does NOT like desserts that are creamy. Unless they are ice cream, in which case all bets are off. But desserts like this cheesecake flan or this coconut flan tend to fall completely off of his radar. Some weird justification of “I don’t like the texture”. WHAT!?! What’s not to like? Creamy, silky, smooth… did I mention creamy? When I’m not looking, he probably doesn’t enjoy sunsets, pictures of cute kittens and babies or shows like “Little House On The Prairie” either. It’s all been a lie! A lie, I say! *Sobs and goes to eat his share of the flan*

That said, his not liking the type of dessert I most frequently reach for does have its benefits. I get to eat what would have been his.

This is why I keep him.

This flan is so perfectly seasonal. Pumpkin and spices combine with a subtle hint of maple and all of that is based in a creamy, silky smooth flan.  Add in the sweet caramel topping and it’s Heavenly.

You know the drill…. 🙂

Creamy Pumpkin Maple Flan

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (they only come in one size; I believe it is 14 ounces)
  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup maple sugar (you can find this at any well stocked grocery store. I buy mine at Trader Joes)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (canned is fine)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Start a kettle of water to boiling.
  2. Combine the regular sugar and the water in a small pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. When the sugar is dissolved, turn the heat up to a medium high and cook, with NO stirring, until the caramel is a medium brown color, about 10 minutes. Do NOT walk away from this to tend to the kids, vacuum, take a nap, whatever. Stay near it and just work on the rest of the recipe and check it frequently.
  3. When it is ready, pour it onto the bottom of a deep 10 inch round pan that you have placed inside a larger pan. I use a cake pan.
  4. For the flan part,  in a large bowl, combine the cream cheese and maple sugar. Beat well at low speed with a hand mixer. Add in the pumpkin and spices and beat at low speed.  Add in the eggs and the yolks and beat until combined.
  5. Add in the cream and sweetened condensed milk and whisk (trust me… don’t continue to use the beater. Don’t ask how I know these things.) until it is thoroughly combined.
  6. Use a fine mesh strainer and strain this through it into the pan with the caramel. The straining isn’t absolutely necessary but it prevents you from having any fibrous parts in the custard and makes it much smoother.
  7. Carefully place the whole pan into the 300 degree oven. Carefully (again), pour the boiling water into the large pan surrounding the flan, being careful not to splash it into the flan itself. You want it to come about halfway up the side of the cake pan.
  8. Bake for about 60 to 70 minutes or until a butter knife inserted off center comes out clean. The center should still be jiggly, but not loose; rather like when you wiggle set jello.
  9. Cool for about 60 minutes, then put in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours or so.
  10. Place a large plate over the flan and invert it onto the plate.
  11. Serve. Sing my praises.

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Deep Dish Pecan Pie

Deep Dish Pecan Pie

Deep Dish Pecan Pie

I love the whole idea of Thanksgiving. Beyond the obvious loving the meal part (I am a turkey fiend), there is something about the knowledge that on a day when I am sitting down with my family to our Thanksgiving meal, so are millions of other Americans here and abroad. I get a mental image of so many other families saying grace before they eat as they join hands. I think of them laughing as they enjoy the meal, many, just going by odds, laughing over the same lame jokes (oh my gosh, mom burned the pies AGAIN!) at the exact same time. I smile when I think of the kids all over America asking for the 10th time “can we have dessert now?” when all the adults want to do is sit back and catch up with each other over a cup of coffee and a glass of wine. It all gives me chills… the nationwide brotherhood so to speak, the idea that when it comes down to it, we are all one people. I feel the same way at Christmas when I think of so many opening their present early morning as they try not to yawn over the hour (though yes, I know not everyone celebrates Christmas) and on July 4th. So many things join us together as a nation, as a large extended family and Thanksgiving is one of those times.

One of the things I look forward to every year is Pecan Pie. As much as I love it, I can’t seem to bring myself to make it at any other time than Thanksgiving. It just feels wrong. But, so that some of you having a horde of family and/or friends over this Thanksgiving can have a good recipe, I made an exception this year. The things I do for you *she says as she shoves a spoonful of pie into her mouth*. This is a BIG pie. It will easily serve about 12 to 16 people unless you make the slices huge. It’s also not quite as tooth achingly rich as the pecan pie I posted last year. For me, it is a toss up which I prefer. This one is sturdy enough to hold a slice in your hands but it lacks the goopiness of the other. This one isn’t as sweet, but then again, this is ME here… I have no problem with sweet hehe. So what will I do? I’ll make both here. Then I have my sweet gooey pie and my husband has one that’s not as rich, cause he’s a wimp. Either way though, this is fantastic with some lightly whipped cream or as I like it, just with some warm cream poured around it.

You know the drill… 🙂

Deep Dish Pecan Pie

  • Crust-
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons solid shortening, such as Crisco, chilled in freezer and sliced thin
  • 2/3 cup ice water (you may not use it all)
  • Filling-
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup white (clear) corn syrup
  • 1 1/4 cups dark corn syrup
  • 6 eggs, beaten well
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  1. For crust- In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Stir to combine. Dump in the shortening and using a pastry blender, quickly cut the shortening into the flour  until you have a crumbly mixture. You want there to still be some lumps in here, so don’t make it too fine.
  2. Add your ice water, one tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork after each, until a small piece of the dough holds together in a ball when gently squeezed. When the dough is ready, wrap it in foil and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, but up to 2 days if you’re making the dough ahead of time.
  3. While the dough chills, make your filling. In a medium saucepot, combine the sugars and corn syrups. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and let boil for three minutes.  Set aside to cool slightly.
  4. When cooled down, slowly drizzle two cups of the sugar mix into the eggs, whisking all the time. This will temper your eggs and prevent them from scrambling when added to the sugar mix,. When you have whisked in all two cups, then pour the eggs into the saucepot with the sugar mix, again whisking the whole time. Then add in the vanilla and the pecans. Set aside.
  5. Make your crust- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and get out a 13×9 inch baking pan. Flour your working area well. Get the chilled crust, lay down on the work area and press it rather flat with your hands. Then roll out into a rectangle (you may have to help it keep the correct shape by periodically reshaping it as you roll) about 3 inches larger than the pan all around.
  6. Use a spatula to gently pry the dough off of the board or counter and roll it around the rolling pan to transport it to the pan. Gently drape it into the pan and press down into the bottom and edges of the pan. Crimp the top edges as desired.
  7. Pour the filling into the pie shell. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 325 to finish. Remove form the oven when you can insert a butter knife halfway between the edge and the center of the pie and it comes out clean, about 60 to 75 minutes. The pie will finish cooking form it’s own residual heat. Let this cool completely before you try to slice it or you will end up with a liquidy mess. If you want warm slices, simply reheat them in the microwave for about 10 seconds per slice.

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Leftovers? What Leftovers?

Sweet Potato Bread- mashed sweet potatoes, wonderful warm spices, lots of flavor

My household is, in very many ways, a fairly typical American household. In most respects, I’m fine with that; proud of it as a matter of fact. One way I’m not so thrilled however is in the amount of food we tend to waste. Fruits and veggies that go bad before we get to them, meat that gets freezer burned, leftovers that everyone gets sick of and end up getting tossed. It annoys the poop out of me. Which is why, after a day like Thanksgiving, when there are enough leftovers in most families to feed a small country, I like to try to do something with what I can. Something other than serving Russ and the boys turkey and the fixings for yet. One.More.Meal.

Being me however, what really happens is that they get turkey and all the fixings for just one. more. meal. And they cry and gnash their teeth and threaten to move into the neighbors house (and if you’ve seen me talk about my psychotic neighbor, you know the desperation THAT entails). So I placate them. I take the good stuff and recycle it into…well… other good stuff.

There’s a lot you can do with leftover cranberry sauce. A lot you can do with leftover sweet potato casserole. Yep, even with the kind that has 36 cups of brown sugar in it, as well as 8 sticks of butter and 5 bags of mini marshmallows. Trust me. Being the mom of six kids, with the typical “omg, our monthly bills cost HOW much?!” life, I’ve learned to create some yummy stuff out of other stuff that was also yummy once upon a time but that now just causes people to cry when they see it. Mind you, we are also a “normal” American family in that we still spend too much on groceries and still waste too much, but I like to delude myself into thinking that I have a handle on it and am getting better at it. Delusion is also an American way of life hehe.

This bread is a good way to get rid of those last few scoops of sweet potatoes. Don’t bother trying to scrape off the marshmallows (or nuts if you use them) or whatever else is in there. Just use it all. You’ll get a nice moist flavorful bread and a “woohoo!” feeling when you know that you don’t have to nuke the stuff for yet another meal.

Sweet Potato Bread

A nice golden loaf of bread flecked with bits of sweet potato. This will fill your home with the smells of the holiday season as it bakes. Moist and tender, this is great spread with butter or some pumpkin butter if you have it.

  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups (give or take a 1/2 cup or so. I usually go over and it’s fine) mashed sweet potatoes or leftover sweet potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease and flour (I use Bakers Joy) a large 9 (or even a 10 if you have it) inch bread pan and about 3 muffin cups. Yes, 3… this makes too much batter for one loaf, not enough for 2 8 inch loaves so I usually get the 9 inch loaf and a few muffins from it. The muffins become mine because I’m the cook… I think of it as a mom tax 😀
  3. In a large bowl, combine the oil, sugars,  eggs, vanilla extract and sweet potatoes. Mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Dump them into the large bowl and using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, combine just until mixed. Do NOT over beat.
  5. Pour/spoon into the loaf pan and muffin cups.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown and until a skewer inserted in the center comes out with no crumbs on it. This will take about 20 minutes for the muffins and about 65 to 75 minutes for the loaf.
  7. Let cool in the pan for ten minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Try not to cut this until it is completely cool, cause it can be a bit gummy when warm due to the sweet potatoes. When cool however, it is just moist and tender.

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Not Yo Momma’s Cranberry Sauce

When it comes to holiday meals, especially Thanksgiving, I have a hard time choosing what I like best. I’m one of those people who, while I normally have the worlds worst appetite and usually have to be forced to eat (go figure… a food blogger who likes to cook but not to eat), loves Thanksgiving dinner and all the different parts of it. Mind you, I don’t actually EAT much of it the day I cook it because I’m too burnt out from cooking the food. But leftovers and I? We’re BFF’s big time.

When it comes to the poultry, I love all of them…. as I am eating them. I eat roast chicken, it’s my favorite. When I eat roast duck, IT’S my favorite. When I am gnawing on the tail of the turkey (don’t judge… it’s tasty. Plus it makes me smile when I eat it and remember how every year my dad would ask for the tail saying “Hon, save that for me. I’m wanting a little bit of tail right now” followed by a lewd snicker. 😛 ), it becomes my favorite.

When I eat stuffing, I love that even though I don’t eat it much the rest of the year. Stove Top and I are NOT BFF’s and I’m too lazy to make homemade except on Thanksgiving.

I mentioned last post my love for sweet taters buried under a pound or five of mini marshmallows.

Mashed potatoes with approximately 37 sticks of butter in them? Yep… love them too.

But I think my favorite part of the meal may just be the cranberry sauce. I love the stuff. Canned and gelatinous with the ridge marks from the can on it, canned and with whole berries in it, home made and prepared with just berries, sugar and water, turned into chutney (one of my favorite ways of making it)… you name it, I’ll eat it… all of it… growling if you get too close and smacking any appendages that venture too near to my bowl of saucy Heaven.

Though I love it plain, I rarely make it plain. It’s too much fun to play around with the basic recipe. Cranberry sauce takes so well to other flavors. Add different fruits, add spices, extracts, booze, trees, raw offal (just making sure you’re paying attention again) and it tastes delicious. So, being me, aka the woman who can never ever follow a recipe, I never make it the same way twice.

I like to make it a few days ahead of time because it just gets better as the flavors have time to meld. So here’s the one we will be having this Thursday. If you’re wanting something a little different, give it a try. It’s sweet, tart, a little boozy :-P, spicy and just flat out delicious!

Brandy Spiked Spiced Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 12 ounce package fresh cranberries
  • 1 small tangerine, finely ground up in a food processor (peel and all)
  • 1/4 cup (give or take; however much you want to add ) orange marmalade
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brandy (you could sub whiskey or Grand Marnier)
  • 3 tablespoons raspberry vinegar (cider vinegar would work but I’m doing something tomorrow with raspberry vinegar so just go buy some 😛 )
  • 1 5 ounce bag dried cherries
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Mix all ingredients in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan
  2. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat when it boils and continue cooking until the berries pop. If you want a thicker sauce (I like it a little juicy so that when I serve it with turkey, the liquids run into and flavor everything else but I’m weird that way), cook longer until the liquid reduces down some
  3. Chill for at least 4 hours.
  4. Store tightly covered in the fridge until ready to serve. It can be stored for up to 2 weeks or so.

Yes, You MUST Have Marshmallows…



This TASTES 9000 times better than my horrid photo attests to. Like I said, use GOOD quality sweet potatoes, not cheap ones. Mine just looks like a casserole dish of caramel sauce covered in marshmallows lol

When you have sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving, you HAVE to have marshmallows on top of them. I am pretty sure it’s the law in all 50 states as well as 492 small countries, all 7 continents and the planets surrounding Earth (this includes Pluto because it IS a planet darn it no one will ever make me say otherwise!)

Sorry… tangent there. Erhmmmm… where were we? *Rewinds head cassette* Yes btw, my head works on cassette. I’m old. Be glad I don’t rewind my mind via 8 track tape or 78 rpm albums. We’d be here all day. I mean… you DO rewind your brain don’t you? Or am I the only one special enough for that?

I just went into tangent mode again didn’t I? Sigh. Well, we’re used to that, you and I. Aren’t we? I was thinking that….

ARGHHHH!! Marshmallows Janet! Marshmallows!

As I was saying about three pages ago before I got distracted… ooo, shiny things! , marshmallows are the law on top of sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving. If not, there SHOULD be a law and I may just go petition congress on this issue. If for no other reason than they look pretty on top of them, all toasty and gooey. One can never have enough gooey.

I normally make the typical sweet potato casserole on Thanksgiving. You know the one. Brown sugar and butter mixed with either fresh cooked or canned (depends on my time constraints) sweet potatoes, then covered in a bag or so of mini marshmallows. Everyone then eats it and falls immediately into a diabetic coma even if they aren’t diabetics. (And yes, I know sugar doesn’t cause diabetes contrary to popular legend. Literary license here people… if we can call anything I do literary… or even literate.) The only thing I do differently is to add unsweetened crushed pineapple to mine because it adds a nice tart taste and kind of gives it a sweet potato/pineapple upside down cake taste.

But in planning to post that one for you, I came across a recipe for sweet potato casserole that while basically the same, had enough difference to make it worth trying. And it had marshmallows on it! Though I suppose if you are really strange and in massive need of marshmallow haters rehab, you could leave them off.

This has sweet potatoes as well as apples all smothered in a caramelly sauce, then baked and topped with marshmallows. This was really quite good. The apples add that tart flavor that I crave when I eat the very sweet sweet potatoes and marshmallows. The original recipe came from
Just Get off Your Butt And Bake and her photo is much much prettier than mine. The blog is great; go give it a look if you never have! I didn’t change her recipe much at all. Just swapped out cream for some of the water and used some spices in it and also increased it some because I live with gluttonous pigs aka teen males :-P. Otherwise, this is all hers. If you make this, I suggest using a good quality canned sweet potato if using canned. The ones I used were from a low cost chain; the kind that specializes in bulk buy and while the casserole TASTED delicious, the sweet potatoes were so overly processed in the can that they practically dissolved into the casserole as it cooked and it really didn’t have any nice chunks in it. Thus why you are only getting a photo of the casserole as a whole lol; not of individual servings 😛 .

So if you’re wanting something traditional yet not quite, give this a try. Sweet tart apples, tender sweet potatoes, caramel sauce and marshmallows all combine to make this yummy to the max!

Apple & Sweet Potato Casserole

(Covered In Gooey Marshmallows Cause I’m Not A Law Breaker)

  • 3 15 ounce cans sweet potatoes (or about half a dozen fresh ones, cooked, peeled then cut into chunks)
  • 4 tart apples such as Granny Smith, sliced thick (I used an apple corer & didn’t bother peeling them)
  • 2 1/3 cups boiling water
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream (brought to boiling with the water)
  • 1 cup Brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
  • 4 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  1. Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, salt & nutmeg with the cornstarch in a large measuring cup & blend well. Add the water/cream mixture to the sugar.
  2. Mix until well blended. Microwave at full power for about five minutes, taking out and stirring every minute, or until the sauce has thickened and is translucent.
  3. Combine the apples and sweet potatoes in a large greased baking dish (mine is a 2 quart ceramic dish)
  4. Pour the glaze over the yams and the apples.
  5. Bake for 1 hour at 300 degrees, or until the apples are tender.
  6. Sprinkle the marshmallows on top and broil until the yummy marshmallows that are totally legal are nicely browned. Do not NOT use them or I WILL call the law on you.
  7. Eat. Enjoy. Buy more marshmallows.