Monday, January 9, 2012

Who said cranberry sauce is only for the holidays?!

Okay, okay. I'm not sure if anyone ever said that, but it seems the understood expectation of cranberry sauce is:
1. It must be part of every Thanksgiving spread. 
2. It adds color to the table, but rarely is the entire batch ever eaten. Most people run to the turkey or casseroles. 
 3. It sits in the back of the fridge for a few days, then tossed out because not many people know what else to do with it.
Why is that?! I LOVE cranberry sauce. No, not the congealed kind that flops out of a can. I love the kind my momma makes, with fresh cranberries and hints of orange. Yummy!

Why am I ranting about this, in January? Because I was craving some cranberry sauce yesterday afternoon and I didn't want to wait till Thanksgiving to enjoy some. So I went to Trader Joe's (my new favorite grocery store in Charlotte) and got a bag of fresh cranberries to make some cranberry sauce to accompany dinner.
It wasn't until I returned home, had the berries on the stove top with a cup of sugar and fresh squeezed orange juice that I realized...what the heck and I going to eat with cranberry sauce tonight? I'm not going to roast a 20 lb. turkey. That's stupid. And it also won't fit in my teeny tiny studio apartment oven. (Seriously guys, it rivals an Easy Bake. Bless it.) So I began rummaging around the kitchen to see what I had to put a semi-cohesive meal together for my boyfriend and myself. 

I ended up making one of my favorite meals I've ever made myself. Yes, I think so. Here's the recipe of something I developed and served with turkey meatballs and my cranberry sauce:

Harvest Hash
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
Fresh Sage, chopped. (I used 6 leaves, but can adjust to taste)
2 T. unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Asian pears, cubed
2 apples of your choice, cubed (I used Pink Lady)
1/2 C. crushed walnuts
3 T. molasses 
1 T. honey
1 T. ground cinnamon
3 T. melted unsalted butter
1/2 lb. bacon
Take a saute pan on medium-high heat. Lightly saute sweet potatoes in butter and fresh sage. Salt and pepper to taste. You don't want the sweet potatoes to be completely cooked through, just giving them a head start. Saute for 3 minutes. 
Take a casserole baking dish and place warmed sweet potatoes, cubed pears, apples and crushed walnuts in dish. Stir together. 
In a separate mixing bowl, add molasses, honey and cinnamon. Mix together. Then, while still mixing, slowly pour in melted butter. Mix together till evenly incorporated. Pour sauce over contents of casserole baking dish and stir everything together. 
Cover casserole with aluminum foil and bake on 350 degrees for 30 minutes. (Since I made this with an almost Easy Bake oven, you may have to keep an eye on this and make sure your oven requires a different cooking time. Most likely, it will be less than 30 minutes.) 
While your casserole is baking away, turn on your grill pan and cook up the bacon. When it's to your likeness, crumble or cut up in diced pieces. After your first 30 minutes of baking time for the casserole is completed, remove aluminum foil and add cooked bacon. Stir together and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Serve hot and enjoy!

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