Tag Archives: dancing with the stars

Cranberries to the Rescue

cranberries in sieve

I wasn’t planning to write about cranberries, but in some weird Thanksgiving cranberry convergence I realized it could be my little present to you. To make things easier during this whirlwind that leads up to Turkey Day, well a bit easier anyway.

It all started on Sunday when I was buying my cranberries. The cashier asked me what I was going to do with them. I thought she was kidding. She wasn’t. “They’re for my cranberry sauce.” I told her. “Oh, you can make that?” I swallowed my snarky retort and nodded my head then told her, “Sure, it takes about 15 minutes.” That was cranberry moment #1.

Cranberry moment #2 happened when I got this message on my cell phone from my friend Hilary this morning.

“I was going to make a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, but then my sister decided to make one. So now I have to make something else, for 8 people, and I’m in a bit of a panic. Do you have a suggestion for what I should make?”

Apple crumble came to mind because it is easy, fast, and you can play with it (or not) depending on your work load and stress level. After describing the varieties of apples to use (I love a mix of Cortland, Mutsu, MacIntosh, Empire, and Northern Spy) then telling her how easy it was to whip together a rolled oat topping Hilary asked if she could throw in some cranberries with the apples. Perfect! A little zing of tart and color.

Cranberry moment #3 happened last week during the semi finals and will be happening again tonight during the finals of Dancing with the Stars, my guilty tv pleasure. I will be enjoying a modified Sea Breeze cocktail made with cranberry juice, gin, and a squeeze of fresh grapefruit as I cheer on my favorite team.

So for all those celebrating Thanksgiving enjoy your cranberries and travel safely.

homemade ginger orange cranberry sauce

Cranberry Sauce

12-16  ounces fresh dry cranberries

1/2  cup sugar

1  orange or 3 clementines

2  quarter size slices of fresh ginger (optional)

1  stick cinnamon

1/4 – 1/3 cup water or white wine

Rinse off the cranberries in a colander and remove and stems or leaves. Halve the orange or clementines and squeeze juice into a medium saucepan. Add cranberries, sugar, cinnamon and ginger, along with the water or wine. Give a quick stir and set over medium low heat. Cook 8-10 minutes, stirring every so often until cranberry sauce reaches a boil. Boil (over low heat) for 2-3 minutes then remove from heat and let cool. When the sauce has cooled a bit take a tiny taste to make sure the tartness is to your taste. If it is too tart add a bit more sugar, the residual heat should melt it in – be careful though because the hot sauce is really hot! When all the way cooled take out the citrus rinds, cinnamon stick, and ginger slices before storing in the fridge until ready to serve. If you leave them in they make the cranberry sauce too intense for my tastes.

Crumble Topping


apples and cranberries ready for crumple topping

Apple Cranberry Crumble

10-15  mixed apples

cinnamon sugar to taste (I use about 1/3 – 1/2 cup mixed with 2-3 teaspoons cinnamon)

lemon zest (optional)

1-2  handfuls of fresh cranberries

giant handful of rolled oats, about 3/4 cup

giant handful of flour, about 3/4 cup

giant handful of brown sugar, about 3/4 cup

6-7 Tablespoons margarine or butter

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

small handful of chopped or slivered nuts, about 1/2 cup (optional)

really small handful chopped candied ginger, about 1/4 cup (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Peel and slice apples, tossing in cinnamon sugar. Mix in cranberries and place all the fruit in a large pie plate, set on top of a jelly roll pan (saves having to clean up oven if anything overflows).

Mix up crumble topping with your fingers by pinching and rubbing ingredients together until it looks like there are small pea size crumbly bits. Pour over fruit and bake 60-70 minutes or until juicy bubbles appear along the edge and the crumble has browned.

Cranberry apple crumble

*Note the addition of cranberries makes this crumble juicier than a straight apple crumble. I like the pink juiciness but if you want toss the apples and cranberries with a heaping Tablespoon of flour.

Cranberry Cocktail

1 part gin

2 parts cranberry juice

1-2 parts fresh grapefruit juice

twist of orange rind

Mix gin, cranberry juice and grapefruit juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Stir or shake until cold, pour into two glasses and serve with orange rind.

I hope you didn’t forget to vote last night, and yes, before you ask those are my very own homemade glittery judging paddles my family made for me. They are by far the most awesome present I ever received.

cranberry grapefruit cocktail

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Glitter with a Kiss

Most people do not know this about me but I have a secret passion for things that glitter and shine. It’s not overt, like my friend Olivia who has her own tiara she wears when she’s at home (which I admire her for). For the most part my penchant for glitter has been something only my closest friends and family knew about, well until now that is. Some of you know that one of my guilty pleasures is watching Dancing with the Stars. For my birthday this year Shawn and the kids made me my own set of vote-at-home glittery paddles, and after six years of watching the show I can predict the judges scores 96% of the time, even if I don’t always agree with them. I may not be able to rumba but I do know which paddle you’ll use Len Goodman!

"home made dancing with the stars paddles"

My own glittery paddles that I vote at home with for Dancing with the Stars

So when I was asked to help with the food for The Academy at Charlemont‘s semi formal this year I decided to add a little sparkle by building another Hershey’s Kiss Chandelier. About twenty-five years ago I had made a chandelier out of Kisses for an Aids benefit auction. The winning bidder donated the chandelier to a local hospice house and when it had been stripped of kisses they gave me back the forms, which have languished in our barn ever since. The Academy is very small so rather than have a senior prom which would consist of 17 kids and their dates, the entire school is invited to “Semi”. Each year the juniors are in charge of decorations and food with the knowledge that A) they will never have to do it again and B) next year’s juniors will do it for them. Normally the refreshments consist of bowls of candy, a few platters of cookies from a box store along with a never-ending supply of punch. While the bottomless bowls of punch seemed like a good idea, the only thing I bought at the local box store were three gigantic bags of milk chocolate kisses.

"Class of 2012 fruit kabobs"

Fruit kabobs stuck into watermelon bases that read “Yay class of 2012”

Parents of 11th graders were willing to contribute platters of delicious home-made food for semi, while a small band of us made over 100 fruit kabobs from watermelons, cantaloupes, honeydew, red & green grapes, and blueberries. The kabobs turned out to be as popular and as thirst quenching as the punch.

"Hershey's Kiss Chandelier"

Hershey’s Kiss Chandelier

The glittery Hershey’s Kiss Chandelier was a recreation of one I had made many years ago. As with many of my projects I didn’t have pictures of the finished product since I typically run so close to my deadlines. My memory was a bit vague about how long the strands of kisses should be or how the kisses had been arranged but I did remember each strand was anchored with a small plastic pearl. I bought some spray paint to spruce up the form and Isabelle invited a few intrepid friends over (thanks Arcadia and Richard) to pull the little white kiss papers out of ten pounds of Hershey kisses. The three of them took turns drilling holes in each de-papered kiss. Then the threading began.

"hershey kiss chandelier prep"

Pulling the papers prior to drilling

"drilling holes one kiss at a time"

Drilling holes, one kiss at a time

For one afternoon Stephen’s mom Heidi came over and helped me wire on glass chandelier pieces that I’d been hoarding for a day when I might need them. Since I anticipated the chandelier being denuded during the dance  I didn’t want it to lose all its sparkle before the dance ended.

"base for hershey's kiss chandelier"

Base with a few real crystals

On the day of the semi I strung kisses along with Vickie and Jackie, two other 11th grade moms. With just a few hours until the dance started the chandelier got packed into my car and off I went to the dance site to set it all up.

"kiss chandelier en route to the dance"

Things got a little dodgy when we realized the chain cutters Shawn had given me were unable to cut the chain we’d brought to string the two levels together with. Either we didn’t have his superhuman strength or we needed a slightly more formidable set of cutters. My two helpers Richard and Patrick were real troopers as we duck taped, sticky puttied, and basically jerry-rigged the chandelier onto a beam (we weren’t allowed to screw in an eye bolt either so we had to use a clamp instead). Finally the chandelier was up and looking very sparkly indeed. A little crocked perhaps, but sparkly nonetheless.

"Hershey Kiss chandelier"

A little crocked from this angle

The dance was wonderful, and I didn’t come home with a single kiss except the one on my cheek from Isabelle.

"Semi 2012"

Thanks again to everyone who helped put the chandelier and all the food together. It was a deliciously rocking semi!

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