Leftover Cranberry Sauce?

Today’s formula presents a way to use up another popular holiday meal leftover: cranberry sauce. I don’t write “popular” because most people love it…It’s just incredibly common around the Thanksgiving table and you either love it or hate it. Chances are, there will be leftovers.

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What better way to breathe new life into tired cranberry sauce than to make it into a not-too-sweet dessert. If you forewent this loved and loathed preserve-like holiday side dish, you could use jam (check out my jam formula). We will be dolloping our fruit filling into a thumbprint cookie base.

Before adding the cranberry sauce (or jam), you will have the opportunity to garnish your thumbprint dough. Today, I’m using unsweetened shredded coconut. To me, the shreds aren’t overwhelming in coconut flavor and add a nice bit of texture. Shredded coconut is also high in fiber, manganese, and copper, so there’s that, too. 🙂

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Another wonder food that I’m including in my thumbprint cookies is sunflower butter. Sunflower seeds are most definitely a super food and excellent source of protein, folate, vitamin E, and selenium. Sunflower butter is more of a blank slate than say, peanut butter, which has a very distinctive flavor. Thus, I can use it in an application like this one or to make a creamy salad dressing without overpowering the other flavors.

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Whenever possible, look for nut and seed butters that contain only raw nuts. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find raw sunflower butter and this one also contains salt, so I am choosing not to add salt to the cookie dough. Use your judgement to keep dessert as healthy—or at least, as minimally unhealthy—as possible. Enjoy!

FORMULA BASE: THUMBPRINT COOKIES

Makes 24-28 cookies

  • 2 cups flour –> I’m using whole wheat.
  • ¾ cup homemade preserves (jam, cranberry sauce, etc.)* –> I’m using cranberry orange sauce.
  • ½ cup nut/seed butter –> I’m using sunflower.
  • ½ cup liquid sweetener –> I’m using agave syrup.
  • ¼ cup unsweetened, unflavored plant milk –> I’m using almond.
  • 2 tbsps chia or ground flax seeds –> I’m using chia.
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½-1 tsp extract (amount depends on flavor intensity) –> I’m using ½ tsp almond.
  • ¼ tsp pink Himalayan sea salt (optional) –> I’m not using any.
  • 2-4 tbsps garnish (cocoa powder, raw nuts/seeds, coconut flakes, etc.) (optional) –> I’m using unsweetened shredded coconut.

*Homemade is best so that you can control the quantity and quality of ingredients.

Mix your butter, sweetener, extract, and milk, ideally using an electric stand mixer. Slowly incorporate your dry ingredients until a thick, pliable dough forms.

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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Scoop out a heaping teaspoon of dough and roll into a ball with your hands. Place the ball in the center of your palm and press your thumb into it to create a well for your filling. The “walls” of the well will be approximately ¼ inch high and the well itself about half the height. Gently coat the dough in your garnish, if using.

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Line the wells up on a baking sheet that is lightly greased or lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking pad. The cookies will not expand much, so they can be fairly close together. Dollop approximately a teaspoon of filling into each well. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the edges are crisp and lightly browned.

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Wonderberries Turned Homemade Triple-Berry Jam

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When I updated you on the progress of our garden, I shared a photo of the wonderberries (AKA sunberries) that had mysteriously begun growing there.  By the time we returned from Michigan on Sunday, they were ready to harvest.  Not naturally very sweet, we knew we were going to use them to make jam.

DSC_2065As you know, I’ve been craving peanut butter and jelly this pregnancy.  Between my PB&J smoothie, PB&J atop rice cakes and graham crackers, and good old PB&J sandwiches, I’ve got my cravings covered!  The downside to many jellies and jams, however, is that they are loaded with sugar.  Today, I’m making a triple-berry jam—inspired by our wonderberry harvest—that is low in added sweetener.

First, a few definitions that will help us along the way:

PECTIN:  A natural gelling agent found in the cell walls of plants.  You can purchase pectin in powdered form to make vegan jelly, jam, or jello.  (Gelatin, which is not vegan, comes from animals, and is found in such items as gummy bears and marshmallows.)  This pectin brand is available at Whole Foods.

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JELLY:  A smooth pectin-based mixture that contains fruit juice (or, unfortunately, artificial flavors that mimic real fruit) and no chunks of actual fruit.

JAM:  A less smooth pectin-based mixture that contains mashed, pureed, or whole fruits.

Of course, I am making jam.  As mentioned in a previous post, I try to keep my consumption of juice to a minimum; whole fruits contain more fiber, which aids in preventing the conversion of sugar to fat.  For my sweetener, I’m using light agave syrup, which I first introduced to you with my coleslaw formula.  Compared to many (if not most) store-bought jams, mine contains very little added sugar and no artificial sweeteners of any kind.

I must warn you, despite containing few ingredients, making jam does contain quite of few steps, including several rounds of boiling.  Having a helper in the kitchen makes a big difference, and you can make jam in bulk to save time later on.  🙂  This jam keeps at room temperature for one year, but should be refrigerated and consumed in three weeks once a jar is opened.  Enjoy!

FORMULA BASE:  JAM

Makes 2 small jars or 1 large*

  • 2 cups raw or precooked fruit**  –>  I’m using ½ cup wonderberries, ½ cup raspberries, and 1 cup blackberries.
  • 2 tbsps sweetener  –>  I’m using agave syrup.
  • 1 tsp pectin
  • 1 tsp calcium water (prepare according to package directions)

*You can find mason jars at many retailers including dollar or 99 cent stores.

**A hard fruit like apples will be easier to mash or puree if it has been precooked, but a softer fruit like raspberries will mash easily in a raw state.

Fill a pot with water enough to completely cover your mason jars in standing position and bring to a boil.  Add both the jars and their lids.  After the jars have boiled for a few minutes, turn the heat on low and keep the jars in the hot water.

Next, peel and precook your fruit, if necessary.  Place your raw and/or cooked fruit in a bowl and mash, or, puree in a blender or food processor.

DSC_2072Combine your mashed fruit and calcium water in a pot and bring to a boil.  While you are awaiting the boil, combine your pectin and sweetener in a separate dish.

DSC_2073Add the mixture to the boiling fruit and stir an additional 1-2 minutes, until the pectin is dissolved.  Remove from the heat.

Using tongs, remove your hot jars from the other pot and bring the water to a boil again.  While you are waiting for yet another boil, pour the jam into the jars, approximately ¼ of an inch from the top.  Wipe the rims clean and seal.  Once the water is boiling, submerge the jars in an upright position and boil for 10 minutes.

Use tongs to remove the hot jars and place on the countertop to cool.  Refrigerate once opened.

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