Fun With Holidays


Homemade Gingered Apple Cranberry Sauce Recipe—No Added Sugar!

As far as I know, I invented this tasty cranberry sauce, which takes just a few minutes to put together and about fifteen minutes on the stove.
raw cranberries for homemade cranberry sauce

Gingered Apple Cranberry Sauce

8 oz. fresh cranberries
6 fl. ounces frozen apple juice concentrate (half a can)
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 cinnamon stick (or a couple dashes of ground cinnamon)

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the cranberries break down, about ten or fifteen minutes. If the sauce is too tart for your liking, try adding sugar a tablespoon at a time until it’s sweet enough. Store in the fridge until Thanksgiving dinner, then enjoy!

The Friday Question: What are you (and baby) eating for Thanksgiving?

Tofurky as thanksgiving treatSome of you are opting for a free-range bird while others are looking forward to enjoying a slice of Tofurky.  Maybe you’re skipping any semblance of a turkey and are going for grass fed roast beef or veggie stir fry. And will your baby be dining on breast milk or pureed pumpkin?  (Or both?)

A simply perfect pie crust recipe

This recipe has changed my life.  Before it, I thought that pie crust was one of those incredibly complicated domestic feats that only Martha Stewart disciples should attempt.  Based on my chewy crusts and flour encrusted counters, I was right.

homemade pie crust recipeAfter several pie crust fiascos, I resolved to chuck those pre-made crusts into my cart while feeling pangs of environmental and economic guilt.  Still, there was no way I had the time or expertise to pull off a perfect crust.

Then a friend introduced me to this recipe that cannot be fouled up.  (Believe me, I have tried!)  You can’t overwork, over-mix, or over shape this hearty dough. And although it is incredibly simple, it tastes decadently complicated.  Also, it just happens to be vegan!

For easy clean up, roll it between two sheets of waxed paper.  You’ll have a perfect crust without the mess.

Simple Pie Crust

  • 3 C. flour
  • ¾ C. oil
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • 3/8 C. whole, skim, or soy milk

cinnamon sugar pie crust scraps Blend, form into two equal balls, roll out each ball between sheets of waxed paper.  This recipe will make two pie crusts.

As a child my favorite part of homemade pie crust were the scraps that my mother would sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and bake just for me.  We’ve continued this tradition with my son–which has make him a huge fan of homemade crust as well!

Does anyone else have a favorite crust recipe?  Do you happen to roll out several batches and freeze them between waxed paper?  (I haven’t tried this yet and would love to know if it works!)  Please divulge your pie secrets!

The Friday Question: Are you cutting back on your holiday budget?

simple homemade holiday giftsFor many people who are limiting holiday budgets there may be unexpected benefits.  Maybe we’re more focused on the meaning of the holidays than the commercialism—which is good for the planet and our pocketbooks.  Are you re-prioritizing for the holidays this year?  Are you making more homemade gifts or perhaps embracing a simpler Thanksgiving feast this year?  How has the recession affected your festivities?

Seven Simple, Inexpensive Thanksgiving Centerpiece Ideas

homemade thanksgiving centerpieces use natural itemsWhen the last piece of Halloween candy has been devoured and the sugar high is over, it’s time to look forward to the cozy festivities of Thanksgiving.  If you happen to be preparing the feast this year in addition to being pregnant or the mother of a little one, you may feel oppressive exhaustion just thinking of a centerpiece.

Fear not!  There are several gorgeous things to choose from which are probably laying in your front yard or in the park up the street.  On a brisk autumn walk you and your child can easily gather lovely items to display on Thanksgiving without breaking a sweat.

Here are some of Mother Nature’s offerings that will make for an elegant display:

  1. Fall Leaves: Gather them now and press them between heavy books.  If possible, look for dramatic contrasting colors so that you have a vibrant display.
  2. Mini-pumpkins, gourds and squash: Your local farmers market probably has some beautiful offerings that can be elegantly arranged on your tabletop.  And many of these artistic masterpieces are edible!
  3. Acorns: My three year old son has begun hoarding acorns in his pockets whenever we go to the park.  I didn’t understand his obsession until I looked a bit closer.  These little gems are so elegant!  Sprinkle them across your table runner and then save them for next year.
  4. Candles: For just a buck or two you can enjoy the soft glow of candlelight.  It enhances the mood, makes the food look even more delicious, and totally fascinates the children.  Could it even lead to better table manners?  We can hope…
  5. Potted Plant: Contrasting the shiny green leaves of the plant with your other fall centerpiece items will make for a lovely display of colors.
  6. Pine cones: If you happen to live in a zone full of coniferous trees, gather up a variety of pine cones and display them in all their geometric brilliance.  Days before the event you’ll want to immerse them in a bucket of water with some rocks on top for an hour or so and then dry them.  Otherwise you may have insects exiting the cones and making an entrance during Thanksgiving dinner.  Yuck!
  7. Apples: The bright reds, greens and yellows of this seasonal fruit go perfectly with fall leaves and autumn gourds.  Pick up a pretty array at a farm stand and then sample them in the days after the feast when you’re hungry for something other than bread and potatoes.

Do you have other easy ideas for Thanksgiving centerpieces? Are you in charge of the cooking this year?  Do you have tricks to share with the rest of us? Do tell!