Happy Solstice! We have all seen the shortening of the days and the longer nights and now can look forward to the daylight growing longer again. I’ve always found it interesting that even though the daylight hours increase, the temperatures decrease. Yet we have found ways to find joy in this time.
We gather together on these long nights to chase away the cold and remember what is important in life. Family, friends and more than anything, good health. As I get on in my years, I am very thankful that I’m pretty healthy. I can breathe easily and have excellent mobility. I have worked in the healthcare field for more than 30 years. I only need see those whose health is not good to know what I have and cherish it.
Eating well is a big part of that. You don’t have to have lot of money to do this. I have taught my sons to cook from basic ingredients, and the value of good food. They both use this site to make meals wherever they live. That is one of the best gifts I’ve ever given and received. They know the value of simple things and how to share them.
Tonight we spend with my family– to be of Good Cheer. We value the food each of us takes the time to prepare. It matters. For a gift of someone’s time is not something you can buy at the store.
I didn’t see this part of my family at Thanksgiving so I am bringing a cranberry dish. Something new for all of us to share. Fresh cranberries with citrus, almonds, coconut and cinnamon. The food tonight is finger food so these Cranberry bars will fit right in.
For the filling:
6 cups of fresh cranberries, divided
1 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (clementine, tangelo, mandarin-are also wonderful choices when available)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup chopped orange (again try clementine, tangelo, mandarin if you can get it)
1 1/2 tsp citrus zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the crust and topping:
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds, divided
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup AP flour
2/3 cup raw sugar
1/2 tsp fine grain salt
5 Tb unsalted butter, separated into patties at room temperature
2 Tbs olive oil (I used a blood orange infused oil)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp orange extract
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup cinnamon chips
First, make your filling. It can cool slightly while you make the crust and topping.
In a medium sauce pan, combine 4 cups of the cranberries, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup of your juice and the cornstarch. Place over a medium low heat and stir occasionally to help the sugar and cornstarch dissolve. Stir frequently once it begins to simmer and thicken (5-10 minutes). Add the remaining cranberries, chopped citrus and zest along with the vanilla extract. Stir well and heat for about another minute. It should be quite thick. Remove from heat and allow to cool while you make the crust/topping.
Preheat your oven to 400 F.
In your food processor, pulse 3/4 cup of the almonds, both flours, sugar and salt until the almonds are in small pieces (mix will feel gritty). Scatter in the butter patties and pulse again to combine. In a small bowl, combine the egg, olive oil, orange and almond extracts. Add this mixture through the processor’s top opening while running. Once completely added, pulse the mixture only until it looks crumbly. Open the processor- mixture should be able to hold together if squeezed.
Remove 1 cup of flour mix and place in a separate medium bowl. Add the remaining sliced almonds, coconut flakes and cinnamon chips. This is your topping. Set aside.
Generously spray a 10×15 inch baking dish with oil. Press remaining crust mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan. Carefully spoon the cranberry filling over the crust. I use smaller spoonfuls to evenly distribute the filling so as to not disturb the bottom crust. Gently spread into an even layer. Sprinkle the topping over the filling.
Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 F and bake until filling is bubbling and topping is lightly browned, approximately 25- 30 minutes longer. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars (several hours). Don’t have that much time? You can serve it like a cobbler! A bit messy-but still so delicious! Enjoy!