5 ways to liven up canned cranberries for Thanksgiving

Maybe mom never liked cranberries. Growing up in the 1960s and '70s, canned cranberries wobbled their way to our Thanksgiving table in their most basic form: jellied, straight out of the can and sliced, ring imprints from the can and all. Mom was a fairly creative cook, so I'm surprised she would serve the cranberries unadorned at such a special meal. Needless to say, this presentation never persuaded me to touch jellied cranberries as a child. But like most adults, my tastes became more sophisticated and I developed a love of cranberries. Today I wouldn't dream of taking a bite of turkey without some cranberries along with it. Luckily, I have learned that canned cranberries don't have to mean a jellied block of fruit tattooed with ring imprints from the can. If I don't make cranberry relish from scratch, I like to at least liven up a can of the whole berry sauce with some extra ingredients. Here are a few suggestions for ways to embellish the canned cranberry, all with easy mix-ins that can be made ahead of time. Each recipe begins with a can of whole berry cranberry sauce.

Cranberry Orange Relish

The tastes of orange and cranberry are a natural, refreshing and lively blend. Start with a can of cranberry sauce made from whole berries to make this easy and delicious relish. I like it on turkey sandwiches the day after Thanksgiving.

1 14 oz. can whole berry cranberry sauce

½ to ¾ cup orange marmalade

½ cup dark brown sugar

Heat cranberries in a saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and stir in marmalade to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Zesty Cranberries and Orange Juice

Here's a simple way to liven up your canned berries with a couple of fresh oranges. Add a wedge of orange peel as garnish to pep up your presentation.

1 14 oz. can whole berry cranberry sauce

Juice and zest of two fresh oranges

Juice two fresh oranges. Heat cranberries in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add orange juice as well as zest from oranges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cranberries And Cinnamon

This is a simple and straightforward way to embellish your cranberry side dish when you're running short on time.

1 14 oz. can whole berry cranberry sauce

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Fresh cinnamon sticks

Heat cranberries in a saucepan over medium heat. Add cinnamon. Remove from heat and serve warm or at room temperature. Add whole cinnamon sticks as garnish to your sauce.

Cranberry Apple Relish

Add a little texture and tang to your cranberries with Granny Smith apples.

1 14 oz. can whole berry cranberry sauce

1 ½ cups chopped and peeled Granny Smith apples

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Chop and peel 1-½ cups of Granny Smith apples. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thick, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool completely.

Cranberry Sauce with Bacon, Walnuts and Gorgonzola

I love the combination of sweet and savory with the addition of bacon, cheese and pepper to cranberry sauce.

4 pieces microwaveable, ready-to-serve bacon, crumbled

1 handful of walnuts

2 oz. crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

Pepper

1 14 oz. can whole berry cranberry sauce

Mix all ingredients in a medium saucepan until warm. Serve.

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