Cranberry Sauce

FullSizeRenderThanksgiving isn’t the same without cranberry sauce. We didn’t grow up with a sacred family recipe but cranberry sauce was always served with the turkey and it was never from a can. It’s just that one thing you can’t do without, especially for leftovers, which I would argue, are almost as good as the main meal! My mum is actually a really amazing cook and is the queen of adding her own touch to recipes and making them a million times better. You can find my post using mum’s recipe HERE.

I don’t like overly sugary anything but cranberry sauce is one that can get sweet real quick. If you look at the ocean spray recipe, which is the base that everyone seems to use but some people like to add orange zest, currants, cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice as well. There are also many different ways that you can use up extra cranberry sauce if you have any, Besides freezing it, you can make cranberry muffins, use it as a compote on top of brie, make cranberry tarts, oatmeal bars, mix up some cranberry pancakes, add it to your yogurt in thee morning or even make a fruit salsa.

Cooking for Thanksgiving is one of my ultimate favorite cooking times of the entire year! We travel to visit family and usually don’t have the ability to cook for 11 people and we love it! We wind up cooking the entire feast and even with double ovens, a 6 top gas range and not to boast but there is also a warming drawer to use, we are still tight on cooking space. We’re cooking with the kiddies so I made a little update to mom’s recipe and did without the Grand Marnier but I assure you, it’s still completely delicious.

This is one of those dishes, along with stuffing and pies, that can be made ahead of time and is actually almost better when it’s made ahead of time.

Cranberry Sauce
Prep & Cook time: 20 minutes
Yield:  2 1/4 cups

1/2 c sugar
1 c water (can be cut or completely replaced with orange juice)
4 c fresh cranberries (equal to one 12 oz package)

Rinse the cranberries and pick out/discard any damaged or bruised cranberries. In a tall soup pot, bring the water and sugar to a boil, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar.

Add the cranberries to the pot and let them boil for a minute or two. Turn the head down and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until most of the cranberries have burst. You’ll hear them pop, which is why the tall pot comes in handy.

Cranberry Sauce {A Byte of Life}
Cranberry Sauce {A Byte of Life}
Cranberry Sauce {A Byte of Life}
Cranberry Sauce from A Byte of Life blog













Remove the pot from heat and let it cool completely at room temperature. At this point the sauce is done and you can then transfer to a bowl to chill in the refrigerator. Note that the cranberry sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.

Some people like adding raisins or currants, or even blueberries for added sweetness. You can also add holiday spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice.

Mum’s Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce

FullSizeRender (1)Has anyone else just had the realization that Christmas is just one short month away? You can’t miss the signs, decorations are at every turn, the music is in every store. We can’t deny it any longer folks, the holidays are here! Each year I have conversations with friends and family about how we all have so much “stuff” and how hard it is to shop for everyone on the Christmas list. Isn’t there a one stop shop for people that don’t require specific or multiple presents? Yes, it’s called anything homemade. As someone who is obsessed with homemade/DIY and  loves to cook I’ve tried to make the majority of my Christmas presents the past few years and it’s been fun! One year I made scarves for everyone, another year I hand stamped note cards, another year I did cookies in a jar. It gets a little tough around the holidays to devote time to making presents so it’s a great idea to get started thinking about projects like this in October but with the work schedule this year I’ve spent most weekends sleeping, cooking, cleaning or catching up on the ever growing to-do list.

Well, this weekend has been a much needed change of pace lounging in pajamas, sleeping in, leaving the house only to play in the snow, playing games and watching Christmas movies all day long and munching on leftovers. It’s been divine. It’s also given me a bit of time to write which is always relaxing. Our Thanksgiving feast this year was just off the charts amazing, and it was actually pretty manageable, as manageable as an 18 pound turkey and homemade pies can be. I’m usually a protein gal, hands down. First thing on my plate will always be an inhuman amount of whatever protein is served except one amazing day a year that we call Thanksgiving. When my mum’s amazing Thanksgiving stuffing and Cranberry sauce are on the table all bets are off. Turkey is only the transportation vessel for the amazing cranberry sauce to reach my mouth. I talk more about the amazing stuffing in my blog post here but this post is about the cranberry sauce so let’s stay focused.

You can throw it in some toasted quinoa with a slice of turkey for a paleo leftovers snack. Besides using it up in leftovers, there are so many things you can do with this sauce that don’t require turkey. It makes a great spread for a slice of toast, or use it as a compote on some pork chops. You can bake jam filled butter cookies. for a tasty snack. The options are endless!

Mum’s Thanksgiving Cranberry Sauce
Prep Time:      |Cook time:
This recipe is for a single batch, but we usually double it for Thanksgiving 

1 1lb bag of organic fresh cranberries
1 large orange, juiced with some zest
3/4 c organic sugar
1 tbsp Grand Marnier

Place all ingredients in a pot and cook over medium-low heat (you don’t want to burn the sugar) and simmer until you hear the cranberries popping. I like my cranberry sauce a little chunkier so I turn off the heat when about half the cranberries are still in tact but you can cook until all the cranberries are dissolved if you like!

Seasonal Kale Radicchio Salad w/ Poppyseed Dressing

IMG_9897I met this delicious seasonal dish at a baby shower a few weeks ago. Let’s set the stage here; I’m not usually super amazing thrilled baby showers attendee. But, one of my very good girlfriends recently had her first shower and there was a sacred promise that there would be no games, which is a huge plus for encouraging attendance. Little did I know that I would be greeted upon entry with a glass of La Marca Processco (which is my favorite) and ushered into a room of absolutely fantastic gals. With a glass of bubbly in my hand and a smile on my face I was shown to the food table. This, my fine friends, was both a visual and tasty delight! There were numerous quiche options, fresh shrimp with cocktail sauce, three types of homemade mini cupcakes and an absolutely amazing kale radicchio salad which I shamelessly had thirds of.

The bubbly was also flowing, but, that has no correlation to the ‘yum’ factor of this salad. Not only was it visually delightful, but it was so delicious that I had to remind myself I was in public and shoving salad into my mouth as quickly as I could was not socially appropriate. It was tangy, creamy, crunchy, herbaceous, earthy and downright amazing. Three bites in I was begging for the recipe. It was a simple and side dish that is easily transported for events and was SUPER tasty. Had I hit the side-dish mecca? Quite possibly my friends, quite possibly.

salad2For halloween our office did a “Crocktober” and one look at the food sign up sheet had my insides yelling for something even remotely healthy! Someone’s got to make a non-crockpot dish to balance this whole situation out right!? So, when asked to sign up for a dish to share I decided that there needed to be a little balance to the baked goods, 3 types of mac n cheese (including one that boasted being ‘texas style’ which apparently meant extra cheese and cream), pork, meatballs, cookies, brownies and otherwise carbacious cheese covered feast that was about to ensue. This festive gathering needing kale, lots of kale. Good, wholesome tasty kale. There was no other thought in my mind than to debut the kale radicchio salad recipe. If we’re being completely honest, I made this salad for a few reasons; one of preservation so I knew there would be something I would eat there, and I also really needed some motivation to blog this recipe (that a few people have specifically asked for in the past week) and try my hand at homemade poppyseed dressing. Unless I had a deadline of hungry mouths tomorrow and feeling the moral obligation to balance out the cholesterol and sugar levels of the office party, this recipe could have been put off for months.

This recipe is so easy and tasty it’s almost ridiculous. It really highlights the fall and winter seasonal flavors that might not be combined in salad form but are absolutely ridiculously good when combined. This recipe calls for one of my favorite seasonal ingredients, pumpkin seeds. Now, if we want to be fancy we’d call them pepitas instead of pumpkin seeds which has a literal translation of “little seed of a squash”. It’s basically the spanish culinary term for a pumpkin seed. I gave the salad a little upgrade by roasting them with paprika before adding them to the recipe. You can find my recipe for roasted pumpkin seeds here and just sub out the salt for paprika. This is one salad where you can really personalize! Next time I might also roast some delicata squash and add it in, or even pumpkin or butternut squash! 

This salad is really going to be a seasonal staple for us and will be ever evolved. It makes a great simple, quick meal or healthy and tasty potluck dish! It’s super simple to make the night before and combine when you’re ready to serve.  It’s gluten-free, dairy free, nut-free, healthy and easy. Yes PLEASE!



Seasonal Kale Radicchio Salad w/ Poppyseed Dressing

For the Salad
1 head kale, washed, stemmed, massaged and torn into pieces
1 head radicchio, washed and cut and cut in chiffonade
pepitas/ pumpkin seeds
olive oil
dried cranberries
1 small thinly sliced shallot

Poppyseed Dressing
3 tbsp Katz late harvest sauvignon blanc vinegar
2 tbsp local honey
2 tsp dijon mustard
pinch grey salt
pinch fresh cracked pepper
2-3 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 tsp diced shallot

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lay the pepitas out on non-stick foil and spray with olive oil or other high-heat oil. Dust with smoked paprika and toast for 10 minutes, keeping an eye and adjusting time according to how your oven heats. Once they’re done remove from the oven and let cool.


Meanwhile, thoroughly wash and de-stem the kale.IMG_9899IMG_9900

I wash the kale well, and use a large OXO SoftWorks Salad Spinner to dry kale and I absolutely love it! Add a tiny bit of grey salt and massage the kale in the bowl until it reduces in size and turns a darker color.

Grab the radicchio, peel the outer layer, slice in half and core the halves. Pull apart a few layers at a time, fold and chiffonade. The chiffonade technique is basically rolling the leaves and thinly slicing.

Place kale and radicchio in a bowl. Add the toasted pepitas and cranberries to taste.

Place all dressing ingredients in a mason jar and shake to combine.

When you’re ready to serve, add the dressing to the bowl and toss.

Substitute pepitas for walnuts and add goat cheese and parsley with plain oil dressing
Spiced pecans and dried cranberries with a warm bacon vinaigrette
Mandarine oranges with slivered almonds and a sesame vinaigrette
Roast up some delicata squash, butternut squash or pumpkin and throw it in

Garlic Ginger Dipping Sauce

Dinner is served
Dinner is served

Garlic Ginger Dipping Sauce

Yield enough for about 6-8 spring rolls
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced (or 1 1/2 tsp jarred minced garlic)
1- 1 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger (or 1 1/2 tsp dried ginger)
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/3 low sodium soy sauce
1/4  c.rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar works as well)
1/4 c. tsp crushed red pepper flakes ( unless you like it SPICY, stick to this ratio or it might overpower the rolls)
1 tbsp sugar

Combine all ingredients in small pot and cook over low heat until mixture bubbles. Can be stored in airtight container and refrigerated for up to three days after making.

Pairs well with Chicken Spring Rolls or you can marinate chicken in it and bake in the oven or grill!


Pico De Gallo

Pico De Gallo
Pico De Gallo

Pico De Gallo
(Recipe adapted from Food Network)
Yield: 2 cups

4 vine-ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/2 medium white or red onion, chopped
2 green onions, white and green parts, sliced
1 Serrano or Jalapeño chile, minced
fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lime, juiced
Salt, to taste (a little goes a long way)

Wash & prep ingredients. Place in large bowl, toss ingredients together. Cover, place in fridge and let the flavors marinate for at 15 minutes before serving.

Mango Salsa

Fresh Mango Salsa
Fresh Mango Salsa

With the fresh feeling of spring, I trade my winter cravings of spaghetti squash and Ratatouille for the “fresh and light” fare. On Sunday I went over to our Ballard Farmers market and got the tastiest Carne Asada tacos I maybe have ever had! Seriously, I want to huddle in the corner and lick the plate they were THAT good!

Well, that of course challenged the cook in me that said, “Hey, can I make that!?” and off I was planning taco Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday and likely Quesadilla Thursday. Since the Carne Asada steak needed to marinate (that’s for dinner tonight so check back for the recipe) I decided that tonight would be fish tacos.

Menu: Grilled halibut, Grilled Cabbage Slaw & Mango Salsa
Full Menu Prep time: 15 -20 minutes || Full Menu Cook time 20 minutes

This meal is actually pretty quick to make, it’s really just the prep-time that takes little time investment. The Mango salsa and cabbage slaw can be prepared earlier in the day but only take about 15 minutes of cleaning and chopping. Cooking the fish takes about 12 minutes on a pre-heated grill and the cabbage slaw will cook up in a pan on the stove in about  18-20 minutes.  

Mango Salsa

3 Ripe Mangos, Peeled and cubed
1/2 Small White Onion
1/2 – 1 Jalapeño chile, minced (include ribs and seeds for a hotter taste if desired)
Fresh Cilantro, washed and chopped with stems removed
1 Fresh lime, juiced
Cracked Pepper to taste

Wash and prep ingredients then combine in large bowl. Cover and let sit in refrigerator for an hour or over night to let the flavors mix! If the salsa ends up being a little too hot or acidic for your taste, you can temper it by adding some diced avocado.