the holiday frita

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This week was another for posting at Blog of Funny Names and once again I learned plenty. If you like margaritas, especially of the frozen variety, you’ll want to know who to thank. Click here for the story, then please … Continue reading

muffins with friends

It’s said that friendships are made, but I believe instead that they just happen. There are folks you connect with and those you don’t. The ones you connect with? Definite friend potential. Past membership in a local mom’s club added a few more connections to my life and even though the mom’s club years are behind me, the friendships remain.

One of these friends is a consummate foodie and I was lucky enough to bake with her earlier this week. The night before, we laid plans to make Cranberry Whole-Grain Muffins and I showed up at her house the next moning with cranberries, oats, whole wheat flour, buttermilk powder, and an orange. She furnished the remaining ingredients (including the toasted pecans) and we set about to measure, stir, chop, zest, mix, fill, and bake. The muffins turned out better than I’d imagined–wholesome and healthy, containing no white flour, but also slightly sweet, indulgent, and satisfying. Breakfast and snacktime were made for these muffins. (They were so good we didn’t even bother with the orange juice glaze.)

Better than the muffins themselves, though, was baking with a friend. There was flow in Sarah’s kitchen–we didn’t verbally assign tasks, we just baked. She mixed the butter, eggs, milk; I whisked together the dry ingredients. I chopped cranberries; she filled muffin tins. We enjoyed catching up with each other and somehow baked up an amazing batch of muffins as we chatted. Muffins, bread, scones, pie pops–all have been made while I’ve baked with friends. But the friendships themselves? They’ve just happened.

whole wheat, oats, cranberries, toasted pecans--good for you and pretty, too

Whole wheat, oats, cranberries, toasted pecans–good for you and pretty, too. No glazing necessary!

cranberry cake and butter sauce bliss

Many blogs have featured family holiday traditions of late, and they’ve been great fun to read. A born-and-bred midwesterner, I only have experience with how it’s done in these parts. I’ve enjoyed reading Attempts in Domesticity’s tales of headcheese and pickled herring (neither sounded tasty to me at first, but her posts made me want to at least try these “delicacies”), Canapes and Chocolate’s gorgeous southern-style apps (though C&C writes from Seattle, she seems a gracious southerner at heart:-)), Lilly Sue’s holiday brews, Northern California’s produce, flowers, and sunshine–a far cry from the snow and cold I know in Minnesota–from Putney Farm.

My holiday traditions, though delicious and much-loved, are fairly standard and won’t rock anyone’s culinary world. With one exception: my mother-in-law’s cranberry cake. She’s made it for New Year’s and the occasional holiday celebration since I’ve known her (over 20 years now), but it goes back further than that. The original recipe came from her Favorite Recipes of Home Economics Teachers, Desserts Edition cookbook (circa 1963) and she tells of how she chose this recipe to make for her first Christmas dinner as a young bride. Her lucky dinner guests demanded she continue making it and she’s done so for nearly 50 years. This is my mother-in-law’s signature dessert.

The cake is golden, buttery, and studded with crimson cranberries. It’s a good cake for sure, nearly a pound cake but not quite, but what makes this cake over-the-top sublime and gloriously decadent is the butter sauce. Hoo boy. It contains a million calories a spoonful, I’d imagine, but is so good that this doesn’t seem to matter when presented with a pitcher for pouring. Of course the sauce is dreamy over ice cream–or simply spooned from a jar–as well.

With this cranberry cake recipe, I wish everyone a Happy (and delicious) New Year. Thank you for sharing your traditions with me. I’d love to hear more, so please give me a holler here as a comment or on deLizious’ facebook page.

cranberry cake in the pan

cranberry cake in the pan

cranberry cake and butter sauce--a lovely welcome to a New Year

cranberry cake and butter sauce–a lovely welcome to a New Year

Cranberry Cake


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch loaf pans.

To make cake, in bowl, beat together sugar and butter with electric mixer until light and fluffy. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to butter mixture alternately with milk  just until combined. Stir in cranberries. Divide batter evenly between loaf pans. Bake 35 to 4o minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

To make sauce, in saucepan, combine sugar, butter, and cream. Bring to a gentle boil. Stir in vanilla. Serve alongside cake for pouring. Makes 12 servings.