Cornbread for Stuffing

Seasoned corn bread - Inhabited KitchenThanksgiving preparation is well underway, here. I don’t have as much precooked as I did a year ago – partly because this year the incapacitating weather is hitting now, but also partly because I am not as incapacitated by it as I was last year… Gradual improvements in my health are high on my list of things for which I am thankful! (If you are wondering, no, that’s not all about the gluten, which does not seem to affect my migraines at all. They had started to improve before I realized that gluten was an issue, and there are some other changes in my life and health.)

But anyhow… I’m still playing around with a first course… A Carnival squash, perhaps with cranberries and pecans? A light soup? Someone commenting on Facebook told me about a wonderful sounding soup she’d made… I don’t want something that hearty fora first course (though I plan to try it another time) but she reminds me that I can make a lovely light soup from onions and beets… both of which I have. (One factor in my planning is that it feels silly to go out and buy vegetables with a kitchen full of vegetables… I want to show thanks for the harvest I already have!)

Anyhow – then perhaps the squash (if we didn’t already eat it,) definitely Brussels sprouts, either sweet potatoes or just possibly garlic mashed (if I start thinking this meal is too orange…) perhaps something with celeriac or kale (which I certainly do have…)

And, oh, yes – the turkey. When I get it ready for the oven, I’ll set the giblets simmering for stock. I plan to make gravy from the drippings – but I have roux cubes on hand, as a fallback… And we’ll have cornbread stuffing.

Seasoned cornbread cooling - www.inhabitedkitchen.comI have made cornbread stuffing before… and we liked it. We enjoy a little sage breakfast sausage, and onions, and other aromatics and seasonings tossed in with the bread. It occurred to me this time that, since I would be making the cornbread specifically for the stuffing, one convenient make ahead would be to bake the aromatics and seasoning right into the bread. I’ll crumble it to let it dry a little on Wednesday – and then all I’ll have to do on Thursday is moisten it with a little chicken stock and a touch of melted butter, and stuff the bird.

I used my corn muffin recipe as the batter. But I decided that, instead of baking it as muffins, I’d bake it in my 10″ cast iron fry pan, to get a nice brown crust. (Now, it is important here to understand that this is not something I’ve routinely done before, and that, for various reasons, we just recently totally re-seasoned the pan – so gluten in the pan is not an issue.) The pan particularly made sense since I’d be sauteing the aromatics before adding them – why not use the same pan?

So, that’s what I did. I made just one 6 muffin recipe worth of stuffing – there are only 2 of us, it won’t be that large a bird, we don’t need much. You may very well want to double the recipe, in which case use a 12″ pan. If you don’t have a cast iron pan, but your frying pan is oven proof – many but not all are – make sure it is good to 400°, and you can use that. Or just use a cake pan – 2 if you double the recipe…

First, preheat the oven to 400.

Sausage and aromatics for cornbread - www.inhabitedkitchen.comI took just a little breakfast sausage – 2 ounces, about enough for one good hearty sausage patty – and crumbled it into the heated pan. I used a pork sausage, but a chicken or turkey one would be fine… even appropriate! And it is optional, if you want to keep some on the side for a vegetarian guest – or for that matter if you want a meatless stuffing for something other than turkey yourself. As it browned, I finely chopped half a medium onion, half a green pepper (you see how easy it will be to double this? I’m really making half a recipe, here…) one rib of celery, and one jalapeno. (I have red fully ripe jalapenos, so used one of them because the color is pretty… but a green one, or any other not too hot pepper would work as well. There’s a little black pepper in the sausage, and I want some zip, but not serious heat.)

After the sausage had started to brown, I added the chopped vegetables and stirred them all around.  I just wanted the vegetables to soften a little, and give up a little moisture – they’re going to be cooked twice more, when I bake the bread and then when I roast the turkey… so I didn’t want them overcooked. I scooped most of them out of the pan, so that I could mix them into the batter – and let them cool a few minutes, so their heat wouldn’t start the batter cooking. Now – I took out most but not all the vegetables – and when you look at the pictures, you will see a few that were on the bottom of the pan are just a little… overbrowned? That’s fine with us – but if you’d rather avoid it, remove all the vegetables and sausage.

I did not drain the fat, as this will grease the pan for the bread – but sausage varies a lot in fat content. Go ahead and drain a little, if it looks too greasy… and conversely, if the pan looks dry, add a touch of oil. You don’t want the bread to stick.

While the vegetables were cooling, I made the muffin batter. Note: I use masa harina to give the muffins a nice tender crumb. If you don’t regularly bake the muffins, you can use just regular cornmeal here, instead of buying a bag of masa harina for 1/4 cup… a little crumbly is fine for stuffing.

Cornbread batter in cast iron pan - www.inhabitedkitchen.comThen set the pan over heat again, and get it hot. (And skip this if you’re using a cake pan… ) Traditionally you put the pan in the oven while it is preheating, but we’re using it here… so it is already pretty hot… and since I’d left some vegetables in it, I didn’t want to burn them, so I didn’t get quite as crisp a crust as I might have. If you’ve chosen to remove all the vegetables, you can get it hotter… Then pour some of the batter into the pan as a base, mix the vegetables quickly into the rest, and pour it in. Put the pan in the oven, and bake for 30 minutes. (If you double the recipe, check at 40 minutes…)

When it was baked, I took it from the oven, and set it to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes. The bread shrinks slightly away from the pan in that time, and it becomes firmer and less likely to break up when you remove it from the pan. Then I loosened the edge with a spatula, and very carefully (remember the pan is still hot!) turned it out onto a cooling rack.Cornbread baked with sausage, onions, and peppers, for stuffing -

It is now in the refrigerator, broken into a few large pieces to make it easier to store (and start it drying a little.) Wednesday – or possibly Thursday morning – I will crumble it into a bowl and proceed from there.

Cornbread for stuffing

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Cornbread for stuffing

Cornbread baked for stuffing with sausage and aromatics baked right in. An easy and traditional, and gluten free, stuffing recipe.


  • 1 recipe corn muffin batter
  • 2 oz sage breakfast sausage
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • Broth to moisten


  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. Break up sausage and saute it in a 10" cast iron or other ovenproof fry pan, until it is starting to brown.
  3. Add the vegetables, and saute them until just softened.
  4. Mix one recipe of corn muffin batter (or your preferred recipe - enough for 6 muffins)
  5. Stir the vegetables into the batter. Heat the pan, then pour the batter into it.
  6. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.
  7. When ready to use, moisten with broth, and stuff your turkey or whatever else.
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Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Gluten free Apple Cinnamon Muffins - www.inhabitedkitchen.comOK, I know I said the gluten free thing isn’t going to affect most of my posts, and here I am writing a pot about gluten free muffins… But the reason I told you all about it last week is precisely that we are coming into the holiday season. People who have no trouble changing what they eat the rest of the year suddenly start to wonder what they will eat for holidays without – you name it – gluten, meat, dairy, sugar, whatever food they are starting to avoid for whatever reason. Because Our Tradition is that we always eat…  stuffing, turkey, cinnamon rolls, hot chocolate…

I think that, in the long run, the easiest thing is to make our own new traditions. No meat? Who needs a turkey, we’ll have a stuffed pumpkin! But sometimes we – or members of our family – need our tradition to at least resemble the one we have followed in the past – hence tofurkey…

apple - www.inhabitedkitchen.comI always wanted something a bit special – but at the same time, fast and easy – for Thanksgiving morning. I want to start the holiday with a feeling of abundance, but I also want to be in the living room watching the Broadway numbers at the parade… Muffins have worked for this, in the past. And I’m pretty well pleased with my corn muffins – but I eat them all the time, now, they’re not special. Besides, I’m going to make a corn bread stuffing… I don’t want to be repetitive. So I decided to make apple cinnamon muffins.

On the other hand, I’m just beginning to learn about gluten free baking… I’ve decided that I will be experimenting with muffins, to get to know some of the properties of the flours. It’s a small batch, if it’s not great it’s also not a fiasco. If I use essentially the same recipe and sub in different flours, it will be easier to compare them.

Now – let me be clear – there are lots of gluten free muffin recipes out there. And I have no doubt that many of them are considerably better than this one… I’m posting this for a couple of reasons.

Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Muffins - www.inhabitedkitchen.comOne is that it really is a pretty nice muffin. I’ve gone through a couple of versions, I solved a problem or two, and I am pleased. Also, if you do eat wheat flour, you can just go ahead and use that, and you’ll have a pretty nice muffin. That won’t be true of some other things I bake in the future – but one reason I’m starting with muffins is that the method doesn’t really change…  (And if you want to try whole grains, but whole wheat is too strong a taste for you – try half whole wheat flour, half millet flour, and see how you like it…)

Another is that this is a marker. A year from now I’ll look back and laugh (I hope,) and know that if I “just tweak this” it will be so much better…  but this way, we all know where I started.

Mixing dry ingredients for muffins - www.inhabitedkitchen.comThe big one, though, is the reason I’m starting from scratch, instead of using the recipes out there. Most recipes and products are, as I said, trying to resemble the taste and behavior of white flour, mixing the whole grain flours with additional starch to replicate the starch content of wheat flour, and so on, and that’s really not what I want. It’s not even the insistence on whole grains, it’s a matter of flavor…  white flour products taste insipid to me, these days. So I’m going to be researching grains and flours, comparing nutritional values for starch and protein, seeing how they taste in the food… and trying to find what I like. And I thought I would share at least some of that process with you – so then you can do what you want with the information, whether you then want my end result or not.

apple cinnamon batter in muffin tin - www.inhabitedkitchen.comSo – anyhow… I’d made a very plain muffin with millet and brown rice flours, as a test of concept, and it worked. Tasted boring… but had good texture and crumb, and seemed a good base for adding flavor. So then I used the same flour blend and tried to make a fancier muffin… I added apple and flavorings. And, for some reason, I thought it would be better if I cut butter in, instead of using oil… and that was a mistake. The first couple of batches I made confused me, as they came out very sandy and gritty – which the original test batch had not. Now, this is one of the reasons people add starch… but I knew I’d had a better result… I finally realized that cutting in the butter, which coats the flour, had actually caused much of the sandy texture – I switched to oil, and it was much better. (Still not perfect… I’ve made the corn muffins cutting butter in, and they worked fine. I’m going to try some other flours…)

Another note – I weighed my flour. I’ve been weighing flour for breadmaking for a couple of years, now, having realized that my own measurements by the cup can vary… if I’m in a hurry, if I’m not paying attention, and so on. Adding it by weight also saves washing measuring cups – always a good point! I’ve been looking at books about baking a lot lately, and several start with “The Right Way” to measure flour – but they have cited different methods. There’s stir and scoop, scoop and sweep, pour and sweep… and they give you different amounts of flour in the same cup, because flour packs down with some methods… Moreover, flours ground from different grains can be finer or coarser, and also vary in measurement…  If I want to be able to substitute one flour for another, weight is the only way to do it accurately.

Mixing liquid ingredients for muffins - www.inhabitedkitchen.comAnd the standard used in weighing for baking is metric. I’ve seen the number 140 g used as a base replacement for one cup of wheat flour (though I’ve also seen charts that assume more or less for wheat flour… here is the problem…)  I’m going to be totally confusing, though, and use weight for flour, and sometimes that and sometimes volume measurements for other things. 5 g of baking powder, say, is about one teaspoon – so I can’t use a teaspoon and a half? But I want to, here! And I still find it easier to just pour a cup of milk… (Though I’m working on a corn muffin mix – and I’m going to make that all weight, to save washing measuring cups on a busy morning…) Sorry, but, right now at least, I’m going to be inconsistent – use what seems to work best in the circumstance.

Anyway… in the end, this is what I did…

Mixing all liquid ingredients for muffins - www.inhabitedkitchen.comI started by heating the oven to 425, and buttering the muffin tin. Then I took my mixing bowl, put in one egg and beat it. Then I mixed in 3/4 of a cup of milk, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of oil. I used canola, you can use whatever neutral oil you prefer.

I put that aside, and placed a smaller bowl on my scale. One convenience to using a good digital kitchen scale is that you can hit the Zero or Tare button, and then it will just weight what you add to it. So I hit zero, then added 100 grams of brown rice flour, hit zero again, and put in another 100 grams of millet flour. (I’m using small scoops that I just leave in my canisters.) Put the scale away, and mixed in 2 teaspoons of  cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and a pinch of salt. I used a clean fork to mix it all very well – I want to be sure the baking powder and cinnamon are well distributed, and doing that should mix the flours well.

Tossing apple pieces in flour mixture - www.inhabitedkitchen.comI put that aside, as well, took a medium sized apple,and peeled, cored, and chopped it. The size of the pieces is a bit tricky… if they are too small, they just melt into the muffin and you barely notice them (though the flavor is there) but if they are bigger you can have a muffin fall apart around one. These were big enough to be noticeable – and I did have some muffins coming apart… make your own choice. I tossed the apple pieces in the flour mixtures so they would not clump when I mixed the batter (which I’d learned in an earlier version…) I cut the apple last so it would not start to brown (also learned…)

Now – most muffin recipes warn you sternly not to overmix – because they don’t want you to waken the gluten and make the muffin tough. Not an issue, here…  However, the baking powder starts to react as soon as it is moist. So, once the apple pieces hit the flour mixture, I moved quickly. (Which seems to have affected the quality of my pictures – sorry about  that…) I tossed the apple around well in the flour, then poured that whole mixture into the liquid mixture, and stirred it until fully blended. (I add the flour to the liquid – not the other way around – as it prevents clumps of flour on the bottom of the bowl…) Then I poured it all into the buttered muffin tin, and popped it into the oven for 20 minutes.

Note: my base muffin recipe is for 6 muffins. I do this because I spent years living alone, and being frustrated that all my recipes made 12 (or even 18!) muffins, using one egg. I wasn’t sure how to divide them, I didn’t want 12 muffins at a time for just me, and I didn’t want to invent recipes, I just wanted a muffin…  Also, sometimes I did just want to bake it in the toaster oven, not heat the big oven… Now, I may, down the road, have other recipes that do work best for a dozen muffins – but I will always come back to the 6 muffin as the basic. If you do want a dozen, this will double nicely. (I’ve made as many as 2 dozen of the corn muffins at once, for a potluck…) As it happens, the amount of egg I use acts as a binder,and probably helps the crumb. I did find the drier bits were still just slightly sandy in texture – I’ll work on that… but most of the muffin was nice and moist, and tender.Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Muffins -


Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 6 muffins

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Gluten free apple cinnamon muffins.


  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 T neutral tasting oil
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 100 g brown rice flour
  • 100 g millet flour
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 apple


  1. Preheat the oven to 425.
  2. Grease a 6 muffin muffin tin.
  3. Beat the egg, milk, oil, and vanilla together in a mixing bowl.
  4. Blend the flours, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt together well.
  5. Peel, core and chop the apple. Toss the apple pieces in the flour mix to coat and separate.
  6. Pour the dry mixture into the wet one, and stir until completely blended. Pour into the prepared muffin tin.
  7. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes.
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A day of mindless meals - www.inhabitedkitchen.comIt’s been a week…

Winter is icumen in, Lhude sing…. well, it’s a poem by Ezra Pound, Ancient Music, and expresses the opinion of most of the USA the last few days… Winter came in very abruptly and very hard.

And weather changes like that are particularly hard on my migraine – I’ve been pretty out of it. So I’m showing you yesterday – because I was in migraine practically the whole day (though not particularly severe ones) but I still got food on the table.

Not Bad at All Muffins - www.inhabitedkitchen.comIt’s funny – because in my last WIAW post I talked about making muffins, I’d specifically intended to show a faster, easier breakfast. 20 minutes for muffins to bake is doable for me, because that puttering around is how I wake up – and I don’t have to be in an office at 8 AM. Some of my work is done at home, and that which I go out to is usually in the afternoons, or even evenings. And I do know people who spend time over breakfast like that while the rest of the family showers and dresses, or because they also want to wake up before driving, or whatever…  but many people certainly cannot.

Now – relatively quick muffins on a weekend are still possible. Or baking them the day before, and just toasting them in the morning (or just tossing them in your bag, and eating them with your coffee at work, instead the over priced, nutritionally dubious ones in the coffee shop.) Or not using them for breakfast, but as a bread with lunch or dinner – I like them with soup, for example… You can still have homemade muffins whatever your schedule is – it’s just that they work for me for breakfast. Usually.

Quick Breakfast - www.inhabitedkitchen.comOr, then again… take a couple of corn tortillas. Heat your fry pan and give each tortilla a minute or so in the pan per side, to warm and soften it. Scramble a couple of eggs. (I tossed in some already cooked sausage crumbles… I might add cheese… I might just have eggs…)  Fold each tortilla around a bit of egg, taco style, and eat… Fastest breakfast I make.

Soup, Muffins, Lunch - www.inhabitedkitchen.comLunch? Well – I had those muffins I’d made the day before…  (Oh, poor me, I’m working on improving a muffin recipe and eating all the failures… isn’t that awful… Not.)  And I had lentil soup I’d made the day before. (Cooked lentils, cooked ground beef, cooked kale – chopped – frozen mirepoix… chicken broth. Oh, cumin.) Heated the soup, toasted the muffins, done.

It's Dinner - www.inhabitedkitchen.comI hadn’t really felt too terribly bad, then, but the afternoon was hard. Rich was out, and I was just pulling myself together a while before he came home (a bit later than usual) for dinner. So – quinoa because it cooks quickly. (No cooked rice! Oh, no! How will I manage? Well… ) Roman beans I’d cooked a couple of days earlier. (I always cook extra beans – I use them in cooking, I eat them for breakfast, I try to always have some cooked beans in the house.) A little of the cooked ground beef. Onion and celery from the freezer. And, yes, commercial frozen mixed vegetables – this is what I have them for… I wasn’t up to dealing with washing and chopping kale, and I didn’t even want to deal with cutting into the cabbage. A bit of cheese on top. Not wonderful, not bad, 15 minutes from when I put the quinoa on, and – dinner. And a glass of seltzer with lemon, instead of the water I drink more often…

Inserting pictures – I notice the cranberry sauce. I still have some. That would have been good with dinner – perked it up a bit. That would have required a brain – I didn’t have one…

But we still ate.

Linking to Jenn at Peas and Crayons




(Not Bad at All) Winter Squash Casserole

Winter Squash Casserole - www.inhabitedkitchen.comI’ve mentioned, I think, that I sometimes work with old and historic recipes for fun. I’ll happily venture into the land of butter the size of an egg (what egg? Small? Jumbo?) and Enough flour (Enough for a batter? A dough? Library paste??) and go ahead and cook something Until Done… I have enough of a clue of what I am doing that I’m not likely to make something truly awful, and I’ve found some gems, whether from my grandmother’s books, or 14th Century manuscripts. (And, without realizing it, I honed my Recipe Development skills doing just that.)

Shortly before I started seeing Rich, I’d worked on, and, I thought, perfected a Jacobean cookie recipe that modestly proclaimed itself to be Excellent. And, indeed, I thought those cookies were. Then, when I first moved here (but had not yet unpacked) someone asked me to make them for a reception – so I happily did – in his kitchen, with his tools. And… the recipe didn’t work. I gave Rich one, and he said it was Not Bad at All… but they were certainly not Excellent.  I tried again, having figured out part of the problem… these were Really Rather Good. (And they were good enough to go to the reception, where people who’d never had the Excellent ones enjoyed them – but those who had eaten them looked… politely bewildered…)

I haven’t tried them since (that was around the time I stopped eating sugar, so I wasn’t spending a lot of energy on perfecting cookie recipes…) but I think I know what the problem was – ambient temperature. And one of these days there will be an entire post about factors we don’t think of, when we wonder why recipes do or do not work…

Butternut squash - www.inhabitedkitchen.comMeanwhile, though, it’s become a family catch phrase. Not Bad at All is perfectly adequate. If I get home late and tired, and sling some food in a pan and call it dinner, it is usually Not Bad at All. It is several steps above merely edible – I’m a good cook – but it is not particularly interesting or exciting, or memorable. (And, realistically, many of the “combine these three precooked ingredients” meals fall into this category.) Perfectly  all right for an ordinary family meal, not something I would serve on a holiday or to guests.

Really Rather Good is a step up. I try to make sure that actual recipes – as opposed to “get food on the table” posts – are at least Really Rather Good. That’s something I make and think “I need to do that again!” As an example, the Not Eggplant Parm was in this category… It was not, in and of itself, an exciting or Excellent dish. I was excited because it was so much less effort than the truly exciting dish of Eggplant Parmigiana… and therefore something I would make more often… Still wouldn’t hit the holiday table, or an elegant dinner party, but might be served in a “have friends over” casual meal, and certainly would be featured for family meals when I wanted something Nice.

I strive, of course, for Excellent. I can’t always get there – if I held out for that on every post I couldn’t write several posts a week. If I were writing a cookbook, now… that would be different – but writing a blog has its own rhythm and requirements. It’s the house band at a bar, not the featured artist at Carnegie Hall… Something presentable every week, and a few real highlights, but not enough time to perfect everything.

A major holiday, though, like Carnegie Hall, really deserves Excellent (though neither always happens, tell the truth… As long as one or two pieces are truly Excellent – say, the Aria and the Turkey – a merely Really Rather Good recitative or sweet potato can be forgiven.) But that means that right now I’m deep in rehearsal recipe testing…

So, anyway, I had this great idea (I thought…) for a winter squash casserole, dressed up a bit. And I have several butternut squash… And thought this might be a nice Thanksgiving dish, and (instead of just waiting for next week) I should make it in time to share it with you.

Beating cooked squash into eggs - www.inhabitedkitchen.comBasically, I had 2 cups of cooked squash, which I’d cooked in the microwave, because that’s easier and faster, if I don’t have the oven on anyway. I wanted to add some substance and flavor… so I stirred it all into 2 beaten eggs, and mixed in 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice mix. (The premade mix is convenient to have on hand, as I can use small amounts when I’m making something for just one or two of us… but you can also use any combination of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and/or allspice that pleases you.)

Coarsely chopped pecans - www.inhabitedkitchen.comThen I stirred in half a cup of cranberries, and 1/4 cup of roughly chopped pecans. Poured it all in my one quart shallow baking dish, and baked it at 350 for half an hour.

And it was perfectly all right… but much less interesting than I had expected. Troubleshooting – the squash might have had more flavor if it had been baked, not microwaved… a pinch of salt might have helped… but otherwise… It’s not going on my Thanksgiving table, and I’m not really suggesting it for yours.

So – why do I write about it? (Because it’s Monday and I need a post…) Because sometimes it is Monday and you need dinner. Because the Monday after Thanksgiving some of you will have half a cooked Hubbard or Long Island Cheese squash (those things are big!) and need some ideas for it. Because it was still a little more interesting than just heating up cooked squash…

Because sometimes All Right really is good enough. Not always, not too often, not for a special meal – but sometimes.

Meanwhile, I continue recipe testing, and hopefully on Friday I’ll have something more… exciting!

(Not Bad at All) Winter Squash Casserole

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

(Not Bad at All) Winter Squash Casserole


  • 2 c cooked winter squash (Butternut, acorn, Hubbard, cheese, whatever you like and have)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix
  • 1/2 cup raw cranberries
  • 1/4 roughly chopped pecans


  1. Beat the eggs in a bowl. Mix the squash into the beaten eggs thoroughly. Beat in the spice mix
  2. More gently, stir in the cranberries and the chopped nuts. Pour into a baking dish.
  3. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
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All Fruit Cranberry Sauce

Sugar Free Cranberry Sauce with apples and currants -

Well, it’s that time of year… The leaves are turning (rather late, here, actually) and falling, friends north of the city are sharing pictures of a dusting of snow, and we describe a 60 degree day as warm, not chilly. We made the last CSA pickup of the season, and it was all winter squash, dark sturdy vegetables like Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale, and root vegetables.

And Thanksgiving Day, here in the US, is less than two weeks away! Time to start planning…

OK, turkey is a given, for us… and yes, a whole bird. Some years I just do a breast, but really, I like having the cooked meat and broth on hand… After that, though, everything is up in the air. Neither of our families really had a Must Serve dish, and we both do like variety. There are commercial gluten free stuffing mixes available, but I’m not going there – I’ll make my own stuffing from either cornbread or rice. (I did a cornbread one about five years ago, in fact, and we liked it.) A rice stuffing would be a variant on the stuffing for the pumpkin - probably skip the lentils, might use wild rice for the nutty, chewy note. Might use nuts, for that matter – I have some pecans, and they’ll get into something…

End of season harvest - www.inhabitedkitchen.comWe have winter squash. I could do a plain baked squash… but I think I’m going to make a casserole of some kind with squash, and perhaps that’s where the pecans will go… Brussels sprouts, certainly – possibly the pan roasted, possibly a less last minute recipe. I’m not actually sure if we’ll have potatoes as well as the stuffing or not… but probably, we always seem to. Soup? Salad? Appetizer? One of the above…

Gravy, of course. I’ll plan to make it from the drippings the way Grandma always did, to get the full turkey flavor – but instead of having packaged gravy as a fallback, as I did last year, I’ll make sure I have some roux cubes, so I’ll be able to use them with my giblet broth, if I don’t feel up to fussing. (And then I don’t have to worry about what it is thickened with…)

I’m not sure yet what I’m doing about dessert. Our own family tradition has been a cranberry apple crisp – I’d made an apple crisp for something else, once, and Rich suggested adding cranberries, and it has morphed from there. But the crisp part is oatmeal, and right now… I’ll hold off on that. I’ll figure something out.

Apples, peeled, quartered and cored - www.inhabitedkitchen.comThat means, though, that I can use apples in my cranberry sauce without it feeling redundant. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t use sugar (or other sweetening – though I certainly do eat fruit) but cranberries need… something…  Now – the point of them in this meal is that the lovely tart taste contrasts well with rich meat and gravy, and sweet squash or yams. The meal can start to get too heavy, and cranberries add sparkle and lighten it up. So I need a balance. Enough  of something else that we can enjoy the tartness of the cranberries without them being too sour to eat.  Last year I made – and we very much enjoyed – my mother’s relish, which was just cranberries and an orange put through a food grinder. But this year I’m not making apple cranberry crisp… so I can use apples… And, years ago I’d made a spiced cranberry sauce, and promptly lost the recipe. It would be much too sweet for me now – as I remember it, the berries were almost candied – but I really liked the spice.

Spiced sugar free cranberry sauce - www.inhabitedkitchen.comI decided to make it almost like a chutney – apples and cranberries, ginger and cloves, and some dried currants (initially because I had currants – raisins would work, but I find I really like the smaller currants, here.) And I added the ingredients in stages. One could just throw everything in together, but I like the texture I got this way – I didn’t want it to feel like cranberry flavored apple sauce, but a real cranberry sauce.

Cooking apples - www.inhabitedkitchen.comI peeled and cut up two large apples, and put them in a small heavy saucepan – if you don’t have one like the enameled cast iron I’m using here, use the heaviest one you have, and keep a close eye on it. I then added 2 T of water, just to make a little steam to start it cooking (the apples release their own juice as they cook,) covered the pan, and put it on a medium heat for a few minutes, to heat up the pan. Then I lowered it as far as I could reliably do so, and let it cook for 20 minutes.

Adding cranberries to apples - www.inhabitedkitchen.comAt that point, the apples were soft, and mushed down when I stirred them. I added 3 whole cloves, and 1/4 teaspoon of ginger. A note on ground ginger… it loses flavor even more quickly than other ground spices. Sniff it to see if it still has flavor – you may need to replace it. If I’d had fresh ginger on hand I might have used it…  but I did not. Anyhow, I added the spices, and stirred them in, then added 1 cup of whole cranberries. Stirred it all well, put the cover back on the pot, and let it cook another 15 minutes.

Second addition of cranberries - www.inhabitedkitchen.comNow, this is the step that makes this sauce a little different. I stirred the pot, as the berries were starting to soften and break. I then added another half cup of berries. Adding the berries in two steps gives a better texture. The first batch melts into the apples, makes the sauce bright red, gives a lovely smoothness to the whole thing. The second batch remains distinct, so it is clearly cranberry sauce, not red mush. And they pop slightly when you eat them, as whole berry sauce should. Cook the sauce, still over low heat, another 15 minutes with the second batch of berries.

Adding currants to cranberry sauce - www.inhabitedkitchen.comAt this point, take the sauce off the heat, and stir in the currants. They will soften and plump in the warm sauce, and add another level of texture, as well as a little more sweetness to balance the cranberries. After it cools, package it and refrigerate it.

The sauce will keep a couple of days, and is best made a day or two ahead, so the flavors will meld. The spice is fairly light – even after a day or so to develop I don’t think it interferes with other seasoning you may use, just adds a little complexity. The sauce has the best flavor at room temperature – put it on the table when you set it, and then it will be out of the way (and you’ll remember it… An unintentional tradition at the table of an aunt, many years ago, was that half way through the meal someone would put the fork down and say “Cranberry sauce??!” and our hostess would leap up and get it… It happened so regularly it had become a family joke.)

Sugar Free cranberry sauce with apples and currants -



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Anyone using Ziplist should have gotten an announcement of this – but I’d hate to have anyone lose a recipe (mine or any other) because they didn’t notice an email… so I’m linking to the FAQ.

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Also – linking to A Mummy Too

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All Fruit Cranberry Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

All Fruit Cranberry Sauce

A delicious sugar free cranberry sauce, made with apples and currants, and delicately spiced. The all fruit cranberry sauce is not too tart, not too sweet.


  • 2 large apples
  • 2 T water
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1/4 t ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 c fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 c dried currants


  1. Peel and core the apples, and cut them into chunks. Place them in a saucepan with the water over very low heat, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.
  2. Stir in the spices, and 1 cup of the cranberries. Cover, and cook another 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in the other half cup of cranberries. Cover and cook again for a final 15 minutes.
  4. Remove pot from heat. Stir in currants, and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate at least a day to let flavors develop.
  5. Serve at room temperature, for best flavor.
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