{ five-spice cranberries three ways }

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five-spice cranberries
cranberries + cocktails + appetizer

I like a recipe that will serve multiple purposes. For instance, when I make tri-tip, you can always expect beef tacos the next day. And if it was an especially big tri-tip, than I will roll it into chili and I’ve got three meals under my belt. Boom. These cranberries are just like that. First, they’re a holiday-table condiment. Easy. Done. Second, they’re a cocktail. Yup, throw in some vodka and Cointreau and you’ve just lubed up the party. Lastly, they’re an appetizer that provides a good base for the aforementioned cocktail.

These also appeared on the Sunset Magazine site here and here. Which was exciting! They did change the recipe a bit, below is the recipe as I wrote it…you decide which you prefer. Second note: just a quick aside…it’s no secret I love five-spice powder and I hope you develop a love for it too. There are many things I can’t thank China for…but I will thank it for introducing me to this gorgeous, amazing and versatile deliciousness that is five-spice powder. Lastly, a warning…I like my drinks STRONG. Like my men. You’ve been warned. You’ll all have fun, but the close of the night may be foggy. I’m just sayin’.

Let’s start with the base cranberry recipe and go from there, shall we?


five-spice cranberries


  • 1 2/3 cups ruby Port
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 12-ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon five-spice powder


  • Bring the Port, brown sugar and vinegar to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  • Add the cranberries and cherries, reduce the heat to medium, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes until the berries have popped and the sauce has reduced.
  • Stir in your one teaspoon of five-spice powder and check for flavor. If stronger flavor is desired, throw in a little more.
  • Set aside to cool and you’re done. Best thing to offer to take to Thanksgiving. Ever.
  • These little ditties can be made up to one week ahead.


 five-spice cranberry cocktail

Makes Four Servings


  •  Ice
  • 4 ounces simple syrup (1/2 cup of water, 1/2 cup of sugar, bring to a boil and stir until the sugar dissolves and then chill in the fridge)
  • 8 ounces vodka, that’s been soaking with five-spiced cranberries
  • 4 ounces Cointreau
  • 2 ounces orange juice
  • 12 cranberries, frozen
  • 4 orange zests curls, plus one orange wedge
  • Granulated sugar for dusting the edges of the martini glass

Once the cranberries have cooled, add two cups of the cranberries to 1½ cups of vodka, or more, so that the vodka covers the fruit. Seal tightly and refrigerate for one week.

When you’re ready for drinks, put four martini glass in the freezer to chill for thirty minutes and strain the vodka mixture. Put some sugar on a plate for rimming the martini glasses.

Fill a cocktail shaker half full with ice. Pour in the vodka, Cointreau, orange juice and simple syrup. While we’re at it, why don’t you throw a dollop of the cranberries in there too. Cover with the lid and shake vigorously for fifteen seconds. Rub the orange wedge along the rim of each martini glass and then gently run the rims through the sugar on the plate. Sometimes, if I’m feeling frisky, at this point I’ll put a tablespoon of the reserved five-spice cranberry sauce directly in the bottom of each martini glass.

Strain the martini mixture into chilled glasses, dividing the liquid evenly. Float four cranberries and an orange wedge in each glass. Don’t forget an orange curly zesty thingy if you’re feeling it. Serve immediately.

cranberry goat cheese crostini

Serves?? …depends on the crowd. Ten of my family members would devour this like a pack of wolves. Use that as your guide. ;)


  • Five-spice cranberry sauce (recipe above)
  • 8 ounces goat cheese
  • Handful of fresh thyme, finely minced
  • 1 1-pound loaf ciabatta bread cut into 14, half-inch thick, slices (I used baguette for the photo opp…pick you’re favorite)
  • Olive oil, for brushing on toasts


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place bread slices on a single layer on a baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, rub olive oil on the tops. Bake until lightly golden, about ten minutes.
  2. When the toasts are out of the oven spread each with a layer of goat cheese. Top with a tablespoon each of the cranberry sauce. Dust with a light sprinkling of the minced thyme. Serve immediately.

I love a condiment that I can use in many, many different ways. It’s a cocktail. It’s an appetizer, it’s a bird, an airplane. I really believe I’ve only scratched the surface of what this recipe can do. Jelly donut filling? I’m just saying. So when someone asks what you want to bring? Without haste, say cranberries. Feeling frisky? Say the appetizer. Want to make sure everyone gets their swerve on? Bring the cocktail of the night: five-spiced cranberry martinis. Boom. Holidays? Done.

{ on my mind }

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