This seasonal favorite makes for a tart, spicy, and sweet appetizer – cranberry salsa is the ideal holiday dipper!
What do you eat while you’re waiting to eat?
With three pre-teen/teenage boys in the house I’m no stranger to the “what’s for dinner” question. On the daily. Sometimes multiple times within the hour – either because they forgot when I answered them earlier or because they were in the other room when someone else asked.
What baffles me nearly every time, though, is when they ask while eating a snack… watching me cook. Anybody feel me here?
I should know better by now and wish it didn’t still bother me, but man.
Now the only time I don’t let it get to me is during Thanksgiving or Christmas. Maybe because I’m just more chill and enjoying a full home of family, or maybe because I’m eating just as much as they are. Either way, I find it completely acceptable to be snacking on something yummy while cooking or watching someone else cook the main feast.
Use ’em or lose ’em.
Cranberries. Hands down, absolutely, the prettiest food the good Lord created. Seriously. I can’t think of a more vibrantly colored, ready-made decoration, holiday-ushering-in food out there. And pair them with another of my favorite fruits – oranges – and it’s a stunning combination.
But… they’re seasonal. As are all the best-for-you foods, I suppose. So I try to make good use of them for as long as I can, knowing full well that they’ll be gone for another year.
Cue the cranberry sauce (my oldest son’s favorite), cranberry orange cookies or bread, cranberry salsa, and any other cranberry concoction you can think of – except that weird pink fluff that people serve at Thanksgiving. (You know the stuff. It’s basically like Jello, whipped cream, and a few pieces of cranberry. I don’t get it. But I digress.)
How do you serve cranberry salsa?
Ummm, “how do you NOT serve cranberry salsa?” is the more accurate question.
Unless you don’t like cranberries, which I get. But that’s basically the only reason you wouldn’t serve this.
Cranberry salsa is more versatile than you might think. Yes, the simplest and most predictable way of eating this glorious stuff is just with a bag of your favorite tortilla chips. Boom. Done. Happy tummy.
If you’re feeling adventurous, though, here are some of my favorite, non-traditional ways to enjoy it:
- poured over a softened block of cream cheese and served with crackers (It’s not only a delicious creamy addition, but it’s stunning on a serving platter with all the colors of red and green.)
- poured over a softened block of goat cheese and served with crackers (Also a beautiful plate, and goat cheese would be my preference here. It’s creamy and salty, and it’s as though this cheese and cranberries were made for each other – the perfect complement!)
- on a sandwich (Hear me out: It’s like Thanksgiving in sandwich form. You’ve got bread, mayo, turkey, white cheddar, and cranberry salsa all wrapped up into one glorious, messy sandwich. Trust me.)
- with crackers and white cheddar (Spread it on your favorite cracker with a slice of sharp white cheddar, and you can’t go wrong.)
- as a festive addition to a charcuterie board (Instead of preserves, try this as a pretty spread.)
- on a toasted bagel with cream cheese (What’s better than your favorite bagel – sweet OR savory – topped with cream cheese and an acceptable form of sugared fruit?)
- in a salad (Some mixed greens, rotisserie chicken or leftover turkey you’re still trying to get rid of, goat cheese crumbles, toasted walnuts, and cranberry salsa as a dressing substitute, and you’ve got a light, well-rounded lunch.)
The possibilities are endless… until the cranberries are gone. Which is usually by January. So you’ve only got a few weeks to try these. Hurry!
What’s in cranberry salsa, and how do you make it?
- fresh cranberries
- lime juice
Throw everything in a food processor and pulse until everything is combined and reaches the consistency you prefer. That’s it!
I like my salsa to be pretty finely chopped, that way I can be sure to get a little bit of everything in every bite. And that I don’t get a huge chunk of jalapeno by mistake. I’m still kind of a pansy when it comes to spice.
Ready to kick up your holiday appetizer game?
The best formula for a holiday appetizer is simple: fresh, seasonal ingredients plus quick and easy prep multiplied by the fact that you can make it ahead of time and easily store it, all equals a restful, enjoyable holiday spent with your favorite people minus the stress in the kitchen.
And before any of you math-minded folks call out the fact that my equation doesn’t make sense – I know. It would look something like this in the math world:
i + p(t) = h – k
Which actually looks more legit now that I’ve typed it out. So I’m keeping it.
Maybe it will become our little reminder that this time of year isn’t meant to be overwhelming, so if ever it starts to feel that way, take a step back and try to see the bigger, more important things. I pray we all are able to prioritize well, let go of our own expectations, and soak up all the moments we’ll look back on over the years.
- 2 12 oz. package fresh cranberries
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- 2 jalapenos seeded
- 1 lime juiced
- ⅓ c. sugar
- Wash the produce and place in a food processor. Pulse on high until everything is combined and reaches the desired texture. Serve as is with tortilla chips. Another option is to pour over a softened block of cream cheese or goat cheese and serve with crackers.
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