Cranberry Celebration: 10 Sweet & Tangy Recipes

The preponderance of pumpkins and cranberries signal that harvest season is here at last. With November not too far off and Canadian Thanksgiving a mere week away, it’s time to make a plan. I’ve picked some of my favorite cranberry recipes to share with you.

Bags of fresh cranberries should be readily available for the next three months.  All of these recipes, except for the gummy candies, can be made with fresh cranberries.  The tangy goodness of cranberries is something I never tire of, and autumn is the best time to stock up and enjoy them!

Celebrating Cranberries: 10 Sweet and Tangy Recipes |Swirls and Spice

1. Orange Cardamom Tea Ring with Cranberry Nut Filling

Tea ring is lovely for when you have overnight guests or for a weekend brunch.  It freezes and reheats beautifully!

2.  Cranberry Pineapple Panna Cotta Parfaits

Tiny cups of dessert are great when you want just a taste of sweetness.  These parfaits are ideal for making ahead and keeping in the refrigerator until serving day.

3.  Cranberry Pineapple Upside Down Oatmeal

For a healthy and different start to the day, upside down oatmeal is a great pick.

4.  Cranberry Butter Tarts

Based on my grandmother’s recipe, these are a perfect balance of sweet, tart, and buttery flavors.  And they have absolutely no corn syrup!

5.  Cranberry Date Tarlets (GF)

Yes, you can enjoy gluten-free tarts!  These are marvelously sweet, like caramel, but are made with clean ingredients!

10 Sweet and Tangy Cranberry Recipes | Swirls and Spice

6.  Cranberry Lemon Muffins

Ever swapped lemon for orange in your cranberry muffins?  These are proof that it works!

7.  Cranberry Chicken Salad Mini Pitas

Transform a deli chicken into something special with these mini pitas that offer a subtle tangy surprise.

8.  Cranberry and Coconut Gummy Candies

Naturally sweetened homemade candies are a great snack or lunchbox addition.  Or serve them for Halloween!

9.  Baked Chicken or Turkey Taquitos with Cranberry Salsa

Taquitos with cranberry salsa are a delicious twist on a popular Mexican appetizer.  We enjoy taquitos as a quick heat-and-eat meal too.

10. Jane’s Cranberry Salsa

My dear friend’s salsa recipe is a wonderful fresh addition to your Thanksgiving buffet.  It also stars in the chicken salad and taquito recipes above.

I share recipes here,

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Chicken and Olive Kabobs

Salty, juicy black olives alternate with protein-rich chicken breast to make kabobs that pack well and change things up for the better.  Lunch box boredom, be gone!

Chicken and Olive Kabobs | Swirls and Spice

Do you believe change is a good thing or a hard thing?  For me, so much depends on what kind of change we are talking about.  A new recipe or meal solution that everybody likes?  Count me in.  Leaving a community and friends behind for a totally different pace of life?  Not so eager to embrace that.

In our new town I am now zipping around to soccer, cross-country, commuter train drop-offs and pick-ups, and more.  With my husband working further away, I am back to packing school lunches for three kids after a year-long break.  Yes, for that laid-back year I was living on easy street.

I live on a different street now.  And while at least one person in my family says he’d gladly take peanut butter and jelly every day, that is not always practical or desirable.  Our previous school was nut free because of allergy concerns.  That left me making tuna sandwiches and cheese sandwiches, over and over again.

Olives, however, are a welcome change of pace.  Also, putting food on a stick just makes it way more fun!

Check out these linear foods for additional evidence and inspiration:

3 Ways to Enjoy Food on a Stick - Savory and Sweet!

Olive and Chicken Kabobs: Perfect for packed lunches!

Chicken and Olive Kabobs

  • Time: 5 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • Cooked chicken* breast, cubed (mine came from leftovers)
  • Black olives (or other preferred variety)
  • Wooden stir sticks or bamboo skewers with points snipped off (don’t eat this part)

* Substitute tofu or cheese for a vegetarian option.


  1. Thread chicken cubes and olives onto stick in an alternating pattern.
  2. Place in a plastic bag or sealed container.  Keep chilled until ready to eat.

I share recipes here and at Allergy free Wednesday.

I am also sharing this at Savoring Saturdays.


Fresh Corn and Red Pepper Relish with Olives

Corn and Red Pepper Relish with Olives | Swirls and SpiceIt may be apple season, but there still is a chance to pick up corn on the cob at the farmers’ markets around here.  We always buy a dozen ears.  And sometimes we have leftovers. Especially when I make the mistake of buying cheap corn on the cob at the grocery store in between farmers’ market runs.  Those 15 cent ears simply were not in the same league as locally grown, freshly picked corn.

What do you do with leftover bargain corn that no one wants to eat?  Make a light and tangy relish with it, that’s what!  This recipe was inspired by a corn salad recipe I found in the book Balaboosta, by Einat Admony.  And the colorful medley would be even more delicious with premium corn on the cob.  But we (including all the kids) gobbled up the cheap corn relish in any case.  It’s amazing what a splash of vinegar can do!

We enjoyed this light corn relish with corn tortilla chips, but it also makes a great taco topping.  Feel free to use it in place of pico de gallo with other foods too!

Fresh Corn and Red Pepper Relish

  • Time: 10 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:Corn and Red Pepper Relish with Olives | Swirls and Spice

  • 1 to 2 cups corn, at room temperature or cooler
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup black olives, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon raw sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt


  1. Whisk together the vinegar, oil, sugar, and salt.
  2. Toss the mixed dressing with the corn, red bell pepper, and olives.
  3. Serve relish chilled or at room temperature.

I share recipes here and at Allergy Free Wednesday.


Apple Cider Overnight Oats

Pour some fresh apple cider onto old fashioned oats and the next morning you can start your day with oatmeal that is magically sweet and naturally delicious!
Apple Cider Overnight Oats
Once upon a time I made oatmeal almost every morning. Then things got complicated. First, I got a little bored with brown sugar as my sole flavoring. Until one day I discovered that you can mix in all sorts of sweet things into oatmeal. Including leftover Halloween candy. Yes, it was a whole new world.

However, candy isn’t exactly the healthiest way to start your mornings, at least not habitually. And there’s another nutritional snag that relates to oats. It’s called phytic acid. And it interferes with nutrient absorption.

However, by thinking ahead, I learned how to defeat this anti-nutrient. All you need to do is soak your oats overnight with something acidic to break down the phytic acid. Apple cider and a bit of lemon juice do the job nicely. You can also add buckwheat flour to boost the process further.  What’s more, the soaked oats cook super quickly in the morning.

Apple Cider Overnight Oats | SwirlsandSpice.com

While I am partial to the hearty texture of old fashioned rolled oats, quick oats will work just as well. You can also use steel cut oats, and soaking them will speed up their cooking time considerably. Whatever oats you use, the natural sweetness of the cider means that no extra sugar needs to be added.

Nevertheless, if you want to indulge your sweet tooth, I’ve got some mix-in inspiration for you following the recipe.  It’s totally decadent though.  You have been warned.

Apple Cider Overnight Oats

  • Servings: 3 to 4
  • Time: 10 min plus soaking
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 + 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 + 1/2 cups apple cider (without preservatives)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons buckwheat flour, optional
  • ground cinnamon or apple pie spice, to taste
  • fresh plums, apples or pears, sliced
  • pecans or almonds, optional


  1. Combine oats, apple cider, and lemon juice in a non-reactive bowl.  Cover and let soak overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Cook the soaked oats by heating to a boil, adding a small amount of water if more moisture is needed.  Stir frequently.  Reduce heat to simmer for several minutes, stirring so that the oats do not burn.
  3. Serve warm oatmeal topped with fruit slices, cinnamon, and nuts.  If desired, pour on almond milk, dairy milk, or other milk alternative.

Apple Cider Oatmeal with Pie | Swirls and SpiceHave you ever considered stirring a slice of pie into your morning bowl of oats?  One taste and you will never have to worry about leftover pie lingering too long.  Any trace of soggy crust just melts right into the oat-y goodness.  Apple pie, berry pie, cherry pie, pumpkin pie…it’s all marvelous combined with oatmeal.  Pie for breakfast is definitely a thing in our house.

Apple Cider Overnight Oatmeal | Swirls and Spice

I share recipes here and at Allergy Free Wednesday.

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Chicken Stir Fry Romaine Wraps with Peanut Sauce

Chicken Stir Fry Romaine Wraps with Peanut Sauce | Swirls and Spice

A generous drizzle of Thai peanut sauce makes chicken stir fry taste so amazing that I’ll be making extra just so I have a chance to enjoy these irresistible wraps!

When it comes to making stir fries or ordering take out, I usually prefer the food piping hot, straight from the wok.  Nevertheless, we usually wind up with leftover stir fry, which is less appealing the next day.  Until you add a tangy peanut sauce.  Then it’s a toss up as to whether to eat more of it in round one or two!

Wrapping up the peanut-y goodness in Romaine leaves is simple, unprocessed, and truly delicious! While I find low carb tortillas and wraps intriguing, the hollow taste often disappoints.  And these days I simply lack the time and motivation to roll out homemade tortillas, as delicious as they are.  I’ll let nature do the work for me.  Not only are Romaine leaves low in calories, they let the sweet and savory flavors of the filling shine through.

In our current rhythm of life, weekends are when we eat up leftovers that have accumulated during the week.  But for some folks, weekends are when the cooking happens, and weekdays feature leftovers.  Which camp do you fall into?

Either way, peanut sauce livens up your leftovers to make them worth craving.

Chicken Stir Fry Romaine Wraps with Peanut Sauce | Swirls and Spice

Chicken Stir Fry Romaine Wraps with Peanut Sauce


  • Chicken* and vegetable stir fry (mine came from leftovers made from boneless chicken breasts, frozen stir-fry vegetables, fresh garlic, and ginger-soy stir fry sauce)
  • Fresh Romaine lettuce leaves, rinsed and patted dry
  • Cashews, optional
  • Sesame seeds, optional
  • Thai peanut sauce (use this tangy recipe to make your own or buy it in a bottle)

* Substitute tofu or chickpeas for a vegetarian option.


  1. Gently warm stir fry in a wok over medium heat or in the microwave.  It should be warm but not too hot or it will wilt the lettuce.
  2. Use a spoon or chopsticks to fill Romaine leaves with the warm stir fry.
  3. Sprinkle the filled leaves with cashews and sesame seeds if desired.  Drizzle with peanut sauce.  Serve slightly warm.  To enjoy the wraps in a packed lunch, place some peanut sauce in a separate small container and wait to drizzle just before eating.

I share recipes here.


Ultimate Garlic and Onion Meatballs

Ultimate Garlic and Onion Meatballs with Roasted Pepper Sauce | Swirls and Spice

Faster than meatloaf, meatballs are a fantastic make ahead meal option. Loading them with garlic and onion before baking gives results comparable to frying them on the stove top. Baked meatballs are much easier and less crumbly than meatballs cooked and turned over and over in the pan. I like to bake double or even triple batches and freeze the cooked meatballs. Then I have another very quick and easy meal to reheat on our busiest days.

With school and extracurricular activities now in full swing, I have no qualms about speeding things along with a jar of my favorite marinara sauce to go with the meatballs. If you prefer a homemade sauce, try the quirky red sauce recipe at the end of this post. Serve the warm meatballs with rice or cauliflower rice to keep your meal gluten free. Or go for the classic combo and opt for hearty servings of steaming hot pasta to fill each plate.

Ultimate Garlic and Onion Meatballs

Meatball Ingredients:

  • 500 to 600g (about 1.2 to 1.3 pounds) ground beef
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chimichurri sauce or pesto sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup marinara sauce, optional
  • 1 Tablespoon finely ground flax seeds
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).  Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly by hand or with a potato masher.  Form into meatballs and place in a large baking dish.
  2. Bake meatballs for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of meatballs, until meat is cooked through but still tender inside.  Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.  This makes a large batch, so you may opt to let half of the meatballs cool and then freeze them in a sealed freezer bag or container.

Ultimate Garlic and Onion Meatballs with Roasted Pepper Sauce

Serve with marinara or roasted pepper sauce (recipe below).

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Roasted Pepper Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 red, orange, or yellow sweet bell peppers
  • 1 large eggplant (I used a long Chinese eggplant)
  • 1 large can (800 g) whole peeled tomatoes (or blanched fresh Roma tomatoes, peeled)
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary)
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon premium quality balsamic vinegar
  • 1 to 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (210 C). Grease two large baking dishes with olive oil.  Cut peppers and eggplant in half and place skin-side up into one baking dish.  Into the other baking dish, place drained tomatoes, reserving liquid in a separate container.  Intersperse tomatoes with garlic cloves and rosemary.  Roast the peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, and garlic until fragrant and tender, for about 25 minutes.  Remove roasted vegetables and tomatoes from oven and let cool until slightly warm and safe to handle.  Discard roasted rosemary sprigs (some rosemary bits may remain).
  2. Meanwhile, saute the onion in olive oil over medium-low heat until tender and golden, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat.
  3. After the roasted peppers and eggplant are cool enough to handle, remove the skin from each half and discard the skin.  Add the cooked onion, peeled peppers and eggplant to a blender container or food processor.  Process until chunky.  Add roasted tomatoes and garlic and process until smoother.
  4. Transfer pureed vegetables to a large sauce pan, add reserved tomato juice and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Stir in balsamic vinegar and 1 to 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth until desired consistency is reached.  Season with salt to taste and simmer for several minutes more.  Turn off heat and keep sauce warm until ready to serve.  Or add meatballs and warm in sauce over low heat until serving time.

adapted from The Swanky Sweet Potato

I share recipes here.


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