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Quick and Easy Dinner…Fresh Cranberry Nachos and Apple Dumplings?!

I’m back in TO from the ‘Peg and into full swing preparing for a new year. Happy 2012 to you and your loved ones! Speaking of loved ones… I had a wonderful time staying with my daughter in her new home for the holidays. It was a first for us.

Cori had to work most of the time. During those days, she dropped me off at my sister’s in the morning to visit family and friends. At the end of her business day, my daughter would pick me up (in more ways than one) to spend time together in the evening. That was the drill.

As the doting loving mother, my pleasure is to make us dinner on “at home evenings”. Sounds like a pretty easy task, doesn’t it? Well in the midst of all the hubbub of a gazillion family dinners, and running around visiting, the challenge was finding time to keep her refrigerator moderately stocked. On a quick trip to the market, amongst the items chosen were fresh cranberries. Yes, I made a version of a cranberry loaf using semi-sweet chocolate and a pistachio streusel. But, a more interesting use of the fleshy sour ruby red morsels was how they perked up our dinner plates of nachos!?

We were looking forward to a mindless night of reality television, the season premiere of The Bachelor. Time got away on us and we were too tired to worry about dinner. It was either take out or throw something together fast. After much deliberation of who was in the mood for what, a brilliant idea flashed…cranberry nachos it was!

I layered a serving of whole grain tortilla chips, about 24 of the brand on hand (at least 3 grams of fiber), then some chopped fresh tomatoes, green bell peppers, frozen corn, and about a ¼ cup serving of fresh cranberries per plate. We would have added some onion, but forgot. Oops, a minor technicality.

  • Drizzled about ¼ cup medium heat salsa over the vegetables.

  • Covered the works with ¼ cup grated sharp cheddar.

  • Popped each plate into the microwave for about 3 minutes. And Voila, one plate dinners with all the food groups.

They were so delicious and the cranberries worked just as nicely as any pickled jalapeno pepper would. Hmmm… we should’ve picked up some of those too.

We all know that cranberries are full of fiber, nutrients like vitamin C, antioxidents, but did you know, that “cranberry proanthocyanidins are responsible for the apparent efficacy of consuming cranberry juice against urinary tract infections? Their mechanism of action may be related to inhibition of adherence of e-coli urothelial cells.” (Risco E, Miguélez C, Sánchez de Badajoz E, Rouseaud A.,”Effect of American cranberry (Cysticlean) on Escherichia coli adherence to bladder epithelial cells. In vitro and in vivo study.” Arch Esp Urol. 2010 Jul-Aug;63(6):422-30)

After ravenously shcarfing down the plate of nachos, motivation struck. I was on a roll that night. We had a hankering for something sweet. I realized the ingredients for a comforting dessert of old fashioned and fast apple dumplings were waiting in the pantry. While the PVR was taping, I quickly measured the dry ingredients. One of my versions of dumplings is to take an apple or pear, no need to core or peel. Just wash and encase in brown sugar, cinnamon, and pastry. Under the peel lies the majority of nutrients. Too good to waste.

You can use store bought pastry, but it tastes so much better from scratch. Although cranberry nachos and apple dumplings are an unusual paring…they were both tasty, satisfying, and the combination clicked! Can’t say the same for the bachelor and his bevy of beauties.

Fresh Cranberry Nachos

Quick and Easy Old Fashioned Apple Dumplings 2 servings

2 apples or pears, firm is best 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, per apple ½ teaspoon cinnamon, per apple Milk for brushing Granulated sugar for sprinkling For Pastry: ½ cup all purpose flour Pinch of coarse kosher salt ¼ cup cold butter 3 to 4 tablespoons of very cold water

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. In a bowl, mix the flour and salt

  3. Cut the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse meal (I use my hands)

  4. Add about 3 to 4 tablespoons of very cold water and mix until a ball of workable dough forms (Try not to use too much water). Cut dough into two equal portions.

  5. Roll out each portion to about 1/8-inch rectangle or round.


  1. Cover each sheet of dough with the brown sugar and cinnamon.

  2. Wrap up an apple in each sheet, enclosing the top. Work the dough to cover each apple.

  3. Brush with milk and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

  4. Bake for about an hour until golden brown.

Serving suggestions: ice cream, whipped or poured cream, drizzle of caramel sauce. We enjoyed ours straight up and naked.

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