Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.
~Erma Bombeck

Recipes: Winter Squash with Cranberries; Carrot-Cranberry Gratin; Cranberry-Apple Butter.

Winter Squash with Cranberries

The recipe called for acorn squash; but any squash would do–the cooking times may vary.

2 sm winter squash; (about 1 pound each)
1 orange, to make 1 t zest and 3 T juice
1 c fresh cranberries
3 T sugar
1 to 2 T butter; cut into 4 pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut each acorn squash in half lengthwise (through the stem). Scoop out seeds and fibers.

2. Place the squash halves cut side down in a baking pan. Bake 40 minutes.
While the squash are baking, grate one teaspoon of the orange zest. Halve the orange and squeeze the juice. You will need 3 tablespoons of juice. In a bowl, combine the orange zest, juice, cranberries and sugar.

3. Turn the squash cut side up. Fill each half with the cranberry mixture. Top with a slice of butter. Bake 15 minutes or until the squash are tender when pierced with a fork. Serve hot.

Carrot-Cranberry Gratin

Despite its sweetness, this is a side dish, not a desert. It’s good with turkey, pork, duck or game.

1-1/4 lbs carrots, coarsely shredded
1 apple, (peeled) and coarsely shredded
1 c fresh cranberries
1/2 c apple juice
1 T honey
2 T unsalted butter, softened

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter an 8- or 9-inch baking dish.

2. Toss together the carrots, apples, cranberries, apple juice and honey. Pack the mixture into the dish, smoothing the surface. Spread the butter over the top.

3. Bake in the upper third of the oven for about 40 minutes, or until the carrots are tender and the top is lightly browned. Serve the gratin at once.

Cranberry-Apple Butter

6 lbs apples, quartered and cored
1/2 c water
2 c cranberries
1 c sugar
2 T honey

1. In a large casserole, such as enameled cast iron, combine the apples and water. Cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring often, until soft, about 20 minutes. Uncover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until a thickened puree forms, about 45 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cook the cranberries with the sugar over low heat, until a thick puree forms, about 15 minutes.

Now, you can pass both the apple and the cranberry purees through a coarse strainer (separately) for a smooth puree, or not, for a more textured puree. If you didn’t peel the apples, you may want to whizz it in a food processor to break down the peels.

3. Return the apple mixture to its pot and cook over moderately low heat for another 15 minutes until very thick. Add the cranberry puree and the honey and stir until blended.

4. Let cool completely. Pack into clean jars and refrigerate for up to one month.

Happy Thanksgiving!