My Famous Cran-Orange Relish, just in time for Thanksgiving

 Cran-Orange Relish
Cran-Orange Relish
  • 2 12 oz bags of fresh cranberries
  • 2 navel oranges
  • 1 T raspberry or strawberry jam
  • 2-3 T sugar
  • 1 t balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 T Grand Marnier liqueur
Assembly Line

I use a dutch oven pan to create more surface area for warming the berries. Place cranberries, sugar, jam and vinegar in the pan on a low to medium setting, stir. Zest one navel orange and then juice that orange, adding both juice and zest to berry mixture. Stir again

Using a veggie peeler or small sharp knife, remove about 1/2 the peel from the second orange, careful not to go beneath the “orange” peel (avoiding the bitter white part). Chop the peel fine (see below) until you have 1 tablespoon. You may use more peel if you end up with more or freeze it for later use.

Add peel to berry mixture. Cut the second orange in half and then section it, adding the sections to the berry mixture. Squeeze any residual juice from the second orange into the pan.

Looks pretty, smells tart and citrusy
Looks pretty, smells tart and citrusy

You will start to hear little pops from the pan, those are the cranberries bursting. Give it a stir, put a lid on the pan, reduce the heat to low. Check back every 15 -20 minutes for another stir, letting it simmer. After 45 minutes, stir in the Grand Marnier, the berry mixture should be breaking down like a chutney. Continue to cook for 15-20 minutes more. Cool and serve. Makes 2-3 cups of relish. This can be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to two weeks and freezes beautifully, simply thaw and serve.

This is delicious as to serve not only with your Thanksgiving dinner but with chicken, pork or even seared scallops (trust me). For a festive appetizer, make a charcuterie platter  with cheeses like brie or a spreadable goat cheese or camembert, manchego, sharp white cheddar, cornichons and marcona almonds with sliced baguettes! Get creative…..and always, enjoy!

Looking for other Thanksgiving or Holiday recipes? Here’s links to a few of my best recipes:

Chestnut, Apple and Sausage Stuffing

Roasting Chestnuts – a Labor of Love

As I’m making my 2016 batch today, I decided to re-publish this recipe in hopes that it might be helpful to someone this Thanksgiving!  

Scallops Chambord – in time for New Year’s Eve

Though I featured this post one year ago, it remains one of my signature recipes and one that we are having again tonight while ringing in 2016. It’s a tradition but also, it’s an amazing and delicious dish and so here it is once again! I hope you’ll try it!

Happy New Year!

Spence and I have spent 24 New Year’s Eves together.  At some point I came across this recipe that sounded decadent, festive and delicious.  The first few New Year’s Eves I made this as an appetizer/first course, then onto lobster tails and maybe even fondue as the night progressed.  Too much food, too rich and the star here was the Scallops Chambord. Fast forward, our holiday routine now firmly established, Scallops Chambord is the whole meal! This year I prepped 4 skewers but decided to prepare two of them first, then about an hour later, two more.  This was brilliant as we savored them over the evening with a fire blazing, Prosecco and later a special bottle of Champagne. I use most cookbooks as a “guide” so this represents my version which is better than the original in my humble opinion (patting myself on the back now).

Scallops Chambord

  • 20-24 sea scallops
  • 5-6 slices of bacon (not thick cut)

Rinse the scallops and rest on paper towels, blot the top.  Stretch the 5-6 pieces of bacon, just pulling gently to lengthen.  Cut each slice in half.  Prepare a broiler pan and four skewers.  Wrap the bacon around each scallop so that there is a complete wrap with a little overlap.  Thread onto skewers, keeping space in between them.  Set aside.

Chambord Sauce

  • 1 c seedless black raspberry preserves
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1/4 c Chambord liqueur


In a small saucepan, add the preserves, honey and Chambord liqueur.  Stir together on a very low heat to melt the preserves and honey together and incorporate the Chambord.  You’ll want it to reduce sufficiently to coat a spoon. I usually make the sauce earlier in the day to assure the consistency is right.

Set oven to broil.  Place the broiler pan with skewers in on an upper rack.  Set your timer for 10 minutes but watch the scallops during the process – your oven may be hotter than mine. Remove, flip the skewers and return to the broiler for 3-5 minutes – again, you want the bacon cooked but not burned.

While the scallops are broiling, ladle your sauce onto the plate as shown above.  When the scallops emerge from the oven, remove them and set onto the plate.  At this point, I pour Spence and I a glass of Prosecco which we enjoy with our plated Scallops Chambord.


Chef’s Note:  If you can’t find black raspberry preserves, a perfectly good substitute is seedless red raspberry preserves.  

Continue reading “Scallops Chambord – in time for New Year’s Eve”

Super Cole Slaw

If you are new to Spence’s Girl you may not be aware of my love of cooking. I come by it naturally as I’m from a family of wonderful cooks and grew up learning first by watching, then participating. One of my family mentors was my Grandpa Fox who retired in his 40’s and became passionate about cooking, taking over nearly 100% of their meals from shopping to preparation. I cherish those memories. I’ve been feeling nostalgic for recipes I grew up with lately and I hope you’ll want to try this one, my Grandpa’s cole slaw recipe.  It’s light and refreshing on these dog days of summer and a change-up from the usual creamy cole slaw.


serves 12                 Weight Watchers Smart Points 3

For the dressing:

1/2 t coarse ground black pepper
1 t dry mustard
2 t celery seed
4 T sugar
2 t salt
6 T salad oil
2/3 c vinegar

Mix well, pour over:

5-7 c chopped cabbage
2 T chopped red pepper (or pimento)
1/4 c chopped green pepper
1/4 c grated onion

While you could make this and serve it the same day, it is increasingly better with 24 hours (or longer) to marinate.  And it’s a great dish for a potluck as it travels well. Enjoy!


Braciola with Pasta – a recipe for entertaining

Many years ago I found this recipe in a food magazine though I’m not sure which one. I was intrigued and instead of pulling the recipe and adding it to the hundreds of recipes I stick into a “to-be-tried” pile, I immediately prepared it. It was superb and soon became my “go-to” recipe for entertaining my foodie friends. And when they asked me what the dish was called, I told them “Braciola” pronouncing it “brackee-ola”.

Then everything changed (keep in mind this was years before the Food Network). I was entertaining Basil, the cousin of Spence’s best friend. I told him I was preparing “brackee-ola”. Basil stood next to me, watching the preparation of the stuffing, the rolling of the steak. He said it looked remarkably like a dish his Italian aunt had made for years.

“What was it called?” I inquired.

“Brah-jool” was the way he pronounced it.

The wheels in my head were clicking…..”how is it spelled?” I asked with trepidation.

He wasn’t sure. I showed him the recipe. “That’s it” he exclaimed.

Fast forward, I know the pronunciation and the Food Network is now a part of my life meaning that I hear Giada and Rachael talk about Braciola (or the more common spelling Braciole) on a regular basis. Isn’t that the way it goes? Now that I’ve cleared that up, here’s the recipe:

Braciola with Pasta      8 servings

  • 1/2 c italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 c chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/3 c grated parmesan or romano cheese
  • 3 T capers
  • 2 T toasted pine nuts
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 t extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed (with garlic press)
  • flank steak, ask the butcher for the thickest one & have it butterflied
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 1/2 c marinara sauce
  • 1/2 c dry red wine
  • 8 ounces cooked pasta (16 oz uncooked) like fusilli

Combine the first 8 ingredients in a bowl, set aside.

Ingredients for the stuffing Ingredients for the stuffing

Unwrap the steak and unfold it (like a book) on the butcher paper. Use a meat mallet and flatten it to a uniform thickness. Cut 3-4 pieces of kitchen twine and slide under the steak as shown:

Have your butcher Have your butcher “butterfly” a flank steak

Spread the bread crumb mixture over the steak, leaving a bit of the edge uncovered. Roll up “jelly-roll” style, tie with twine. Refrigerate for at least a few hours, it’s even better if refrigerated overnight.

IMG_6495 Spread your stuffing onto the steak, just shy of the edges.
Roll up, pressing the steak into a tight roll. Tie up with the twine. Roll up, pressing the steak into a tight roll. Tie up with the twine.
Tied up, it looks like this. Now fold the butcher paper around it, wrapped up and refrigerate, at least a few hours, I prefer overnight......set it out at least an hour prior to cooking. Tied up, it looks like this. Now wrap the butcher paper around it and refrigerate.

Set the meat out at least one hour before cooking. In a large Dutch Oven, coat the bottom of the pan with the olive oil and set to a medium high heat. Place the meat in, turning to brown well on all four sides. Remove from pan. Add marinara and wine to pan, deglazing and bringing the sauce to a boil, add the steak and reduce heat to simmer.  Simmer for 1 hour, turning the steak in the sauce a few times.

Remove the meat and allow to rest a few minutes, remove the twine. Put the sauce into a serving bowl.

After cooking, remove from sauce onto a cutting board. Rest for 5 minutes, cut and remove twine before slicing. This is what it looks like just out of the sauce.

Slice and plate, I added more flat leaf parsley to garnish.

Sliced and ready for serving on a platter, garnished with flat leaf parsley. Sliced and ready for serving on a platter, garnished with flat leaf parsley.

Serve the pasta, topped with a slice of the Braciola, then top with sauce. Open a bottle of red wine and enjoy!