Fruit, Recipes, Sides

Cranberry Pear Sauce #bookclubcookbookCC

My favorite Thanksgiving side dish… cranberry sauce jazzed up with pears, vanilla, and a secret ingredient that’s totally appropriate when you think about it. And, there’s a Harry Potter connection too! Crazy. 🙂 Read on to find out more!

Jazz up your cranberry sauce with pear, vanilla, & a secret [yet totally appropriate] ingredient! YUM!

Most Thanksgiving dishes I can take or leave. Turkey, meh. I’ll eat it if it’s there, but if not, no big loss [my husband is crying in the corner right about now]. Mashed potatoes? Alright, but these are better. Stuffing, YUM. Green bean casserole, BLECH. Sweet potatoes, yes, if you hold the marshmallows. Rolls, only if they’re homemade. So, basically we’re at about two of six for my list of Thanksgiving classic necessities. I know every family has their own “necessity” and mine certainly does too–Mixed Vegetables Mornay is one of my faves. But for me? My ultimate fave is cranberry sauce! There are so many ways I like it… as long as it isn’t jellied in a log from a can. 🙂

So, it was to my pleasant surprise when I was brainstorming recipe ideas for this month’s edition of The Book Club Cookbook project that I remembered via reading/flipping through Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone that Harry’s Christmas feast at Hogwarts included all the traditional holiday fixings–turkey, potatoes, rolls… and cranberry sauce! Erin from The Spiffy Cookie is this month’s host and she selected the first Harry Potter as this month’s book selection. She made Treacle Tart [YUM] but I decided to go for another kind of sweetness, one that will be perfect on your Thanksgiving table! 🙂 Or Christmas table, just like Harry’s.

Jazz up your cranberry sauce with pear, vanilla, & a secret [yet totally appropriate] ingredient! YUM!

In the past, I’ve enjoyed my mom’s traditional cranberry orange relish. For a long time, that’s the only way I could imagine it. But then I branched out and have made a cranberry-mint relish, a cranberry pineapple sauce, and even a gingered cranberry-apple sauce. Over the years, there have probably been some other iterations that just haven’t made it to the blog [gasp!]. Sorry, guys. I just keep dreaming up new variations every year, and this year was no different. Since I was making this for a Harry Potter event I knew I wanted to make this something special. I got into reading the Harry Potter books late, but then read them all in one summer… maybe even six weeks. It was crazy, but so fun. Someday I want to re-read them, or even listen to the audiobooks [I’ve heard they’re really good!]. But for now, I’ll just enjoy this cranberry sauce. 🙂

Jazz up your cranberry sauce with pear, vanilla, & a secret [yet totally appropriate] ingredient! YUM!

Lately pears have been super cheap at the grocery store [don’t you love it when they practically give away produce?], and I had the idea to add pears to my cranberry sauce when a bunch of them all ripened on the counter on the same day. Since pears are so delightfully sweet, they’re a great pairing [ha – sorry, I had to] with the beautiful, albeit tart, cranberries. You can just cook them down on the stove together with some sugar and water and watch the delicious transformation happen before your eyes! That’s the magic of making homemade cranberry sauce instead of relish–all those popping berries are just so fun to see. Or is that just me? 🙂 But wait! This time, there’s a little extra bit of magic because in addition to the cranberries, pear, and sugar, I added PUMPKIN PIE SPICE to spice up this cranberry sauce! Yup, that’s my secret ingredient. Told you it’s seasonally appropriate! 🙂 And appropriate for a Harry Potter-themed cranberry sauce… since Harry spices up life wherever he goes. Ha ha!

Jazz up your cranberry sauce with pear, vanilla, & a secret [yet totally appropriate] ingredient! YUM!

Pumpkin pie spice has all sorts of goodness like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and lemon peel and by adding just a little bit of your [hopefully homemade] blend, your cranberry pear sauce is fruity and scented with warm spices for an unforgettable taste. After everything has cooked down, I added some vanilla extract to mellow things out and that just made it absolutely perfect. 🙂 Good thing cranberries freeze so well–you’ll want to pick up a few extra bags this week so you can make this cranberry sauce whenever you please… even in the middle of summer. 🙂 I know I’ll still be thinking about it then. Ha! Enjoy! And Happy Thanksgiving! Be sure to scroll down to enter the giveaway to win a copy of The Book Club Cookbook–it is so great! What a fun book choice. Thanks for hosting, Erin!

one year ago: Apple Fritters
two years ago: Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast
three years ago: Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies
four years ago: KC’s Dilled Carrots
five years ago: CranApple Stuffing

Cranberry Pear Sauce

  • Servings: 6
  • Print


  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2-1 cup sugar, depending on preferred level of sweetness
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1 Bartlett pear, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
  • dash of vanilla extract


In a medium saucepan, bring water and 1/2 cup sugar to a boil. When boiling, stir in cranberries and reduce heat to medium-low. Let cook for about 10 minutes, until cranberries begin to burst. Then fold in pear and pumpkin pie spice.

Remove from heat and stir to combine, breaking up some of the whole cranberries with a wooden spoon. Cover and let rest for about 5 minutes. Stir in vanilla, then taste [be careful, it’s hot!] and add more sugar if desired. Cool at room temperature, then refrigerate for up to one week.

This month Erin at The Spiffy Cookie, this month’s host, is giving away a copy of the book.* Enter to win a copy of the cookbook so you can join us in future months, if you wish!
One of our lucky readers – US and Canada only! – can enter to win a copy of The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club’s Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, courtesy of Tarcher-Penguin. Giveaway runs from November 1st till November 30th at 4 o’clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below. Many thanks to Tarcher Books. You may find Tarcher: on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.
*Disclosure: Erin received a complimentary copy of The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club’s Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp as an opportunity to give a copy away. Opinions are our own. We received no further compensation for our posts.
Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Bread - soft, fluffy cinnamon swirl bread made with fall's favorite flavor! via #pumpkin #recipe #bread #baking
Breads, Recipes

Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Soft, fluffy cinnamon sugar swirl bread made with fall’s favorite flavor–pumpkin! This bread is utterly fabulous!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Bread - soft, fluffy cinnamon swirl bread made with fall's favorite flavor! via #pumpkin #recipe #bread #baking

Happy Monday, guys! I have a treat for you. At least, I hope it’s a treat. Do you love homemade bread? I love homemade bread. Especially in the fall. Is there anything better than that yeasty, sweet smell filling the house as bread bakes on a cold day? I can’t think of much else that I love more, except the result: getting to enjoy slice after slice of that fresh, homemade bread. Mmm!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Bread - soft, fluffy cinnamon swirl bread made with fall's favorite flavor! via #pumpkin #recipe #bread #baking

Cinnamon swirl bread has long been my favorite treat. When I was a little girl, it was a huge treat to buy a loaf of cinnamon swirl bread at the grocery store. As I got older, I experimented with making it myself. A few years ago I went through a phase of making it twice per month–a loaf a week. Those were the good ole days! BTW I can’t believe I haven’t shared my all-time favorite whole wheat cinnamon swirl bread recipe yet. Ooops! These days I don’t seem to make time for that, but this fall I know I’ll be making time to make batch after batch of this PUMPKIN cinnamon swirl bread! It’s soft and fluffy; the perfect project for a lazy weekend afternoon at home.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Bread - soft, fluffy cinnamon swirl bread made with fall's favorite flavor! via #pumpkin #recipe #bread #baking

Ben and I have enjoyed this bread in many different ways–toasted with butter and pumpkin butter for breakfast, with a smear of peanut butter for a snack, and just plain sometimes too. But add butter–any kind–and you are in for a gigantic treat! 🙂 Next time I want to try this for french toast. Now THAT would be fancy. 🙂 I hope you get to try this bread soon. I know you’ll LOVE it as much as we did!

one year ago: Chipotle Mustard Pork Chops
two years ago: Sweet ‘n Spicy Apple BBQ Chicken & Slaw
three years ago: Peach Ginger Pie
four years ago: Honey-Lime Fruit Salad
five years ago: Rebel Banana Bread

Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Bread

  • Servings: 2 loaves
  • Print

from Cookie Monster Cooking


  • 1/2 cup warm water – about 110 degrees F
  • 2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 2/3 cup warm milk – about 110 degrees F
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 4 cups bread flour – 508 grams
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour – 312.5 grams

for swirl

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon


In the bowl of a stand mixer, add water and yeast. Whisk to combine. Stir in milk, eggs, pumpkin, oil, brown sugar, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. With the dough hook on the mixer, add in half of the bread flour and mix on low to combine, then add remaining bread flour. With mixer running, gradually add the all-purpose flour. Mix on low for 5 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Lightly spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Shape dough into a ball and place in bowl. Turn to coat, then cover with a tea towel. Let rise for about one hour, until doubled in size.

Punch down dough and transfer to a floured countertop. Divide dough in half, then roll in a 9×11 inch rectangle. Butter each rectangle with softened butter, leaving a 1/2 inch border on all sides. In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkle over butter. Roll up each rectangle into a log, starting with the short end. Pinch the long seam and the ends to seal the dough.

Grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans with cooking spray, then place dough in pans. Cover pans with tea towels, then set aside and let rise for 30-45 minutes, until dough has topped the edge of the pans.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. When dough has risen, bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown on top. If you insert a thermometer in the middle, temperature should read 190 degrees F. When tapped, dough should sound hollow. Cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!

Breakfast, Pastries, Recipes

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Welcome to Day Two of Pumpkin Week on The Pajama Chef! It’s a good week, huh?

A lovely fall walk :)
Beautiful trees and water… I wish this was the view from my balcony!

Are you enjoying your fall? I am. I love how the leaves are changing. I love the chill in the air. I love the need for a warm breakfast. Yesterday we saw the savory side of pumpkin. The opposite of savory is sweet. And that is just what is being served today… in breakfast format!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls - they are pumpkin-y and cinnamon-y and sweet to an extreme. Recipe on The Pajama Chef!
The goods, folks.

To me, cinnamon rolls are one of the most indulgent treats available to man. Warm, rich, gooey, utterly delightful pastry dough coupled with a filling of sweet and spicy cinnamon and topped with out of this world frosting. Altogether, cinnamon rolls are almost too sweet to be enjoyable. Almost, but not quite. I still enjoy them, don’t you fret.

I developed my love of cinnamon rolls by going to Cinnabon with my Grandpa as a child. We’d go to the mall for a treat when he babysat me after preschool or as a break during back to school shopping along with Grandma. Nowadays, I live in a town devoid of Cinnabon, so  I must remedy my cravings by making my own cinnamon rolls. And let me tell you.. they are almost as good as my childhood memories. But no recipe can top good memories, right?

This time, instead of using my traditional cinnamon roll recipe, I used a recipe found at Good Life Eats for a Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll. Best. Decision. Ever.

Good Life Eats placed pumpkin in the dough. I like my pumpkin intense, so I wasn’t about to stop there. I added it to the filling as well, switching out the butter for the pumpkin. Yum. Great choice. I took the easy way out with the kneading and rising parts of dough-making this time by using my breadmaker, but these rolls can be prepared by hand instead. Initially, I considered using my own frosting recipe, but in the end, went with the suggested cream cheese frosting. Another great choice, as it is practically a Cinnabon knock-off. Bliss!

If you haven’t figured it out by now, these are not your average cinnamon rolls. They are better than average. They are delicious and mouthwatering and will satisfy any sweet tooth. They are pumpkin-y and cinnamon-y and sweet to an extreme. I can’t wait to make them again.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls - they are pumpkin-y and cinnamon-y and sweet to an extreme. Recipe on The Pajama Chef!
Waterfalls of frosting… oh how I love thee!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

from Good Life Eats



  • 1/4 cup warm water [not hot, about 110 degrees]
  • 1 package active dry yeast [about 2 1/4 teaspoons]
  • 1/3 cup warm milk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice


  • 1/4 cup pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 4 ounces butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 cups powdered sugar


To make the dough, add all ingredients to the pan of your breadmaker according to the manufacturer’s directions. My breadmaker calls for liquids and salt, then dry ingredients, then yeast, but yours may be different. [Liquids=water, milk, egg, pumpkin, butter.] Turn on the breadmaker using the “dough” setting. When dough is prepared, remove from the pan and turn out the dough on a floured work surface or countertop. **if you do not have a breadmaker, you can make the dough by hand using these instructions.

Meanwhile, while dough is rising in the breadmaker or in a bowl, make the filling. Whisk together all ingredients except pumpkin and set aside. Grease a 9 inch round springform or cake pan with cooking spray and set aside.

After dough has been turned out onto the countertop, use a rolling pin or your hands to shape the dough into a 12 by 16 inch rectangle. Spread the 1/4 cup pumpkin over dough, leaving about an inch margin on all sides and then top with the sugar/spice mixture.

Roll the dough into a log the long way; it may stretch out some. Use a sharp, serrated knife and cut the log into 10 slices. Place in prepared pan.

The recipe can be prepared up to this point the night before, then covered with foil and refrigerated. In the morning, remove the pan from the refrigerator and take off the foil. Continue with below recipe, noting that the initial rising time may be longer because the dough is chilled.

Cover pan with a towel, and let rise until doubled, about 40-50 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake for about 25-35 minutes, or until rolls are golden brown and pull away from the edge of the pan slightly.

During the baking process, make the frosting. In a food processor, combine cream cheese, vanilla, butter, and lemon juice and pulse until smooth. Mix in the powdered sugar in 1/3 cup increments, beating in between additions, until all sugar is full incorporated. [If you need to use more than 2 cups to reach desired consistency, then feel free to do so!]

Frost warm rolls and enjoy immediately! Leftovers can be frozen… if there are any!

Question of the Day: What’s your favorite special food memory?