Spiced Apple Cranberry Cider (hot)

Whatcom County was supposed to get some snow today (it snowed last night in the county, but not in town), so for my recipe demo this week I thought something that would warm up customers would be the best bet.

My own cranberry cider “bog” © Sassy Sampler 2011

We have some beautiful, fresh, Washington grown cranberries in our produce departments right now that we buy farmer-direct.  Bellewood Acres has also been supplying us with their delicious cider (one of the reasons I love Fall so much!) and I thought it would be fun to combine the two into a hot and tasty cider.

I couldn’t find a recipe using fresh cranberries online, so I decided to make it up as I went along.  Making spiced cider is very easy, and adding the cranberries doesn’t complicate things much at all.  I simply added a pound of fresh (and washed) cranberries to a gallon of the local cider in a large stockpot.  To that I added in cinnamon sticks, some whole cloves, and I sliced a lemon and tossed that in for a little more acidity.  So it wouldn’t be too sour, I added just over a 1/4 cup of organic, raw dark agave syrup, although you could use just about any sweetener – honey would be good, as would a little light brown sugar.  I let that simmer for a few hours and when I was ready to serve it I strained it out and served it up – it was just the right amount of tart and the smell made my mouth water!  I’ll note that the longer you let it simmer, the more integrated the flavors are, but I tried it after and hour and it was great – don’t worry if you don’t have a couple or few hours to let it simmer.

It was the perfect thing to serve today – while there was no snow it was still cold, and almost nothing tastes better than a hot cup on cider this time of year!  Customers were very appreciative to have a hot beverage to sample as they shopped and they all thought it tasted really great.

Spiced Apple Cranberry Cider © Sassy Sampler 2011

Hot Spiced Apple Cranberry Cider


  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • 1 # fresh cranberries, rinsed
  • 1 small lemon, washed and thinly sliced
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 1/2 t whole cloves
  • ~ 1/4 c agave syrup (or other sweetener like honey or light brown sugar)


  1. In a large stockpot, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for an hour or two, stirring occasionally.
  3. Taste to see if you need to add any more sweetener (if so, add by the T and let it cook for about 5 more minutes).
  4. Remove cranberries, lemon, and spices from cider by pouring cider through a strainer into a heat-proof container.  Press cranberries into strainer with the back of a spoon to remove as much juice as possible.
  5. Serve hot, with a slice of apple for garnish!

Apple Cranberry Cider PDF

Gluten-free Granola

Last October at the Bellingham Gluten Intolerance Group’s Annual Community Awareness Event at St Luke’s Community Health Center, Seattle-area author Karen Robertson spoke.  She stopped by the Co-op’s table, introduced herself, and gave me a copy of her gluten-free granola recipe.  When I was looking for a good granola recipe to demo, I remembered I had gotten one from her and contacted her about using it.

Karen wrote a gluten-free cookbook filled with great recipes a few years ago that is available for purchase on her blog in a digital format (the books are out of print, but you can still find them on Amazon).  She teaches cooking classes at South Seattle Community College, has taught at Puget Consumers Co-op (PCC), and posts recipes and tips on her blog.  Check it out and support another great local author and cook!

Her granola recipe was very simple to make (and smelled divine as it was cooking) – simply mix all your dry ingredients (I used Bob’s gluten-free rolled oats, unsweetened shredded organic coconut, chopped organic almonds and walnuts, and organic cinnamon – you can also add ground flax seeds) and heat up the wet ingredients in a small saucepan (organic canola oil, local raspberry honey, and organic vanilla extract).  Mix them together until your dry ingredients are fully moistened, and then spread evenly in a large jelly roll pan or baking sheet with ridges.  Cook at a low temp for 1 1/2 hours (stirring every 30 minutes or so) and you are good to go!

The granola was very popular (one of my most popular demos) and would be very easy to adapt to your specific diet.  Not gluten intolerant?  Just use regular oats.  Don’t like to use canola oil?  Substitute with grapeseed oil, hempseed oil, or your favorite cooking oil.  Are you vegan?  Well, omit the honey and use agave syrup (or brown rice syrup) in its place.  A customer said they were going to make the granola and add some diced dried apricot and pineapple to it (after it had cooked) and that sounds yummy.  I’m going to make a batch for myself this weekend, and I plan on adding peanut butter to the oil and honey mixture.

I served the granola with Fresh Breeze Organic Dairy’s 2% milk (it’s on sale right now) from up the road in Lynden, and Karen recommends eating it with Greek yogurt.


Gluten-free Granola Photo © 2011 Sassy Sampler

 New Gluten-free Granola

from Cooking Gluten-Free! by Karen Robertson (used with permission)


  • 2 c unsweetened coconut
  • 2 c Bob’s GF Rolled Oats
  • 2 c finely chopped almonds
  • 1 c finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 2 T finely ground flax seed (optional)
  • 1/2 c honey
  • 1/2 c canola oil
  • 2 t vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 225°F.
  2. Lightly oil a jelly roll pan (12 ½” x 17 ½”) or a large, rimmed baking sheet with a bit of canola oil.
  3. Combine coconut, oats, almonds, walnuts and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  4. In a small saucepan combine the honey, oil and vanilla.  Heat until the honey is as thin as the oil.  While mixture is on the heat source, watch it very closely as it can bubble up and boil over.
  5. Pour honey mixture over oat/nut mixture and stir until it is mixed evenly and is thoroughly moistened.
  6. Spread mixture in an even layer on your prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 1 ½ hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
  8. Let cool and store in an airtight container.

Gluten-Free Granola PDF

5/10/11 update – I made the granola this weekend at home, but I went for a sweeter version.  I threw a small handful of chocolate chips into the honey/oil/vanilla mixture and let them melt (once it was off the heat, stirring frequently) and then tossed in a few more chocolate chips when I mixed it all together.  It made delicious chocolate granola, much like the one from Erin Baker’s (of Baker’s Breakfast cookies fame) that we have in bulk – a granola I have missed since finding out I was gluten-intolerant!  I’m going for the peanut butter version next…

Vegan Pumpkin Mousse (for pies or on its own!)

We’ve got some beautiful fall squash in stock at the Co-op – the leaves are changing, we’re about to have our first big storm of the season, and that means it’s pumpkin time!

Making pumpkin purée from scratch isn’t really that much harder than opening a can, you just need a little time for it to cook.  The easiest way to make purée is to wash your pumpkin, chop it in half and remove the seeds and stringy pulp, sprinkle a little salt on the inside, put them on a baking sheet cut side down and cover with foil, and pop it in the oven for about an hour and a half.  All told it takes all of ten minutes (or less) to prepare a pumpkin for purée – once it comes out of the oven it is so soft the skin falls right off and you can mash it with a spoon.  If you get an in-season sugar pie pumpkin, you probably won’t even need to put it though a sieve!

That is exactly what I did for my recipe demo this week.  I was looking for a really easy from-scratch pumpkin recipe that could be eaten on its own or made as a pie filling.  This recipe came from Linden Hills Co-op in Minneapolis, MN.  The original recipe would be enough for two pies or a crowd of people, and you can double the recipe to create this kind of quantity.

I used Mori Nu Firm Silken Tofu (which is shelf-stable, so don’t look for it with the refrigerated tofu!) – if you were making this recipe to fill a pie shell, then you would want to use Extra Firm silken tofu.  Customers really loved the mousse, and many commented on how it was their first true taste of Fall!


Vegan Pumpkin Mousse (served with a pie dough "cookie") Photo © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Vegan Pumpkin Mousse


2 packages firm* silken tofu

¼ c molasses

½ c maple syrup

2 c cooked pumpkin **

¼ c apple cider

1 ½t vanilla extract

1 ½t cinnamon

¾ t nutmeg

Sea salt

*Use Extra Firm silken tofu if you are making as a pie filling.

** A 4 pound sugar pie pumpkin will yield about 1 ½ c of pumpkin purée.


1. Prepare your pumpkin(s) – wash outside of pumpkin and cut in half and discard the stem and the stringy pulp (save the seeds to dry and roast later!).

2. In a shallow baking dish, place pumpkin halves face down and cover with foil (you can choose to sprinkle a little sea salt on the inside if you wish).

3. Bake in a 375°  oven for about 1 ½  hours or until it is tender.  Let pumpkin cool, then remove the flesh and either purée or mash it.

4. Process tofu and pumpkin in a food processor until smooth.

5. Combine all other ingredients and add to the food processor.  Process until creamy.

6. Fill individual dessert cups or pour into a pre-baked pie crust and chill until firm.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds:

1. Preheat oven to 300°.

2. Clean all the pulp and strings off your seeds (it is easiest right after you have removed them from the pumpkin).

3. Put some melted butter or oil in a bowl, along with any seasonings you would like to add, and add pumpkin seeds—toss to coat.

4. Place seeds (in a single layer) on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

5. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.  Keep an eye on them, depending on the accuracy of your oven, they may cook more quickly, or they may take longer to cook.

6. Enjoy hot out of the oven, or cooled!

Vegan Pumpkin Mousse PDF