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Chef's Hat: Add sweetness, color to recipes by tossing in dried cranberries

Dried cranberries don't have much nutritional value, but add chewy texture to recipes as well.

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Add dried cranberries to Blueberry & Cranberry Scones for a pop of color and a touch of sweetness.

Dried cranberries (or what most people refer to as Craisins, which are specifically an Ocean Spray product) are quite simply what the name says: They are dried fruit.

These small bits of fruit really don’t have much going for them as far as nutritional value, and since they are usually sweetened, they can give you a sugar rush. So these are perfect if you have a sweet tooth!

Dried cranberries add a pop of color, a bit of sweetness and a chewy, but not rubbery, texture to recipes. These small berries can be used in salads and cookies, added to trail mix or tossed into oatmeal. They are used in a variety of dips and sauces.

Raisins are quite often added to oatmeal cookies, but for a slightly different and sweeter taste, throw in a handful of dried cranberries. Although you can add these sweet little berries to pretty much any green type of salad, they mix particularly well with spinach salads.

Those heavenly breakfast scones are a great breakfast treat or late afternoon snack. They are perfect with any type of fruit, including the addition of dried cranberries. For scones to have a flaky crust, it is important to use butter, not margarine, and to use it cold - don’t let the butter warm up to room temperature before it is mixed in with the dry ingredients.

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A popular broccoli and grape salad is often served at cookouts and family gatherings. For something a tad bit different, try this broccoli salad with cranberries instead of grapes.

Dried cranberries are readily available and usually found alongside other baking ingredients or close to the chocolate chips at stores. You can’t go wrong tossing a handful on top of your morning oatmeal or into a batch of cookies, or scattering them on top of an ordinary green salad. Add some sweetness and color to your dishes with this delightful ingredient. Happy Eating!

BLUEBERRY & CRANBERRY SCONES

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup milk

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Using a cheese grater, shred the butter into the flour. The butter can be melted in a microwave and then added to the flour mixture, if you prefer, but cold butter gives the dough a fluffier texture.

Add the milk and egg and mix until all ingredients are well combined.

Add cranberries, blueberries and almonds. Stir just until combined.

Form the dough into a ball. Place on the prepared cooking sheet. Flatten out into a circle. Cut into 6 to 8 triangular pieces . Slightly spread the pieces a part on the cooking sheet.

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Bake 15 to 20 minutes until the scones are lightly browned.

If desired, serve with additional butter and blueberry jam.

BROCCOLI & DRIED CRANBERRY SALAD

  • 1 head broccoli (use florets only and chop into bite-sized pieces)
  • ½ small red onion (chopped)
  • 5 slices cooked bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds (kernels only - no shells)

Dressing:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

If desired, blanch broccoli for a few minutes so it is tender. Do not overcook as it will become mushy.
Combine salad ingredients in a bowl and lightly toss.

Place the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or large measuring cup. Mix until well combined. Pour over the salad ingredients. Let stand in the refrigerator at least 2 hours before serving.

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Add dried cranberries to Blueberry & Cranberry Scones for a pop of color and a touch of sweetness. Donna Evans / Echo Journal Correspondent

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