Lincoln's Cranberry Sauce

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving to be a national holiday in the United States, so I thought it might be fun to take a look at foods that he enjoyed.

According to The History Kitchen, Abraham Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, taught herself to cook from “Miss Leslie’s Complete Cookery”– a cookbook Mrs. Lincoln had purchased as a newlywed. Written by Eliza Leslie and originally published in 1837, it was considered the most authoritative American cookbook of the time period. It was also the most popular. Mrs. Lincoln was known to rely heavily on Miss Leslie's recipes.

So, is this the cranberry sauce that Lincoln had on his Thanksgiving table? Since it's the cranberry sauce in Miss Leslie's cookbook, it's very likely that it was.   

Originally, Miss Leslie's recipe reads, "Wash a quart of ripe cranberries, and put them into a pan with about a wine-glass of water. Stew them slowly and stir them frequently, particularly after they begin to burst. They require a great deal of stewing, and should be like a marmalade when done. 

After you take them from the fire, stir in a pound of brown sugar. When they are thoroughly done, put them into a deep dish, and set them away to get cold."

Rae Katherine Ehmey interprets the recipe for today's kitchen:

Miss Leslie's Cranberry Sauce

1 (12 to 14 oz.) bag of fresh cranberries
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar

Wash and sort cranberries. Combine with water in a heavy sauce pan. Cover and cook over low to medium heat until berries pop and the mixture becomes jam-like. Be sure to lift cover and stir from time to time so the sauce does not stick and burn. Add brown sugar and stir until sugar melts into the jam. Remove from heat and refrigerate until ready to serve.

I made this exactly as written by Ms. Ehmey, and it is delicious. I'm such a fan of adding oranges to my cranberry sauce that I had forgotten how lovely the unadorned cranberry flavor really is. This sauce has the perfect texture- it jells just enough, and still leaves plenty of the cranberries' shape intact. The brown sugar gives a nice layer of slightly richer flavor. 

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This historic recipe may have been taken to some of these great parties!

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Thankful Tree

You see lots of Thankful Trees this time of year- it's such a sweet way to focus on gratitude. I like the symbolism of a tree, as in "family" tree.

At Thanksgiving, our family always writes down the things we are grateful for, and then we read them aloud during the meal. This year, I decided to make our own Thankful Tree, as a little bit different way to continue our tradition.

As guests come in, they can take a tag and write down the things that they are thankful for.

To make my tree, I started with sticks and small branches out of my back yard. 
I have several huge, ancient pecan trees, so I knew finding materials would not be a problem.

Needing something for the base of the tree, I remembered an old silver urn I had out in the garage- it was tarnished and dusty.

I wiped the dust off and decided to leave the tarnished patina as it was. I poured some rocks into it, and placed the first branch.

Arrange the branches until you get the shape you like.

I stamped tags that I found at a crafts store.

What are you thankful for this year? 

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Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce

This cranberry sauce has a bright, tangy-sweet flavor. The addition of fresh orange zest provides a nice contrast to heartier holiday foods.

Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce
Printable Recipe


1 (12 oz.) bag fresh cranberries (washed, sorted, and drained)

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice (fresh or commercial)
zest of 1 large orange


In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the orange juice. Stir in the cranberries and cook, stirring frequently, until cranberries start to pop (about 10 minutes). Simmer on low for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in orange zest. Pour into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate. Sauce will thicken as it cools. This freezes well, so you could make a double batch and freeze some for Christmas.

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Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce may have been taken to some of these great parties! 

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Let's Get Social Sunday! 11/10/2013

 Welcome to the party-
we're glad you're here!

***Just a quick note before we get things started ..... we have decided to take a break from the social for the holidays and come back in January better than ever with an all-new format! (If you have been scheduled to co-host, please be on the lookout for an email with details of our plans!

We will only be linking up blogs today, so please make it a point to go to a couple of blogs you've never been to! :)

We hope all of you have a safe and happy holiday season - we look forward to seeing you again in January!*** 


(1) Follow your hosts and co-hosts:


Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread Cookies: Thankful Hearts

These warm, delicious, gingerbread cookies will fill your kitchen with the cozy scents of the season. Rolled thin for a crisper texture, or rolled a little thicker for more of a cake-like feel, Gingerbread Cookies will add the perfect touch to your winter baking.

Gingerbread Cookies  Printable Recipe

Makes about 32 assorted-size cookies
These cookies have a sweet, mild, flavor that children love. 


2 and 3/4 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ginger
1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup brown light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
parchment paper
sugar cookie dough
red food coloring


1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.

2. Using a stand mixer on low, beat the butter and sugar together until smooth and well combined. Beat in egg until combined, and then molasses.
3. Add the flour mixture, about a third at a time, scraping sides of the bowl as necessary, until well-combined.
4. Divide the dough into thirds, and wrap in plastic wrap or place in lightly greased zip lock bags. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight, if possible. The colder the dough is, the easier it is to work with, and the longer it rests in the fridge, the better the flavors can blend and develop.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly flour a sheet of parchment paper the size of your cookie sheet. Using a very well-floured rolling pin, roll part of the cold dough out onto the sheet of parchment paper to about 1/8" thick (the thinner you roll the dough, the better the cookies will hold their detail). Using cookie cutters dipped in flour, cut cookies about an inch apart. Gently peel the excess dough away from the cut cookies and set excess dough aside to re-roll. Slide parchment paper with cookies onto cookie sheet.
6. Bake cookies for about 11 to 12 minutes or until just beginning to very lightly brown. Let cookies cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then remove cookies to cooling rack until completely cool.
7. While one pan of cookies bakes, you can prepare the next pan for baking. Always return any dough you're not using at the moment to the fridge to keep it cold. Once the dough gets warm, it softens and is harder to work with. It's better to keep the dough cold than to add a lot of flour.
8. Store cookies in an airtight container, and they will keep well for several days. These freeze well, too. 

To make the hearts: I used purchased refrigerated sugar cookie dough. Cut off a few inches of dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle dough liberally with flour and knead in until well mixed. Knead in a few drops of red food coloring until it is the desired shade. Again, keep this dough refrigerated until needed, and in between rollings.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to 1/8" (or thickness of your gingerbread cookies). Cut heart shapes with a small cookie cutter. Using the same heart cookie cutter, cut hearts out of the house-shaped gingerbread cookies and remove. Carefully place the sugar cookie heart into the gingerbread cookie and bake. This goes more easily if the dough is very cold.

You could bake the gingerbread hearts into small cookies, but I just rolled them back into the gingerbread dough.

Here are more ways to use the Gingerbread Cookies recipe:

 Ginger Cookies with Tea

Cookies for Santa!

Gingerbread Cookies may have been taken to some of these great parties! 

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Let's Get Social Sunday! 11/3/2013

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Lets Get Social Sunday is on 9 different blogs every week! That means maximum exposure for you :) 

Welcome to Let's Get Social Sunday!

This party is for bloggers who wish to make new friends and gain new followers by sharing social media sites!


(1) Follow your hosts and co-hosts in as many ways as possible. We are the first 9 link-ups in each category.  Our Facebook links are right here- the rest of our links can be found below.


Two Ingredient Southwestern Chicken (Crock Pot)

I make Two Ingredient Southwestern Chicken pretty frequently. It's versatile, easy, and delicious- it can be shredded, diced, left whole, whatever is needed. You can make several meals out of it, and you can freeze what you don't use right away.

You're busy; this is something that doesn't require a lot of prep or fussing over.  

Two Ingredient Southwestern Chicken (Crock Pot)

Printable recipe

4.5 to 5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, visible fat removed
2 (16 oz.) jars salsa (I like Walmart's World Table Roasted Tomato Chipotle Salsa)*


Place chicken breasts evenly in a 6 quart slow cooker. Cut larger breasts in half so everything will cook at about the same rate. Sprinkle chicken breasts lightly with salt, if desired. Pour both jars of salsa evenly over chicken to cover all. Cook on low for 8 to 9 hours or high for 4 to 5 hours. Of course, you know these times are approximate- everyone's crock pot seems to cook a little differently.

When the chicken breasts are done to your liking, you can leave them whole (with the sauce spooned over them), chunk them for stews, shred for tacos, whatever you like. It will look like you have a lot of sauce in the pot, but when you shred the chicken, it soaks up a lot of it.

This chicken freezes really well for a long time. I don't think you're supposed to freeze cooked chicken for over about 6 months, but I found a bag of this in the back of the freezer the other day (unlabeled, arrgh), and it might have been close to a year old. It was delicious and we didn't die, but you should probably be more responsible than that.

Bonus! :) One of my favorite ways to use Two Ingredient Southwestern Chicken is in this soup (also easy, and fast):

Southwestern Black Bean Soup 

Printable Recipe
Makes 3 quarts

1 cup uncooked instant brown rice

2 (14.5 oz.) cans chicken broth
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes (do not drain) I like Hunt's Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes.
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 small can (4 oz.) chopped green chiles (do not drain)
1 cup shredded Two Ingredient Southwestern Chicken

In a large saucepan, combine rice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and let simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Add everything else, bring to a boil again, and simmer, uncovered, for another 5 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Freezes well.

*Cook's Notes: Use a good, flavorful salsa when preparing Two Ingredient Southwestern Chicken. I have used several different kinds and flavors, including a peach salsa that was very good.

Southwestern Chicken may have been taken to some of these fun parties!

This post was written by me and was originally published at Texas Women Bloggers.