Cranberry-jalapeño appetizer delivers zippy spin on comfort food

By From the Heart | Carol Jessen-Klixbull |Taste of the Diocese

Nov 18

The number of new or classic recipes that surface for Thanksgiving can nearly overwhelm us as we plan this year’s rendition of the time-honored feast. I enjoy watching cooking shows on TV or perusing magazines, blogs and Pinterest to delight in the creativity other cooks — from homemakers to top chefs — perform with the foods in this traditional meal. My long-time friend and occasional “From the Heart” blogger, Sheila Ballweg-Pulju, does the same.

Sheila remembered another friend applauding a cranberry-jalapeño cream cheese appetizer that her family devours every holiday. After looking through several similar recipes, Sheila found a version on that she plans to prepare for her family next Thursday. She made a special batch of it this week for The Visitor staff to sample. (What a sweet friend she is!)

This Cranberry-Jalapeño Cream Cheese Dip is the first recipe in “The Cranberry Collection” I plan to share with you between now and Christmas. I hope your family and guests love it!

Cranberry-Jalapeño Cream Cheese Dip
Sheila Ballweg-Pulju

1 (12 oz.) package fresh cranberries, chopped*
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 small jalapeño, finely chopped*
1 cup sugar*
1/4 tsp. cumin
2 tbsp. lemon juice
Dash of salt

2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese*

Crackers, tortilla chips, pretzels, celery sticks, etc.**

Mix the chopped cranberries, green onion, cilantro, jalapeño, sugar, cumin, lemon juice and salt. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least four hours before serving. Stir the mixture frequently while it is in the refrigerator to incorporate the sugar.

To serve, either spread the cream cheese out on a plate or simply place the blocks of it on a plate or platter. Pour the cranberry mixture over the cream cheese and serve with your favorite dip-carrying tidbit — crackers, tortilla chips, etc.

Yield: 15-20 servings

*Notes from Sheila:

  • I chopped the cranberries with a mini food processor. I was careful not to overdo the chopping as I didn’t want the cranberries to release their juice.
  • Wearing disposable gloves when chopping jalapeños helps to avoid the capsaicin in the peppers from burning your skin. You can add all or some of the seeds — depending upon the level of heat you want in the dish. I added all the seeds with a small jalapeño. When I tasted the dip right after preparing it, I thought it was too hot but later that day, the heat of the peppers had subsided as the flavors in the dish mingled with each other.
  • The original recipe called for 1 1/4 cups of sugar but Carol and I feel that 1 cup (or even 3/4 cup) would make the mixture sweet enough.
  • If you have two occasions that are occurring within a week or so of each other, half of the recipe could be served at each if you divide the cranberry mixture in half and use only one block of cream cheese.

**Notes from Carol:

  • This creation is simply delicious all on its own! It could even be served without the cream cheese and crackers as a cranberry sauce variation at a meal. (Actually, I ate it this way and really liked it!)
  • Other ideas that surfaced as co-workers sampled it are topping a cracker with a piece of turkey and then “garnishing” it the cranberry mixture or using it as a zesty spread in a turkey wrap.


Special blessings to each of you this Thanksgiving!

“Bless the food before us, the family beside us and the love between us. Amen.”







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