If you love to cook and can’t exactly afford to quit your day job and go to culinary school then Whole Foods cooking classes are the way to go. They only allow a small number of attendees so the classes are intimate and are led by their awesome culinary director, Ani Loizzo.

Last Wednesday I took a Very Merry Cranberry cooking class with friends/coworkers Maija and Brooke. We figured it would be perfect to have a few new, seasonally-appropriate recipes going into the holidays. The class was a lot of fun and best of all, you get to sample all the food throughout the class. And these classes are reasonably priced, this one was only $28 and ran an hour and a half.

Recipes at the end of the post.

These mock cosmopolitans were made with 100% cranberry juice and were a little too tart for my taste. I will probably add some symple syrup (equal parts water and sugar and boil until the sugar melts) when I make these. They are a perfect cocktail (or mocktail) for any upcoming holiday party.

Making cranberry sauce is so much easier than I thought. I always think of my sister, Kat, when I think of cranberries. She is the only one at Thanksgiving that really cares about cranberry sauce and loves it, even right out of the can. I will definitely make this homemade sauce for her next year.

Homemade scones! I’m not sure it gets much better than a warm scone right out of the oven. They were surprisingly easy to make and cranberries can be substituted for almost any fruit or even ham, cheddar and chives if you want a savory scone.
This salad was amazing, and easy! It was the perfect sweet and savory combination with the dried cranberries, cranberry vinaigrette and gorgonzola.

Now for the recipes (recipe credits to Whole Foods and Ani Loizzo):

Mock cosmopolitans

Ingredients

4 cups cranberry juice
2 cups club soda
Squeeze of fresh lime juice (1 lime per four cosmos)
Ice
Reserved lime peal, for garnish

Directions

Add cranberry juice to a pitcher and squeeze in the juice of one lime (remove peal first with a vegetable peeler). Top with club soda and stir. Pour into glasses filled with ice and garnish with lime peel. Serves 4.

Note, I would add vodka to the mix here!!! Set a bottle of vodka next to the pitcher and let people fill their own, to taste.

_____________________________________________

Whole berry cranberry sauce

Ingredients
1 pound cranberries, about 4 cups
¼ cups EACH orange juice, water and sugar

Directions

Bring all ingredients to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 10-15 minutes. Either serve whole, mash and serve chunky or blend until smooth. Makes about 3 cups. Freeze leftover portions up to six months.

___________________________________________

Spinach salad with gorgonzola and cranberry vinaigrette

Ingredients

¼ cup each cranberries and balsamic vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon each sugar, Dijon mustard and chopped onion
12 cups baby spinach
4 slices pumpernickel bread, cubed and toasted
1 cup each gorgonzola, toasted walnuts, and dried cranberries (we used dried cranberries sweetened with apple juice)

Directions

In a food processor, combine cranberries, vinegar, sugar, Dijon mustard and onion and pulse to puree. Slowly drizzle in oil until it forms a smooth emulsion. Add dressing to the bottom of a large mixing bowl and add dried cranberries and walnuts. Toss to coat. Serve topped with gorgonzola. Serves 6-8.
_________________________________

Cranberry scones

Ingredients

1 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
Zest of two lemons
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) chilled butter, diced
1 cup dried cranberries
½ – 1 cup half and half

Direction

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and lemon zest. Add in chilled butter and mash with your fingertips to form a mixture that looks like bread crumbs. Mix in cranberries. Add 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, then add half and half until a soft dough forms. Divide dough in half. Pat each half into a six inch disk and cut into wedges with a pizza cutter. Arrange on a cookie sheet and brush with remaining lemon juice. Sprinkle with sugar and bake 18 minutes or until nicely browned. Makes 12 scones.