With Thanksgiving behind us, the Christmas season is in full swing in our house. Today I’m starting a four-part Christmas series, and I hope you’ll join us as we work our way through some of my favorite recipes for this time of year. Up first is my Great Aunt Peggy’s Cranberry Apple Casserole.
First, let me introduce you to my Aunt Peggy. Aunt Peggy was my mom’s aunt (grandmother’s sister), and she lived in small-town North Carolina about 45 minutes from our house. When my grandmother passed away my freshman year of high school, Peggy became like a surrogate grandmother. The bond wasn’t quite the same because there’s just no replacing Mima, but having her made the loss more bearable. We didn’t see her as much as my grandmother, but we always made a special trip to visit with her on Christmas Eve. Peggy also passed away about five years ago, and I miss those trips and visits.
Fast forward to today. I was reading through an old church cookbook Peggy gave to my mom years ago, and came across this recipe. I remember the first Christmas Eve I went to her house when she was making it. I was in high school, and she had the apple/cranberry/sugar mixture in the casserole dish and was finishing up with the topping. We (my mom, sister and I) immediately got her recipe and made it for several years after. For no real reason we just stopped making it, I guess because we would have other recipes to try out. Once I came back across her recipe, I knew I wanted to bring it to the blog to share with all of you.
You know the church cookbooks I’m talking about. The ladies of the church submit their recipes and it’s all compiled into a little bound book. The recipes involve lots of margarine, canned soup, sugar and any other processed food you know isn’t good for you, but it’s grandma’s recipe so OF COURSE I’M EATING IT. You may not know this about me (though I’m sure it won’t be a surprise), but I love reading cookbooks for fun. Like cover to cover. I’ve never actually read through a church cookbook like this, so when I saw it out on my mom’s counter I decided to check it out. Mainly because I wanted a laugh at how absurd some old recipes can be.
Back to the cranberry apple casserole. Guys, I have to admit. It’s a stretch to call this a casserole. I would categorize it under a crisp or somewhere else in the dessert category, but Peggy called it a casserole, so that makes it a side dish mmmmkay? The reality here, though, is that this is perfect as dessert with whipped cream or ice cream on top, but it also makes for a really really good breakfast…not that I’ve done that, but – ya know – I’m just thinking it could…okay, fiiine, I make this with hopes that I have leftovers for days, so I can have this for breakfast. Apples, cranberries and oatmeal make it a 100% justifiable morning meal.
This cranberry apple casserole is perfect for your Christmas table. In my not-so-surprising fashion, I’m going to list the reasons why:
- I mean LOOK AT HER. She’s gorgeous, and that red is perfect for the season.
- This can be made a day in advance and just reheated before serving.
- It can be served hot or room temp. If you have a bunch of dishes to make for the big day, do this first. Once it’s done you can just leave it until mealtime.
- It’s reallllllly good with vanilla ice cream on top.
- ^^that is worth mentioning again.
- The leftovers last for days.
There you have it. I hope you’ll add this into your Christmas menu along with any other recipes that make you nostalgic for the past. Here is Peggy’s recipe as written. If you want to double the topping, I won’t be mad about it.
Cranberry Apple Casserole
2 large (or 3-4 small/medium) sweet apples* – unpeeled and chopped
1 bag fresh cranberries
1 ¼ c sugar
1 stick butter – melted
½ c chopped pecans
½ c brown sugar (light or dark is fine)
¾ c quick-cooking oatmeal
1/3 c flour
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Mix the chopped apples, cranberries and sugar and pour into a 9×13 baking dish.
- Combine the melted butter, chopped pecans, brown sugar, oatmeal and flour, and spread evenly over the cranberry apple mixture.
- Cook uncovered in the oven for one hour, or until the apples are soft and the mixture is bubbly.
*I generally use Fuji, Honeycrisp or Gala apples