You had me at bourbon: the cranberry recipe from That Mistletoe Moment

The story behind the story of the cranberry recipe… If you read my novella, “A Boyfriend by Christmas” in the multi-author holiday anthology THAT MISTLETOE MOMENT from Kensington, which released in September of this year, you might remember the opening scene. The heroine, Noelle, was in the middle of cooking her famous cranberry sauce to bring to her boyfriend’s parents’ house for dinner when disaster strikes. She is forced to run out to the food store for more ingredients, which is where she meets the hero, Nathan. They exchange recipes, which leads to so much more…

Noelle’s recipe is really my real life friend Donna’s recipe. She makes it every year and trust me it is INCREDIBLE! It is our pleasure to bring you the actual recipe, just in time for your holiday cooking.cranberry recipe

The recipe is in the photo of this post, and also on the RECIPE page, as well as pasted below. And, in case you missed the cranberry scene in my story, it follows the recipe for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

Drunken Cranberry Sauce

As seen in “A Boyfriend by Christmas” by Cat Johnson in THAT MISTLETOE MOMENT

3 bags cranberries (fresh, whole)

1 ½ cups bourbon

½ cup orange juice (good quality)

2 cups brown sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. cloves

½ tsp. allspice

½ tsp. nutmeg

2 Tbsp. orange peel (grated)

  • Rinse and pick through 3 bags of fresh cranberries discarding any berries that are split, soft or discolored. After sorting you might end up with only 2 bags worth of usable berries.
  • Put cranberries into a medium bowl and cover with 1½ cups of bourbon and ½ cup of orange juice.
  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.

The next day…

  • Pour the marinated cranberries and all liquid into a medium saucepan and add all remaining ingredients.
  • Bring just to a slow boil and then lower heat.
  • Simmer until mixture reduces and gels (about a half hour), while stirring occasionally.
  • Cool and serve


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As seen in “A Boyfriend by Christmas” in THAT MISTLETOE MOMENT

that mistletoe momentNoelle drove directly to the big megastore where she’d most likely be able to find the cranberries.

After parking in the first spot she saw in the lot, she ran to the entrance and breathed in relief when the automatic doors slid smoothly open. At least they were open.

One worry down. One more to go. She made a beeline for the produce and stalked up one side of the aisle and then down the other searching for whole bagged cranberries.

If she’d needed Brussels sprouts she’d have been fine, but the cranberries were eluding her.

Just when her hopes were beginning to wane, she spotted a tall, dark-haired man in front of her. He was so broad and muscular she would have noticed him anyway. But the fact that he had not one but two bags of cranberries in his hand had her running toward him.

“Oh, thank God.” She realized she’d said it aloud when he turned to level golden-brown eyes on her as he cocked up one dark brow. “Sorry. I just really need cranberries and I was afraid they’d be out.”

He cringed. “They are out now. These are the last two bags.”

She looked at the shelf and saw the empty place where the cranberries used to be, right between a big display of oranges on one side and a row of boxed figs on the other.

Sure, figs they had plenty of, but except for the two bags the hulking hottie held captive in his hands, there were no more cranberries.

It was irrational, she knew, but Noelle suddenly felt close to tears. “Oh. Okay.”

She’d turned to go when he said, “Wait.”

Spinning back, she watched him draw in a deep breath, expanding his broad chest to even greater proportions beneath his U.S. Navy sweatshirt. “Take one.”

She resisted the urge to grab the bag out of his hand. “Are you sure?”

“Yeah. Mom always makes much too much cranberry sauce anyway. She’ll be fine with just the one. It’ll save my poor dad from eating it on everything for the next month. To be perfectly honest, her cranberry sauce is not very good.”

“Oh no. I’m sorry.”

He dismissed her concern with a wave of one hand. “It’s all right. We humor her and pretend we like it.”

Noelle considered for barely a second before she said, “You know what? I have a really good recipe for cranberry sauce. It’s got orange and bourbon and brown sugar. Would you like me to send it to you?”

“Yes! Definitely.”

She laughed. “That was enthusiastic.”

He smiled until it crinkled his eyes in the corners. “You had me at bourbon.”

“Yeah, that part usually wins over the men.” She punched the ingredients and quick instructions into a new text in her cell phone and held it out to him. “Here. Put your cell number in there and hit Send. That will text you my recipe.”

“Great. And I’ll thank you in advance on behalf of my father and all of the others attending today’s dinner who won’t be subjected to my mother’s cranberry sauce.” He punched in the numbers and handed the cell back.

She took the phone. “It’s the least I can do, considering you’re giving me one of your bags.”

“It’s my pleasure . . .” He extended his hand and frowned. “I’m sorry, I don’t even know your name.”

“Noelle.” She juggled the cell to her left hand so she could grasp his right one.

“I’m Nathan.”

“Nathan,” she repeated as she felt how strong and warm his grip was.

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