Susan Vaughan here. Yes, I know Thanksgiving comes later in the month, but sharing these killer Thanksgiving recipes allows time to shop for ingredients.

Thanksgiving is my husband’s favorite holiday—family and friends, great food, but no pressure about gifts—so we have the complete Thanksgiving turkey dinner, no matter it’s just the two of us. Back in the Dark Ages when I grew up, the only cranberry sauce I knew was a tasteless jelly that came in a can (sorry, Ocean Spray). One spoonful and I decided this side to the turkey extravaganza was not for me. As an adult, I shunned even homemade sauce, thinking it would be no better. It wasn’t until I married that I learned to love the real thing. At my in-laws’ home for our first Thanksgiving as a married couple, of course I couldn’t turn down my mother-in-law’s homemade whole-berry cranberry sauce. Yeah, it’s a cliché in novels when an author describes taste as exploding on the tongue, but that was exactly my experience. At last, a cranberry sauce that made my taste buds dance. Every Thanksgiving since, I’ve made her killer recipe and am sharing it with you in her memory. The recipe can be adjusted for different amounts of berries.

Whole-Berry Cranberry Sauce

Whole-Berry Cranberry Sauce



Ingredients: 12 ounces fresh cranberries, 1 ½ cups of water, 1 ½ cups of sugar.

Combine all in a saucepan and heat on stovetop. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and boil about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly, then pour into a bowl or mold. Chill. The sauce jells nicely and looks pretty, almost too pretty to eat.

Next up is a to-die-for pumpkin pie recipe. It’s a lower-fat version of the classic dessert, but no one ever notices the difference (and I’ve kept the low-fat secret from my husband for years).



Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Ingredients: 3 eggs or 4 egg whites, 1 can pumpkin, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ginger, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg; 1/8 teaspoon cloves; ½ teaspoon salt, 1 can (14 ounces) Eagle Brand Fat Free Sweetened Condensed Milk, a nine-inch unbaked pie crust.

In a large bowl, beat eggs slightly. Add pumpkin, spices, salt. Beat until well blended. Slowly add the condensed milk and mix well. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 25-30 minutes longer, or until a knife comes out clean. Serves 8.

Anyone who would like printable versions of these recipes, email me at Put “Thanksgiving recipes” in the Subject line. And Happy Thanksgiving to all!

*** Watch for sales of my Task Force Eagle books, NEVER SURRENDER, ONCE BURNED, and TWICE A TARGET, coming soon on Amazon. You can find more information about my books at

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  1. MCWriTers says:

    Nice, Susan! My mom made a raw cranberry relish that has become my son’s regular contribution to Thanksgiving. Very simple. Dump 1 bag washed cranberries in a food processor and chop. Move to bowl and chop 1 whole orange. Add to cranberries and then chop 1 large unpeeled, but cored, apple. Stir and add sugar to taste.


    • Kate,
      Thanks for the relish recipe. Very easy, I see, and no cooking involved. I’ve eaten similar cranberry relish dishes and enjoyed them. I’ll make a note of this one.

  2. Hey, Susan. I make my mother’s fresh cranberry sauce just like this. Didn’t start doing it until after she died. Thought all along it must be terribly difficult. What fun to find how easy it was to have the real thing. I do remember eating the canned cranberry jelly, but it was if mother was making pork chops and dressing when the real cranberries weren’t available.
    And your pumpkin pie recipe! When we were in New England for our fall trip, I bought dishtowels with this recipe on it. Thought it was my mother’s. Wanted both daughters to have it. LOL Wasn’t until we all looked at the towels together, we realized it wasn’t the same recipe. It’s bot Eagle Brand in it! Though I am a strict traditionalist, I am going to make this new recipe this year. One traditional pie and one with your (and the dish towel). Will let you know the results!

  3. I’m going to have to try that cranberry recipe 🙂 I told my mom I’d bring green bean casserole, but I’m still looking for a unique, more home-made style recipe for that dish. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Alice Duncan says:

    Oh, boy! Somebody else who likes cranberry sauce to be CRANBERRY SAUCE and not cranberry/orange/whatever sauce. I wanna try the pumpkin pie recipe, too. Thank you!

  5. Emily Allen says:

    Thanks Susan. Both your recipe look great. But in are house it’s can’t be whole cranberry sauce. The pumpkin pie sounds great, might just have to try it.

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