Susan Vaughan here. I posted two killer Thanksgiving recipes last year, and this year I’m reprising the cranberry sauce one and adding a new one.

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.

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.


Ingredients: 12 ounces fresh cranberries, 1 ½ cups of water, 1 ½ cups of sugar. Combine all in a saucepan and heat on stove top.

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 Maine version of the sweet-potato/yam casserole my mother used to bake.


PUREED YAMS Ingredients for 6 servings: 3 yams or sweet potatoes, cooked, then peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces, 4 tablespoons butter, cut up, 1 tsp nutmeg, ½ tsp cinnamon, Salt and pepper to taste, ½ cup maple syrup (or to taste). I think this recipe would be good with winter squash as well.

Sprinkle cooked and cut-up yams with spices, maple syrup and butter. Mash by hand or lightly in food processor until pureed, but take care not to overwork them. Bake in 9 X 11″ dish at 375 for 15-20 minutes to heat.

And if you make it the way my mother did and the way my husband likes, top with tiny marshmallows and broil until they melt and/or brown.

Sweet-Potato-Casserole marshmallows

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

*** My latest release is ALWAYS A SUSPECT, the prequel to my Task Force Eagle series. You can find more information about my books at

Always a Suspect 3D small

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  1. Thank you, Susan, for this timely post. I have been assigned to bring cranberry sauce to my family’s Thanksgiving celebration this year, and was about to go looking for a good recipe today. It’s one of the many wonderful things about this blog – it provides whatever you need on so many levels. Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. MCWriTers says:

    Susan, I used your recipe last year and it was great and simple!


  3. Yummy recipes, Susan. I make the sweat potato pie casserole as well. The kids love it! I’m a food snob (love to cook!) but I do enjoy the jellied cranberry sauce. I know, I know. However, I also make a fantabulous blueberry-cranberry-cabernet sauce to go along with the feast. So. Stinkin’. Good.

  4. Blueberry-cranberry-cabernet? Wow, I want that recipe!

  5. I agree with you, Susan, about the canned, jellied cranberry sauce – too sweet and little flavour. Even the canned whole-berry version isn’t quite right for me. I’ve been making my own for years (also a food snob *wink*) and my recipe is similar to yours, but I add the finely grated zest and juice from one orange. Yum!

  6. Emily Allen says:

    Great recipe, Susan. I love sweet-potato casserole, but I’ve never put any spices in it. May have to try this recipe.

  7. L.C. Rooney says:

    I always felt that making homemade cranberry sauce was just one more thing I wouldn’t have time to do during the busy week before Thanksgiving or Christmas. Who knew it was three ingredients and it thickened on its own?? You’ve inspired me to add just one more (easy-peasy!) thing to this year’s Thanksgiving dinner. Thank you — and have a wonderful holiday, Susan!

  8. Great post, Susan. I wrote about my mother’s cranberry relish on Helena Fairfax’s blog today. Until my mother wasn’t able to make the sauce, she always brought it. I thought it must be difficult. Was amazed how easy it is. We’re going away this year. First time ever and I’m not cooking. Seems odd. Like your husband, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
    One of my daughter’s makes the sweet potato caserrole, but it’s topped with brown sugar, nuts, and butter. Good enough to be a desert. I’ll share. Happy Thanksgiving.

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