Karen’s Christmas Pomegranate Cranberry Salsa

Although I love my mom’s walnut pineapple cranberry sauce in a Tupperware Jell-O ring mold topped with sweetened cream cheese, it always just seemed like dessert to me. It wasn’t quite a sauce/side for the main entree plate. But, here's the thing about it. Every time I make it, I think of my mom. She loved this dish; to me it’s a real 50s-60s throwback recipe complete with so many fond family memories around our “Big Fat Greek Dining Table.” Sure, I love making it and what a great day ahead dish to add to the feast. And, when it is unmolded and presented on a platter it looks beautiful but sorry, Mom, it is now served on our dessert buffet table. But we can’t have Christmas without also serving cranberries on the dinner table. And, of course, we have the canned jelly that is pushed out of the can onto a lettuce-lined plate just for our youngest daughter. It is then sliced and daughter Karie Lynn gets a big grin on her face — you see, that’s her favorite! Every now and then, as a joke, I will just bring out the can on a plate with a can opener. That always gets her riled up, ha ha ha, and the entire family has a great laugh all around the table!

But this recipe I’m sharing is one I have perfected and it is my favorite. Also, this is a great after Christmas or Thanksgiving leftover to use in a pound cake in place of the bananas, and it is killer on top of cream cheese with crackers on the side as an appetizer. Or even step it up and spread on a wheel of Brie that's wrapped up in puffed pastry and bake it. Now, if you want my mom’s, aka Grandma Jean's recipe, I have attached it below. “Please Join Our Table” and enjoy the cranberries savory or sweet — either way they are a great holiday dish!

Karen’s Christmas Pomegranate Cranberry Salsa


2 sprigs fresh mint, no stems

1 bunch cilantro, no stems

1 1/2 bunches Italian parsley, no stems

1 small red onion

1 pomegranate, seeds removed (discard skin and white membrane), or buy fresh POM seeds

2 tablespoons lime juice

1-2 jalapeños (I suggest you start with one and add more if needed to kick up the spicy heat factor.)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon lemon pepper

1 can cranberry sauce with berries (NOT JELLY)

DIRECTIONS: In a food processor or chopper, add the mint, cilantro and parsley, pulse about 5 -6 times, add the jalapeño, pomegranate seeds, salt, pepper and EVOO and pulse again about 2-4 times. In a large bowl combine the pulsed mixture with the cranberry sauce, mix well, cover and chill at least 2 hours.

Pomegranate Cranberry Salsa Pound Cake

It's basically banana bread except with the above sauce instead of mashed bananas. You can even make it savory by adding shredded pepper jack cheese or even Gruyère and reducing or omitting the sugar.


1 cup pomegranate cranberry sauce

1/4 cup melted butter or EVOO, extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 cup sugar

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup rough chopped walnuts

1/4 cup pomegranate cranberry sauce

Extra chopped nuts for topping, optional

*Cream cheese frosting, optional. This is a nod to my mom as her cranberry pineapple sauce always had cream cheese.

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan, set aside. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients together. Add remaining ingredients, except nuts. Stir just until evenly combined then fold in walnuts. Spread into the prepared pan. Swirl the remaining cranberry sauce on top, top with nuts. Bake about 50-60 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely and frost if desired.

 Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS: Combine cream cheese and butter and mix on low speed for a minute. Add sugar and strawberries. Blend frosting on low until sugar is incorporated.

Jean Kariotis’ Strawberry Thanksgiving Jell-O

I make this each Christmas in memory of Mom (08/07/27-12/25/08).


1 package (6 ounce) strawberry Jell-O

1 cup boiling water (note: I use the drained pineapple juice and add enough water to make 1 cup, then boil it)

3 ripe medium bananas, mashed

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

2 boxes (10 oz. each) frozen strawberries (or omit one box and replace with one can or cup cranberry sauce with berries)

1 can crushed pineapple, drain and save the juice

2 cups (one pint) sour cream (note: sometimes I replace 1 cup of the sour cream with strained Greek yogurt, not low fat)

DIRECTIONS: In a medium bowl, combine the Jell-O, and boiling water, pineapple juice mixture. Stir, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, until gelatin is completely dissolved. Cool for 10 minutes. Stir in bananas, pecans, nuts and strawberries. Divide this mixture in half. Pour 1/2 of the gelatin mixture into a pan 12 x 8 inches or a large Jell-O ring mold. Place in the fridge and chill until set about 1 hour. Keep remaining 1/2 of gelatin at room temperature. Now, take the partially set Jell-O out of the fridge and carefully spread the sour cream over it. Slowly pour on remaining gelatin. Cover and place back in fridge until it sets, about 1 1/2 hours or overnight. If using Jell-O mold, gently flip over onto a prepared platter and serve.

Karen Boughton
Author: Karen BoughtonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I grew up in a big, Greek, cooking family. I married my high school sweetheart and soon had three daughters. My husband and I worked in the family’s Greek restaurant, “Zorba’s,” for several years before moving to Baton Rouge and eventually Corpus Christi. There I taught microwave cooking classes for Amana.in studio and on television for three years before moving to Kingwood in the late '80s. I reached out to learn more about regional and international foods, spending 16 years in management in private athletic/dining/country clubs for ClubCorp, where I embraced health and cooking. In 2008 I joined the Tribune Newspapers as food editor, the same time that I became a nutrition advisor and USANA Health Sciences Associate. These two passions have given me better health and the freedom to live life my way.

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