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Showing posts from November, 2017


I never had eggnog until I met my husband. I never tried it as a child because the name always through me off; I never desired to drink eggs. It sounded unappetizing. My husband, however, always had some at holiday parties as a kid, and so when we began dating and visiting one another’s families over the holidays, I took a sip of the stuff to be polite. I am so glad I did. Let this be a lesson; always try new foods, regardless of the name, regardless of your preconceived notions. You may be avoiding your favorite treat! The eggnog I tried that night was Hood’s Golden Eggnog, a very delicious storebought variety. I prefer to make my own, however, because then I can control the spices, sugar and the amount of rum I want to add (sometimes a lot, sometimes none). This is excellent with a dollop of whipped cream on top served in punch glasses, or a guilty sip here or there at midnight. Enjoy! Ingredients: 4 egg yolks 2/3 granulated sugar 2 ½ cups whole milk 1 ¼ heavy crea

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Streusel Topping

Can I confess something? I don’t really care for pumpkin pie. The pies I crave during Thanksgiving are apple and pecan; pumpkin always felt obligatory for me. Maybe it’s the lack of texture, or the plainness of its presentation. Still, I feel strongly that there must be a pumpkin-flavored dessert at the Thanksgiving table.  I tried a pumpkin cheesecake recipe a few years ago, and slowly tweaked little things about it. My two biggest changes were a gingersnap crust instead of graham cracker and adding a decadent streusel topping. Now my dessert has pumpkin flavor, different textures, and a festive look to it.  Try adding this to your holiday table; it might well become tradition. Ingredients: Crust: 1 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs 1/3 cup butter, melted ¼ cup granulated sugar 1 teaspoon salt Filling: 32 ounces packages cream cheese, softened 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin  1/2 cup granulated sugar 1/2 cup firmly packed brown su

Apple Pie

Can it be an American Thanksgiving without apple pie? I would wager there would be open rebellion if I did not bring my apple pie to Thanksgiving; it’s classic, delicious and seeing it on the table is very comforting.  By getting to bake it, my house gets to smell beautifully seasonal, full of apples and spice.  I think the biggest challenge with apple pie is selecting the right apple. The apple needs to keep its shape when cooked; although I love them, it rules out Macintosh, which mushifies when exposed to heat. Granny Smiths are commonly used but a pie with just them can be a little bit too tart; Golden Delicious is another traditional selection but those pies can be a little too sweet. My solution was to use half and half. Bingo! A perfectly balanced pie! I love double crust pies because then I can have a lot of fun with the top crust. For apple pies to be served at Thanksgiving, I love to use my leaf cookie cutters and cover the pie with crust cut; it looks like a crust o

Apple Crisp

Apple crisp is my very favorite dessert. I make it in the fall, winter, spring and summer. I serve it with whipped cream creme anglaise, ice cream heavy cream or by itself. I eat it piping hot and room temp. If I see it on a restaurant’s dessert menu, I always order it. I could eat it breakfast, lunch and dinner and never tire of it. Tart apples combined with rich, buttery streusel and crunchy nuts with vanilla ice cream melting over it has to be the most satisfying bite of food in the world.  I have had many version of apple crisp; some use no nuts, some use pecans, some use walnuts. I am absolutely pro-nut, but I can’t pick a favorite so I combine walnuts and pecans to have the best of both worlds.  Granny Smith and Macintosh apples are both lovely and tart; I love that Macintosh apples turn into a mushy applesauce filling when baked but also how Granny Smiths keep their shape. To create a filling of equal parts applesauce and apple slices, I use equal parts Granny Smith a

French Vanilla Ice Cream

It’s Thanksgiving which means pies, pies, pies. If you want to make you’re a la mode really special, you can make the vanilla ice cream yourself. I have an ice cream maker with a compressor unit, but I have also had luck with the freezer bowl machine as well (such as Kitchen Aid). The secret ingredient is the rum which prevents the ice cream from freezing solid. I never liked vanilla ice cream until I made it for myself with a real vanilla bean. Holy moly- what an immense difference. Pure creaminess, no icy texture at all, and rich, floral vanilla flavor singing through…. I can’t eat storebought vanilla ice cream any more. This recipe has ruined it for me. My only substitute when I can’t make this myself is to go to a local ice cream shop and buy myself a half gallon of their French vanilla to tide me over.  Make this at your own risk…. Ingredients: 7 egg yolks 2/3 cup granulated sugar 2 1/2 cups milk ½ cup heavy cream 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste, or 1 vanilla

Brown Butter Pecan Pie

My husband’s favorite pie of all time is pecan pie. I never ate it before meeting him; it always seemed super sweet and super rich. And guess what? It definitely is. I can only manage a sliver of that decadence before feeling very full; if you know me, you must know how very rich this dessert must be.  It’s a very simple pie to make. I tweaked the recipes lightly from the back of a Karo syrup bottle; my biggest change is that I brown the butter. I think it adds an extra nuttiness and depth of flavor. My husband thinks it is perfection in a pie plate. Good thing, too; he is going to have to eat most of it! Ingredients: Filling: 1 cup of Karo light corn syrup 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk 1 cup granulated sugar 2 tablespoons of butter ¼ teaspoon salt 1 ½ cups pecans 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste 1 tablespoon spiced rum Crust: 1 ½ cups of Pastry Flour 9 Tbsp Cold Butter, cut into cubes ½ tsp Salt 3 to 5 Tbsp of Ice cold vodka Method: In a food p

Stuffed Turkey Breast with Gravy

Since I live with just my husband (plus my three cats and dog), I do not make a whole bird for my own Thanksgiving table. I have in the past, and even with endless turkey themed leftover dishes (soup, sandwiches, hash, etc), we never manage to eat it all. It’s just such a waste. Someday my father might let me provide the bird for our family feast, but until then, I rather like making a stuffed turkey breast. This is a fun twist on Thanksgiving Day presentation; I was inspired by the hasselback potato and the idea was born out of a desire to stuff the breast but not having any body cavity. I think it looks awfully fun on my holiday table and will generously feed 4 people, or two people with a consumable amount of leftovers.  I make enough stuffing to stuff the breast and also to bake in a dish on its own. The stuffing in the breast gets crispy on the top and full of lovely turkey juices, and the extra in a baking dish is just bonus! (I like having plenty of stuffing; leftovers

Decadent Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes must be buttery, creamy, well-seasoned, and smooth without being gluey. You may believe this is a simple starch to prepare but it is full of pratfalls! First of all, this is a holiday carb; go all in. Don’t fear the cream, don’t fear the butter, don’t fear the salt. Do invest in a ricer; this ensures the smoothest potatoes while avoiding the sad glue texture that occurs when potatoes are over-mashed. Plus, no peeling! These potatoes make a welcome receptacle for gravy, but are delicious enough eaten with nothing else. I quite like making a large batch and using the leftovers in breakfast hash, potato pancakes, potato puffs and the humble leftovers sandwich. Ingredients: 3 pounds of Yukon gold potatoes, cut into ¾ inch chunks 1 stick of butter Salt Pepper 1 cup of heavy cream ½ cup of sour cream, room temperature Bunch of chives, for garnish Method: Into a large stock pot, add potatoes and enough cold water to cover them. Add 1 ½ tablespo

Cranberry Relish

Cranberry relish is a strange Thanksgiving Day tradition; I never eat relish of any kind with any poultry I prepare all year long, but I would feel bereft of the glorious sweet red concoction if I left it out of my holiday spread.  I only eat a spoonful of it too with my holiday meal, a cheerful splash of red on a plate filled with beige (delicious as that beige may be).  My cranberry relish gets its workout in leftovers; it is a must as a topping for stuffing waffles and as a spread in thanksgiving sandwiches.   This recipe comes together quickly and can be made in advance. Ditch the can and try this out for size! Ingredients: 12 ounces of cranberries 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced 1 cup sugar 1 cup water 1 tablespoon orange zest Juice of one large orange 1 ounce of triple sec Method: Combine all the ingredients into a medium saucepan on medium high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer

Peas and Maple Bourbon Caramelized Onions

Not all additions to a holiday table should be decadent or difficult to make; this recipe is easy peasey (don’t you love my puns?). The tough part is caramelizing the onions, which takes patience. But oh man, what heat and time does to onions! The sugars get caramelized and that simple allium is elevated to the highest stratosphere of taste. Combine that with sweet, simple peas and you have got yourself a holiday hit that adds a much needed pop of green to the table. Ingredients: 32 ounce bag of frozen peas 6 large sweet onions, sliced pole to pole 2 tablespoon oil Splash bourbon 1 tablespoon maple syrup 2 tablespoons butter Salt and freshly cracked black pepper Method: In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the sliced onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent. Lower the heat, and continue to cook the onions until they are golden brown and greatly reduced in volume, about 30 minutes