Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Preparations - Sunday

Ethan is coming home on Tuesday and Don is going home from the hospital (after having been there for a bit more than 3 weeks) so I want to get as much of the food for the week done ahead of time. It will feel good to have a plan. Right now I feel overwhelmed by everything I need to get done. This list is only the food and table related work. I also want to get as much of the house clean as possible.

In order to get ready for Thanksgiving, today (Sunday) I...:

... made the turkey broth with veggies from scratch so that I can make the base of the turkey gravy ahead of time. I will do the last few steps on Thanksgiving, right after I take the turkey out of the oven;
... made the sausage, apple, veggie and herb portion of stuffing. Tomorrow I will make the cornbread.

On Monday I will make the ...:

... Cornbread for the stuffing;
... Spicy Bing Cherry Jam;
... Spiced nuts;
... Cranberry Relish;
... holiday crackers (the kind with the paper hat, a joke, candy, etc.).

On Tuesday I will...:

... figure out how we are going to arrange the couches and the table (we will bring in the picnic table for extra seating;
... work with Ellie to plan the table decorations including which table clothes we will use, the center pieces, etc.;
... get the fine china, the family silverware, etc. and get it all ready

On Wednesday I will make...:

... Pepakorka cookies;
... Pumpkin Pie
... Pecan Pie
... Nantucket Cranberry Pie
... set the table in the evening.

On Thursday I will...:

... get up early to start the turkey roasting;
... make the mashed potatoes in the morning and keep them warm in the crockpot;
... make the dough for rolls in my bread-maker and then bake them right after I take the turkey out of the oven;
... arrange the appetizers;
... mix the White Cranberry Spritzer;
... make whipped cream;

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving is nearly here, and I am not as ready as I usually am. I think gathering my recipes here will make me feel a bit more in control of what I am doing and making, so that I can put together a plan.

This year I putting together a charcuterie (cheese, sausage, nuts, fruit, etc. plate) in addition to some sweets like chocolates that my mother will provide and our usual pepakorka cookies. Here are a few images I've found that serve as inspiration:

It will feature:
a Cherry or Cranberry and Cherry Chutney that I make (recipes below)
Raspberries (maybe)
Frosted Cranberries (both pretty and really tasty!)
Meats -
* Summer Sausage
* Hot Sopressata Salame
* Romano Salame
* Calabrese (a really lovely salame type treat from Whole Foods)

Cheeses -
* Uniekaas 3 Year Gouda
* Aged Asiago infused with Balsamic Vinegar
* A salty Goat cheese of some sort
* Brie, maybe

Crackers -
Flatbread (everything)
Sesame Flatbread
Thin breadsticks (that I will make)

Olives (I don't know which kinds, yet)
Spiced nuts (something like smoked almonds)

We'll pair Rosato Wine from Talon Wineries (made by my good friend, Glenn), as well as a colorful Cranberry Spritzer for those who do not drink.

For dinner we will have:
Roasted Turkey (brined ahead of time)
Turkey Gravy
Mashed Potatoes (I am going to try keeping them warm in the crockpot this year.)
Sweet Potatoes Casserole, maybe
Green Bean and Onion Casserole (the standard one with the French fried onions on top)
Cranberry Relish (sugar free, made from cranberries and citrus)
Stuffing (both dry - made on the stove, and wet, stuff in the turkey)
Sparkling Cider

Our Desserts will include:
Pumpkin Pie
Pecan Pie
Nantucket Cranberry Pie
Whipped Cream

Here are most of the recipes I am considering using:

Cranberry Spritzer
from: Cooking Light, December 2010

2 3/4 cups white cranberry juice drink (such as Ocean Spray) (I used 100% Cranberry Juice)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
12 mint leaves
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 cups club soda, chilled
(1 1/2 cups white rum - I did not include this)
Pomegranate Seeds
Crushed ice


1. Combine cranberry juice, sugar, rosemary, and 12 mint leaves in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature. Strain juice mixture through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Stir in lime juice; cover and refrigerate.
2. Combine juice mixture, club soda, (and rum) in a large pitcher; stir well to combine. (optional - place pomegranate seeds in each glass along with a small quarter of a slice of lime) Serve mixture over crushed ice. Serve immediately.

Maureen Callahan, Cooking Light
Frosted Cranberries

2 cups Cranberries (clean and ready to go)
1 Egg White
1 TBL Water
1 TBL Light Corn Syrup
1 cup Granulated Sugar

1. Whip the egg white with the water and corn syrup.
2. Place the cranberries in this mix, stirring to be sure that all cranberries get moistened.
3. Place the sugar on a plate. Use a fork to strain a few cranberries at a time, dropping them into the sugar. Use a spoon to roll them around so as to coat them with sugar. Place them on a piece of waxed paper to dry. It takes about 1.5 hours to dry. These can be stored for a few days. I will use them as garnish. My kids like to eat them,too.

I've been hearing buzz about brining the turkey for a few years now. I had always worried that it would make it too salty. However, when Laura and I were talking turkey and recipes she told me about the one she uses. I decided that I would give it a try. Here's recipe from


Spiced Bing Cherry Jam Recipe

via: About Food Blog

Spices and almond liqueur give extra depth and dimension to easy bing cherry jam. This jam makes a nice kitchen gifts for any occasion.

4 cups pitted Bing cherries
1 (2-ounce) package powdered pectin
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup almond liqueur (amaretto)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4-1/2 cups sugar
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Place pitted cherries into a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Pour chopped cherries into a heavy 8-quart saucepan along with pectin, lemon juice, almond liqueur, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Bring to a rolling boil. Stir in sugar and return to a full boil. Reduce heat to a slow boil and cook for 3 minutes.

Pour into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace and seal with canning lids. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes or according to your canner manufacturer's instructions.

Yield: 5 to 6 half-pints
Clementine and Cranberry Chutney

1 tablespoon oil
3/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup sugar
2 clementines zested
juiced 11/2 cups about 12 ounces cranberries
1 -2 star anise (optional)

Cranberry Orange Relish

2 cups Fresh Cranberries
2/3 cup Sugar
3/4 cup Water
1/4-1/2 cup Orange Juice
Zest from 1 Orange

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan. Stir to combine and cook on medium until the cranberries begin to burst or pop. Allow relish to cook before serving.


Cheri's Brown Sugar and Citrus Brine for Turkey

1 cup kosher salt
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 medium onion, cut into large chunks
3 tangerines
3 lemons
10-12 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon crushed peppercorns
6 bay leaves
small bunch fresh sage
small bunch fresh thyme

In a large pot, mix 1/2 gallon water with salt and brown sugar. Stir until heated and the salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Add this to your brining container and cool completely. You can speed this process by adding a bunch of ice. Quarter the tangerines and lemons and squeeze the juice into the liquid, then drop the squeezed fruit into the container as well. Add remaining ingredients. Stir well then add the turkey. Add enough water to cover and stir it all up.
If you're using using an insulated coooler (as opposed to keeping the brining turkey in the fridge), take a plastic zipper bag (or two depending on the size and shape of your container), fill with ice and water, close and use to weight down the turkey and keep it submerged, and to keep everything well chilled (photo below left).
You can leave the turkey in the brine for up to 24 hours before roasting. Rinse before putting in the pan. I like to stuff the cavity with some of the herbs and citrus fruit as well. To get the look in the photo above, place whole fresh sage leaves under the skin on the breast. Season with salt and pepper and roast.
See the Related Features below for detailed turkey roasting instructions.
turkey roasting Hint!
Don't have a roasting pan? No problem, you can make a "rack" out of aromatic vegetables like onions, celery, and carrots (see photo below). Place your turkey on the vegetables to roast. Your gravy will be even more flavorful. I like to dump these veggies intot the stockpot pater along with the turkey carcass to make homemade stock. Click here for a detailed recipe.
Brown Sugar, Citrus and Salt Brine
adapted from a recipe from Goodlife Eats Blog

For a 16 - 20 lb. Turkey:
1 cup kosher salt
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole allspice berries
4 bay leaves
5 stems fresh thyme
3 stems fresh sage
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 cup loosely packed parsley (stems ok)
3 Oranges or Tangerines
3 Lemons
10 Garlic Cloves, crushed
peel of 3 tangerines or oranges (optional)
1 gallon boiling water
8 pounds ice cubes

Combine the salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, bay leaves, thyme, sage, rosemary, parsley, garlic, and tangerine peel together in a large stock pot. Add 1 gallon of water. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, remove from heat.
After removing from heat, steep the mixture for 45 minutes. Then, add in enough ice to bring the brine amount up to 2 gallons (2 gallons = 32 cups). This is very important otherwise you will have an incredibly salty turkey.
For smaller stock pots, you may have to allow the brine to cool and add the additional amount when pouring the brine into the bag in the following step.
Place the turkey in a large zip-top bag. I recommend the Ziploc Big Bags (size large). Put the bagged turkey in a clean cooler. Pour the brine over the turkey, in the bag, making sure the breasts are fully submerged. Zip the bag closed. Place the cooler in a cool place, such as your garage or, and allow the turkey to soak in the cold brine for 12-24 hours.
Use gel ice packs or bagged ice around the zipped bag inside the cooler, if necessary, to keep the brine below 40°F. (Adding more ice directly to the brine would only dilute it.)
Alternatively, if you have room in your refrigerator, you may place the bagged turkey in a large foil tray rather than a cooler and store it on the fridge shelf.
After the brining process, transfer the turkey to a roasting pan and discard the brine. Roast according to your preferred method.
Note: For a smaller turkey you may make less brine; however, be careful to do so with the original proportions of ingredient still intact. Too much salt will leave you with an incredibly salty turkey. Also, birds less than 10 pounds will likely not need to soak for the full 24 hours to achieve the desired results.
Turkey Gravy - Made Ahead of Time, Mostly

Turkey Stock -

5 pounds turkey wings
1 turkey neck
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or Olive Oil
1 red onion, cut into chunks
3 carrots
2 celery stalks
10 Peppercorns, whole (Tellicherry)
3-5 Bay leaves
3-5 stalks of Fresh Thyme

Preheat oven to 450°. Spread turkey wings, turkey neck and onion in a large heavy roasting pan which has sides. Lightly coat the turkey wings with oil; roast until browned, about 1 hour. Flip half way through.

Once the turkey wings are cool enough to handle, tear the skin and meat from the bones. Place all of the turkey, skin and bones, along with the roasted onion in a heavy pan with 8 cups of water.Place the carrot, celery, peppercorns, bay leaf and thyme in the pan.

Now, back to the pan which was used for the roasting. If there is an excess of fat, pout it off. (Mine did not have this issue.) Place the roasting pan on the stove top, pour in two cups of water and bring it to a simmer. After simmering for about 5 minutes, carefully hold the pan and scrap the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon in order to remove the caramelized bits on the pan. Once this process is complete, pour this mixture in the pan with the turkey, veggies, water and herbs.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer uncovered, skimming surface occasionally, for 3-4 hours. The goal here is to reduce the stock to 6 cups, intensifying the flavor.

Let the broth cool and then strain it. This stock can be kept for up to 3 day in the fridge, or frozen.Strain into another pot; boil until reduced to 2 quarts, about 30 minutes longer.

Turkey Gravy -

4 TBL unsalted butter or turkey fat
4 TBL all-purpose flour
6 cups turkey stock, warm
2 tablespoons Madeira (optional)
Kosher salt

(Optional Add-In, as suggested by Bon Appetit Magazine)
For every 6 cups of Turkey gravy, add:
1 1/2 cups Dry White Wine that has been heated and reduced to 1 cup.
1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce & 1 tsp. Soy Sauce
1 cup + 2 Tsp. Apple Cider (simmer for 5 minutes before adding to the gravy.)

Melt butter or turkey fat in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking, for 1 minute. The roux will become smooth and golden brown. Keep whisking! Within 2–3 minutes it will be the color of caramel or café au lait. Gradually whisk in the warm turkey stock, bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the gravy's at a bare simmer. Add Maderia (if using) during the last few minutes before adding the turkey pan drippings. Season with kosher salt and serve. Or keep the gravy warm until the turkey is finished and take it one step further... Transfer your turkey to a cutting board and strain the drippings from the pan into a measuring cup. Skim the fat; add enough water to measure 1-2 cups. Place the pan across two burners set on medium-high heat. Add the drippings mixture and deglaze the pan, stirring and scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Strain into the gravy; simmer until slightly thickened, 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and serve.

Apple and Sausage Stuffing
via: Handle the Heat Blog
YIELD: 8-10 servings

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound spicy pork bulk sausage
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced peeled and cored Granny Smith apples
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
1 bay leaf

1 (1-pound) loaf French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (with crusts)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large eggs, beaten to blend

Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and saute, breaking up into pieces, until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage to a large bowl. Add the celery, onion, apple, garlic, parsley, sage, and bay leaf to the skillet and saute until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Add the vegetable mixture to the sausage in the large bowl. Can be made 1 day ahead of time, cover and refrigerate. Reheat to lukewarm before using.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Add the bread to the sausage mixture. Whisk the milk, broth, and butter in a large measuring glass or small bowl to combine. Add to the stuffing and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in the eggs then transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish. Bake uncovered for about 50 minutes, until cooked through and browned.

From Bon Appetit

Maple-Roasted Turkey with Sage, Smoked Bacon, and Cornbread Stuffing

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 bunch fresh sage, leaves finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 loaf cornbread, cubed (about 6 cups)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream 3 cups chicken stock 1
(12 to 14 pound) fresh turkey
1 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup hot water
8 strips smoked bacon
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 lemon, juiced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and remove the top rack.
Combine the butter and sage in a mixing bowl, mash with a fork or spoon until the sage is well incorporated and the butter has flecks of green in it; season with salt and pepper.
In a saute pan, melt 4 tablespoons of the sage butter, add the onions, cook and stir for 15 minutes until soft and golden. Remove from heat. Put the cornbread in a large mixing bowl and scrape the sauteed onion mixture on top. Add the egg, heavy cream, and just enough chicken stock to moisten the stuffing without making it soggy (about 1/2 cup.) Toss well to combine, season with salt and pepper.

Remove the neck and gizzards from the inside of the turkey and discard. Rinse the bird thoroughly inside and out with cold water, pat dry. Sprinkle the cavity and skin liberally with salt and pepper. Using your fingers, gently lift the skin from the breast and legs, and slip pieces of the sage butter underneath; massaging it in as you go. Fill the bird with the cornbread stuffing without packing too tightly; cook the remaining stuffing separately in a buttered baking dish. Truss the turkey; place it on a rack in a large roasting pan, and put into the oven.
Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, whisk together the maple syrup and hot water to thin the glaze out a bit; use this to baste the turkey every 30 minutes. The turkey should take about 3 hours to cook (i.e. 15 to 20 minutes per pound.) If the legs or breast brown too quickly, cover with foil.

About 2 hours into cooking, shingle the strips of bacon oven the turkey breast to cover; continue to roast and baste for another hour or so. The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the meatiest part of the thigh registers 170 degrees F (the thigh juices will also run clear when pricked with a knife.) Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let rest for 20 minutes before carving, so the juices can settle back into the meat.
Skim off the excess fat from the pan drippings with a spoon and place the roasting pan over 2 burners set on medium-high heat. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up brown bits stuck to bottom of pan. Whisk the flour into the drippings, stirring as it thickens to prevent lumps. Add the remaining chicken stock and bring to a simmer; season with salt and pepper and hit it with a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten the flavor. Simmer for 5 minutes and then strain to remove any particles. Serve the gravy with the maple-roasted turkey and cornbread stuffing.

Maple Orange Sweet Potatoes


* 2 1/2 pounds peeled sweet potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
* 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
* 1/4 cup maple syrup
* 2 tablespoons brown sugar
* 1 tablespoon stick margarine or butter, melted
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Traditional Method:

1. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into 1" cubes. Boil these until they are fork tender.
2. Mash them with the butter (I added more than was called for). Add in the OJ, maple syrup, brown sugar, salt and ground cloves.
3. Place in a buttered baking dish. The dish can be covered and refrigerated for up to a few days, if needed.
4. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes. You can top with marshmallows, if wanted. You would add them in for the last 10 minutes of cooking time.

Microwave Method:
Place the sweet potato slices in a 2-quart casserole.

Combine juice and next 5 ingredients (juice through cloves) in a small bowl. Pour juice mixture over potatoes. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and microwave at HIGH 10 minutes. Stir after 5 minutes. Uncover, and microwave at HIGH 5 minutes or until potato is tender. Sprinkle with pecans.

Sausage Fennel Stuffing

7 cups coarsely crumbled buttermilk corn bread
1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings discarded
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
2 medium onions, finely chopped (2 cups)
1 1/2 lb fennel (sometimes called anise; 2 medium), stalks cut off and discarded and bulbs coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons dried thyme, crumbled
2 teaspoons dried tarragon, crumbled
1 - 1 1/2 cup Craisins.
1 cup turkey giblet stock or low-sodium chicken broth or 1/2 milk and 1/2 broth

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Spread bread crumbs in 2 shallow baking pans and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven until golden and dry, about 15 minutes. Cool crumbs in pans on racks, then transfer to a large bowl.

Cook sausage in a dry 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat, stirring and breaking up pieces with a fork, until browned and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to bowl with bread crumbs with a slotted spoon.

Melt 6 tablespoons butter in skillet over moderate heat, then add onions, fennel bulb, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, 10 to 15 minutes.

Finely grind fennel seeds in coffee/spice grinder, then add to vegetables in skillet along with thyme and tarragon and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Transfer vegetables to bowl with bread crumbs and sausage and toss gently but thoroughly. Spoon stuffing into a buttered 3- to 3 1/2-quart shallow baking dish. Drizzle with stock and dot with remaining 2 tablespoons butter, cut into bits. Bake, covered, in middle of oven 30 minutes, then uncover and bake until browned, about 30 minutes more.

Cooks' note: • Stuffing can be assembled (but not baked) 2 days ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before baking.

Buttermilk Cornbread

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 TBS Sugar
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
2 large eggs
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage (optional)

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together buttermilk, eggs, butter, and sage (if using) in another bowl, then add to flour mixture and stir until just combined.

Spread batter evenly in a buttered 8-inch square baking pan and bake in middle of oven until golden, about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack, then coarsely crumble.

Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Onion
via: Jelly Toast Blog
Serves 6-8

2 lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
2 small red onions, sliced
5 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
4 strips of bacon, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Coarse salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
(1/2 cup Pecans, finely chopped)
2-4 Tablespoons of good quality, aged balsamic vinegar (if you don’t have a good quality aged vinegar, you can boil regular balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan, and reduce it until it becomes syrupy)


Preheat oven to 400°.

On a rimmed baking sheet, toss together Brussels sprouts, onions, garlic and bacon. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat. Spread veggies into a single layer.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, tossing once halfway through cooking. Veggies should be tender and golden at the edges, and bacon should be cooked through.

Remove from oven, drizzle with balsamic vinegar (and pecans). Toss to coat and serve!

Nantucket Cranberry Pie
via: Pioneer Woman

Butter, For Greasing
2 cups (heaping) Cranberries
3/4 cups Pecans, Chopped (measure, Then Chop)
2/3 cups Sugar
1 cup Flour
1 cup Sugar
1 stick Unsalted Butter, melted
2 whole Eggs, Lightly Beaten
1 teaspoon Pure Almond Extract
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Sugar For Sprinkling
Preparation Instructions
*Adapted from a recipe by Laurie Colwin*
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Generously butter a cake pan or pie pan. Add cranberries to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle on chopped pecans, then sprinkle on 2/3 cup sugar.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour, 1 cup sugar, melted butter, eggs, almond extract, and salt. Stir gently to combine.
Pour batter slowly over the top in large "ribbons" in order to evenly cover the surface. Spread gently if necessary.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. 5 minutes before removing from oven, sprinkle surface with 1 tablespoon sugar for a little extra crunch.
Cut into wedges and serve with ice cream or freshly whipped cream.

Flaky Butter Crust

1/3 cup Water, very cold (I float ice in mine)
1/2 lb. of Butter (2 sticks, very cold, cut into 1/2 pieces)
2 cups All Purpose Flour
(I use salted butter so I leave salt out of the recipe. If you use unsalted butter be sure to add 1/2 tea. of salt to this recipe)

1. Chill the mixing bowl and beaters in the refrigerator (at least 30 minutes).
2. Dissolve the salt, if using, in the water.
3. Place the butter and the flour in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until it looks like chunks of oatmeal. Be very careful to not overwork it as it will warm up too much. Place this in the bowl of your mixer, cover and chill for at least 20 minutes.
4. Run the mixer and add in the water in little bits at a time. Start with 3 TBL. and add more as needed. Take it out when it looks cohesive. Form into two discs that are about 1" thick. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees or the temperature for the pie filling.
6. Roll out the dough (see my instructions below), being careful to be fast and not make it too thin.
7. Place in the pie pan. Trim the edges and prick the flour and side of the dough with a fork. This will prevent air bubbles from forming. If you are prebaking the pie shell place about 2 1/2 cups of uncooked rice or beans or pie weights on top of a piece of parchment paper in the pie pan. This helps it keep a nice shape and reduce the effects of shrinkage.
8. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Remove the rice, beans or weights and paper liner.
* If you are in a rush you could skip some of the chilling.

Maple Pecan Pie

3/4 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups pecan halves

Stir syrup, brown sugar, corn syrup and butter in medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves and butter melts. Increase heat and boil 1 minute. Cool to lukewarm, about 45 minutes.

Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350°F. Roll out crust dough on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Trim dough overhang to 1 inch. Fold edge under, forming high-standing rim; crimp decoratively. Freeze crust until firm, about 20 minutes.

Whisk eggs, vanilla and salt in 4-cup measuring cup to blend. Gradually whisk maple syrup mixture into egg mixture. Stir in pecan halves.

Pour filling into crust. Bake pie until filling is slightly puffed around edges and center is set, about 55 minutes. Cool pie completely on rack. (Can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.) Cut pie into wedges and serve.

Molasses-and-Spice Pumpkin Pie

Bon Appétit | November 2004

1 cup sugar (consider ¾ cup instead)
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (fresh ginger can be used)
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
2 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 tablespoons mild-flavored (light) molasses
1 9-inch unbaked homemade or purchased pie crust

Mix first 6 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Add pumpkin, eggs, cream, milk, and molasses; whisk filling to blend.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour filling into crust. Bake pie until set in center and slightly puffed around edges, about 1 hour 5 minutes. Cool pie on rack.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Social Sketch Event at Two Hands Paperie with Camille and Ben + Snickerdoodle Cookies Recipe

Last night Camille, Ben and I took part in the Social Sketching event with Courtney Cerruti, hosted at Two Hands Paperie in Bouder and we all had an absolute blast. I think it ended up being way more fun that either of the kids had expected.
Courtney Cerruti works at Creative Bug, a place where you can take all manner of online art classes. She also travels around teaching classes and hosting these social sketching events. We were not sure what to expect, although I knew it would be fun.

I picked up the kids in the late afternoon and headed to Boulder where we had a quick and tasty slice of pizza at Nick and Willy's.

Once we arrived in the store, we picked out some seats and checked out what was on the tables. There were the usual piles of fun and interesting paper that is a trademark for Two Hands. There were note cards for drawing on and bowls of lovely washi tape.
Courtney talked a little about the history of this kind of event and invited us to play along, drawing for ourselves in our own sketchbooks, or taking part in collaborative pieces where several people contribute something to each card, or back and forth trades. I loved the idea that this was all about just having fun making art; it did not need to be finished, or fancy, or artistic or accomplished. It was all about playing.

It took me a while to get my head in the artistic game as I was having fun just making designs with the washi tape.

Ben was in the groove pretty quickly. He sat next to two young professional artists and across from Courtney. They engaged in some lively chat and talk about what they liked about being an artist. The young professionals (Rebecca Green and Neil Yarnal) talked about their youth and when they knew they wanted to be artists. I loved how they all talked as equals.
These are some of the cards the traded. Ben drew the fox and the owl.

Camille also had a great time. She loved learning how to make packaging tape image transfers and talking about her recent volunteer working trip to Guatemala. She traded cards, too. She made the wonderful card with Santa's beard on it. I love the nose.
Rebecca and I also traded cards.
I did not want the evening to end, but alas, it had to as we all had work or school in the morning. Here are a few images of the cards created during the event:

And of course, you have to have a little paper shop eye candy to stir the creative soul in all of us.

Everyone loved the event and many people are hoping that Courtney teaches at Two Hands again soon.

Here are two videos about the work that Courtney does:

Here is a video on making packaging tape image transfers. Her technique is much more fussy than what we did, but at least you can get the right idea.

Mrs. Sigg's Snickerdoodles

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2. Cream together butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar, the eggs and the vanilla. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.
3. Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until set but not too hard. Remove immediately from baking sheets.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Bella Frida + Pot Roast (Easy and Tasty), Cabbage & Kielbasa Soup, Minestrone Soup

I recently found out that I won the Frida prize in the ofrenda contest that I entered over at Two Hands Paperie. It was pretty exciting and then I found out that I would be receiving a $50 for Bella Frida in Louisville. I love the fact that Laura made the gift card into a whole present with a fun bag and paper flower. Don't you think it is fun?! It is a store that is dedicated to offering items made by artist, most of whom are from Mexico. It is owned by Laura, who I wrote about when I went to Two Hands for the Day of the Dead event.
On Saturday Natalie and I went to Boulder to Two Hands and then over to Louisville where we had a fabulous lunch at Casa Alegre. If you enjoy Mexican food, I would recommend this place. The food was great and so was the service.

Then we headed over to Bella Frida. It was so much more than I had expected. Natalie and I spent a long time in the store. I bought myself a new skirt and some fun socks.
Do you see the metal hearts in the photo of the blouses? I used my gift card to purchase the bigger one. I think I will hang it up in my art room, or maybe the upstairs bathroom that is full of color.
I had a hard time deciding what to pick. I almost chose one of the skeletons with wings. I think they are wonderful!
We loved going to Laura's shop. I also love that she has not decorated for Christmas, that she is letting that wait until after Thanksgiving. I will try to go and visit again to see who she sets up the shop for the Holiday season.


Cabbage & Kielbasa Soup

1 large Red Onion, chopped
3 TBL. Olive Oil
2 tea. Garlic, minced
1 pnd Carrots, cut into coins
2 rings Kielbasa Sausage, cut into pieces or diced
1 med. Bunch of Fingerling Potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
6 cups Chicken Stock
1 head Cabbage, chopped
1 tea. Smoked Sweet Hungarian Paprika
1 tea. Nutmeg, ground
1 tea Celery Salt
Salt and Pepper to taste
Balsamic Vinegar, served as a condiment

Saute the onion and the kielbasa in hot oil in a soup pot until the onion is softened. Add in the garlic and saute a bit longer. Add the potatoes and stock. Simmer until the spices with the potatoes until they are cooked, about 30 min. Bring the soup to a boil and add the cabbage. Stir. Turn the heat to medium. Cook for about 5 minutes or more. The longer you simmer the soup, the more the cabbage will incorporate. If you make this in a crock pot, some of the cabbage will sort of dissolve or melt and begin to thicken the soup a bit. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set out the balsamic vinegar so that it may be added for additional flavor, if desired. Serve with a nice bread, such as thick slices of French bread.

* I would have added caraway seeds, if I had any. I am also considering adding in apples.


Pot Roast
via: My

2 cups water
1 5 to 6-lb. beef pot roast $
1 1-oz. pkg. ranch salad dressing mix
1 .7-oz. pkg. Italian salad dressing mix
1 .87-oz. pkg. brown gravy mix $
6 to 8 potatoes, peeled and cubed $
8 to 10 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced $

Pour water into a large oval slow cooker; add roast. Combine mixes and sprinkle over roast.

Cover and cook on low setting for 6 to 7 hours; add potatoes and carrots during the last 2 hours of cooking.


Olive Garden Inspired Minestrone Soup
via: Eat Yourself Skinny Blog

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup zucchini, chopped
1/2 cup frozen cut green beans
1/4 cup celery, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable broth
1 (15 oz) can red kidney beans, drained
1 (15 oz) can small white beans, drained
1/2 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup carrots, julienned
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1 1/2 cups hot water
3 cups fresh baby spinach
1/3 cup small pasta shells

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat and saute onion, celery, garlic, zucchini and green beans, about 5 minutes. The add vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, beans, carrot, hot water and spices. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, allowing soup to simmer for about 20 minutes.

Add baby spinach leaves and pasta, cooking an additional 20 minutes, then serve. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sweet Little Aurora

This is sweet little Aurora. She is my 18 month old niece and she is a girl who knows what she wants. I really like that about her.
Here she is with her mom, Kayla. She is the same age as Ethan. She and Jeff have been together since they were 13, but I think baby Aurora was a surprise. However, motherhood really seems to suit her and she seems very happy. I am proud of her and the efforts she puts forth to be a good mother to Aurora. Most of her friends are no longer interested in being her friend. She and Jeff share one car, they do not have cable T.V. or a computer, but still, she does not complain. I think that is pretty remarkable. Kudos to her!
Aurora is bright eyed, inquisitive and clear about getting her needs met. This includes being held often. She and I hit it off right away.
Kayla and I talked about being stay at home moms. I was lucky enough to be one for many years. I talked with her about how hard and isolating it is. I wanted her to feel supported. She says that she would like a hobby to keep her busy when Aurora is doing her own thing. Kayla would like to learn how to do cross stitch and stitch some Disney images for Aurora's room. My mother agreed to work with me to put together a kit for her, but I am finding it very difficult to find what Kayla wants. Finding Disney cross stitch patterns that are good for a beginner more difficult than I expected. I may start her out with a kit to do a fancy version of Aurora's name. That way, if her count is off a small bit, it will not matter.

If you know where I can find Disney (especially Sleeping Beauty) cross stitch patterns, I would love to know. Thanks!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Spending a Little Time in Cabos San Lucas - More Photos from Ethan

Today Ethan posted a few more photos. I assume that they are in Cabos san Lucas.
And here he is looking tan, fit and beautiful. Seeing him happy makes me miss him in a different way than how I miss him when he is sad, frustrated, stressed or unhappy.

This evening I am trying to relax and I find that trying to relax is hard and frustrating for me. I've had a head cold for almost a week. I've rested a lot, slept extra hours and still, I am losing my voice. I am afraid that I will come down with pneumonia again. I spent much of the evening listening to a book on my Ipod and snuggling with the dog. I like it, but it also makes me feel like I am falling behind. I have things I want to do, drawings I want to make, a painting to do. You get the idea. Perhaps I will be better at this tomorrow.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Dropping Anchor in Cabo San Lucas - An Undate from The Boy + Recipes for Chicken Cordon Bleu Crescent Rolls, Chicken Bundles and Chili Verde

The Schooner Patrica Bell has set anchor in Cabos San Lucas, Mexico. They will be staying there for a few days and then will leave to go to Mazatlan.

Ethan says that it is beautiful there.

He says that the people are nice. Everyone has been very welcoming, as far as I can tell.
Before this stop they were in a tiny place called Baja Santa Maria. It was just a beach with few huts that belonged to a small group of men who were fishing for sharks. Sadly, they were cutting off the shark's fin and letting the shark's die. He says that there were mounds of fins in various stages of drying and preserving. There was nothing that he could do about that situation. He and a few of his friends when hiking.

He had a few interesting stories to tell about the travels.

One night, as he was standing on the deck in the dark of the night, he suddenly felt something hit his knee. He felt the spot and found that it had become slimey and smelled of fish. It turned out that he had been hit by a flying fish. Ethan says that the fish are amazing, that they can "fly" for hundreds of yards at a time. Later, they found the fish in a small crevice of the boat.

Ethan also says that he loves to watch the dolphins that play in the wake of water alongside of the boat. He tells me that they get so close that you could almost touch them, but that he would risk falling out of the boat if he tried to touch them.

Another time Ethan was able to see a sea turtle that was about 3" across. It reminded him of the one he saw in Jamaica.

He is also learning to dive. It turns out that learning to dive is very hard. (I was surprised to learn that he had not learned how to dive in all of those swimming lessons he took when he was young.) Luckily, he is a strong swimmer. Somehow, Ethan's swimming suit did not make it on the trip, so when he goes swimming, he does so in his underwear. It turns out that Josh is in the same situation, so the two of them sometimes walk around on the deck of the boat in their underwear. When they arrived in Cabos San Lucas, Ethan, Josh and Anna Elise decided to swim the 1,000 yards to shore. They sent all of their belongings, such as Ethan's glasses and phone, along with another person going ashore in a small boat. However, they forgot to arrange a way to meet once they were all on land. The swimmers (the boys in their underwear) arrived and walked the beach for at least an hour looking for their companion, but was not able to have any luck finding him. Eventually they swam back and found the person they had been searching for. He had been looking for them, too.

Ethan is having a wonderful time, but he is also growing tired, having traveled for almost 11 months. He and Josh will take a bus ride from Mazatlan to Guadalajara where he will head home soon, most likely.

I'm trying out some recipes that would be easy to make for a crew on the boat as I am making a small cookbook for him to take with him on the boats:

Chicken Cordon Bleu Crescent Rolls
via:>Mom On Time Out Blog
(modified by me)

2 cans Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
6 slices Swiss cheese (I cut mine into very thin, long pieces to make rolling up easier)
6 slices deli ham
2 chicken breasts, cooked, (I cut mine into very small cubes before cooking it. Then I shredded it after it was cooked.)
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 Tbls Dijon mustard (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Remove crescent rolls from can and lay out in a long rectangle. Pinch the seams together well.

Sprinkle with Italian seasoning.

Layer first Swiss cheese, then ham. I then spread the Dijon mustard on the ham. Top that with the chicken breast on the rolls.

Roll up like a cinnamon roll and cut into coins. (I cut mine into 12 pieces.)

Place in a 9" x 13" casserole dish and bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Chicken Bundles

4 cup Chicken
1/2 Onion, chopped (Onion powder is fine, too.)
1/2 tea. Celery Salt
1 TBL Basil, dried
1/2 tsp Pepper (optional)
1 tsp Salt (optional)
6 tbsp Butter
12 oz Cream cheese (1 1/2 boxes of Cream Cheese)

1/4 cup Milk
2 packages Pillsbury crescent rolls
Gravy (Optional)

Saute the chicken and chopped onion in 2 TBL. butter or olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Once the chicken and onion are cooked, add in the remaining butter, cream cheese and milk. Heat to mix, stirring often.

Unroll crescents and using two crescent rolls at a time (to form a rectangle) fill with chicken mixture. Pinch up the corners (makes 8 packets).

Bake at 375 for about 15-20 minutes. Serve with warmed gravy! Enjoy!


Chili Verde

6 lbs cubed pork stew meat (I have use pork chops and country style pork ribs, instead of stew meat as the stew meat tends to be dry. Pork shoulder is a good choice, too.)
1/4 cup vegetable oil or butter
1 large Onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sea salt
fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon ground cumin
4 1/2 quarts chicken broth
8 fresh poblano chiles, seeded and chopped
4 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped (I did not have these.)
1 lb fresh tomatillos, husks removed

In a large stock pot over high heat sear the pork in the vegetable oil or butter until browned.

Remove the pork from the pot, reserve 3 tablespoons oil in the pan.
Saute the chopped onion and garlic seasoned with salt and pepper in the reserved oil until onions are tender.

Add the cumin, then stir in pork and chicken stock. Simmer for 1/2 hour.

Add in poblanos, jalapenos, bell peppers and tomatillos.

Cook for an additional 30 to 45 minutes.

Serve with Mexican/Spanish rice and refried beans.