Saturday, November 29, 2014


We had a lovely Thanksgiving, which is always nice, but it was especially so this year. This was the Thanksgiving that almost wasn't. Several wonderful surprises happened that made it possible.

Ethan was in Mexico and it was not clear when he would return. I had to prepare myself for the idea of Thanksgiving without him. He is grown up now, and I know that I will have to get used to holidays without him; he has his own life to live. However, that does not mean that it will go smoothly for me. I am not as graceful about this kids growing up stuff as I wish I was. Ethan was ready to come home and was expected to come home on Tuesday. However, on Sunday Larr came home late in the evening and 30 seconds later Ethan followed him in. I had not guessed that such a surprise was up and when I saw Ethan, I cried while I hugged him. It was such a joy and relief to have him home. I had missed him so, and been so worried about his safety. Everyone else was happy to see him, too. I think Kohlton missed Ethan as much as the rest of us.

On Monday, Larr went to see Don in the hospital. The hospitalist came by to inform them that Don was to be discharged in two hours. Larr called me to inform me and asked me to go over to his house to finish the cleaning that had yet to be done. Once they arrived, Don was happy,but exhausted.

Over the course of the next few days, Larr and Ethan took care of Don. Ellie and Kohlton helped me clean and prepare for Thanksgiving. I also did a lot of cooking. By Wednesday, we were unsure whether we could pull off Thanksgiving. I even considered cancelling it. We were not sure that Don would be up for coming over for Thanksgiving. That would mean that he and at least one other member of our family would not be there and I was way behind on my preparations as Larr and Ethan were busy taking care of Don. In the end, we decided to have the feast and be happy with it. Don would feel bad if we had cancelled it due to his situation.

Wednesday evening Ellie pulled out the autumn garlands that Natalie had given us. The items (the wooden forest creatures from Crate and Barrel, as well as some candles) I had gathered to decorate the table were already in place. Ellie and Kohlton got out our fancy china, table clothes, etc. and Ellie worked her table decoration magic. It is always exciting to see how she will set the table each year. We both really enjoy a lovely table.
I enjoyed making the pies. I had collected two more nice pie plates in anticipation of wanting to make them extra fancy this year.
In the morning, I received an unexpected call from my father. That was certainly a highlight of my day.

Ellie, who loves to bake, modified a recipe to create lovely pizzelle tubes filled with a twist on French Cream. (I've included her recipes below.) She is so talented.

On Thursday morning I put the turkey in and then we began to get the rest of the party set up. We had two spots for visiting and enjoying appetizers.
Aunt Kathy gave me a new marble and wood cheese plate which I used right away. I also had new wooden bowls that I purchased with a gift card that my mother had given me. It was really fun to have new serving dishes. Lilia made an appetizer of blue cheese filled dates covered with prosciutto (and then placed under the broiler for almost 10 minutes). They were a hit, too.

Our guests arrived and we visited. Ethan carved the turkey. Even Don was able to join us for a while.

Over the course of the last few days, Remmie had gotten really wound up. He was a bit too excited and was a bit too energetic. Part of the time he was good, part of the time he had to regroup while in the van, away from the party.

I am thankful that we were able to come together and have a nice party. In addition to our little family, we were joined by my mother, Aunt Kathy, Grandpa Don, Mark, Lilia, Mark (Kohlton's father), Martine (his girlfriend), Britt (Kohlton's mother) and Linda (Kohlton's grandmother).
Everyone enjoyed him/herself and none of the stress of the earlier part of the week seemed to have come through.

I hope you had a wonderful day, too.


6 eggs
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup margarine, melted and cooled (we used salted butter)
2 tablespoons anise extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder

Beat eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Stir in the melted margarine and anise extract. Combine the flour and baking powder; stir in gradually. Dough will be sticky.

Preheat your pizzelle iron according to the manufacturer's instructions. Drop batter by rounded spoonfuls onto the iron. Close and cook for about 90 seconds, or until steam stops coming out of the iron. Carefully remove and cool. Store in an airtight tin at room temperature.

To make the tubes Ellie created a form using foil and a drum stick. We would pull off the hot pizzelle from the iron and wrap it around a form, holding it in place with a chop stick or folk. She found that you needed to move as quickly as possible, or else it develops cracks. I needed to wear rubber gloves because the heat was hurting my fingers.


Pastry Cream (modified by Ellie)
via: Olga's Flavor Factory

2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
¼ cup water
1½ cups half and half (Ellie used 3/4 cup 2% milk and 3/4 cup heavy cream)
5 large egg yolks
⅓ cup sugar
3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
3 Tablespoons butter, cut into 3 pieces, chilled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ Tablespoon hazelnut liqueur, optional (Ellie did not use this.)
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1-2 Tablespoons powdered sugar

Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and set aside until the gelatin softens.

In a small saucepan, bring the half and half to a simmer. Do not boil.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar until smooth.

Add the flour and whisk until smooth.

When the half and half is just barely simmering, slowly pour a ladle of the hot liquid into the bowl, while you are whisking at the same time. This is called tempering and means that you are slowly heating up the egg mixture to make sure that the eggs don't scramble. Whisk in another ladle of hot liquid and then return everything to the same saucepan and cook on medium or low heat until the mixture thickens and you see big bubbles bursting on the surface. Remove from the heat.

Add the butter, softened gelatin and the vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth.

Strain the pastry cream through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps. Place some parchment paper right on top of the pastry cream, which will prevent a skin from forming on top. Chill in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes.

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.


Old-Fashioned Pecan Pie
via: America’s Test Kitchen

Serves 8 to 10

1 cup maple syrup
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon molasses
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups toasted and chopped pecans
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell, chilled in pie plate for 30 minutes

Make Filling: Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Heat sugar, syrup, cream, and molasses in saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes. Whisk butter and salt into syrup mixture until combined. Whisk in egg yolks until incorporated.
Bake Pie: Scatter pecans in pie shell. Carefully pour filling over. Place pie in hot oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until filling is set and center jiggles slightly when pie is gently shaken, 45 to 60 minutes. Cool pie on rack for 1 hour, then refrigerate until set, about 3 hours and up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving.


Silky Smooth Pumpkin Pie
via: Smitten Kitchen Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, November & December 2008

A half-recipe of your favorite pie crust, chilled
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk (I used 2 cups of half and half instead of one cup each of cream and milk)
3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup drained candied yams from 15-ounce can (regular canned yams can be substituted)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (I used 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground because I’m not a huge fan of fresh ginger)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon table salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Make the pie crust as instructed. Chill the dough in the pie pan for 15 minutes. Remove pan from refrigerator, line crust with foil and fill with pie weights or pennies. Bake on rimmed baking sheet 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights, rotate plate. Bake 5 to 10 more minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp. Remove plate and baking sheet from oven.

Make the filling: While pie shell is baking, whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks and vanilla together in medium bowl. Combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to sputtering simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove pan from heat. Whisk in cream mixture slowly, until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, using back of ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer. Re-whisk mixture and transfer to warm pre-baked pie shell. Return pie plate with baking sheet to oven and bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees. Continue baking until edges are set (instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175 degrees), 20 to 35 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature, 2 to 3 hours. (The pie finishes cooking with resident heat; to ensure the filling sets, cool it at room temperature and not in the refrigerator.)


Sweet Cherry Pie
via: KCET

Makes one 9-inch pie


2 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
7 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
1⁄3 cup water, chilled with ice, increasing up to 3/8 cup, if needed

6 cups pitted sweet cherries or 6 cups pitted frozen cherries
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 small lemon, zested to yield 1 teaspoon zest and juiced to yield 2 teaspoons juice
1⁄8 teaspoon ground allspice
1⁄8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄8 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon brandy
1-2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Mix flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture, tossing to coat butter with a little flour. Cut butter into flour with five 1-second pulses. Add shortening and continue to cut it in until flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal with butter bits no larger than small peas, about four more 1-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl.

Sprinkle all but 1 tablespoon of the ice water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 1 tablespoon of remaining ice water if dough does not come together. Divide dough into two balls, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten each into 4-inch-wide disk. Dust lightly with flour, wrap separately in plastic, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Remove dough from refrigerator; let stand at room temperature to soften slightly, about 10 minutes. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss fruit with sugar, lemon juice and zest, spices, almond extract, brandy, and tapioca; let stand for 15 minutes.

Roll larger dough disk on lightly floured surface into 12-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer and fit dough into 9-inch Pyrex pie pan, leaving dough that overhangs the lip in place. Turn fruit mixture, including juices, into pie shell. Scatter butter pieces over fruit. Refrigerate until ready to top with remaining dough.

Roll smaller disk on lightly floured surface into 10-inch circle. Lay over fruit. Trim top and bottom dough edges to 1/2-inch beyond pan lip. Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that folded edge is flush with pan lip. Flute dough in your own fashion, or press with fork tines to seal. Cut four slits at right angles on dough top to allow steam to escape. If pie dough is very soft, place in freezer for 10 minutes before baking.

Place pie on baking sheet; bake until top crust is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake until juices bubble and crust is golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes longer.

Transfer pie to wire rack; let cool to almost room temperature so juices have time to thicken, from 1 to 2 hours. Enjoy!

[Photo by Flickr user sassyradish]


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.