Monday, November 16, 2009

Thanksgiving Feast

There's frost on the ground, Christmas decorations in the stores (already!) and it's just about time for my favorite holiday! Well, one of them, anyway. Here are some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes! It's very important to me that I can make things in advance so that the day of I can relax. Enjoy!
Black and Green Olive Tapenade - This is unbelievable. It tastes like something you'd find in a restaurant. Very fancy feeling and looking. It can be made up to a week in advance. I think it's best served with plain Pita Chips. Even if you're not an olive person, you might find yourself lost in the perfect blend of spices, savory, and salty for a delicious appetizer!


Williams-Sonoma Wheat Sheaf Bread - I'll post the instructions for this below. It truly is a SHOW STOPPER and is shockingly easy (shhhh...let's keep that a secret). I use my Auntie Pam's roll recipe and use the technique found in my Williams Sonoma Breads recipe book. Recipe and instructions below.

Roasted Winter Squash with Asparagus, Gorgonzola, and Apples - Recipe Below. This is a beautiful dish, lots of color and lots of flavor. I love to bring it to Thanksgiving dinner because it's a different medley of flavors than the typical stuffing/mashed potatoes/sweet potatoes but still tastes harvesty and delicious!

The BEST Sweet Potatoes - This dish is really more of a dessert than a side dish, but hey, it's Thanksgiving! That's also why if you are someone who has never liked Sweet Potatoes in the'll find yourself liking them with this recipe! Recipe Below.

The BEST Mashed Potatoes - These are creamy, delicious, and have just the right balance of flavors to make the most delicious potatoes. I like mine a little thick, but you can add to taste. Did you know that you can make these one day in advance and then heat them on low in the crock pot the day of so you don't humidify your kitchen? Just add a little water or cream once they're warm to get the right consistency.

Of course, we all love turkey! My favorite way to cook they turkey is simply to buy Reynolds oven bags at the grocery store and use their directions. No seasoning, no extra work and it's really fool-proof! I absolutely love the results every time - super moist turkey and very little work! It doesn't get better!

My very own apple pie recipe - this comes from a fusion of a number of my favorite recipes to create what I consider to be one absolutely delicious apple pie! I also love that you can make the crust the day before and freeze it and just have the apples and sour cream to dump in the next day! Recipe below.

Magnolia's Banana Pudding - Such a fun twist on the classic banana cream pie. I love this, and every time I make it people rave. It's so easy and absolutely delicious!

Orange Chocolate Mousse - I don't even like mousse (no really, I don't like it at all), but whenever I make this I can't stop eating it! It's delicious, it's can make it fancy by putting it into little tea cups or wine glasses. It's just a perfect dessert. It's not too sweet, either, which is nice following a Thanksgiving feast.
Happy Eating!

Thanksgiving Recipes Not Found on Internet: My Very Own Apple Pie

2 C flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
Pinch sugar
1 C Crisco/vegetable shortening (if you don't like shortening in your crust, use this recipe instead).
1/2 C cold water (with ice in it - you want it VERY cold)

Cut the shortening into cubes and put it in the refrigerator to chill. Combine flour, salt, and sugar in bowl. using a pastry blender, mix in crisco cubes until shortening is mostly combined and texture is crumbly. Be careful not to over-mix. Add water and use a fork to completely mix together into doughy texture, but still letting shortening marbling be visible. Divide dough in half and shape each into a ball. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out into a circle on a lightly floured surface until about 1/4 inch thick. Place one crust on bottom of pie pan.

Apple Portion:
3 tablespoons butter
2 pound apples (Honey Crisp are my favorite) sliced 1/2-inch thick
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 lemon, juiced
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Sour Cream Portion:
1 C sour cream
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large saute pan, melt the butter. Add the apples and saute for 2 minutes. Add the sugars, lemon juice and flour. Continue to saute for 2 minutes. Season the apples with nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Mix thoroughly and remove from the heat. Cool the mixture. Spoon mixture into pie crust already assembled in pan.

Beat together sour cream, egg, and vanilla. Pour over apple mixture. Top with the remaining crust and crimp edges of crust together. Using a sharp knife, make 3 slits, about 4 inches long and 2 inches apart, across the pie dough. Glaze with egg, if desired. Place the pie in the oven, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit until cooled or just warm.

Option: Warm Caramel Syrup (I think this really takes it to the next level!)

1/4 C sugar
1/4 C brown sugar
1/4 C butter
1/4 C heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla

Mix sugar, butter and cream in a saucepan. Let mixture simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Cool, and add vanilla. Sauce may be refrigerated and used over again. May be served warm.

Thanksgiving Recipes Not Found on Internet: Orange Chocolate Mousse

4 oz semisweet baking chocolate, chopped in small pieces
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 C orange juice
3 Tbsp of cocoa powder
2 eggs, separated (2 egg whites, 2 yolks)
2 Tbsp cointreau (non-alcoholic substitution is 1/2 tsp of orange extract)
1/3 C whipping cream
1 more egg white
2 Tbsp of sugar
Orange segments and whipped cream to serve

In a microwavable bowl, melt orange juice and butter until boiling. Add the chocolate and stir until smooth. Microwave at 10 second intervals if necessary to melt more. When smooth, stir in cocoa powder. Whisk in egg yolks and cointreau/orange extract. Allow to cool. In a chilled bowl, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Beat all the egg whites in a clean, dry, chilled bowl until soft peaks form. Add the sugar; beat until smooth and glossy. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold the eggs whites into the cooled chocolate mixture. Before they are completely incorporated, fold in the whipped cream. Spoon the mixture into individual serving dishes or a large serving bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Serve with orange segments and whipped cream.

Thanksgiving Recipes Not Found on Internet: Perfect Mashed Potatoes


10-12 Yukon Gold or 18-20 Baby Red potatoes
Kosher salt
1/4-1/2 cup butter
1/4 to 3/4 cup heavy cream
Fresh chives


Peel, cut and boil potatoes in salted water. As soon as the potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes), drain and return to pot. Add butter, cream, and salt to taste and whip the potatoes until smooth. Chop fresh chives thin and add to the potatoes.

Thanksgiving Recipes Not Found on Internet: Perfect Sweet Potatoes

6 to 8 Cs cooked mashed sweet potatoes
1 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/3 C milk
½ C butter
1 C finely chopped pecans
1 C brown sugar
1/3 C flour
1/3 C butter

Beat together all the first stuff, then put in casserole and put topping and bake 20 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees

Thanksgiving Recipes Not Found on Internet: Roasted Winter Squash with Asparagus, Gorgonzola, and Apples

Serves: 4-6

1 medium butternut squash, or other winter squash (about 1-1/2 pounds), rinsed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch wedges
2-3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
½ lbs asparagus, cut into 1-inch wedges
½ C almonds
½ Gala, Macintosh, or other red crunchy apple, cut into small pieces (almost diced)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 oz gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

While peeling and preparing squash, lightly toast slivered almonds on broiler for 2 minutes – remember to set a timer! Then, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush a roasting pan lightly with some of the butter. In a medium bowl, toss the squash with the remaining butter and season with the salt. Spread out on the pan and roast for about 25 -30 minutes. Meanwhile, steam asparagus until just cooked (should be slightly crunchy still). Transfer the squash to a serving dish, season with pepper to taste and sprinkle with the cheese, apples, asparagus, and almonds while still hot. Serve, enjoy!

Thanksgiving Recipes Not Found on Internet: Wheat Sheaf Bread

Williams Sonoma Wheat Sheaf Bread

The recipe below is my Auntie Pam's, but the techniques are from Williams Sonoma Bread Cookbook.

Makes: 30 Rolls
½ C sugar
½ C oil
2 eggs
2 Tbsp yeast
1 Tbsp salt
2 ½ C water
6-7 C flour

Beat sugar and oil together. Add eggs and beat again. Add yeast, salt, and water. Add 3 C flour and beat until smooth. Add flour until it pulls away easily from bowl. Knead for 10 minutes by hand/6-7 minutes with a mixer using a kneading hook. Let rise 35-45 minutes.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and press flat. Divide into thirds and form each portion into a ball. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes. Grease and flour a heavy baking sheet (can be used upside down if not large enough).
To Make the Wheat Sheaf Base: Roll out 1 ball of dough into an oval, 12 inches long and 9 inches wide. Cut away a small rectangle 2 by 3 inches at the base of the oval, forming a tall mushroom shape. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
Placing the “stalks”: Cut the second ball of dough in half. Set aside one-half to use for the “tie/braid” and roll out the other half into a rectangle ¼ inch thick. Cut into thin strands and roll them into thin ropes (like you're making worms with playdough). Arrange the dough strands on top like stalks of wheat, pressing gently into the base to secure the stalks.
Cutting the “ears”: Roll out the third ball of dough about ¼ inch thick and cut out 1-inch diamonds. I just cut the whole thing in a grid-like fashion, so you have a lot of squares and then turn them diamond-like. They don't need to be perfect - the bread will rise and hide small mistakes. Arrange the ears in rows starting at the top, overlapping the edges of the base slightly. Press each diamond in gently to ensure they will be secure after rising and baking.
“Tying” the sheaf: Cut the reserved ball of dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 10 inches long and braid tightly. Place the braid across the stalks at the narrowest part of the base. Tuck the ends underneath the base to secure.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise until puffy, about 10 minutes.
Brush loaf with egg glaze or spray with cooking spray. Watch closely so as not to over-bake. Bake until well risen and golden brown, 35-45 minutes. Brush with butter. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Menu 5

Ok, it's been a long, long time. But it's not for lack of cooking, so let the menus begin again!

I've decided to post only the recipes that I think are amazing, not just all the recipes that I've made in the last 2 weeks, so enjoy these highlights of the delicious fall recipes that we've been eating at our house!

The flavors in this recipe shocked me - absolutely packed with flavor and so satisfying. It was absolutely delicious and healthy! It's a pity that farro isn't more popular - I found it easily at Whole Foods and was on my way to a delicious, hearty vegetarian meal.

Vegetable Gratin-Souffle: This recipe (found below) is a Deborah Madison recipe from her famous book, "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone". It's SUCH a wonderful cookbook aimed for the vegetarian or anyone who just wants to add some vegetarian-based cooking to their menus (which I do). The recipes are rounded, delicious, and use a variety of ingredients (rather than leaning on simply bread or pasta) to make wholesome, delicious, vegetarian meals. This recipe was no disappointment - it came out fluffy and delicious! I used celery root, butternut squash, and zucchini. Perfection.
By the way, celery root is the scary-lookin' root vegetable at your local supermarket. Don't let it scare you away, it might be ugly, but it has such a delicious flavor and smell. Just a little sweet and a little zesty at the same time. I love it. Just cut all the outer parts and roots off and you'll have what looks like a potato to dice to your heart's content.
Just can't stop eating or making this, it's so unbelievably good! Last time I threw in a little edamame, just to up the nutrition ante for my son. =)

I make this almost compulsively during the winter months. The sweet, the savory, the textures, it's just DELICIOUS! I think with this particular recipe you could potentially swap in rice if you don't have couscous, and you could also use coconut milk if you don't have cream. Mango chutney is usually found either by the relish and ketchup or in the Asian cooking/Indian cooking aisle at grocery stores. You can also make it yourself, but that is a lot of work! For those with allergies to mangoes (i.e., my mom), you can swap in apricot preserves if necessary, it's still quite delicious.
I go back again and again to this recipe. I do vary it a little from the main recipe - I half the chicken breasts and then take all the other ingredients (except the lemon wedges) and combine them together and roll the chicken breasts around them - as if I were stuffing them. I then take anything left-over and top it all over the chicken and bake it in a covered casserole dish as directed. I also always add in mushrooms and sometimes asparagus, for an easy and nutritious one-pot meal. Then, the juices on the bottom of the casserole from the vegetables can also be used as a sauce over rice with the meal and you already have all your vegetables cooked!
This is my all-time favorite chicken salad. Just thinking about it makes my mouth salivate. With all the grapes around this time of year, I decided to make it and serve it on homemade navajo fry-bread, although crescent rolls are delicious with it as well.

Slow Cooker:
Kailua Pulled Pork
This is a staple comfort food in our house. Recipe found below - so so delicious with some rice and a green veggie!
Classic Beef and Noodles This is from the Rival Crock Pot Recipe Collection. I adore this book, it allows you to be so creative with your crock pot and it frequently calls for fresh (rather than all processed) ingredients, which is a plus in my book! This recipe did not disappoint. We absolutely loved it. Rather than the dry sherry, I just added a little balsamic vinegar and maybe a little water. This was absolutely delicious and so easy!!

My favorite Taco SoupMost taco soups have a lot of ingredients in them. This one is very simple - and I think it's the best one I've ever had! So, so, easy. Recipe below as well. You can substitute any ground meat you like to make it healthier.

Happy Fall!

Menu 5 - Recipes not found on internet

(Deborah Madison, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone)
Butter for the dish
3 C Vegetables, cut into 1-inch pieces (many different vegetables can be used - including celery root, cauliflower, winter squash, butternut squash, zucchini, turnips, broccoli...)
1/2 C fresh bread crumbs (although I used store-bought ones)
3 Tbls butter
1 C milk
1/2 small onion or 2 large shallots, finely diced
1/2 C grated gruyere (I used Swiss because I'm on a budget)
2 eggs, separated
Salt and pepper
Pinch grated nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (F) and lightly butter an 8x10-inch gratin dish. Steam or par-boil the vegetables until barely tender when pierced with a knife. Drain, rinse under cold water, then finely chop them.
Lightly brown the bread crumbs in 2 Tbls butter in a small saucepan, then stir in the milk. When it's hot to the touch, turn off the heat. Meanwhile, cook the onion in the remaining butter in a small skillet over medium heat until translucent, about 3 minutes. Combine the onion, vegetables, and bread crumb mixture in a bowl, then stir in the cheese and egg yolks. Season with salt and pepper to taste and the nutmeg. Beat the whites until stiff, then fold them into the mixture. Pour into the prepared dish and bake until puffed and browned, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.
3-5 lbs pork shoulder/butt roast/pork loin roast
1 quart Water
Kosher salt (at least ¼ C, then to taste)
Liquid smoke (starting with ¼ bottle, then to taste)

Take roast, put in crock pot, add water. Cook 5-6 hours in crock pot on low or in an oven: 6-8 hours at 300°F or 8-10 hours at 275°F.
Remove foil, put roast in 9x13 pan and pull it/fork it. Remove fat and bones. Add kosher salt and liquid smoke to taste. Mix well.
Delicious made ahead of time and frozen for a convenient fix any time!
1 lbs ground beef
1/2 chopped onion or 1/2 Tbsp onion powder
1 28 oz can tomatoes
2 16 oz cans kidney beans or black beans (drained), I prefer black beans
1 can corn (un-drained)
2 8 oz cans tomato sauce
1 package Taco seasoning
Between 1 C and 3 C water, depending on how thick you like it.

Brown beef and onion in pan. Drain excess fat. Add beef, onion, and all other ingredients to slow cooker. Cook on low or high until warmed through. Top each bowl with cheese, sour cream, chips, avocados etc. Make sure to add appropriate liquid and ingredients to fit your slow cooker's size.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Well we can blame the fact that I haven't posted on one of two things. Either I have been busy and forgotten, or, I am just SUCH an awesome cook that I have not been able to decide what to post because I have sooo many wonderful options. I choose to believe the latter of the two.
Anyway, here is my peace offering. Hope you enjoy!!!

Zuppa Toscana
Okay I made this soup for dinner at a friend's house and seriously it is so good!!! It tastes almost identical to the zuppa toscana at Olive Garden which is divine! A lot of oil winds up settling on top and so I let it settle and then just drug a paper towel over the top to soak it up, that worked pretty well actually! Although I'm sure its not the most "food handlers permit" friendly.

Devild's Food with Strawberry Cream. (i.e. heaven)
This was what I made for a couple of birthdays this month and let me tell you... it. is. AMAZING. especially if you are as much of a chocolate lover as I am. I would suggest putting the cake in the refrigerator or even freezing it for a little bit (if you will have time for it to thaw before serving) before you frost it. Otherwise when you try to spread the frosting around the sides the cream goes with it =) enjoy!!

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cup cake flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
3 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 pint strawberries, hulled, halved lengthwise

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup sour cream, room temp
2 cups confectioners sugar

Heat oven to 350degrees F.
Coat 2 round 9" cake pans with nonstick spray or 3 round 8" cake pans.
Line bottoms with wax paper. (a springform works great to just line the bottom and then close the springform edge around tyhe wax paper.
In bowl, whisk sugar, flour, cocoa, soda and powder to blend.
Melt chocolate and butter 1 min. in microwave, stir to blend.
With mixer, beat buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and chocolate mixture into dry ingredients until blended. Beat 2 min. or until smooth.
Scrape into pans.
Bake 42 min. or until done.
Cool in pans 20 min. turn cakes out of pans, cool.
Beat cream and sugar in bowl with mixer until stiff peaks form.
Place 1 layer on serving plate.
Spread on half the whipped cream to 1/2 inch of edge.
Top with concentric circles of strawberries.
Spread remaining cream over strawberries.
Top with second cake layer.
Refrigerate cake.
Melt chocolate and butter in glass bowl in microwave 2 min. or until chocolate is soft and shiny, stir until completely melted and smooth.
Fold in sour cream, gradually beat in confectioners sugar until smooth and shiny.
Spread cake with frosting.