Tag Archives: thanksgiving

Puffy Pumpkin Pinwheels

23 Nov

Do you need an appetizer in a pinch? These will get gobbled up at any Thanksgiving gathering! Slice them frozen and bake them off at the party or make just as you are heading out so they stay warm, best eaten warm.

Also for a cute and speedy floral arrangement, hollow out a mini pumpkin, line with foil. Add a few florets and there you have it!

1 can pumpkin purée
1 8oz package cream cheese, softened (fat-free or light is okay)
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed but still cold (see note)
2 Tbsp. all-purpose seasoning blend see below*
Salt and pepper, optional
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 Tbsp. water

Directions

Preheat oven to 400° F Line a cookie sheet with parchment or non stick foil.

In a medium bowl, stir together the pumpkin purée and cream cheese, set aside.

Unwrap puff pastry , if it comes rolled in parchment just un roll it on the parchment or place on a clean, lightly floured counter or work surface.

Spread pumpkin and cream cheese mixture over the puff pastry, leaving a half-inch margin on all sides.

Sprinkle seasoning blend evenly over the top.

Sprinkle with a small amount of salt.

Evenly sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top.

Roll up the puff pastry in an as-tightly-wound cylinder (log) as possible.
Wrap log with plastic wrap and freeze until almost frozen.

Unwrap log with a very sharp knife slice the log into 12 equal-size pieces. Let thaw on cookies sheet until very cold but not totally frozen.

In a small bowl, lightly beat together the egg and water to create an egg-wash. Brush egg-wash over pastry slices, distribute evenly until it’s gone.

Bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until puffs are golden, puffed, set and done.

Allow puffs to cool in pan for about 5 to 10 minutes before removing. Serve immediately.

*All purpose seasoning
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon black pepper

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More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Pumpkin Pie

27 Nov

It’s time….pie time! Here is a cute little info graphic all about pie. Have a wonderful holiday season!

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We’ve been hit…by a PINTEREST Thanksgiving craft storm

20 Nov

20121120-152325.jpgOh Pinterest….you suck my time but in return give me great inspiration, it’s a love hate relationship. If you have read my earlier posts then you know I am cookoo for Thanksgiving and decorating. My nine-year old is also has the “crafty”gene, so we found a bunch of fun crafts to make. I thought it would take hours but it really didn’t with the exception of finding foil wrapped candy bars. (grrr)

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I wanted a few interesting take aways for my guests to thank them for spending the holiday with us. I found these cute candy bar wrappers on Martha Stewart but it is darn hard to find foil wrapped candy bars these days. Most companies did away with the foil and these only work with foil wrapped bars. I found some Cadbury from England but I didn’t think the kids would appreciate dark chocolate so these are for the grown ups only.  For the kids we made cute mini cornucopias from sugar cones, seen here. We didn’t get too fussy, we just added some Reeses Pieces and candy corn and bagged them up. We will use up cranberries by placing them in jars with some rosemary and a candle as seen here.

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As for place cards we really loved the large turkey drumstick, I think it is supposed to hold a large popcorn ball but we already have enough sweets! We stuffed them with paper towels, we can use for clean up after dinner. I hot glued the “bone” in to the paper bag and Claire labeled them, one for each kid.

We found lots of fun ideas for the grown up place cards, one we saw just used sticks and a sprig of evergreen. I had the idea to make mini drumsticks to match the kid table! We collected sticks from the yard and hot glued them together. We added the mini drumsticks and were pretty happy with how they turned out.  They standard turkey hand print is a place mat for the kids table, made by Claire. Thanks Pinterest!

Have a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!!

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Thanksgiving is heading our way…OY VEY! (getting ready for the big day) Post 2 of 2

18 Nov

Thyme and Gruyère icebox crackers

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, yes it is a TON of work but when it is all ready and the table is set it is the best feeling. (for me at least)  I know it can be stressful, battling your way down the grocery isle trying not to get your feet run over. Going around in circles looking for ingredients that have migrated to the end caps. Freaking out because the turkey is taking three days to thaw, and you are trying desperately to rip the frozen bag of giblets from the icy cavity.  I get it, really I do so instead of freaking out let’s just take a deep breath and start slow. I am going to help you get on track for the holiday, get somewhat organized and start NOW!!! It is less than a week away and whether you do the whole spread or take one or two dishes to a potluck, I can help.

Not only do I love this holiday but it is also one I tend to take total control of. (This is not a positive attribute of my personality) Asking people to bring a dish was/is not my style, I’d rather work myself to a nub rather than ask for help. Those days are over…this year I asked my guests to bring a dish (ok maybe I sent them a particular recipe and instructions, habits are hard to break) I plan on not stressing out and having a great time this year. Part of the reason for this post is to test out my method and see if it worked, I will keep you posted after the big event!  If you haven’t checked out my previous post on my marinated cheese appetizer check it out first before you jump in to this post.

Tying it all together

1. Make a huge coffee or tea carve out some alone time and scour the net for recipes and ideas.  (I know, I know…the kids, just wait until they are asleep) your husband or wife may become a Thanksgiving widow for a bit, it’s ok they will get you back in a few days.

Decide on the style of turkey too, bbq, roasted, Turducken or store prepared.  This year I am going to make a version of  Michael Symon’s Juicy Turkey Cooked in Cheese Cloth found here.

Don’t forget appetizers, just easy ones, your real focus needs to be on the meal.

2. Print ALL of the recipes even of you are just using them as a guide, you may need to check for ingredients or a quick tip. It will save you time in the long run. We all know finding a recipe you saw online 2 weeks ago will be a fruitless effort.

3.  Pick a cocktail and stick with it, don’t bother with a million bottles and ice filled coolers.

4. Make a comprehensive grocery list, one you keep adding to daily. Add things you think you will remember but won’t like whipped cream or  coffee and tea for dessert course. I love my printable grocery list, I have a small one for normal weeks and a large one for holidays or work when I am writing recipes or styling photos. Printable grocery list Sheet1

5. Decide what can be prepared ahead of time, cranberry sauce and turkey stock. I have a Foodsaver and that comes in handy for times like these.

6. Decide on your decorations, whether it’s just leaves from the yard and some votive candles or crafts galore add all the items to your shopping list. Get the kids involved here, do a paper place mat with a turkey hand print or name tags, something easy and fun.

7. Two days before get out all your serving dishes and utensils and label each one with a slip of paper reminding you what food will go in what dish. You really don’t want to be running all over looking for dishes when everyone is ready to eat.

8. 2 days before check your turkey to make sure it is thawing well.

I am a total traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving so our menu is pretty standard, I will post a bunch of my recipes below as ideas or inspiration for you.

Our Menu

Appetizers

Bread cornucopia (made 2 days before) filled with

Gruyère and Thyme crackers (made ahead of time) , assorted nuts in the shells, figs with honey

marinated Dry Jack cheese (made 5 days before)

The cocktail

Prosecco Pomegranate Sparkler

The meal

Turkey (prep day before)

Stuffing (prep day before)

Gravy (made ahead of time)

Roux for thickening gravy (made ahead and frozen)

Cranberry sauce (made ahead and frozen)

Mashed potatoes (made by a guest)

Sweet potato casserole with marshmallows (made by a guest) (yes, for real)

Bean casserole (made by a guest)

Sweets

Pumpkin pie with Biscoff cookie crust (made ahead and frozen) whip cream

Pumpkin cakes with Praline and toasted marshmallow topping (made day before, topping added just before serving)

Ice box cake (brought by guest)

coffee and tea

I have already done a few thing to get started, If you love lots of gravy then make a turkey stock to stretch the drippings with. Turkey necks and butts, yes I said butts or as mom used to call them,  “puppicks” or as Zedi used to call it…the part that goes over the fence last.  Anywho….Make a nice reduced stock with lots of veggies that you can use to moisten your stuffing and as a base for your gravy. Also after Thanksgiving add the carcass to your leftover stock to make delicious soup base.

Why do I need roux?

Because using cornstarch to thicken gravy doesn’t add any flavor or sheen.  A roux is a cooked mix of equal parts flour and a  fat such as butter or oil, Roux is used to  thicken sauces, and soup.  Roux can be made light, medium, dark or black-ish, for turkey gravy a light roux is fine. I never season my roux because the dish I end up using it in may already be too salty.

Roux recipe

cooking time 5-10 minutes
Will thicken aprox 6 cups sauce
 
6 tbsp flour
6 tbs butter and or turkey drippings
Heat up a small skillet, add butter and melt. Before it browns add the flour and stir constantly until the smell of fresh biscuits wafts up. When you smell the biscuits it is done. Now, you can add this to your gravy hot. Always add hot roux hot to hot liquid.
To store, freeze in an ice cube tray.
Fast method:
But…if it’s been in the freezer take it out and let it thaw a bit.
My trick is to take the slightly frozen roux and put it inside a small whisk. Slowly whisk it into the hot liquid, barely simmer it until thickened.
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Turkey stock for gravy and stuffing

Make Ahead Turkey Stock

(adapted from Bon Appetite)
  • 4 pounds assorted turkey wings, backs, butts and necks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, separated
  • 3 carrots, sliced in coins
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 onions, sliced in 1/2 moons
  • Giblets (heart, gizzard, liver) of 1 turkey
  • Thyme
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • bay leaf
  • 1/4  lemon
  • 10 garlic cloves smashed

Preheat oven to 450°. Spread turkey wings and turkey neck on a rack set in a large heavy roasting pan. Brush with 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil; roast until browned, about 1 hour. Chop carrots, celery stalks, and onions; toss with 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil. Arrange around turkey parts. Roast until vegetables brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a large pot. Add giblets and 1 gallon water and remaining ingredients. Bring to a slow simmer, and cook, skimming surface occasionally, for 3 hours. Strain into another pot and reserve the necks for their meat to be used in soup. Reduce the stock about 20 minutes more, cool down and freeze or refrigerate.


Gruyère and thyme icebox crackers 

(adapted from Martha Stewart)

If you grate the cheese first in the food processor then empty bowl and start recipe it will be much less work. You can avoid  a dirty grater and grating your knuckles too! These are delicious, I wish I had made two batches!

Thyme and Gruyere icebox crackers

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, de-stemmed
  • 3 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup finely grated (2 1/2 ounces) Gruyère cheese
  • 1/4 cup plus
  1. Combine flour, salt, pepper, and thyme in the bowl of a food processor; pulse to combine. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add cheese; pulse until combined. With machine running, add the milk; process until dough comes together and is well combined.
  2. Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape dough into a 2-inch-wide log. Wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Or freeze until  one hour before you are ready to bake them.
  3. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Slice chilled log into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Transfer slices to a parchment-lined  or non stick foil lined baking sheet. Bake immediately, rotating sheet once, until crackers are golden brown and firm in the center, 15 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.
 
 
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Thyme and Gruyère cracker dough

 

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

I also made my fail proof Cranberry sauce ahead and froze it in a food saver baggie.  If you buy two oranges you can probably get enough juice from them with out supplementing.

  • 12 oz bag fresh cranberries, rinsed
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 3/4 cup orange or tangerine juice
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar (scant)
  1. Place all the ingredients in a sauce pan, stir and cook on medium-high for about 15 minutes or until most of the liquid has reduced, stirring occasionally. Sugar burns easily so keep a good watch.  The cranberries will pop that’s a good thing. When almost reduced to the consistency you want remove from heat, it will thicken as it cools. Cranberry sauce can be made days ahead and brought to room temperature or slightly heated before serving.

Ready Set Go…Thanksgiving 2012 (post 1 of 2)

17 Nov

Marinated Dry Jack

Yes, it is RIGHT around the corner, you know, TD, Turkey Day! I wanted to give a few ideas to help spruce up your gobble gobble party (I made that one up)  So I wrote a post on getting organized and shared some recipes for make ahead foods but you can’t see that yet! I couldn’t resist sharing this scrumptiously easy appetizer with you first.
So if you are going out or having the whole family over you may be needing some recipe ideas. This one is easy, beautiful and can be morphed into many many different ideas. This is a cheese you can marinate for up to a week (he hem, it’s less than a week away..panic sets in)
If you have some pretty jars around, mason jars or French Jelly jars save them! Never toss pretty jars, thy come in handy a lot, I especially love to give gifts in them. When my guests arrive I don’t want them to fill up on chips and junk, I want them to have small nibbles of highly flavored snacks. When I saw this recipe I knew it fit the bill, who doesn’t like cheese, olive oil and garlic?
The herbs are in the in the garden, the only thing I didn’t have on hand was the cheese. A Parmesan Reggiano would be fantastic or  marinate a fresh mozzarella or even olives. Be sure to check back tomorrow for my next post on getting organized  and see my menu for Thanksgiving.

 Cheese Marinated in Herby Olive Oil

Do not store this for more than 10 days, garlic in oil can eventually have botulism and can pose a health risk. Use the oil up for cooking a few days after you eat the cheese, and always refrigerate this recipe.

  • 7 oz dry jack cheese, rind removed and sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 4 fresh sage leaves (I didn’t add sage)
  • 5 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 sprig(s) fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon(s) pink peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) black peppercorns
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, peeled,smashed
  • 1 1/2 cup(s) extra-virgin olive oi

Layer the cheese, sage, basil, and rosemary, the peppercorns and garlic  in a decorative jar and pour the oil over the top until the cheese is almost completely covered.  I leave the tops of the cheese dry so the guest can pick up the cheese stick without getting greasy.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, I used a large jar and wanted to eliminate air on the cheese so I used some seal wrap, pressing it down directly on the olive oil and on the sides of the jar.  for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before serving.

 

Acorn Squash, Cutting Cooking Time in “Half” with a Little Help from OrAngie

12 Nov

I knew I wanted to share this idea with you but I was holding off for some reason. Maybe it’s because I recently posted about squash, but we LOVE squash!!
I’m super excited to be a part of the Paint Chip Pals Rainbow-Tastic Holiday blog hop which supports a fun and exciting Kickstarter campaign.  The Paint Chip Pals plush dolls – a colorful set of characters saving the world from blah one color at a time! Learn more about this exciting campaign and the creators Andrea and Cliff Currie (whom you may recognize from Hand Make My Day and Craft Wars) here!

I love all the Paint Chip Pals for their bright hues and unique personalities I naturally honed in on the chef OrAngie as the inspiration for this squashie project because I like her fireyness and off the hook kitchen skills. When I was contacted recently by The Paint Chip Pals to do a blog post, I knew this was the one for them.  I saw OrAngie the cute Paint Chip chef who loves making Orangie cupcakes and mini yam sandwiches and fell in love! We try to be as creative as we can over here and the Paint Chip Pals fall right into our category for fun!

“How can squash be fun?” you ask. Well first off when I was looking at the photos of this pretty Orange Acorn squash my first thought was it looks a bit like OrAngie! It’s orange, and has a pretty little scalloped edge. If it had arms it would probably reach out for a hug, it’s like a little baby OrAngie. See how cute she is, do you see a resemblance?

If you have never made Acorn Squash before it is the easiest side dish to make and is sure to impress your guests! Don’t you want some Ohhh’s and Ahhh’s at the table once in a while? (You know you do) Now I didn’t learn to make this at culinary school or on a cooking show, this is just how mom used to make it, simple, comforting, buttery and sweet. I did however come up with this brilliant microwave steaming method to cut cooking time…all by myself! Now go to the store and buy some acorn squash, when you get back I will tell you what to do with this prehistoric looking food.

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Nothing Special :

Dam Good Old Fashioned Acorn Squash Recipe

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2 similar sized acorn squash

1/2 cup water

4 Tbs butter, coconut oil or Earth Balance

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

pinch salt

Preheat oven to 425˚F

Wash squash with water, dry.

Place a towel on a cutting board, put squash down stem side horizontal to board. Wrap towel around base of squash like a snake, to secure it in place while you cut through it. Slice a tiny amount off the stem side and bottom so when the squash is sitting upright it won’t wobble. Using a sharp knife* cut through the equator (the fat middle) of the squash. (see photo)

Scoop all the seeds and pulp out of the center. Pour 1/2 the water into the bottom half of each squash, place top of squash back on top. (see photo) Place the squash in the microwave for 5 minutes on high. It is now steaming, when you remove it use caution not to get a steam burn. The squash should be tender when poked with a knife. If it is not, return it to the microwave.

Dump out any remaining water; place the squash on a baking sheet. Add 1 Tbs butter, 1 Tbs brown sugar, 1 Tbs maple syrup and a pinch of salt to the flesh of each squash. Lightly poke each one with a fork a few times to let the butter and sugar sink in.

Cook for 15 minutes or until bubbly and tender, let cool 5 minutes, serve.

* sharp knife – If the squash is too tough to cut through or you are afraid of slipping place it in the microwave for 2 minutes to soften.

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