Category: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving part 3: Desserts and Spiced Ginger Pear Martini

The time has come to round out the delicious memories of thanksgiving until 2012.  To be honest, I love the classic pumpkin and apple pies that find their way onto the dinner table after thanksgiving but they are never as exciting as making the turkey and side dishes and of course the cocktail.  I have said it before in previous posts, but I don’t find culinary excitement in baking pies.  However, lately I have really enjoyed the planning process of a dinner party start to finish.  Appetizers through cocktails.  So this post wraps up the dinner party of thanksgiving and let me just say it was so fun to make.  I can’t wait to tackle it again next year, and maybe throw in some spontaneous dinner parties throughout the year.

Classic Pumpkin Pie (William Sonoma’s Essentials of Baking) 

Ingredients 

  • Flaky pastry dough
  • 1/2 c firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup canned or fresh pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 c heavy cream
  • sweetened whipped cream

Recipe

    1. Roll out the dough disk into a 12 inch round.  Transfer dough round to a 9 inch pie pan or dish.  Trim the edge of the dough round.  Leaving ¾ inch of overhand.  Fold the overhand under itself and pinch together to create a high edge on the pans rim.  Flute the edge decoratively.  Refrigerate or freeze shell until firm about 30 min
    2. Place an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375.  Partially bake the pie shell as directed.  Transfer the pie shell to a wire rack.  Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven and reduce oven temp to 350
    3. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and eggs until well blended. Add the cinnamon, ginger, salt, cloves, and nuteg and mix well.  Add the pumpkin puree and cream and whisk until smooth.  Pour into partially baked pie shell
    4. Bake pie until the filling is slightly risen and firm in the middle, 35-45 min.  transfer to a wire rack and let cool until just slightly warm or at room temp.

Woven Crust Apple Pie 

Spiced Ginger Pear Cocktail (for one pitcher, serves about 5)

Now this combo for a cocktail just kinda popped into my head while we were grocery shopping so I got the ingredients but just threw them together for the drink and it turned out delicious.  It was a little better and less sweet once the ice melted a bit so that would be my only tip.

Ingredients 

  • About 1 inch of frech ginger, peeled
  • 1 can of pears
  • vodka to taste (I added about a cup)
  • Spiced simple syrup (recipe below)
  • water

Recipe

  1. The day before, make the simple syrup.  Combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a bot and simmer until the sugar has dissolved.  Add 1 cinnamon stick and 1 tsp nutmeg.  Cover and let simmer for about 20 min.  discard the cinnamon stick and refrigerate the syrup until you make the cocktail.
  2. combine the canned pears, ginger and simple syrup in a blender until smooth
  3. add the vodka, about 1/2 c water and blend to combine.  Adjust to taste.
  4. You can also add club soda to top it off if you want a sparkling taste to it.

{Spiced simple syrup} 

{Finished cocktail! Yum}

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Thanksgiving part 2: Side Dishes and the Turkey

Ok, so my original hope of getting through three posts in three days obviously didn’t happen.  But these recipes are too good to go unposted no matter how many weeks have passed.  So now, the side dishes.  We made some traditional thanksgiving dishes (that our family always makes) and some that were new to the table but just as delicious.  We had two kinds of cornbread dressing (stuffing), mashed sweet potatoes, roasted green beans, and please don’t hate me, but scalloped potatoes instead of mashed.  And now, I have a confession.  I am really not a huge fan of mashed potatoes.  Yes, they can be delicious with garlic or chives or whatever you wish to add, but I always end up doing the same thing…leaving the mashed mountain on my plate and go for the greens or meat or main dish.  So this year we stuck to the mashed sweet potatoes but substituted the regular mashed po’s for scalloped deliciousness.  So here we go….

Our Traditional Cornbread Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 batch cornbread (see chili and cornbread post)
  • ½ cup old white bread
  • 1 cup celery
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • Chicken or turkey stock until very moist (more moist is better than less.  just not dripping.)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

Recipe

  1. Crumble the cornbread in a large bowl
  2. add the remaining ingredients
  3. mix well
  4. transfer to a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 min
Ok, we don’t brulee our sweet potaotes and this isn’t even the recipe that we follow. But a.) I love this blog and b.) who doesn’t love a lightened version of a classic like sweet potatoes
Whole wheat dinner muffins 
Recipe
  • 13/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp yellow cornmeal
  • 3 tbsp firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large eggs, separated
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds for sprinkling
Recipe
  1. preheat oven to 375. Crease 9 standard muffin cups; fill the unused cups 1/3 full with water to prevent warping
  2. in a bowl stir together the flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
  3. in another bowl whisk together the egg yolks, butter, buttermilk, sour cream, and vanilla until blended. Stir the buttermilk mix into the dry ingredients just until evenly moistened.
  4. In a clean bowl, using a mixer with spotlessly clean beaters on medium speed, or a balloon whisk, beat the whites just until they form soft peaks.  Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter until blended.
  5. Spoon the batter into each muffin cup, filling it level with the rim of the cup. Sprinkle each muffin with some of the sesame seeds
  6. Bake until golden, dry, and springy to the touch 2-25 min.  a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin should come out clean.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 min.  Un-mold muffins and serve warm or at room temp with butter.
This was the first year that I decided to brine the turkey…ok this was the first year that I was in charge of the turkey.  But I will say it was delicious! I was a little bummed that I forgot to bring home my new meat thermometer (one of those cool ones that has a prod in the meat but then the actual temp part is outside the oven) so we used the regular one but im sure that did not change the taste..just the foodie fun of cooking a turkey.  Anyway, we were going to make this brine but instead, bought the premade brine from Cost Plus World Market which had most of the same ingredients of the Bon Appetit brine but in one convenient package.  I compromised though and still added added the apple cider for flavor.  Let’s just say I will be referencing this post a year from now when I cook thanksgiving again.
{Our traditional cornbread dressing}
{Cornbread dressing with fall root vegetables}
{Soaking the potato in water before baking will remove the starch}
{Finished potato gratin with gruyere crust}
{I substituted white flour for whole wheat but either works perfectly! And I topped the muffins with rosemary and sea salt for added flavor}
{How can you not try this recipe after this picture}

Thanksgiving Part 1: 3 Appetizers and a Salad

So the marathon of cooking thanksgiving was so fun and exhausting that it has taken me this long to have time to post about it. In all fairness, I have been thinking about it all week while I try to figure out in what order to post the pictures and recipes.  I think, in order to not overwhelm and create a post that is way to long and in effect, does not appropriately praise each dish, I will post in segments starting with the appetizers and salad.  Then moving to side dishes and turkey and finally the two pies and the cocktail recipe. (see, there is a logical reason why it took me so long to post, this post organization is serious stuff).

I have never cooked all of (ok most of) thanksgiving.  I started getting into cooking towards the beginning of college, but never was given the responsibility of cooking for the family.  Probably because I had to prove myself before my family would hand over the iconic reigns of the thanksgiving meal beyond just making family favorites.  But this year it just seemed assumed that I would cook it, I never really had to convince anyone!  I just told my mom I was collecting recipes about a month before thanksgiving and no questions were asked.  So after keeping two october/november Cooking light magazines, 2 William Sonoma essentials cookbooks, and a few others by my bedside for that month I finally came up with a menu that included the traditional family dishes and a few new ones which turned out to be the perfect balance.

I just love planning a whole meal from appetizer to cocktail to dessert, there is something so (OCD) satisfying about a complete meal, it truly feels like a marathon and I thrive on it.  I’m not crazy, I promise.  And I love having people help and teaching my family little cooking tips I’ve picked up on, but I love being the brains behind it.  So I hope after this year I have earned my badge of honor for the future.  =)

Appetizer #1: Crispy Cumin and Chili Powder Chickpeas 

(She used many more spices, it is really up to you and  your imagination of what spices you want to include.  The effect is the same.)

Appetizer #2: Pesto Palmiers 

You can choose whatever filling you desire with these.  I wanted more of a savory appetizer so I chose pesto.  But they are also traditionally just puff pastry with sugar.

{This was the final plate, I added some picked asparagus to round it out to0}

Appetizer #3: Sun Dried Tomato and White Bean Puree over Bri

Ingredients:

  • 1 can white kidney beans
  • 3 tbl oil packed sun dried tomatoes
  • 2 tbl oil from the sun dried tomatoes
  • 1-2 tbl oilve oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 wedge of brie cheese (warmed up if you like)

Recipe

  1. Combine the first 4 ingredients together in a blender or food processor if you have one. (If too thick add more olive oil to the mixture)
  2. Spread over the wedge of brie cheese on the plate you wish to serve.  Spread crackers around the wedge. ENJOY


{I added some sliced gorgonzola cheese to the plate and some store bought red pepper hummus}

Salad: Baby greens, Pomegranate seeds, Crumbled blu cheese, Toasted almonds, with a Cranberry Orange Vinaigrette 

  1. Combine all the goodies for the salad, top with dressing and mix to combine.

{Nothing makes a holiday salad like pomegranate seeds and cranberry vinaigrette}