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Category Archives: Holidays

Our Thanksgiving Menu

Turkey: This technique comes courtesy of Alton Brown.  We have made this turkey several years in a row and it has always been a success! The recipe is his Good Eats Roast Turkey. And we basically follow the instructions for the brine and how to bake it. However, we do not use the aromatics, instead going for stuffing!

Potatoes:  There isn’t much to say for the potatoes.  For us, the simpler the better.  Take 10lbs of all purpose potatoes.  Peel. Chop. Boil.  Mash. Butter, heavy cream, salt.  Yum!!

Sweet Potatoes: Now growing up, my family was never one to mess around much with sweet potatoes.  We never made sweet potato casserole, or added marshmallows or brown sugar to them. Our favorite way to have sweet potatoes was almost similar to regular potatoes. Just boiled and mashed, with butter and salt.  Love it!  As I’ve grown up, I guess I’ve gotten a bit more adventurous with my tastes and I have been willing to try variations on my very simple, but favorite method of eating sweet potatoes.  This year, I will be trying this recipe from lovingly named Mashed Sweet Potatoes.  We’ll see how it goes.  I am weary of messing with my sweet potatoes, but apparently that makes me the oddball, not everyone else!

Stuffing:  So the stuffing is a bit controversial in my house right now.  My husband stoutly insists that stuffing is not stuffing without a ton of meat added to it.  So every year he forces me to add large amounts of sweet italian sausage to our stuffing mixture.  It’s not that I’m as a rule opposed to sweet italian sausage, but I’m not always sure it’s something that belongs in my stuffing.  For me, I only love my mothers stuffing which I’m pretty sure just contains bread, butter, and those parts of the turkey that come in a little bag that most people get nauseous looking at.  Now, my husband, being one of those people who gets nauseous looking at the tiny little heart and lungs, has never let me attempt to make stuffing the way my mom always did, thus I have been dealing with mediocre stuffing laced with fennel seed landmines ever since.  One day… I will prevail, but for now stuffing = bag of store bought stuffing bread, butter, chicken broth, cooked italian sausage.

Cranberry sauce:  Well, cranberry sauce is always controversial.  There are those who love it and those who hate it… there is no inbetween.  We are 50/50 here so I will continue to make cranberry sauce every year, even if I am the only one who enjoys it.  Perfect Cranberry Sauce pretty much sums things up, since there are only so many ways to make the stuff.

Vegetable supplement:  As a byproduct of my youth, I have *almost* always required a vegetable supplement to be served with whatever my dinner is.  Thanksgiving is no exception.  This year we are going to be trying Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts.  Sounds delicious!

Gravy:  I really should have my husband write this part since gravy remains largely a mystery to me. Something about drippings from the turkey, flour, butter? I dunno, which ever way you shake it, I never really pay much attention to the stuff, but somehow it’s always there.

Bread:  This is another one of those things that for whatever reason, is a necessity at Thanksgiving time.  There is so much other food around, but somehow bread is needed to mop up the turkey juice and gravy, to take the first bite of in order to prepare your stomach for further awesomeness.  Bread is a must.  This year, I’ll be doing Lemon Rosemary Gruyere Crusty bread!

Add in an amazing dessert or two, some wine, and that my friends, is a Thanksgiving feast!! Guten apetit!

2015 updates:

We will be hosting Thanksgiving again this year. We have two changes to our menu for the year. One is the veggie. We’ll be switching it up from Brussel sprouts, to a Creamed Spinach dish. The second thing is that I’m going to make a good old Apple Pie.

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Pumpkin Cream Whoopie Pies

From Real Simple

Total cook time: About 1 hour 30 minutes

Pumpkin Cream Whoopie Pies

3 TBSP unsalted butter, at room temp
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 oz (1/2 cup) canned pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp kosher salt
5 1/3 oz (2/3 cup) cream cheese, at room temp
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 F. Prepare a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and sugar until smooth.
  • Add in the pumpkin, vanilla, and egg.  Mix till well combined.
  • Slowly mix in the dry ingredients.  Beat on setting 4 until fully incorporated.
  • Spoon heaping tablespoons of the mixture, 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Make an even number.
  • Bake about 10 minutes, until puffed and cooked through.
  • Meanwhile, in a cleaned mixer, beat the cream cheese, heavy cream, and confectioners sugar until smooth and spreadable.
  • Spread the flat sides of the cooled cookies with the cream mixture.  Top with remaining cookies.

Magic Cookie Bars

Yum

Total cook time: About an hour

Magic Cookie Bars

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups Graham cracker crumbs
1, 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1, 16 oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1, 3.5 oz can flaked coconut (1 1/3 cup fresh)
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Melt butter in a 13 X 9 inch baking pan.
  • Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs over melted butter, mix together, and press into bottom of pan.
  • Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over the crumbs.
  • Top evenly with remaining ingredients, press down firmly.
  • Bake 30 minutes until lightly browned.
  • Cool thoroughly before cutting.

Northland Cookies

This recipe is a real throwback.  These cookies don’t have any modern techniques, or modern ingredients.  But they are simply good.  Yet another cookie that brings me back to holidays with my family.

Total cook time: 4 hours
Total hands on time: 30 minutes

Northland Cookies

1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
6 TBSP shortening, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup almonds, chopped

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 F. Use ungreased baking sheets.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon
  • In mixing bowl, cream together shortening and brown sugar.
  • Stir in water
  • Stir dry ingredients into dough.
  • Add in almonds.
  • Mix thoroughly with hands.
  • On a sheet of waxed paper, press into a long roll. Wrap, and chill, until stiff. About 2-3 hours.
  • Cut into thin slices, place on cookie sheets.
  • Bake for 5-6 minutes until lightly brown.

Yummy Caramel Bars

My absolute favorite holiday treat!

Total cook time: About 3 hour 30 minutes
Total hands on time: about 1 hour
Yummy Caramel Bars

32 Caramels (usually one bag is enough)
2.6 oz (1/3 cup) evaporated milk
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter
1, 6 oz package semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter an 11 X 7 inch baking pan.
  • In a double boiler, combine caramels and evaporated milk. Heat, stirring occasionally, until caramels are melted and mixture is smooth.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  • In a large (not kitchenaid) bowl, sift flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • Stir in brown sugar and oats.
  • Cut in butter until mixture looks like coarse crumbs.
  • Turn half of the oat mixture into prepared pan and press evenly into bottom.
  • Bake 10 -15 mins until lightly browned.
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle evenly with chocolate pieces, pecans, then reserve caramel mixture.
  • Sprinkle remaining oat mixture evenly over the caramel.
  • Return to oven and bake 20 mins more, until lightly browned.
  • Set on a wire rack to cool for about 35 minutes.
  • Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours, until caramel layer is set.
  • Cut into bars, and store into an airtight container.

Peanut Blossoms

The peanut butter cookies with a Hershey’s kiss on top!

Total cook time: About an hour

Peanut Blossoms

1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (Jif)
1 egg
2 TBSP milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
48 milk chocolate kisses (usually one bag is enough)

Plus:
1/2 cup sugar for rolling the dough balls in

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 F. Use ungreased cookie sheets.
  • In a mixing bowl combine all ingredients except for the candies.  Mix on low speed (Kitchenaid 2) until dough is well formed.
  • Shape dough into teaspoon sized balls.
  • Roll dough balls in sugar and place on cookie sheet.
  • Bake 8-9 minutes. (8 minutes for thin cookie sheet, 9 minutes for the thicker aluminum sheet)
  • Take out of oven and top each cookie with a candy kiss, pressing down firmly to make cookie crack around the edges.
  • Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Foolproof Fudge

Another holiday favorite

Total cooking time: At least 3 hours.
Hands on time: 20 mins

Foolproof Fudge

18 oz (3 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1, 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
dash salt
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Instructions:

  • Spread wax paper in an 8×8 inch pan.
  • In heavy saucepan over low heat, melt chips with sweetened condensed milk and salt.
  • Remove from heat, stir in walnuts and vanilla.
  • Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan.
  • Chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours, until set.
  • Turn fudge out and peel off wax paper.  Cut into squares.
  • Store at room temp or in refrigerator.