What I’m Making This Thanksgiving

by Michelle on November 21, 2015

It’s the weekend before Turkey Day so out comes my notebook where I write down my menu and grocery lists for holidays and parties. We are frying our turkey this year (fingers crossed) and I am planning on using this brine, which got rave reviews. But aside from the occasional variation (mashed butternut squash over sweet potatoes; a newer, better version of cranberry sauce) my Thanksgiving menu doesn’t change much. After all, a holiday meal is about traditions, both new and old, and the anticipation of enjoying them each year. Here’s what will be on our table this Thursday. Happy Thanksgiving to all!


Cranberry Sauce With Apples, Pears and Quince

1 12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries

1 apple, peeled and cut into bite size chunks

1 pear, peeled and cut into bite size chunks

1 quince, peeled and cut into bite size chunks

Juice of one orange, tangerine or clementine

The flesh of one orange, tangerine or clementine cut into pieces

2 cinnamon sticks

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

In a sauce pan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the water and orange juice. Once it boils, let simmer for five minutes, then add the cranberries, apple, pear, quince and spices. Turn the heat to medium and let simmer until the cranberries burst and the fruit is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.


Whole Grain Stuffing with Apple, Sausage and Pecans (from Food and Wine)

*Note: This stuffing needs to be refrigerated for at least an hour before baking so that the egg thoroughly soaks the bread. I usually let mine chill overnight.

One 7-inch round loaf of whole grain bread, cut into cubes

3/4 cup pecans

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium yellow onion, 1/4 inch dice

1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed

1 teaspoon chopped sage

1 teaspoon thyme leaves

1 Granny Smith apple, 1/2 inch dice

2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 egg

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toast the bread cubes for about 15 minutes, tossing halfway through, until lightly golden and dry. Transfer the bread to a large bowl. Spread the pecans in a pie plate and toast for about 8 minutes, until fragrant. Let cool then coarsely chop the pecans.

In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the onion, celery and sausage and cook over moderate heat, breaking up the sausage with the back of a spoon, until the sausage is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add the sage and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Scrape the sausage into the bowl with the bread.

Add the chopped pecans and apple to the bowl with the bread. In a medium bowl, whisk the chicken broth with the egg. Pour over the bread mixture and add 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Toss until the bread soaks up the liquid. Scrape into the prepared baking dish and cover with foil. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. 

Preheat the oven to 375°. Bake the stuffing for about 30 minutes, until it is hot throughout. Remove the foil and bake for about 30 minutes longer, until the top is lightly golden. Serve hot or warm.



Corn Pudding

1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 1/2 cups light sour cream
1 stick of butter, melted
Combine all ingredients in an 8×8 glass baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. If you are doubling the batch you may need to bake for 55-60 minutes. The top should be lightly brown and set, like cornbread.—————————————————————————————————————————

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1 bunch of Brussels sprouts, rinsed, cut in half crosswise and outer leaves removed (if you buy the baby sprouts,there’s no need to halve them)

Olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and halve the sprouts, then spread them on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, transfer to a bowl and serve warm.


Old-Fashioned Pumpkin Pie (from SimplyRecipes.com)

2 cups of pumpkin pulp purée from a sugar pumpkin or from canned pumpkin purée

1 1/2 cup heavy cream or 1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/3 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs plus the yolk of a third egg

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest

Preheat oven to 425°F. Mix sugars, salt, and spices, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Beat the eggs and add to the bowl. Stir in the pumpkin purée. Stir in cream. Whisk all together until well incorporated.

Pour into pie shell and bake at 425°F for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes reduce the temperature to 350°F. Bake 40-50 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for 2 hours.


{ 1 comment }

Spicy Honey Glazed Chicken Thighs

by Michelle on November 18, 2015

We do a lot of grilling in the warmer months and, this past summer, boneless chicken thighs were a staple on our grill. They’re such a flavorful and often less expensive cut. While I usually made glazes for them, they’re also pretty tasty with just some olive oil and salt and pepper. Chicken thighs are also great in the slow cooker, but the other night I had a package of frozen organic thighs that weren’t going to defrost in time to slow cook for several hours. I needed a quick recipe, preferably one whose ingredients I already had in the house. A quick Google search yielded this recipe from Cooking Light.  Not only did I have all of the ingredients but it involved broiling the thighs for a total of 12 minutes. Done and done.

I was already sold on the speedy prep (no chopping required) but after tasting this chicken I am putting it on my all-time favorite chicken recipes list. It’s that good. Definitely spicy, so it might not be the best meal for kids, but absolutely outstanding. We ate the chicken with this kale salad, whose savory flavor pairs well with the chicken’s kick. And since this is a Cooking Light recipe, it’s healthy too. Total win.


Spicy Honey Glazed Chicken Thighs (from Cooking Light)

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

8 skinless, boneless, chicken thighs

Cooking spray

6 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Preheat broiler. Combine first six ingredients in a bowl, add the chicken and toss to coat. Place chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil for five minutes on each side.

Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl. Remove chicken from the oven and brush the chicken with half of the honey mixture. Return to broiler for one minute. Turn the chicken and brush with the remaining glaze and broil for one more minute or until chicken is done.

{ 1 comment }

Vegetable Dye Food Coloring

by Michelle on November 9, 2015

I love food coloring, especially when it comes time for holiday baking. What I don’t love are the additives and chemicals in the traditional FD & C dyes (you know, the ones you’ll find on a label with a super long name and a number after it). When I was planning Charlie’s birthday party this summer, I wanted to make orange tiger striped pretzel rods to go along with the Daniel Tiger theme but I couldn’t bring myself to buy orange candy melts or use standard food coloring. Before I gave up on the idea altogether, I Googled plant based food dye and found Confection Crafts, an Oregon-based company whose products are made with non-GMO vegetable color. (The fact that they are one of the only companies doing this in the U.S. is another post entirely. Most of the other vendors were in Canada or Australia.) They have a bunch of products—everything from modeling chocolate to sprinkles—but I ordered their oil dispersible colors which are recommended for chocolate and their liquid colors which can be used for icings. I bought the orange (colored with paprika) and then green (spinach and turmeric) and red (beet, carrot and annatto) for the holidays since I was paying for expedited shipping. I was so, so pleased with their products!!! While the color isn’t as “bright” as their chemical counterparts, they do the job just fine. And the absence of chemicals is well worth a slightly altered hue. I ended up using the green in these Frankenstein pudding cups (pictured below) I made for our soccer Halloween party a few weeks ago and  was super happy with the results. If you are in need of food coloring for your holiday cookies or candy check out Confection Crafts. (Note: I have not received any free samples from them. I just really, really like their products!)