Saturday, November 22, 2014

Sparkling Pumpkin Apple Cider Bourbon Cocktails

WARNING: these are both delicious and dangerous at the same time. All you can really taste is the cider, so maybe you just might have 1 too many? But it's Thanksgiving, and what's wrong with a little extra holiday spirit?! Feel free to use your favorite apple cider, or homemade (even better!), I just couldn't turn down this pumpkin apple cider at my local market, and I loved it so much that I used it again in some cider margaritas for taco night with friends. The point is, you need a good cocktail on Thanksgiving. And this my friends is it. 

Sparkling Pumpkin Apple Cider Bourbon Cocktails
Makes 2 cocktails


  • 5 oz. sparkling pumpkin apple cider (I used Sprout's Farmer's Market Brand)
  • 2 1/2 oz. bourbon
  • ice
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 rosemary sprigs for garnish
  • 2 cinnamon sticks for garnish
  • 1 orange slice, halved for garnish

Pour sugar and cinnamon onto a small plate and mix well. Run orange halve around the rim of each glass and carefully set the glass rim into the cinnamon sugar. Fill the glass with ice.

Combine the cider and bourbon in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Pour over the iced glasses and garnish with a rosemary sprig, a cinnamon stick, and an orange slice.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Broccolini Au Gratin

Normally green bean casserole is my favorite side dish served on Thanksgiving day (well, second mashed potatoes, duh), but since I wanted to create some non-traditional recipes this year, I went with a broccolini au gratin. It's cheesy. It's crunchy. And the broccolini is cooked to perfection, crisp and flavorful. Plus, this on a leftover Thanksgiving sandwich makes ALL the difference. Trust me on this one.

Broccolini Au Gratin

  • 4 slices rye bread
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb. broccolini, halve the large pieces lengthwise
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil, halved
  • 4 tbsp. freshly grated parmesan
  • 4 oz. freshly grated white cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss broccolini with 2 tbsp. oil, salt, and pepper Bake for 8 minutes until bright green. Remove and set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, pulse the rye bread in a food processor until it resembles large crumbs. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet. Add the breadcrumbs, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to taste. Cook until crisp, about 5 minutes.

Prepare a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and lay down half of the broccolini. Top with half of the cheddar and 1 tbsp. of the parmesan. Then add the other half of the broccolini, the remaining white cheddar and another tbsp. of the parmesan. Top with the cooked breadcrumbs and the remaining parmesan cheese. 

Cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Recipe inspired by Bon Appetit.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper Buttermilk Biscuits

What's Thanksgiving without a biscuit to soak up all of gravy and to wipe up any remaining food on your plate. These are the easiest thing you can make next to store bought. And how are you going to impress your guests with store bought biscuits? These biscuits are perfectly buttery and flakey, just like a good biscuit ought to be. Plus, you can pile leftovers in between them to make a perfect sandwich. And as if you weren't already convinced, you can make these ahead of time and just reheat them when you are ready to serve. Yay carbs!!

Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper Buttermilk Biscuits

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 12 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, chopped + 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/4 cup cold buttermilk
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prepare oven to 425 degrees F. Place a sheet of parchment paper or silpat down onto a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Add the cold butter, and using your fingers, crumble the butter until it is well incorporated into the flour mixture. Once only a few pea sized butter pieces remain, using a spoon to mix in the buttermilk. Mix until the mixture is just combined. Do not overmix.

Dust your work surface with some flour and scrape the dough from the bowl onto the prepared surface. Sprinkle with a little flour on top and use your hands to pat the dough into a rectangle. Fold it over in half and pat down. Do this 3 times, kneading the dough.

Pat the dough into a 1-inch rectangle and cut into 6-8 even squares (depending on how big you like your biscuits). Cut flat down into the dough and lift up with the knife, do not slide the knife.

Place the biscuits onto the prepared baking sheet 2 inches apart from each other. Brush the tops with the melted butter and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.

Lower the oven temp to 375 and bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Crispy Brussels Sprout Leaves with Hazelnuts & Bacon

The day has come when my boyfriend doesn't flinch when I suggest brussels sprouts at dinner time. I guess all of those times sautéing them in bacon fat has paid off! Naturally when we were thinking of side dishes for our 2nd annual Thanksgiving-for-the-two-us but-we-actually-made-enough-for-a-small-village dinner, I suggested brussels sprouts, and Andrew was game. This is actually a very simple recipe, which can be a blessing on Thanksgiving day when you are trying to tend to 10 different dishes. The most time consuming part is separating all of the brussels sprout leaves. I suggest you recruit a team of helpers for this, or maybe make it into a contest of who can separate all of theirs first?! Yeah, I like that game! Plus, there's bacon. But my favorite part has got to be the tang from the splash of red wine vinegar. It just adds something extra to an already incredible side dish. 

Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

  • 2 lbs. brussels sprouts, stems trimmed, halved, leaves separated
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil (or bacon fat)
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 sprig thyme, peeled from stem
  • 6 strips bacon, cooked, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. chopped hazelnuts
  • salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add in 1/2 the brussels leaves and allow to wilt slightly. Then add the other half of the leaves, wilting. After about 5 minutes, remove from the heat and toss in the bacon, vinegar, and hazelnuts. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday Tip: The Perfect Mashed Potatoes. Every. Time.

Mashed potatoes are pretty basic. Potatoes. Milk. Butter. But what if I told you that there was a secret to the perfect mashed potato? Well, actually it is a couple of secrets. But for the sake of time, and your sanity, I am going to lump them all into one post. First of all, the potato makes the mash, so choose wisely. I love yukon golds for mashed potatoes. They are rich in flavor and fall apart easily. Second, make sure to use full fat milk and butter. If you're going to eat potatoes, you might as well enjoy them in all their glory. None of that skim milk and margarine crap. Third, and the most important secret to the perfect mashed potatoes is, drum roll, please. A food mill! I currently own and use this one, and have not been let down. By running the potatoes through the mill, you get a smooth texture, no lumps. Plus you get a nice little arm workout when churning the potatoes. Fool proof. Oh, and one last tip! Don't allow your potatoes to cool before mashing them. They tend to turn gummy. And ain't nobody got time for gummy potatoes!

The Perfect Mashed Potatoes


  • 2 lb. yukon gold potatoes, peeled, chopped into 2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: thyme, rosemary, garlic. simply add into the hot potato mash
Add the potatoes to a large soup pot and cover with cold water by 2 inches. Season with the kosher salt and bring to a boil. Once the water has come to a boil, lower to simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, until a fork or knife carefully inserted into a potato appears very tender. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the boiling liquid and add the potatoes back into the hot pot. Allow to sit and steam for 1-2 minutes to release any extra liquid. 

Meanwhile, heat the milk and butter over medium heat until the butter has melted and the mixture is warm throughout. Set aside. 

Add the potatoes to a food mill and run through over a large bowl until all potatoes have been riced and the mixture is smooth. Pour in the hot milk and butter and whip with a large spoon. Season with salt and pepper, or any other add-ins you like. Serve hot with extra butter!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Rye, Kale, Mushroom, and Chorizo Stuffing

I feel like stuffing is most people's most prized Thanksgiving sides. Everyone has their way of making it, or their specific preference. Whether it be cooked in the turkey, cooked until crisp in the oven, or grandma's most prized secret recipe, we cherish this food group. While I prefer to cook my stuffing in the oven, not in the bird, I am not attached to any specifi
c recipe, which why mixing it up this year was a simple decision for me. After perusing the Thanksgiving edition of Bon Appetit magazine this season, my boyfriend played eeny-meeny-mini-mo between a rye, kale & mushroom stuffing and a cornbread, dried cherry & chorizo stuffing. So what did we decide on? A combination of the two for the best of both worlds. 

P.S. How cute are those wine cork turkeys in the background? I simply cut some fall themed scrapbook paper and glued it the back of a wine cork to look like a turkey. Perfect for name placards at the dinner table!

Rye, Kale, Mushroom, and Chorizo Stuffing

  • 1/2 lb. chicken chorizo
  • 6 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 8 cups chopped rye bread, dried out overnight
  • 2 tbsp. pepitas
  • 1 cup oyster mushroom, cut into large pieces
  • 1 cup baby bella mushrooms, cut into large pieces
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 3 cups kale, stems removed, leaves torn
  • 1 tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 large eggs

Place the dried out rye bread and pepitas into a large bowl. This will be the main mixing bowl you will add all ingredients to.

In a large skillet, cook chorizo until browned. Remove from heat and place into the bread bowl. Drain excess liquid and wipe pan clean. 

Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in the same pan and add the oyster mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, allowing to cook and soften, about 5 minutes. Add the cooked mushrooms to the bread bowl. Add another tbsp. olive oil to the pan and repeat with the bella mushrooms.

Add 2 tbsp. into the hot pan and cook the celery and shallots until softened, about 8 minutes. Add in the torn kale, sage, and rosemary and allow to wilt slightly, about 2 minutes. Add to the bread bowl. 

Reduce the heat to medium and add 1/2 cup of the broth, scraping up any brown bits from the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the liquid to the bread bowl.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, 2 cups broth, and remaining olive oil.  Pour over the bread mixture and toss well, making sure all of the bread has been coated in liquid.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Pour stuffing into a baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Cover with a sheet of tin foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 20 minutes until the top is crispy and golden brown. Allow the stuffing to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

**Can be assembled 1 day ahead. Cover and chill in fridge until ready to bake.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cran-bernet Sauce

This Thanksgiving. Coming to a kitchen near you. Cranberries meet Cabernet. Leading up to a day dedicated to eating excessive amounts of food, I will be posting lots of traditional recipes with non-traditional twists.

But before I do, I have to take a minute to brag (totally modest, right?). I have been preparing for these Thanksgiving recipes for weeks now, and have been obsessing over getting a DSLR camera for months. Taking pictures of food on my smartphone has made the cut over the years, but a camera has been on my wish list for awhile now. I came home from my fist day back to work last after being gone in Napa for the weekend, and my boyfriend let me know that he may have broken something in the washing machine. He asked me to come take a look (like I could have done anything to fix it, ha), and when I went out to the garage, there was a shiny brand new Nikon D3200 camera sitting on the washer. After a few happy tears and some "are you serious?!" statements, I was able to collect myself and carefully assemble now the most precious thing in my possession. The camera is an early Christmas present, since Andrew knew that I was really excited about all of the Thanksgiving pictures and recipes, as well as our upcoming trip to Hawaii, so he wanted me to be able to learn the ins and out of the camera before our trip. Isn't he just the sweetest? So in honor of breaking in the camera (name: TBD), these are the first pictures taken on it, and many thousands to come.

Brag time over. Back to the star of the show. Cran-bernet sauce. While this simmers on your stove, prepare for your house to be filled with the most magical scent ever. Plus, it's not only great on it's own, but amazing atop cheesecake. Double win.

Cran-bernet Sauce
Makes 24 ounces

  • 16 oz. cranberries
  • 12 oz. frozen wild blueberries
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups cabernet (or fave red wine)
  • 1/2 tbsp. corn starch
  • 2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
Heat all ingredients in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cook until thickened for about an hour. Allow to cool to room temperature before placing in an airtight container or jar. Serve cold. 


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