Butternut Squash, Sausage and Apple Hash

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I know that the last day of each season occurs quarterly, typically on the 21st of a month, but my brain generates its own days for the last day of summer, last day of fall and last day of winter. There are three more weeks until fall ends, but typically this is the time where the weather makes a huge turn for significantly colder temperatures and my brain decides winter has descended upon us. Does your brain do things like that too?


This recipe is perfect for fall which is why I rushed to share it with you before the end of this month. Of course, you could easily eat it throughout the winter seeing as all of the ingredients are readily available, but something about squash and apples together, especially combined with sage is just a October and November dish to me.

I threw these ingredients together when trying to come up with something to eat for lunch during the week. Trying to name it was also difficult since it's just a combination of ingredients tossed together, which I guess is best described as a hash.



Butternut Squash, Sausage and Apple Hash
Source: Cookaholic Wife creation
Servings: 4 servings
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Ingredients:
    • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
    • 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and largely diced
    • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
    • 2 tbsp fresh sage leaves
    • 2 sweet apples, peeled and diced
    • 1 sweet onion, diced
    • 4 links (1 package) fully-cooked chicken sausage
    • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spread out butternut squash on the sheet and drizzle with 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil.
2. Roast for 25 minutes, turning over once halfway through or until fork tender.
3. Meanwhile, melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add sage leaves and cook for 1-2 minutes or until just browned. Transfer from the skillet to a large bowl.
4. Slice the chicken sausage into rounds. Add ½ tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and cook the sausage until browned on both sides, 2-3 minutes. Transfer from the skillet to the bowl.
5. Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet. Add apples and onion and cook for 5-7 minutes or until softened.
6. Transfer to the large bowl. Toss in roasted squash and season to taste with salt and pepper.
7. Divide between 4 bowls and serve immediately. 




To make this recipe easier, pick up the already peeled and diced butternut squash from the grocery store. The chicken sausage I used was the Al Fresco brand in Sweet Italian. You could also use their apple chicken sausage to really play up the apple flavor in this dish. 



This was so good! I fried the sage leaves in butter first to give them a different flavor which would then carry through the rest of the dish as it was cooked in the same skillet. It brings out a nuttiness to the sage that usually isn't as pronounced.

Spiced Apple Cranberry Sauce

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For years I have made my pear honey cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving. I chose the recipe because of the addition of pears and honey helped to tame the tartness of the cranberry sauce and my family is not a fan of tart cranberry sauce.

This year I intended to try out something new and found a cinnamon apple recipe for cranberry sauce but as I was chopping up the apple, I looked over the recipe again and thought "I can make that better."


I've always been a fan of bold flavors. If your food doesn't have flavor, what fun is there in eating it? Which is why I tend to push the limits on how much flavoring you can add to a recipe before it becomes too much. Sometimes I end up going overboard and the recipe isn't that great and other times it just packs a huge punch of flavor that turns out wonderfully.


Fall spices like cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cardamom are all strong flavors. They can easily overpower a dish but when you get the right combination, it can really make a dish sing. Most people, reasonable people, would have chosen one or two of those spices and added them to cranberry sauce.

But then there is me. Who decided to add ALL of them. Because, why not?


Spiced Apple Cranberry Sauce
Source: Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 2 cups
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Ingredients:
    • 12 oz. fresh cranberries
    • 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced
    • ¾ cup apple cider
    • 1 tbsp bourbon
    • 1 ⅓ cup brown sugar
    • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 tbsp ground ginger
    • 1 ½ tsp cardamom
    • ½ tsp allspice
    • ½ tsp nutmeg
    • ½ tsp kosher salt

Directions:

1. In a large saucepan or pot, combine cranberries and apples.
2. In a small bowl, combine cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, allspice, nutmeg and salt. Pour over the cranberry apple mixture.
3. Pour the apple cider and bourbon top and then add the brown sugar. Stir until mixed.
4. Heat over medium high heat, stirring frequently until the brown sugar bubbles up. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue stirring as it bubbles and the cranberries and apples break down, about 15 minutes.
5. Remove from the heat and use a potato masher to break down any of the cranberries that haven’t popped. The mixture will be syrupy but will not have thickened up yet.
6. If serving immediately, transfer to a dish and allow to sit for 15 minutes or until thickened.
7. Cranberry sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month.
8. To serve from frozen, transfer to refrigerator 24 hours in advance, then allow to come to room temperature for 1-2 hours on the counter before serving.




It turned out to be a genius decision. I thought the cranberry sauce was pretty good when I tasted it before packing it away into a container to freeze until the day before Thanksgiving. But the comments I got about the cranberry sauce made me realize it was a new hit and how happy I was that I remembered to loosely measure and write down the ingredients so I could make it again.


I was told more than once that the dish was a winner and that it tasted like "Christmas in my mouth". Now I know cranberry sauce is typically served on Thanksgiving, but that comment got me thinking and then I decided that we're going to have this cranberry sauce again, as a glaze on top of a ham for Christmas because the flavors already fit right on in! 

Turkey Dumpling Soup

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I had a grand plan to share two new recipes with you early last week in addition to a new one after Thanksgiving to use up all of those leftovers and none of it ended up happening. I'm not sure what is going on with my head, but I've had on and off migraines for nearly a week straight. Usually I can chalk up a migraine to being dehydrated or stressed, but neither occurred to any degree last week that should have created that kind of issues.


I had so many plans for the weekend; planning, making and blogging a ton of December recipes, sending out Christmas cards, decorating the tree and finally getting back into writing again. None of those happened.


So by now you are more than likely sick of turkey and have either frozen or thrown out any leftovers you may have, but in case you have a little bit more holding out in the fridge, here is one more recipe for you that uses up not only left over turkey, but stuffing, veggies and stock.



Turkey Dumpling Soup
Source: Cookaholic Wife creation
Servings: 6
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Ingredients:
    • 3 stalks celery, diced
    • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
    • 1 large onion, diced
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
    • 1 tsp olive oil
    • 1 tbsp fresh sage*
    • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
    • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 6 cups chicken or turkey stock*
    • 2 cups cooked turkey, chopped
    • salt and pepper*
    • 2 cups leftover stuffing*
    • optional: 1 egg
    • optional: ⅓ cup flour
Directions:
1. Add butter and olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the celery, carrots and onion and cook for 5-7 minutes or until softened.
2. Add the garlic and herbs and cook for 3 minutes more.
3. Transfer to a large pot and add stock, turkey, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, make the dumplings by combining the stuffing with the egg and flour and forming into golf-ball sized balls.
5. Add to the soup and cook for 3-5 minutes, turning dumplings over once.
6. Divide soup into bowls and serve immediately. 


* Notes: 
- Remove fresh herbs from soup before serving. If you do not have fresh herbs, reduce in half (minus bay leaves) and used dried. 
- If your stock is salted, do not add additional salt or pepper before the soup has simmered for 20 minutes and you've tasted it. 
- If your stuffing is very moist, you may not need to add flour or egg. If the stuffing holds into the ball shape on its own, add nothing. If it is too dry, add the egg. Too wet, add the flour. 
- Turkey may also be replaced with cooked chicken breast. 
- Leftover green beans and mushrooms from green bean casserole can also be diced and added to the soup; add in the last 10 minutes of simmering.


Stuffing dumplings are delicious! They were my favorite part of this soup. I let a few cook down into the soup longer until they fell apart. It thickened up the broth and added even more flavor into the soup. I'm actually kind of sad that I didn't have more leftover ingredients to make a bigger portion of this soup.

The Thanksgiving Timeline

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I had such high hopes of getting this posted and shared with you on Thanksgiving day, but a migraine the night before and family arriving earlier than anticipated set me back further than I intended.

While this is much too late for any Thanksgiving celebration this year, you could use it as a timeline for Christmas or save it for next year.

Here is everything that went into planning my Thanksgiving meal!

End of October:
Search recipes on Pinterest
Create menu
Create Facebook event to invite family
Ask family what they are bringing

November 5th:
order new dining room chairs
confirm with mom she is bringing two additional folding chairs
November 7th:
put in time off request for the day before Thanksgiving
November 10th:
write out grocery list
November 11th:
order table runner, napkins, charger plates, etc.
purchase ingredients that will keep (soda, craisins, pecans, brown sugar, flour, etc.)
November 12th:
pick up new dining room table
print copies of all recipes
November 18th: 
purchase second round of ingredients that will keep (eggs, milk, olives, mozzarella, celery, onions, bacon, sweet potatoes, bread)
cut bread into pieces, dry out on sheet tray
November 19th:
have carpets steam cleaned
assemble table and chairs
move old table into sun-room
decorate
November 20th:
make slab apple pie dough and refrigerate
make apple cinnamon cranberry sauce and freeze
make Bundt pan stuffing and freeze
November 22nd:
review grocery list
transfer cranberry sauce from freezer to fridge
transfer stuffing from freezer to fridge

*** The Day Before ** November 23rd:
5:45 am - wake up, get ready
6:15 am - grocery shop at Wegman's for remaining ingredients; butter, herbs, green beans, apples, etc.
7:30 am - pick up turkey breast from Richardson Farms
7:50 am - return home, put away groceries
8:00 am - proof yeast and warm milk for rosemary dinner rolls, put butter out to soften, start first load of laundry
8: 15 am - realize yeast is not rising, toss out and start over
8:25 am - peel, core and slice apples for slab apple pie, coat with lemon juice to prevent browning
8:40 am - mix up rosemary roll dough, separate into roll sizes, let rest; put laundry in dryer, start second load
9:02 am - roll out dough for slab apple pie, assemble, cut lattice/leaves for top and finish assembly
10:00 am - brush rosemary rolls with butter, put rolls and slab apple pie in the oven
10:05 am - coffee and breakfast, 10 minute break; laundry
10:25 am - remove rolls and let cool, microwave sweet potatoes, cook bacon for topping
10:40 am - chop sage, mix up sweet potato topping
10:45 am - mix up filling for sweet potatoes, put into casserole dish
11:00 am - remove slab apple pie from oven, marinate mozzarella balls and cut up salami for Italian skewers, refrigerate
11:15 am - decide to skip the sausage stuffing balls
11:20 am - trim the ends of the green beans, blanch then put in an ice bath
11:30 am - mix together sauce for green beans, cook bacon for topping
11:45 am - hand husband vegetable peeler and dice up potatoes for mashed potatoes as he peeled them, put in a pot of salted water
12:15 pm - cut up carrots, celery and onion to go under turkey
12:20 pm - chop up herbs to go under turkey skin and mashed with butter
12:30 pm - rub butter and herbs under turkey skin, cover with an oven bag and put in fridge
12:40 pm - cook shallots for green beans, add green beans and sauce and warm up
12:45 pm - load dishwasher
12:50 pm - give squeaking cat attention
1:00 pm - clean guest bathroom
1:15 pm - sweep, mop, wipe down baseboards of sun-room; set table
1:38 pm - sweep and mop foyer, change out Scentsy in all warmers
1:43 pm - dust and polish living room
2:00 pm - put away all laundry, sweep and mop floor of laundry room, straighten up laundry room
2:30 pm - straighten up 2nd bedroom, vacuum living room, dining room and 2nd bedroom
3:00 pm - wipe down kitchen counters and baseboards, empty trash, scrub sink, reorganize fridge for space, sweep and mop floor
3:35 pm - change clothes, make self look presentable
3:45 pm - leave for manicure
4:00 pm - get manicure, drink coffee
5:15 pm - pick up dinner, stop at dollar store for toothpicks
5:30 pm - eat dinner, get hit with black spot-nausea-dizziness-head on fire migraine
7:30 pm - finally manage to stand - put turkey breast and stuffing in oven while wearing sunglasses and eating ginger candies
8:15 pm - remove stuffing
9:30 pm - remove turkey breast, let cool on counter
10:15 pm - transfer turkey to fridge, pass out in bed

November 24th:
6:00 am - wake up stuffy and with headache; take mucinex, migraine pill and drink 3 cups of water, return to bed
7:45 am - wake up panicked because its much later, feed cats
7:50 am - boil potatoes, drain and mashed, transfer to mixing bowl because arm is sore, whip potatoes, season and transfer to slow cooker on "keep warm"
8:35 am - assemble skewers
9:00 am - run dishwasher
9:05 am - move cat food and water into bedroom
9:15 am - set up a desserts table - slicing slab apple pie and placing it on tiered cake stand
9:30 am - put out cans of soda, get down ice bucket and place wine inside
10:00 am - realize sweet potato casserole was never cooked, put topping on it and return to fridge
10:10 am - pull down serving dishes, arrange over island, turn on Scentsy, light candles, scoop out litter boxes
11:40 am - figure out what to wear
11:50 am - shower and get ready for guests
12:10 pm - remember I never made gravy, frantically pull out ingredients and get it started
12:15 pm - aunt and cousin arrive, pull out green beans, stuffing and sweet potato casserole to let come to room temperature
12:30 pm - more family arrives
12:40 pm - more family arrives
12:45 pm - put out skewers and the deviled eggs my aunt brought, keep moving things around on the counter
12:55 pm - last of family arrives
1:00 pm - put sweet potato casserole and my stuffing and aunts stuffing into oven
1:30 pm - remove stuffing, add green beans and mac and cheese
1:40 pm - start assigning serving spoons and forks to dishes
1:50 pm - remove everything from the oven, put the sliced turkey in
2:10 pm - everything is on the counter, announce it's time to get food
2:35 pm - everyone is seated and eating


Everything was delicious! The new cranberry sauce I made, the sweet potatoes and the green beans were hits of the day and I decided they are going to become the new standards for each holiday. My aunts cornbread and my cousins cucumber and onion salad were two of my other favorite dishes. Everyone was commenting on how organized the meal was as well and I have to agree. It was entirely more efficient than I expected it to be and I didn't feel rushed or crazed even once! I actually had conversations with everyone and remember them!

A little before 4 pm, some family started to leave so the leftovers were dished into bowls and the dishwasher got started on an exhausting task. One of my friends and her husband and son stopped by. It was great to be able to sit at the dining room table and just talk with everyone. I think it was around six that everyone had gone home. Tom was too impatient to wait and had begun pulling out decorations before everyone had left so we were decorated for Christmas not long after.

I included the random parts of this timeline because life isn't perfect. Migraines happen, cats need to be petted and sometimes you oversleep and forget to cook the sweet potato casserole. :) But the meal still gets pulled together, everything is delicious and you get to hang out with family and friends.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and this crazy detailed list helps you to put together your next holiday gathering whether it be the first time or the 500th!


Recipes Using Thanksgiving Leftovers

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The holiday is over, the guests have gone home  and your refrigerator looks like it was taken over by a plastic container facility. Various shapes and sizes and filled with Thanksgiving leftovers, you have to pull them out or dig behind them to find a bottle of water or a piece of fruit.

But after yesterday, you're not really feeling the whole reheated turkey dinner again, right? Never fear, I have a collection of recipes here for you that will use up just about anything you may have leftover in the fridge.



Starting with the Turkey
roast turkey pho
turkey apple sliders
slub sandwiches
Hot Turkey Sandwich - so simple it doesn't require a recipe. Place 1-2 pieces of bread on a plate. Warm up turkey and gravy. Place turkey on top of bread. Pour gravy on top. Enjoy!
Turkey Noodle Soup replace chicken with turkey in my Quick and Easy Chicken Noodle Soup.
*Notes: Still have some celery and herbs that didn't make it into the stuffing? Toss them in!
 Depending on the flavors, if you served a roasted carrot side dish, they can be added in as well.

Plain Mashed or Sweet Potatoes
Gnocchi is a great way to use up leftover potatoes. Simply add more flour and roll dough into logs before cutting and boiling.
Waffles can also be made with sweet or regular mashed potatoes. Just make sure to use lots of butter or non-stick cooking spray!

Stuffing
Croutons - Spread stuffing in a flat layer on a baking sheet and bake at 350 until dry. Depending on how wet your stuffing is will determine how long it needs to bake. Once dry, cut or crumble into croutons and add to your salad. They'll keep for 1 week in the pantry.
Dumplings - add egg and flour to your leftover stuffing and form it into golf ball sized dumplings. Drop into soup and cook for 3-5 minutes!

Cranberry Sauce
Pork Loin with Cranberry Sauce
Turkey Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce
Crock Pot Cranberry Dijon Pork
Cranberry Beef Sliders
Replace  the raspberry in my Raspberry Oatmeal Crumble Bars 
Replace fresh cranberries with 1 cup of sauce in Apple Cranberry Crumble
Mix sauce into yogurt
Spread on toast

Pumpkin/Apple Pie
Put vanilla ice cream and a slice of  pie in the blender for a pie smoothie
Discard the crust and stir with vanilla yogurt over granola
Discard crust and mix into ice cream

Enjoy!



80+ Thanksgiving Recipes

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I have been hosting Thanksgiving since 2009 and in those nearly seven years of hosting, I've amassed quite the collection of Thanksgiving recipes.

Ironically, there have only been two years where I have cooked the turkey which kind of makes me laugh. When you hear Thanksgiving, you typically think of a turkey and I'm rarely responsible for the main dish. Instead I typically get to create a palate pleasing variety of appetizers, side dishes and desserts.

I can almost share 100 recipes with you. That's insane!

(And definitely my goal for next year.)

So if you are hosting this year or you have been tasked with a recipe to bring, scroll down and see what fancies you.

Let's start off with my first recipe round up of Thanksgiving Recipes compiled in 2013.



And then last year I went through my entire recipe index and managed to give you over 75+ Thanksgiving Recipes.


And finally, we have the recipes I've shared with you since last year:

Appetizers:
Slow Cooker Cinnamon Almonds
Rosemary Roasted Nuts

Drinks:
Slow Cooker Wassail

Side Dishes:
Stuffing in a Bundt Pan
Mashed Potatoes for a Crowd
Poached Pear Salad
Italian Green Beans
Parmesan Sage Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Brown Sugar and Thyme Roasted Carrots
Parmesan Parsley Roasted Potatoes

Desserts:
Lighter Jewish Apple Bundt Cake
Apple Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Salted Caramel Drizzle
Apple Cranberry Crumble
Slab Apple Pie


If you have never hosted Thanksgiving before and are looking for some tips, read about the time where I hosted 20+ people in my 1200 square foot apartment.

To me, Thanksgiving is about being with family and giving thanks for what we have. But from a realistic hosting standpoint, it's also all about planning, preparation and organization. Don't let that become the main focus though.

If its your first Thanksgiving - you can do this!

And if you're panicking and need to talk to someone who has been through this before, I'm here.

Comment on this post, ask me a question on Facebook, tweet me or shoot me a direct message on Instagram

#ImprovCooking Challenge: Snickers Cheesecake Bars

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November's ingredients for the Improv Cooking Challenge were nuts and caramel. I thought about that combination for a while, thinking of sticky buns covered in a caramel sauce or a banana nut bread with a caramel drizzle...and then while eating a lone survivor of Halloween candy, it dawned on me that nuts and caramel were two ingredients in my favorite candy bar.



There are a ton of Snickers related desserts out there, but since I take nearly all of my baked goodies into work, I figured I would appeal to my coworkers taste-buds which I think could sniff out a cheesecake a few miles away.



Snickers Cheesecake Bars
Source: Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 24 bars
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Ingredients:
    • For the Crust:
    • 35 Oreo cookies
    • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    • For the Filling:
    • 3 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
    • ⅔ cup sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tbsp vanilla
    • 3 large Snickers bars, chopped
    • For the Topping:
    • ½ cup caramel sauce
    • ½ cup chocolate sauce
    • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
    • ½ cup roasted, salted peanuts, chopped

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper.
2. Add oreos to a food processor and pulse until they form fine crumbs. Transfer to a large bowl and then pour melted butter on top. Stir until crumbs are moistened.
3. Press crumbs into the bottom of the baking dish. Bake for 10-12 minutes, then remove from the oven and set aside.
4. In the bowl of the stand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla.
5. Add the chopped Snickers and mix until just combined.
6. Pour the batter over the cooled Oreo crust and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the cheesecake has set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 1 hour.
7. Drizzle caramel sauce then chocolate sauce over the top of the cheesecake in a zig-zag pattern.
8. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips and roasted peanuts on top.
9. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours but preferably overnight.
10. Use edges of parchment paper to lift bars from the pan. Cut into 24 evenly sized bars.
11. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Bars will keep for 5 days in the fridge. 




Holy chocolate cheesecakery! These bars are so rich and absolutely delicious. I'm pretty sure my coworkers were actually drooling over them. 




If you're interested in joining the Improv Cooking Challenge, we post recipes on the third Thursday of every month. Each month has two themed ingredients that must be included somehow in the recipe. Follow along on our Pinterest board to see what we've made! 


#TastyParTEA: Green Tea and Matcha Shortbread Cookies with Tea Jellies

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As I mentioned on Sunday, I'm participating in another blogging event. This one is called #TastyParTEA and was put together by Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla. 

A baker's dozen bloggers have come together to share different recipes that use tea during the month of November. Whether you're a fan of sweet or savory #TastyParTEA's creations will make your mouth water!



See all the posts on our Facebook page, check out the pins on our Pinterest board, or follow the conversation on social media with hashtag #TastyParTEA.




We Are the #TastyParTEA Bloggers...
listed alphabetically by blog name



Our Blog Tour Schedule...

The Giveaway...
Our generous sponsors have contributed prizes for this event.
The giveaway will begin on November 12th and end on November 21st
and is open to US residents only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Our Sponsors*...
and how you can find them around the internet

Charles Viancin
on the web, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, on Pinterest



The Republic of Tea
on the web, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Pinterest, on Instagram

*Disclosure: Bloggers received complimentary products from sponsors for the creation of this event. This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links.
Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are our own.*



Before this event, I've only drank tea. I've never thought to cook or bake with it before. I wanted to challenge myself for this blogging event, which is how I ended up making two recipes. I simply couldn't decide between a shortbread cookie, which felt too easy and a tea jelly which seemed too awesome to pass up making.


Green Tea and Matcha Shortbread Cookies
Source: Cookaholic Wife creation
Servings: 3 dozen cookies
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Ingredients:
    • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
    • ½ cup powdered sugar
    • 2 cups all purpose flour
    • ½ tsp salt 
    • 2 bags Super Green Tea Serenity Matcha and Green Tea Blend, loose

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine butter and powdered sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.
3. Add the salt, flour and loose tea and mix until combined.
4. Place dough on wax paper and refrigerate for 5-10 minutes or until just chilled.
5. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out dough to ¼ inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter of your choice to cut out dough and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat, rerolling dough until all dough is used. (The number of cookies you make depends on the size of your cookie cutter)
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cookies are just golden brown.


Shortbread cookies and tea always pair together so nicely. The cookies are light and crumbly with just a hint of the green tea and matcha flavor coming through.


I  wanted to make recipe where the flavors of the tea really stood out but could also be enjoyed with these cookies. While it's not traditional at all, I found that enjoying a hot cup of tea with a few cookies and then finishing the snack off with a tea jelly was refreshing and palate cleansing.




Tea Jellies
Source:Cookaholic Wife creation
Servings: 25 jellies
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • 3 bags Super Green Tea Serenity Matcha and Green tea blend
    • 2 cups water
    • 3 tbsp honey
    • 4 tablespoons (one box) Gelatin powder

Directions:
1. Bring two cups of water to a rolling boil then remove from the heat.
2. Add the tea bags to the boiled water and allow to steep for 5-7 minutes.
3. Discard tea bags, draining out excess liquid.
4. Use a wooden spoon to stir honey into the tea until dissolved.
5. Stirring constantly, add 1 tablespoon of gelatin at a time, stirring until dissolved before adding the next.
6. Place a piece of parchment paper over an 8x8 square baking dish, leaving excess hanging over the edges. Pour the tea mixture on top.
7. Cover and refrigerate until the gelatin has set, at least 3 hours.
8. Using the edges of the parchment, lift the jellies from the baking dish. Cut into 5 even strips, then rotate and slice 5 more times creating 25 equally sized jellies.
9. Serve with tea or enjoy on their own. Keep refrigerated for up to 1 week. 





2016 Thanksgiving Menu and Planning Tips

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Thanksgiving is almost here! It's just a short nine days away! Are you ready?

At this point, and especially after 2013, I feel as though I'm an old pro when it comes to hosting Thanksgiving. No longer do I have nightmares about under-cooked turkey or wake up in a cold sweat if I forgot to pick up ingredients at the store.


It all starts with setting a menu, which I do a few weeks in advance. That way I can change and edit if it needed, see what my guests what to bring and then also begin purchasing non-perishable items well in advance to keep the week-of grocery bill below astronomical proportions.


2016 Thanksgiving Menu 
The bolded items are what family members are bringing

APPETIZERS:
deviled eggs
Italian skewers
sausage balls with cranberry dipping sauce

MAIN AND SIDES:
turkey - whole
turkey breast 
gravy
maple dijon green beans
bourbon sweet potato casserole
apple cinnamon cranberry sauce
rosemary dinner rolls
cucumbers and onions in vinegar
corn and lima beans
sauerkraut and kielbasa
bacon mac and cheese
cornbread

DESSERTS:
slab apple pie
pumpkin pie
vanilla ice cream
whipped cream

Nearly everyone prefers the white meat of the turkey. In previous years we've purchased monstrously large birds, but to save ourselves that hassle, we decided to purchase a 12-14 pounds bird and then a separate turkey breast. My aunt will cook the turkey and I will do the breast.

 After the menu, I start thinking about seating, serving dishes and preparation.

Seating:
I've invited over 20 people this year, which might seem insane to some, especially because I live in an apartment, but we've made it work before and we'll make it work again. Currently, I have 14 adults and 1 baby as confirmed guests. Besides, the most important part of Thanksgiving is being with family (and/or friends) and enjoying the food, even if we're a little smushed together.

For years I've been dreaming of a new dining room table and last weekend we purchased one that has two removable leaves. At it's largest it seats 8 people. We're going to keep our old table and move it into the sun-room, which means we'll have seating for 12. Luckily my family doesn't mind eating while sitting on the couch.

Serving Dishes:
As tacky as it might seem to some, we also enjoy our Thanksgiving feast on heavy-duty paper plates. One day, when I have a house big enough to seat everyone at tables we're going to eat on real plates.

About 3 weeks before, I print out copies of the recipes I'm making, even if I've made it 10,000 times. I make a first list which includes every single ingredient (even if I have it in the pantry) and the quantity. The second go-round of the list takes off anything I have (ex. flour, spices, sugar, etc.) and combines quantities together so I can see that I'll need 2 pounds of butter and 1 gallon of milk or something similar.

Over the years I've amassed a decent collection of serving dishes so I'll pull them all out and mentally determine which recipes will go into what. If there is anything I need to replace (think cracked dish) I'll add it to a list and pick it up during a Home Goods/Target/Marshall's trip. The new table purchase meant I needed a table runner and some other decor which was all added to a list.

Cleaning and Prep:
The printed copies of the recipe help me with preparation. The cranberry sauce and stuffing recipes I use allow for them to be made and frozen up to 1 week before. I make sure to purchase those ingredients in advance and make them the weekend before Thanksgiving.

I take off work the day before Thanksgiving to prep the food. If its your first time hosting or the first time you're going to have a lot of people, I highly advise this. The first year I hosted, I worked until 4:30, got home a little after five, made dinner and then started prepping. It was nearly midnight before I even pulled out the potatoes to peel. Don't do this!

Cleaning and prep/assembly go hand in hand. I have a carpet cleaning company scheduled before Thanksgiving and we have the apartment cleaned weekly.

Grocery Shopping and 1 Day Before: 
I grocery shop as early as possible. I mean that in terms of days for items that will keep in the fridge or pantry and also in terms of time, meaning I prefer to be leaving the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving by 9 am.

I always make desserts and dinner rolls first. Mainly because they usually require refrigeration or resting, but also because if they don't turn out you have time to remake them or run back out to the store for a prepared variety.

Bread and dessert is followed by any appetizers and side dishes that can be cooked and reheated or assembled. The stuffing and cranberry sauce are pulled from the freezer and thawed in the fridge. The mashed potato recipe above can be made entirely the day before and warmed up in the crock pot or partially made. I prefer partially made so the potatoes are peeled, diced and covered in salted water.

I'll set out all of the serving dishes we'll use as well as set up the tables and add decor. A quick cleaning will also occur, sweeping and moping the floors, wiping down the kitchen and bathroom counters, cleaning the toilets again and a vacuuming the living room and dining room.

I'm going to be really ambitious this year and plan to have all of my food prep work and cooking done by 5:00 pm so I can schedule a manicure for 5:30. Wish me luck!

Thanksgiving Day:
I tend to dawdle around on Thanksgiving morning. I'll pull out anything that needs to be reheated about 2 hours before guests arrive so it can get to room temperature before going back into the oven. I'll watch the Macy's Day Parade, shower and get ready and then about 30 minutes before guests are supposed to arrive I'll put out the appetizers and preheat the oven.

I live on the third floor so people plus the oven running all day means my apartment can quickly get to nearly 80 degrees. Regardless of the outdoor temperature, it's become habit to open the windows and turn on the air conditioning.

My cats are also not very social so I'll make sure that food, water and litter boxes are moved into our bedroom so they can hide in there until everyone leaves.

If you're curious to see how my plan goes in a more structured timeline, I'm going to write it all down and share it with you. Since I'll need day of posting, I won't share it with you until after the holiday (unless by some miracle I get everything done and have time to post before anyone shows up).



Slab Apple Pie

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I was watching an episode of The Kitchen and saw Marcella making this apple pie recipe. About 10 seconds into her making the recipe, I grabbed my phone, opened up my Amazon app and found a set of cookie cutters like the ones she was using. With those ordered, I just needed to purchase the rest of the ingredients and make this as soon as possible.



Unfortunately it took a few weeks before I was able to make it, but it was more than worth the wait. I love the idea of making the pie on a sheet pan because you don't have to worry as much about piles and piles of apples and their juices weighing down on a crust in such a small area. Here the apples are spread out thinner over a large area, which also helps for the crust to get crustier, which in my opinion, is even better.

This apple pie recipe definitely feed a crowd! I plan on making it again for Thanksgiving!



Slab Apple Pie
Source: Food Network
Servings: 14-16 servings
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • For the dough:
    • 4 ⅓ cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
    • ½ cup + 1 tsp sugar
    • 3 ½ sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into tiny pieces
    • ¾ cup ice water
    • pinch of salt
    • For the Filling:
    • 1 pound fuji apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin slices
    • 1 pound Honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin slices
    • 1 pound Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin slices
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 egg, whisked (for the egg wash)
    • optional: vanilla ice cream, for serving

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, combine 4 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of sugar and the pinch of salt. Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter until the mixture feels like coarse crumbs.
2. Add one tablespoon of water at a time to moisten it, and mix, repeating until a dough starts to form.
3. Knead the dough into a ball, then divide in half, flatten each half into a rectangle and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
4. Combine the apples in a large bowl with cinnamon, remaining ⅓ cup of flour, and ½ cup of sugar. Toss until the apples are coated and allow to sit until the apples release their excess juices. 5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a half sheet pan (15 x 10 x 1) with non-stick cooking spray.
6. Lightly flour a work surface and roll one piece of the dough into a 19x13 rectangle. Place the dough onto the prepared pan and gently press it up the sides, being careful not to make the dough too thin in the center. Trim any excess dough and set aside. Crimp the edges or press down to smoothen.
7. Remove the apples from the bowl with a slotted spoon, allowing any excess juices to drain back into the bowl. Spread the apples over the dough in an even layer.
8. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the remaining piece of dough and any excess into a rectangle. Use leaf shaped cookie cutters to cut out dough leaves. (Alternately or in addition, use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into strips for a lattice top.)
9. Arrange the dough leaves or strips over the apples, leaving areas where the apples are still visible so the steam can escape while cooking.
10. Brush the whisked egg over the leaves and edges of the dough.
11. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the apples are fork tender and the dough is golden brown. Cut into squares and serve, optionally topped with vanilla ice cream. 



Now, I will admit, this pie takes some time to put together. The dough needs to be refrigerated, but then rolled out pretty thin to cover the entire jelly roll pan and then cutting out the top with those small cookie cutters takes forever, which is why I opted to do a combination of the lattice top with the leaves and acorn cookie cutters. 




Candy Cane Vodka - (The Final) Secret Recipe Club Reveal

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This post is very bittersweet for me. It's the last time I'll ever share a Secret Recipe Club reveal again with you.

I started participating in the group back in the summer of 2011 where I decided to make a croquembouche. From the beginning I loved the concept of the group; being assigned a new blog to explore and chose a recipe from.



Some months were easier than others but I never skipped a month and have a huge collection of recipes on here that I likely would have never made otherwise. I've also met tons of other food bloggers and participated in other events with them. Overall, it's been an awesome experience and I'm sad that it is coming to an end.


I was assigned to The Hobo Kitchen which is written by Ellie. "Hobo" is short for Hoboken, a city in New Jersey where Ellie currently lives. She's been food blogging just about as long as I have and has quite the variety of recipes to chose from.

At first I thought I should pick an intricate recipe, to end the Secret Recipe Club on the same note that I came in on with a croquembouche, but then I started thinking about the holidays and quickly knew that I should make a recipe for that instead!

I LOVE peppermint. Last year I even found a mini bottle of holiday edition peppermint vodka that I thought was freaking incredible. So of course when I saw that Ellie has a recipe for Candy Cane Vodka, my recipe search was over!



Candy Cane Vodka
Source: The Hobo Kitchen
Servings: approximately 3 cups
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • 12 full-size candy canes
    • 750 ml bottle plain vodka

Directions:
1. Remove the wrappers from the candy canes and place them into a food processor or coffee grinder.
2. Grind into a fine powder.
3. Pour the powdered candy canes into a jar with a sealable lid.
4. Pour the vodka on top and shake to mix.
5. Let the mixture sit, shaking occasionally to dissolve the candy, until the vodka turns red, about 30 minutes.
6. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve to remove any large pieces of candy cane that did not dissolve.

How easy is that? And how gorgeous is that red color? 



If straight shots of candy cane vodka aren't your thing, you can also mix it into drinks and hot chocolate. Ellie suggests adding it to lemonade, champagne or eggnog. Those all sound like a great choice to me! 



You could also make a cupcake with candy cane frosting and add a shot of this vodka into the frosting for an extra kick! (I think I know what I have to make next!) 



#TastyParTEA Giveaway and Blog Schedule

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A baker's dozen bloggers have come together to share different recipes that use tea during the month of November. Whether you're a fan of sweet or savory #TastyParTEA's creations will make your mouth water.

See all the posts on our Facebook page, check out the pins on our Pinterest board, or follow the conversation on social media with hashtag #TastyParTEA.


We Are the #TastyParTEA Bloggers...
listed alphabetically by blog name



Our Blog Tour Schedule...

The Giveaway...
Our generous sponsors have contributed prizes for this event.
The giveaway will begin on November 12th and end on November 21st
and is open to US residents only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Our Sponsors*...
and how you can find them around the internet

Charles Viancin
on the web, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, on Pinterest



The Republic of Tea
on the web, on Twitter, on Facebook, on Pinterest, on Instagram

*Disclosure: Bloggers received complimentary products from sponsors for the creation of this event. This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links.
Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are our own.*

Pumpkin Roll with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

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Rolled cakes are one of the harder cakes to make because it requires very careful rolling techniques and the mercy of the parchment paper and kitchen towel you use, but I absolutely love how they look and can't stop myself from making them.

Although, I can't seem to get perfectly round circles and instead end up with more of an oval shaped cake. I'm sure no one minds though!



Pumpkin Roll with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Source: Lovely Little Kitchen
Servings: 10 slices
Printer Friendly

Ingredients:
    • For the cake:
    • ¾ cup all purpose flour
    • ½ tsp baking soda
    • ½ tsp baking powder
    • ½ tsp ground cloves
    • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
    • ¼ tsp salt
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 cup sugar
    • ⅔ cup pumpkin puree
    • For the filling:
    • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
    • 6 oz unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 tbsp heavy cream
    • 1 tbsp maple syrup

Directions:
1.Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a jelly roll pan (15 x 10 x 1) with parchment paper. Grease and flour the paper, set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cloves, cinnamon and salt.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the eggs and sugar and beat together with the blade attachment on medium speed until pale yellow, about 3-5 minutes.
4. Add the pumpkin and mix until combined, then reduce the speed to low and slowly add in the flour mixture until the batter forms.
5. Pour the batter over the prepared baking sheet and spread to the edges in an even layer. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles that may be within the batter.
6. Bake for 11-14 minutes or until cake springs back when pressed gently in the center.
7. While the cake is cooking, sprinkle a clean kitchen towel with powdered sugar. When the cake is cooked through, remove it from the oven and invert it over the powdered sugar covered kitchen towel.
8. Carefully peel back the parchment paper and starting with a long end, gently roll up the cake within the towel. Allow to cool while you prepare the filling.
9. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Add the heavy cream and maple syrup and beat on high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
10. Carefully unroll the cake and remove the towel.
11. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the cake. Roll the cake back up and wrap in plastic wrap.
12. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
13. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the cake, slice and serve.




The cake is light and full of pumpkin flavor that just goes so nicely with the sweetened maple cream cheese! 
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