Three Cheese Root Vegetable Gratin

Thanksgiving week is upon us! I can’t contain my excitement!! My husband, Joshua, just returned home after almost 5 months of traveling to potential residency programs. Finally having him back means I have to start cooking for him again… but I could not be happier about it!!! Life is moving, fast. The older I get, the more real that becomes. Am I right? One day at a time, always. I am doing my best to slow down and enjoy each thing life throws at me. Big and small. Good and bad. All things work together for our good.

My wonderful friends at Sur la Table asked me to shoot a gratin recipe this month. I’ve always wanted to make one of these. All those crispy, cheesy layers. I’ve been itching to use my mandolin and this beautiful Staub pan. We made it happen! This gratin has everything going for it: three root veggies, three cheeses, all together perfect. Boring mashed potatoes, step aside.

Serves 6-8

  • 2½ cups whole milk
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1 pound large parsnips, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • ½ teaspoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup shredded Gruyère cheese
  • ½ cup shredded white Cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Rub the butter over the bottom and sides of a 2-quart gratin dish.
  2. In a large heavy pan, combine the milk, cream, salt, thyme, garlic and pepper. Place over medium heat and stir for 3 minutes, or until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan. Add the Yukon Gold potatoes, sweet potatoes and parsnips. Stir to coat and simmer gently, uncovered, for 10 to 12 minutes, until the potatoes are partially cooked. Remove from the heat.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer half the vegetables to the gratin dish. Sprinkle with half each of the Gruyère, cheddar, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses. Add the remaining vegetables. Use two forks to arrange the top layer of potatoes in a slightly overlapping design, evenly distributing the different-colored potatoes. Ladle the hot cream mixture over the vegetables and sprinkle with all of the remaining cheeses.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a skewer or the tip of a knife and the gratin is bubbling and golden. Let the gratin rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe by Sur La Table & Andrews McMeel Publishing.

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Pumpkin Mascarpone Parfaits

I was walking through a department store yesterday and passed a girl wearing a shirt that read “BUT FIRST, PUMPKIN SPICE.” We giggle, but let’s get real: we all feel this way. At least a little. Admit it!

Tis the season for everything pumpkin. I fully embrace it. This is one of my favorite seasonal recipes I shot for Genius Kitchen last year. It’s everything you love about pumpkin pie, in a glass!

Serves 12

  • Two 15-oz cans organic pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups mascarpone cheese
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups crushed Biscoff cookies*
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the pumpkin puree with the spices, salt, 2 cups of the mascarpone and 1 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar until thick and creamy.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream with the remaining mascarpone and 1 cup of powdered sugar until soft peaks form.
  3. Spoon half of the pumpkin mixture into 12 glasses and top with half of the mascarpone mixture and half of the crushed cookies. Repeat the layering process. Refrigerate the parfaits for 1 hour. Top with more cookie crumbs and a whole cookie before serving.

*If you can’t find Biscoff, use graham crackers!

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine. Photos by Ashley Cuoco for Genius Kitchen.

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Tortellini with Pumpkin Sage Brown Butter

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Seasonal mood is in full swing! At least in my mind. Last week I happily put on a new sweater, only to realized it’s still 75 degrees outside. I have no shame. When fall’s in the air, I’m happy and I’m going to show it. All the pumpkin recipes are starting to surface. While there are some things I think we need to keep pumpkin out of (like this…really?) pasta is pumpkin’s partner in this dish. Sage and brown butter have a long time, awesome thing going. Throw them all together with cheese tortellini and Parmesan cheese and you’ve got an addicting pasta dish you’ll want to make all season long!

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • 1/2 cup organic pumpkin puree
  • 1 lb fresh cheese tortellini
  • 1/2 cup up parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • pinch cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  1. To make the brown butter pumpkin sauce, add butter and sage leaves to a sauté pan over medium heat and swirl butter around in pan until it turns golden brown. A little brown bits are good! Don’t let it burn.
  2. Add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and pepper. Stir and remove from heat.
  3. Cook tortellini in boiling salted water according to package directions, drain, and toss into sauté pan with warm sauce. Stir in parmesan cheese and serve warm.

Recipe adapted from Food.com.

 

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Vanilla Bean Caramel Apple Tart

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Although March is not apple season, we’re a week away from Spring and my heart is already thinking about Autumn! I picked up pink lady apples and decided to try out this tart. What could be more simple and delicious than store-bought puff pastry? Almost nothing. When you’re in a pinch, it’s texture can’t be beat. It’s a beautiful canvas for just about anything. The apples are slightly cooked in a little caramel sauce and baked till super soft, contrasting beautifully with every bite of crispy pastry. You can try this with any tart apple like honeycrisp, granny smith or braeburn. Quick, easy and with so much reward. This is my new breakfast on rotation.

  • 5 tart apples (such as pink lady) peeled
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 sheet fresh puff pastry (14 oz package)
  • all-purpose flour, for rolling
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Cut apples as close to core as possible into three lobes. In a small, heavy pot, add sugar, water, and scrape in vanilla seeds; discard pod. Cook over medium heat until sugar comes to a boil is dissolved, as it starts to caramelize, 6–8 minutes. Keep at a boil (under 375 degrees with a candy thermometer). Don’t stir! When it becomes a nice amber color, remove from heat immediately and shock pot in an ice bath. Stir in butter, vinegar, and salt.
  2. Add apples into a skillet and cook until they start giving up some of their juices and shrink slightly, 5–8 minutes. Remove apples from skillet and combine with  caramel, pouring into prepared 9″ baking dish. Carefully turn apples so the cut side is facing up and scoot them together so they overlap slightly. (The apples will shrink more as they bake, so they need to be tightly packed.)
  3. Gently roll out puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface just to smooth out creases; cut into a round that will fit snugly inside your pan. Drape puff pastry over apples.
  4. Bake until pastry is puffed and starting to brown in spots, 20–25 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and bake until apples are tender and pastry is golden brown and cooked all the way through, 20 minutes longer. Let rest 5 minutes before inverting onto a platter. Don’t wait too long to invert or else the apples with stick to the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

These are a staple on my family’s table. Mushrooms have that wonderful earthy, deep flavor. Organic white caps are perfect for stuffing. I love a good drizzle of olive oil and a light stuff with cheese, breadcrumbs and fresh herbs. The more cheese, the merrier. Roasted nice and long so that the cheese and crumbs become crispy and golden brown. You can’t have just one.

When it comes to stuffed mushrooms, I like to keep it simple. I’m not into stuffing with crab or extra fluff. Let the mushroom shine. They’ll steal the show.

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco for Food.com

Servings: 24 mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 24 large mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (I prefer a 50% parmesan, 50% pecorino blend)
  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated mozzarella for topping
  1. Clean mushrooms under running water to remove all dirt. Carefully remove stems from mushrooms and chop stems.
  2. In a medium skillet, melt butter and add garlic. Add chopped mushroom stems and saute until lightly brown. Add parsley stir, and remove from heat.
  3. Add cheese and stir to combine. Add bread crumbs, stirring until mixture is crumbly.
  4. Lightly fill each mushroom cap with the sauteed mixture, but don’t pack too tightly.
  5. Set on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 400F degrees for about 24 minutes (if they’re smaller caps, check them after 20 minutes).

Recipe adapted from Food.com

Brown Butter Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

5Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Have you ever made brown butter before? Well…you might want to try it tonight. Blizzard 2016 is in full swing on Long Island. Everyone is hunkered down in their homes, relaxing and enjoying time with family. Make them happy tonight and break out the butter!! To make brown butter, aka “beurre noisette,” you start by melting butter over medium heat. Swirl the butter around in the pan often to be sure it is cooking evenly. As it melts, the butter will begin to foam. The color will change from yellow to golden to a warm brown. Once it smells nutty, take it off the heat and transfer to a heat-safe bowl to cool. (Technique courtesy of The Kitchn, www.thekitchn.com). That’s it! Now imagine pouring this hot, golden butter on top of butternut squash before you roast it. You can’t even imagine how incredible the kitchen will smell during that 45 minutes. When it comes out of the oven all tender, you’re more than half way to this creamy, divine soup. I ate it for lunch three days straight…some of my coworkers may have been jealous.


Prep time: 20 minutes — Cook time: 45 minutes to 1 hr — Total time: 1 hr 20 minutes

Soup Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup diced carrot
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • About 4 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups Roasted Winter Squash recipe (See ingredients below)
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half, optional

Roasted Squash Ingredients:

  • About 3 pounds butternut squash (preferably 1 large squash)
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage leaves (Substitute dried sage if you need to)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons Toasted Spice Rub (See ingredients below)

Toasted Spice Rub Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup (1-ounce) chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Okay: here we go! Don’t be alarmed by the lengthy ingredient list above. There are just a few extra steps in making this soup turn into liquid gold! First, we start by mixing the spices for the toasted spice rub. Toasting them releases their oils and makes them more fragrant. It also adds another layer of flavor.

Toast the fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and peppercorns a small pan over medium heat. When the fennel turns light brown, work quickly. Turn on the exhaust fan, add the red pepper flakes and toss, continually. Immediately turn the spice mixture out onto a plate to cool. Put mixture into a blender with the chili powder, salt, and cinnamon and blend until the spices are evenly ground. Pour into a bowl and toss with the remaining ingredients. Keep the spice mix in a glass jar in a cool, dry place, or freeze.3Next, we roast the squash. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler. Halve lengthwise, discard the seeds, then cut into 1-inch dice. Place in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter stops foaming and has turned a light brown, pull the pan off the heat and immediately add the sage, sugar, vinegar (stand back so as not to get splattered), maple syrup and 2 teaspoons of the toasted spice rub. Mix well and let simmer over medium-low heat for 2 minutes to let the flavors meld.

Pour the vinegar mixture over the squash and toss well, then transfer to a heavy rimmed baking sheet large enough to hold the squash in a single layer. Place in the oven and roast, tossing at least once, until very tender and caramelized, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Set aside until cool enough to handle but still warm, so the liquids are runny. Working in batches, if necessary, transfer the warm squash and all the cooking liquids to a food processor (I love my Nutri Bullet for this) and process until smooth. Use immediately, refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 2 months. Yields 2 cups puree.

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Next we go forth with soup! Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add the onion, celery, carrot, cinnamon stick and sauté until soft but not brown, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for several minutes. Stir in the squash until smooth, then simmer gently to let the flavors meld, about 10 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick. (Make sure you discard… I almost forgot).

Puree the soup in a blender until smooth. (The soup can be made ahead to this point, cooled, covered, and refrigerated for several days or frozen for about 1 month. It will thicken as it cools and may need thinning with stock or water when reheating.)

Return the soup to the pan and reheat gently. Add the half-and-half. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Keep warm until served. Garnish with roasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds. Enjoy!

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All photo credit: Ashley Cuoco

Recipe adapted from Michael Chiarello, www.foodnetwork.com

Spaghetti with Radish-Greens Pesto

3Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

I must admit: I am a pesto newbie. This was my first shot at it. And, I did not grow up eating it so I didn’t know what to expect as far as taste and texture. Being mostly Italian, I knew it had to be good…a little crunch, a lot of flavor! This autumn version is perfect. Who knew you could eat the greens of a radish? Not me. According to Food & Wine, you can also use beet or turnip greens, or even arugula for a similar outcome (I love arugula, have to try that one next). I was so pleasantly surprised by the final product. It was much less bitter and much more flavorful than I expected. I think the parmesan and the lemon are to thank. My favorite part is getting use of the entire vegetable– no waste! All combined, and topped with crushed pumpkin seeds, this pasta is sure to please this Thanksgiving. We’re almost there!!

Yield: 4 servings — Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Greens from 1 big bunch of radishes (8 loosely packed cups), chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves
  • 3/4 cup roasted salted pumpkin seeds (3 ounces), plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  1. In a food processor, combine the garlic, greens, parsley leaves and the 3/4 cup of pumpkin seeds; pulse until finely chopped. With the machine on, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Stir in the 1 cup of cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a pot of salted boiling water, cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pot. Add the pesto, lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Season with salt and pepper and toss over low heat until coated, about 2 minutes; add more pasta water if a thinner consistency is desired.
  3. Transfer the pasta to bowls and garnish with pumpkin seeds and cheese. Enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Food & Wine, www.foodandwine.com

2Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

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Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

My Dream Thanksgiving Menu

It’s all my mother’s fault.

Thanksgiving, I mean. She and my father raised me in a thankful home where it quickly became the most cherished day of the year. As I write this, I realize that it actually is my favorite day. From early in the morning, taking care of food preparations to late at night, stuffed and exhausted– it is the most joyful day of gathering. Family comes from near and far, special care is given to the food, the decorations, and the table setting (my mom sets her table over 1 week in advance). She’s what I’d call the one-and-only Thanksgiving queen. To prove it, she gave me a bound manual on how to host the best Thanksgiving! It’s something I really look forward to doing. So much so that I couldn’t wait to curate my “dream” menu. For as long as my mom can make her way around the kitchen, she’ll be hosting… so I may need to wait a while! Here’s a guide to my favorite flavors on this truly happy day.

DRINKS

When guests walk through the door, within minutes you can bet that my dad will ask, “Can I interest you in a cold beverage?” So, be sure you have a variety of drinks on hand– for both adults and kids. On the other hand, my mom is the ultimate health nut and never drinks soda (she’s smiling as she reads this) so the rest of us always have to stress the importance of offering guests more than just water! Let’s get fancy. I absolutely love the idea of pairing wine with food. I think it’s fun to do with your starters and hors d’oeuvres. Here are some of my picks:

  1. Riesling: my favorite white wine. It can range from dry to very sweet and is made from a single variety of grape originally grown in Germany. I like the ones that have peach notes. It goes great with fruits, cheeses and seafood. Try Smith Madrone Vineyards Napa Valley Riesling, $27.
  2. Cabernet Sauvignon: A popular, dry red wine made from a single widely cultivated variety of black grape. It has medium body and fruity flavor. I love it because it’s rich and bold. It goes really well with comforting, meaty dishes like a great steak. Here are Food and Wine’s top Cabs under $15.
  3. Sparkling Apple Cider: For kids and adults alike! I grew up drinking this by the glassful on Thanksgiving day. It’s vital to my family’s Thanksgiving meal. In fact, I can guarantee you there’s a value pack of 4 bottles in my mom’s kitchen right now! My favorite is Martinelli’s: They make the best variety of sparkling juices.
  4. Water, still and sparkling: Because it’s classy. Bottom line. Everyone loves to see San Pellegrino on the table.

SMALL BITES

Hors d’oeuvres always get me excited. They can be a great prelude for what is to come. While it’s great to get those appetites going, don’t overdo it. Nothing is worse than filling up on snacks and not having sufficient room for that turkey and the fixings. Being petite, I’m guilty of that almost every year. Just wet your whistle and have a little cheese and chips. As hostess, make it easier and try (2) cold and (2) hot bites (depending on your crowd size) so your guests have some things to munch on while you prepare the others. These starters make me smile:

  1. Cheese Board: Something comes over me when I see a gorgeously presented board of cheeses, fruits, nuts and crostini. It’s just so pretty and says “eat me!” I love the styling below by Honestly Yum. It’s got all the things you need. To assemble your own perfect cheese board, choose one of the following: a Soft Cheese (Brie, Mozzarella, Ricotta), a Semi-Soft (Jarlsberg, Oka, Gouda), a Semi-Hard (Manchego, Provolone, Comte), and a Hard (Parmesan, Sharp Cheddar, Gruyere). Then comes the fun accompaniments! Figs, honey, almonds, grapes, olives, prosciutto– the list goes on and on. Also, make sure you have some crackers in addition to a softer vehicle like a sliced baguette. Varying textures and flavor combinations is what makes this starter so good!

fall cheese platterPhoto Credit: Honestly Yum, www.honestlyyum.com

2. Stuffed Mushrooms: If you haven’t noticed already, this post is filled with all of my personal favorites. And this one is no exception. We make these every year without fail. While the recipe has changed from year to year, the love for stuffing that sumptuous mushroom with golden brown crumbs and cheese has not. This year I am going to try this recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis. She can do no wrong!

stuffed mushroomsPhoto Credit: Food Network, www.foodnetwork.com

3. Onion Dip and Chips: I warn you now… this will be ultimately devoured. Who doesn’t love the classic sour cream and onion combo? I can tell you that my brother and I can easily polish off on this one! There’s just something about these flavors. As simple as it is to pour a packet of onion soup mix and sour cream together, I thought it would be fun to try this from scratch version from Alton Brown. Pop open a big bay of wavy potato chips for this. I can taste the salty chips and dip now. I love salt… it’s a problem. Just so good!

alton-brown-onion-dip

Photo Credit: Alton Brown, www.altonbrown.com

SALAD

My perfect salad is light, acidic, and anything but basic. I love the bitterness of arugula paired with a tangy cheese and citrus or something sweet. I found this recipe via Food and Wine magazine and instantly thought YES. The flavor of the beets, freshness of the avocado and pop of goat cheese will sing. It’s a nice change from the usual mixed greens, romaine and Italian vinaigrette. To me, this screams high-end restaurant. Dig in!

Beet::  Avocado  and  Arugula  SaladPhoto Credit: Food and Wine, www.foodandwine.com

SOUP

Roasted Pumpkin Soup Shooter: This is basically a shot glass of soup. How fun! A small, warm portion of delicious. With the remainder of food that is to come, no one will want a full bowl of soup. Besides being the perfect portion for tasting, these will also look darling on your table setting. I love this recipe I adapted from The Daily Meal. Add a sprig of rosemary to garnish. It that not the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?

soup shooters

Photo Credit: Blessed Beyond Crazy, www.blessedbeyondcrazy.com

MAIN COURSES

  1. Citrus-and-Butter Turkey: Get your taste buds ready and try not to drool over this: “Food & Wine’s Justin Chapple soaks cheesecloth in citrus butter and drapes it over turkey while roasting, yielding super juicy, delicious meat and skin.” You read that right: it’s a turkey that bastes itself! Self basting! They call this guy a “mad genius” for a reason. A cheesecloth is soaked in all that flavor and is continually released while cooking. If there were ever a *mind-blown* moment, it is now. The citrus + butter combination drew me to this recipe. You can count on Food and Wine to deliver.

Citrus-Herb-TurkeyPhoto Credit, The Suburban Soapbox, www.thesuburbansoapbox.com

2. Spiced Honey Glazed Spiral Ham: My cousin Paige and I will tell you: it’s not Thanksgiving without the spiral ham. Some prefer this over the turkey. I find I love the way it tastes alongside the flavors of sweet potato and cranberry sauce. That glaze makes the ham shine–literally!! Try this recipe from Saveur.

spiral hamePhoto Credit: Saveur, www.saveur.com 

SIDE DISHES

  1. Sweet Potato Gratin with Pecans: On most tables you’ll find sweet potatos. I think it’s the best starch to have on the table. If you prefer regular mashed, that works just as well. If you really can’t decide, do both like we do! I love this twist on a classic by Williams Sonoma. sweet-potato-gratin-leadPhoto Credit: www.themeaningofpie.com

2. Rosemary Focaccia Stuffing with Pancetta: What Thanksgiving table is complete without stuffing? Honestly, I have never been a fan of traditional stuffing. But, love the flavor of rosemary– and the use of Focaccia sounds divine. Plus a little Italian bacon never hurt anything…Try this recipe from Food Network.

ROSEMARY_STUFFING_031.tif

Photo Credit: Food Network, www.foodnetwork.com

3. Creamed Kale: Kale has been having a moment for a while now. While some claim they don’t like it, I think it all depends on how it’s prepared. This reminds me of when I had a hard time eating broccoli as a child and my mom would smother it with cheese so I’d eat them. I’m not saying kale is terrible on it’s own, it’s really not! But, cheese can not possibly hurt it. I forget how much I also enjoy creamed spinach. Take your pick on the greens, but consider creaming them for a perfect Thanksgiving Side. I like this recipe from Tyler Florence via Food & Wine:

Creamed Kale Beauty + A141112 Food & Wine Tyler Florence Thanksgiving 2015

Photo Credit: Food & Wine, www.foodandwine.com

4. Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower: This is one of the easiest side dishes, great for any gathering. So much flavor comes out of simply seasoning and roasting the florets. I think this final side rounds out a group of tasty accompaniments. Try this recipe from Bon Appetit:parmesan-roasted-cauliflowerPhoto Credit: Bon Appetit, www.bonappetit.com

BISCUITS

Buttermilk Biscuits: I know this technically counts as a side… but I gave biscuits their own category simply because there are so many to choose from. Some prefer Italian bread, dinner rolls, etc. but this classic buttermilk recipe from Southern Living had me at Buttermilk. Get a load of this:

Photo Credit: Southern Living, www.southernliving.com

DESSERT

We made it to dessert! Of course, no matter how stuffed you are, just wait an hour or two and you’ll muster up the strength to take a slice of granny’s pie. It’s one of those times when you really don’t have a choice. It isn’t Thanksgiving in my family without the apple and the pumpkin pie. Pair that with a steamy cup of coffee and cream… not to worry, sleep (Err, food-coma-induced hibernation) is coming!

  1. Apple Pie: A true classic for the fall season. My grandma has been making the same apple pie since she was twenty years old. Now that I’m married, it’s been my ultimate goal to master her art. The idea of closing my eyes and savoring her apple pie, and sharing it for years to come, gives me great joy. I know I’ll pass it down to my daughter one day and the legend will live on! Find a fool-proof crust and expert pie recipe from King Arthur Flour: 38-3-large

 Photo Credit: King Arthur Flour, www.kingarthurflour.com

2. Mocha Espresso Cream Pie: Everyone loves chocolate on the dessert table. I especially love this recipe from Southern Living because it incorporates espresso into the mix. This seriously enhances that chocolate flavor! Crunchy crust, creamy filling and that light fluff on top: mocha-espresso-cream-piePhoto Credit: Southern Living, www.southernliving.com

And that’s all! Now, you find yourself flat on your back, in front of the fireplace with the buzz of football and family chatter in the background. If this is you, you’re just like my father and grandfather. When you’re full, you gotta do what you gotta do. But you’ll be gosh darn happy you did.

Lastly, we have a few cherished Thanksgiving family traditions. Make your day perfect by creating your own with family and friends you hold dear:

  1. Give Thanks: We have a little “10 Year Diary” of Thanksgivings that one day we’ll all look back on (or at least my sentimental mother will!) Each of us writes what we are thankful for, amongst a bunch of memories, recipes and photographs.
  2. Parade: Some of my earliest memories of Thanksgiving are the mornings we spent in front of the inaugural fire of the season watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I’ll admit: I’m married now, but the truth is I wish I could spend every thanksgiving morning for the rest of my life at my parent’s home doing this very thing. My husband’s invited too. (winky face)
  3. Game On: Nothing is funnier than getting your 84-year-old grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins together for a riveting board game. Especially after all the good food and drink they’ve enjoyed. I’ve witnessed some of the most gut-wrenching, hysterical moments as my grandma acts out charades. I think laughter is the perfect end to a Thankful day– and my family would agree.

Happy Thanksgiving, from my family to yours.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalms 100:4