Popovers with Gruyere

Just thinking about this little morsels of deliciousness makes my mouth water. If you've never had a popover, think a dinner roll but super light and fluffy, and in this case, bursting with cheesy goodness and a perfectly browned, slightly crunchy top. Yum, yum, yum.

Seriously delicious

Popovers with Gruyere:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese (about 6 ounces)
Place one 12-cup muffin pan and one 6-cup muffin pan in oven. Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk flour and salt in medium bowl to blend. Heat milk in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until very warm, about 125°F. Whisk eggs in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk warm milk into eggs. Gradually stir flour mixture into milk mixture just to blend (batter may still be slightly lumpy).
Remove hot muffin pans from oven. Spray pans with nonstick spray. Spoon 1/4 cup batter into each of 16 muffin cups. Top each with 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese. Bake until puffed and deep brown, about 40 minutes. Remove popovers from pan.

Lemon & Proscuitto Stuffed Pork Loin Roast

This came out incredibly juicy, flavorful, and delicious. I made some modifications to the original recipe, so my version is below, but the title links out to the original on Epicurious.com.
  • 1 4-pound boneless pork loin roast, trimmed
  • 12 thin prosciutto slices (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 large lemon, very thinly sliced, peel removed
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup Pinot Grigio or other dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
  • Special equipment: Kitchen string
Place pork, fat side down, on work surface with 1 short end facing you. Using long thin sharp knife and starting 1/2 inch above underside of roast, cut 1/2 inch in along right side. Continue cutting 1/2 inch above underside, unrolling roast like carpet. Arrange prosciutto evenly over pork, overlapping if necessary. Arrange lemon slices over prosciutto. Sprinkle with panko, then chives. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Turn pork so 1 short end faces you. Beginning at 1 short end, roll up pork; arrange seam side down on work surface (fat side will be facing up). Using kitchen string, tie at 1- to 1 1/2-inch intervals. Transfer pork, fat side up, to roasting pan. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
DO AHEAD: can be made 1 day ahead. Cover pork; chill.
Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 450&Deg;F. Place pork on lower rack; roast 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°f; roast pork until instant-read thermometer registers 145°F when inserted into center of pork, 45 to 60 minutes longer, depending on thickness of roast. Transfer to cutting board. Increase oven temperature to 375°F.
Place roasting pan over 2 burners on medium-high heat. Add broth and wine; bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Boil until reduced to 1 cup, about 8 minutes. Stir in butter. Add cornstarch mixture and stir until sauce thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Strain sauce into small pitcher. Season with salt and pepper.
Using kitchen scissors, cut string along top of roast; discard. Cut pork into 1/2-inch- thick slices; arrange on platter.

Chocolate Fallen Souffle Cake

This is the best, richest, most chocolate-y cake I have ever had. Seriously.
Cake, with homemade whipped cream. OMG, yum
  • 12 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 5 large eggs, separated and at room temperature for 30 minutes
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line bottom with a round of parchment or wax paper, then butter paper.
Melt chocolate and butter in a large metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water (or in a microwave-safe large glass or ceramic bowl in a microwave at 50 percent power for 4 to 5 minutes), stirring frequently, then cool completely. Whisk in vanilla, salt, and 6 tablespoons sugar. Add yolks 1 at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in flour.
Beat whites with a pinch of salt in a bowl using an electric mixer at medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks, then add remaining 6 tablespoons sugar a little at a time, beating, and continue to beat until whites hold stiff glossy peaks.
Whisk about one fourth of whites into chocolate mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly. Pour batter into springform pan, spreading evenly.
Bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs adhering, 35 to 40 minutes.
Cool cake in pan on a rack 10 minutes. Remove side of pan and cool cake completely. Invert cake onto rack and remove bottom of pan, discarding paper, then invert cake onto a plate.

Christmas Eve Dinner

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you all had a blessed, lovely time. My Christmas was spent without my or my husband's family, and thus, grossly overcompensated with food. Despite the fact that I was still experiencing a great deal of pain from getting my wisdom teeth out (ugh), I was determined to make a feast on Christmas Eve! My dinner consisted of:

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc
Popovers with Gruyere
Lemon & Proscuitto Stuffed Pork Loin Roast
Steamed Broccoli & Cauliflower
Potato Parmesan Pave
Chocolate Fallen Souffle Cake with Homemade Whipped Cream

Yummy feast food!
Everything came out incredibly well, except for the Potato Parmesan Pave. I have bad luck with fancy potato dishes, further driving home the point that I should just stick with my one true love - mashed potatoes. The parmesan in the dish really stood out way too much against the other flavors and it sort of tasted like feet. Blech! Maybe it would be better with a different kind of cheese, but that recipe was definitely not my favorite.

On the other hand, I seriously think the Chocolate Cake was one of the best things I've ever made. Period. It is delicious! And pretty easy, even for a novice baker. If you love chocolate (and I mean LOVE, it's soooo rich), you need to try this :)

On Christmas Day, Keith and I went over to Nick & Rachel's and they made a delicious spread for us. We had lamb, cous cous, green beans, baked crab rangoon, homemade sangria, YUM! And I brought over my Triple Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies, as well as more of the delicious cake for dessert. Seriously good eating!

Overall, we had a lovely Christmas and we enjoyed our time together. Next year, though, I think we'll be in MI celebrating with the fam :)

Merry Christmas!


The Wisdom Teeth Diet!

I had my widsom teeth out on Thursday. What a sucker trip! First, I was all excited because I was going to have IV sedation, which is supposed to make the experience incredibly easy and relaxed. However, I have no veins, apparently, and after being stuck with the needle approximately 10 times, it was determined that I could not receive that form of sedation.
My poor wrist!

My hand
So, after all that (and even attempting to look at my FEET for veins), they decided to go with oral sedation. I'm still not sure exactly what they gave me, but it was this powdery stuff they had to put under my tongue that tasted absolutely foul. During all this, they also gave me nitrous. For some reason, I was being very difficult to sedate, so after sucking back nitrous for 40 minutes on high and still asking the doctor if I was going to be charged for the IV sedation (SOR-RY for being fiscally responsible, that stuff was NOT cheap), they gave me another dose of the oral sedative. And then ANOTHER. Once they got started, I was definitely NOT in lala land and knew exactly what was going on - I even felt the first tooth come out (it didn't hurt at that point, but felt like a LOT of pressure) and asked the doctor if she just took out my tooth.  She looked at me incredulously and said, "Uh, yes, it's out."  I replied with, "Woohoo, go Doctor Jones!" and she then proceeded to give me MORE sedative.

Once everything was over with, I went home and there was minimal swelling, which was great. My system is really sensitive, though, and unfortunately I got really sick from all the drugs. Basically I couldn't eat anything until yesterday (so, three days without any food or liquids being kept down). It was NOT fun. Yesterday was the first day I was able to eat and drink and not get sick, so that was exciting! I also weighed myself finally and I've lost 6 pounds since Wednesday. That puts my total at 10 pounds since I started dieting.  Now I definitely don't recommend this method, but at least there's a bright side to be completely, totally, horribly miserable for 3 entire days. My jaw still hurts like heck but I can take a half a Percocet every 4 - 5 hours which keeps the pain to a minimum. I'm sure if I took a whole one it would make it much more comfortable but I'm petrified of getting sick again so I can deal with the aches.

For now, just hoping I can get to work tomorrow and eat normal food by Christmas. I would NOT want to go through that whole experience again, that's for sure!


Cheap Travel to Amazing Places

This is the time of year that I absolutely start going CRAZY for a vacation. I received a Daily Candy email today giving me an invitation to join a new travel deal site called Voyage Prive, so I decided to check it out. 

HO-LY CATS! This site is incredible! It has amazing deals to Europe, Asia, Australia, North America, you name it! The prices are great, they have lots of options, and it's very easy to use.

Asia Cruise? Yes, please!
Couple current examples:
  • Save 72% off an Asia Cruise
  • Save 65% off a trip to Barcelona
  • Save 54% off a culinary jaunt through Vermont
Unbelievable! Check it out - the site is invitation only so here's an invite for all you loyal blog readers :) Once you take a look, let me know your thoughts.


Poached Salmon with Creamy Piccata Sauce

Today, I went to the dentist and scheduled something I've been dreading for years - my wisdom teeth extraction surgery. EEK! I have absolutely no desire to do this, but I need to get it done, so next Thursday, December 16, my wisdom teeth and myself will be forever parted. In the meantime, I'm going to eat as much chewy stuff as possible since I'll be on a liquified diet for probably 4 - 5 days after the surgery. On the bright side, this will definitely help me with the weight loss :)

I made a low-calorie, super fast dinner tonight since I had Pilates until 7. Surprisingly, it was very flavorful and filling! Served with leftover long grain brown rice and baby spinach.

1 pound(s) center-cut salmon fillet, skinned and cut into 4 portions
1 cup(s) dry white wine, divided
2 teaspoon(s) extra-virgin olive oil 
1 large shallot, minced
2 tablespoon(s) lemon juice
4 teaspoon(s) capers
1/4 cup(s) reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 teaspoon(s) sea salt
1 tablespoon(s) chopped fresh dill
  1. Place salmon in a large skillet. Add 1/2 cup wine and enough water to just cover the salmon. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer, turn the salmon over, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining 1/2 cup wine; boil until slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Stir in lemon juice and capers; cook 1 minute more. Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream and salt. To serve, top the salmon with the sauce and garnish with dill.


Chicken Meatloaf

Last night, I made something I've never had before - chicken meatloaf. I found an article on complete dinners under 550 calories and this recipe sounded too good not to try. Growing up, my favorite thing to eat at my Grandma Kuprianiak's was her meatloaf, and Keith had never had it before. This version was tasty and filling, as well as low calorie when served with steamed broccoli and long grain brown rice drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Forgot to take a picture until we ate!

2 lbs. ground lean chicken breast
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon chopped marjoram
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons ketchup
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 425°.

2. Combine chicken, tomato paste, marjoram, parsley, garlic, onion, Worcestershire sauce and eggs in a bowl. Place mixture in a nonstick loaf pan; spread ketchup on top.

3. Bake uncovered for about an hour or until meatloaf is firm to the touch in the center. Let meatloaf settle 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6.


Dangerous Holiday Drinks

I saw this post on the Delish blog and had to share. I've always been a fan of Starbucks, from my 14-year-old Mocha Chip Frappucino fetish, to my age 18 White Chocolate Mocha stint, the quarter century Iced 2-pump Skinny Vanilla Latte or Soy Chai Latte (if it's cold out) reign, and now my current daily Nonfat Latte habit. However, most people don't realize the calories they're consuming, especially at this time of year. 470 calories for a grande Egg Nog Latte? That's practically a MEAL, people! Personally, I'd rather get my calories by indulging in Christmas cookies and ham than a souped up, sugary coffee. That doesn't mean you can't hit up Starbucks for a warming wintry treat, just be smart about it. Their website even has a list you can refer to for delicious drinks under 200 calories. I also read they are testing out a Skinny Peppermint Mocha in certain markets. I haven't seen it on the menu in my local 'bucks, and I'm in Seattle (coffee mecca, hello?) but if you see it, let me know how it is :)

Stay safe this holiday season and try to avoid gaining the typical one to six pounds the average American gains at this time of year (even scarier, I read that most Americans NEVER LOSE THAT WEIGHT...ever).


Embarking on a Mission

The hubby and I are headed to Hawaii in February, so we are embarking on a mission to lose 15 pounds each. That's about as much weight as I've gained since we got married, and about half as much as he's gained (I know!) I know we can do it! So, recipes for the next few months are going to be low-calorie as well as healthy (since I try to stick to the healthy stuff regardless). We're off to a good start; we finally gained the courage to weigh ourselves post-Thanksgiving, and we both LOST a half pound instead of gaining any weight! I'd like to think it was from my efforts to focus on having lots of veggies in our dinner instead of very fatty casseroles. Either way, I'm happy with the results!


Thanksgiving Feast!

Thanksgiving - a time for giving thanks! In America, we do this by eating copious amounts of food and drinking ourselves silly. Sort of odd, when you think about it. However, this was the first year I've ever had the pleasure of hosting a traditional Thanksgiving dinner myself (last year consisted of a very non-traditional antipasto platter, cheese, fruit, fresh bread, and lots and lots of wine), and strangely, going through the ritual of putting on this extravagant feast really opened my eyes to how lucky I am and made me so thankful for everything and everyone in my life. Putting on the dinner was a ton of work and also very expensive. I don't know about you, but I never really thought about the cost when I sat down at someone else's table to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast. I knew it was time-consuming of course, but man oh man; I was thankful that I could afford to do what so many families in America cannot afford to do: work my butt off and make a huge, lavish, fantastic Thanksgiving meal. My dinner was only for four people (and two dogs): my mom, my step-dad, my husband, and myself; and our two pups, Bella & Jax. After weeks of planning, shopping, ordering, and organizing; I still had to tackle prepping, baking, roasting, cooking and serving!

Basically, I woke up on Thanksgiving morning and cooked straight from 9am until 3:30pm when we ate. Literally, non-stop. Luckily, Keith, my mom and my step-dad were all able to step in and help out.

My Menu
Sparkling Pear Cranberry Cocktails
Assorted Cheese
Shrimp Cocktail
Ham Roll-Ups

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc
Honey-Glazed Carrots
Baked Artichoke Hearts
Fresh Green Beans with Wild Mushrooms
Cranberry & Satsuma Sauce
Mom's Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Turkey with Herb Butter
Homemade Gravy

Homemade Pumpkin Pie
Apple Spice Cake with Homemade Caramel & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but everything was so good! I was so nervous because I hadn't test-driven most of the recipes and putting on such a big dinner is a daunting task. Everything came together, though, and I was so happy with the way things came out! There was a lot of planning that went into the meal, so I suppose my project manager personality came in handy to keep everything on track.

Things I did in advance:
  • Planned the menu three weeks out (including deciding what I was serving and finding all the recipes for each item)
  • Roasted the pumpkin and made pumpkin puree four days before and froze it
  • Ordered the turkey one week before and picked it up the Saturday before Thanksgiving
  • Grocery shopped for all items (except produce) the Saturday before
  • Sliced up the bread, seasoned it, and laid it out to dry the day before
  • Picked up the produce and a few last minute appetizer fixings the day before
  • Made the pumpkin pie, homemade caramel, and apple spice cake the day before
  • Chopped celery, onion, and carrots the night before
Things I wish I would have done in advance:
  • Peeled and chopped the potatoes
  • Cleaned and prepped the green beans
  • Washed and sliced the mushrooms
  • Made the gravy base
  • Prepped the artichokes
  • Made the ham roll-ups
I learned a lot this Thanksgiving! I'm so thankful that I got to share it with my mom and step-dad, and my husband of course. I have a lot to be thankful for.

Here's wishing you all had wonderful Thanksgivings, too. Now to get ready for Christmas! Ah, the holidays.
My mom's toy Aussie, Jax

Roast Turkey with Herb Butter

What's the main event at almost any Thanksgiving feast? The turkey, of course! After searching through dozens of recipes, I found one that sounded great and was rated very highly. I must say, it came out tender, juicy, and delicious!

Gobble, gobble...I'll gobble YOU.
 Roast Turkey with Herb Butter
5 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 (10 - 12-pound) whole turkey, thawed if frozen, rinsed and patted dry, neck reserved
Stuffing (if using)
4 large carrots, halved crosswise
2 large onions, cut into 8 wedges
2 stalks celery, halved crosswise

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in the lowest position. Make herb butter: In a small bowl, mix together 4 tablespoons butter with chopped herbs; season generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Prepare and stuff the turkey. Loosen skin: Working from the neck end, slide fingers under skin until you reach the end of the breast, being careful not to tear the skin; rub herb butter under the skin. Fill neck cavity: Place turkey breast side down. Fill neck cavity with stuffing; avoid packing. Close up by folding skin over and fastening with skewers or trussing needles. Tuck wings: Turn turkey over; bend wing tips underneath bird so they stay in place (you may have to break the bones). Loosely fill large cavity with stuffing. Tie legs: Using cotton kitchen twine, tie legs together securely (they will overlap) so bird retains its shape and moisture during cooking.
  3. Cut neck into pieces; mix with carrots, onions, celery, and 2 cups water in a large roasting pan. Set roasting rack over vegetables in pan.
  4. Lift turkey onto rack; rub with remaining tablespoon butter. Season generously with salt and pepper. Tent turkey loosely with foil. Roast 1 hour, then baste every 30 minutes with pan liquids, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of thigh (avoiding bone) registers 125 degrees, about 3 hours.
  5. Remove foil; raise oven heat to 400 degrees. Continue roasting, basting occasionally, until thigh reaches 180 degrees, 45 to 60 minutes more. Tent with foil if bird browns too quickly; add more water if pan becomes dry. Transfer turkey to a serving platter; cover loosely with foil, and let it rest at least 30 minutes before carving.
Sliced and ready to chow!


Sparkling Pear Cranberry Cocktails

Nothing says festive like a little bubbly! This was such a fun drink to serve before dinner, and very tasty, too! Plus, the cranberries float! How fun is that?
Who knew cranberries were so buoyant?
Sparkling Pear Cranberry Cocktail
2 tablespoons dry cranberries
1/2 cup organic pear nectar
32 ounces Moscato d'Asti wine
8 small sprigs fresh rosemary
  1. Put cranberries in a small bowl; add 2 tablespoons warm water. Soak until cool, about 15 minutes. Drain, pat dry, and refrigerate until serving.
  2. Divide pear nectar evenly among eight tall champagne glasses. Add cranberries, and then gently pour the Moscato d'Asti into the glasses. Garnish each with a rosemary sprig.

Baked Artichoke Hearts

My family absolutely loves artichoke hearts. I knew a great way to incorporate another vegetable into my Thanksgiving meal would be to somehow get them into it, but I didn't want to go with the usual artichoke dip (too fatty). I found this recipe for baked artichoke hearts and it was a huge hit!

Right out of the oven
Baked Artichoke Hearts
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs (I used whole wheat)
1/4 cups finely chopped fresh curly leaf parsley
2 ounces (1/4 cup) grated Parmesan cheese
2 ounces (1/4 cup) grated Pecorino Romano
1 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
3 cans artichoke hearts, drained and cut in half
2/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 cloves garlic, minced

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine breadcrumbs, parsley, cheeses, herbs, and salt in a medium bowl, and season with pepper.
  2. Spray 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Spread artichoke hearts into a single layer. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over artichokes, pushing it into cracks between hearts. Tap bottom of dishes on counter to settle breadcrumb mixture.
  3. Whisk oil, lemon juice and zest, and garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle dressing evenly over breadcrumb topping. Cover dishes with parchment, then foil, and bake 30 minutes. Increase temperature to 375 degrees. Uncover, and bake until breadcrumbs are golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve immediately.
Everyone raved about this one. As for leftovers, well, let's just say these were constantly picked out of the fridge and eaten cold, non-stop. Definitely a hit!

Honey-Glazed Carrots

Something that was important to me when planning out my Thanksgiving meal was to have a lot of vegetables in a variety of colors. On top of the health benefits, it made for a very eye-pleasing plate!

Bugs Bunny, eat your heart out.
Honey-Glazed Carrots
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, such as safflower
2 pound carrots, cut into 1-inch lengths, halved if thick
1 cup canned reduced-sodium chicken broth or water
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
Coarse salt
Ground pepper
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add carrots; cook, stirring once, until beginning to brown, 2 minutes.
  2. Add broth, honey, and vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until crisp-tender, 10 minutes. Uncover, and cook over medium-high until carrots are tender and liquid is syrupy, 10 minutes more (there should be only a small amount of liquid remaining).
  3. Remove skillet from heat; add butter, and swirl skillet until melted. Season with salt and pepper.
These were more of a treat than a vegetable! You could get away with cutting the butter in half, and even using a little less honey, and they would still be delicious.

Pumpkin Pie

What's Thanksgiving without Pumpkin Pie? Traditionally my very favorite dessert at the holidays, pumpkin pie was one of the items on my Thanksgiving menu that I didn't have to think about. I wanted to try making it from scratch, so I borrowed from Martha Stewart's recipe.

So pumpkin-y
Pumpkin Pie
cup (packed) brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups fresh Pumpkin Puree
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 egg, for glaze
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
1 frozen pre-made pie crust (I used whole wheat)
1 tablespoon heavy cream

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pumpkin puree, and 3 eggs. Beat well. Add evaporated milk, and combine. Set aside.
  2. Make the glaze: Beat the remaining egg, and combine with heavy cream. Brush glaze very lightly on edges of pie shell. Fill pie shell with pumpkin mixture. Transfer to prepared baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 30 minutes more. Cool on a wire rack.

Note: when you take the pie out of the oven, the filling might still look a little watery.  Allow it to set for a good while (mine set for about an hour), then refrigerate. It should solidify just fine :)
This pie wasn't like any store-bought pumpkin pie I've had. It was much more pumpkin-y, for one, and not as sweet, which I attribute to using real pumpkin puree. I really enjoyed it and it got rave reviews!

Apple Spice Cake

The only word to describe this cake is YUM. I am a chocolate lover, but honestly, this cake is probably the most delicious thing I've ever baked, in my opinion. If you like apples or cinnamon, you NEED to try this.

Holy delciousness

Apple Spice Cake
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
3 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (3 cups)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Caramel sauce
Nonstick baking spray

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan or a 9 1/2 x 12 inch baking pan with baking spray; set aside.
  2. Working over a large sheet of parchment paper, sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; gather sifted ingredients into center of sheet; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine vegetable oil, sugar, and eggs; mix on high speed until lemon yellow.
  4. Fold reserved parchment in half lengthwise; with mixer on medium speed, gradually shake in dry ingredients until just incorporated.
  5. Add apples to batter; mix to combine. Add vanilla, mixing until incorporated.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 75 to 90 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven, and cool slightly on a wire rack (or in the pan).
  8. Invert cake onto rack; turn cake right-side up to cool completely on rack, and serve drizzled with caramel sauce and a side of vanilla bean ice cream.


Ham Roll-Ups

What's a holiday without ham roll-ups? Not a holiday at all! At least, not in my family. Such a simple, yet tasty little appetizer that pleases everyone, from little kids to Grandma.

Ham Roll-Ups on Thanksgiving, with cheese cubes

Ham Roll-Ups
1 lb. low sodium Polish ham, sliced thick from the deli
1 pkg. light cream cheese, softened
1 bunch green onions

Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on each ham slice. Place a green onion lengthwise on top of the cream cheese, and roll the ham up around it. Slice the ends off the onion and then slice the ham tube into bite-sized pieces. Repeat for each piece of ham, until you run out of ham, cream cheese, or onion.

These are seriously addictive. Make extra because people will eat them like crazy!

Mom's Stuffing

One of the great things about Thanksgiving is consistency. Every family has those dishes that are served each year and that everyone loves. For me, that dish is my mom's stuffing. Even though I knew I wanted to try some new dishes and really make my Thanksgiving dinner my own, I never even considered trying a different recipe. Why mess with perfection?

Stuffing right after we took it out of the turkey
 Mom's Stuffing
2 loaves of bread (I used whole wheat, she uses white), cubed and left out overnight to dry
1 large celery bunch, chopped, leafy parts reserved
3 tbsps. poultry seasoning
2 tbsps. salt
1 tbsp. pepper
4 sticks butter, sliced into pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1 - 2 cups turkey broth (see below), OR
1 - 2 cups low sodium chicken broth

For bread cubes:
Slice bread into 1/4 cubes (bite-sized) and arrange on a large surface (I used the turkey roasting pan).  Season well with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper; taste and add more if needed. Leave out overnight to dry. Taste again in the morning and add more seasonings if necessary.

To make the turkey broth:
Fill a pot with water and add the turkey neck, gizzards, and leafy celery parts. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer 15 - 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

To make stuffing:
Place all the butter pieces into a frying pan on medium heat to melt completely. Once melted, add celery and onion, and cook until soft, approximately 10 - 15 minutes. Pour mixture over bread cubes and mix well. Slowly add turkey broth or chicken broth, stirring, until the bread is softened. Stuff turkey or chicken if using, and bake any leftover stuffing for 30 - 40 minutes at 350 degrees in a glass dish lightly sprayed with cooking spray.

Homemade Caramel Sauce

This caramel sauce is so rich and sinful, you won't be able to go back to store-bought after you try it.

Sauce being poured over my Apple Spice cake on Thanksgiving

Homemade Caramel Sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup heavy cream at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons plain Greek-style yogurt at room temperature

Bring sugar and water to a boil in a 10-inch heavy skillet, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then wash down any sugar crystals from side of skillet with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Boil, without stirring, swirling pan occasionally, until dark amber, 7 to 8 minutes. Cool 2 minutes, then whisk in butter, cream, and yogurt. Transfer to a bowl and chill.

Just bring this to room temperature and then pop into the microwave for about 20 seconds before serving. Most definitely the richest caramel I've ever had.

Pumpkin Puree

For Thanksgiving, I decided I wanted to make a pumpkin pie from scratch, and I mean from SCRATCH. I arrived home with my 1 1/2 pound sugar pumpkin (so cute!) ready to roast and puree it into pumpkin pie goodness.

These guys are super cute!
Pumpkin Puree:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a sharp paring knife, cut several slits in pumpkin, piercing skin all the way through (this will let steam escape). Place in a glass dish; pour about 1 inch water in bottom of dish. Bake until skin is easily pierced and inside is very soft, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.
  2. Cut off top of pumpkin, and scoop out seeds; discard both. Peel, and discard skin. Place pumpkin in the bowl of a food processor or blender; puree until smooth. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 days or in the freezer up to 1 month.
Very easy to do, with the exception of scooping out the seeds. What a pain in the butt! The pumpkin is very small so you need to use a long handled spoon (I used an iced tea spoon), but you need to be careful not to discard the pumpkin insides! The skin comes off easily enough. Make sure to let the pumpkin cool a bit before you move on to step 2, but you definitely want it warm when you puree it.

You can do a lot with pumpkin puree (besides making pie, you can make pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, etc.), so you may want to roast two of these guys and freeze the extra puree for another project :)

Fresh Green Beans with Wild Mushrooms

In my farm delivery, I received fresh green beans two weeks in a row! I also received some really nice-looking cremini mushrooms. Keith doesn't love green beans, so I knew I wanted to use them for our Thanksgiving meal (since I love them and my parents like them, too). I decided to concoct a side dish with the green beans and mushrooms, and the results were delicious!

Fresh Green Beans with Wild Mushrooms
1 lb. fresh green beans, washed and prepped
1 clove garlic, chopped
7 - 8 cremini mushrooms, washed and thinly sliced
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & pepper to taste

Add the olive oil to a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute for about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium and add green beans, saute for 8 - 10 minutes until crisp tender. Add the mushrooms and saute for another 4 - 5 minutes. Serve.

I like to keep the crispness to my veggies, but if you like your green beans really cooked, you can boil them for 8 - 10 minutes before sauteing. Simple and delicious!