Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Apple Dumplings

Apple Dumplings

Apple Dumplings

As I mentioned in my last post, we are hosting Thanksgiving this year and working hard at menu planning.  One interesting fact about Thanksgiving with Marc’s family is that it is mandatory that there are nearly as many desserts as there are adults joining us for the meal.  Marc’s mother is a great baker and his sister is a trained pastry chef so you can imagine how high the dessert bar is set.  So in addition to the obligatory pumpkin pie, we have a whole bunch of great desserts planned, including this one.

Fresh Apples

Fresh Apples

Of course, many people go the apple pie route.  It’s a great choice and a Thanksgiving classic.  We love apple pie around these parts which is one of the reasons why this recipe is a family favorite.  It has all the flavors of apple pie – the flaky pastry, the apple, and the sweet cinnamon-infused sauce – but in a neat little individual package.  Because the apples are whole you save time chopping and you only have one crust to manage (which makes life just that much easier).

Apples waiting for their wrapping

Apples waiting for their wrapping

This recipe is the one that my mother-in-law has been making for years.  It is delicious as is so we really didn’t make many changes.  If you like, you could increase the spices a little bit, maybe adding a dash of cloves for a little spicy flavor.  But really, this recipe is as good as it gets, just the way it is.  Make sure to have some vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream on hand for serving.  After all, it is Thanksgiving.

Pouring the sauce

Pouring the sauce

Apple Dumplings

Recipe from Charlene Marino

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups sugar, plus additional for sprinkling if desired

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 tbls butter, plus more for dotting the apples

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

2/3 cup lard (or shortening)

1/2 cup milk

6 medium apples, peeled and cored

To Make:

First, make a simple syrup by combining the sugar, water, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium sauce pan.  Set the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  Remove the syrup from heat and add 3 tbls of butter and the vanilla.  Stir until combined and set aside.

To make the pastry, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut in the lard until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add milk all at once and stir until flour is just moistened.  Turn the pastry out onto a lightly floured surface and roll dough into a 12×18 inch rectangle.  Cut the pastry into 6, 6-inch squares.

To assemble the dumplings start by placing an apple on each dough square.  Sprinkle apples generously with sugar, cinnamon, and freshly ground nutmeg and dot with butter.  Moisten edges of pastry, bring corners to the center of the apple, and pinch the edges together.

Place the wrapped apples about 1 inch apart in an ungreased baking pan.  Pour syrup over dumplings and sprinkle with more cinnamon and sugar if desired.  Bake in a 375 degree oven until the apples are tender, about 35 minutes.

To Serve:

Serve warm with fresh whipped cream or ice cream.  Serves six.  Recipe can be doubled.  Also, if you want your dumplings really saucy, feel free to double the syrup.

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Filed under Baked goods, Dessert, Fruit, Recipes

Honey-Glazed Beans

Honey-Glazed Beans

Honey-Glazed Beans

T-minus 12 days and counting until Thanksgiving.  We are hosting this year for the first time ever.  It is exciting but also a little nerve wracking.  Even with all the cooking we do, the idea of putting a big spread together and serving everything perfectly cooked and timed is somewhat overwhelming.  To help ease the stress, we try to plan a meal that has lots forgiving dishes.  Those that take very little minding while they are cooking and that provide a lot of flexibility for serving.

Dried Pinot Beans

Dried Pinot Beans

These beans meet both of those criteria, with the additional benefit of offering a unique twist on classic baked beans.  The honey flavor comes through loud and clear in this dish, making it immediately obvious that you are dealing with something just a little bit different.  Like all good bean dishes, these cook long and slow and need very little help from the chef.

Honey and Maple Syrup

Honey and Maple Syrup

The beans cook in a honey-flavored broth with onion and a smoked ham hock (or bacon) until they are tender.  Then the beans are removed, the ham hock is chopped, and the broth is reduced until it is thick and syrupy.  Everything is tossed together and can sit, gently warming, on the stove until the rest of dinner is ready.  It’s the perfect recipe for a busy Thanksgiving meal.

Chopped Smoked Ham Hock

Chopped Smoked Ham Hock

Honey-Glazed Beans

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

1 pound dried pinto beans

2 medium onions, diced

1 smoked ham hock (or 8 ounces bacon, diced)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

2 tbls ground ginger

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

To Make:

Rinse the beans.  Combine them with 10 cups of water in a large, oven-proof pot.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until beans are almost tender, about 45 minutes.

Drain the beans and reserve the cooking liquid.  Place the bean along with the onion, garlic, and ham hock (or bacon) back in the pot.  Stir the honey, syrup, ginger, mustard, salt, and pepper into the cooking liquid.  Pour the liquid over the beans, cover, and place in a 300 degree F oven.  Cook until the beans are fully tender, about 2.5 hours.  If cooking with a ham hock, remove the skin and bone and chop the meat.

At this point, you could separate the liquid from the solids refrigerate them both overnight.  About 30 minutes before you are ready to serve, boil the liquid over medium-high heat until it is reduced by about 2/3.  Once the broth is thickened, fold the beans, onion, and ham hock (or bacon) into the liquid.  Keep warm on the stove top until ready to serve.

To Serve:

Serve warm.  Makes 8 servings.

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Filed under Beans, Dairy-free, Dinner, Gluten-Free, Recipes, Side Dish

Bacon and Apple Stuffed Squash

Bacon and Apple Stuffed Squash

Bacon and Apple Stuffed Squash

Well hello there, how have you been?  I am not sure what happened but I must have blinked because October is almost over and we haven’t done any blogging.  Yikes.  Luckily, it is fall and we just got our first Winter CSA distribution so there is plenty of inspiration to go around.  The winter CSA is lots of fun because the distributions are over flowing with tons of vegetables, apples, dried beans, and other goodies.  With that big box of yum, we were quickly inspired to make this delicious (almost vegetarian) butternut squash stuffed with flavors of fall.

Apples and Bacon (home cured)

Apples and Bacon (home cured)

The squash is roasted with butter and maple syrup and then filled with a stuffing made from leeks, apples, bacon, brown rice, and more maple syrup.  The stuffing nicely balances the sweet with the savory and makes for a light but filling main dish.  The recipe calls for butternut squash but you could easily substitute acorn or another hard shelled squash if that is what you had on hand.

Chopped Leek

Chopped Leek

This dish requires a few steps to make but it can almost all be done ahead of time.  It makes a great Thanksgiving option because you can prep it all a day or two in advance and then heat it up right before serving.

Ready for Roasting

Ready for Roasting

Bacon and Apple Stuffed Squash

Ingredients:

2 medium butternut squash

1 tbls butter

3 tbls real maple syrup, divided

2.5 ounces thick cut bacon

1 leek, white and light green parts only, cleaned and finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 small apples, peeled, cored, and finely diced

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 cup cooked brown rice

To Make:

Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  Arrange the squash in a roasting pan, cut side up.  Divide the butter and 1 tbls of the syrup between the four cavities.  Fill the pan with about an inch of water, cover with foil, and roast at 375 until mostly tender, about 40 minutes.  Remove the foil, rub the butter and syrup from the cavity all over the squash and cook for another 10-15 minutes until it starts to caramelize around the edges.

Meanwhile chop the bacon and cook in a heavy skillet over medium heat until browned and crisp.  Remove the bacon and set aside to drain on paper towels.  Drain off all but about 1 tbls of the bacon fat from the pan.  Add the leeks and garlic and sauté until the leeks are softened, about 10 minutes.  Add the apples to the pan and sauté until they are soft, another 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the cooked rice and 2 tbls of maple syrup to bind it all together.  At this point, you can refrigerate both the squash and the stuffing, tightly wrapped in separate containers, until you are ready to serve.
Mound the stuffing into the cavity of the squash halves and bake in a 375 degree oven until warmed through, 10-20 minutes, depending on how cold everything was.
To Serve:
Serve hot as a main dish or as a hefty side.  Make it vegetarian by omitting the bacon and using olive oil or butter instead of bacon fat for sauteing the filling.  Serves 4.

 

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Filed under Dinner, Fruit, Recipes, Rice, Vegetables

Carrot Pudding

Carrot Pudding

From the first year that my husband and I met, I have gone to Thanksgiving dinner at his house.  His mother is an excellent cook and between her, his grandmother, and his sister (a trained pastry chef), they put on a pretty mean spread… with enough food for 20 people.  My family lives further away and since the traffic around Thanksgiving is usually pretty awful, we have historically taken the easy route and headed to dinner a few towns over. 

Cooking carrots

This year, we are switching things up.  Marc’s parents are headed to North Carolina to spend Thanksgiving with his sister.  That means that we are packing up the girls and the car and making the six hour drive to upstate NY where my mom lives.  I am pretty excited because it means that we will get to have a big ol’ dinner with my family (all 7 of us) and because it will be our chance to do some Thanksgiving cooking.  Marc and my mom have struck a deal… if she watches the girls, he will cook the whole meal.  I think that both parties are pretty excited.

Pudding all mixed

In honor of this momentous occasion, we have been tossing around different menu options and trying out new recipes.  This recipe for carrot pudding is an unusal, and delicious, way to cook carrots.  The original recipe was more savory but we modified it to make a dish that is elegant in presentation and sweet enough for dessert.  Not only is this recipe unique, it is simple to put together and can be done ahead of time to help spare the overworked Thanksgiving cook.

Ready for the oven

Carrot Pudding* 

Adapted from The Thanksgiving Table (2001 edition)

Ingredients

5 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup milk

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

To Make:

Place the carrots in a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover by 1 inch.  Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat until carrots are simmering, and cook until they can easily be pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes.  Drain and cool slightly.  Puree the carrots with the lemon juice.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Coat a 2-quart baking dish with 1 tbls of the butter and set aside.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine the remaining butter, sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Beat until smooth.  Add the carrots and beat until well blended.  Add the milk and eggs and mix until smooth.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish.

Bake, uncovered, until the pudding is puffed and lightly browned and the center is firm to the touch, about 50-60 minutes.

To Serve:

Serve immediately with a dollop of softly whipped fresh cream.  Serves 4-6 as a side dish.

* To make this dish more savory: increase the salt to 1 tsp, add 1/4 tsp ground black pepper and 2 tbls grated yellow onion.

You can cook and puree the carrots up to two days in advance.  Cover and refrigerate, then bring to room temperature before making the pudding.  The whole pudding can be assembled several hours in advance.  Cover and refrigerate, then remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before baking.

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Filed under Dessert, Pudding, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegetables, Vegetarian