Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving Tidbits

My apologies for being a neglectful food blogger.  My husband and I took a long weekend last weekend to visit my undergraduate alma mater and attend a football game.  There was no cooking to be done.  And since our return, I seem to have picked up a head cold, so the only cooking going on in our house has been microwaved soup.  I hope to pick things up again after Thanksgiving--so many Christmas recipes to dream about!

Nevertheless, Thanksgiving is next week.  My husband and I will be visiting his parents in New Jersey for the holiday, so I won't be cooking.  Part of me is relieved, but a bigger part is actually sad not to be hosting.  I've made Thanksgiving dinner a couple of times in years past, and with careful planning, it's actually been pretty fun!  And being the control freak that I am, I LOVE planning menus.  But such is life!

For those of you who have not yet planned out your Thanksgiving menu in full, I thought I'd share a couple of recipes I've really enjoyed--high on flavor, low on effort.  I can't share my favorite recipe (mashed potatoes), because it's a family secret.  Well, not really--mostly I don't follow a recipe.  I cook potatoes and mash them up with butter, milk, and sour cream.  And voila, mashed potatoes.  Anticlimactic, isn't it?

Fresh Herb Stuffing from Real Simple magazine: I also sauteed some sliced mushrooms and added those to the mix when I made this. I like this recipe because you can completely control how moist your stuffing is.  I prefer mine to be soft but not soggy (all the better to cover in gravy), but I know my husband likes his much drier.  (I give him the crustier edges.)  I like this recipe because it's easy, has a traditional flavor, and it shares many of the same ingredients as other dishes, so it's low stress.  I enjoy a fancy sausage stuffing as much as the next girl, but really, if you're making dinner by yourself, why make it more complicated than it needs to be?

Cranberry and Dried Cherry Relish from Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine: Could this be any easier???  No!  And that's why it's perfect.  You can spice it up with some cinnamon and/or ginger if you'd like, but this is also good as is.  And the fact that you could make it in your sleep doesn't hurt!

Please promise me that you'll make your own gravy.  Promise?  It's really quite easy, and it seems a shame to waste the juices from the gorgeous turkey you roasted.  If you've been to scared to try it in the past, just follow these steps.  Classic Gravy from Real Simple.  If you don't have wine on hand, you can just use more broth.

Also note that if you've got a smaller group to cook for, go ahead and roast a turkey breast rather than a whole turkey.  Because you're only cooking the breast meat, it will cook faster and more evenly, and it will be the juiciest turkey you've ever had.  Trust me!  Because the breast is leaner, you'll have fewer juices in the pan for gravy, FYI.

Best of luck, everyone!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Step-by-Step Recipe: Cinnamon Apple Crepes

I woke up Saturday morning with the urge to make crepes for breakfast.  This has never happened before, as I usually have the urge to let my husband make me an English muffin and some coffee.  But I went with it.  I had seen a recipe for pumpkin spice crepes a while back, and decided those could be easily adapted.  (I might try the pumpkin version later, though.)

Believe it or not, I've never really made crepes before, despite my francophilia.  These took a little getting used to, but after a couple disasters, I got the hang of it!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Step-by-Step Recipe: Creamy Pumpkin Soup

I feel like a bad food blogger.  It's been too long, and I know it.  But in my defense, it's been a crazy week.  Last weekend was a bit of a whirlwind, and then on Monday and Tuesday, I traveled to Portland, Oregon for work.  Yes, 5,600+ miles in less than 48 hours.  And so I've been...wrecked...since then. Then yesterday I had a medical procedure that required anesthesia, so I wasn't allowed to do much in the kitchen when I got home. All I have cooked in the last week has been a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches.  Hopefully that will change today!

In other news, my dark chocolate cupcakes with pumpkin cream cheese frosting won the Halloween Bake Sale/Contest at work in a couple of categories--Most Wicked and Most Haunted; I came in second for Most Creepy, and tied for third for Best in Show.  So that's good, right?

Last weekend was Halloween, and despite the fact that I needed to wake up at 3 in the morning on Monday to make it to the airport to catch my flight, I did want to "celebrate," even if in a small way.  We only had a few trick-or-treaters (anyone want a Kit-Kat?  We have lots!), but luckily that gave me time to whip up a little something for the holiday: creamy pumpkin soup.

I've been making this recipe for years, and have shared it with several friends.  I think it could be a perfect first course at Thanksgiving dinner, but it's also perfect for a simple Sunday supper on Halloween, especially when accompanied by the perfect grilled cheese sandwich (which it was this past Sunday!).

I originally found this recipe online at, but I have made some alterations.  First, I don't make the cinnamon croutons; second, I use much much much less cream, as the soup doesn't need it.

More below the cut!