Category Archives: Thanksgiving

BLT Bites

Last month my brother-in-law and his fiancée got married.  I’m sure Michelle got lots of advice on wedding related things, but I told her my most important piece of advice is to make sure she gets a plate of food set aside for her to bring home!  I didn’t get to eat anything at my wedding reception, though I hear the food was fabulous!

Well this time I wasn’t the bride, just a bridesmaid.  So I got to eat!  There were many yummy things but there was one thing that stood out.  It was so unassuming, these little tomatoes on a platter.  I didn’t get one because I wasn’t sure what they were stuffed with and my plate was already full!  My mom got a few though and she told me to try one.  Heavenly! They taste exactly like little bite-sized BLTs, full of creamy bacon flavor.  I went back for more for myself and they were all gone :(  A few days later I went off in search of a recipe to make them and found it on Taste of Home’s website.   It was a huge hit at a jewelry party I had, I can’t wait to make them (and eat them!) again!

BLT Bites

BLT Bites
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home

1 package grape or cherry tomatoes, washed
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup green onions, chopped
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated


  • Carefully cut off the tops of the tomatoes and very carefully scoop out the insides.  Give a little thought beforehand to how you’re going to scoop them out – I used the round part on a jalapeno corer.  You don’t want to tear the outside of the tomato and you don’t want to scoop all the way through.
  • Place all the tomatoes on a plate and put the rest of the ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until finely chopped and mixed.  If the filling is too “firm” then add a little more mayonnaise and mix well.
  • Scoop into a ziploc bag fitted with an icing piping attachment (or just make a small hole in the tip of the bag) and gently squeeze the filling into the tomatoes.
  • Cover the tray and place in the refrigerator a few hours to firm up.
  • Serve cold.

Scooped-out tomatoes

Bourbon Sweet Potato Gratin

At this time of year, I’m always on the hunt for new dishes to try for Thanksgiving.  When I was at IFBC, I won a cookbook called Born to Grill and it had a recipe for Bourbon (and black walnut) Sweet Potato Gratin.  It sounded great.

I felt a little weird making a sweet potato dish because my mom always makes that.  I still wanted to try it and I’m glad I did.  The recipe called for just putting the black walnuts on top, but I tried that and it was a bit blah.  I picked them all off, chopped them well and mixed with some brown sugar, butter and bourbon to make a crumble topping.  Yum!!  My mom is still the Sweet Potato Queen in my book, so she’s still making her dish for Thanksgiving, but if you’re looking for something still pretty traditional but with a little oomph, look no further!

Bourbon Sweet Potato Gratin with boring walnut topping

Bourbon Sweet Potato Gratin
Recipe adapted from Born to Grill

3 lbs. large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
5 tbsp heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup bourbon, plus a little extra
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 tbsp unsulphured molasses
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup walnut pieces
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup butter
bourbon, to taste


Preheat oven to 375.

Boil or steam the sweet potato cubes until tender.  Mash them with a potato masher, then stir in the cream, bourbon, butter, molasses, oil and salt.  Taste for any additional seasonings needed.  Spoon into a greased casserole.

Make the topping, mix all the topping ingredients together until it is a coarse mixture.  Spoon evenly over potato mixture and bake for 20-24 minutes, until heated through and the topping has made a crust and is bubbling at the sides.

Serve hot.

Bourbon Sweet Potato Gratin with yummy crumble topping!

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

Thanksgiving is coming, it’ll be here before you know it!  The recipe swap I’ve been participating in did a Thanksgiving Sides swap and I was excited to receive a recipe for Emeril’s Twice Baked Potato Casserole.  I LOVE twice baked potatoes.

Sadly, I decided to go on a diet between the time that I received the recipe and the due date for submitting it (today).  So I kept putting off making it because it is NOT diet food.  Nothing like a little procrastination.  I finally made it last night and served with a rotisserie chicken and roasted brussels sprouts.  It was a clear winner, judging by the two MASSIVE servings my husband ate.  Guess the potatoes were a diet deal-breaker for him!  It really was good, it makes a TON though, so I broke the recipe down to half and it still made a lot.  Thanks for sharing, Nicole!  (The recipe below is my halved version, please click on the Emeril Live link for the full version.)

Twice Baked Potato Casserole
Recipe adapted from Emeril Live

4 large russet baking potatoes
4 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/4 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 block sharp white cheddar cheese (I used the Cabot brand), cut into cubes
shredded mild cheddar cheese for topping
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 egg, lightly beaten


  • Wash potatoes well and prick with a fork.  Place on a microwave-safe plate and cover with plastic wrap, leaving an open end for ventilation.  Cook in the microwave about 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. (You could bake in the oven, but I was in a time crunch!)
  • Allow the potatoes to cool enough to handle, then gently peel the skin away from the flesh, discard the skin.  Use a potato masher and mash in a bowl until it is small chunks but mostly smooth.
  • Add to the potatoes the butter, sour cream, heavy cream, salt and pepper and mix well.
  • Add in the bacon, cubed cheddar, green onions and egg and mix thoroughly.
  • Pour into a greased casserole and top with shredded cheddar cheese.  Bake at 375 until the cheese is melted and the casserole is heated through and browning at the edges.

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

Pumpkin Cookies with Browned Butter Frosting

Happy Halloween!  Not only is it Halloween today, but this is my 400th post on the blog!  I have a few posts lined up for the coming days, but wanted this one to be something really good.

I have been seeing this recipe pop up on many blogs lately and wanted to try it.  For one thing, I love all things pumpkin.  I also love browned butter.  And let me tell you, this frosting is what dreams are made of.  It was all I could do to tear myself away from the frosting bowl.  You can’t help it, your first bite makes you just sigh in delight.  My 3-year-old even loves them, and she’s picky as all get out!

Pumpkin Cookies with Browned Butter Frosting

Pumpkin Cookies with Browned Butter Frosting
Recipe from Prevention RD, originally from Betty Crocker

2/3 cup white granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Browned Butter Frosting:
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3-4 tbsp 1 % milk
1/3 cup butter


  • Preheat oven to 375.  In the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if you use a hand mixer) beat together the sugars, butter and 1 tsp vanilla, scraping occasionally.
  • Mix in pumpkin and eggs until well incorporated, then beat in the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  • Drop dough by heaping tablespoons full onto an ungreased cookie sheet (I used a silicone baking mat). Bake 10-12 minutes or until done.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  • While they are cooling, make the icing.  In a medium bowl mix together the powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla and 3 tbsp milk.  In a small saucepan, melt 1/3 cup butter over medium heat, stirring constantly until it turns a golden brown.  Pour into the powdered sugar mixture and beat on low-speed about a minute, or till smooth.  If needed, you can gradually add more of the remaining tablespoon of milk to make it creamy and spreadable.  Generously frost the cookies – I found it easiest to dip them into the icing and place back on the wire rack to let the icing harden some.

Pumpkin Cookies with Browned Butter Frosting

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread with Buttered Rum Glaze

I don’t know what I did before I discovered my great love for all things pumpkin.  It is such a versatile ingredient, able to go smoothly into dishes savory or sweet and hold its’ own.

When I saw the picture for this recipe from Sunny Side Up in San Diego, I drooled.  The bread in itself looked delicious, that it incorporated pumpkin and rum was the icing on the cake.  Or the bread.  ;)  It was a little bit labor-intensive, but it wasn’t hard.  And it was delicious so I really think it’s worth the time.

Excuse the little powdered sugar globs in my picture, I couldn’t get them mixed right.  Oh well, didn’t affect the taste!

Pumpkin Pull Apart Bread with Rum Glaze

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread with Buttered Rum Glaze
Recipe from Sunny Side up in San Diego

2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup milk
1 envelope active dry yeast
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups bread flour

1 cup white granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
2 tbsp butter

Buttered Rum Glaze:
2 tbsp butter
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp milk
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp rum (I used spiced rum – just seemed right!)


  • In a small saucepan, brown the 2 tbsp butter, letting it get a rich golden brown.  Remove pan from heat and add the milk, return it to the stove to heat through.
  • Pour the milk/butter into the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and let it cool till just warm.  Add the yeast and 1/4 cup of sugar and allow to proof – takes about 8 minutes to look cloudy.
  • Add the pumpkin, salt and 1 cup of flour, mix well.  Add the rest of the flour one cup at a time until all mixed then let the mixer knead the bread for six minutes, until smooth and elastic and slightly sticky.  If the dough is too moist, you can add more flour 1 tbsp at  a time – but I didn’t need to.
  • Move to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 60-90 minutes.  (To do this, I preheated my oven to the lowest heat setting, then turn it off before adding the dough to rise)
  • While that’s rising, brown 2 more tbsp of butter, add the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix well until it is a crumbly mixture.  Grease and flour a loaf pan and set aside.
  • When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and flip out onto a floured surface and knead for one to two minutes with your hands.  Roll out to 20×12 inches and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly all over it.  Press the sugar into the dough with the palms of your hands.  Cut the rectangle into six strips, then lay the strips on top of each other and cut them in half, then each half into thirds – you’ll have six squares.
  • Stack the strips vertically into the loaf pan, cover with the towel and allow to rise for 30-45 more minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350.
  • Bake the bread 30-40 minutes, until the top is a golden brown.
  • Prepare the glaze:  Heat the butter, milk and brown sugar in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat and stir in the rum and powdered sugar.  Spoon over bread.

Pumpkin Pull Apart Bread with Rum Glaze

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Caramel Pecan Buttercream Icing

Are you getting tired of my “its Fall!” posts yet?  I hope not, because here is another one!  And I can guarantee this won’t be my last.

Last week I was cooking dinner when my daughter spotted the pictures of cupcakes on the bag of flour.  For the next week she asked me every day if we could make cupcakes.  Finally, Saturday I gave in.  I didn’t feel like going to the store though (I cannot stand the supermarket on the weekends!) so I decided to “make do” with what we had in the house.

The end result was pretty darned good, if I do say so myself.  And if you don’t want to hear me say it, just go check with the neighbors, my future sis-in-law, or my parents.  I made the cupcakes out of a box mix (gasp!) with some extras thrown in and the icing was based on the icing used at my daughter’s third birthday party, but infused with Godiva Caramel Pecan Bark coffee I received as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker’s program.  I hope this coffee will be available in my own because I would cry if I couldn’t make these cupcakes again!

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Caramel Pecan Buttercream Icing
Recipe a Cooking With Christen original
(Inspired by this cake recipe and this buttercream recipe)

1 pkg. yellow cake mix
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup pure pumpkin puree’
1 tsp cinnamon
4 eggs
1/4 cup Godiva Caramel Pecan Bark coffee, brewed

2 sticks butter, room temperature
6 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk
3 tbsp brewed Godiva Caramel Pecan Bark Coffee
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
pinch of salt
1 tsp meringue powder (optional)


Mix all cupcake ingredients together and fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way full.  Bake according to package directions, until a toothpick inserted in a cupcake comes out clean.  Set aside on a cooling rack to cool completely before icing.


Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer (with paddle attachment – scraper if you have it) and mix on low until just mixed.  Increase the speed and mix 3-4 minutes or until light and fluffy.  Ice as desired.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Caramel Pecan Buttercream Icing

Warm Apple Buttermilk Custard Pie

Did you get the memo?  It’s officially Fall!  That means bring on the apples and pumpkins!  I love Fall baking, it makes your house smell so great!

I recently decided to participate in a recipe swap and the ingredient challenge was “Apples/Pumpkins.”  The recipe I was matched with (for lack of a better word) is Warm Apple Buttermilk Custard Pie from Adventures in my Kitchen.  Doesn’t that just sound great??  Well it was great (as several lucky taste testers can confirm) and it was actually pretty easy.  I thought it would be involved when I saw the title but it really wasn’t, and I think it would be fantastic as a dessert for Thanksgiving dinner!  You’ve got the warm spiced apples, creamy custard and a crispy crumble topping, how can you go wrong with that?  You can’t!

P.S.  I’ll add the link to the recipe roundup when I get it!

Warm Apple Buttermilk Custard Pie

Warm Apple Buttermilk Custard Pie
Slightly adapted from Adventures in my Kitchen

Apple Filling:
1/4 cup butter
2 green and 1 red apple, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the Custard:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups white granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
3/4 cup buttermilk

For the Crumble Topping:
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp butter

1 pie crust, either homemade or frozen


  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Make the filling:  Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the apples, sugar and cinnamon and cook 5 minutes, or until tender.  Set aside.
  • Make the custard:  In a stand mixer bowl, combine the butter and sugar and beat until creamy.  Add the eggs one at a time and mix until well incorporated.  Add the vanilla and 2 tbsp flour and mix well.  Pour in the buttermilk and beat until the mixture is smooth, then set aside.
  • For the crumble topping:  Combine the sugars, flour, chopped pecans and cinnamon in a bowl.  Add in the butter, mixing in with your fingers until it is coarse and crumbly.


  • Place the apples as the bottom layer in the pie crust.  Pour the custard over the apples (some may float up, just try to push them back down.  Bake 35 minutes.
  • Remove the pie, gently and carefully spoon the crumble topping over the top, making an even layer.  Return the pie to the oven for another 35 – 40 minutes.  Let stand 1 hour before serving.

Warm Apple Buttermilk Custard Pie

Boudin-Stuffed Beignets (Oreilles de Cochon)

As you saw from my last post, our Thanksgiving was Cajun-themed.  One of my favorite foods in the South is beignets.  Another is boudin.  Put them together?  Why didn’t someone think of this earlier??  I know you’re thinking “yuck, boudin is spicy meaty rice and beignets are basically donuts, how does that work??”

It works.  TRUST me.  And trust all the other people at our Thanksgiving that seriously gobbled this up.  Gobble, gobble.  It was gone.

The dough recipe makes twice what is needed for the beignets.  So you can a.)  make some rolls, or b.) make some more beignets, just doubling the filling, or c.)  cut the recipe in half.  Just do what makes you happy. 

P.S.  Oreilles de Cochon means “pig ears” which is what these look like when they are done.

Boudin-Stuffed Beignets
Recipe from:  Real Cajun:  Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link’s Louisiana

Ingredients for the beignets:
1/2 recipe dough
1 cup boudin filling, removed from casings
vegetable oil for frying
powdered sugar for dusting

Ingredients for the dough:
1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup shortening or lard
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp salt
1/2 cup boiling water
1 egg, lightly beaten
3.5 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
8 tbsp (aka 1 stick) butter, melted


For the dough:
In a small bowl, stir together the yeast and warm water, then set aside.

In the stand mixer bowl, combine the shortening, sugar, salt and boiling water, beat for 2 minutes using the paddle attachment until combined, then cool.

Use a fork to stir the beaten egg and yeast into the shortening mixture, then add 3 cups of flour.  When the mixture pulls together into a dough and you can’t do much with that fork, then lightly dust your hands with flour and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, then begin to knead.  Knead it about five minutes, until no longer sticking to the surface and has a smooth sheen.  Cover and set in a warm place to rise for 30-40 minutes, then punch down, knead another minute and let rise another 15-20 minutes.

Now for the beignets…

Roll your dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape until it is a 14-inch square.  Cut into 9 equal pieces.

One piece at a time, place the square in front of you with the point down facing you.  Place a generous tablespoon of boudin across the diamond, leaving 1/2-inch border on each side.  Roll the bottom up over the boudin, fold in the corners, then roll once more.  There will be a triangular shape left at the top, leave that alone, it’s the ear shape!  Repeat with the remaining ones. 

Heat a few inches of oil in a large deep skillet (I like cast iron) to 350 degrees.  Add the beignets, working in small batches so they don’t get crowded.  You may need to hold them down under the oil to cook evenly, or else flip them halfway through.  Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels, then serve warm topped with a powdered sugar dusting.

Boudin-Stuffed Beignets

Foodbuzz 24×24: If the Pilgrims had landed in Louisiana…(a Cajun Thanksgiving)

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because not only do I get to eat awesome food, but I get to spend the day with family.  I know many people have their baked turkey and mashed potatoes, but if the Pilgrims had landed in Louisiana, things might have gone a little differently!  This year my husband and I hosted both of our families (about 20 people) and decided to do it Cajun style!  We set the mood for a Cajun holiday with centerpieces made from moss and oyster shells and the Treme’ soundtrack playing in the background.  Treme’ is an HBO series that is shot in New Orleans, so their soundtrack is just a wonderful mix of Louisiana music.  The Saints also helped with the Louisiana-love when they won the game against the Cowboys!  Here was our menu:

Fried alligator bites with chipotle tartar sauce
Cranberry and Louisiana pecan goat cheese log
Onion and cranberry tartlets with bacon and gorgonzola
Boudin-stuffed beignets

Main Course:
(2) Fried Turkey
Honey Ham
Spinach Madeline
Sweet potato casserole with brown sugar and Louisiana pecan crumble
Oyster rice dressing
Macaroni and cheese
Eggplant and Crawfish Dressing
Cornbread dressing/stuffing
Brioche rolls
Cranberry Sauce

Tarte-a-la-bouille pie
Louisiana pecan pie
Mississippi Mud Pie
Pumpkin Pie

The Decorations

Cajun Centerpiece

Table Centerpiece
The Appetizers

Cranberry and Louisiana Pecan Goat Cheese Log

Fried Alligator Bites with Chipotle Tartar Sauce

Boudin-Stuffed Beignets

 Main Dish

Cajun-Fried Turkey

Honey Ham

The Food Table

Oyster Rice Dressing


The Dessert Table

Tart-a-la-bouille Pie


Mississippi Mud Pie

Louisiana Pecan Pie



My niece Kelsie and her boyfriend Matt

My husband visiting with his dad and grandfather

My dad helping with the carving

 Thanks for looking, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Cranberry and Onion Tart with Bacon and Gorgonzola

Holy moly, doesn’t that name just grab you??  I know it grabbed me when I saw it posted on Sing for your Supper.  I couldn’t wait to try it and thought it would be fantastic for Thanksgiving, since I’m hosting again this year.  I’m sort of anal with my Turkey Day preparations.  I want to be sure everything tastes just right and if can be prepared in advance, that’s fantastic too.  So I do trial runs of recipes.

This did not disappoint at ALL!  OMG it’s so heavenly!  The crust is buttery and a little crumbly and the flavors all meld together just like magic.  Mmmmmm….. I decided that I will try to make this in mini version with my small muffin pans and try it as an appetizer.  I’m going to make that soon and freeze it and see how well it defrosts/reheats.  Also, I used craisins because my grocery store is lame and didn’t have fresh OR frozen cranberries.  It was still good! 

Cranberry and Onion Tart with Bacon and Gorgonzola
Recipe from:  Sing for Your Supper


1 cup flour
2/3 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
pinch cayenne pepper
6 tbsp butter, cubed (cold)
1 tbsp milk

4 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
2 small-med onions, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 c. cranberries (I used craisins)
2 tbsp sugar
2 eggs
3/4 c. heavy cream
1/3 c. crumbled gorgonzola cheese


In a food processor, pulse the dry ingredients and add butter until the ingredients are about the size of small peas.  Add the milk and pulse just until the dough forms a ball, don’t overpulse it.  Press into a tart pan.  Prick crust with fork and freeze for 30 minutes.  Bake chilled crust at 375 for 15 minutes or until turning golden.

Saute’ bacon in a nonstick pan.  Drain on paper towels and pour out all but 3 tbsp of the bacon grease.  In the 3 tbsp of grease, saute the onions and cook until soft and carmelized.  Add the craisins and sugar and continue to cook for another minute or so.  If using fresh or frozen cranberries, cook until they pop open.  Season with salt and pepper and return the bacon to the pan, mix well and set aside.  In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and heavy cream until smooth, set aside.  Place the onion/bacon/cranberry mixture in the bottom of the cooked tart shell, then top with crumbled gorgonzola, then pour the egg/cream mixture over the top.  Bake at 350 until golden on top and the center is set, about 25 minutes.

Cranberry and Onion Tart with Bacon and Gorgonzola


A little slice of heaven