Category Archives: Thanksgiving

Carnie Wilson’s Fall to Your Knees Mac n Cheese

It’s not Thanksgiving without some homemade mac and cheese.  My grandma Doris used to make the best ever, and though we do have the recipe, it just doesn’t taste right.  She passed away on Thanksgiving Day of 2007 and is missed every single day.  I came across Carnie Wilson’s recipe for mac and cheese that’s splendid, though not as good as my grandma’s.  This recipe is very rich and creamy, a dang good alternative!  We’ve made it for a few big meals now and it always gets rave reviews!

It’s a looooong recipe, and I follow it exactly except that I substitute swiss cheese for the Gruyere.  So I will just direct you to the link that I use and show you my picture.  Enjoy!

Fall to Your Knees Mac and Cheese


Ginger Pumpkin Truffles

While trying to plan our Thanksgiving menu, I also had to plan entertainment ideas for the week for my 8 year old niece and nephew who were visiting me for the week.  I decided to knock out two birds with one stone and had them make these Ginger Pumpkin Truffles from Lindsey’s Kitchen.  My nephew wasn’t too into the project, but my niece had a blast.

Ginger Pumpkin Truffles


1 pkg Golden Oreos, crushed finely
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup pure pumpkin puree
2 pkg. semi-sweet chocolate squares
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
crushed pecans for garnish


In a large bowl, mix the crushed oreos, pumpkin, cream cheese and 1/2 tsp. ground ginger.  Once well mixed, form into small balls and place on a plate.

Cover a pan with wax paper and set aside.  You could also use a silicone mat in place of the wax paper.  Melt chocolate in a double boiler and add the cinnamon and the remaining ginger.  Mix well.  Gently dip the balls into the chocolate, coating them evenly.  Place on the pan.  Once all balls are coated, sprinkle pecans on top for garnish.  Refrigerate until hardened.  Remove from the pan, place on a pretty dish and serve.

Ginger Pumpkin Truffles









The Verdict:  This was VERY messy but they were fantastic!  They were a huge hit at our Thanksgiving dinner, though they were often referred to as “those chocolate balls.”  My tip for making this is that after you form the balls, refrigerate them for a while to harden and they will be easier to dip.  Very delicious though!

AB C-ranberry Sauce

Since I’m hosting my very first Thanksgiving at my home this year, I’ve been practicing recipes so it goes smoothly.  Since my husband loves Alton Brown on the Food Network, I decided to try out his recipe for homemade cranberry sauce (I changed a few things for convenience sake – hey I have a 1 year old!!).  If you’re not familiar with Alton Brown, you MUST watch his show Good Eats.  He’s fantastic!

Alton Brown’s Cranberry Sauce


1/4 cup orange juice (I used bottled)
1/4 cup 100% cranberry juice, NOT cocktail
1 cup honey
1 pound fresh cranberries


Wash the cranberries well, discarding any wrinkled or soft ones.  In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the orange juice, cranberry juice and honey.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the cranberries and cook for 15 minutes, or until the cranberries burst and the mixture begins to thicken.  Don’t cook for more than 15 minutes though because it will not set right.  Pour into a mold (or a bowl if you don’t have a mold!) and refrigerate at least 6 hours but preferably overnight.  Serve chilled.

Cranberries cooking!







Cranberry Sauce







The Verdict:  This is very easy to make and a nice change from the canned stuff.  My husband loved it, and in his words “this is really good, I don’t like the stuff in the can but this I can eat!”  Make it.  Eat it.  Love it.

Bacon Brussels Sprouts

I’ve been looking for a while for a good recipe for brussels sprouts.  I’ve only had them one time before tonight, and that was in a crawfish boil (which is fabulous, by the way!).  I planned to make Boeuf Bourguignon tonight for dinner and wanted something classy and “grown-up” to make as a side dish.  My husband suggested I try finding a recipe for brussels sprouts that sounded good, and this one from Emeril seemed perfect!  I made a few minor changes, so I’ll put my version and if you’re interested, you can check out his!

Bacon Brussels Sprouts


1/2 package bacon, cut into small pieces

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, cut in half lengthwise

1 package brussels sprouts, washed, trimmed and halved

1.5 tbsp butter

coarse salt and Tony’s to taste

a pinch of sugar


Note (added after the fact):  These are awesome leftover.  So honestly, I’d make them a day or two in advance THEN reheat!

In a large, deep skillet cook down bacon till crispy.  Set aside on a paper towel to drain.  Add onion and garlic to the bacon grease and cook till tender, remove and set aside.  Add the brussels sprouts, adding a few at a time until you can fit them all in without breaking them up.  Cook until they’re golden brown and getting softer.  Return the bacon pieces, onion and garlic to the pan and mix well.  Season as desired.  Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, till the brussels sprouts are just tender.

bacon brussels sprouts

Bacon Brussels Sprouts







The Verdict:  This was delicious!!  I think mine could have cooked a little longer, some of them were still a little undercooked.  But the bacon and the brussels sprouts go wonderfully together, it was a perfect side dish!  Definitely one to keep on the menu!

Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart

Like I’ve already mentioned in a post a few days ago, I’m hosting Thanksgiving at my house this year and I want to put a little spin on the ordinary.  So I’ve been on the lookout for recipes that give you a taste of something new, while still satisfying the need for traditional dishes.  I came across a recipe for Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart in the recent Food Network Magazine (by Ina Garten, November 2009, Page 174) so I decided to give it a test run.  I don’t want to have any surprises on my menu!

Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart


For the Crust:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs (14 crackers)

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 stick butter, melted

For the Filling:

1/2 cup half and half

1 can pumpkin puree (15 ounce)

1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

3 large yolks (I think I messed up and only put two!)

1 pkg (2 tsp) unflavored gelatin

1 ripe banana, mashed

1/2 tsp orange zest

1/2 cup cold heavy cream

2 tbsp white sugar

For the decoration:

1 cup cold heavy cream

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

orange zest


Preheat the oven to 350.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter in a bowl and mix well.  Pour into a tart pan with a removable bottom and press evenly along the sides then the bottom.  Bake 10 minutes and then cool completely.

For the filling, heat the half and half, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a double boiler about 5 minutes.  Whisk the egg yolks together in another bowl and add a spoon of the hot pumpkin mixture to it to slowly bring up the temperature of the eggs.  Pour the egg/pumpkin mixture back in with the rest of the pumpkin and stir well.  Heat another 4-5 minutes or till it starts to thicken.  Remove from the heat.

Dissolve the gelatin in another bowl with 1/4 cup cold water.  Add the dissolved gelatin, banana and orange zest to the pumpkin mixture and mix well.  Set aside to cool.

Whip the heavy cream with a mixer until it forms soft peaks.  Slowly add the sugar and whip until you have firm peaks.  Carefully fold into the cooled pumpkin mixture and then pour evenly into the shell.  Cool in the fridge for at least two hours, or overnight.

For the decorative touch, whip the heavy cream with the mixer until soft peaks have formed.  Add the sugar, whipping until firm peaks are formed.  Add the vanilla and orange zest and mix well.  Empty into a piping bag and pipe onto tart.  Serve chilled.

Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart 003

Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart (the whipped cream was starting to melt!)






The Verdict:  I invited James’ brother Jason and his girlfriend Michelle over to be my guinea pigs.  They both loved it, as did James and I.  Even our daughter loved it!  The crust is perfect, crunchy and sweet and the filling is similar to pumpkin pie but just has a hint of something special added in.  And don’t even get me started on the homemade whipped topping.  OMG.  Never gonna buy frozen stuff again!  This definitely won a place on our Thanksgiving menu!

Spinach and Goat Cheese Tartlets

Ok if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know I have a sick love affair with goat cheese.  Can’t.Get.Enough.  So naturally when I opened my October 2009 issue of Food Network Magazine to page 69 and spotted the recipe for these spinach and goat cheese tartlets, I was immediately scheming to make them for something.  Anything.  Had to make them!  My opportunity arose today for my father-in-law’s birthday, as mentioned in my previous post.  I decided this would be a perfect appetizer to start off the evening.

Spinach and Goat Cheese Tartlets


1 tbsp butter

3 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed

grated parmesan cheese

1 large shallot, minced

1 clove fresh garlic, minced

1 tsp all-purpose flour

1/4 cup milk

pinch of nutmeg

salt and pepper

3.5 ounces goat cheese, softened

2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

2 large eggs, separated

1 – 10 ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry


Preheat oven to 350.

Melt 1 tbsp butter.  Place phyllo sheet on a clean surface and cover the two remaining sheets with a damp towel.  Gently pat the sheet with melted butter, then sprinkle with parmesan.  Place second sheet evenly on top of the first, repeating the butter and parmesan process, then repeat again for the third sheet.  Cut into 24 squares, each 3 inches. 

Spray 24-cup mini muffin tin with cooking spray.  Place each square, buttered side down into each cup.  Bake about 10 minutes, until golden brown.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the shallot and garlic and cook until tender.  Stir in the flour, then add the milk and stir for about a minute until mixture becomes smooth.  Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper, stir well.  Add the goat cheese, lemon zest and vinegar and stir over low heat until cheese has melted.  Remove from heat and mix in the egg yolks.  Add the spinach and stir well.  Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks then fold into the spinach mixture.  Spoon very carefully into the phyllo cups and top with a sprinkle of parmesan.  Bake 15 minutes.    Be careful when removing them from the pan, they’re very fragile!  Serve warm.

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Spinach and Goat Cheese Tartlets






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The Verdict:  Well these were flat-out amazing.  AMAZING!  But let me tell you, phyllo dough is the biggest pain in the butt ever!  Ugh, there has got to be an easier way to handle that stuff!  I will probably make it again because it’s soo dang good, I could have eaten that whole tray!  But I didn’t.  But it was oh so good!

Ham in the Crockpot

This recipe is the best ham you could ever have, considering it’s out of a crockpot and sooo easy! And that says a lot because I don’t usually like ham and I REALLY don’t like cherries, but I love this! It’s compliments of Bettee Markins (sorry I don’t know your married last name!). Make sure your ham says READY TO COOK and not FULLY COOKED and make sure you buy one that will fit into your crockpot!

Ham in the Crockpot


1 butt portion ham, ready to cook, 7-8 lbs.
1 small can pineapple slices, drained
1 small jar maraschino cherries, drained
1 small bottle of honey


Spray crockpot with cooking spray. Place ham, pointy side down into the crockpot. Dump cherries, pineapple and honey on top. Cover and cook on low for 6.5 hours. Check for doneness. Ham shouldn’t need to cook more than 8 hours because it’ll dry out.

The ingredients

Ham Cooked in the Crockpot

Verdict: This ham is fabulous! When I took it out of the crockpot, I kept the juices in a separate bowl that people could spoon over their own meat. It was incredibly tender and I was told it was the best ham ever! It’s so easy you’d be crazy not to try it!