Thanksgiving Favorites

I always loved Thanksgiving as a child and remember grabbing the largest turkey leg off the platter before any of my cousins could claim it for themselves. Kai seems to feel the same, saying he can’t wait 2 (!!!) weeks for Thanksgiving food, namely fluffy mashed potatoes and crunchy topped green beans.

I remember the first time we cooked our own Thanksgiving meal. Mike and I lived in an apartment downtown and were vegetarian. I marveled at his ability to make sweet potatoes without a recipe and silently cursed the Tofurky.  I felt so thankful for the time spent together in the kitchen.

Each year has its own story and as I look back on past Thanksgivings, I cherish all the faces that shared this yearly tradition with us. A few are no longer with us and some now live miles away. Babies are born and children grow. Year after year we gather around the table together for this special feast, feeling thankful for all that has come before and all that is yet to come.

Read on for my favorite recipes and a few tips to make Thanksgiving as delicious as it was always meant to be.

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Wine: Lots of red. Any pinot noir from Oregon does the trick.

Appetizers: Relish tray full of pickles, olives and anything else I find. Celery, carrots or nuts round out the palate.

Turkey: Buy a fresh turkey if possible and plan 1 pound per person. I usually end up scouring the aisles for the smallest turkey available. Last year, I bought a 10 pound turkey at Whole Foods. Brine Monday or Tuesday. I like to dry brine the turkey. I find it much easier than a wet brine. No water sloshing around in my already crowded refrigerator. When it comes to baking it, grab a meat thermometer, especially the kind that stay inserted the whole time. Stress be gone!

Stuffing: I go for super easy and pick up pre-made stuffing mix and bread crumbs at our local market so that all I have to do is mix them together. To make it from scratch here is the recipe. The stove top is your friend.

Green Beans: Classic all the way. I follow the Campbell’s recipe and use frozen green beans.

Mashed Potatoes: Peeled russet potatoes boiled in salted water until fork tender. Transfer to a stand mixer and add butter, milk and sour cream and whip to creamy perfection.

Dinner Rolls: These potato rolls knocked my socks off when I tested them for Simply Recipes. Give them a try!

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Cranberry Sauce: I like to get a pre-made cranberry orange sauce fresh from our local grocer but if you want to make it from scratch, here is a link to their recipe.

Pumpkin Pie: I loved the depth of flavor of this pumpkin pie. Taking the extra step of cooking the pumpkin mixture deepens the pumpkin flavor while keeping the ease of canned pumpkin.

Pecan Pie: I need this pecan pie each and every year. Try this pecan pie and you won’t be disappointed.

Pie Crust: I use this crust from Smitten Kitchen but add 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar and process in a food processor with the dough blade. As an extra bonus, one recipe makes two crusts which is exactly what I need. Hurray!

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Whipped Cream: Stella Parks elevates the whipping cream game to a whole new level. I also love that I can make it ahead of time.

Have fun and enjoy the time spent in the kitchen with those you love.

 

 

 

Brown Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I can eat oatmeal chocolate chip cookies at any time of the year, but for me, fall feels like the perfect time. The cinnamon adds a hint of spice and the old fashioned oats add the appropriate layer for the colder season. I am starting to feel the change of the season from fall to winter. My children are talking incessantly about Christmas but I’m not quite ready to say adieu to fall.

While baking I feel grounded in the present. It helps me experience each season to the fullest. While I worked as the head baker at the Green Bean, I found that planning and testing recipes for the next season was one of my favorite parts of the job. This is why I love this space. It makes me feel fully alive.

I love this recipe! This is the first time that I have made cookies with brown butter and I assure you that it won’t be the last. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

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Brown Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie

Makes around 40 cookies

I adapted the Oatmeal Pecan recipe on the back of the Kroger old fashioned oats container for this recipe. I used a few of the techniques from the Serious Eats chocolate chip cookie recipe. If you want to understand the science behind cookies then check it out. Besides browning the butter, we also incorporate the sugar differently in this recipe. Lastly, make sure to give the dough a rest over night. Resting the dough allows the cookies to have additional flavor when the cookie is baked.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks/16 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Melt butter in a small pan on the stove on medium heat. Once melted, the butter will start to bubble and turn a little more golden. Stir butter and watch for brown bits on the bottom of the pan. The butter is beginning to brown. Continue to stir and allow the butter to continue to brown for another 30 seconds or so. We don’t want our butter to scorch though so I tend to err on the side of caution. The butter in the above picture is lightly browned and could’ve gone a little longer. Pour the butter into a small bowl and add an ice cube. This not only cools the butter down more quickly but it also adds back the liquid that was lost during the browning process. Put the bowl in the fridge and let cool for about 30 minutes. Don’t rush this part. Hot butter will curdle the eggs.

Whisk the flour, salt, cinnamon and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside. Grab another small bowl and add the oats and chocolate chips and set aside, as well.

Using the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs and granulated sugar in the bowl of the mixer. Whisk on medium for about 5 minutes. The mixture will be light in color and will fall in ribbons from the whisk. Remove the whisk and use the paddle attachment for the rest of the batter.

Add in cooled butter, vanilla and brown sugar. Mix on medium until combined, about 30 seconds.

With the mixer on low, add in your flour mixture. Mix until there are a few streaks left in the batter. Lastly, add in the oats and chocolate chips. Mix on low or use a wooden spoon until incorporated. Nice job!

Place batter along the length of a large piece of parchment paper and roll it up and twist the ends like a piece of taffy. Alternately, you could place batter in a bowl and cover. Place batter in fridge to rest.

Pull the dough out of the fridge and let it warm up. The cookies will spread easier with a dough that is closer to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 325º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. For smaller cookies, scoop cookies into 1 1/2 inch balls (about the size of a chestnut). For larger, big as your hand, cookies use a 1/4 cup scoop. Roll into balls and slightly flatten on the baking sheet. Bake until the edges are golden and stay firm when slightly touched. The center should be lighter in color from the edges but not look wet. Start checking for doneness around 10 minutes for smaller cookies. It might take 15 until they are done.

Once baked, let cool on the tray for a couple minutes and then move to a cooling rack. Success!

Orange Chia Seed Muffins with Orange Ginger Glaze

The other day I bought a baking mix (gasp!) and the side of the box said “Don’t just say it bake it” and then gave examples.  If you want to say “We’re so proud of you!” make snickerdoodle cookies. If you want to say “Thank you for all you do!” make  a hummingbird cake. Lastly, if you want to say “I love you!” a cherry dump cake would be in order. At first I was a little horrified. Is this what I do? Do I bake for my family instead of saying the words that my heart feels?

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Communication can get trickier as the boys get older. It can be hard to know what to say or when to say it. It feels like the majority of what I say in the course of the day is either correcting behavior or giving instructions. I want to be sure that words of support and praise are said in between the “please put your clothes away” interactions that happen so often. As I was putting my little one to bed last night, I said “I love you” and he said “I know”. Whew.

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As we head into the holiday season, food and gifts all get rolled into one massive expression of gratitude and love. This year I want to be sure to use the words that go along with the baking. I appreciate you. You mean so much to me. I love you. Baking really is an act of love and a tangible way to show that you are thinking about a person. There is a reason most recipes make enough for a crowd – muffins and cookies are meant to be shared.

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I thought these orange chia seed muffins would be perfect for this week. Muffins are such a great go-to for breakfast, lunch boxes and after school snacks.

Now go put away your clothes.

Orange Chia Seed Muffins

Adapted from Joy the Baker, this muffin tastes quite decadent and straddles the line between muffin and cupcake. The top is nice and crisp with a balanced orange flavor. The chia seeds are slightly nutty and give some textural interest to the muffin. I have a feeling it would be a welcome addition to any breakfast table.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Zest of one orange (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 3/4 cup sour cream (I use full fat)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Juice of 1/2 orange (about 2 tablesoons)
  • Granulated sugar for topping if desired

Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4  + 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice, plus more if needed

Directions:

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a muffin tin with baking cups or spray with cooking spray. Whisk flour, sugar, chia seeds, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, salt and orange zest in a large bowl. Set aside. Combine sour cream, butter, eggs, vanilla extract and orange juice in a small bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix with a spatula until flour mixture is just incorporated. Spoon into prepared tin and sprinkle with granulated sugar if desired. Bake for 18-20 minutes. The muffins will be golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean. Let cool in the muffin tin until cool enough to touch and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Mix glaze ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Add an extra squeeze or two of juice if the glaze is too thick to dip muffins in to coat. I like my glaze thick enough that it doesn’t drip down the sides of the muffin but thin enough to not need a spoon to spread it. Add a tablespoon of powdered sugar if the glaze is too drippy. Dip muffins in glaze and serve. The glaze will harden as it dries. Muffins are best the same day they are made but you can put a little life in them the next day by warming them in 350 degree oven for a couple minutes. Enjoy!