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Friday, November 27, 2015

Our Favorite Traditional Thanksgiving Leftover

Is there anything better than Thanksgiving leftovers? For us the next best thing to the feast itself is the turkey sandwich! I love to slather slices of homemade bread with house-made mayonnaise. Then I layer my favorite post Thanksgiving sandwich with turkey, warm stuffing, maple cranberry sauce and arugula leaves. We savor every delicious bite!

What's your favorite Thanksgiving leftover? For a chance to win a copy of one of my cookbooks, Tasting the Seasons or This Book Cooks, send me an email with your favorite leftover. Taste-testers will select the wining leftover combination.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Our Best Turkey Recipe


Many years ago, Nick found an abandoned cookbook in an old parking garage. A quick flip through landed him on a page with a recipe for Mary Louise’s Turkey. The recipe was an unusual way to prepare a turkey, it used a rub and then the bird was covered with cheesecloth and olive oil and you let it sit overnight refrigerated. Intrigued, he tossed the spiral bound book into the car. After closer inspection he decided this was the recipe he wanted to use for our first Thanksgiving dinner together.

We were thrilled with the results, the skin was so crispy and the meat so moist and flavorful. It’s been a Thanksgiving tradition ever since!

There aren’t any measurements for the rub seasoning because you need more or less depending on the size of the turkey. Have no fear, you really can't go wrong, we've had all sorts of different size birds and every one has turned out beautifully.

Prepare the bird the day before you plan to cook it.


Olive oil
Worcestershire sauce
Dry mustard
Apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper

1 onion, cut in half
2 stalks of celery, cut in half
A few sprigs of parsley
2 slices of uncooked bacon
1 stick butter, cut into chunks
Olive oil
2 cups chicken broth

  1. In a medium bowl, combine olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard and a little bit of apple cider vinegar. (The consistency should be like prepared mustard.) Season the mixture well with salt and pepper.
  2. Rub the inside and outside of the turkey with the olive oil/Worcestershire mixture. (If you run out of the mixture; make another batch.)
  3. Place the onion, celery and parsley sprigs inside the turkey. Lay 1 slice of bacon across each breast of the turkey.
  4. In the little crevice between the drumstick and the body of the turkey, place chunks of butter.
  5. In a medium bowl, soak the cheesecloth in the olive oil. Cover the turkey with the olive oil soaked cheesecloth. Transfer turkey to a roasting pan to accommodate. Cover and refrigerate the turkey until the following day.
  6. Preheat the oven to 300°.
  7. Add chicken broth to the bottom of roasting pan. Cook turkey uncovered according to the recommendations below. (Baste the turkey only once during the course of cooking.) 
  8. Allow the turkey to stand for about 30 minutes before removing the cheesecloth. To remove the cheesecloth, use scissors to cut it. Carefully remove the cheesecloth making certain you don’t pull the skin off. 
COOKING TIMES -- Cooking times very depending on your oven.

7-10 pounds, 30 minutes per pound
10-15 pounds, 20 minutes per pound
15-18 pounds, 18 minutes per pound
18-20 pounds, 15 minutes per pound
20-23 pounds, 13 minutes per pound

Friday, November 13, 2015

12 of the Best Planning Tips for Easy Thanksgiving Entertaining

We've been hosting Thanksgiving for more than two decades and over the years I've learned a lot about how to pre-plan, how to get everything hot and on the table at once and most importantly how to simplify this special occasion that can sometimes get complicated. It's helpful to map out the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

Planning definitely has its perks and with the holiday right around the corner, now is the time to make your to do list! Here are some helpful tips to make this special occasion easier.

The Best Planning Tips for Easy Thanksgiving Entertaining

  • Sweep the "refrigerator slate" clean, so you have enough room for all the food that needs to be refrigerated before and after Thanksgiving.
  • Declutter the kitchen counters, it frees up room for preparing food. 
  • Thanksgiving is a big meal, so I like to serve light appetizers. Popcorn, hummus, salsa, and fresh vegetables are good choices if you want to go light and they all can be prepared in advance.
  • Keep the beverage selection simple. Red and white wine, apple cider, sparkling water, and a festive mixed drink is all you really need.
  • After I've planned the menu and made my grocery lists, I set the dining room table. It gets me in the spirit and it's something that can easily be accomplished ahead of time. When you do this, set aside all the serving vessels and utensils you will need. In addition to the dining room table, if you're serving the dinner from a buffet table, set this one as well.
  • Shop early for all the items you need that aren't perishable including beverages. When it gets closer to the day, pick up all your perishable items.
  • Many items can successfully be prepared in advance -- actually many are much better when they've had time to mingle with other ingredients. Cranberry sauce, chutney, mashed potatoes, the bread for the stuffing and some vegetable side dishes can be prepared a few days prior to Thanksgiving.
  • For optimum heating results, allow side dishes to come to come to temperature.
  • Turkey is meant to sit before carving, while the turkey or other meat is resting, warm prepared casserole dishes and vegetables in the still-hot oven. A great tip is to put each side you're heating into uniform casserole dishes, I can fit four 3-quart Pyrex dishes in my oven at once, the rest gets heated on the stove top. While the stove top and oven are at work heating the rest of the dinner, it's time to carve the turkey or other meat.
  • Place dinner plates on the warming element on the stove or in a warm place; the top of a radiator works great.
  • A 350° oven temperature is an appropriate common ground when cooking a lot of dishes in the oven at the same time.
  • Once you've pulled everything out of the oven and you are ready to serve dinner, place the rolls/biscuits in the oven. They typically only take a few minutes to warm. They're usually finished just when everyone has filled their plates. Place in a basket and pass them once everyone is seated.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Guide to a Well-Stocked Pantry

This time of year, I take an inventory of my pantry. It's a good time to do this because it's my busy season with catering and the holidays and with the snowy months upon us when we might get stuck inside (love when snow keeps us hunkered in!) it's helpful to have the basics stocked. Also, a well-stocked pantry makes menu planning easier, satisfying and fun. Here is a list I complied from the contents of what's generally in my pantry -- definitely not everything! This is just a guide, your pantry is your very own resource for the foods that you depend on to make great tasting meals, so be sure to stock your kitchen pantry based on the items you frequently use. 

A variety of flour, all-purpose, wheat, corn flour
White sugar
Brown sugar
Confectioner’s sugar
Cocoa powder
Baking powder
Baking soda
Pure vanilla extract

Olive oil
Neutral oil
Sesame oil
Rice vinegar
Apple cider vinegar
Red wine vinegar
Balsamic vinegar
Cooking sherry
White wine
Red wine
Dijon mustard
Maple syrup
Tamari or soy sauce
Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco sauce
Chicken broth
Jams and preserves

A variety of canned tomatoes – chopped, whole, paste and sauce
A variety of canned beans
Canned tuna
Coconut milk
Chicken, vegetable and beef broth

A variety of rice
A variety of pasta
A variety of grains

A variety of crackers
A variety of nuts and seeds
Vegetable bouillon cubes
A variety of dried fruits

A variety of salts
Black pepper, ground and whole
Dried mustard
Granulated garlic
Red pepper flakes
Cayenne pepper
Celery seeds
Chili powder
Curry powder
Cumin, ground
Ground coriander

Cinnamon (ground & whole sticks)
Cloves (ground & whole)
Ground allspice
Ground cardamon
Ground ginger
Ground mace
Ground nutmeg

Friday, October 30, 2015

Watch Out, It's That Time of Year Again, Pumpkins, Witches, And Jack O'Lanterns!

It's that time of year again, skeletons, witches, goblins and ghouls! You better anchor your pumpkins and gourds to your front porch, lest they become a victim to Mischief Night. Youngsters and wily teens who still want to participate in the great candy collection that is Halloween typically use Mischief Night - the scariest night of the year - as the time to play their pranks! There are always a few that do the harmless ding-dong ditch. Have fun, be safe, and Happy Halloween!