Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving is almost here.  As you may already know, it’s my favorite holiday.  I love the cooking and baking for Thanksgiving.  The smells that fill the house that day just fascinate me.  I wake up early to stuff the turkey and put in the oven and then I make a monkey bread for breakfast…ahhh the smell of cinnamon!  One of the things that I also enjoy very much is that aside from all the cooking and prepping, it seems to end as a very relaxing evening.  Unlike Christmas, you get to spend a special day with your loved ones without the expense of gifts. 

 My Thanksgiving menu is usually standard; turkey with my simple ham, mushrooms & seasoned bread stuffing, whipped mashed potato, sweet potato casserole (which is so sweet you can use it as a dessert), corn soufflĂ©, asparagus and salad.  The one thing I sometimes make changes to is what I serve for appetizers and the desserts.  I definitely include pumpkin!  It could be a pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin pie, pumpkin mousse, pumpkin flan, etc.  This year I’m keeping my appetizers simple.  I will start with the Fall Cheese Spread (recipe included in my November 2nd section) and will also serve stuffed mini portabella mushrooms (recipe attached).   A good Pinot Noir goes fabulous with these appetizers and meal.  I tried Estancia Pinot Noir recently which was wonderful and just today someone recommended the Cupcake Pinot Noir.  I will definitely serve one of the two or maybe both!

This year we will also be celebrating my brother-in-laws birthday and my amazing niece’s future.  She will complete her Bachelors in May and just got a great job offering.  That deserves a champagne toast! 

For desserts I will make everything in mini size this year.   Mini chocolate crust pumpkin cheesecakes, mini smores cakes and mini pumpkin parfaits, (recipes attached).   It will look lovely and taste absolutely delish!  Everyone will have the opportunity to try one of each or more if you have a favorite!

Enjoy the family, enjoy the holiday, enjoy a good meal.

Happy Thanksgiving…stay safe, don’t’ drink and drive!

 Stuffed Mini Bella’s
1 sml box of Green Giant frozen Cream of Spinach (thawed)
1 sml box of regular frozen spinach (thawed)
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of fresh garlic crushed
¼ cup Season bread crumbs
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
Wash mushrooms removing stems (put them to the side)
In a med. pot add olive oil and garlic sautĂ©ing for approx. 3 minutes (med heat).  Add chopped mushroom stems and simmer another 2-3 minutes.  Add both boxes of thawed spinach and simmer in medium low heat for approximately 10-12 minutes (or until liquid evaporates). 
In separate bowl, combine breads crumbs and parmesan cheese
Place mushrooms in a baking dish (spray with non-stick cooking spray)
Using a small spoon, add mixture into each mushroom cap and top with a spoonful of the dry mix (bread crumbs & cheese)
Sprinkle with extra virgin olive oil
Place in the oven at 325° for approx.  7-10 minutes

Pumpkin Mousse Parfaits
¼ cup dark rum
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin (not pie filling)
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar (packed)
2 xtra large eggs
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups cold heavy cream
8-10 Crushed graham crackers

In large bowl wisk together pumpkin, granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg yolks, and orange yest, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Mix both mixtures together.  In the electric mixer bowl whip heavy cream and vanilla until soft peaks form.  Fold whip cream into the pumpkin mix.
To assemble, spoon some crushed graham crackers into parfait glasses, add a layer of the whipped mixture, then cookies, etc. etc.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours prior to serving

Chocolate Crust Pumpkin Cheesecake
18 Oreo cookies crushed
2 Tbsp. butter melted
3 pkg. (8 0z) Cream Cheese (softened)
¼ cup of condensed milk
¾ cup sugar
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Use a 9 inch springform pan.  Mix cookie crumbs and 2 Tbsp. butter; press firmly onto bottom of pan.  Set aside
Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until well blended.  Add pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice; mix well.  Add eggs one at a time.  After each addition, blend well and pour over crust.
Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until center is almost set; cool slightly.  Run knife or spatula around rim of pan to loosen cake; and remove.
Drizzle chocolate on top

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Ahh, November already!  Have you started your holiday plans?  Have you planned your Thanksgiving dinner yet?  Maybe you're just going to entertain keeping it simple.  It's time to get started.  Below I've listed a few items you can add to the house which will instantly turn it to a warm and cozy home...ready for the Thanksgiving holiday and entertaining!

Candles, candles and more candles - adding Cinnamon or spiced pumpkin scented candles to any room is a great start
A vase with wheat sprigs and fall leaves
A harvest runner on your dining room table
Deep dark warm colors - add cushions in shades of gold, burgandy and dark green to your sofa
An assortment of real nuts; chestnuts, walnuts and almonds in a bowl on a coffee table

Another thing that adds warmth to any gathering is the food you serve.  It seems that during the holidays people tend to entertain more often.  Being the Fall freak that I am, I never get enough of the decorating or the entertaining!  There is nothing better than spending the holiday season with family and friends.  Here are a few recipes to get you started.

2 oz Cranberry Juice
1 oz Triple Sec
2 oz Citrus or plain Vodka
Fresh cranberries
Lime slices

Put all the ingredients in a shaker with a few cubes of ice.  Shake and pour in a cold martini glass.  Throw in a slice of lime and a couple of cranberries for decoration.

1 oz Cranberry Juice
2 oz Pink Grapefruit Juice
1 oz Vanilla Vodka

Pour all the ingredients in a shaker with a few cubes of ice.  Shake and pour in a cold martini glass.

1 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Cranberry Juice

Pour all the ingredients in a shaker with a few cubes of ice.  Shake and pour in a cold martini glass.

Now looking to serve simple inexpensive but delicious appetizers?  Try one of these or try them all!

Fall Cheese Spread
1 pkg. (10 oz. each)  Aged Reserve Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/4 cup  honey
1/4 cup chopped Walnuts
1/4 cup  dried cranberries
1 green apple, sliced
Place cheese on cheeseboard, mix nuts and berries and place mixture on cheese.  Drizzle with honey.  Slice apple and place around cheese.

Olives anyone?
Purchase squash from your supermarket (butternut squash or acorns)
Cut top of squash making a "bowl"
Scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh
Wash & dry well
Slice a thin piece off the bottom so they sit flat
Place on a tray and fill with olives
Asparagus Rolls
1 lb. Asparagus (approx. 19 stalks) trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch of salt & pepper
6 - 8 paper thin slices of prosciutto halved lengthwise
Preheat over to 400 degrees F
Cut the dry ends of the asparagus ends and place in bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and toss.  Wrap each stalk with half a slice of prosciutto.  Line in pan and roast asparagus (approx. 15 minutes) until tender.  Remove, cool and serve.
Well, these are just a few appetizers that are sure to make your holiday getty a hit!  Try them and let me know if you agree that they are just DELICIOSO!