Category Archives: Holidays – Thanksgiving

Kentucky Bourbon Balls

 

 

Believe it or not, I learned most about stereotypes long before I moved to New Jersey (surprising, I know!). 

As a native Ohioan, or more suitably I should say Cincinnatian, we have a serious love-hate relationship with Kentucky.  Depending on the situation, we will either turn up our nose and clearly make known, with all of our stereotypical glory, that the Ohio River creates a solid state line separating modern civilization with that other state.  Followed by some type of joke about cousins marrying cousins.

And then in other cases we’ll proudly proclaim that it is our sister state, our comrade, our next door neighbor that produces arugably the world’s best whiskey, hosts infamous horse races, and is home to the cowboy hat wearing, gun-slinging Mr. Raylan Givens (for all you Justified fans). 

In this case I think it goes without saying that Kentucky would be our friend.  Our close friend.  Dear friend.  Our great Makers Mark-producing, Knob Creek-making, cousin kissing friend!

In honor of the Kentucky Derby coming up I wanted to share these, but they are a really delicious treat for any type of party.  Make them ahead of time and store them in an airtight container for up to two weeks, sometimes I add coconut, sometimes I dip them in an extra layer of chocolate, and sometimes I just nibble on them with a glass of red wine.  Truly an easy and succulent treat.

Kentucky Bourbon Balls

Adapted from Williams Sonoma Cookies Cookbook

Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies

  • 1 box Vanilla Wafers, crushed
  • 6 oz dark, or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup Kentucky Bourbon (or can substitute other bourbon)
  • 2 cups toasted pecans, finely chopped
  • pinch of salt

Begin by crushing the vanilla wafers in a food processor (or by placing them in a large plastic bag and crushing them with the back of a spatula or rolling pin).

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave for 30 minute increments, stirring in between.  Remove the chocolate from the heat and add brown sugar, corn syrup, bourbon and salt.  Next, stir in the vanilla wafers and half of the pecans.

Measure out 1 tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball.  Roll the ball in the remaining half of pecans.  Refrigerate the cookies for at least one day prior to serving to allow flavors to merge.  

 

 

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Filed under All Posts, Great for a barbeque, Happy hour anyone?, Holidays - 4th of July, Holidays - Christmas, Holidays - Easter, Holidays - Thanksgiving, Ohio, Recipes, Sweet Treats

Roasted Asparagus and Arugula Salad with Candied Pecans and Bleu Cheese Crumbles

Give me a handful of asparagus and I will give you two million different ways to eat it.  Or more.  You all know how I feel about the sleek veggie (see: Feta, Walnut, Sundried Tomato Asparagus) — I could simply eat it every day.  And because asparagus season is upon us, I am literally eating it every single day.  In every kind of way.

But this little number?  Brace yourself, because I’m not sure there is even a word to describe it.  Delicious just doesn’t cut it…

Roasted Asparagus and Arugula Salad with Candied Pecans and Bleu Cheese Crumbles

(The candied pecans are really what make this recipe stand out, so if you’re going to skip a step – don’t skip candying the pecans — it just takes 5 minutes!)

  • Roasted Asparagus (recipe below)
  • Candied Pecans (recipe below)
  • about 2 cups loosely packed arugula
  • 1 ½ cup blue cheese crumbles
  • Balsamic vinaigrette (or olive oil and balsamic vinegar)

Roasted Asparagus

  • 3 bundles thin asparagus
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

(I used the very thin asparagus, but if you use the more average size you will need to cook the asparagus for about 10-15 minutes longer)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Chop ends off of asparagus and lay out on a baking sheet.  Drizzle olive oil over to coat completely, season with salt and pepper. Roast Asparagus for about 8-10 minutes ( again, you’ll have to cook them longer if you have the larger asparagus).  Remove from oven, cool and then cut in half for the salad.

Candied Pecans

  • 1 cup roughly chopped pecans
  • 4 tbs sugar

The candying process with the sugar only takes a few minutes and happens fast, so you want everything set up and ready to go ahead of time.  Line a baking tray with wax paper (or a silpat mat) and set aside and have your cup of pecans waiting nearby.

In a small, heavy bottomed sauce pan heat the sugar on medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the sugar dissolves and reaches a golden amber color.  Add the pecans and quickly stir to coat and then transfer to the lined tray.  Spread the nuts out (I like to keep some of them in clumps, but you can spread them out thinner if you’d like) let cool.

Once your nuts are cool, assemble all of the ingredients in the salad and lightly drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette or just a good olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

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Filed under All Posts, Healthy Options, Holidays - Christmas, Holidays - Easter, Holidays - Thanksgiving, Recipes, Scrumpdidily Salads, Seasonal - Spring, Vegetables

Maple Pumpkin Butter

We’re back in the saddle with our monthly Really Healthy recipes over at The Magazine of Yoga and this month is the perfect way to throw a little balance into your turkey-filled Thanksgiving week.  A nice twist on your classic pumpkin butter.  No heat necessary — just mix in creamy greek yogurt for a festive and healthy spread!  Check out The Magazine of Yoga for the complete recipe.

Wishing you all a wonderful and delicious Turkey Day!

 

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Filed under All Posts, Appetizers and the likes, Breakfast; the most important meal of the day, Fruity Flavors, Healthy Options, Holidays - Thanksgiving, Recipes, Seasonal - Fall, Sweet Treats

Asiago and Sage Potatoes Au Gratin

In case you didn’t get the memo Christmas is less than 20 days away.  As in, I’ve got only 19 days left to procrastinate.  I keep telling myself that one of these years I’ll get my shopping done before the mad rush begins, but me and Time have always had a rocky relationship. 

Just when I think we’re moving forward in the right direction, I find out I’m being two-timed for some over-achieving broad. 

Hmmt!  Two can play at this game…

Make ahead Christmas dinner ideas, anyone?  Oh, what’s that you say — make ahead and delicious?  Coming right up 😉

You can make this a day in advance and will keep great. 

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup shredded Asiago cheese (1/2 c + 1/2 c plus additional for topping)
  • 2 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 4-5 baking potatoes, peeled and (sliced 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick)
  • 12-15 sage leaves, chopped roughly
  • Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine heavy cream, ½ cup of Asiago cheese, garlic, nutmeg, pepper and salt (a generous amount of salt – about a tablespoon) in large sauce pan and simmer for about 10 minutes until the cream mixture begins to slightly thicken.

Arrange a third of the potatoes in a 8×8 baking dish sprinkle with a third of the cream sauce, a third of the sage leaves and a third of the cheese. Repeat three times, ending with a layer of the potatoes and sauce.

Bake for 1 – 11/4 hours or until potatoes have softened. Remove from oven and top with additional cheese and broil for about 5-10 minutes or until the top turns a nice golden brown color.  Let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

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Holiday Spiced Pecans

We’re starting off the Thanksgiving week on the right foot with this next little number.  Spice, spice, spice!  If the holiday season had a flavor, this would be it.  I make these every year for Thanksgiving,  just to have something to snack on — you know, in between snacks — and each time they go into the oven I fall in love all over again.   If only you could have smelled the heavenly aroma’s filling my kitchen this weekend, oh me.

Spiced Pecans

  • 1 egg white + 1 tbsp water
  • 3 cups pecans
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of cayenne

Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with foil.  In a large bowl beat the egg white and water together with a fork and add the pecans, and all spices.  Toss to moisten pecans completely.  Spread pecans on the baking sheet and bake for about 25-30 minutes stirring frequently throughout the baking time (important to prevent burning and even cooking).  Remove from oven, cool and serve.

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Filed under All Posts, Appetizers and the likes, Holidays - Thanksgiving, Recipes, Seasonal - Fall, Sweet Treats

Sweet Potato Gnocchi, Maple Brown Butter and Bacon

 A little sweet, a little salty and all around scrumptious, this dish was the perfect remedy to get me through the mid-week, time-changing, coat-wearing-weather blues.  Taking only minutes to cook, I make these delightful little dumplings often — usually with county ham & peas and a quick parmesan cream sauce — however, the delicate flavors of sweet potato and pure sweet maple beautifully captured the essence of this splendid fall season!

Gnocchi is not difficult to make and depending on your choice of sauce and accompaniments, it doesn’t take too long either.  Instead of rolling out your dough and cutting each dumpling, you can save time by placing the prepared dough into a pastry bag and squeeze directly into the boiling water, as pictured below. 

This is great when served as a starter or an accompanying side to the main course.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious.com

  • 1 1/4 pounds russet (baking potatoes)
  • 1 (3/4-pound) sweet potato
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus more for serving
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup sage leaves (from 1 bunch)
  • 3-4 slices of bacon
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons maple

For gnocchi:
Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle.

Pierce potatoes with a fork, then bake until tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Cool potatoes slightly, then peel and force through mill and onto sheet pan, spreading in an even layer. Cool potatoes completely  

Beat together egg, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Gather potatoes into a mound in sheet pan, using a pastry scraper if you have one, and form a well in center. Pour egg mixture into well, then knead into potatoes. Knead in cheese and 1 ½ to 2 cups flour, then knead, adding more flour as necessary, until mixture forms a smooth but slightly sticky dough.  Place dough in a pastry bag and cut the tip to about ½ inch thick. Set aside and made the sauce and bacon.

*To test the flavor and texture of the gnocchi, take a small portion of the dough with floured hands, form into a ball, and blanch in boiling salted water. When it floats, remove, taste, and adjust seasoning and flour.

Fry bacon:
Fry bacon until crisp and transfer to paper towels to drain. Set aside

Make sauce:
Add butter to skillet and melt over medium heat. When the butter has melted add the sage leaves. Continue to cook, swirling the butter occasionally, until the foam subsides and the milk solids begin to brown. Remove the pan from the heat and add the maple syrup (The mixture will bubble up). Season with salt and pepper.

Cook gnocchi:
Boil a large pot of salted water.  Hold the pastry bag over the water and with a pairing knife cut off 1 inch sections of dough while squeezing into the water (as pictured below).  Continue to work through half of the bag.  Cook until they float to surface and become tender, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to skillet with butter sauce. Cook remaining gnocchi in same manner, transferring to skillet as cooked.

Saute gnocchi in skillet over medium heat, stirring to coat in the sauce.

Serve sprinkled with sage and bacon.

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Roasted Carrots & Parsnips w/ Toasted Pine Nuts and Goat Cheese

Roasting a carrot is what differentiates a good carrot from a great carrot.  Wait a minute, who am I kidding?  What I’m really trying to say is roasting a carrot is what distinguishes ill-mannered acts of neglect and crunchy aversions from an overwhelming amount of carrot lovin’ affection.  There’s really nothing else on earth like the magical transformation that takes place behind those closed oven doors.  Natural caramelized goodness!  (Yes people, I’m talking about carrots here.)

  • 8 carrots, peeled
  • 2 parsnips, peeled
  • 4 garlic cloves, whole and peeled
  • 1 small goat cheese log
  • about 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • chopped parsley, optional for garnish

Preheat oven to 400F.  Chop carrots and parsnips into same size one-inch pieces.  Place carrots, parsnips and garlic on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil to coat, and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes (flipping once halfway through) or until carrots become a nice golden brown.

Remove from oven and cool slightly before adding pine nuts and goat cheese crumbles.  In the meantime, spread the pine nuts out onto a baking pan and place in oven for a few minutes to toast. 

Add toasted pine nuts and goat cheese, toss with parsley and serve.

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