Archive for November, 2010

The menu of 2010 is finalized!  It’s nothing fancy, folks.  I’ve got a 3 month old baby and just went back to work and we have a small crowd, so I’m deciding to go simple this year.  And what better place to look for simple but delicious food than the Farmer’s Market?!!  A couple weeks ago we went to our beloved Carrboro Farmer’s Market to find some inspiration for our menu.  Most of what we’re eating is in season at the market now.  Many of the ingredients came from our local farmers, including our favorite hot country sausage from Brinkley Farms that will be going into the stuffing, the pecans for the pie and the pepper jelly for our appetizer.  I have a couple new recipes here, which I really do know is inadvisable for Thanksgiving but they are dishes I want to include and so we’re going to give them a try.  I think most of this is pretty basic…a few things that will all need to be done at once, but hey, that’s Thanksgiving!  The applesauce and sweet potato muffins are already done and in the freezer, I will make the pies the day before, and I will spend most of Thanksgiving day prepping all my ingredients so that everything can be thrown together quickly at the end.  Add in some nice wines and we’re good to go!

Wherever you will be, I hope your day is full of delicious food, precious friends and family, and much gratitude!

Appetizers: Pepper Jelly with Cream Cheese and Crackers, Roasted Cashews


Perfect Roast Turkey

Homemade Gravy

Sausage Stuffing with Fennel and Squash

Brown Sugar Baked Sweet Potatoes

Sauteed Kale

Roasted Applesauce

Sweet Potato Muffins (recipe follows)

Dessert: Pumpkin Marscapone Pie and Pecan Pie

Sweet Potato Muffins

½ c butter

1 ¼ c sugar

2 eggs

1 ¼ c canned sweet potatoes, mashed (can substitute yams)

1 ½ c flour

2 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 c milk

¼ c pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)

½ c raisins, chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease or line one muffin tin.

Cream the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs and mix well.  Blend in the sweet potatoes.

Sift flour with baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Add alternatively with milk.  Do not overmix!  Fold in nuts and raisins if desired.

Fill muffin tins 2/3 full and bake for 25 minutes.  Be sure muffins are fully cooked – they may brown a little around the edges but this is fine.  Makes 12 large muffins.


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The major cooking holiday is here again and this year we are taking an approach best described as ‘simple’.  Rustic is the word I’m thinking of that will dress that up the best! 😉  I’m still working on the final menu but in the mean time I thought I’d share my ‘formula’ for any of you who are also planning a Thanksgiving feast!  Since we change the menu up each year with a new theme, I drafted this formula to help me make sure I’ve ticked all the boxes that are required for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, even if the dishes themselves have a different twist each year.

Appetizers (usually 3, including something like nuts that don’t need to be cooked)



Potatoes and/or Sweet Potatoes (my husband insists on both)

Non-potato Starch (grits, mac&cheese, rice)


1 green vegetable

1 other vegetable

Cranberry or Apple chutney/sauce/garnish

Bread (rolls or muffins)

Pumpkin dessert

Other dessert

Depending on how many people we have, I may cut some of these items because it can end up being waaaaaaaay too much food for, for example, four people.  This year we have 5, possibly 6 of us, so I’m not going to be making every single one of the categories.  And I have to admit that the two desserts are pretty much always pumpkin pie and pecan pie.  I can’t really make do without either!

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Several weeks ago I was running into Williams Sonoma to buy a new spatula – mine was tasting like plastic when I licked cookie dough off it and I figured that was not a good thing – and tasted these delectable little pumpkin bites they were sampling.  They were made with a jar of pumpkin butter which I happened to have at home, having bought it on sale last winter.  Since they were so delicious, I decided this might be a good way to use up the jar and googled the recipe.  And lo and behold, if it wasn’t the EASIEST recipe I have come across in ages!

This goes in the Paula Deen/Sandra Lee-style category of cooking that uses preservative-filled food to make other kinds of food – and that is not the kind of cooking I usually do.  But I am willing to make exceptions for something that is super yummy, and these little pumpkin treats are certainly worth it!  The base of the whole recipe is a box of yellow cake mix and a jar of prepared pumpkin butter.  Mix in a few other ingredients and whammo, you’ve got a perfect fall treat!

Pumpkin butter can tend to be pricey, but the second time I made these I used an affordable jar from Trader Joe’s – though you have to use one and a third of a jar to make the recipe.  I actually just bought three jars, figuring I could make this twice and then have a little left over for toast!

Next time you need a sweet fall-flavored treat and/or want to make your house smell wonderful, give these a try.  I think you’ll love them – and it won’t take you more than 15 minutes to mix up!


Pumpkin Streusel Squares

1 (18 ounce) box yellow cake mix

1/2 cup butter, melted plus 1/4 cup butter, softened

3 eggs, divided

13 ounces pumpkin butter

3 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Reserve 1 cup of cake mix and set aside.
  3. Mix remaining cake with 1/2 cup melted butter and 1 egg. Press mixture lightly into the bottom of a 13″ x 9″ baking dish.
  4. Mix pumpkin pecan butter with remaining two eggs and milk, and pour over cake mixture in pan.
  5. Mix remaining 1 cup cake mix with flour, sugar, remaining 1/4 cup butter, and cinnamon, and crumble over the top of the pumpkin layer.
  6. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until golden.
  7. Cool to room temp and serve.

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