Category Archives: Thanksgiving Sides

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

I have a love/hate relationship with fall. Fall colors are beautiful; I love the smell of a crisp fall day (which is really not the same in Colorado as it is in Michigan), I love fall foods like roasted vegetables and chicken. What I do not love is the end of the summer; which marks the end of camping, biking, and patio eating and drinking.  I love eating outside, and drinking outside, and everything that you can’t do in the winter. Fine- winter in Colorado is still pretty badass, but I’m going to miss the summer.

Here is one thing I love about fall, fall flavored treats, specifically pumpkin.  I love everything from pumpkin pie to pumpkin cheesecake and everything in between. I love the savory side of pumpkin too, but my true love comes from the spices you normally associate with pumpkin: cinnamon and nutmeg.

My love for cinnamon is almost as deep as my love for soup. I keep two different kinds of cinnamon in my kitchen. That’s right, I have two kinds- don’t act surprised.

My favorite place to shop for spices is Savory Spice here in Denver. Their spices are freshly ground in the shop on a weekly basis and they have a fantastic selection. My absolute favorite kind of cinnamon (the kind I used in this recipe) comes from this shop.  It is Vietnamese Saigon cassia cinnamon.  If you imagine walking into a room where someone has just baked cinnamon rolls- this is exactly what this cinnamon smells like. I still remember the first time I smelled it, it was so pungent and intoxicating; my mind was reeling with recipes I could make with this delicious spice.

“True” cinnamon comes from bark, which comes from the cinnamon tree. True cinnamon is called Ceylon cinnamon (because it’s native of Ceylon, Sri Lanka).  In the United States what we known as cinnamon is actually the bark of the Cassia tree, which is native to both China and Saigon and a few other select regions.  The cinnamon that is in Chinese five spice is Cassia cinnamon, whereas the cinnamon that is commonly used in Mexican hot cocoa (and many Mexican dishes) is Ceylon.  For me, the main distinction is the pungency and the sweetness. I find Ceylon to taste more muted and with a slightly spicy undertone; whereas cassia has an intense “cinnamon” flavor and is spicy and almost sweet.  They both have their place in my kitchen, but Vietnamese Saigon Cassia Cinnamon is my go to baking cinnamon (and also one of my go to housewarming gifts).

About the nutmeg- for the love of all that is delicious just use fresh ground. Whole nutmeg isn’t expensive and the flavor is far superior to pre-ground.

On to the recipe (finally), pumpkin bread pudding.  This bread pudding is FANTASTIC. It has a bit of crunch, a lot of fall flavor, and a little sweetness from the caramel topping.

Ingredients:

2 packages of Kings Hawiian rolls*, cut into cubes and toasted

2 cups ½ and ½

1 cup dark brown sugar

2 cups pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling)

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

2 eggs

1 yolk

Pinch of salt

Caramel topping:

½ cup butter

1 ½ cups dark brown sugar

½ cup heavy cream

Heavy pinch of salt (to taste)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350.

Cut the rolls into 1 inch cubes and toast for 10 minutes in the oven.  Put the cubes into a 9X13 baking dish and let cool slightly while you make the custard.

Whisk together ½ and ½, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, eggs and salt. Pour the mixture carefully over the bread cubes, trying to cover all area evenly. Cover and let rest for at least 15-20 minutes but up to overnight.  Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until the top is brown and crusty.

For the Caramel sauce:

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan combine the butter and brown sugar. Whisk together over medium high heat until the butter is melted and the sugar begins to bubble. It will go from looking a little like wet sand to starting to look like a smooth sauce; this will take about 2-3 minutes.

At this point whisk in the cream and cook for another minute until the caramel is smooth. Add the pinch of salt and whisk, serve warm, or re-warm before serving.

A few notes:

* I adore Kings Hawaiian rolls, they are delicious, and they used to be a favorite of my grandmother’s. However, you can use any kind of bread you want in bread pudding. I like the sweetness of these rolls in this recipe, but it is not required. I would recommend an egg bread of some type (such as challah). However, you can use leftover French baguette or sourdough, or really anything. The important things are that the bread is cubed (which means you need to use thick bread) and that it is slightly crusty(which you can either do by toasting it, or using day old bread). For this recipe you will need about 10 loosely packed cups of bread cubes.

I always buy dark brown sugar. More often than not, when I’m using brown sugar I am using it for the flavor. Dark brown sugar has a more rich molasses flavor to it, so for sake of flavor (and cupboard space) I just buy one type- and it’s always dark.

-Sue

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I grew up thinking I hated brussels sprouts, which I think I said only because my dad really really liked them.  Also, I was a total idiot, because he would often cook them with bacon, which is obviously the best way to eat them.  Anyway, I make these a lot in the fall, because everyone likes them, and they’re pretty good leftover, surprisingly.  You CAN leave out the bacon fat if you want.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

2 bags or 1 branch of brussels sprouts (this is maybe 30 or so sprouts), the ends cut off and first few outside leaves discarded, and halved lengthwise

1 big sweet onion, diced

4 or 5 cloves of garlic, chopped into 2 or 3 pieces each

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp bacon fat

salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Put all ingredients into a 9 x 13 baking dish and toss.  Roast for 45 minutes or so, until they look like this:

if you don't want to eat these, well, i probably don't like you.

– Cat

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Thanksgiving Recipe Round-up

To make your day just a little bit less hectic, we’ve compiled all the Thanksgiving-ey recipes into one.

Appetizers:

Crostinis

Caramelized onion dip

Sides:

Grown up green bean casserole

Sweet potatoes with caramelized onions and brown sugar

Apple pecan stuffing

Fresh cranberry relish

Breads:

Corn spoon bread

No knead bread

Desserts:

Pumpkin pie bars

Pumpkin cheesecake

Caramel apple pie with pecan crumble

We hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with no disasters, delicious food, plenty of wine, and lots of friends and family!

-Sue and Cat

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Fresh Cranberry Relish

I’ll admit it; cranberries have never been my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner. I have had all sorts, ranging from cooked cranberry sauce, to fresh cranberry relishes. My mom growing up made an excellent version with cranberries and oranges (and other things I don’t remember) but I always thought it was too bitter. In all fairness, my uncle Earl LOVED the stuff; he could eat it by the bowl (literally). So I think it just goes to show- it’s all a matter of taste. When I came across this recipe from I thought it might be just what I was looking for. It was true…I have become a cranberry convert. What I like about this is that it’s similar to my Mom’s with being a relish and having the orange/cranberry flavor I enjoy- but it has a couple of other things in there that sweeten it up a little bit- and a few other things that give it a really nice variety of texture.

Recipe from Thekitcn.com

Ingredients:

1 12-oz bag of fresh cranberries

1 1/2 tsp orange zest

1 large orange, sectioned and chopped into small pieces

1 apple, cored and diced (use a crisp variety such as Fuji)

½ cup canned crushed pineapple

½ cup chopped pecans

½ cup sugar

¼ tsp salt

Method:

My change in this recipe was my method of preparation (come on, I had to change something!)

Rinse and drain the cranberries. In a food processor pulse the cranberries and the sugar until finely chopped (about 12-15 times).

Put into a large bowl and set aside.

Add the apple, orange zest, and pecans to the food processor. Pulse a few times until everything is finely chopped and combined (about 10 times). Add to the bowl containing the cranberries.

Section the orange. To do this, slice a small disk off the top and the bottom of the orange, so it will sit on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to carve down the sides, removing the peel and the pith (white part) completely from the orange. Using a paring knife cut the orange on either side of the thin membrane that separates each section. The sections should come out easily with a little wiggle. Chop roughly and add to the relish.

Add the ½ cup of crushed pineapple and stir to combine all the ingredients. Let the relish sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours for the flavors to combine. You can make this a day in advance in keep it in the fridge, or make it far in advance and put it in the freezer (for like a year).

Thanksgiving’s almost here….is your turkey thawed?

-Sue

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Thanksgiving Crostini

Appetizers may seem like overkill for Thanksgiving, and they probably are, but people still want them.  You sit around all day pretending to watch football, you get a little hungry.  To quote Joey Tribbiani:  “Let me explain to you how the human body works. I have to warm up my stomach first. Eatin’ chips is like stretching.”

Stretch ‘er out- get ready for that turkey. If you’re really channeling Joey, you may want to throw on a pair of maternity pants.

from one of the best thanksgiving episodes ever.

A great idea for appetizers anytime, especially Thanksgiving, is crostinis.  Crostinis are a chef-ey word for little toasts. For this post we are going to give you some ideas, but get creative, you can literally put anything on them.

To make these, buy a big baguette (you can find these in the deli section of most grocery stores).  Slice on a bias (angled cut so the slices are longer-thus better for holding more delicious toppings) and toss them in the oven to toast. In general you want to toast them lightly before you top them so they are crisp and will stand up to the toppings, but depending on what you put on them you may want to throw them back in to melt or warm your toppings.

Cat and I made a few while I was in Portland and we had a little dinner party:

– Store bought artichoke tapenade (Trader Joe’s), thinly sliced Fontina cheese, topped with peppadew peppers

– Raspberry jam with blue cheese crumbles

Here are some other ideas you could use:

  • Salami, cream cheese, cornichons (fancy little pickles, you could use any kind)
  • Fig jam with prosciutto
  • Hummus or white bean spread topped with arugula and balsamic vinegar
  • Goat cheese and strawberries drizzled with honey
  • Cream cheese, smoked salmon and capers
  • Pesto, roasted red peppers, topped with mozzarella
  • Classic bruscetta- diced tomatoes, basil, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of balsamic (reduction if you have it or want to make it)
  • Apples with melted brie and walnuts

Happy Snacking!

-Sue

P.S. The salami cheese pickle crostini’s are a riff on the most delicious snack in the history of delicious snacks, made by Bryan Monaghan, the Snack King.  When we were kids, he used to slather cream cheese on regular deli salami, put in a dill pickle spear and roll it up into a tube.  Best snack ever.  – Cat

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Caramel Apple Pie with Pecan Crumble

I don’t bake.  It’s odd, because I used to bake really well.  Now I’m a pretty decent cook and I can’t bake anymore.  It’s like I lost it.  It’s exactly like when Chandler got his third nipple removed and his jokes weren’t funny anymore.  The reason, I think, is because I used to be afraid of cooking, and so had the temperament (and in fact have been known to have to go back and look up my own recipes because I forgot what I put in it the last time) to follow a recipe very closely, thus ensuring a successful baked good.  Nowadays I don’t use recipes anymore, and baking really requires the discipline to do what the recipe says, that clearly I no longer have.  But pie was my assignment, so here we are.  I didn’t follow a recipe with this pie, either, but luckily it turned out tasty anyway.  (I judge pie success by whether anyone is eating the pie out of the pan, with a fork, several hours after dinner.  Which, last night, was me.)

Here’s the secret to pie: don’t make your own crust.  Sue always, always makes her own pie crust, but I don’t, because I’m not crazy.  To be fair, she makes fantastically good pie crust, flaky and delicious every time.  But I don’t do that, because they sell it pre-made in a little box at the store.

Caramel Apple Pie with Pecan Crumble

For the filling:

5 green apples, peeled and sliced thinly (I used Granny Smith, and I wished with all my heart, for the whole 20 minutes it took me to peel and slice those apples, as uniformly as possible, that I had stoled my mother’s apple peeler corer slicer.)

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

dash of nutmeg

a squirt of honey or maple syrup (For God’s sake, if your maple syrup isn’t real, don’t use it, and jsut go ahead and throw it out.)

For the crumble on top:

3/4 cup toasted, chopped pecans

1/4 cup quick cooking oats (Full disclosure: I used steel cut oats, because that’s all I had.)

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

dash of cinnamon

1/4 cup cold butter

For the crust:

a pre-made, pre-packaged, pie crust from the store (There’s two in the box, you’ll only need one, so put the other one in the freezer and make sure the one you’re using is totally thawed, or it’ll crumble and be a pain in the ass.  Or, keep the other one out and make sugar pie.  Your choice.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  When your pie crust is room temperature, lay it into a pie plate and press it in, making a nice little top with your fingers and taking care to make sure there are no cracks.  You want to be sure that no caramel-apple juice is going to seep under the crust.  Then, dump all the filling ingredients BUT the apples: the butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, nutmeg and maple syrup into a big saute pan and cook on medium heat until it gets thick.  When it’s thick, as in, coats nicely the back of a spoon, dump in the sliced apples and cook lightly for 4 or 5 minutes until the apples are a bit soft.  Turn off the heat and let them sit in the pan for a few minutes while you assemble the topping.

Dump the flour, brown sugar, oats and cinnamon into a bowl and stir it around until uniformly combined.  Cut the cold butter into cubes and mash it around the dry mixture with your fingers, until it becomes crumbly but there isn’t really any dry flour left.

like this. like kind of halfway wet sand.

At that point, mix the nuts in gently, and spread the whole lot across the top of the pie.

Bake the thing at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes.  The crust should be nice and golden brown and the crumble on top should feel crunchy.  Let it cool to room temperature (the liquid in it from the caramel and the apples will firm up as it cools) and serve.

does it look like i've been eating it from the pan with a spoon? because i have been.

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Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Onions and Brown Sugar

These are hands down my favorite way to eat sweet potatoes. I came up with this recipe last Thanksgiving. I was tired of overly sweet sweet potatoes covered in marshmallow and nuts and brown sugar. Once again this comes back to the idea of not covering up the flavor of your vegetables. The caramelized onions have a slightly sweet but still savory flavor that matches really well with the sweet potatoes; the brown sugar brings that out a little more giving it a really nice balance of savory and sweet.

Ingredients:

3 Medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 large onion

1 Tbs butter or 1 Tbs olive oil

½ cup water

3 Tbs brown sugar

Salt to taste

Method:

Caramelize the onions first. Thinly slice onions, then melt one Tbs butter or 1 Tbs of olive oil in the bottom of a heavy skillet or dutch oven. Add the onions and toss to coat in the butter or oil. Let the onions cook for about 30 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. You want to make sure none of them stick to the bottom so add more butter or oil if needed.

This is a slow process that brings out the natural sugars in the onion, there is no way to speed it up, be patient or you will be sorry. (For those of you who also read the grown up green bean casserole recipe-yes, this is the same, sorry for writing it twice.)

While the onions are caramelizing, peel and cube the sweet potatoes

Once the onions are done, add the sweet potatoes and the ½ cup of water. Cover and cook for about 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Stir the potatoes occasionally to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom, add more water by the Tbs if needed.

Once the sweet potatoes are soft add the brown sugar and cook for an additional 2 minutes until the brown sugar has melted into a sauce, toss to be sure everything is evenly coated.

Here is a tip- If you are making both the green bean casserole and this, a good time saving tip is to caramelize all the onions at the same time. Keep the onions you need for the sweet potatoes in the skillet and transfer the other ones to a bowl to coat with panko.

-Sue

Sidenote- I made this while I was home in Michigan, and interestingly, I did it differently.  I caramelized the onions in a chop rather than a slice, and I roasted the peeled and cubed sweet potatoes until tender in a 350 degree oven for about an hour.  When they were tender, I mashed them in the casserole dish, added a little half and half and salt and pepper, and mixed in the caramelized onions.  Then when I was ready to serve, I reheated the whole thing in a 350 degree oven for about 20 more minutes.  Deeeelicious.  – Cat

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