Festive Aperol Spritz

IMG_0418

Aperol, where have you been all my life? You delicious, bitter-in-a-good-way, orangey, golden-pink, teensy-bit-sweet, apertivo! If you like Manhattans, or other not-too-sweet and slightly bitter flavors, you will really enjoy Aperol.  It’s an Italian apertivo that’s made with bitter orange, and has the most incredible cantaloupe color, perfect for festive holiday mixing.  Makes 2

Combine the gin, Aperol, and bitters in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts over, about 15 seconds.  Strain into a cocktail glass and pour the prosecco on top.  Garnish with an orange peel twist.

 

Posted in Drinks and Cocktails, Holidays and Special Occasions, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Almond Apricot Amaretti

IMG_1195

Hands down, my family’s favorite holiday cookie! Amaretti are traditional Italian cookies made with almonds, sugar, and egg whites.  If you buy amaretti they are usually quite crispy and crunchy.  These amaretti are soft and chewy on the inside and a bit crisp around the edges.  In Sicily these would have a candied cherry in the middle.  The dried apricots give them a really nice fruity flavor and chewy texture.  Adapted from Eat The Love.   They are also naturally gluten free!

  • 2 1/2 C. almond meal or almond flour (the ingredients should list only almonds)
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 chopped dried apricots (mine were soft and chewy, not too dry)
  • More sugar and powdered sugar for rolling

Heat the oven to 300 degrees.  In the food processor, pulse the almond meal and sugars until combined.  Add the extracts and egg whites and pulse until a dough forms.  Pulse in the apricots until combined.  The dough will be sticky- that’s ok.  Roll the dough into 1 inch balls.  It will stick to your hands, just go with it.  Roll the balls first in white sugar, then in powdered sugar.  Place the dough balls about an inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for about 24 minutes.  Let them rest for a minute before removing them to a wire rack to cool.  Keep these wrapped at room temperature, but they also freeze very well.  You will want to make a second batch of these, they are sooo good.

Posted in Dessert, Gluten Free, Holidays and Special Occasions, Italian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Holiday Leftover Recipe Roundup

007

Potato Chive Fritters

You have a fridge full of leftovers.  If you are like me, you made extra food on purpose so there would be a fridge full of leftovers.  Don’t pass up the opportunity to make a batch of stock with your turkey bones, ham bones, or beef bones.  Throw it all in a big pot with a few veggies and water and you’ll have stock in your freezer for months. Click on the chicken stock recipe link below for more details.  Here are some ideas for your leftovers!

Turkey Macaroni Bake

Ham and White Bean Soup

Ham and Egg Pies

Turkey Croquettes

Potato Chive Fritters

Savory Meatloaf with Leftover Stuffing

Creamy Cauliflower Bake

Making Chicken (or Turkey) Stock

Posted in Holidays and Special Occasions, Leftovers, Quick Dinners | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here is a collection of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes for 2015. Enjoy! 

img_1051

Apple Cider Brined Turkey

img_99181

 

Turkey Roulade with Prune and Pine Nut Stuffing

img_0050

Classic Brined and Roasted Turkey

IMG_0416

Herb Marinated Turkey with Toasted Bread Salad

img_0118

Holiday Turkey Roulade 

img_0087

Vegan Mushroom Sage Stuffing

img_0646

Herb Garden Stuffing

rice_ef_1lb_jubilee_lg-sflb

Wild Rice Stuffing 

img_0232

Creamy Whipped Butternut Squash

img_1064

Spiced Moroccan Yams 

img_1062

Simple Cranberry Orange Sauce 

img_8826

Balsamic Glazed Delicata Squash 

0051

Spicy Caramelized Squash 

004

Spinach Salad With Oranges and Bacon

img_1148

Orange and Fennel Salad 

img_0460

Company Cashews

img_7784

Freeform Apple Pie 

006

Classic Pumpkin Pie 

006-1

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes in Mason Jars 

 

 

 

Posted in Holidays and Special Occasions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Herb Marinated Turkey with Toasted Bread Salad

IMG_0416

This succulent turkey starts out with an easy marinade of fresh herbs, oil and lemon. Next, it marinates for 24 hours and is then roasted, breast-side-down for extra juiciness. The best part?  It’s super easy to make!  Toasted bread salad is a lighter, earthier version of stuffing. Rather than being soggy, it has an irresistible, chewy texture a bit of crunch from toasted hazelnuts, and a bit of sweetness from dried currants. Make it vegan by substituting veggie broth for pan drippings.

For the Turkey:

  • 1 18-24lb. turkey, thawed, rinsed, and patted dry.  (It can take up to 5 days for a turkey to completely thaw in the fridge, so plan accordingly!)
  • 2 C. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 C. fresh dill, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 C. fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 C. fresh thyme leaves (a few stems are ok)
  • 1/2 C. fresh marjoram leaves
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 3 t. salt
  • 1 t. pepper
  • 1/2 C. olive oil

IMG_0361

Prepare the turkey for the marinade by rinsing it all over with cold water and then patting it dry with paper towels, inside and out. Combine all the herbs, salt, pepper, and oil in the food processor and pulse it into a pesto-like consistency.

IMG_0364

Use your hands to loosen and lift the skin that covers the breast and legs of the turkey.  Rub the marinade all over the turkey, under the skin, inside the cavity, top and bottom.  Use up all the marinade.

IMG_0402

Place some of the herb stems, or any extra herbs you have, and the zested lemons, cut in half, into the cavity of the turkey.  Cover the turkey tightly with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge overnight. Bring the turkey out of the fridge one hour before roasting to bring it to room temperature.

IMG_0403

Wipe the excess marinade off the top of the turkey so it doesn’t burn. Place the turkey, breast-side up, in a roasting pan with a v-shaped rack.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cross the legs one over the other and secure them with twine. Roast for 30 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.  Turn the turkey completely over, breast-side down.  Continue roasting for another 2-3 hours, depending on the size of your bird. The temperature of the breast should be about 165 degrees.  The problem is, that the turkey will continue to cook for twenty to thirty minutes after it comes out of the oven, so I usually take it out of the oven when the temperature is at 155 degrees. (please follow USDA guidelines if you feel more comfortable) When the turkey is done the legs will be pulling apart from the bird and the juices will run clear. Let the turkey rest, covered in foil for at least 1 hour before carving. Reserve the pan drippings for the bread salad.

For the Toasted Bread Salad:

  • 1 loaf of crusty Italian or French bread, day old
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 C. dried currants
  • 1 1/2 C. celery, chopped
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 T. dried sage
  • 1/4 C. marsala or sherry
  • 1/2 C. hazelnuts
  • 1/2 C. turkey pan drippings or veggie broth
  • 1/4 C. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3-4 C. fresh baby arugula

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice off most of the crust of the loaf of bread, then tear it into bite-sized chunks. Place the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until the bread is toasted but still chewy, about ten minutes.

IMG_0405

Cover the currants with hot water to soak and plump while you cook the veggies. Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the celery, onion, and shallot until softened, about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and sage and cook one minute longer. Stir in the marsala and cook until the liquid evaporates, about two or three minutes.  Remove from heat and place the veggies into a large bowl.  Toast the hazelnuts in a dry pan until they begin to release their oils and start to turn golden brown.  Remove from heat and coarsely chop.  Toss the bread with the veggies, nuts, drained currants and arugula. Pour the pan drippings and lemon juice over the bread and toss to combine.  Taste for seasoning.  Pack the mixture into a baking dish.  Give it one more drizzle of olive oil.  Bake until heated through and toasted and golden brown on top, about 15-20 minutes.

IMG_0409

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

Posted in Holidays and Special Occasions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

10 Things You Can Do Today To Get Ready For Thanksgiving

 

img_0050

The key to a low stress holiday is to plan ahead and do as much as you possibly can BEFORE the big day.   It’s pretty much humanly impossible to do the entire Thanksgiving dinner in one day.  Here is a handy list of things you could do NOW to reduce your work load later.

10.  Order your turkey.  Call your local natural food store, or meat market and order your fresh, free-range turkey.  You don’t want to be stuck with a frozen-solid factory bird! Here is my recipe for classic roasted turkey. 

 

9.  Print or clip all the recipes you will need for the meal.  Organize them into a folder or plastic sleeve.  Highlight all the non-perishable items that could be bought ahead.

8.  Shop for all the non-perishables.  Today is a great day to go out and pick up all things that can be bought ahead like dry herbs and spices, canned items, and dry mixes, beverages, or even long-lasting produce like squash and potatoes.   Crossing as much off your list as you can now will save time later.  When you get home, don’t put it all away in your cupboards.  Keep the items in a box in a closet or garage so that you don’t have to search for them among the Lucky Charms later.

7.  Make your pie crust, roll it out into circles, and layer between sheets of parchment paper.  Roll it up just like a store-bought crust, wrap in plastic and freeze.  When you’re ready to make your pies, just thaw and unroll!   If you have time, you can make whole pies, wrap them and freeze them.  Instead of thawing and baking, bake them from frozen, just add extra baking time. Here is my pastry crust recipe.  Here is my pumpkin pie recipe.

6. Make turkey stock with purchased turkey legs or wings.  Freeze for use in gravy and stuffing. Here are my tips for making stock.

5.  Make your cranberry sauce and store it in jars in the fridge.  Here is my recipe for Simple Cranberry Orange Sauce.

4.  Make your homemade rolls, wrap and freeze them unbaked.  Here is a link to a great recipe for Parker House Rolls from Food Network 

3.  Wash and iron your good napkins and table cloth.  To store your tablecloth without creases, lay it on top of a towel and roll it up.  Keeping it in a roll will help keep the creases at bay.

2.  Polish silverware (if you’re lucky enough to have silver or silverplate flatware), inspect your china and glassware for chips and cracks.  Decide what serving pieces you will use and determine whether you might need to purchase any bowls, platters, or serving spoons.  Do you have a gravy boat?  If you’re hosting Thanksgiving you need one!

1.  Call your family and guests to confirm that they will be joining you for dinner.  Ask them to bring things like wine, beer, and pre-dinner snacks.

 

Posted in Holidays and Special Occasions, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pasta Fagioli

IMG_2212

Sicilian pasta fagioli (pasta soup with beans) is very, very simple. It is peasant food at it’s best.  You don’t complicate it with a bunch of extra veggies.  Some carrots, maybe.  This soup is all about the flavor of the broth. It’s hearty and healthy, and extremely comforting. It’s also very inexpensive to make. Be sure to serve this with lots of grated parmesan or pecorino for sprinkling on top. To make this soup vegetarian, I use Better Than Boullion’s Vegetable Base.

For the broth:

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 t. red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 C. fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 t. tomato paste
  • 2-3 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 C. dry white wine
  • 4 C. vegetable or chicken broth (or 4 C. water + 2 t. Better than Boullion)

To finish the soup:

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into coins or half rounds.
  • 1 can of large pinto beans or cranberry beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 lb. ditalini or other small pasta, cooked according to package directions, and drained
  • grated parmesan or pecorino (sheep’s milk cheese) for sprinkling on top

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and red pepper flakes.  Season with salt and pepper, and stir occasionally. Cook until the onions are translucent, about five minutes. Add the parsley and the tomato paste. Increase the heat to high for one minute, stirring, to caramelize the tomato paste. Add the tomatoes and the wine, scraping to loosen the caramelized bits on the bottom. Reduce the heat to medium-high. Add the broth. Bring to a boil and cook until the vegetables are very soft, about 15 minutes. Strain the broth into a clean pot through a fine mesh sieve. Press on the solids to extract as much broth as possible. Bring the strained broth back to a boil and add the sliced carrots. Cook for about five minutes, then add the beans, and cook five minutes more.  Stir in the cooked ditalini and garnish with cheese. Serve with lots of crusty bread.

Posted in Healthier Options, Italian, Quick Dinners, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment