Tag Archives: cranberry

Thanksgiving in the Mountains

Whew! Thanksgiving was a blur this year. Grant and I took a mini-vacay to Bald Head Island the weekend prior, so the following week was a flurry of prep-cooking, cleaning and getting ready for my family’s arrival.

Finally, it was the day before Thanksgiving and the six of us caravanned up the Blue Ridge Mountains to enjoy the holiday at the cabin.

My menu:

  • Herb-roasted turkey with giblet gravy
  • Garlic mashed potatoes
  • Parker House rolls
  • Cheesy broccoli (with Cougar Gold sharp cheddar cheese)
  • Roasted cauliflower with herbs
  • Italian-style dressing
  • Classic cornbread dressing
  • Carrot ribbons with almonds and browned butter
  • Cranberry compote
  • Pecan pie

I overdid myself with all the side dishes – let’s just say that next year, I will only be making one type of dressing.

We brined the organic turkey overnight, then rubbed it under the skin with an herbed butter compote and stuffed it with aromatics. It roasted beautifully.

A few sides were my roasted cauliflower with Parm-Reg cheese, lemon and herbs (thyme, rosemary, tarragon).

My favorite dressing to make is one of Giada de Laurentiis’ – an Italian-style dressing made with sourdough croutons, apples, cranberries, chestnuts, sausage, white wine and lots of herbs and spices.

I also made my mom’s famous spaghetti-squash casserole, which is a squash simply cooked and mixed with bacon, wild mushrooms and swiss cheese (and a dash of nutmeg).

I finally wised up and bought a food mill, which is quite cumbersome but produced my best-ever mashed potatoes, made with two whole roasted heads of garlic, milk and butter.

Hope everybody had a fabulous holiday. I am over my turkey hangover and ready to get some new recipes posted for you. Stay tuned! xoxo


A Pretentious Thanksgiving

Ever since I knew that friends of ours have hosted a Pretentious Thanksgiving at their D.C.-area home for the past five years, I’ve wanted to be invited.

This year was the best to join: it was the best-of Pretentious Thanksgiving, meaning that guests voted on their favorite dishes from the past five years, all of which would be featured at the dinner.

So, a little context: A couple that Jesse will soon be related to began this tradition based on their love of hosting parties and the idea that making it pretentious would be funny. People could dress all uppity and the food would be ridiculously full of itself. A wine pairing would be included in each course, with a tobacco course between before the dessert course.

Over the years, the party has grown from eight people to 24 people, making it quite the pretentious social event. People drive from all over the East Coast to attend, partying like a bunch of Gatsby guests lingering well into the night.

I am basically in love with this party idea. I enjoy themed parties and I love wearing pearls and argyle even more! The weekend was so breathtakingly awesome that I’ll tell the rest of the story with pictures, from our shopping trips to food preparation to the meal itself.

We started at the farmers' market, full of beautiful fall bounty

All these colorful radishes! Whoever heard of black radishes?

Brussel's Sprouts

We came for haricots verts and got caught up by the wild mushrooms.

When we got home from the market, Merissa and I began making the mantle decoration, for which she had bought some small squashes. She hollowed them out and inserted a scented votive candle. Then, we foraged for pretty leaves, acorns and pine cones around the garden. I even clipped some beautiful Japanese maple branches to add to the decor.

I am obsessed with these!

Martha Stewart, feel free to call us anytime

All decorations aside, the night was about the food. Here is the menu:

First course: Sweet-potato ravioli with browned-butter sage sauce, toasted pine nuts and fried shallots.

Ravioli is stuffed, ready for boiling

It was simply amazing. A-Maze-Ing. Red pepper flakes added a nice pepper kick and those shallots on top...I will be making this again SOON.

Second course: Cranberry salad with spiced pecans, goat cheese and a sweet vinaigrette.

I can love any salad with spiced nuts and goat cheese. And healthy!

Third course: Haricot verts with roasted potatoes, walnuts and Roquefort

They make this dish every year. I guess I hadn't had Roquefort cheese before because this blew my mind. It tasted rich, savory and somehow smoky. Drool.

Fourth course: stuffing…

Wild mushroom stuffing, which was the most expensive dish of the night.

Oyster stuffing: I always dreamed that oyster stuffing would contain that much butter...and be that delicious. Heaven.

And turkey two ways: smoked…

The boys fussed over this all night.

And roasted with herbs:

A beautiful scene

(Tobacco course)

Dessert course: Pumpkin profiteroles with rum-caramel sauce

Paired with a sweet sherry.

And let’s not forget a whole lotta wine:

I’ll be hosting my own Thanksgiving dinner in a couple weeks, and while it may not be pretentious, it hopefully will be as delicious as this special meal. I just hope I get invited next year!

Cheers, friends. xoxo

Christmas came early this year!


Cranberry-orange scones with an orange glaze

Well, friends, Christmas came a little early this year.

Mom and dad were visiting for the weekend and mom insisted on buying my present now. I told her that I don’t want to buy a KitchenAid stand mixer before I get married – they are too expensive and take up too much counter space and are perfect for wedding registries or first-house warmings.

Well, she declared that she has ‘given up hope’ that wedding bells will ring any time soon. Her lost hope turned into my…


It is brushed nickel with metal attachments and I love it!

The first thing I made with the KitchenAid was Ina Garten’s cranberry-orange scones with an orange glaze. Yum! I have been wanting to make these for years, but didn’t because the thick dough seems to need heavy machinery to mix. In fact, I ended up halfing the recipe and it still yielded nine scones, which was plenty for us.

They are wonderful: light and flaky, with a wonderful orange zest aroma. The cranberries were a nice tart surprise. And the simple orange glaze? Beautiful!

Ingredients (this is the full recipe, so twice as much as I made)

4 c. plus 1/4 c. flour

1/4 c. sugar

2 T baking powder

2 tsp. salt

1 T orange zest

3/4 lb. cold unsalted butter, diced

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 c. cold cream

1 c. dried cranberries

Egg wash (1 egg beaten with splash of milk)

Glaze: 1/2 c. powdered sugar mixed with 2 T fresh oj

Oven at 400.

Mix 4 c. flour with sugar, baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add butter and mix on low until the butter is pea-sized.

Combine eggs and cream. Add to the mixer on low, mix until just blended. This will be a very lumpy, wet dough.

Combine cranberries and remaining flour, add to mixer on low.

Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead into a ball. Roll to 3/4 in. thick. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter (I used a drinking glass), cut out scones. Gather dough and repeat until all is gone.

Place scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I forgot the parchment and they didn’t stick).

Brush the scone tops with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20-25 min. until the tops are browned and the scones are firm to the touch. Cool for 15 min. on wire rack, then drizzle with glaze.

I’m sorry to say these are going fast at my house. I am NOT, however, sorry to say that I’ll never look at store-bought scones the same way.

Flaky, buttery, yum

Flaky, buttery, yum

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go gaze at my new piece of kitchen machinery! Enjoy, friends. xoxo