Tag Archives: stuffing

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



An organic table setting.

Holy cow, this weekend has been a whirlwind of eating, drinking and making merry. I barely have the energy to type right now, so I’ll make this post a quick roundup of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving dinner. I didn’t do a good job with the photos because I was too busy zipping around the kitchen like a maniac. Thank goodness I had help!


Cheesy dip: this is a famous family recipe that you will seriously hate yourself for loving so much. Even the snootiest of people love this mixture of Velveeta, cheddar cheese, garlic, cumin, fire roasted tomatoes, green chilies and cilantro. All melted together, it is a favorite dip for every party.

Cheesy dip

Turkey puffs: A twist on a Martha Stewart recipe – puff pastry layered with Dijon mustard, Gruyere cheese, Parmesan cheese and then brushed with a paprika butter.


Cut into turkeys and baked until golden.

Next, the veggie plate. I made an easy falafel dip with garbanzo beans, cumin, garlic, parsley, cilantro, red pepper flakes, lemon juice and olive oil. I served it with cut up celery, pepper, carrots and cucumber:

The dinner course isn’t as well photographed. We brined the turkey and rubbed it with butter and herbs, stuffed it with more aromatics and then roasted it for three hours:

Ready for carving!

We had many side dishes: cornbread stuffing, apple-chestnut stuffing, cranberry relish with rosemary and walnuts, parsnip risotto with a balsamic drizzle, green beans with pine nuts and prosciutto, maple-bourbon sweet potatoes, roasted cauliflower with herbs and Parmesan and home-made rolls.

Serving up.

My favorite part was the gravy! Using all the turkey drippings, we made a dark roux and then whisked in chicken stock. That’s it! So rich and delicious – I just finished the last of it off today, over some stuffing.


We had a pumpkin pie from Fresh Market, but the star was undoubtedly Merissa’s bourbon pecan pie, complete with hand-cut leaves on the crust.

We also made a dutch apple pie with a strusel topping, because who can have enough pies?

I hope everybody had a happy and filling Thanksgiving. I am thankful for the friends and family around me (near and far), my job, my health and my cat.

Cheers! 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