Thanksgiving Recap

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I don’t know about you but it’s full on Christmas explosion at my house. We’ve got the tree and poinsettias and an advent calendar and I’m fairly certain every hard surface in my entire home is covered in a fine dusting of glitter (seriously where does it even come from??).

And it’s awesome and I am ready to jump right in but before this space jumps head-first into Christmas cookies and homemade marshmallows, I want to pause for one second and link a few recipes from our Thanksgiving meal.

It was such a surprisingly delicious, fairly easy meal that I want to remember the meal and also have a place to go back to find these recipes again. And because the Christmas season is full of family get-togethers, parties and another giant meal; if you need a little inspiration, here are a few dishes I highly recommend and can say without a doubt I’ll make again and again.

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For the turkey use this dry brine. I’ve used this recipe for a couple years now and it makes such a huge difference in juiciness and flavor.

I made this cranberry sauce. Easy, very quick and flavorful.

These Brussel sprouts were amazing and Scarlet had two helpings. I also loved the article the recipe was included in. It breaks down the whole Thanksgiving meal, and puts everything in order of when to prep, cook, heat each item so everything is ready at the same time.

I decided we needed a salad to go with dinner. My brothers and husband rolled their eyes at me when they saw me pull the bag of kale from the refrigerator but it ended up being just the right amount of brightness and acidity to complement the meal (and they ate it!), not to mention we needed at least one dish that wasn’t made from a pound of butter.

My sister-in-law, who is an amazing baker, whipped these rolls together the morning of. They were light and fluffy and delicious. We all fought over the leftovers the next day because they made the perfect bread for turkey sandwiches.

And for dessert we had pumpkin pie with a gingerbread crust and an apple gallette made with THIS pie dough. We drizzled Copper Pot Caramel sauce on the gallette and topped everything with homemade sweetened whipped cream that I added a touch of nutmeg to. I can’t recommend these two desserts enough.

We had the non-negotiables too. Stuffing (or is it dressing?), which I posted the recipe one post back, mashed potatoes, which is a secret family recipe and something called creamed onions, which I assure you is so outrageously delicious and not at all disgusting like the name might suggest.

So that was our meal. This was our first Thanksgiving in our new house and I loved every minute of puttering and cooking in my kitchen. The uncles played endless games of football in the front yard with my boys, we went for a gorgeous hike, played a few games, watched a lot of football and just relaxed. The only thing I would have changed was a bigger turkey so we could have enjoyed a few more turkey sandwiches. Next year!

 

Sausage and Apple Herbed Stuffing

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Still planning your Thanksgiving dinner menu? I’ve got what you need. This stuffing checks all the boxes: familiar, a tiny bit surprising, savory with just a hint of sweetness.

I think people fall into two camps when it comes to stuffing: you’re either a purist, or an adventurer. The purist wants a vehicle for turkey gravy and mashed potatoes. No fussy stuff, just the basics because it’s not the stuffing’s show. The adventurer is all about the change up. One year it might be fennel and sausage; the next it’s cranberry and toasted pecans. You might even find an oyster or two in there.

I would say I’m firmly in the adventurer’s camp. I am married to a purist. I love the tradition behind the dishes we make and serve during the holidays, and I love the nostalgia and history of the chopping, stirring and baking when so much love gets served up and passed around the table. But — there’s always a but — I love to try new things … to see if a dish we all enjoy can turn into something we absolutely love.

Two years ago I was charged with making the Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing for my husband’s extended family; I decided to experiment with a dressing recipe that would complement the rest of the dinner and yet wouldn’t take over the other flavors.

After a couple years of tweaking, I think it’s just about right. The stuffing is moist but not soggy, full of flavor with savory notes from the sausage and a hint of sweet from the cranberries. I like to cook my stuffing inside the bird for extra flavor and moisture, but you certainly don’t have to. If you bake it on its own, I would recommend adding extra chicken stock to keep the stuffing from drying out.

Sausage & Apple Herbed Stuffing
• 1 lb. mild Italian sausage
• 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
• 1 large Walla Walla sweet onion, diced
(about 2 ½ cups)
• 4 stalks celery, diced (about 2 cups)
• 1 large apple, diced (about 2 cups)
• 10-12 cups cubed stale French bread
(I buy the bags of pre-made croutons
from the bakery section)
• ¾ teaspoon thyme
• ½ teaspoon rosemary
• 1/3 cup flat leaf parsley
• 2 ½ – 3 cups chicken stock (less if bak-
ing inside the turkey, more if baking
in its own pan)
• 4 tablespoons butter, melted
• 3 eggs, whisked
• 2 cups dried cranberries or Craisins
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9×13 baking dish and set aside. Over medium-low heat, brown the Italian sausage, making sure to use a spatula to break up the meat into very small crumbles. Rub the fennel seeds between your hands before sprinkling over the sausage to release the aroma. Cook the sausage until brown and barely cooked through. Remove from heat and drain on a plate covered in a paper towel.
Using the same pan, sauté the apple, onion and celery in the leftover sausage drippings on medium heat. Add the rosemary and thyme and cook until onions are soft and beginning to change color.
In a large bowl, mix the bread cubes, sausage and vegetable mixture together. Melt butter and set aside to cool slightly. In a different bowl, combine chicken stock, melted butter and eggs. Pour over bread mixture. Salt and pepper the dressing and stir in cranberries and parsley. When the stuffing is well combined, pour into buttered baking dish and bake for 45 minutes uncovered. When the stuffing is golden brown and firm to the touch, it’s done.

*Originally printed in The Yakima Magazine, 2015

Pumpkin Chipotle Soup

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We built a house last year (as you well know). It was all the things people tell you it will be; fun, creative, exciting, challenging, grey-hair inducing and an absolute dream come true. We always wanted to live in the country and in addition to the chaos our three kids create running around we’ve added dogs, chickens and even a couple sheep to our ‘farm.’ It is lovely, loud and so fun.

As we planned for our house, the kitchen table took center stage. I wanted a BIG table that would fit the five of us from day to day, as well as any number of family or friends who would find themselves at our home. I wanted that table to be the heartbeat of our home and at the center of all our activity.

My husband Aaron, always up for a do-it-yourself project, set about building our dream table. He used reclaimed barn wood and a friend welded a metal base. Over 9 feet long with two matching benches, the table easily sits 12 but we’ve crowded almost 20 around it a time or two. Aaron spent countless hours working on that table, standing in the cold garage most nights; sanding, staining and lacquering the table. Halfway through the table project he had an accident with another do-it-yourself project for our house and sustained a serious injury on his left hand. To watch him finish the table, one-handed, still makes me smile every time we sit down to eat.

During this busy holiday season, I love to take any opportunity I can to gather my people around the table. Whether it’s a quick weeknight dinner between basketball practices or a big dinner party with friends the goal is the same: serve up something warm and comforting.

This pumpkin soup is a favorite and one I’ve made time and time again. I lightened it up a little from the original recipe as I’ve tweaked and made it my own. I hope you’ll do the same in your own kitchen. The soup is the perfect combination of sweet and savory, creamy with a touch of heat, hearty but light. A loaf of warm bread and a glass of wine are all you need to complete the meal.

Chipotle Pumpkin Soup with Chicken and Barley

*recipe adapted from the blog, Life in Grace

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, washed and diced
  • 3 stalks celery, washed and diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 14oz. can pure pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cubed (I use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chipotle pepper in adobo, seeds removed and diced finely (very spicy, if you don’t like heat in your food, start with ½ teaspoon).
  • 1 cup barley
  • 2 boxes organic low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • ¾ cup to 1 cup low-fat sour cream or Greek yogurt

In a large pot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Stir in the onion, carrots and celery and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until the onions are translucent and the carrots and celery begin to soften. Stir in garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Salt and pepper the vegetables mixture. Add the chicken stock, pumpkin puree, chicken and chipotle pepper. Lower the heat to medium-low and stir in the barley, honey and spices (salt and pepper the soup again) and cook for 30 minutes or until the barley is plump and tender. Turn the heat off and allow the soup to cool. When soup has cooled slightly, stir in sour cream. (This is important, if you stir in the sour cream before the soup has cooled down, it will curdle. The soup will taste fine but it won’t look nearly as appetizing.)

To serve, warm the soup back up on the stove. Ladle into bowls and serve with a sprinkle of nutmeg.

*Originally printed in the Yakima Magazine. More Kitchen Captivated recipes here.

Easy Pizza Dough

IMG_6733.JPGThe first recipe I ever shared in Kitchen Captivated, over two years ago, was a recipe for homemade pizza. The recipe I used for years was adapted from a Cuisinart bread machine cookbook and it’s still a great recipe. But I wanted something a little easier, for sure a recipe I didn’t need a bread machine for and if I was being really fussy about the whole thing, something just a little tastier.

I took a pizza making class in Seattle this summer and got some great ideas, but the recipe for crust they shared in the class required a 12 hour rise time and sometimes I just can’t get my act together that far in advance.

Fridays have loosely become our pizza night. And honestly, I would say a solid 50 percent of the time, we order take out, but the nights we make it at home, this recipe has become the new fan favorite. First and foremost, it’s quick and easy. The dough cooks beautifully, crunchy on the outside but chewy on the inside. It makes a big batch too, which is important for my big eaters. We can make two 14 inch pizzas which is just the right amount with a slice or two for lunch the next day. I adapted the recipe slightly and noted it in instructions.

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Mark Bittman’s Pizza Dough

  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons rapid rise yeast
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • *1 tablespoon honey
  • *1 cup tap water

Using an electric mixer with a dough attachment or a food processor, place the flour, yeast, salt, olive oil and honey into the bowl. Turn the mixer or food processor on and mix a few times. Slowly add the water to the flour mixture until dough forms. If the mixture is very wet, add a tablespoon of flour at a time until the dough is stretchy and moist but not gloppy or overly sticky. If the mixture is too dry and very stiff, add a tablespoon of water a time until the mixture is just right.

Using well-floured hands, mold the dough into a round ball and place in a clean dry bowl. Cover with a dish towel and walk away. Let the dough rise for at least 90 minutes or until it’s more than doubled in size.

When you are ready to make pizza, divide the dough in half and using well-floured hands and cutting board, work the dough a few times until it’s in a nice ball. Let rest on the board under a towel for an additional 15 minutes. (use this time to shred cheese, pre-heat the oven, dice veggies, ect.) Preheat the oven to 450 degree.

Roll the dough out using a rolling pin. Lift the crust onto a pizza pan sprayed with cooking spray. Top with desired toppings and bake for 12-15 minutes.

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Quick marinara sauce:

  • 1 32-ounce can highest-quality crushed tomatoes
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced or pressed through a garlic press
  • liberal salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil

You can make this sauce one of two ways, mix it all together in a bowl and sauce your pizza. No heating or cooking. This makes a very bright tomato sauce. If you want something a little richer and more mellow, heat in a sauté pan and cook over medium low heat until it reduces by about a third. Freeze extras for the next time.

An Ode to the Farmers Market

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This morning I noticed just a whisper of fall in the air. The breeze coming through the open window was crisp and cool and felt so good as I sipped my coffee. And as much as I can appreciate the weather cooling down just a little bit, I’m not ready for summer to slip away.

My weekly trips to the farm stand down the road from my house make me wish for summer forever. The baskets are overflowing with peaches and pears, early apples, fat ripe tomatoes, sweet corn, green beans and potatoes. The options of what to do with all that goodness are practically endless but I find myself making a few things over and over again. (surprise surprise)

I’ve fallen off the salad bandwagon this summer. I think I needed a break from spinach and kale and lettuce. But all the goodies the farm stand offers brings back the love and thankfully only one of these recipes has lettuce. Whether you need a quick weeknight side dish or a potluck crowd pleaser, these easy salads come together quickly and taste like every good thing summer has to offer.

Fresh Corn Salad

  • 6 ears of corn, corn cut from the cob
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • ½ walla walla onion, diced
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Shuck the corn and using a sharp knife, cut the corn from the cob. No need to cook the corn, if you buy it at the farm stand it’s so fresh and sweet, it doesn’t need to be cooked. In a large bowl combine all the ingredients, stirring well. Leave on the counter or cover and put in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to intensify. This salad tastes best when made a few hours ahead of time. Cherry tomatoes are an easy swap for the red pepper and a sprinkle of feta is also delicious with this salad.

Watermelon Feta Salad

  • 3 cups seedless watermelon, diced into bite size pieces
  • 8 cups spring greens or arugula
  • ½ cup crumbled feta (goat cheese is a great substitute)
  • ¼ red onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint
  • Juice and zest of two limes
  • ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl layer the watermelon, feta and red onion over the greens. In a separate bowl combine the lime juice, zest, vinegar and olive oil. Dress the salad, sprinkle with fresh mint and salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Quick Cucumber Salad

  • 2 cucumbers, peeled and cut into ½ inch slices
  • ½ yellow bell pepper, diced
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • ½ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • Dash of red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper

In a bowl toss the cucumbers, bell pepper and red onion together. Pour the vinegar over the vegetables, sprinkle with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Add the toasted sesame oil and gently mix the vegetables with a spoon. The oil has a very strong flavor and can quickly overpower the dish. Consider adding the oil a teaspoon at a time (three teaspoons for every tablespoon) to get the flavor just right for your taste buds.

 

Grilled Artichokes

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One of my favorite restaurants in town has grilled artichokes on the appetizer menu. They come to the table sizzling, slightly charred and steaming with a wonderfully cool garlic aioli sauce. Of course, the table (i.e. me) dig straight in devouring the artichoke, bumping elbows with the person next to them in a race to get to the heart. So delicious.

I’ve been having so much fun hosting meals on my back patio. Our beloved farm table Aaron built a few years ago from the deck at our old house has a new coat of varnish and my flower pots are starting to fill in and after a spring of nearly relentless wind, it is a special kind of treat to sit on the back patio and enjoy the warm air and views of orchards and mountains in the distance.

My mother and one of my best friend’s had a birthday in the last couple of months and it was the perfect excuse to host a gathering. I wanted to make something a little extra special and the thought of those mouth watering artichokes pushed me to try my hand at making them myself. I ended up kind of winging it, recipe wise, based on several recipes I looked at, but they turned out really well and everyone seemed to enjoy them based on how quickly they disappeared.

Grilled Artichokes with Garlic Aioli

  • 4 artichokes
  • 1lemon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • salt

In the largest pot you have, fill it 2/3 with water and bring to a boil. Squeeze the juice of one lemon into the water and then throw in the lemon. Add a generous handful of salt. When the water boils, drop in the artichokes, making sure they are submerged in water. Turn the heat down to medium so they are at a slow boil. Let the artichokes simmer in the water for about 15 minutes until they are bright green and soft.

Remove from the water and let drain in a strainer for a few minutes. Cut in half and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with a bit more salt. Heat the barbecue to medium heat. Place the artichokes half side down and cook for about 5 minutes or until the artichoke has grill marks. Turn and cook for another 3-5 minutes on the opposite side.

*you aren’t really trying to cook the artichokes on the grill, more just getting a little smoky flavor and crispness.

When the artichokes have been charred on all sides, remove from heat. Serve with garlic aioli or melted butter. Devour.

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Garlic Aioli

  • 1 cup mayonnaise (good mayonnaise as Ina Garten would say: no miracle whip, no cheap stuff)
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Chop garlic and parsley very finely. Mix into mayonnaise with salt and pepper. Juice the lemon directly into the mixture to thin. Add more or less of any of the ingredients to get to desired texture and flavor.

Roasted Potato Leek Soup

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In the swirl of daily life and the chaos it sometimes includes; work, kid sports schedules, paying bills, cleaning toilets, homework and dinner prep, just to name a few; it’s easy for me to feel a little lost in the shuffle.

But every couple months I get together with a group of girlfriends to cook and eat, sitting around the table drinking wine, talking about books and life. It’s refreshing and restoring when I get too far into my busy, tired, stress cycle. We started this group a couple years ago as a book club. Formed by two friends who decided they wanted to read Shauna Niequist’s Bread and Wine; a memoir slash narrative cookbook. It’s full of great, approachable recipes and when I was invited I immediately said yes! The group didn’t know each other that well other than the two friends who started the whole thing but I think it was apparent to all of us we had something special.

Our first night together we jumped in, quite literally, shuffling around the kitchen, opening drawers and cupboards to find mixing bowls, a missing spoon, the wine opener. We fell into friendship the same way. The really beautiful thing is we are a diverse bunch, from our professions, to where we live, to religion and politics, you name it; and it didn’t matter one bit.

Fast forward two years and countless dinners and we are still getting together. We almost always have to reschedule at least once or twice because life has a way of getting in the way, but we are still making it happen. We eat and swap recipes, talk about our kids, pour another glass of wine, and as I sit at the table with these dear friends, I can’t help but feel present and happy in a way that reminds me that the chaos I call my life is a really good one.

It was my turn to host last month and I decided on roasted potato leek soup. The veggies are roasted in the oven and then cooked in wine and chicken stock before being blended into soup. A handful of parmesan cheese and a dollop of Greek yogurt add a hint of tang and saltiness. I am the first to admit, it may not be the most visually appealing soup, but don’t let that stop you from making this recipe, it’s delicious.

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Roasted Potato Leek Soup

  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed clean and diced
  • 4 cups leeks (about 3 large), chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup white wine (I used a Two Mountain Riesling, but an oaky chardonnay would be lovely too)
  • 3 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 box organic chicken stock
  • ½ cup 2 percent milk
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt (sour cream works too)
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese

In a 400 degree oven, roast the chopped up potatoes and leeks on a baking tray. Before roasting, liberally coat the vegetables in olive oil and salt and pepper. Cook until potatoes are brown and crispy, about 20 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the oven and scrape them into a large pot. Heat the stove to medium heat and stir in the spinach with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a little more salt. When the spinach has wilted, usually about 4 to 5 minutes, stir in the wine, cooking for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, lower the heat and let the soup simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn the heat off and using an immersion blender (or regular blender or food processor), blend the soup smooth. Add additional chicken stock if the soup is very thick. After the soup has been blended, stir in milk, Greek yogurt and parmesan cheese. Taste to make sure it doesn’t need any more salt and pepper. Serve immediately with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

You can also find this recipe in the newest edition of the Yakima Magazine.