It’s Back – The Stuffing Everyone Loves!

The Stuffing Everyone Loves Recipe

The Stuffing Everyone Loves!

It’s been 5 years since I’ve shared The Stuffing Everyone Loves recipe. So for 2016, it’s back!

What makes this recipe different from the familiar mushroom sage dressing served on dinner tables all over the country at this time of year? Not much, and that is the beauty of it. It’s just like you remember, only better. And everyone loves it.

Rustic ciabatta, with its porous, chewy texture is the perfect bread for this stuffing. A homemade rich-flavored giblet stock, eliminates the need to cook the stuffing inside the turkey, while retaining that classic turkey flavor.

A 50-50 ratio of vegetables (mushroom, celery, onion, and leek) to the volume of ciabatta creates a balanced, not overly bready-y dish. Cooking the stuffing in a shallow baking dish allows for the desirable contrast of buttery toasty bread atop a moist stuffing beneath. Plenty of butter, Italian parsley and butter-fried sage bring the classic flavors of the season.

And with no “surprise” ingredients (oysters, nuts, fruit, chestnuts) it simply appeals to everyone…and exceeds expectations.

The Stuffing Everyone Loves Recipe

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Thanksgiving Cranberry Jelly Sashimi

Thanksgiving Cranberry "Sashimi"
Thanksgiving Cranberry Jelly Sashimi

What if the old cranberry jelly appeared on the buffet as ahi tuna?

Let’s add a bit of whimsy to the Thanksgiving buffet this year! You can still serve your fabulous homemade cranberry orange relish. But perhaps you also have some guests who love the cranberry sauce that comes from a can. Not that they don’t have sophisticated taste buds, they just like the tradition, comfort, and memories from the celebrations of yesteryear. So why not make them happy too? The cost is just a few minutes of your time plus one can of Jellied Cranberry Sauce and a couple tablespoons of cream cheese (with a drop of food coloring to stand in for wasabi)…or take the friendly hoax to another level by adding fresh lemon, shiso leaves, and a pickled ginger rosette.

Thanksgiving Cranberry "Sashimi"

How To Make Thanksgiving Cranberry Jelly Sashimi

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A Fresh California Twist on Brussels Sprouts

California Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

Cal-Style Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

with

Lentils, Cranberries, Walnuts, Chestnuts, and Orange Zest
Orange Tahini Dressing

Imagine serving a Brussels sprouts side dish for Thanksgiving that appeals to all your guests. Unfortunately, that’s probably not possible as these seasonal mini cabbages are one of America’s most-hated vegetables.

Brussels sprouts can have a slightly bitter quality, especially the large older ones, which can be off-putting to many. And then there is that childhood memory of mushy overcooked Brussels sprouts with their lingering cabbage-y smells. No wonder this little brassica has a bad reputation. But we’re putting an original California spin on that old cruciferous vegetable this holiday!

In recent years we’ve seen lots of fabulous recipes for roasted Brussels sprouts, which have changed some peoples minds about this vegetable. We’re refreshing our Thanksgiving menu with a California Style Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad. It is bright and flavorful – the perfect foil to all the rich heavy dishes on the buffet. And it is naturally nutritious, gluten-free, and vegan too.

Most of the U.S. production of Brussels sprouts comes from California where plantings began in the 1920s along our Central Coast. The combination of coastal fog and cooler temperatures is ideal for cultivation. This Cal-Style Brussels Sprouts Salad invokes the flavors of the holidays – cranberry, walnut, orange, chestnut. Shaved Brussels sprouts are blanched in boiling water for only two minutes, then shocked in an ice bath to retain their crispiness and color.

The flavor is fresh and bright. The texture is light and crunchy. I add earthy lentils for balance. The lively dressing is a blend of creamy tahini (sesame seed paste), olive oil, and orange juice. Pairing these little leafy cabbages with legumes, fruits, and nuts is the key. You might just convert some haters this holiday. And as a bonus – this salad frees up much-needed space in the oven…

Cal-Style Brussels Sprouts Salad Recipe

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Holiday Spiced Purple Sweet Potatoes

holiday spiced purple sweet potato
Holiday Spiced Purple Sweet Potatoes

Do you make the same dishes every Thanksgiving? Over here, some dishes appear every year of course – like  turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy. But the vegetables vary, so does the soup. I also make my Holiday Spiced Sweet Potatoes each year, but this time they are getting a twist. I’m making them with purple-fleshed sweet potatoes that I find at the Korean market. Spiced Sweet Potatoes are a seasonal favorite. Rich with cream and warm spices, it’s a perfect winter holiday dish. And the purple potatoes add a dash of mystery.

purple sweet potato

Holiday Spiced Purple Sweet Potatoes Recipe

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Purple Cauliflower Salad & Thanksgiving Flowers

purple cauliflower salad
Marinated Purple & White Cauliflower Salad
Roasted Red Bell Pepper, Kalamata Olive, Scallion
Olive Oil, Lemon, Oregano, Parsley

thanksgiving flowers
I asked the florist to make 8 petite arrangements for my Thanksgiving table. This year in softer hues ~ focusing on green, yellow, brown and pink.  For no other reason than I wanted a change from bright orange & red, and I happened to have candles in those colors. They were just delightful! And in looking through my holiday photos, the flowers looked curiously like the purple cauliflower salad…

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The Stuffing Everyone Loves

classic stuffing
♡ The Stuffing Everyone Loves ♡

Is stuffing the overwhelming favorite Thanksgiving dish? According to the Foodbuzz Poll it is. I had no intention of posting my unfancy traditional stuffing recipe until I saw the poll results tweeted yesterday. If stuffing is indeed the jewel of the holiday buffet, we certainly can’t keep “The Stuffing Everyone Loves” recipe to ourselves…

What makes this stuffing different than the ubiquitous mushroom sage stuffing served on dinner tables all over the country at this time of year? Not much, and that is the beauty of it. It’s just like mom’s, only better. And everyone loves it. Ciabatta, lots of fresh parsley and butter-fried sage, fresh-made rich flavored giblet stock, a higher vegetable to bread ratio, lots of crispy crust, plenty of butter, no “surprise” ingredients – it simply exceeds expectations.

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The Green Bean Casserole is Back

French Green Bean/ Portabella Mushroom/ Gruyere
CASSEROLE
With Fried Onions

It dawned on me a few days before Thanksgiving that my nephews, Stone & Jett, would not ever know of the iconic green bean casserole unless I served it. You see, I always host the Thanksgiving meal now, as I took over that delightful task from my mother well over a decade ago. Stone and Jett, being 8 and 6 years old respectively, have only celebrated Thanksgiving at my home. So all of a sudden I realized, they would be going to college soon (well, not that soon) and someone in the fraternity house would mention their mother’s classic green bean casserole, and they, being foodies, would not know anything about it.  “Aunt GeeGee?” they might ask one day, “why didn’t you ever teach us how to make the green bean casserole?”

So…the green bean casserole has made a come-back! And it was, dare I say, popular! We all agree that it should grace the table again next year.

The original recipe created in 1955 by home economist Dorcas Reilly in Campbell’s Soup’s Creative Food Center, the one my mother always made, found on the Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup can, is now on their website here. My recipe is a variation of one from Trader Joe’s where we double the mushrooms and add gruyere cheese. Stone made the entire casserole, by himself.

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Spiced Sweet Potato Gratin

OK, so we needed a little break from Thanksgiving fare…from squash, pumpkin, turkey leftovers, and the like. So we went on to cheeseburgers and tamales. But there are still some wonderful, easy to prepare holiday dishes to be shared. Like this one…

Sweet potatoes (not yams) about 5 large, peeled and sliced thin. If you have a mandoline, that is the perfect tool. If not, you can use the slicer on your food processor. No special equipment? Slice thin with a knife, that would work just fine.

Butter a baking dish, or use non-stick spray. Form a layer of overlapping sweet potato medallions. Sprinkle the top of each layer with the following:
  • Coarse salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Brown sugar
  • Pumpkin pie spice

Repeat for a total of three layers. If it sounds odd to add salt and pepper to a sweet dish, do not let that stop you. This combination works so don’t be shy. I am a fan of fresh grated nutmeg, so I add that in addition to the pumpkin pie spice.
Pumpkin pie spice is a blend of:
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Lemon peel
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves
  • Cardamom

Pour cream over the sweet potatoes until about half way up the side of the baking dish. This 9 X 13 dish will serve over 20 people.

Baked covered with aluminum foil at 350 until the potatoes are al dente, about 1 1/2 hours. You might want to put the baking dish on an underliner, as it tends to bubble over. Remove foil and continue cooking until the potatoes are soft and the top is browned.
Holiday Tip: I make this a day ahead, cooking covered until al dente. Then I let it cool and refrigerate over night. Take out of the refrigerator about an hour before reheating. Cook uncovered until hot and bubbly. The best part: You can reheat this in the oven while your turkey is out of the oven and resting.

It is also a great dish to bring to someone else’s party. Once cooked, it transports well. Wrap it in aluminum foil and just heat it up when you get there. All the different spices make for an interesting dish, you’ll be a hero.

Speaking of being a hero, Aunt GeeGee (that would be me) is one too, with a new basketball court for my nephews! Here is Stone on the day before Thanksgiving. Nice shot! We took a break from cooking to shoot some hoops. By the way I don’t just shoot photographs, I’ve been known to shoot a three-pointer every once in a while too!