Thanksgiving Day




Family, food, friends, football games, marathons, visiting and having fun.  Whatever you may be doing today, I wish you a most happy Thanksgiving.   When you stop and think about all that you have to be thankful for, think about all those people so less fortunate in this world.    Sharing what we have with others is never wrong, especially if it’s food and it’s given from the heart.

I’m taking a break from the kitchen for a few days,  and just chillin’.   Hope you do the same.  Be back again on Monday, folks!


Fresh Whole Cranberry Sauce

Fresh Whole Cranberry Sauce

Fresh Whole Cranberry Sauce

I think that cranberries are one of the best things about this time of year.  They appear on the scene as fresh fruit at just the right time.  All the color outside has just about disappeared and everything is looking very “gray”.   That probably won’t last long as we have a forecast for snow starting tomorrow.  (I so hope the forecasters are wrong!)  Anyway, cranberries show up with their perfect red color and suddenly things are looking up.

At one time way back when, I was very neutral toward cranberries.  Like,  “Oh, yeah, cranberry sauce with turkey..that’s nice”; and that’s all I thought they were good for.  But now-a-days, because they freeze so easily, we can cook and bake with the little jewels all year long.  But somehow they seem most welcome in the fall and through the Holidays.  I really think it’s because of their wonderful color when everything else around us is so drab.  They’re bright and cheerful, make you smile, and they’re a very flattering shade of red.


Oh, you are SO gorgeous !


Now their flavor is something else!!  Most people are scared of a cranberry.  My goodness, how do you sweeten it up?  Try eating just one…..raw.    That little baby has major pucker power.  They are so tart they make an average lemon seem like a wimp.  But you know, that’s really the best part.  Cranberries provide a contrast.  Think about your favorite foods, aren’t there contrasts involved?  Savory against sweet; sweet decadent desserts with a little salt;  a crunchy topping on a smooth custardy base;  and cranberries—all twisted up with something sweet really get to shine.

Well cranberry sauce is like that.   A contrast in and all by itself.   It’s sweet, but it’s tart.  It can be smooth and jellied, or chunky and rough.   It’s satisfying and flavorful on its own, and it gets even better when other fruits are added to it.  Citrus fruits pair with cranberries very well, especially oranges, so I add some zest and some juice.  I also add some lime, the zest and juice, to deepen that layer of citrus you detect.   Making my own fresh cranberry sauce is so fun and this recipe can be dressed up with additional fruits like chopped apples, or pears and some raisins to turn it into a chutney.  Think of it as a garnish to go with whatever you may be serving and have some fun with it.  Cranberry with pineapple and ham, anyone?



Yield:   about 12 servings, or 3 cups


  • 1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked overIMG_8614
  • 2 cups granulated sugar  ( I use about 1  3/4 cups, as we like it less sweet)
  • 1 tsp. grated orange peel
  • 1 tsp. grated lime peel
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup water






1.  Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.   Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes until the berries pop.


Skim off any large amount of foam that may form on the surface.  Allow to cool to room temperature.



2.  This sauce will thicken nicely as it cools because of the high level of pectin in the cranberries.  Store in the refrigerator in a covered container.  Serve with chicken or turkey, or any other entree of your choice.



Stuffed Turkey Tenderloins



Stuffed Turkey Tenderloins

Stuffed Turkey Tenderloins

This recipe is for anyone who is not planning on roasting a whole turkey for Thanksgiving, yet wants to have some turkey the day of…just not for a week afterward.

Can I interest you in turkey tenderloins stuffed with a savory filling of butternut squash, cranberries, sage and pecans?   All the tastes of Thanksgiving wrapped up in a neat little edible package.  These are not hard to make, they taste fabulous and even the next day, they still taste great leftover for lunch.


Turkey tenderloins are the tender long strip of white meat hidden under the turkey breast.  They are succulent, and so excellent for fast cooking.  Because they are so lean you want to be sure you don’t overcook them or the meat will be dry. Once stuffed they are seared a little to brown them up, then covered and baked in the oven to finish cooking.  By covering the pan you keep all the moisture inside, thereby maintaining moisture in the meat.

I made these for Mr. D. and me as a pre-Thanksgiving meal to try them out, but they would be good anytime you want just a small amount of turkey or you’re planning a meal for a special occasion.


Yield:  Makes 4 servings


  • 1 pound boneless turkey tenderloins  ( about 2 large, or 4 smaller ones)IMG_8597
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1  1/4 cups diced butternut squash, 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. dried sage
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped pecans
  • cooking twine
  • cooking spray


1.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil.  Add shallots and garlic and sauté over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, or until soft and golden.

Sauté shallots and garlic till soft.

Sauté shallots and garlic till soft.

Add butternut squash, cranberries, maple syrup and 1 Tbsp. water and cover;  cook on low for 10 minutes.

Add b-nut squash, cranberries, maple syrup and water.

Add b-nut squash, cranberries, maple syrup and water.

Turn off heat and add salt, pepper and sage.    Stir in the pecans and set aside to cool slightly.

Add seasonings and pecans.

Add seasonings and pecans.

2.  Cut a pocket into the sides of the tenderloins, being careful not to cut all the way through at the ends.  Sprinkle inside and out with salt.

3.  Stuff each turkey breast with about 1/2 cup of squash mixture.  (This really depends on the size of your tenderloins.  Stuff them as full as possible.)  Cut cooking twine long enough to tie each breast with 3 to 4 pieces of twine.  Cut off extra “tails”.

Tenderloins stuffed and tied.

Tenderloins stuffed and tied.

4.  Preheat oven to 375*F.    Wipe out the skillet you’ve previously used and reheat to medium-high.  Spray with a little cooking spray.  Carefully sear each turkey tenderloin on each side.  If your skillet is oven proof, cover tightly with foil and place in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  (If your skillet is not oven proof, transfer the tenderloins to a baking dish and cover with foil.)  Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.



SOURCE:    Slightly modified from Skinny Taste

Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays.  It’s a day that revolves around family and food;  a time to think about all the blessings in our lives and to remember all the things for which we are thankful.  The menu that gets served for Thanksgiving dinner is pretty traditional.  Although I like to get creative, Thanksgiving is not the time when I want to have dishes on the table that contain unrecognizable ingredients.

Sweet potato generally is not a vegetable that my family serves, although once in a while we do have a small bowl of them mashed.  This year however, I am making a baked casserole in the Southern tradition.  I auditioned it in advance to see how it would come out before springing it on my family.   It passed the test big time!!   Mr. D. pronounced it “fantastic”.   This is not the usual sweet potato casserole with marshmallows melted and toasty on top.  This one has a crumb topping with pecans in it.  It is so yummy, I would be happy eating it for dessert.  I think this dish is about to become one of our new traditions…..


Please note:  in the pictures that follow, the quantities you see are reduced from the recipe as I made a smaller version using only 2 large sweet potatoes.


Yield:   Serves 12


  • 4 pounds sweet potatoes (about 4 – 5 large), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes.

    Cut up sweet potatoes into small(ish) cubes.

    Cut up sweet potatoes into small(ish) cubes.

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans



1.  Put sweet potatoes in a large saucepan with water to cover.  Bring to a boil, and cook over medium heat until tender, about 25 minutes.  Drain and mash with a potato masher.  Add 4 Tablespoons butter to hot potatoes and allow it to melt while you prepare the egg mixture.

Add butter to hot potatoes so it can melt in, then mash.

Add butter to hot potatoes so it can melt in, then mash.

2.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Coat a 13 x 9-inch baking dish ( or similar size) with cooking spray and set aside.

3.  In a large bowl, mix together white sugar, eggs, salt,  milk, and vanilla until smooth.


Add to mashed sweet potatoes and stir well to blend smooth.

Add milk/egg mixture to sweet potatoes and blend well.

Add milk/egg mixture to sweet potatoes and blend well.

Pour sweet potato mixture into prepared baking dish.


4.  In a small bowl, mix brown sugar and flour.  Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and cut in with a pastry cutter or two knives until mixture looks like coarse sand.  Stir in pecan pieces.


Sprinkle over sweet potato mixture.

Sprinkle topping over sweet potato mixture.

Sprinkle topping over sweet potato mixture.

Note:  if you are making this ahead, cover it with foil and put in the fridge at this point.  Then uncover it, put it in the oven, and bake it on Thanksgiving day.  Or you can bake it in advance and just reheat it when you want to serve it.

5.  Bake for 45 – 50 minutes, or until mixture is heated through and  topping is lightly browned.



SOURCE:   All Recipes Magazine


Pear Hazelnut Bread

Pear-Hazelnut Bread

Pear-Hazelnut Bread

Quick breads often meet my need for something sweet, without a guilt trip about how many calories I’m ingesting.  Of course not all of them meet that description, but this one is a nice compromise between a little sweetness and something you feel good about eating for breakfast.  It bakes up nice and hearty, with shredded pears and chopped hazelnuts folded into a cardamom-scented batter.

This bread would be a welcome addition to a holiday brunch or just nice to have with your morning’s coffee, on an average day.  Although, in my opinion, no day is average when it starts with a home-baked bread or muffin.


Fresh, firm pears are needed for this recipe, so when they are grated you will not have a pile of mush.  I like Bosc pears but firm Bartletts work well also.  Wait to prepare them until you’re ready to put the bread together or the shredded fruit will turn brown.

While the original recipe for this bread called for 1  1/2 cups white all-purpose flour, I use a mixture of whole grains to make a total of  1 1/2 cups.  Examples are oats, spelt flour, whole wheat flour, and barley flakes.  The proportions should be about 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour, and 1/4 cup something else like oats or barley flakes.  This will give you a bread that is tender with good texture.   Toasting the hazelnuts in the oven for about 5 minutes improves their nutty flavor, but watch them carefully so they don’t get too browned.



Yield:   1  9″x5″ loaf


  • 1 cup shredded, peeled, ripe pears that are still firm (about 2 )
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, or coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups flour (see recommended types above)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  •  1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts



1.  Preheat the oven to 350*F.  and line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides.  Coat well with cooking spray and set aside.

2.  Whisk together the vegetable oil, yogurt, eggs, and vanilla together well.  Stir in the shredded pears.

3.  Whisk together all the dry ingredients,  adding in the chopped nuts also.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients.

4.  Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ones, mixing just to moisten thoroughly.

Mixing wet ingredients into dry.

Mixing wet ingredients into dry.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.  Test carefully as the top of this loaf may brown and look done while the center is still moist because of the pears.

5.  Let cool in the pan for about an hour, then remove from pan and transfer to a rack to cool completely.



SOURCE:   Adapted from Whole Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon

Wiener- Kraut

Weiner-Kraut with Spatzele

Weiner-Kraut with Spatzele

I’m a little late getting this post up.   I made this dish several weeks ago with a nod to Octoberfest.  But what the heck, just call it Novemberfest.

What’s Oktoberfest if not an excuse to indulge–isn’t that why we co-oped the German holiday, after all?

This is an old Mennonite recipe, brought by those folks when they immigrated to this country.   I found it in a catalog from the Penzey’s Spice Company.  It’s relatively quick to prepare and perfect for a chilly fall day after working out in the yard.  It can be served over mashed potatoes, or egg noodles, but when I made it I used a package of Spaetzle and served it all with fresh green beans.  A cold glass of beer goes very well with this dish. Dirndles and lederhosen not required.



Yield:   Serves 6 – 8IMG_8467


  • 1 Tbsp. butter or vegetable oil
  • 4  Polish or German-style sausages ( 1 1/2 – 2 pounds), sliced 1/4-inch thick.  (I used kielbasa.)
  • 1 onion, cut in half and sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 apples, cored and sliced
  • 1 cup chopped red or green bell pepper, 1 medium
  • 4 cups sliced or shredded cabbage
  • 1 Tbsp. Krakow Nights, or Tsardust Seasoning (from Penzey’s)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice ( in a pinch, use chicken broth)


1.  In a large deep skillet, melt the butter  or vegetable oil over medium heat.  Add the sausage slices and brown, about 4 minutes per side.  Add the onion and cook until tender 3 – 5 minutes, stirring often.

Browning the sausage with onions.

Browning the sausage with onions.

2.  Add the vinegar to deglaze the pan, being sure to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.  Add the apples, bell peppers, cabbage, seasonings and apple juice or cider.


Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 10 minutes, until the cabbage is tender but not mushy.



Serve with mashed potatoes, egg noodles, or spaetzle.



SOURCE:  Penzey’s Catalog

Coconut Oil…the next best thing?

Coconut Smoothie

Coconut Smoothie

It seems as if coconut oil is taking the grocery stores by storm.  It’s so rich, versatile, and vegan.  Has it become one of your kitchen staples yet?

It’s popularity seems to be well-deserved–after all, it’s as rich as butter (without the cholesterol) and as versatile as vegetable oil.  And now we can find the good stuff in our grocery stores:  organic, non-hydrogenated varieties.  It’s pressed from the raw coconut, so the oil has a subtle nutty flavor, and it’s a wonderful substitute for butter in baked goods.  You can also use it in cooking for a flavor boost in savory dishes as well.

Did you know that coconut oil turns to liquid between 75 and 81 degrees F., so its consistency may change from day to day. To maintain its solid, spreadable state and keep it from turning rancid, store it in a cool, dark cupboard.

This natural moisturizer is going gangbusters in beauty products as well.  Organic sugar mixes with organic coconut oil to make a wonderful exfoliating body scrub.  Try putting a small amount of coconut oil into the palm of your hand, let it melt, then add a few grains of sugar and mix in.  Use as a facial scrub.  After rinsing well, your face will feel very soft and smooth.

Crack the coconut trend, and keep an eye out in stores where beauty products are sold.  I’ve seen a nourishing coconut oil body mist that you can spritz on after a shower, or add some to your bath for a rich soak.  Coconut water can also be found in body cleansers; and coconut oil and shea butter make a soothing, smoothing skin softener.

I have been using coconut oil at night as a hand moisturizer.  At the first sign of cool weather my hands become very dry, and the skin around my nails develops painful cracks.  As I prepare for bed, I rub coconut oil generously on my hands and nails, then put on cotton gloves to sleep in.  In the morning my hands are soft, and in repeating this ritual, I believe my hands are improving and are less dry and cracked.

I came across this recipe for a smoothie that incorporates coconut oil… you might want to try it.   The ingredients are nourishing and filling.  I made it this weekend for lunch with some fresh fruit.  Easy, and delicious!!



Yield:   Makes 1 servingIMG_8557


  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats ( or quick oats)
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt, plain
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup ice


1.  In a blender container, combine banana, oats, yogurt, coconut oil, honey, orange juice, and ice.   Puree until smooth.  Transfer to a tall glass and drink immediately.



SOURCE:   M.Stewart Living


Pumpkin Crunch Cake

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

Pumpkin Crunch Cake



October may be over, but anything pumpkin seems to still be a popular item.  Especially with Thanksgiving coming up.  If pumpkin pie is not your thing, or you would like something other than pie for your holiday dessert table, these dessert squares will surely fit the bill.

Recipes featuring the great orange squash are still popping up everywhere.   I have a whole board devoted to pumpkin on Pinterest….it’s called “Pumpkin Anything” and so many  pictures from that board get repinned.  Today’s recipe is one that I found on Pinterest, one of those quick and easy baked items that use a cake mix for convenience.  You’re gonna love this one 🙂


This dessert is fabulous,  tasting like pumpkin pie, but rather cake-like,  a cross between cake and a creamy dessert square.  The pecans on top give it some crunch, so you have a nice contrast between the creamy pumpkin layer, the cake layer and the topping.   Oh, and be sure to dollop each serving with some whipped cream.   This makes a 13″ x 9″ pan, so there will be plenty of servings, about 20 – 24.


Yield:    Makes 20 – 24 servingsIMG_8134


  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 1  12-0z. can evaporated milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 box Yellow Cake mix
  • 1/2 – 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 2 sticks butter, melted ( I used 1 stick butter and 1/2 cup coconut oil with good results.)


1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.   Spray a 13″ x 9″ pan with non-stick cooking spray.

2.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon and salt.  Pour into the prepared baking pan.

3.  Sprinkle the cake mix evenly over the pumpkin layer.   If the mix is very lumpy, run it through a sifter before sprinkling it on.

4.  Sprinkle chopped pecans on top of cake mix.

5.  Drizzle butter over all.    Bake at 350*F. for 50 – 55 minutes or until golden brown.    Cool.

Golden brown from the oven.

Golden brown from the oven.


Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

This is sooo good!

This is sooo good!


SOURCE:   Itty Bitty Homestead


Tomato, Tortellini and Spinach Soup

Tomato-Tortilini-Spinach Soup

Tomato-Tortellini-Spinach Soup

Soups are pretty mundane.  They don’t garner all the razzmatazz that entrees do in a fancy restaurant.  Soups sit quietly in the back row, never speaking unless spoken to.  I think of soups as kind of shy.  They mind their own business, but if you seek them out, well then….they love to be noticed, and they can charm you, but quietly.

I made this soup on a day when I needed soup….and on a day when I needed the soup to be easy, but captivating.  This is a soup that shines when you taste it, but not before.


The savory onions and garlic go from sautéing, into a pot of hot broth, to which diced tomatoes are added and the seasonings.  Add some fresh cheese-filled tortilini,  cook a few minutes till done, add some spinach, and there it is.    The dried basil and oregano are essential.  They are what makes this soup have that wonderful Italian flavor.  The only thing that can make it better is a shaving of Parmesan cheese on top.   Oh, and a loaf of crusty, crunchy bread to soak up the broth.    Listen closely, and  you will hear Andrea Bocelli singing.


Yield:   Serves 4


  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp, dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes with their juice
  • 4 cups chicken broth (vegetarians, use vegetable broth)
  • 9 0z. pkg. refrigerated 3-cheese tortellini
  • 3 cups baby spinach, or 1 box frozen spinach, squeezed dry
  • grated Parmesan for serving


1.  Heat the olive oil in a large soup kettle.  Add chopped onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent.

Sautéing the onions and garlic.

Sautéing the onions and garlic.

2.  Add the tomatoes with their liquid, the chicken broth plus 1 cup of water, all the seasonings, the tortellini and salt and pepper to taste.

There's all those lovely seasonings.

There’s all those lovely seasonings.

3.   Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook until the tortellini is tender, about 5 – 6 minutes

4.  Stir in the spinach and cook for 2 – 3 more minutes to heat through.


5.  Ladle into bowls and serve with  shaved Parmesan cheese as garnish.

Warming, captivating, delicious!!

Warming, captivating, delicious!!


SOURCE:   adapted from Cooking Classy


Reese’s Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Bars

Reese's Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

Reese’s Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

Let’s take out some butter to soften up.   Check that your pantry has plenty of flour, sugar and brown sugar.  Oh, and we’re going to need peanut butter, peanut butter in several forms.  Why?  Because today is baking day.

Today we are going to make Peanut Butter Oatmeal bars, and we’re pulling out all the stops with these, incorporating peanut butter-flavored baking chips, peanut butter, and Reese’s Miniature candies.  Total peanut butter heaven!  I’ve been enthralled with all kinds of bar cookies lately, and these leave no room for disappointment.  If you have Reese’s Cups left from Halloween this is a great way to use them up.


These bars are fabulous in every way;  besides the wonderful taste, the centers are perfectly soft and chewy, and the Reese’s cup surprise in the middle makes them even more drool-worthy.   It takes very little time to whip these up, but everyone who tastes them will want the recipe.  To make sure the Reese’s are nicely distributed I put down a layer of about half the dough in the bottom of the baking dish and then sprinkled the chopped candy on top.  Next I dolloped the remaining dough on top of all that, making a kind of peanut butter oatmeal cookie sandwich with a Reese’s filling.   Turned out to be a great way to do it, as every bite gives you all that yumminess combined.


These will bake up beautifully and cut nicely also.  I cut mine into 16 bars for the photos here, but you may want to cut them diagonally in half if you’re serving a large group, or double up on all the ingredients and bake in a 13″ x 9″ pan for a larger batch.  Be sure to treat yourself to a whole bar… you deserve it.   I know I did! 🙂


Yield:   Makes 16 barsIMG_8222


  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter-flavored baking chips
  • 1 cup Reese’s miniatures, chopped or Reese’s minis


1.  Preheat the oven to 350*F.   Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

2.  Cream butter and brown sugar together in a large mixing bowl.  Add peanut butter and continue mixing.

3.  Add egg, mix in well, then add vanilla.

4.  Combine flour, oats, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.   Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture and stir in well.

5.  Stir in the peanut butter chips.

6.  Spread 2/3 of the dough on the bottom of the pan.  Top with chopped Reese’s miniatures.  Dollop the remaining dough on top by the teaspoon.  It doesn’t have to completely cover all the Reese’s.

About half the dough on the bottom, a layer of Reese's cups, and the remaining dough on top.

About half the dough on the bottom, a layer of Reese’s cups, and the remaining dough on top.

7.  Bake for about 30 minutes.  Let cool completely before cutting into bars.


Serve with a glass of cold milk for supreme satisfaction!!


SOURCE:  Slightly modified from Mom on Time