Category: thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, pilgrim.

A young Rita Hayworth getting ready to dig in to that turkey...

Well, hey there- Happy Thanksgiving! Today, I hope you’re just as excited and happy as Rita Hayworth up there to dig into some good grub. I hope everything is going smoothly, you’re sitting back with your feet up and you’re 100% ready and prepared for the day. I hope.

But in case you’re not, or in case that pie you made slid off the counter and Fido ate it and now you don’t know what to do, someone asked you to bring something today and you completely forgot or in case grandma’s cranberry sauce leaves a lot to be desired, I’m here to help.

Here’s a list of recipes that can help you make today a success. Yes, some of them require a time and effort, but if you start early enough & you have the ingredients, you’ll be golden. Others don’t take much time at all- plus you can use frozen pie crust if need be (I won’t tell).

On that note… GO EAT!

Apple-cranberry pie.

(This was originally written for a contributor post on eighteen25, go take a look and see! And look for more posts by me over there soon.)

Apples for apple-cranberry pie.

Peeling apples for apple-cranberry pie.

As a food blogger and someone who just loves to eat in general, there are a few things I hear from people a lot. One is usually something like “How do you stay so skinny?” Now in my mind I am far from skinny, but also do people assume I eat every single thing I make in it’s entirety? And two, which really bothers me: “I don’t have time to do all that!”

Yes, yes you do.

Apple-cranberry pie; like apple pie with cranberry sauce!

I’m busy too. Trust me. I have a lot going on in my life. But it’s a matter of priority. Some people will always choose to drive through a fast food restaurant, others will make homemade hamburgers. That’s just the way it is. Some people won’t ever try to do it, so they won’t realize how it really doesn’t take 6 hours and it isn’t all that difficult. However, if I want something, I want to make sure its the best it can be. Sometimes, yes, I use shortcuts like frozen pie crust, and that’s okay. That is TOTALLY OKAY. But Jay can sniff out a frozen crust from a mile away- and he prefers homemade. So if I know I’m making a pie ahead of time (and not at 3 a.m. when I can’t sleep), I try to put aside extra time to make a homemade pie crust. Especially if it’s for a holiday dinner.

This pie was new for me, and I wanted to share it with you because it’s a great Thanksgiving pie. And Christmas pie, too, really. It’s like cranberry sauce and apple pie rolled into one. It’s dessert and a side dish. It’s totally unexpected. And it’s also adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, which I happen to trust immensely when it comes to recipes.

Apple-cranberry pie.

I hope you’ll try it this year for the holidays. Maybe you’ll come to love it so much, you’ll never buy a frozen crust or store-bought pie ever again. And yes… I continue my tradition of being horrible at folding pie crust.

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Orange rind & apple brandy cranberry sauce, and a remembrance of things past.

Orange rind and apple brandy cranberry sauce.

When I think of past Thanksgivings, there’s a blur in my mind. Particularly the childhood ones. I do remember some very clearly- like the year I was probably around 7, and I was making paper dolls on the living room floor after watching the parade. Or the year directly after that when I was creating some kind of model of Plimoth Plantation (purchased the previous summer while on vacation at Plimoth, obviously). Or the year I was about 14 and after dinner, we left the plates on the table & my father drove us in to see the Christmas windows in Manhattan. I even remember the knit hat and the vintage Levi’s I wore. And the year that I was maybe 18 or 19 and we had dinner at my aunt & uncle’s house, and there’s a picture of me floating around somewhere, an actual tangible photograph, of me wearing a lace apron & blue Doc Martens. And of course I remember last year at my in-laws house, when Jay and I cooked everything for both families all by ourselves. And the year before that, and the year before. But other years, they just blur together to create one large Thanksgiving. One large dinner. One pan of lasagna. One turkey. One memory comprised of all the memories.

And I cannot say I remember any one dish, really. I don’t remember any specific stand-out side dishes, except for the one year I made broccoli and cauliflower au gratin (and I’ve been craving it ever since). However this… this is a stand-out side dish if ever there was one.

Orange rind and apple brandy cranberry sauce.

Okay. So, Thanksgiving. If there is one thing I can convince you of concerning Thanksgiving, let it be that you DO NOT NEED TO BUY CRANBERRY SAUCE. I know I say a lot of things about how my recipes are “easy” and how you should be making your own pickles or what have you (and that is all 100% true) but cranberry sauce is THE EASIEST THING EVER. I am not lying to you. There is no need to buy stuff chock full of high fructose corn syrup and additives when it’s so easy to make your own. Plus, this time of year cranberries are everywhere, and they’re usually on sale. Stock up and make some homemade cranberry sauce now, enjoy it later.

Orange rind and apple brandy cranberry sauce.

It doesn’t have to be “canned” or processed either, I just prefer to do so because I make a couple of half-pints (or pints) and I would rather keep them in a cupboard than in the fridge, open. That way, throughout the entire season I have fresh cranberry sauce. From Thanksgiving to Christmas and throughout the winter. For all those roast chicken Sunday dinners, I can pop open a new jar. Cranberries cook themselves, really. And they have so much natural pectin that they just gel together like a dream. It’s a beginners dream sauce!

I used Black Dirt “Apple Jack” apple brandy in mine, because brandy reminds me of my Nana and apple brandy is the only kind I had on hand. But you could use a regular brandy too. Or bourbon, or whiskey. Or you can leave it out completely.

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Spiced ginger walnut pumpkin cake with vanilla maple frosting.

Spiced pumpkin ginger cake with maple frosting.

Readers of my blog will remember when I said a few weeks ago that it was pumpkin time. Well, it definitely is. Pumpkin, pumpkin everywhere. As far as the eye can see! Pumpkin is the universal symbol- and flavor- of autumn. Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin Oreos… the thought of it makes me want to pull out my fuzzy knit socks and my favorite sweats and read a book. Because fall.

That’s how I feel about ginger too. It’s a fall and winter thing, for me.

Spiced ginger pumpkin cake with maple frosting.

Spiced pumpkin ginger cake with maple frosting and toasted walnuts.

I saw the original form of this cake in an e-mail from one of my favorite stores, Sur La Table. I decided to switch it up a bit, tweak it and bake it in a different way. The frosting I also changed completely, because I don’t like cream cheese frosting. So I made a vanilla maple buttercream-ish frosting instead.

I know it sounds like a lot going on- just like that apple pie, but I promise you it works beautifully and it is not “too much.” It’s a gorgeous cake that works perfectly for any fall Sunday dinner, or even Thanksgiving, but also just for your average cold fall weekend.

I made this cake twice. The first time I used a 1 1/2 qt. vintage glass Fire King baking dish  (this one actually) that was about 10″ x 6.” I just greased it lightly and skipped the parchment. The second time, I used this vintage loaf pan, but you can use any baking dish or pan that’s roughly the same size. It can be a little wider and shallower, square instead of rectangle, or even a little deeper… but regardless, you shouldn’t have to change the temperature. Just watch the time. You don’t want the cake to burn! Baking it as a loaf, it will take around 40 minutes to bake.

But both times it came out perfect- so don’t stress what kind of pan you use.

Pumpkin spice ginger cake with maple frosting and toasted walnuts.

The cake can also very easily be made vegan: just take out the eggs and substitute with an egg replacer, flax seed or tofu. And you can use a vegan frosting option too. Although you can definitely serve it without frosting and it’s awesome, too.

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A pie for the ages: bourbon sweet potato pumpkin pie!

I’m publishing this pie today, because I wanted to give you time to make it for Thanksgiving. I purposely didn’t post it too early, and I specifically waited until this date. I wanted to give you enough time to really absorb what you’re seeing. Then get up, go out to the store & get the ingredients you need to make this, then come home & plan to do so on/by Thursday. I felt it had to be done this way. So I’m giving you a few days, and I expect you all to make it. You must. Seriously.

It’s THAT good.

Don’t believe me?

Bourbon sweet potato pumpkin pie, anyone?

It’s the pie to end all pies.

It’s a pie for the ages!

Bourbon. Sweet potato. Pumpkin. With toasted meringue. Toasted bourbon meringue, that is.

Sweet potato pumpkin pie with bourbon! And more bourbon in the meringue.

Say word.

A motherflippin’ bourbon sweet potato pumpkin pie with toasted bourbon meringue! 

When I told Jay of my plans to make it, his jaw dropped open. And he doesn’t even really like pumpkin anything! I knew I was on to something. Although, in hindsight, it might have just been the mention of bourbon. Either way, I combined a few different recipes for a few different pies & came up with this: the holy grail of autumn piedom.

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A turkey-themed Friday Fifteen.

Whoa, you guys. All of a sudden both Halloween & Dia de Los Muertos are over and its time to get ready for… Thanksgiving? (Or Christmas, if you believe the stores. Put the stockings away, people. It’s NOT time for that yet! It’s time for TURKEY!)

WOW. Where did the time go? Tomatoes & peaches turned into gourds & pumpkins before I had time to even realize it. And now Halloween is over!

Doesn't everyone match their pumpkins to their walls?

It’s still time for pumpkins though; no matter what the retail establishments say. I don’t know, call me crazy, but I kinda like having Thanksgiving be Thanksgiving. No Christmas lights yet, no trees. Just a lot of food! And I also kinda like the coordinated pumpkin thing going on in that picture there. First time I’ve ever bought a pumpkin that matched my walls… but it works! I likey. Oh, and pardon my 20-year-old busted up Converse there. It is a hallway/foyer/entryway, after all. I already showed you the front door/chalkboard last month.

Okay so, suffice it to say this Friday Fifteen isn’t really all about turkey, per se. But it is about Turkey Day, or Thanksgiving. Close enough. Enjoy!


A turkey-themed Friday Fifteen!

  1. This story isn’t really funny… but yet it kinda is in a twisted way. More so it’s one of those “I can’t believe it” kind of stories, and since it involved a turkey I felt the need to share it. A few months back, a wild turkey crashed into a woman’s house in New Jersey, causing over $7,000 in damages. You can read about it on CNN. I bet that family needed a couple of bottles of Wild Turkey after hearing that their insurance wasn’t paying to fix anything.
  2. Cranberries are a must this time of year. And cranberry sauce is a staple for Thanksgiving. I’ve got three different varieties on the blog: amaretto cranberry sauce, Chinese apple-sauce (pomegranate sauce with whole cranberries) and New England cranberry compote with walnuts & orange peel. All of which are stellar accompaniments for ANY turkey day meal- be it vegetarian, vegan or otherwise.
  3. If you prefer your cranberries in baked goods, how about a lemon-cranberry shortbread crumble? Cranberry-orange scones? Or cranberry orange pound cake with orange butter rum sauce? Or… crustless cranberry pie?
  4. And if you prefer your cranberries in something sweeter to spread on toast… then what about these apple-cranberry preserves with a smidgen of ginger?
  5. Okay… so you aren’t a cranberry person. That’s cool. How about pumpkin bread? Do you like that? Ugh, you’re so difficult to please.
  6. Well if none of that does anything for you… maybe cornbread? How about this Boston Market cornbread rip-off recipe from A Pretty Cool Life?
  7. Move over Paul Simon. Here’s twenty-five ways to cook a turkey, via Saveur.
  8. And (maybe more importantly) 10 tips to avoid Thanksgiving stress.
  9. Being that I painted my living room a dark gray & my great-grandfathers nickname was “The Duke”, I am obsessed with this Duke armchair from Joss & Main.
  10. Speaking of paint: I’ve been painting A LOT lately. 3 large rooms, a ceiling and a hallway as of this minute. And the best paint I ever used in my entire life is Martha Stewart’s paint (from Glidden at Home Depot). Paint + primer, excellent colors, amazing coverage. If you’re thinking about painting, try it. You will not be sorry!
  11. It’s most definitely still pie season. And if you’re not a baker, or you’ve never made a pie before, you might be a bit unsure about tackling that pumpkin pie. So you might want to take a peek at this link… 15 best tips for making pies. Read it, keep it in mind, and come back in here in a week or so to check out the MIND-BLOWING pie I have planned for you!
  12. The holidays can be a rough time for a lot of people. Reach out to elderly neighbors or neighbors who live alone. Or, who just lost someone that was crucial to their happiness in this season of love & family. You never know who has no one, and who’ll appreciate a jar of preserves, a freshly baked pie, an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner or even just a simple “how are you?”
  13. If you want something new & different to serve at Thanksgiving dinner this year, how about pumpkin applesauce? The recipe is right here.
  14. Roast pumpkin with honey, feta, balsamic & sesame seeds from Not Quite Nigella. That should probably be on your Thanksgiving menu. Or if not Thanksgiving, then sometime soon.
  15. My name is Marilla, & I’m a mug-o-holic. It can be bad. I have a literal box full in the closet of older mugs that are “out of rotation” since I’ve acquired newer ones. I don’t discriminate- I love ALL mugs. Big, small, tall, short. Souvenir mugs, etc. Recently, I had a discussion on Facebook & came to a conclusion: I am not alone in my mug obsession. Inspired, and perhaps a bit prompted by Joel (& Dana!) of Well Preserved & this post, I decided to show off my favorite:

Anthropologie M mug.

This is probably my absolute favorite of all my mugs. It’s THE mug. MY mug. My main mug. Chances are, if I’m drinking hot cocoa or tea or coffee I’m doing it out of this mug. It’s MASSIVE- I can use the 12 ounce option on my Keurig & still have plenty of room for milk. Its from Anthropologie. I got it about 7 years ago; they still have the monogram mugs, but they’re a bit smaller & the letters are a tad different. I adore this mug so much that it’s even got a chip in the bottom from being used & carried everywhere- even outside to do gardening. Ginnifer Goodwin’s character Mary Margaret/Snow White on Once Upon a Time has the same mug. Same letter, too.

What’s YOUR favorite mug?