Archive for November, 2010

Turkey Sugar Cookies & Herb Roasted Turkey

Even though Turkey Sugar Cookies and Herb Roasted Turkey are two very different things, I decided to combine these two recipes into one post since Thanksgiving is over and everyone is probably in Christmas-mode by now.  I made both the cookies and herb roasted turkey for our Thanksgiving dinner last week.

Turkey-Shaped Sugar Cookies

For the cookies and royal icing, I used the same recipes I always use, which can be found by clicking here.  I have tried a lot of sugar cookie recipes over the years and this one is my favorite.  The cookies always taste delicious and the dough never spreads when it bakes, so the cookies perfectly hold the shape of the cookie cutter.  These cookies were fairly easy (and fun!) to decorate too.  All you need is a few #2 decorating tips, piping bags, squeeze bottles, and royal icing that has been tinted black, brown, red, orange, and yellow.  If you would like to see how to decorate these cookies and create the feather details, click here to see Bridget’s tutorial on her blog, Bake at 350.

Source: Bake at 350 blog

Herb Roasted Turkey

Since this was the first turkey I’ve ever cooked, I spent some time researching different recipes.  I ended up narrowing it down to 3 recipes, but all of them seemed to be missing something.  So I took the parts I liked from each recipe and combined them to make my own turkey recipe.  I’m very happy with how it turned out and I will definitely use this recipe again!  It was a simple recipe too – basically I just stuffed the turkey with lots of fresh herbs, vegetables, and a few orange wedges (to keep the turkey juicy).  I also rubbed the turkey with herb butter to add an extra layer of flavor.  Additionally, I added some vegetables and chicken broth to the roasting pan to flavor what would become the gravy.

I decided not to brine the turkey because logistically, I don’t think it would have worked.  There wouldn’t have been enough space to store it in our fridge, and since we were hosting Thanksgiving for 19 people, we needed a fairly large turkey.  We went with a 22-pound bird, which provided us with lots of yummy leftovers!  This is a great recipe for a flavorful, juicy, herb-roasted turkey.  Enjoy!

Herb Roasted Turkey


For the Turkey & Roasting Pan:

  • 6 ribs celery, largely chopped & divided
  • 6 carrots, largely chopped & divided
  • 2 onions, cut into wedges & divided
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 orange, cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 5 thyme sprigs
  • 6 sage leaves
  • 1 whole turkey, 18-22 pounds, thawed

For the Herb Butter:

  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. each chopped fresh thyme, sage, & rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and set oven rack to lower position.  Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey and discard.  Rinse the turkey well and pat dry with paper towels.  Set the turkey on a large baking sheet.
  2. Line a roasting pan with half of the celery, carrots, & onion wedges.  Add 2 cups chicken broth (this will help keep the turkey moist and add flavor to the juices for the gravy). Place a roasting rack on top of the vegetables & set aside.
  3. Stuff the turkey with salt & pepper, half of the onion wedges, celery, carrots, thyme & rosemary sprigs, sage leaves, & orange wedges.  Tie the legs together with kitchen twine.
  4. For the herb butter: Process the softened butter, thyme, sage, rosemary, and salt in a mini food processor.  Rub the turkey all over with the herb butter, making sure to reach the crevices of the legs and wings.
  5. Insert a meat thermometer into the center of one of the inside thigh muscles, but not touching the bone.  Transfer the turkey to the roasting rack, breast side up.  Roast the turkey for 2 hours, occasionally checking on it to make sure it doesn’t brown too much or burn.  Once the turkey is golden brown (this should take approximately 2 hours) tent it loosely with foil (make sure to leave air space between the bird and foil).  If the vegetables begin to scorch, add some additional chicken broth to the pan.  Continue roasting the turkey until the thickest part of the thigh registers 170 F.  (Our 22 pound bird roasted for approximately 6 hours until it was done).
  6. If desired, baste the turkey every 30 minutes with pan juices. (Basting helps keep the skin moist & helps it to brown—I did not baste my turkey.)
  7. Remove the turkey from the oven, transfer it to a cutting board set on a jelly roll pan, tent it with foil, and allow the turkey to rest for 30 minutes before carving.  Carve the turkey, arrange on a platter, and garnish as desired.
  8. Strain the pan drippings into a large glass measuring cup & reserve them for the gravy.

Source: Inspired by recipes from Real Simple, Sur La Table, & Cuisine at Home


Thanksgiving Dinner Menu

Happy Thanksgiving!  Last Thursday, (Thanksgiving Day) Eric and I hosted our first Thanksgiving (and cooked our very first turkey!)  I know I am a few days late writing this post, but the past week I’ve had hardly any free time to sit at my computer and work on it.  I’ve been busy Christmas shopping, cleaning, visiting with family & friends, decorating for Christmas, and doing other important holiday-related things like watching Elf (my favorite Christmas movie :) )

As I was saying though, we hosted our first Thanksgiving this year.  I had a great time planning, preparing, and cooking for this meal.  I love cooking and entertaining, so hosting this holiday was great fun for me! :)  We had quite the crowd to feed – 16 adults plus 3 kids.  Thankfully, I had lots of help, both from Eric and all of our guests.

I started planning the menu about a month before the big day.  Once my menu was finalized, I gathered all of my recipes and put them into a folder so that they would be easily accessible and all in one spot.  I also shopped for/borrowed all the supplies that I didn’t already have (things like a gravy separator, card table, extra wine glasses, and place cards).  About a week before Thanksgiving, I wrote out a timeline to keep me on track with all of the cooking and pre-Thanksgiving errands/tasks.  This was very helpful and it allowed me to divide up all the prep tasks over several days so that I had plenty of time to get everything done.  I also went through my recipes and made 2 grocery lists (1 for the non-perishable items, which I purchased a week ahead of time, and another list for the perishables, which we picked up the day before Thanksgiving).  It was so nice to have everything so organized, and now I can refer back to this information the next time I cook a Thanksgiving dinner.

Here is a copy of my Thanksgiving Menu:

Thanksgiving Menu


–        Fresh fruit platter with grapes, blackberries, apples, and clementines

–        Artichoke nibbles

–        Crostini with kalamata olive tapenade, tomato & basil bruschetta, & cannellini bean spread

–        Parmesan breadsticks and pita chips

First Course: Golden Winter Soup with chive garnish

Main Course: Herb Roasted Turkey with Gravy

Side Dishes:

–        Cloverleaf rolls

–        Mashed russet & yukon gold potatoes

–        Roasted carrots

–        Sauteed green beans

–        Sweet potato soufflé with marshmallow topping

–        Sweet potatoes with sage butter crumb topping

–        Old-fashioned bread stuffing

–        Cranberry orange relish


–        Pumpkin pie served with sweetened whipped cream

–        Apple pie with raisins and crumb topping (served with vanilla bean ice cream)

–        Turkey shaped sugar cookies


–        Red & white wine

–        Holiday beer

–        Sparkling apple cider

–        Coffee

Like I said before, I had a lot of help with the cooking.  My Mom brought the fruit platter and made both of the sweet potato dishes.  My sister-in-law made the artichoke nibbles, and my mother-in-law made the cranberry relish, stuffing, and gravy.  My sister, Kristine, made both of the delicious pies that we served for dessert.

I am planning to post the recipes for the kalamata olive tapenade, cannellini bean spread, golden winter soup, herb roasted turkey, cloverleaf rolls, sugar cookies, and roasted carrots on my blog.  The cranberry orange relish recipe that Eric’s Mom made can be found on the back of a package of fresh cranberries.   My Mom found the recipe for the sweet potatoes with sage butter crumb topping on the blog Annie’s Eats.  You can find the recipes for both pies on my sister’s blog, which I linked to above.

I didn’t use a recipe for the mashed potatoes – whenever I make them I just use 2 parts russet potatoes and 1 part yukon gold potatoes.  (I think that the yukon gold potatoes help make the mashed potatoes extra creamy.)  After the potatoes are peeled, cut them into ½ -inch cubes and place them in a large pot of cold water.  (You can salt the water if you want).  Then bring the potatoes to a boil, and cover and simmer them until they are fork-tender.  After that, drain the potatoes and then mash them, adding melted butter, warmed milk and salt and pepper to taste.  (I use a potato ricer to mash them, but a mixer or potato masher works fine too).

For the green beans, I just trimmed the ends off, washed them, and then placed them in a large sauté pan with a little bit of water.  Then I covered them and cooked them over medium heat.  This caused the water to boil, which sort of steamed them.  After they were fully cooked (and the water evaporated), I seasoned them with a tiny bit of butter and salt and pepper.

Below are a few photos from our Thanksgiving dinner!

The kids table


Fresh fruit platter

Artichoke nibbles

Cannellini bean spread, tomato and basil bruschetta, & kalamata olive tapenade (this was served with toasty baguette slices)

Golden Winter Soup

Herb Roasted Turkey


This is what my kitchen looked like on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving – I made 48 dinner rolls from scratch, which was a quadruple batch. They were all rising in 4 different bowls on top of my stove. (Note for next time… we didn’t need that many. A double batch (24 rolls) would have been sufficient!) I also made the sugar cookies that same day. My kitchen felt like a bakery! :)

Cloverleaf Rolls

Mashed potatoes

Roasted carrots

Sauteed green beans

Sweet potato soufflé with marshmallow topping (top) & Sweet potatoes with sage butter crumb topping

Old-fashioned bread stuffing

Cranberry orange relish

My plate - I had a little bit of everything!

Turkey-shaped sugar cookies

Pumpkin Pie

Apple pie with raisins and crumb topping

Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

If you like chocolate and peanut butter, then you will love these peanut butter chocolate chip bars.  They taste like peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, but because they are in bar form, they only take a few minutes to mix up.  And while they bake, they will make your house smell amazing!  They are the perfect thing to make for dessert or a snack.  Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter (I use Skippy Natural)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet)


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease an 8 x 8″ pan.
  2. Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder.  Set aside.
  3. Using a mixer, cream the butter and peanut butter together until smooth.  Beat in the sugars until combined.  Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.  Stir in the vanilla extract.
  4. Stir in the flour mixture.  Add the chocolate chips, stirring until combined.  Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 30- 32 minutes.  Cool completely before cutting.

Source: slightly adapted from Bake at 350; originally adapted from The King Arthur Flour’s Cookie Companion

Dark Chocolate-Espresso Cookies

Yesterday I visited Kristine (my sister), and since we enjoy baking together so much, we decided that we needed to try a new recipe.  Last time we made Apple Pocket Pies, but today we wanted to make something a little quicker and easier.  These chewy chocolate cookies were the perfect choice, and they satisfied our afternoon chocolate craving!

The combination of cocoa powder, melted dark chocolate, chocolate chunks, and espresso powder make these cookies ultra rich and super chocolaty. We recommend enjoying these cookies with a cold glass of milk.  Dark Chocolate-Espresso cookies would also be a great addition to your holiday baking list.  Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate-Espresso Cookies


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 4 ounces melted and 4 ounces coarsely chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 350, with racks in upper and lower third positions. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; mix in vanilla. Combine espresso powder and melted chocolate; beat into butter mixture. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; mix just until combined. Fold in chopped chocolate.
  3. Drop dough by two heaping tablespoons, 3 inches apart, onto two baking sheets. Bake until edges are dry, 14 to 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. (To store, keep in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 3 days.)

Yield: About 2 dozen cookies

Source: Martha Stewart

One Year Ago: Broccoli Soup

Wild Rice and Mushroom Pilaf with Cranberries

Real Simple is one of my favorite magazines.  I love all the tips on organizing, decorating, and entertaining, and the magazine is also a great resource for recipes.  The November issue had a whole section featuring Thanksgiving planning tips, ideas, and recipes, including this recipe for Wild Rice and Mushroom Pilaf with Cranberries.  It’s a combination of wild rice, cranberries, sautéed mushrooms and onions, and fresh herbs.  These flavors pair wonderfully together, and the red cranberries and green parsley make the rice look very festive!  This would be a great side dish for Thanksgiving, or a good thing to make after Thanksgiving to serve with leftover turkey.  I made it for dinner last week and served it alongside a chicken breast.  It was a healthy, filling, and delicious dinner!

Wild Rice and Mushroom Pilaf with Cranberries


  • 1 ½ cups long-grain and wild rice blend
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. Cook the rice blend according to the package directions. Fold in the cranberries, cover, and let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the mushrooms, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, tossing frequently, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes more. Add the wine and simmer until evaporated, about 1 minute. Stir in the parsley.
  3. Add the mushroom mixture to the rice and toss to combine.

Serves: 8

Source: Adapted from Real Simple Magazine, November 2010 issue

Chicken-Broccoli Couscous

This is a great recipe for an easy and healthy weeknight dinner.  I made it a few nights ago and really enjoyed it.  There is a nice mixture of flavors and textures in this dish that complement each other well.  I’ve always liked “one pot meal” recipes because they tend to be easy to make and easy to clean up.  This particular recipe has vegetables (broccoli and onions), protein (chicken), and grains (couscous), making it a well balanced meal.   In addition, it has toasted almonds, raisins, and parsley for a little crunch and extra flavor.  Enjoy!

Chicken-Broccoli Couscous


  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • One 10-ounce box couscous
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 head broccoli, broken into small florets
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted


  1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, add to the pan and cook, turning once, until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a work surface, let cool, then shred; reserve the skillet.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring 2 cups chicken broth and 1 tablespoon olive oil to a boil; season with salt and pepper. Add the couscous, cover and remove from the heat; let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  3. In the reserved skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli and the remaining 1 cup chicken broth and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken, raisins, parsley and couscous; season with salt and pepper. Toss with the almonds before serving.

Serves: 4

Source: Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine, December/January 2010

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