Thanksgiving – Three Berries in One Wonderful Cranberry Sauce


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One of the things you can do a couple days in advance of the holiday is make your cranberry sauce. I’ll admit that I have often used canned cranberry sauce, because I had yet to find a homemade recipe that made the work of making from scratch worthwhile. That definitely changed after I made this last year!

I recently watched the TV special Pioneer Woman’s Ultimate Thanksgiving again. One of the recipes she shared on that special was Very Berry Cranberry Sauce. I made this recipe last year and my husband and I agree; YUMMMMM! It will definitely be gracing our Thanksgiving table again this year!

It has the usual tangy flavor and bright color that you would expect from cranberry sauce, but this sauce sports more than just cranberries! It also has raspberries, blueberries and a surprise ingredient. Whiskey!!! I was worried that the whiskey would overpower the fruit flavors, but that was not the case at all! That flavor is really not distinctive, it blends in to simply make a great, fruity tasting sauce! The 3 different berries are what really make it!

So thanks to Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman! I would like to share her recipe.

Very Berry Cranberry Sauce

2 bags fresh cranberries
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whiskey (I used Jack Daniels)
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup raspberries
Put the first 5 ingredients in a large saucepan and stir. Bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. When boiling, lower heat to low and allow to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining berries and cook for an additional 4 minutes. I noticed a lot of whole cranberries still, so I used my potato masher to gently mash it a little and break up the berries. Remove from heat, cool and refrigerate until cold and thick.
The original recipe says it makes 24 servings. I can believe it’s that many small servings. It makes quite a bit.
Super simple and it tastes fantastic! 
Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Thanksgiving Tips – A Wonderful Salad for a Special Dinner


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  As I’ve mentioned before, some of my favorite recipes come from the Taste of Home folks. They have a monthly magazine, website and annual cookbooks that have wonderful, down to earth recipes. I love that their recipes are usually made from a combination of commonly used ingredients, so I often already have all the ingredients in my pantry.

Several years ago, my sister ran across a Taste of Home recipe for a fabulous green salad called Festive Tossed Salad. It’s a little more work than your run of the mill green salad (not that bad though!), but it tastes WAY better than those every day salads. We tend to make this salad for special occasions and family gatherings, since it’s a little more work we usually have someone other than the hostess bring this item. That way the person brining it can focus on that one thing and when that’s all you have to make, it’s not overwhelming at all.

Festive Salad


• 1/2 cup sugar

• 1/3 cup red wine vinegar

• 2 tablespoons lemon juice

• 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 2/3 cup canola oil

• 2 to 3 teaspoons poppy seeds

• 10 cups torn romaine

• 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese

• 1 medium apple, chopped

• 1 medium pear, chopped

• 1/4 cup dried cranberries

• 1/2 to 1 cup chopped cashews

1. In a blender, combine the sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, onion and salt. Cover and process until blended. With blender running, gradually add oil. Add poppy seeds and blend.

2. In a salad bowl, combine the romaine, cheese, apple, pear and cranberries. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing. Add cashews; toss to coat. Yield: 8-10 servings.


A Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dish – Sweet Potatoes and Apples


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About 20 years ago (man, I’m old!), I was at an office potluck and a co-worker of mine brought the most wonderful sweet potato dish. Keep in mind, prior to this I did not like sweet potatoes. My mom didn’t cook them much at all growing up, so my only exposure was that dish where they’re covered in marshmallows and to top it off, I don’t like marshmallows much either! Anyway, this dish my coworker brought was both sweet and savory. In addition to the sweet potatoes, there were apples in the dish.

I asked her for the recipe and she said she didn’t have it. Her mother had made the dish for her to bring, so I asked her to please ask her mom for the recipe. She comes back into work and tells me that her mom won’t give her the recipe. It’s a “secret” family recipe. What’s a girl gotta do to get that stinkin’ recipe!?! Thanksgiving was coming and my friend said that her mom would make those sweet potatoes every year, so I gave her marching orders to hover around her mother and take copious notes. Well she came through!!!

This dish has been a family favorite for the last 20 years and it always gets rave reviews when I share it with others. I’ve taken it to a few church potlucks and the such.

Not only is this dish delicious, it’s also pretty darn easy to make. Nothing complicated, but the flavors come together wonderfully! The recipe I have is pretty rough and these days I usually just make it from memory. It’s kind of a vegetable lasagna as you’re simply layering the ingredients and it’s easy to increase/decrease the recipe based on how many people you’re feeding. I hope you and your family enjoy it as much as we do!

Sweet Potatoes and Apples

4-5 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in half, short-ways

2 – 15 oz cans apple pie filling
Butter or margarine
Brown sugar
1 tbsp Brandy
Place sweet potatoes and 1 tbsp brandy into large pot of water making sure to cover potatoes. Bring to a boil and let boil for about 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove potatoes from hot water and slice into ½ inch slices. Spray a baking pan with non-stick spray and spread one layer of sweet potatoes, then thinly cover this with a layer of pie filling (about ½ can or more if you need it), spoon dots of butter over apples about a teaspoon or so 2-3 inches apart. You just want them spread apart. Then sprinkle about 1/3 cup brown sugar. Now repeat these layers. I usually try to end with the brown sugar on top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-45 minutes until warmed through and bubbly. If you’re making a bigger batch, it may need to cook longer.
You really can’t go wrong with the amounts of the ingredients, so play with it and see what looks good to you. It’s amazing how much flavor that little bit of brandy in the water adds!

Thanksgiving Part 5 – The Best Dressing EVER!!!!  Lets Just Say There Is Chorizo In It!!!


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For some odd reason that I don’t understand, I am the only person in my family that likes stuffing/dressing. Who are these people I live with??? Since they don’t much care for it, I rarely make it. Thanksgiving is my one exception though! I ALWAYS make dressing on Thanksgiving and several years ago I came across a recipe that is so fantastic, even my dressing-free family and friends love it. One of my girlfriends stakes her claim on our leftovers every year!

One year we picked up a holiday edition of Sunset magazine and this is where I found my all-time favorite dressing recipe. This dish is extremely colorful and the variety of unique ingredients create a bold, bright flavor. Let’s just say there is chorizo involved! CHORIZO!!!! Geez I love that stuff!!! There is also fresh baked corn bread, mushrooms and butternut squash, just to name a few.
I just know you and yours will love it as much as we do!!!

Southwest Cornbread and Chorizo Dressing

1 butternut squash (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lb.)

2 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 onion (6 oz.)
1 red bell pepper (8 oz.)
1 fresh fennel head (9 oz.)
1 pound mushrooms
1 pound chorizo sausage (see notes)
1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 large eggs
1 cup fat-skimmed chicken broth 

1. Peel and seed squash. Cut into 1-inch chunks; you should have about 3 cups. In a 3- to 4-quart pan over high heat, combine 1/2 cup water with brown sugar and the squash. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring once, until squash is almost tender when pierced, 8 to 10 minutes. Uncover and cook, occasionally stirring gently, until most of the water is evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat and let cool.
2. Peel and chop onion. Rinse, stem, seed, and chop bell pepper. Rinse fennel and trim off and discard base of head and tough stalks. Chop enough fennel to make about 1 cup. Rinse mushrooms and slice 1/4 inch thick.
3. Squeeze sausage from casings and break into chunks into a 12-inch frying pan or 5- to 6-quart pan over medium-high heat; stir often until lightly browned and crumbly, 7 to 10 minutes. Pour sausage into a wire strainer to drain; discard fat.
4. Preheat oven to 350°. Add butter to unwashed pan over medium-high heat; when melted, add onion, bell pepper, and fennel and stir often until vegetables begin to soften, 7 to 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and stir until limp, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sausage, cilantro, sage, and thyme. Add squash.
5. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and broth. Break cornbread into 1/2-inch chunks and drop into bowl. Add sausage mixture and stir gently to combine. Scrape dressing into a buttered 9- by 13-inch baking dish and cover with foil.
6. Bake until hot in the center, 40 to 50 minutes. Uncover and bake until top is crisp and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes longer.
Makes 10-12 servings. 
Cornbread: Preheat oven to 400°. In a bowl, mix 2 boxes (8 1/2 oz. each) corn muffin mix, 3/4 cup milk, and 2 large eggs until blended but still slightly lumpy. I have also used Marie Callender corn bread mix. Just follow package instructions. Pour batter into a buttered 9- by 13-inch baking pan. Bake until top is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cornbread cool in pan on a rack.

Thanksgiving Tips Part 4 – Barbecued Turkey – Great Tasting and It Frees Up Your Oven!


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Inside Kel's Kitchen

I think we can all agree that the backbone of a great Thanksgiving dinner is the turkey! I know for me, if I screw up the turkey I feel like I have failed as a Thanksgiving host.

I forget exactly how we discovered it, but about 20 years ago my husband and I discovered the joy of the barbecued turkey. This moist, smokey flavored bird is definitely the star of the meal. An unexpected perk to barbecuing the bird, is that you don’t have a huge turkey hogging up your oven. I have never been blessed with two ovens, so on a big cooking day oven space is at a premium. Since I usually put my husband in charge of the barbecuing, it keeps him occupied and out of the kitchen. Prior to putting him to work on the barbecue, he was always sticking his finger in to taste things…

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Thanksgiving Tips Part 3 – It’s All In The Prep!!!


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Inside Kel's Kitchen

The planning and shopping are important, but it’s the prep that will really reduce the stress of preparing a large dinner like Thanksgiving. As you do your prep, try to think of every litle thing you can do ahead of time. Even if it doesn’t seem like much, unwrapping your butter to put on a dish or opening the cans of cranberry sauce, will shave minutes off your Thanksgiving Day work. Trust me! It all adds up and you’ll cherish those free moments on the day of thee holiday!

Let’s Get Prepping!!!

My key to a relaxing Thanksgiving day is to hit the prep activities hard. I usually take the day before Thanksgiving off from work and work my rear off that day Go dish by dish and think about what you can do in advance

  • Brine your turkey?
  • I usually stuff my turkey with fruit, so I have that…

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Thanksgiving Tips Part 2 – Making That Grocery List and Shopping


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Here are my Thanksging tips continued from my earlier post… 1. Decide what to make and what to buy. I’m not a great baker and my husband LOVES the sweet rolls from our Win…

Source: Thanksgiving Tips Part 2 – Making That Grocery List and Shopping

Thanksgiving Tips Part 1 – The Details of Menu Planning


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Last year I posted a series of Thanksgiving related posts discussing everything from planning to recipes. Since most of you started following my blog after that time, I thought I would re-blog some of these entries. I really enjoy the Thanksgiving meal and would love to help others learn to make a delicious meal while keeping stress to a minimum. If you haven’t already, follow my blog to see my Thanksgiving series.

Inside Kel's Kitchen

It’s probably no surprise that November is this foodie girl’s favorite month to cook. In addition to it being the beginning of soup and slow cooker season, it also means Thanksgiving is right around the corner.

I LOVE Thanksgiving dinner!!! I love cooking it and I love eating it! Because I have cooked Thanksgiving dinner numerous times over the years for groups both big and small, I think I have really developed my large meal preparation skills. Over the next few weeks, I would like to write a few blog entries highlighting recipes, strategies and techniques that you all might find helpful in preparing your own Thanksgiving meal.

My goal for the Thanksgiving meal is to serve delicious food, while trying to keep it healthy and not killing myself with the stress. This is where careful planning comes into play. My Thanksgiving days are usually pretty relaxing as I get…

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Thanksgiving Dutch Apple Pie – A Traditional Favorite


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Yesterday I was a baking fool! First I made cranberry pecan muffins. These were only so-so, so I won’t burden you with that recipe! BUT then, I went on to bake an apple pie and chicken pot pie. Now these two recipes are worth sharing! Today I’ll start with the Dutch Apple Pie. This was my first time ever baking an apple pie! I decided to keep it basic and use a frozen ready made pie shell and went with a dutch topping, instead of crust. The pie was fairly easy to make and it was delicious!!! If you’re looking for a pie to serve at your Thanksgiving dinner, this is an easy version that can fit into your busy cooking schedule. Pies even freeze pretty well, so you can make it ahead and freeze for the big day.

Now I say this was pretty easy, but this is coming from a girl who was blessed to receive a Kitchen Aid spiralizer for Christmas last year. This particular spiralizer has a spiral slicing blade along with a peeling blade, so I did not have to peel and slice 8 cups of apples! Having to do this manually would make this pie more time consuming to make. If you don’t have a Kitchen Aid mixer, but you think you might make this more if you didn’t have to peel and slice apples consider investing in an hand crank apple peeler/corer that attaches to a table. We have an antique one of these and they work great!

Lastly, I cannot take credit for this recipe. This is a Betty Crocker recipe minus the portion to make your own pie crust. I substituted a frozen pie shell.

Dutch Apple Pie

1 frozen pie shell (set out and let thaw for 10-15 minutes)


8 cups peeled and sliced apples (I used about 5 medium sized apples)

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon lemon juice


1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Preheat ove to 400 degrees. In large bowl, toss Filling ingredients. Pour into pie plate, mounding apples toward center.

In medium bowl, use pastry blender or fingers to mix butter, 1 cup flour and the brown sugar until a crumb forms. Sprinkle evenly over top of pie. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon granulated sugar on top.

Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until pie crust and crumb topping are deep golden brown and filling begins to bubble. Transfer to cooling rack to cool.


Vegetables and Noodles in a Red Curry Coconut Sauce – A Quick, Delicious Vegan Meal


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I love watching cooking shows and there are several that I enjoy. On one recently, someone made a dish with red curry paste and coconut milk that looked delicious, so I picked up these ingredients and stashed them in my pantry. Yesterday, I bought some beautiful vegetables at the store and decided to try my hand at this dish. I was very happy with how it turned out! The sauce had a bold flavor without being too spicy. I know some of you may be thinking, “but I don’t like curry!” You have to give red curry a try! It has a completely different flavor than the curry flavors you find in Indian food. I really think you’ll find that you like it! So if you’re just looking for something different or needing to feed the vegans & vegetarians in your life, give this delicious dish a try!

It takes a little time to do your mise en place (prep work such as chopping, dicing, etc.), but thiis dish cooks pretty quickly. 

Funny story: Last night my husband was down at the golf course at the driving range. He texts me asking what I wanted to do for dinner (Husband code for “come down here and lets eat at the golf course restaurant!”). I responded telling him I already had something in mind and had begun my “mise en place”. He tells his buddies that we’re having Mise En Place for dinner and none of the guys could figure out what that was! Guess I better skip the French cooking terms and speak English for the golfers in my life.

Of course, you could add protein to this dish in the form of tofu, chicken, or shrimp to this dish and I think it would be equally as tasty.

Vegetables and Noodles with a Red Curry Coconut Sauce

1/2 Eggplant, peeled and chopped (Tip: To keep from getting slimy, salt and weight in caulinder to drain. I put it in a caulinder and then set a bowl on top and set a heavy jar in the bowl. You’ll be suprised how much liquid comes out.)

1/2 red onion, chopped

2 Carrots, julienned (Tip: I use the Pampered Chef Julienne tool. It looks like a wide vegetable peeler and makes this job SOOO easy!)

4 oz Mushrooms, sliced

1 Red bell pepper, chopped

1 clove Garlic, minced or pressed

1/2 tsp dried Ginger

1 tbsp Soy sauce

2 tbsp Red curry paste

1 – 14 oz can Coconut milk

6.75 oz package of Maifun Rice Sticks

I filled my tea kettle with water and put it on to boil. This is for the noodles. Meanwhile, I spray a large non-stick skillet or wok with Canola Oil. Over medium high heat, saute onions and red pepper for 3-4 minutes or until beginning to soften. Then I added the eggplant, mushrooms and carrots and continue to stir over heat until mushrooms become tender. Reduce heat to medium low and add garlic, ginger, soy sauce, red curry paste and coconut milk. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes. At some point your water should have started boiling. Set the dry noodles in a large pot, pour boiling water over noodles and allow to sit for a couple minutes. Drain and mix noodles into sauce.