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Archive for Thanksgiving

TIP OF THE DAY & GIFT: Hot Chocolate On A Stick ~ Party Favor & Place Setting

Christmas hot chocolate on a stick. Swirl
it in milk or water. Photo courtesy The Ticket


The Hot Chocolate On A Stick from The Ticket Kitchen was a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week earlier this year. Made from the finest French couverture chocolate, it creates a delicious and interactive cup of hot chocolate in milk or water.

The Ticket Kitchen in San Francisco molds blocks of chocolate onto stirring sticks and serves them up in different flavors, currently:

  • Belgian Milk Chocolate
  • Bolivian Single Origin (66% semisweet)
  • French Truffle (dark chocolate)
  • Peanut Butter (dark chocolate with a peanut butter cup)
  • Peppermint (milk chocolate with a peppermint stick)
  • Salted Caramel (caramelly milk chocolate topped with sea salt)
  • Spiced Ginger (spiced dark chocolate with a piece of crystallized ginger)
  • 3 Chili (dark chocolate topped with a blend of ancho, cayenne and chipotle)
  • Vanilla Mint (milk chocolate with an Andes Mint)
  • Venezuela Single Origin (68% semisweet)

    They all make great gifts, but two of the flavors are perfect for holiday entertaining:

    Spiced Ginger Hot Chocolate on a Stick (60% Cacao). Rich dark chocolate is blended with ginger, cinnamon and seasonal spices to make a magnificient mulled mug of winter hot chocolate. You can nibble on the crystallized ginger garnish or blend it into the beverage. More information.

    Peppermint Hot Chocolate On A Stick. Finest Belgian milk chocolate is garnished with an old fashioned peppermint stick come together to make a perfect mug of peppermint hot chocolate. More information.

    Gift boxes are available in sets of 1, 2, 4, 5 or 12 sticks, with or without accoutrements such as mugs and handmade marshmallows.

    To see the full line, visit


    Add a name tag to use as a place setting and party favor. Look hard and you’ll see the piece of crystallized ginger on the Spiced Ginger flavor. The chocolate itself has gingerbread spices. Photo courtesy Ticket Kitchen.




    RECIPE: Holiday Pasta

    Holiday orrecchiete with turkey sausage.
    Photo courtesy Marriott.


    Chef Cat Cora developed this special holiday pasta dish for Residence Inn By Marriott. It incorporates seasonal ingredients—pumpkin sage and cinnamon and turkey sausage.

    Why was it developed for Marriott Residence Inn? All rooms feature fully-stocked kitchens, as well as complimentary grocery delivery service so that guests can have any necessary ingredients delivered right to their rooms. Those who are tired of eating restaurant meals on the road can cook their own.


    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces turkey or chicken sausage, diced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 pound orecchiette
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, thin sliced

    1. BOIL water for pasta in a pasta pot, fitted with a strainer. Add the fresh orecchiette pasta to boiling water, cook until al dente, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

    2. HEAT olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add turkey or chicken sausage and saute for 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

    3. ADD garlic to the pan and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Add white wine and reduce heat by half. Add in chicken stock, canned pumpkin, heavy cream and cinnamon. Stir until well mixed. Add the turkey or chicken sausage to the sauce and simmer for 10 minutes.

    4. ADD the cooked orecchiette pasta and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a warm platter or bowls; top with Parmesan cheese and fresh sage and serve.



    Orecchiette are a short cut of pasta in a cupped shape, good for catching sauce. They work well with chunky meat and vegetable sauces.

    Orecchiette (pronounced oh-reh-KYEH-tay) is Italian for “small ears”: orecchio (ear) and etto (small). Orecchiette is plural; the singular is orecchietta.

    The cut is one of the three pasta specialties of the Puglia region of southern Italy, along with cavatelli and cavaturi. The traditional orecchiette dish in Puglia is orecchiette alle cime di rapa, with broccoli rabe (rapini).

    In some areas, a tomato-based sauce (al sugo) is served, with or without miniature meatballs (al ragù) and/or a sprinkling of ricotta forte, a seasoned sheep’s milk ricotta that’s not easy to find in the U.S. Use ricota salata instead—or default to Asiago, Grana Padano, Parmesan or Pecorino (see the great Italian grating cheeses).

    Check out the different types of pasta in our tasty Pasta Glossary.


    Tricolor orecchiete from Marella Pasta. Photo courtesy Marella.




    RECIPE: Pumpkin Spice Brownies

    Pumpkin spice cream cheese brownies. Photo courtesy Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi.


    These seasonal brownies combine elements of pumpkin pie and chocolate cream cheese brownies. The recipe is courtesy of Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi, where the team enjoys them with a class of Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon.



  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup pumpkin purée
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts or pecans
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Butter an 8″x 8″ baking dish.

    2. WHISK together in a bowl the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, stir together butter, brown sugar and vanilla extract. Mix in eggs one at a time. Gradually add flour mixture; stir to combine evenly. Divide batter into two bowls.

    3. BLEND the cocoa powder and chocolate chips into the first bowl. In second bowl, stir in pumpkin purée, granulated sugar, cream cheese, nuts, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.

    4. SPREAD half of the chocolate batter into the bottom of the baking dish. Follow with half of pumpkin batter. Repeat layers, ending with a pumpkin layer. Gently pull a long kitchen knife or skewer through the layers in a wavy motion to create a marbled pattern.

    5. BAKE until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool brownies in pan on a wire rack.



    RECIPE: Radish & Beet Chutney

    This radish and beet chutney from is delicious with turkey sandwiches plus cheese, cold meats, on a baked potato or with sausages.

    It’s also a nice gift for your Thanksgiving host, who in turn may send you home with some leftover turkey. The recipe makes enough for 6 gifts or more, depending on the size of the jar.


    Ingredients For Approximately 4.5 Pounds Of Chutney

  • 3.3 pounds raw beets trimmed, peeled and diced
  • 20 shallots, quartered
  • 40 radishes, quartered

    Yummy beet and radish chutney. Photo courtesy

  • 2 eating apples, peeled and grated (we used Granny Smiths)
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 27 ounces white wine vinegar
  • 20 ounces balsamic vinegar
  • 1-1/2 pounds light brown sugar


    1. COMBINE all of the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the beets are cooked and the juices have thickened.

    2. SPOON chutney it into sterilized jars* and seal the lids while it’s still hot. Use immediately, or keep, refrigerated, for up to 6 weeks. The flavor will improve if stored for a few weeks.

    Find more beet recipes at

    *To sterilize jars, run them through the hottest cycle in your dishwasher or boil in a pan of water for 10 minutes.



    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Store Leftover Turkey

    A “turkey dinner sandwich.” Photo by J. Java | Fotolia.


    If you’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner, the odds are that you’re going to have lots of leftovers. Some of them are easy to deal with: Just store cranberry sauce, potatoes and gravy in airtight containers and use them up within the week.

    What about the bird? The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline (1.800.535.4555) wants you to have these tips for storing turkey leftovers.

  • Store leftover turkey properly to prevent food poisoning. From the time you take the turkey out of the oven, you have two hours to serve it, eat it, and then refrigerate or freeze the leftovers—the turkey, stuffing and gravy. Why just two hours? Because bacteria that can cause food poisoning can multiply to dangerous levels on perishable food left longer than two hours at room temperature.
  • Large quantities of turkey should be deboned, divided into smaller portions and stored in several small or shallow covered containers. That’s because food in small amounts will get cold more quickly.

  • Leftover turkey will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. For longer storage, package turkey in freezer paper or heavy-duty aluminum foil and freeze. Proper wrapping will prevent “freezer burn.”
  • Frozen cooked turkey should be used within 4-6 months.

    Our two favorite uses are a “turkey dinner sandwich”—with stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce—and a turkey BLT with cranberry mayonnaise (mix cranberry sauce into mayo). For a bit more work, we enjoy a turkey pot pie.

    Frozen cooked turkey can be added to casseroles, soups, pastas and other cooked dishes.

    Here’s a recipe from De Cecco pasta, which uses its angel hair nests to create a special dish with either refrigerated or frozen-and-thawed cooked turkey. If you can’t find angel hair nests, you can use regular angel hair, linguine or spaghetti and use tongs to create nest-like shapes.

    Prep time is 25 minutes; total time is 45 minutes.



    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1-2 packages of De Cecco Angel Hair Nests
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1-1.5 cups cooked, skinless turkey breast
  • 5 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, washed and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped green onions, divided
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine, such as Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

    Angel hair pasta nests. Photo courtesy De Cecco.


    1. CUT cooked, skinless turkey into bite-size pieces or shreds; set aside.

    2. ADD 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Reduce heat to medium, and add leeks. Cook 7 minutes or until tender-crisp, stirring frequently. Add water, 1/2 cup green onions and wine; cook, covered, 10 minutes or until leeks are soft. Transfer mixture to a blender. Cover and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Cover and keep warm.

    3. BRING a large pot of salted water to a boil. Working in 3 batches, gently lower pasta into boiling water. Cook 6 minutes or until al dente. Carefully remove pasta with a large slotted spoon, gently shaking to remove excess liquid. Repeat procedure with remaining pasta.

    4. ARRANGE cooked pasta nests on a large rimmed platter. Spoon sauce evenly over each nest. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese, and top with turkey. Garnish with remaining 1/4 cup green onions.


    Founded in 1886 by the De Cecco brothers in the Abruzzo region of central Italy, De Cecco makes 160 pasta varieties using only the heart of durum wheat to produce premium semolina. The water mixed with the flour is from a mountain spring. The semolina dough is extruded through bronze dies and the pasta is dried very slowly at low temperature.

    The company, which is the world’s third largest manufacturer of pasta, was recently inducted to the Italian Trade Commission’s Hall of Fame. Find more recipes at



    TIP OF THE DAY: Holiday Flavored Coffee

    Pumpkin Spice coffee is a hit during the
    holidays. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE


    Most people have their favorite holiday traditions. One of ours is holiday-flavored coffee, typically a “Pumpkin Spice” blend (a.k.a. “Autumn Harvest”) with pumpkin pie spices—cinnamon, clove and nutmeg.

    Big coffee sellers have expanded their offerings over the years.

  • Dunkin’ Donuts has Apple Pie, Mocha Mint and our favorite, Pumpkin Spice.
  • has Cinnamon Sweet Potato Swirl, Cranberry Cream, Edelweiss (praline and Mexican liqueur) and Holiday Cheer (toasted almond, caramel, vanilla and rum), Nutmeg Spice and Pecan Pie.
  • Starbucks’ Thanksgiving Blend has “blend of coffees featuring soft spice, cocoa notes and hints of fine herbs.” and adds maple notes to its Christmas Blend. Starbucks VIA comes in Pumpkin Spice.
  • Year-round flavors like Hazelnut, Praline and Toasted Almond fit right in.
    Some people don’t like flavored coffee, so our strategy is:

  • The regular coffee is flavored.
  • The decaf isn’t.


    You don’t have to buy flavored coffee: You can make your own from regular whole beans or ground coffee. While flavored coffee is typically made by soaking the beans in flavored extracts, the home approach takes the old-fashioned route with real spices.

    Whole Bean Technique

    Mix crushed cinnamon sticks and a few optional cloves with whole beans at a 1/2 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons ratio of spice to coffee). Store in a tightly capped jar for 2-3 days to allow the flavors to infuse. Grind together and brew.

    Ground Coffee Technique

    Mix 1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice per 1 tablespoon ground coffee. Stir and brew. Add a splash of vanilla or rum extract and serve.



    THANKSGIVING COCKTAIL: Cranberry Maple Cooler

    While people often default to their favorite cocktails, we enjoy the occasion to serve a specialty cocktail. Here’s a Thanksgiving cocktail developed by Lee Anne Wong, one of our favorite cheftestants from the first season of “Top Chef,” for Maker’s Mark Bourbon.


    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1-1/2 parts bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon cranberry jam
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 drop vanilla extract
  • 3 parts cranberry juice
  • Splash club soda
  • Fresh cranberries for garnish
  • Ice

    A cocktail with cranberry and maple for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Photo courtesy Makers Mark.



    1. COMBINE the bourbon, cranberry jam, maple syrup, vanilla extract and cranberry juice in a shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously.

    2. STRAIN over ice, add a splash of soda and garnish with cranberries.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Turkey Leftovers Sandwich

    This time of year, we get recipes every day for turkey leftovers. For us, nothing beats a turkey sandwich…or two…or six.

    To keep from getting bored after your second turkey sandwich, plan ahead.

  • Plan for different breads. Alternate baguette, brioche, crusty peasant bread, hero rolls, pita a sweet bread like King’s Hawaiian or a tortilla wrap.
  • Switch the condiments. Aïoli (garlic mayonnaise, or try the orange aïoli recipe below), Baconaise, cheese sauce (you can use a jar of queso dip), cranberry mayonnaise (mix mayo with cranberry sauce), Dijon mustard, gravy, horseradish mayonnaise (blend), Russian dressing, wasabi mayonnaise.

    A “Thanksgiving hero.” Photo courtesy Earl Of Sandwich.

    Look for the excellent flavored mayonnaises from The Ojai Cook, including Cha Cha Chipotle, Garlic Herb Lemonaise, Green Dragon Lemonaise, Latin Lemonaise and Fire & Spice. These jars of mayo delight also make great stocking stuffers.

  • Vary the garnishes. Try arugula or watercress, bread and butter pickles or hot and sweet pickle slices, olives, pickled onions (quick pickling recipe), pimento, sliced tomatoes, sliced radishes or stuffing.
    What do you put on your turkey sandwich?


    Blend together:

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon Valencia orange peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped chives
    Do you have a favorite twist on a turkey sandwich? Let us know!



    RECIPE: Ham On A Biscuit With Cranberry Balsamic Reduction

    Glazed ham on a biscuit. Photo courtesy


    Many hams will be baked this holiday season, generating many pounds of leftover ham. Much of that ends up on a simple ham sandwich.

    Here’s an alternative: Make your sandwich on a biscuit. It’s that much more special.

    We enjoy this recipe with breakfast eggs and aslunch with a salad. The recipe was developed by Dietz & Watson, which used its Chef Carved Ham.

    If you don’t want to make the cranberry balsamic reduction, default to mustard and plain cranberry sauce. Similarly, you can make biscuits from scratch or buy refrigerator biscuits.

    Ingredients For 12 Servings

  • 12 slices of ham
  • 12 biscuits from your favorite recipe (or store-bought)
  • Cranberry balsamic reduction (see recipe below)
    For The Cranberry Balsamic Reduction

  • 1 jar (12 ounces) cranberry preserves
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup whole fresh basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 serrano chile, halved

    1. BAKE the biscuits.

    2. MAKE cranberry balsamic reduction while the biscuits bake. Combine preserves, vinegar, basil, mustard, peppercorns and chile in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Simmer the sauce until thickened (approximately 8 to 10 minutes). Strain the reduction through a fine sieve and if needed, thin with water.

    3. TEAR ham to fit biscuits.

    4. HALVE freshly baked biscuits and place ham on the bottom half. Drizzle reduction over the ham and cover with biscuit half.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Hash From Leftovers

    We’re being inundated with recipes for Thanksgiving leftovers. But today’s tip is good for leftovers year-round.

    Leftover potatoes—boiled or roasted—make good hash. Leftover meat, poultry or fish added to the dish turns it into a main course instead of a side.

    Just sauté chopped onion, bell pepper, celery, any other veggies and herbs, and stir it up.

    Here’s an idea we received from The recipe is from award-winning cookbook author, Diane Morgan. “There is no better or more enjoyable way to use up leftover turkey than to make turkey hash,” she says. “It’s perfect for a weekend brunch or for an easy weeknight supper, especially after the big Thanksgiving meal.”

    Prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 30 minutes.


    Turkey hash. Photo courtesy


    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds red-skinned, Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 ribs celery, halved lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped roast turkey
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 6 large eggs
  • Tabasco or other hot sauce


    1. MELT the butter over medium heat in a 12-inch skillet or sauté pan, preferably cast iron. Swirl to coat the pan. Add the potatoes and onion and sauté for about 1 minute until just coated with butter. Cover and cook for 7 minutes to steam the potatoes, stirring once.

    2. ADD the celery and bell pepper, stir briefly, then cover and cook for 3 minutes longer. Uncover the pan, raise the heat to medium-high, and add the salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are lightly browned.

    3. GENTLY FOLD in the turkey, tarragon, and parsley and cook for about 2 minutes just until the turkey is heated through. Using a large spoon, make 6 shallow depressions in the hash, spacing them equally around the pan, with one in the center. Carefully crack an egg into each hollowed-out spot.

    4. COVER the pan and cook the eggs for about 5 minutes until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny. Serve immediately, garnishing the top of each egg with a sprinkling of tarragon. Pass the hot sauce at the table.

    Cast iron is an ideal heat conductor, heating evenly and consistently. With proper care, it will last a lifetime.

    When well seasoned, cast iron is stick resistant and requires no additional oil—the “original” fat-free cooking pan.

    So don’t throw away Granny’s cast iron skillet: As long as it is scratch-free, clean it up and re-season it. Here’s how to season a cast iron skillet.



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