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Archive for Thanksgiving

TIP OF THE DAY: Make Chicken Or Turkey Stock

Thanksgiving Turkey

Enjoy your feast, but don’t toss the carcass.
Use it to make stock! Photo courtesy Sur La


Plan ahead: Don’t throw away that turkey carcass. Or the roast chicken* carcass. Or those tops, root ends and stems from trimming vegetables. Save the vegetable trimmings from the week’s meals: carrot tops, celery ends, fennel fronds, herb stems, kale stalks, leek tops, scallion ends, etc.

Check the freezer for herbs and vegetable scraps you may have tucked away.

Use all of it to make a delicious batch of chicken or turkey stock, which you can then turn into cooked grains, sauces, soups, stews and other preparations.



  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 head garlic, unpeeled, cut in half
  • 1 large onion, unpeeled, cut in half
  • Chicken or turkey carcass
  • Vegetable trimmings† or 1-2 carrots, 3-4 stalks of celery
  • Parsley and thyme (leftover stems are fine)
    *Or duck, game hen, quail or any poultry carcass. You can blend them together into one stock as needed.
    †Check the freezer for herbs and anything else you might have tucked away to prevent spoiling.


    1. COMBINE all the ingredients in a stock pot (6-8 quarts for a turkey, 4-6 quarts for a chicken) and cover them with water plus one inch. If the carcass doesn’t fit in the pot, use poultry shears to cut it into pieces that do. Don’t salt the water; stock should be unsalted to accommodate any recipe. Place the top on the pot.

    2. BRING to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for minimum of 90 minutes, or up to 3 hours. Once or twice during the simmering, remove the cover and skim off the frothy scum that’s formed on the top of the broth. Add more water if it boils away; the bones should always be covered. When the broth has turned a golden brown color and is rich in flavor…

    3. REMOVE the pot from the heat. As soon as it’s comfortable enough to handle, strain the broth and discard the solids. If it isn’t clear enough for you, strain it again through cheesecloth.

    4. FREEZE the chicken broth in portion-sized containers. We like ice cube trays (once frozen, store the cubes in a freezer bag); or in half pint or pint storage containers. If you have a short-term use for it, you can refrigerate the stock for up to a week.

  • A stock pot with a pasta strainer insert is ideal for this purpose.
  • If you don’t want to “watch the pot,” you can use a slow cooker on a low setting.


    Instead Of Water

  • Grains: rice (plain or in risotto), quinoa, couscous and other dishes
  • Soups: use as much stock as you have, then fill in with water
  • Vegetables: steaming and boiling
    Instead Of Butter And/Or Cream

  • Gravy
  • French sauces, such as bercy and velouté
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Polenta
  • Purées: use stock to smooth out a bean or vegetable purée
  • Sautés: add some stock and use less butter or oil
  • Soups, from wintry butternut squash soup to summer gazpacho
  • Stuffing, dressing and other savory bread pudding recipes
    Instead Of Wine

  • Deglazing the pan for sauce
  • Marinades
  • Any recipe that requires wine

    Chicken Stock

    Take pride in your homemade stock. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.


  • Broth is a finished soup; stock is an ingredient.
  • Broth has a higher proportion of meat.
  • Because stock is made largely from the bones, it contains more gelatin, which gives it a richer mouthfeel.
  • Stock is not salted. Since it is an ingredient, it combines with whatever seasonings the recipes call for.
    What about bouillon?

    The terms bouillon and broth are used interchangeably, though not correctly.

    Bouillon is always served plain (with an optional garnish), whereas broth can be made more substantial with the addition of a grain (barley, rice, etc.) and vegetables.



    THANKSGIVING: Food Safety Tips

    Thanksgiving Food Safety Tips

    Make your Thanksgiving dinner a safe one. Photo courtesy


    Even if you’ve never had a problem before, check out these food safety tips prior to Turkey Day. They’re courtesy of The Learning Center at State Farm.

    1. Keep everything clean.

  • Scrub your hands with soap under warm water for 20 seconds before touching food. Do the same after handling food, especially raw meat or poultry, to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Clean the counters, cutting boards, dishes and silverware with hot water and soap before and after preparing each food item.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables to remove the surface dirt, but do not rinse raw meat or poultry. Rinsing them enables bacteria to spread.
    2. Heat foods to the proper temperature.

  • Color is never a reliable indicator of safely cooked food. Use a food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry, and fish are cooked to a safe internal temperature,typically 165°F.
  • Frying your turkey? Follow these turkey fryer safety tips.
    3. Keep foods at appropriate temperatures.

  • Keep hot foods at 140°F or warmer with chafing dishes, slow cookers and warming trays.
  • Keep cold foods at 40°F or colder. Nest serving dishes in bowls of ice and store moist desserts, such as pumpkin pie and cakes with whipped frosting, in the refrigerator until serving.
  • Never let food sit out at room temperature for more than two hours.
    4. Store leftovers safely.

  • Divide leftovers into shallow containers, which allow rapid cooling, before storing in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Never defrost food at room temperature. It enables bacteria to multiply.
  • Use a microwave or oven to reheat foods to an internal temperature of 165°F.
  • Eat refrigerated leftover food within three to four days.


    RECIPE: Pumpkin Coconut Mousse

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    You don’t need special dessert bowls. Use juice glasses, rocks glasses or stemware. Photo courtesy Chef Ingrid Hoffmann.


    We made this mousse for the adults on Halloween, but the pumpkin theme works throughout the holidays. This is an easy recipe. Here’s a more elaborate pumpin mousse recipe.

    This recipe is from Chef Ingrid Hoffmann, who has many more on her website.

    You can serve it in meringues or puff pastry shells, in glass dessert dishes, in wine glasses or rocks glasses, or in scooped out mini pumpkins.


    Ingredients For 6-8 Servings

  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ¾ cup fine sugar*
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice†
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • Toasted coconut (instructions below)
  • Optional garnish: mint sprigs for garnish
    *You can use superfine sugar, or can pulse table sugar in a food processor or spice mill to make it more fine.

    † You can buy it or make it, combining 3tablespoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg, 1½ teaspoons ground allspice and 1½ teaspoons ground cloves.

    1. HEAT the pumpkin purée, coconut milk, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla in a small sauce pan and and simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely.

    2. BEAT the whipping cream and rum with an electric hand mixer, until peaks form. Gently fold the pumpkin mixture into the whipped cream, until well mixed.

    3. CHILL for at least 2 hours. Garnish with toasted coconut and a mint sprig.

    You can buy toasted coconut, but it’s very easy to toast your own in the oven or microwave.

    1. HEAT the oven to 350°F. Spread shredded coconut evenly on a cookie sheet. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes or until light golden brown, stirring occasionally.

    2. WATCH closely to avoid over-browning.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Cranberry Sangria

    For the holidays, we like Cranberry Sangria. In addition to making pitchers of it to serve at Thanksgiving and Christmas, we keep a pitcher of Sangria in the fridge for daily apéritifs and impromptu visitors.

    In the first recipe, tart cranberry juice is pared with a sweet wine and orange liqueur. It takes only 10 minutes to make this recipe, from McCormick. The result: a flavorful, well-balanced holiday refreshment.

    Plan ahead: November 20th is National Sangria Day. Here’s the history of sangria.


    Ingredients For 6 One-Cup Servings

  • 1 orange
  • 16 whole cloves
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) sweet white wine, such as Moscato or Riesling
  • 3 cups cranberry juice
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup orange-flavored liqueur*, such as Grand Marnier
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

    Cranberry Sangria

    Steep orange slices studded with cloves, plus cranberries and cinnamon sticks, in sweet white wine and tart cranberry juice. Photo courtesy McCormick.

    *Here are the different types of  orange liqueur.


    1. CUT the orange into 8 wedges. Press 2 cloves into each wedge. Set aside.

    2. MIX the wine, cranberry juice, cranberries, liqueur, cinnamon sticks and vanilla in large pitcher until well blended. Add the orange wedges.

    3. REFRIGERATE for at least 3 hours before serving. Serve straight up or on the rocks.

    This recipe also celebrates the flavors and colors of the season—with cinnamon, clementines and cranberries. They compliment the rich red-fruit flavors of Ruby Port (there’s more about Port below). The recipe was developed by Sandeman, using their Founders Reserve Ruby Port.
    Don’t worry about buying a bottle just for this recipe. Port is delicious served alone at the end of any dinner, with the cheese course (especially blue cheeses and washed-rind cheeses). or accompanying a rich chocolate or caramel dessert or candy.

    Serve Ruby Port with a side of salted or smoked nuts, and with smoked meats. The next time you make barbecue, serve Ruby Port on the rocks with a twist of lime!


    Sangria With Ruby Port

    Keep a pitcher in the fridge. Photo courtesy Sandeman.



  • 1 bottle of Sandeman Founders Reserve Porto or other Ruby Port
  • 4 ounces cinnamon schnapps† (Goldschläger is relatively easy to find)
  • 3 clementines, quartered or sliced
  • 6 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 18 ounces sparkling clementine juice or clementine soda‡
  • 6 ounces cranberry juice
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • Ground allspice to taste
    †Cinnamon schnapps is also delicious in coffee, after dinner drinks, atop vanilla ice cream, and so on. You can also make cinnamon simple syrup.

    ‡San Pellegrino and Izze make clementine sparkling drinks. Otherwise, substitute orange soda.


    1. COMBINE the Port, cinnamon schnapps, clementine pieces, cranberries, cranberry juice and cinnamon sticks in a large pitcher. Cover tightly and place in refrigerator for at least 8 hours.

    2. TO SERVE: Add the sparkling clementine juice/soda and sprinkle allspice on top, to taste.

    Porto (sometimes written as Oporto, “the Porto”) is the second largest city in Portugal. Located along the Douro River estuary in northern Portugal, Porto was an outpost of the Roman Empire. Port wine is produced in the region.

    Port is made in several expressions: Crusted, Colheita, Late Bottled Vintage (LBV), Ruby, Single Quinta, Tawny, Vintage, Vintage Character and White. Here’s an explanation of each type of Port.



    FOOD FUN: The “Holiday Bird” Turkey Burger

    Last year’s seasonal special at Umami Burger was the Pumpkin Spice Latte Burger.

    The burger patty was first topped with aïoli (garlic mayonnaise), followed by:

  • Kabocha tempura, the kabocha standing in for pumpkin
  • Spiced mascarpone cheese
  • Coffee glaze
    This year, a fan favorite, the Holiday Bird turkey burger, returns. It’s both “an entire holiday meal with each savory bite,” and “everything but the apple pie.”

    Here’s what’s in-between the bun:

  • Turkey burger patty
  • Cornbread stuffing patty
  • Turkey gravy
  • Ginger-cranberry chutney
  • Spiced Japanese yams
  • Fried sage leaf
    The Holiday Bird is available at all Umami Burger locations throughout the holiday season.

    For each burger sold, one dollar will be donated to Meals On Wheels America, which supports more than 5,000 community-based senior nutrition programs nationwide.

    If there’s no Umami Burger near you, nothing’s stopping you from re-creating it at home, perhaps with a side of sweet potato fries in addition to those spiced yams.



    Holiday Bird Burger at Umami Burger

    TOP PHOTO: The 2014 Pumpkin Spice Latte Burger. BOTTOM PHOTO: The 2015 Holiday Bird Burger. Photos courtesy Umami Burger.




    RECIPE: Mojito Mashed Sweet Potatoes

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    Mashed sweet potatoes with a “Mojito” touch. Photo courtesy Chef Ingrid Hoffmann | Facebook.


    Chef Ingrid Hoffmann calls these “Mojito” mashed sweet potatoes because they have fresh mint and lime juice. Find more dellicious recipes on her website,

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, washed but unpeeled (about 1½ pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Garnish: fresh mint sprigs

    1. PLACE the whole sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and add enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

    2. DRAIN and rinse the potatoes under cold water until they are easy to handle. Meanwhile…

    3. WARM the oil in a small saucepan over high heat, about 1 minute. Alternatively, microwave the oil in a microwavable bowl on high until the oil is warm, about 30 seconds. Add the mint leaves and crush with a pestle or the handle of a wooden spoon. Set aside.

    4. PEEL the sweet potatoes and return them to the saucepan. Add the mint mixture, lime juice, salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with the mint sprigs, and serve hot.



    RECIPE: No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake

    Well, it’s almost no bake: The crust gets baked for 10 minutes. But after that, all you do is mix, fill and refrigerate thanks to this easy recipe from Kenwood.

    If the kids want to make a contribution, this is something they can do without worrying about baking times (or having to stick around, waiting for the baking to finish).

    Prep time is 20 minutes, chill time is 4 hours or overnight.



    For The Crust

  • 10 to 12 graham crackers to make approx 1.5 cups
  • ½ cup of unsalted butter, softened
    For The Cheesecake Filling

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin pie filling*
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1¼ cups heavy cream
  • Optional: whipped cream for garnish


    The crust bakes for 10 minutes. Then, chill and serve. Photo courtesy Kenwood.


    *Note that pumpkin pie filling is already seasoned with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Do not confuse it with unseasoned can pumpkin.


    1. HEAT the oven to 375°F. Using a food processor with the chopping blade, combine the softened butter with the graham crackers to create a graham crust. Stir until the crumbs are evenly coated and look wet. The crumbs should hold together in a clump if you press them in your fist; if not, add water a tablespoon at a time until this happens.

    2. POUR the crumbs into a 9-inch pie pan and press them evenly along the bottoms and sides. Pre-bake the crust for 8 to 10 minutes until dry and fragrant. Cool completely before proceeding with the recipe.

    3. MIX the cream cheese in the mixing bowl of the food processor on medium speed until it is a bit fluffy. Slowly add in the pumpkin pie filling and mix on low until blended. Mix in the cinnamon and sugar until mixture is completely smooth.

    4. REMOVE the filling and place in another bowl. Add the whipping cream to the mixing bowl and beat until stiff. Slowly fold in cream cheese mixture until just blended (it won’t be pretty so don’t think you’re doing something wrong).

    5. POUR into the pie crust. Let the cheesecake chill in for 4 hours or overnight. To serve, garnish with a optional dollop of whipped cream.



    FOOD FUN: Fall Leaf Cookies

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    Make shortbread leaves in the colors of fall. Photo courtesy Craftsman and Wolves | San Francisco.


    If you want to bring something homemade to your Thanksgiving hosts—but they don’t need another pie—bake leaf-shaped shortbread cookies in fall colors.

    These were made by the wonderful San Francisco Bakery, Craftsman and Wolves. Click on the links for recipes from The Nibble, Epicurious and Martha Stewart.

  • Autumn Spice Shortbread (add some food color for an orange-colored dough)
  • Chocolate Shortbread
  • Golden Shortbread
  • Matcha Shortbread

    You could also make almond shortbread, ginger shortbread with crystallized ginger, lemon or orange shortbread.

    All you need are your favorite shortbread recipe or one of ours, a leaf cookie cutter and some optional sanding sugar.

    With a set of assorted leaf cookie cutters, you can use a different shape for each flavor.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Cranberry Vodka

    Should you change your vodka for the holidays?

    Some vodka producers make seasonal flavors. Pinnacle Vodka, for example, has a portfolio of holiday flavors that include Caramel Apple, Pecan Pie, Pumpkin Pie and Peppermint Bark.

    Finlandia, Skyy and Smirnoff make cranberry vodka. Maybe you’ll be luckier than we’ve been in finding it. So here’s another option:

    Infuse your own cranberry vodka with real cranberries, instead of the extracts used to make commercial flavored vodka. Serve it—or bring it as a house gift—on Thanksgiving, Christmas and in-between.

    Generally when making infused vodka, the flavors should blend for four weeks or longer; but this recipe lets you do it in just 3 days.

  • Pass by the cheap stuff and use quality vodka. For $10 to $15, you can buy Denaka, Luksusowa, New Amsterdam, Pinnacle, Sobieski, Smirnoff or Svedka.
  • Why not spring for pricier vodka? If you’re making the vodka as a gift and want to impress, use the recipient’s favorite brand or other prestigious label. It won’t necessarily make better-tasting cranberry vodka, but will please the status-oriented.

    Cranberry Vodka Cocktail

    An easy holiday cocktail: cranberry vodka and ginger ale on the rocks. Photo courtesy

  • Create a hang tag for the neck of the bottle, with the name of the product (straight or fanciful), year made, and any other information.
  • If you’d rather showcase your vodka in a clear wine bottle, you can hand-paint a label and add decorations. The bottles run about $3 apiece.


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen and thawed cranberries
  • 1 fifth good quality vodka

    Bowl Of Fresh Cranberries

    Just add vodka. In three days you’ll have
    cranberry vodka. Photo courtesy Good Eggs |
    San Francisco.



    1. COMBINE the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, tilting and swirling the pan occasionally. Lower the heat and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is slightly thickened (about 5 minutes).

    2. REMOVE the pan from the heat. Stir in the cranberries and set the pan aside for 2 hours.

    3. TRANSFER the cranberry mixture to a large covered bowl, jar or canister and add the vodka. Retain the bottle to refill with the finished product. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 days, stirring occasionally. If you don’t have room in the fridge, keep it in a cool, dark place.

    4. STRAIN the vodka into a large pitcher, reserving the cranberries. You can use them to garnish drinks.

    5. USING a funnel, pour the vodka back into the original bottle. Place the bottle in the freezer until ready to serve. Keep the reserved cranberries in the freezer, but defrost them prior to serving (they defrost quickly).
    To Serve

    Serve cranberry vodka:

  • Shots
  • Straight up or on the rocks
  • As Cranberry Martinis, with just a splash of vermouth
  • In other cocktails or punch
    Top with a few cranberries to garnish.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Savory Bread Pudding

    Dessert lovers know the comfort of a rich bread pudding, a way to top yesterday’s bread with custard and cook it in a casserole dish into something sublime. (“Casserole” has a broad definition: simply, a side dish or stew cooked slowly in an oven.)

    Leave out the sugar and you have a savory custard, to be served as a side with dinner.

    Bread pudding originated in the 11th or 12th century as a way to use stale bread. Pieces of bread were cut or torn, combined with other ingredients (cheese, onions, mushrooms and other vegetables, bits of meat), topped with custard and then baked until the top was set but the inside was soft and creamy.

  • Bread pudding is closely related to the Italian dish, strata. The difference is that stratas are typically made with more eggs than cream, making them eggier and more breakfasty. They are savory dishes.
  • Bread puddings are made with a more equal ratio of eggs and milk—a custard. They can be either sweet or savory.
  • You can also make individual bread puddings in ramekins or custard cups.
  • Stuffing and dressing are savory bread puddings.
    Also see our related article on savory custard.


    Bread Pudding

    Spinach and garlic bread pudding. While most recipes blend the bread with the other ingredients, in this version it sits on top. It makes for a prettier presentation. Here’s the recipe, from Food & Wine.

    We’ve provided one recipe below that uses applewood smoked bacon, but here’s an assortment of delicious options from Food & Wine.

  • Artichoke Bread Pudding Recipe
  • Butternut Squash Bread Pudding Recipe
  • Cranberry, Pecan & Bacon Bread Pudding Recipe
  • Mushroom, Leek & Parmesan Bread Pudding Recipe
  • Savory Sausage and Cheddar Bread Pudding Recipe
  • Spinach Bread Pudding With Lemon & Feta Recipe
  • Spinach & Garlic Bread Pudding Recipe
  • Spinach-Shiitake Bread Pudding Recipe
    The following recipe is from La Brea Bakery, which suggests it to accompany the Thanksgiving turkey or any roasted meats. They make it with their Organic Rustic French Loaf.

    But the great thing about bread pudding is that you can use any bread, or a mixture of breads. In other words, if you have leftover baguette, challah and cornbread, toss them together.


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    Applewood smoked bacon and Italian parsley
    flavor this savory bread pudding recipe from
    La Brea Bakery. Photo courtesy La Brea



    Prep time is 60 minutes, cook time is 120 minutes.

    Ingredients For Nine 3″x3″ Pieces

  • 3 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces applewood smoked bacon
  • 4 ounces whole cooked chestnuts
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 French loaf of other bread

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F.

    2. CUT the bread into 1” cubes, removing the crust; place in a large bowl. Pour the chicken stock over the bread and stir to wet all cubes. Allow to sit for a half hour, stirring occasionally to be sure all the liquid is absorbed.

    3. CHOP the chestnuts coarsely. While waiting for the bread to soak, place a medium pan over medium heat and add the bacon and chestnuts. Stir occasionally and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is golden but not yet crispy. Remove from heat and set aside.

    4. PICK the leaves of the parsley from the stems, chop coarsely and set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs thoroughly with a whisk and add the cream, celery salt, pepper and chopped parsley, continuing to whisk until well combined. Add this mixture and the chestnuts-bacon mixture (use a rubber spatula to get everything from the pan) to the bread cubes and stir to mix well.

    5. SPRAY the inside of a 9” baking pan with cooking spray and fill with the bread mixture, making sure to spread evenly to fill the pan and create a level top surface. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven.

    6. SERVE immediately or allow to cool completely for serving later. If serving later, reheat by covering with foil and place in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes, or until warmed through.



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