November 29, 2013

Cannoli Noodle Kugel

12 oz dried wide egg noodles
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup sour cream (regular or light)
2/3 cup PLUS 1 tablespoon sugar (divided use)
1/3 cup chopped candied Italian citron
6 eggs
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon Cognac or brandy
1 tablespoon dry curacao
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Boil the noodles until soft. Drain and toss with butter in a large bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whip together the mascarpone, ricotta, sour cream, 2/3 cup sugar,  eggs, cognac, curacao, and allspice until smooth. Stir the mixture into the cooked noodles. Fold in citron bits. Pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish*. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and remaining sugar.

Bake for 60 minutes uncovered. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*We actually made 1 8x8 and a 1 1 1/2-quart so we could take some and leave some at home for us to enjoy later.

My thoughts:
One of the best things about Hanukkah is that it lasts for 8 days so you have plenty of time to eat yummy food! We had our faux-Thanksgivukkah in October to so I could perfect my recipes to share with all of you but yesterday was actual Thanksgiving and we went to my parents' house. My mom makes most of the food but we normally bring something and this time, it was kugel in honor of Hanukkah. Let me tell you, it was so good. We normally are savory kugel people but this one was delicious and not crazy sweet. Matt had the idea of using Italian cheeses in it to make it extra fancy and tasty and that morphed into a sort of cannoli-inspired kugel. He bought half a citron at our local Italian store (and it was still too much, I'm so glad they were happy to halve it for us! We'd be eating a whole citron for a year) and some imported ricotta and mascarpone. Using quality ingredients really makes a difference in such a simple dish. I couldn't be happier with how it turned out; everyone loved it, even those who were new to the kugel. It was creamy without being over-the-top rich and very comforting.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

Nutty Blue Cranberry Sauce Rounds

1 (8 oz) can Pillsbury® Place ’N Bake® refrigerated crescent rounds
1/4 cup whole berry cranberry sauce (I used leftover chestnut cranberry sauce)
2 oz blue cheese, crumbled (try Gorgonzola!)
8 pecan halves

Heat oven to 375°F.

Remove the rounds from package, separate into 8 rounds. Place rounds on ungreased large cookie sheet. Press down center of each round to make an indentation about 1/4-1/2 inch deep.

Evenly divide the cranberry sauce into each indentation, taking care not to overfill. Top each with a blue cheese crumble. Add a pecan half to each round, slightly off-center and pressing the pecan slightly into the dough. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove to a wire rack and cool completely.

My thoughts:
Still have guests? Want to impress them and use up some leftover cranberry sauce? Do I have the recipe for you!

I jazzed up Pillsbury crescent rounds with leftover chestnut cranberry sauce, cheese and pecans I had leftover from another recipe to make the ultimate, easy, thrifty appetizer.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

November 27, 2013

Ginger Spiced Cranberry-Asian Pear Butter

4 1/2 lbs Asian pears, sliced and cored* (about 4 large)
8 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup pear cider or water
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
3/4 cup dark brown sugar (or more to taste)
2 tablespoons rye

Place all ingredients in a 6 quart slow cooker. The fruit should come to the very top of the insert.

Cook on low for 10-12 hours. Vent by placing the lid on askew and cook on low for an additional 10-12 hours or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture has reduced and thickened.

Pour the mixture into a blender or use an immersion blender to puree. Cool completely and refrigerate up to 3 weeks or ladle when warm into prepared jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace and process in a hot water canner for 10 minutes.

Yield: about 4 8-oz jars

*A apple corer/slicer makes quick work of this.

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here is a bunch of other canning books and equipment I find useful.

My thoughts:
Want an alternative to cranberry sauce to spread on your turkey sandwich? Looking to get a head start on gift giving? This is the spread for you! Cranberries and crisp, juicy Asian pears are in season now and they blend perfectly in this rich fruit butter. Not only is it tasty, it is so easy to make. Just dump all of the ingredients in a slow cooker and walk away. Then scoop it into jars and water-bath process (or not) and it is ready to go.

It is also the perfect way to use up those last few bags of cranberries you bought impulsively!

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

November 25, 2013

Turkey Vegetable Kamut Soup

16 oz frozen "soup mix" vegetables*
2 cloves garlic, chopped
15 oz canned diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken or turkey stock
3/4 cup kamut (khorasan wheat) berries
1/2 cup dry vermouth
3 sprigs of thyme worth of leaves
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups diced cooked turkey breast

Place the frozen vegetables, garlic, tomatoes, stock, kamut, vermouth,  herbs and spices in a 4 quart slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 or so hours then stir in the turkey. Cook for 1-2 hours on low then serve.

*The mix I bought has carrots, potatoes, corn, green beans, Lima beans, okra, peas, celery and onion.
My thoughts:
I thought a Thanksgiving leftover recipe would be the perfect vehicle to try out new-to-me frozen soup mix vegetables. Normally when firing up the slow cooker, I chop all of the ingredients by hand the night before so they are ready to go in the morning. When picking up some frozen pearl onions (Aside: why are they often only available during the holidays? So frustrating. I end up buying a year's supply in November because I don't have the patience for peeling fresh.) I came across this "soup mix" that looked pretty good. I mean, okra? An inspired choice. I tossed them in the cart. They've been in the freezer ever since.

I know I've spent enough time chopping and we're still early in the holiday season so what better time to try them out? All I had to do was chop the turkey and the garlic. The vegetables were a thrifty choice too; on sale for 2 for $1.50. I didn't price it out but that has to be cheaper than buying and chopping each of those ingredients individually, right? Which I appreciate because while I always think of soup as being this super thrifty, cheap dinner but when I actually price out the ingredients and my labor, it isn't that cheap after all. This recipe uses kamut (although I bet you could sub in farro and have great results) so you don't need an extra grain to serve. I love one pot cooking! The resulting soup was really hearty and satisfying and so flavorful!

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

November 22, 2013

"Everything" Crescent Rounds

1 (8 oz) can Pillsbury® Place ’N Bake® refrigerated crescent rounds
1/2 teaspoon dehydrated minced onion
1/2 teaspoon dehydrated minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon olive oil


Heat oven to 375°F. Remove the rounds from package, separate into 8 rounds. Place rounds on ungreased large cookie sheet. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the spices. Set aside. Brush each round with olive oil. Sprinkle with spice mixture. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely.

My thoughts:
Long time readers know I like to do things the hard way. Once I corned beef for two weeks, made rye bread and mustard for just one sandwich. But some times, even I get burnt out. Making Faux Thanksgiving (and then all the leftovers recipes) each year is a daunting task. Every year I think about including a roll recipe (and occasionally I do) but most of the time I don't get around to it. So when Pillsbury approached me about creating a few recipes for them using one of their crescent roll products I thought I'd give it a shot. We ate crescent rolls growing up, but they were always plain with margarine (margarine! I know!). Dressed up ones seemed more appealing. I found these rounds at the store and they were pretty neat, they are already cut into 8 rounds and feature a sort of a spiral shape inside. Since I am celebrating Thanksgivukkah this year, I thought I'd tie them in with the theme (and the turkey!) and turn them into tiny, bagel inspired rolls. Perfect for the Thanksgivukkah table. I even ate some leftover with a smear of cream cheese and some lox.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

November 20, 2013

Panes con Pavo (Salvadoran Turkey Sandwich)

14 oz canned diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon annatto seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons hulled, roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup diced onion
4.5 oz Old El Paso® chopped green chiles
3 1/2 cups shredded cooked turkey breast
4 kaiser rolls, Italian rolls or bollitos

Place the tomatoes, spices, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, onion and green chiles in a blender. Pulse until a smooth sauce forms. Transfer to a medium saucepan. Add the turkey. Simmer for 10 minutes or until warmed through. Serve on kaiser rolls, Italian rolls or bollitos.

My thoughts:

A popular dish at Christmas time (or Thanksgiving for many US dwelling Salvadorian families), Salvadorian turkey is a delicious treat but a lot of work. First you slather the turkey in a mixture of spices and mustard and allow it marinate for hours. Then, you simmer it in a rich sauce until it is nearly falling off the bone then the sauce is drained, simmered again until it reduces then drizzled over the turkey again. The leftovers are often served as sandwiches the next day. I've always wanted to make a Salvadorian style turkey, Pavo Salvadoreño, at Thanksgiving but a more traditional roasted turkey normally wins out. Last year I got to thinking that there was no reason I couldn't transform my leftover roasted turkey into Panes con Pavo. I decided to make a sauce that used the same flavors and ingredients and simmer the cooked turkey in it rather than starting from raw turkey. Great idea, right? However, I got so caught up making other Thanksgiving leftover recipes (they are some of my favorites to create each year!) that I ran out of turkey before I got to make the sandwiches. I saved my notes and figured I'd get around it eventually. Then just a few weeks ago Old El Paso® got in touch with me looking for a new fun way to use up leftover Thanksgiving turkey; I had turkey leftover from Faux Thanksgiving so the stars finally aligned. Turkey sandwiches for all! I used their green chiles in the sauce and they added a peppery flavor but not a ton of heat, which was perfect because Pavo Salvadoreño is not a super spicy dish. I enjoyed my sandwich plain, but traditional toppings include sliced radishes, shredded cabbage or lettuce, tomato slices and watercress.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

November 14, 2013

Zippy Corn Latkes

2 11-oz cans Green Giant Steam Crisp Extra Sweet Niblets®, drained
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup canola oil

Place half of the corn and eggs in a blender and pulse until smooth. Pour into a medium bowl. Stir in remaining corn and spices. Whisk in flour.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Drop 1/4 cups of the corn mixture into the oil. Cook 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towel-lined plates and serve immediately.

My thoughts:

One of the best things about Hanukkah is the excuse to fry things. I love making latkes each year and since Thanksgiving and Hanukkah are intersecting for the last time for 70,000 or so years, I thought I'd combine a Thanksgiving side dish favorite, corn, with latkes. Corn isn't in season now so I used Green Giant Steam Crisp corn. It is vacuum packed and has very little extra liquid, making it perfect for frying. These latkes are similar to Southern corn fritters but crispier, flatter and I used pureed corn instead of dairy so they are perfect for your Hanukkah table. The combination of the pureed corn and the whole corn (which pops in your mouth when you bite in) results in the corn-iest tasting corn latke you can imagine. If dairy isn't a concern, they are great with sour cream or try a bit of Israeli date syrup.

Butterball and General Mills are teaming up to make your Thanksgiving a memorable one. Check out deals on coupons to make your holiday great here.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

November 13, 2013

Challah Chestnut Mushroom "Unstuffing"

1 large (1 lb, 5 oz) challah, torn into bite-sized bits
1 large onion, diced
3 1/2 oz roasted, peeled chestnuts*, diced
2 oz oyster mushrooms, chopped
2 oz shiitake mushrooms, chopped
8 oz crimini mushrooms, chopped
1 lb celery, diced
1/2 cup chicken or turkey stock
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon minced Italian parsley
sea salt
freshly ground pepper


In a large pan, saute celery and mushrooms in olive oil over very low heat until the celery is soft translucent. Do not brown. Meanwhile, fry the onion in onion in a large saucepan until blackened. Cool slightly. Add to bread in the bowl and add the spices, chestnuts and herbs. Combine with egg and stock. Form medium-sized balls.

Refrigerate until ready to use, up to overnight. Place balls in the bottom of the roasting pan under the rack and around the turkey on the rack for the last 1/2 hour of roasting and cook until cooked through.

*I used the kind that comes in the resealable pouch.

My thoughts:
If you've been following my previous Thanksgiving posts over the years, you know I don't stuff the turkey, I don't bake the stuffing in a pan, I make stuffing balls and place them around the turkey. This gives them a bit of flavor from the turkey without worrying about stuffing the turkey and risking bacterial growth or slowing down the cooking process. When I realized we'd be celebrating Thanksgivukkah this year, I knew I'd have to make my stuffing with challah but I wasn't sure of what else should be inside. I had noticed quite a few wintery recipes using chestnuts (a surprising number; I normally associate them with Christmas) in the Jewish cookbooks I was reading in preparation for the holidays so when I came across some chestnuts at the store that were already peeled and roasted (have you ever had to deal with a raw chestnut? My advice: don't)I thought I'd incorporate them into the stuffing. I liked it a lot. Just as in the chestnut cranberry sauce, they added a rich nutty flavor without being overpowering. I browned my onions kasha style instead of leaving the soft as I normally do. That added a deep caramelized flavor. Then I added my favorite: mushrooms and the results were spectacular. One of my favorite stuffings so far.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

November 11, 2013

"Everything" Turkey

1 14-16 lb turkey
4 cloves garlic
1 small onion, quartered
2 teaspoons dehydrated minced onion
1-2 teaspoons dehydrated minced garlic
1-2 teaspoon(s) sesame seeds
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 400. Loosely stuff the turkey with the onions and garlic. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and spices. Rub the mixture over the turkey. Roast the turkey for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 325 until done, about 2 1/2 hrs. Allow to sit 5 minutes before carving.

My thoughts:
Is it too early to post this year's turkey recipe? I hope not! In keeping with the Thanksgivukkah theme, I covered my turkey in all of the seeds and spices you would normally find on the "Everything" bagel. Oh, yes, a bagel themed turkey! It really isn't as odd it sounds because basically what makes an everything bagel just that is the mixture of seeds and seasonings (rumored to be what was leftover from making other bagels, hence the everything moniker) which of course can easily top a turkey! The olive oil really helps crisp up the skin and give it a lovely brown color and the seeds and seasonings really permeated the meat of the turkey. It didn't taste too bagel-y (it is meat after all!) but perfectly seasoned. And I am no food scientist the method I shared here always leaves me with a lovely turkey with browned skin, juicy breast meat and perfectly done dark.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

November 08, 2013

Chestnut Cranberry Sauce

12 oz whole cranberries
3 1/2 oz roasted and peeled chestnuts, diced*
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 large cinnamon stick
1 oz spiced orange liqueur (like Creole Shrub)

Bring all ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat then simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, remove the cinnamon stick. Serve hot or cold.

*I used the kind that comes in a resealable pouch

My thoughts:
What's Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce? This year I added chestnuts and was really pleased with how it turned out. Fruity yet with just a hint of chestnut.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

November 06, 2013

Thanksgiving Tzimmes

1 large yam, cut into 1 inch chunks
8 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1/2 butternut squash, cut into 1 inch chunks (about 2 cups)
18 dried apricots, halved
1/3 cup sweetened, dried cranberries
1 1/2 cup orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons honey

Place all ingredients in a heavy bottomed pan. Bring to a boil. Stir and reduce heat. Simmer until fully cooked, about 40 minutes.

My thoughts:
What better side dish for Thanksgivukkah than tzimmes? If you are unfamiliar it is a sort of stew that can either be meaty or vegetarian but it normally contains carrots, dried fruit (most often prunes and raisins), the occasional root vegetable and honey. It is often served at Rosh Hashanah but it made a great side for Thanksgiving as well. To make it more Thanksgiving-y, I added traditional Thanksgiving flavors like cranberries, butternut squash and yams. I also substituted apricots for the prunes and I think the flavors melted together nicely. Plus it was a bright, festive orange color!

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

November 04, 2013

Knish-Style Kasha Mashed Potatoes

3 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup kasha
1 egg
1 cup chicken or turkey stock

In a large saucepan, saute onions in oil until blackened. Beat the egg into the kasha in a small bowl. Add the kasha to pan and saute with onions until the kernels begin to separate, 5-10 minutes. Add broth cover. Simmer over low heat until kasha is tender and all of the broth is absorbed. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes until fork tender. Drain and mash the onions and kasha into the potatoes until fairly smooth.

My thoughts:
Every year I come up with a new theme for Thanksgiving. One year it was kitschy Hawaiian inspired recipes, last year it was Polish food, the years before that  featured figs, pomegranate, tangerines, and apple cider. This year it was clear what the theme would have to be. Thanksgivukkah! Thanksgiving and Hanukkah won't fall on the same day again for 77,798 years. The last time it happened was in 1888. The idea of combining two of my favorite food holidays was too hard to resist.

First up is knish-inspired mashed potatoes. I've made knishes before, and of course had them tons of times at various delis and always enjoy them, but let's face it, the best part of a knish is the filling. This filling tastes like the perfect kasha (aka buckwheat groats; added bonus? this recipe is gluten-free) knish but without all that pesky dough.

Let the lead up to Thanksgivukkah begin!

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg