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Cocktail Turkey Meatballs In Cognac Cream Sauce For Fiesta Friday #96


I hope everyone had a wondeful Thanksgiving and is spending today relaxing. This is not made with leftover turkey,  I have plenty of that but with ground turkey and this is a recipe I posted in May 2012. I tweaked it for Fiesta Friday, making the meatballs cocktail size and adding some cognac to the cream sauce to make it festive. I actually made these a week ago and they were so good I wanted to bring them to the party. Great on their own or with bread, rice or roasted potatoes.

After probably the biggest food holiday of the year Angie still manages to host this party, you are amazing Angie!! This week there are no co hosts everyone is recovering from the big day. Follow this link to join the party!

2 lbs ground turkey
1 shallot or small onion chopped
1 clove garlic minced
2 thick slices of bread soaked in milk
salt and pepper to taste

I added chopped parsley, it’s optional and if you do just a few tbs is all you need.

The Sauce:
2 cups chicken stock
3 tbs flour
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
3 tbs cognac or brandy  and 1 tbs worcestershire sauce

Heat some olive oil in skillet, saute onions until they are soft. In mixing bowl add the turkey, bread soaked in milk, garlic powder, salt and pepper, when onions are done add to the turkey mixture. Stir to combine all ingredients and form into meatballs. In same skillet fry the meatballs, browning on all sides but don’t cook them through. Remove from skillet, using the same skillet with the drippings add the flour, you are making a roux, stir so that its mixed with the pan drippings and let it cook for about a minute. whisk in the the stock, cream, milk,cognac and worcestershire, season with salt and pepper and let it cook so that it thickens.
Place meatballs in baking dish and pour cream sauce over them. Bake in 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.



Happy Thanksgiving And A Holiday Giveaway


I wish each and everyone of you a totally awesome and wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope you will be enjoying the day with family and friends. The food is important it’s what is the driving force behind the holiday but without our loved ones and friends to enjoy it with we might as well just have a bowl of cereal. I have a lot to be thankful for, family, friends, great job, the sweet memories of my pugs.  I am also thankful for each and every one of you, YES YOU, without each others support and inspiration what would be the point of having a blog. I am thankful for each of your wonderful and uplifting comments, thank you so very much. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, not just because of the food but I love a holiday where there is no pressure to gift anyone, it is a day when we all come together to enjoy each other, catch up (if you haven’t seen each other for a while) eat, drink and be merry.

I start cooking in the morning, it’s a busy day and usually by the time all is said and done I am exhausted but in a good way. The day after Thanksgiving is also the official start of the Holiday Shopping season, I avoid the stores like the plague on Black Friday.

As a holiday gift to you I asked the UBER talented Michael of Michaels woodcraft to make a cutting board which will be given away to one lucky reader. Michaels workmanship and devotion to his craft is inspiring. Thank you Michael!! This is open to US residents only, again, I am sorry that we cannot ship to my international friends. All you need to do is leave a comment and you will be entered. Thank you all for being there and putting up with me and for being so supportive. I truly appreciate it.

Farmers board

Farmers board

This board is gorgeous, made with love by Michael and will last a lifetime if cared for properly. I have to admit I have an addictiion to his boards, everytime I see a new one I have to have it. They really make a gorgeous presentation on the table.

The drawing will be on Wednesday December 2nd, Good luck my friends and have a wonderful Thanksgiving feast!!




Bracciole For Fiesta Friday #95


The other day I was reminiscing about the Thanksgivings of my childhood and was thinking how much work my Mom put into the meal. My Dad was Italian my Mom American and on holidays we had a bit of a culture clash. Dad wanted Italian food and Mom a traditional Thanksgiving meal so in order to please everyone she made both, she roasted a capon, made dressing and the sides and homemade pasta and bracciole. If you have never heard of or had bracciole you should seek it out, it’s delicious, Round or flank steak cut and pounded thin and made into a roulade or rolled with a stuffing, The stuffings vary a bit but my Mom stuffed with bread soaked in milk, grated romano cheese, pine nuts, raisins and hard boiled egg. Roll and tie, sear and cook low and slow in the tomato sauce. It’s amazingly delicious and brings back memories of home and the holidays, My Mom’s always looked perfect and made a gorgeous presentation mine is not as beautiful but tastes almost exactly the same as hers. I lived in Italy years ago, in Napoli and one of my friends made this one day and I loved that she made small individual rolls, I thought it was a wonderful idea but opted to make it like my Mother and do one big roll.

I am bringing my childhood favorite, bracciole to the party this week which is hosted by Angie and the lovely co hosts  Loretta @ Safari of the Mind and Petra @ Food Eat Love


Serves 6-8

1 1/2-2 lb round or flank steak cut thin and pounded with malet

1 cup bread soaked in milk or water

2 hard boiled eggs

1/3 cup pecorino romano cheese grated

1/4 cup Italian parsley chopped

2 tbs toasted pine nuts

raisins a scattering- optional

salt and pepper to taste

your favorite recipe for tomato sauce or marinara

  1. Bring steak to room temperature, lay on cutting board and pound thin but don’t over pound it so that it tears. Set aside
  2. Squeeze the water out of the bread, hard boil the eggs peel and slice, grate your cheese, toast your pine nuts and chop your parsley.
  3. Lay the steak out on the cutting board season with salt and pepper. have butchers twine ready to tie it up once rolled. Place a layer of the soaked bread on the steak at one end, not all the way to the long ends, leave about an inch on each end. sprinkle with romano cheese, parsley and some pine nuts and optional raisins. Lay the egg slices on top and season with some pepper. Fold each long end to the edge of the stuffing and start rolling making sure the ends are tucked in. Once it’s rolled tie it with butchers twine to keep it together.
  4. Heat some olive oil in a dutch oven on high. Sear the meat on all sides, Remove from the pot and prepare your tomato sauce as you normally would. When sauce is ready to cook Place meat in sauce and simmer for at least 2 1/2 hours so that it’s very tender. To serve remove string or twine and slice in rounds, spoon sauce and grated cheese on top and enjoy.





Thanksgiving Preparation

Photo by James Ransom

Photo by James Ransom for food52

I don’t know where the time went, next week is Thanksgiving. It dawned on me today so I started prepping. I make the same thing every single year, no change there would be a coup if I did. Part of me didn’t want Thanksgiving to get here even though it’s my favorite holiday, it’s my first without Izzy and Nando and I feel sad.  That said I have started prepping, write the shopping list, order the turkey, make what I can in advance, bread cubes are drying in oven as I type this. Took a whole chicken out of the freezer to make stock. There is a lot of work and planning that goes into one meal and I do what I can in advance. Is that what you do? I usually have 8-10 here for Thanksgiving. How many do you have over?


What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Do you cook/host the meal or go to friends or relatives. Have you started preparing? Would love to know what everyone does, I know that some of you from other countries do not celebrate Thanksgiving. What is on the menu at your house? Traditional or non traditional or a mixture of both. Here is my menu with links to the recipes.

Butter and herb roasted turkey


mashed potatoes- yukon gold, sour cream. butter salt and pepper

brussels sprouts- oven roasted

corn – steamed and served with some butter

homemade potato dinner rolls

cranberry sauce- use the recipe on the ocean spray package but sub fresh squeezed orange juice for the water and add some orange zest.

pumpkin and pecan pie – I usually just use the pumpkin pie recipe on the can of LIbby’s pumpkin, may do something different this year from my good friend Johnny at Kitschen Flavors.

I have a pretty strict time line making as much as I can in advance.

Done in advance:

Make chicken stock (need for dressing)

Make cornbread and air dry (2 days before I make the dressing)

Dry bread cubes for dressing (doing that today)

Cranberry sauce made ahead and refrigerated (making it this weekend)

Make compound butter for turkey (Monday)

Make pie dough and refrigerate (Tuesday)

Day before:

Prep the turkey putting the compound butter under the skin, and refrigerate.

Make dressing cover refrigerate.

Make the bread dough, form into rolls, cover and refrigerate until a few hours before baking them.

Make the pies plus an extra for a friend, the apple and pear tart

Thanksgiving Day:

We eat late around 5:30 or 6PM. I’ve heard that most eat early like lunch time. This is actually the easiest day, I have already done a lot of the work. Set the table, get the wine ready, refrigerate the white, let the red breathe/decant.

Turkey goes in at around noon – I get at 18-20 lb turkey and it’s done in 3 ish hours because of the fast cooking method I use in my graniteware pan.

Peel potatoes and cut and let sit in cold salted water until ready to boil. (Usually around 4PM)

Make the corn and brussels sprouts.

Bake the dressing

Bake the rolls right before dinner is served so they are hot.

Whew, it’s a lot of work but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Love Thanksgiving!!

Izzy And Nando

Izzy And Nando


Buttermilk Pancakes


I am sure you are saying, ho hum who doesn’t know how to make panceakes and who needs another pancake recipe. Well, I am always on the lookout for a basic recipe with a technique I have never used before when making it in the hopes that it will be just a little more stand out. I saw this recipe on Food and Wine Daily, the pancakes looked so good I had to give it a try, The difference here is that you beat the eggs with a hand held mixer until they double in volume about 3-4 minutes.  Most pancake recipes you simply beat the eggs with the milk and fat and add the wet to the dry, this is sort of the reverse and intrigued me.

The perfect opportunity for me to give these a try was this morning, I had Air bnb guests here and they wanted pancakes.  The pancakes are a little more labor intensive than the recipe I normally use. Hopefully the extra effort will pay off.

The batter is very thick and fluffy. These are not pancakes you pour into the pan or onto the griddle. See…

Really thick batter

Really thick batter

You have to have the temperature right a medium flame works well, they are thick so the batter takes a while to bubble and if the temperature is too high the middle will not be done. The first 4 I fried in butter, the pancakes pictured here I sprayed oil in the pan and I prefer it that way, although the butter gave a nice crispy exterior. The pancakes had kind of a light cake like texture and tasted really nice. I think it’s a good recipe but will probably stick to my go to pancakes from Betty Crocker that my Mom used and so do I. It’s quick and easy and they are always good.

Buttermilk Pancakes

Made 7 pancakes (heaping 1/3 cup of batter)

1 1/2 cups All purpose flour

1 1/2 tbs baking powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

3 tbs unsalted butter melted plus more for cooking the pancakes

Warm maple syrup and soft butter for serving

You can add blueberries when you pour the batter on the griddle if you like.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Beat the eggs until light and creamy and doubled in volume, now beat in the buttermilk and butter. Gently fold in the dry ingredients. Put about 1/3 cup batter on griddle or in non stick skillet. Cook on moderate heat for 1-2 minutes or until they are golden brown and bubbles appear on the surface. Flip over and cook another 1-2 minutes. Place in warm oven while you make the rest.


Fall Apple/Pear Tart For Fiesta Friday #94


IMG_7591I have been a tart making mad woman lately. I feel like I always am elbow deep in dough and honestly, I love it. Making pies and tarts is one of my favorite things to bake. There is something about the flaky buttery pastry crust with some sort of filling whether it be sweet or savory that just feels like home and comfort. I had to make some tarts for an office potluck (sort of early holiday) party and made extra so I could bring to the party. I am bringing an apple and pear tart decorated with fall leaves. I used a different method than making an apple pie for this tart, I wanted it to have a crisp crust and it had to be able to be eaten standing so no juicy piece of apple pie for this event. I blind baked a rectangular tart shell and oven roasted some apples and nicely ripened pears in poire william and brown sugar letting them get nicely soft. The fall leaves were also baked ahead and placed on the tart half way through the baking process. It really turned out nicely.

Thank you to Angie@Fiesta Friday for hosting and our co hosts this week are  Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju and Stef @ The Kiwi Fruit. Thanks for hosting and I hope you all enjoy the tart.

Pie Dough

Julia Child  makes a 9 inch double crust pie or 2 9 inch tarts

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup cake flour

6 oz good unsalted butter (I use Irish butter – Kerry Gold very cold

4 tbs shortening cold

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup ice cold water

Place flours and salt in mixing bowl, whisk to combine. Cut in the butter and shortening with pastry cutter so that it resembles course crumbs. Pour in the water and mix just to combine with a fork. Gather the dough and divide in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and press into a disk shape. Refrigerate at least an hour or overnight.

blind bake tart shell

blind bake tart shell

Blind Bake

Pre heat oven to 400 degree’s.

Roll dough, I like it pretty thin. Cut off a little bit of each disk so you can make the leaves and set aside. Place in the tart pan, prick bottom with fork and place in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Line baking sheet with parchment, place another piece of parchment on the frozen tart and weigh it down with pie weights or beans whatever you use. Bake for 20 minutes watching that it doesn’t brown to deeply. Remove from oven, let cool for about ten minutes and remove the pie weights. Let the tart shell cool on a rack.

With the reserved dough use cookie cutters in the shape of leaves and press out an assortment of leaves at least 1 dozen or more. Place on parchment lined baking sheet, brush with egg wash and place in freezer.

Reduce oven to 375 and bake the leaves for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned. let cool on rack.

Apples and Pears

2 apples peeled cut in half and cored

2 pears peeled cut in half and cored

1/3 cup Poire William or pear nectar, apple cider or combination of all or some

1/3 cup brown sugar

pinch each of cinnamon and nutmeg

Butter a baking dish and place your pears and apples cut side down, pour in the liquid and sprinkle on the brown sugar. Dot with some butter. Bake for about 40 minutes, the pears and apples should be soft but not mushy.

Drain off the liquid and reserve for later and let the fruit cool to room temperature.

Baking the tart

Place the pears and apples in the tart shell, whisk 1 1/2 tbs of corn starch, or flour, cinnamon and nutmeg with the reserved liquid. Pour over the fruit and place in the 375 degree oven. Bake for 20 minutes and remove from the oven and carefully place the leaves on top of the tart, return to the oven for another 20 minutes or until golden brown.

To finish the tart I heated some apricot preserves and brushed the leaves so they were lovely and shiny.

Carefully removed from tart pan


Chai Spiced Pear Butter


Yesterday when I posted about Sonal’s wonderful gift of spices I included her recipe for Chai Tea, which I am totally addicted to by the way. It’s delicious. I bought an abundance of pears and some were really ripe, I had so many I couldn’t eat them fast enough so I decided to oven roast and refrigerate until I figured out what to do with them. I thought the pears would be awesome with the chai spice and making pear butter (just like apple butter) would be wonderful. It’s so unbelievably simple to make and incredibly delicious you will be amazed. The pear butter is wonderful on toast or bread, on hot cereal  or eat it straight from the jar.

Chai Spiced Pear Butter

Makes approximately 2 eight ounce jars

6 pears – I used bartlett very ripe peeled, cut in half and cored

1/3 cup packed +2 tbs brown sugar

1/3 cup Poire William (pear liquor) or pear nectar or water.

2 vanilla beans (sliced open)

Pre heat oven to 375 degree’s. place the pear halves cored size down in a 9×13 rectangular baking dish (ceramic or glass is best non reactive), pour the liquid in the baking dish, sprinkle the pears with the brown sugar, place the vanilla beans in the liquid and place in the oven.  Note: I buttered my baking dish but it’s not necessary.

Bake the pears for about 45 minutes, turning the pears over half way through baking, the liquid should have reduced to almost nothing, only just barely covering the bottom of the baking dish, the pears will have started to caramelize and will be very soft. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. You want the pears very warm.

Making the pear butter

Place warm pears with the small amount of residual juice in a blender, add 1/2 tsp chai spice and a a tiny pinch of salt and blend until smooth. Pour into clean canning jars and store in the refrigerator.


A Gift, A Giving Community, Announcing A Holiday Giveaway And A Hot Cup Of Chai

From Sonal-Simply Vegetarian 777

From Sonal-Simply Vegetarian 777

I follow many blogs, I love them all and try my best to read and comment or at least like every one or as close as I can get to acknowledging them. One blog I love and follow is Sonal’s beautiful Simply Vegetarian777, chock full of delicious recipes and gorgeous photography it is one of those blogs that takes your breath away. Sonal also happens to be one of the sweetest and kindest individuals you will ever know and although we have never met in person I feel like we are close friends albeit virtual, she has touched my life and my kitchen with her generosity. This is the second batch of spices she has sent me, thank you my friend. I saw this recipe on her site a few weeks back and immediately commented how I had to make it it just sounds incredible. It’s an Indian breakfast dish called Bread Poha. Now I am challenged in the spicing department, I notoriously underspice and have become befuddled when faced with a recipe that uses many different spices in one dish. Sonal knowing me and seeing my plight sent me pre measured spice packets, everything the spicing challenged will need to put together a scrumptious meal and I must add that she included detailed instructions. Sonal, market these please I will be your first customer.

I was the lucky recipient previously of some of her genius spice blends and made this Kofta Korma which literally knocked my socks off, I followed her basic recipe for Korma adapting it to use meat.

How wonderful is our community of bloggers, most of us have never met each other, we visit and comment on each others blogs and become online friends and if we are lucky we get to meet each other. We lift each other up and encourage and in the case of dear Sonal, without asking or expecting anything she sends me the spice packets, but not just spices everything I need for pilaf incuding the rice and dal with the spices. I will be making dishes from each item she sent me and posting it here. The first will be the bread poho, it uses day (s) old bread which I don’t have so I am letting a baguette sit for a few days.

In the spirit of giving I wanted to announce that the last week of November there will be a giveaway which I am very excited about. It’s wonderful I won’t say what it is (surprises are fun) but I am sure you will all love it and it will be my gift to you, or at least one (or two) of you.


Chai Tea

Sonal-Simply Vegetarian 777

1 cup water

3 tbs milk (I used half and half)

a good pinch of Sonal’s Chai Spice (it was about 1/2 tsp)

Black tea (either tea bag or loose tea

Sweetener of your choice

Bring the water, milk and spice to a rolling boil, add the tea and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Strain into a cup and enjoy!! Sweeten if you like. I added a spoonful of honey to mine.

As I type this I am enjoying a hot cup of chai and it’s absolutely delicious, the spices are perfection.  I usually use a prepared chai tea but have to say making it this way with the spice mix produces a superior cup of chai. There is nothing like a hot cup of Chai to warm you on a cold day.  Thank you Sonal!!

Braised Country Ribs


One of my favorite cuts of pork (ribs) are country ribs. They are very meaty and tender when cooked with a slow braise and very very flavorful. I will often put in in a tomato sauce when I make an Italian meal the sauce is amazing when you use this cut. Today I am doing something a little different. It’s very simple to make, most of the cooking time is in the oven. If I had a slow cooker I would use that. Serving for dinner tonight with some oven roasted asparagus and mashed potatoes.  It’s a stick to your ribs, satisfying comfort meal.

Country Pork Ribs

Country Pork Ribs

Braised Country Ribs

Serves 3-4

3 lbs Country ribs (approx 4 ribs)

1 stalk celery chopped

1 carrot cut or chopped

1 medium yellow onion chopped

3 cloves garlic peeled and smashed

2 tbs tomato paste

1 cup good white wine – I used a Pinot D’Alsace

1 cup apple cider

1/2 cup water (you can also use chicken or vegetable broth)

2 bay leaves

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degree’s. Place 2 tbs olive oil in dutch oven and heat on high, pat dry the ribs and sear in the hot pan until browned on all sides. Remove and set aside. Add a little more olive oil and add the vegetables and garlic. Saute until soft, add the tomato paste and cook for about a minute or until the tomato paste is cooked and no longer raw. Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Add the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper. Add the ribs back into the pan along with accumulated juices. Add the cider and water the liquid should come a little more than half way up the ribs add more water or broth if your ribs are thicker than mine were. Bring to a simmer and then cover and place in the oven.

Let cook in the oven for approximately 3 hours, the meat should be fall off the bone tender. When the meat is done raise the oven temp to 350, remove the lid and let it continue to cook until the liquid is reduced by half and the meat is browned it takes about 30 minutes.




Roasted Acorn Squash With Garlic Butter And Burrata


This is a recipe from Food and Wine and I thought it sounded wonderful. I am making a conscience effort to eat more vegetables, salads and trying to lose a few pounds before the Holiday Season starts, for me once Thanksgiving arrives the feasting begins and I want to eat sensibly and lose a few pounds to keep the Holiday weight gain at bay.

If I am going to eat a salad or vegetables I need and want lots of flavor and it should use the vegetables in a creative and delicious way. This recipe really has all of that, it’s a seasonal warm salad or a light main course. It is very simple to prepare and I love a meal that contains few ingredients simply prepared and is delicious and nutritious. Warm buttery roasted acorn squash with creamy burrata and greens dressed simply with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

The combination is unexpected and completely delicious, I used assorted micro greens which had a little bit of a bite, some a little bitter and this paired so beautifully with the sweet acorn squash bathed in butter, garlic and shallot and creamy burrata. Note: I did not add the red onion to the greens, I am not a fan of raw onion in salads. I put the burrata in the squash and placed in the warm oven so the cheese got nice and soft and melty.

The recipe was created by Chef Dave Beran and he recommends a nice Chardonnay to go with.


Roasted Acorn Squash With Garlic Butter And Burrata

Serves 4

4 tbs unsalted butter melted

1 tbs minced shallot

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp thyme leaves

kosher salt

black pepper

2  1 1/2 lb acorn squash cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 tbs aged balsamic vinegar

4 cups (2 oz) mixed salad greens

1/4 of a small red onion sliced very thin

1 1/2 lb  ball of burrata cheese

cracked black pepper and flaky sea salt to garnish

Preheat the oven to 425°. In a bowl, combine the butter, shallot, garlic and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Season the squash halves with salt and pepper and set on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with the garlic butter and roast for about 30 minutes, until the squash is golden and tender. Transfer to plates.

In a bowl, whisk the oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Add the baby greens and red onion and toss to coat. Cut the burrata into 4 pieces. Top each squash half with burrata and salad, garnish with cracked pepper and sea salt and serve warm.