Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

This pie. Oh, this pie. This pie is amazing. I’d almost go as far as saying it was my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. It definitely made the best breakfast, lunch, and snack for the (very) few days it lasted after Thanksgiving. I just feel lucky that I had a group of guests that were too full for 2 slices of pie and were all natural pumpkin pie choosers. The guests that did make the (best) decision to try this pie also loved it.

So what’s so great about this pie? The super sweet filling is enhanced by the warm bourbon and perfectly balanced with the toasted pecans and dark, bitter sweet, chocolate. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I’ve only had regular pecan pie one or two times. But now that I’ve had this chocolate bourbon version, I’m not sure a regular one will cut it.

 

 

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

I know, I just posted a pumpkin recipe last week. But can you really have too many pumpkin recipes? I think not. Especially in the world of food blogging, there is always room for more pumpkin recipes.

Actually, I’m kind of surprised I’ve never posted a recipe for pumpkin cupcakes before. It’s well known on my dad’s side of the family that every year I will bring pumpkin cupcakes and/or cookies to the family meal. This year I am not able to make it in person, but I’m there in spirit and sending virtual pumpkin love.

This particular pumpkin cupcake recipe is actually different than the one I’ve used in the past. Once I tried it, I knew my old recipe was old news. This recipe creates a perfectly domed cupcake, with a moist interior, and the perfect cupcake crumb. I made this particular batch for a work party at Jesse’s office and I heard that they were a huge hit. He certainly didn’t bring home any leftover cupcakes for me…. Good thing I got my taste tests in before he took them! 🙂

 

 

Green Bean Casserole From Scratch

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is just over a week away! We were originally expecting to still be in China for the holiday, so it’s been a pleasant surprise getting to plan a full on American feast. There are some foods that were just hard to find in Suzhou, like turkeys. One grocery store did have 1 frozen turkey. But they literally had that same turkey the entire time we lived there, so I had my doubts about the quality. Here I have my choice of ingredients, a nice big kitchen to prepare it in, and a group of friends to share it with.

My menu is shaping up to look pretty similar to last years, with just a few adjustments and additions. One thing that was requested this year was green bean casserole. Of course I could just go with the traditional casserole made with cans, but that wouldn’t be quite as fun! So I searched for a from scratch recipe that would be the best balance between the traditional taste and better for you non-processed ingredients. I think I found a real winner! One that gives the canned casserole a run for its money!

One last thing – For the trial run I bought a bag of crispy fried onions for the topping but on the actual day of I plan to make them myself.

 

 

Salted Herb Roasted Turkey

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If you’re still on the fence about how to prepare your turkey this weekend, then stop right here. This turkey doesn’t require any special bags or a sanitized cooler. Just a nice coating of salt and herbs and an overnight chill in the fridge. I’ve never brined a turkey, so it’s tough for me to give an honest comparison. But I can honestly tell you that with results like this, it’s unlikely that I ever will go through the trouble. This turkey is just too good.

Salted Herb Roasted Turkey

Ingredients
Overnight salt mix:
6 Tbsp coarse kosher salt (4 tablespoons if finer-grained kosher salt)
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 Tbsp fresh sage, minced
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
3 small bay leaves, coarsely torn
1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
1 tsp finely grated lemon peel

Turkey:
1 14- to 16-pound turkey (make sure to remove all the icky stuff inside!)
1 large onion, cut into large chunks
1 large celery stalk, cut into large chunks
1 whole lemon, cut into large chunks
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups broth

Directions
Combine all of the ingredients for the salt, set aside.

Rinse the turkey inside and out, but do not pat dry. Coat the turkey inside (both cavities) and out. Use your fingers to loosen the skin over the breast and carefully rubs some of the salt under the skin. Place the turkey on a large plate (preferably with a lip to keep any loose juices on the plate and not on your fridge) and cover tightly with foil. Refrigerate for 24-48 hours.

Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Rinse the turkey inside and out; pat very, very, dry (I also set it on top of a wad of paper towels for about 15 minutes). Rub some of the butter on the inside of cavities then divide the onion, celery, lemon, and herbs between the cavities. Truss the turkey (tie the legs together and wings in with cooking twine).Rub the rest of the butter on the outside of the turkey, getting under the breast skin as well. Place the turkey, breast side down, in a roasting pan, using extra carrots and celery to keep the turkey off the bottom of the pan if you don’t have a rack in your roasting pan. Pour the broth into the bottom of the pan.

Roast at 425 for 45 minutes. Remove the turkey from the oven, then use wads of paper towels to flip the turkey breast side up. Reduce the oven to 350 degrees. Continue to roast turkey until an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees, 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours longers (my 16 pound turkey took another 2 1/2, but keep an eye on it). 3 times during roasting, carefully baste the turkey with drippings and then quickly close the oven door again.

Tent the turkey with foil for 30-45 minutes before carving and serving.

Adapted from Epicurious (Bon Apetit) as seen on The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Me carving the turkey in my messy kitchen

One last thing. The family I work for is out of town for Thanksgiving, and tonight as I was writing this post I got a text. It was a picture of food that the youngest took. I told her I would put it on my blog so here it is. And can I just say I’ve taught her well? Look at that plate presentation (and no, that’s not her glass of wine).