Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope everyone had an amazing dinner surrounded by friends and family like I did.  Thanksgiving (after Passover) is obviously one of my favorite holidays.  This year I cooked dinner for my parents and several co-workers that couldn’t make it home for the holiday.

This was a monumental year because I decided to stray from my traditional stuffed turkey breast and go all in with a 16 lb bird!  I purchased a free range fresh turkey from Misty Knoll Farms via Formaggio Kitchen and changed my turkey recipe about 5 times before I finally settled on my original recipe for roasted turkey by Ina Garten.  Ina has never steered me wrong so far so I figured her recipe would be a safe bet…especially with a stick of herb butter smeared under the skin followed by more brushed over the whole bird.  After 3 1/2 hours, my turkey was a perfect golden brown with crispy skin and tender, juicy turkey meat.

My carving skills may need some work though…

Read below for more Thanksgiving dishes and recipes (some of which you may recognize from last year or other blog posts).

The night started with some light appetizers: deviled eggs and fig and blue cheese savouries

Obviously no Thanksgiving would be complete without biscuits, especially these sage biscuits from Joanne Chang.  I topped mine with honey butter (instead of parsley butter) and served with more warm honey butter on the side (just add a Tbs or so of honey and a pinch of salt to a stick of room temperature butter and mix until combined).

I needed a cold dish for the brussel sprouts since I was tight on oven space so I turned to my favorite farm salad from Sweet Cheeks.

The meal was rounded off with stuffing, sweet corn pudding, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and a spicy carrot salad.

And finally…

Dessert!!!  I possibly went a little overboard with 3 desserts: mini apple crisp pies, black bottom peanut butter mousse pie, and pumpkin cheesecake squares (not pictured).

I hope everyone had a great holiday!  Look for my next blog post on a creative way to use some Thanksgiving leftovers!

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Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal Crumb Bars

It’s pumpkin season!  I’m sorry, I can’t help myself, when fall comes around I just want to go crazy with making everything pumpkin!

I made these delicious bars a few weeks ago (along with some butternut squash gnocchi that were not quite blog-worthy) and wanted to post them in time for Thanksgiving.  There are super easy and quick to make and so good that I’ve actually made them twice in the past month!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Crumb Bars

(from Cooking Classy)

For the Oatmeal Crumb:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1¼ cups quick oats
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Pumpkin Pie Filling:
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 pinch ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 egg yolk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1¼ cups canned pumpkin
⅓ cup evaporated milk (I’ve substituted cream or whole milk)

DIRECTIONS:

Make the Oatmeal Crumb: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and adjust oven racks to center and upper-middle positions. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing excess to hang over the sides; set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda and salt to combine. Add both the granulated sugar and brown sugar and mix until no clumps remain. Add the melted butter and vanilla extract, then stir with a fork until the mixture is evenly moistened. Press half of the mixture into the prepared pan and bake on the center rack for 15 minutes.

Make the Pumpkin Pie Filling: Meanwhile, in another medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and salt. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Finally, whisk in the pumpkin, and then the evaporated milk until the mixture is smooth and thoroughly combined.

When the crust has finished baking, pour the pumpkin pie filling over the bottom crust and return it to the center rack of the oven for 15 minutes. Remove it from the oven, pinch the remaining oatmeal crumb mixture into small pieces and sprinkle over the top of the pumpkin pie filling. Return the pan to the oven, placing it on the upper-middle rack, and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until it is golden on top and the center only jiggles slightly.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature, at least 1 to 2 hours. Then, transfer the pan to the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours. Cut into squares and serve. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

A Spoonful of Lovin’ at Lovin’ Spoonfuls’ Ultimate Tailgate Fundraiser

As you may remember, several weeks ago I took 2 photography classes at the Boston Center for Adult Education (BCAE).  After the intermediate photography class with Chris Padgett, he mentioned that he may need an assistant to help with some food photography at an upcoming event.  Lucky for me, his assistant fell ill last minute and he needed a “pinch photographer”.  After learning about this amazing event, I was more than happy to fill in as amateur food photographer for the night!

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Ashley Stanley, Founder and Executive Director of Lovin’ Spoonfuls

Lovin’ Spoonfuls is non-profit organization founded in 2010 by Ashley Stanley to facilitate the rescue and redistribution of healthy, fresh food that would otherwise be discarded.  Lovin’ Spoonfuls works with many local grocery stores, produce wholesalers, farms and farmers markets to help provide hunger relief in the  Greater Boston area.  They have rescued over 2 million pounds of food to date!

The culinary board includes many big names from the Boston food scene such as Joanne Chang (Flour, Myers & Chang), her husband Chris Meyers (Myers & Chang), Michael Scelfo (Alden and Harlow) and Jamie Bissonnette (Toro and Coppa) amongst others.  This was the 4th year of their large fundraising event, aptly named “The Ultimate Tailgate”, consisting of multiple auctions, raffles, a DJ and delicious food from about 20 Boston area restaurants.

The event was held outside in a large, heated tent at Sam’s at Louis with a gorgeous view of the waterfront.

As you can imagine, I was in foodie heaven!  Not only did I get to sample appetizers from some of my favorite restaurants, but I also had the opportunity to meet many of the chefs and unabashedly take photos because it was my “job”…and all for a good cause!  Below are many of the food offerings from the night.

Tiffani Faison’s (Sweet Cheeks) shrimp boil was my favorite dish of the night.

Not only do I love shrimp (and corn, potatoes, sausage and butter) but the display was so fun and colorful to photograph…not mention that Tiffani is super nice and makes incredible biscuits!

The most interesting dish award went to Mei Mei for their Kung Pao Curry Frito Pie.  Warning: fritos and any food that accompanies them may be highly addicting!

The beet tartare pictured above from Fairsted Kitchen was a play on deviled eggs.  The simple combination of deviled eggs and sweet roasted beets was delicious and had me coming back for seconds!  I’m going to have to figure how to make these- they would be an excellent appetizer at a holiday party.

In between preparing food, socializing and eating, the chefs also did a little goofing around!

Beverages included beer by Peak Organic Brewing Company, wine by distributor M.S. Walker, as well as signature cocktails from Sam’s.

One of the more creative dishes was the chorizo, potato and squid quesadilla from relative newcomer on the Boston dining scene, La Brasa.

At one point during the night I was surrounded by the intoxicating aroma of fried chicken, only to find myself next to these mouthwatering duck drummettes with  red plum balsamic glaze from Sam’s at Louis.  If I hadn’t been so full by this point (it’s easier to eat and photograph at the same time than you think) I would have taken at least seconds…and maybe even thirds.

Bergamot served a deliciously tender brisket over a bright and acidic red cabbage slaw.

Nebo was so popular with their Italian sausage, rustic broccoli rage-pine nut pesto and provolone sandwich that they ran out of sausage by the end of the night!

Merrill & Co. served up large meatballs slathered in a robust tomato sauce and topped with parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.

And finally, no food event with Joanne Chang would be complete without dessert!

I’m not about to quit my day job but it was pretty fun being a photographer for the night!  (Hopefully I get “hired” for another gig soon!)

If you would like to learn more about Lovin’ Spoonfuls or donate to this wonderful cause, please click here.