Brussels & Broccoli Agrodolce with Cranberries & Chilies

This is a simple and elegant vegetable side dish that I served as part of our Thanksgiving feast this year. It was easy to prepare while the turkey was resting after being removed from the oven. The dried cranberries and fresh chilies added contrasting color and flavor. Nice.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Ann Taylor Pittman. I substituted Shishito chilies for Fresno. I also modified the method. I wish that I had doubled the recipe! Next time. 🙂

Yield: Serves 6 as a side dish

  • 1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts (about 3 cups), halved lengthwise 
  • 6 cups fresh broccoli florets (about 14 ounces) 
  • 5 T avocado oil or canola oil, divided 
  • 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt, divided 
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced shallot 
  • 4 Shishito chiles or 1 medium-size fresh red Fresno chile (about 1/2 ounce), thinly sliced 
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed 
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar 
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) honey 
  • 1 dried bay leaf 
  • 1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  1. Place a rimmed sheet pan in the oven. Preheat oven to 425 on convection or to 450°F. Leave baking sheet in oven as it preheats. (I set my oven to convection roast.) 
  2. Place Brussels sprouts and broccoli in a large bowl; drizzle with 4 tablespoons of oil, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Toss well to coat.
  3. Carefully remove hot baking sheet from oven.
  4. Add Brussels sprout mixture to baking sheet; spread in an even layer.
  5. Roast in preheated oven until vegetables are tender and browned and broccoli tops are frizzled and almost burned, 15 to 18 minutes. 
  6. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small saucepan over medium. Add shallot, Fresno chile, and coriander; cook, stirring occasionally, until shallot starts to soften, about 3 minutes.
  7. Stir in vinegar, honey, bay leaf, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium.
  8. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly syrupy, 6 to 8 minutes.
  9. Stir in cranberries; cook, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have plumped slightly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Discard bay leaf. 
  10. Place roasted vegetables in a large bowl; add cranberry mixture, and toss to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature.  

Buttermilk Cornbread Dressing with Italian Sausage

I loved that this recipe used buttermilk to moisten the stuffing- in addition to the more typical stock and butter. The sausage was not overpowering in the finished dish but added great flavor. I used locally made sweet Italian sausage with fennel seeds- perfect.

This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Yewande Komolafe. The sausage could be omitted for a vegetarian version. The original recipe notes that if store-bought or boxed mix cornbread is used, it should be crumbled and and spread out on a sheet pan to dry for 4 to 12 hours prior to assembling the dish. I made the accompanying cornbread recipe, which does not require drying time, two days prior to making the dish.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

For the Cornbread:

  • 8 T/115 grams/1 stick unsalted butter, melted, plus more for brushing the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups/250 g medium-coarse yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup/114 g all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup/55 g granulated sugar
  • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups/470 milliliters buttermilk, preferably full-fat (I used low-fat)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

For the Dressing:

  • 3 T unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
  • 1 T neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola, plus more if needed
  • 1 pound loose pork sausage (I used sweet Italian sausage)
  • 1 large yellow onion, very finely chopped (2 cups)
  • 4 celery ribs, very finely chopped (2 cups)
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 T chopped fresh sage (from 10 large leaves)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 recipe cornbread for dressing, broken into 1-inch pieces, or 10 cups loosely packed cornbread
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken, turkey or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup buttermilk, preferably full-fat (I used low-fat)

To Make the Cornbread:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch skillet, preferably cast-iron, and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. (I weighed the dry ingredients when possible.)
  4. Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk and eggs. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to stir until incorporated.
  5. Fold in the melted butter.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared skillet and smooth the top.
  7. Bake until the top is lightly browned and the sides pull away cleanly from the skillet, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  8. Cool completely and serve warm or room temperature, or reserve to make cornbread dressing.

To Assemble & Bake the Dressing:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium and pour in the oil.
  3. Add the sausage and cook, using a wooden spoon to break it into small pieces, until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink, about 8 minutes.
  4. Transfer the cooked sausage to a plate, keeping any fat in the skillet. Add a few additional tablespoons oil if needed to evenly coat the bottom.
  5. Add the onion and celery to the skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic, thyme, oregano, fennel seeds and sage, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  7. Return the cooked sausage to the skillet and stir to incorporate. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, add the cornbread pieces and toss to combine.
  9. Pour in the stock and buttermilk, and stir until well mixed. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.
  10. Transfer the cornbread mixture to your prepared dish and spread evenly.
  11. Drizzle the melted butter over the top.
  12. Cover the dish with foil and bake until heated through, 30 to 35 minutes.
  13. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees, remove the foil and bake until the surface is golden brown in spots, 15 to 20 minutes.
  14. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving warm.

French Apple Cake with Brown Butter

I almost made this custardy apple cake instead of an apple pie for our Thanksgiving feast. Then I realized that it was a better plan to make both! 😉 We enjoyed the cake on Thanksgiving Eve- perfect. I loved that this version incorporated browned butter.

This recipe was adapted from 177milkstreet.com, contributed by Erica Bruce. I modified the method and substituted apple cider for the brandy. I would recommend baking the cake the morning it will be served because it requires an extended cooling time prior to slicing and serving.

Yield: One 9-inch cake (about 8 to 10 servings)

  • 8 T (1 stick) salted butter, plus more for pan
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 pounds (about 4 apples) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 pound (about 2 apples) Braeburn or Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 156 g (12 T) white sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 T apple cider, brandy or Calvados
  • 86 grams (2/3 cup) all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • vanilla ice cream, for serving, optional
  1. Heat the oven to 375ºF, preferably on convection, with a rack in the middle position.
  2. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with butter, dust evenly with flour, then tap out the excess.
  3. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, melt the butter. Cook, swirling the pan frequently, until the milk solids at the bottom are golden brown and the butter has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. (I used a 12-inch stainless steel all-in-one pan.)
  4. Pour into a small heatproof bowl without scraping out the skillet. The remaining butter in the pan is used to sauté the apples.
  5. Stir the allspice into the browned butter and set aside.
  6. Add all of the apples, 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the salt to the still-hot skillet and set over medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all moisture released by the apples has evaporated and the slices are beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
  7. Add the apple cider (or brandy) and cook until evaporated, 30 to 60 seconds.
  8. Transfer to a large plate, spread in an even layer and refrigerate uncovered until cool to the touch, 15 to 20 minutes.
  9. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
  10. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla and 9 tablespoons of the remaining sugar.
  11. Gradually whisk in the browned butter.
  12. Add the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until smooth; the batter will be very thick.
  13. Add the cooled apples and fold until evenly coated with batter.
  14. Transfer to the prepared springform pan, spread in an even layer and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Place pan on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  15. Bake until deeply browned, about 30 minutes on convection or up to 35 to 40 minutes in a standard oven.
  16. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Run a knife around the inside of the pan and remove the sides before slicing.
  17. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Note: Don’t slice the cake until it has fully cooled; if it is at all warm, the texture at the center will be too soft.

Thanksgiving Menu 2021

Happy belated Thanksgiving and Happy Holiday Season! 🙂 We were so happy to be able to celebrate with extended family this year!

I love to post my Thanksgiving Menu to help me plan in the future. Hopefully some of my menu choices are helpful to others too. I will link the new menu items to posts as soon as I am able.

Highlights of our celebration this year included my son’s Chamber Orchestra Thanksgiving concert and the beautiful place cards that my daughter made for our table. My kids also helped cook! My son made the mashed potatoes (his favorite) and gravy. My daughter made the vegetables and dip, photo above, to bring to a Friendsgiving celebration. My 19-month old niece brought her fabulous artwork to contribute to the decor, photo below. 🙂

Our meal included many old favorites. I revisited an apple-pear pie which was absolutely wonderful. I also tried new stuffing, Brussels sprouts, and pumpkin pie recipes. Lovely!

Thanksgiving Eve Eve:

Thanksgiving Eve:

Thanksgiving Day:

Breakfast:

Lunch:

Festive Cocktail: (served with our “Turkey Bread” appetizer)

Dinner:

Leftover Dishes:

Frog Birthday Cake (Yellow Layer Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting & Oreo Filling)

My daughter’s 15th birthday celebration involved several sweet treats. All of her requests were granted! 🙂 We enjoyed crumb cake, salted brown butter blondies, number cookies, of course, and this cute cake. She asked for a frog cake after falling in love with others she had seen while perusing Pinterest.

For dinner, we had Summer Corn Pasta with Sausage & Basil– her favorite dish from our summer vacation in Rehoboth Beach. I was surprised by this request because we usually have calzones!

The recipe for the yellow layer cake was adapted from The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition from the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated. We also enjoyed this cake on her 13th birthday. I used the vanilla cream cheese frosting with Oreo filling from her 12th birthday cake– it’s her favorite.

Yield: One 9-inch layer cake, generously frosted

For the Cake:

  • 7 oz (1 3/4 cups) plain cake flour, sifted, plus more for dusting pans
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 10 1/2 oz (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 16 T (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 16 pieces
  • vanilla cream cheese frosting, recipe below
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Generously grease two 9-inch round cake pans and cover the pan bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Grease the parchment rounds and dust the cake pans with flour, tapping out the excess. (I would consider using 8-inch pans next time to elevate the cake slightly.)
  3. Beat the eggs, milk, and vanilla with a fork in a 2-cup measuring cup with a spout. Measure out 1 cup of this mixture and set aside.
  4. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer. Beat at the lowest speed to blend, about 30 seconds.
  5. With the mixture still running at the lowest speed, add the butter, one piece at a time; mix until the butter and flour begin to clump together and look sandy and pebbly, with pieces about the size of peas, about 30 to 40 seconds after all the butter is added.
  6. Add the reserved 1 cup egg mixture and mix at the lowest speed until incorporated, about 5 to 10 seconds.
  7. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
  8. Add the remaining egg mixture (about 1/2 cup) in a slow, steady stream, taking about 30 seconds. Stop and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.
  9. Beat at medium-high speed until thoroughly combined and the batter looks slightly curdled, about 15 seconds.
  10. Divide the batter equally between the prepared cake pans. (about 1 lb plus 2.5 oz per pan) Spread to the sides of the pans and smooth with an offset or rubber spatula.
  11. Bake until the cake tops are light gold and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 27 minutes. The cakes will mound slightly but will level when cooled.
  12. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  13. Run a knife around the pan perimeter to loosen. Invert one cake onto a large plate and reinvert onto another wire rack. Repeat for the other layer. Cool completely before frosting.

For the Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting and Oreo Filling (as well as Frogs & Mushrooms):

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 6 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 to 6 full-size Oreos or 15 mini-Oreos, crushed in a food processor
  • green gel food coloring, plus additional colors for mushroom caps, as desired
  • chocolate chips, for frog eyes
  • chocolate sprinkles, for frog mouths
  • sugar pearls, for mushroom caps
  1. Place cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low-speed to combine.
  4. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.
  5. Remove about 1 cup frosting and set aside for mushrooms and frog cheeks.
  6. Remove 1 1/4 cup of frosting for the Oreo filling and place in separate bowl.
  7. Incorporate the crushed Oreos in the reserved 1 1/4 cups of filling frosting. Spread on one of the layers.
  8. Place the second layer on top.
  9. Tint the remaining frosting pale green with food coloring, mixing well.
  10. Cover cake with a crumb coat and chill briefly, if necessary before continuing.
  11. Using an offset spatula, ice the sides of the cake with the pale green icing.
  12. Tint the remaining frosting deeper “frog green.” Place the majority of the icing in a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip, for the frog bodies. Place the remaining frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip, for the frog eyes, arms, and legs.
  13. Pipe the frogs on the cake, as desired, using the large bag/tip. Add eyes, arms, and legs using the small bag/tip.
  14. Divide the remaining frosting into 4 bowls. Keep one bowl of frosting white for the mushroom stems.
  15. Tint one bowl red, for the frog cheeks and mushroom caps.
  16. Tint the other 2 bowls of frosting, as desired, for mushroom caps.
  17. Pipe mushroom stems around the sides of the cake. Using a variety of pastry bags and tips, pipe decorative multi-shaped mushroom caps on the stems. Decorate caps with sugar pearls.
  18. Pipe rosy cheeks on each frog with the red frosting.
  19. Place 1-2 tablespoons of chocolate chips in a sandwich sized ziplock bag. Microwave until melted. (I check the progress in 30 second increments.) Cut a small corner off of the ziplock bag; use the melted chocolate to pipe eyes onto the frogs.
  20. Add mouths onto the frogs with chocolate sprinkles.
  21. Chill prior to serving and store any leftover cake in the refrigerator.

Apple Cider Margarita

I have seen several versions of this seasonal cocktail but I’m not sure if I need to try another one. This one is festive and fabulous. I first tried it on Halloween and now plan to incorporate it into my Thanksgiving weekend menu. Perfect! 🙂

The recipe was adapted from thehealthfulideas.com, contributed by Veronika. I used gold tequila and added maple syrup.

For the Cinnamon-Sugar Rim:

  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar 
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • A lime wedge

For the Margarita:

  • 1.5 oz tequila
  • 0.5 oz Cointreau 
  • 0.5 oz freshly squeezed lime juice, or more, to taste
  • 2 oz apple cider
  • 0.5 oz (1 T) pure maple syrup
  • small dash cinnamon, optional
  • 1-2 dashes orange bitters
  • ice cubes
  • apple and/or lime slices, for garnish, optional

To Make the Rim:

  1. Combine the turbinado sugar and cinnamon on a small plate.
  2. Run a lime wedge around the rim of your glass and dip it in the sugar. Set aside.

To Make the Margarita:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add a handful of ice, and shake for 10-15 seconds until it’s very cold to touch. 
  2. Pour into a margarita glass (or another glass of choice) over ice.
  3. Garnish with an apple and/or lime slice, if desired, and enjoy!

Ina Garten’s Vanilla Bean Brioche Bread Pudding

Our Father’s Day celebration involved grilling and baked goods. We started the day with a mini-bundt cake version of Alton Brown’s Strawberry Muffins. There may have been some leftover Strawberry Crumb Cake on the side too. My husband loves strawberry season. 🙂

Because he has been excited about experimenting with his meat grinder, my husband wanted to make his own burger blend for dinner. (This time, he used a combination of beef brisket and chuck steak. It was a success!) I made curly fries, corn on the cob, and a green salad with ice box buttermilk dressing to serve on the side. I think that he really wanted me to have time to focus on this incredible dessert!

This bread pudding recipe was adapted from Cook Like a Pro: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks- a Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten. The “pro tip” in this recipe was to use melted vanilla bean ice cream as a shortcut crème anglaise to drizzle over the top. It was rich, indulgent, and absolutely fabulous.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 8 to 9 ounces brioche (I used 6 slices of Trader Joe’s brioche)
  • 1 1/2 extra-large whole eggs (I divide an egg in half by weight)
  • 4 extra-large egg yolks
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean
  • confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  • 7 ounces (1/2 pint) vanilla bean ice cream, melted, for serving (I used Häagen-Dazs)
  1. Place the ice cream in a pitcher in the refrigerator to melt.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, with a rack in the center.
  3. Cut six 3/4-inch slices of brioche. (Trader Joe’s brioche is pre-sliced.) Keep 3 1/2 slices whole. Trim the crusts from the remaining 2 1/2 slices; cut into 1-inch dice.
  4. In a single layer, spread the whole slices and cut pieces of brioche on a rimmed sheet pan. Place in the preheated oven for 5 minutes, to lightly toast the bread.
  5. Meanwhile, make the custard. Whisk the whole eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, milk, granulated sugar, vanilla, and vanilla bean seeds in a large bowl, preferably with a spout. Set aside.
  6. Line a 2-inch deep baking dish with the whole slices of brioche, cutting them to fit in a single layer. (I used a 9 1/2-inch round, ceramic baking dish. An 8×8-inch square dish, or equivalent, could be substituted.)
  7. Distribute the diced brioche on top.
  8. Pour the custard over the top of the bread and press down lightly so that the bread is soaked with custard. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  9. Place the baking dish in a roasting pan large enough to allow the baking dish to sit flat. (I used a large roasting pan with handles. I also placed a silicone mat underneath the baking dish to prevent it from moving within the pan.)
  10. Pour about 1 inch of the hottest tap water into the roasting pan, being sure not to get any water into the custard.
  11. Cover the roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil, tenting the foil to make sure that it doesn’t touch the custard. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow steam to escape.
  12. Bake for 45 minutes.
  13. Uncover and continue to bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, until browned and set. Test by inserting a knife in the center- it should come out clean.
  14. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm, drizzled with melted ice cream.

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