Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Trendy Thanksgiving Dinner

Ordinarily, in many homes, Thanksgiving Dinner consists of turkey, dressing and all the trimmings; You might have grandmother’s famous mac n cheese, and your aunt’s famous pecan pie; now as mouth watering as these dishes may sound, many are opting for a no-fuss Thanksgiving dinner, still with all the trimmings, but not as time-consuming, and in some cases, more cost effective.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy Thanksgiving menu, you may want to give this a try:
• Appetizer: Brie En Croute
• Appetizer: Pear and Blue Cheese Salad
• Main Dish: Roast Turkey with Apple-Sourdough Bread Stuffing
• Side Dish: Oven Roasted Red Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic
• Side Dish: Canned Cranberries
• Side Dish: Orange-Scented Green Beans with Toasted Almonds (courtesy of
• Side Dish: Sauteed Wild Mushrooms with Spinach
• Dessert: Apple Crisp
• Dessert: Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle
Recipes are as follows:
(Brie en Croute)
• 1 sheet frozen puff pastry , pre-packaged
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
• 1/2 cup walnuts
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 (8-ounce) wheel Brie
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• 1 egg, beaten
• Crackers , for serving
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Defrost puff pastry for approximately 15 to 20 minutes and unfold.
In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Saute the walnuts in the butter until golden brown, approximately 5 minutes. Add the cinnamon and stir until walnuts are coated well. Place the walnut mixture on top of the Brie and sprinkle the brown sugar over the mixture. Lay the puff pastry out on a flat surface. Place the brie in the center of the pastry. Gather up the edges of the brie, pressing around the brie and gather at the top. Gently squeeze together the excess dough and tie together with a piece of kitchen twine. Brush the beaten egg over top and side of Brie. Place Brie on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes until pastry is golden brown.
Serve with crackers.
To give a special look, cut extra pastry into heart or flower shapes and bake until golden.
(Pear and Blue Cheese Salad)
• 2/3 cup nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, or cashews)
• 1 bunch watercress
• 1 bunch arugula
• 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
• 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 Belgian endive
• 2 ripe pears , such as Anjou, Bartlett, or Comice
• 2 ounces mild blue cheese (about 1/2 cup loosely packed crumbles)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the nuts on a sheet pan in a single layer. Bake, shaking the pan occasionally, until the nuts are toasted and fragrant, about 7 to 10 minutes. Let the nuts cool, and then coarsely chop.
Trim the stems of the watercress and arugula. Wash and dry the leaves.
Meanwhile, whisk the vinegar and mustard together in a large salad bowl. Season with the 1/4 teaspoon salt and some pepper.
Gradually whisk in the olive oil, starting with a few drops and then adding the rest in a steady stream, to make a smooth, slightly thick dressing.
Halve the endive lengthwise, cut out core, then thinly slice crosswise and add all the lettuces to the bowl. Quarter and core the unpeeled pears and thinly slice; add to the salad. Scatter the cheese and nuts over the salad, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss the salad gently to evenly dress all the greens. Divide among 4 plates and serve immediately.
(Roast Turkey with Apple-Sour Dough Stuffing)
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1 teaspoon dried sage
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1 (8 to 10-pound) turkey, cut into 5 parts (breast, legs, wings), giblets removed and discarded, back bone removed from the turkey breast (this will help it stand upright)*
• 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper1 medium chopped onion
• 2 apples , peeled, cored and diced (preferably McIntosh)
• 2 celery stalks, chopped
• 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
• 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage leaves
• 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
• 4 cups sourdough bread cubes, preferable day-old
• 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth, warm
*You can ask the butcher to do this for you
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
In a small bowl combine all the dried herbs together. Rub the turkey parts with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then rub with all of the dried herbs. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Arrange the turkey in 1 layer in a large roasting pan.
Put the turkey in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the thigh reads 160 to 165 degrees F, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven and let stand, covered with aluminum foil. It's ready to serve in 10 to 15 minutes, but can stand, covered, for up to 1 hour so that the stuffing or other side dishes can be completed. Transfer to a serving platter.
Meanwhile heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, apples, and celery and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the parsley, sage, and thyme and stir to coat the apples and vegetables with the herbs. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the cubed bread and the warm chicken broth. Toss to combine and season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Transfer the stuffing mixture to a 5 by 8-inch baking dish and bake in the oven at 350 degrees F until golden brown on top, about 45 minutes.
(Oven Roasted Red Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic)
• 1 1/2 pounds small new red potatoes (about 15), scrubbed and dried
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 4 to 6 cloves garlic, crushed
• 1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Pare a narrow strip of peel from the middle of each potato. In a large bowl mix the oil, garlic, and rosemary; add the potatoes and toss well. Transfer the potatoes to a shallow baking pan and roast until potatoes are tender when tested with the tip of a knife. Serve hot. These can also be chilled and served with fried chicken or ham.
(Canned Cranberries with Mandarin Oranges)
• 1 (8-ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce
• 1 (6-ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained
• 1 cup walnut pieces
• 1 cup pecan pieces
In a medium size bowl, gently fold together the cranberries, mandarin oranges, walnuts and pecans.
(Orange-Scented Green Beans with Toasted Almonds)
• 1 pound green beans , trimmed
• 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• Freshly ground pepper to taste
• 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted (see Tip)
Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan, add 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Put green beans in the basket and steam until tender, about 6 minutes. Toss the green beans in a large bowl with oil, orange zest, salt, pepper and almonds.
To toast sliced almonds, place in a small dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.
(Sautéed Wild Mushrooms with Spinach)
• 2 teaspoons olive oil
• 1/4 cup minced shallots
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 4 cups mixed wild mushrooms (any combination of shiitake, porcini, chanterelle, oyster, portobello, and cremini)
• 3 tablespoons dry sherry wine
• 1 1/2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
• 2 (10-ounce) bags fresh spinach
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and saute 1 minute. Add mushrooms and cook 3 to 5 minutes, until mushrooms are tender. Add sherry and soy sauce and bring to a simmer. Add spinach (add spinach in batches if necessary), and simmer 1 to 2 minutes, until spinach wilts, turning frequently.
• 5 Granny Smith apples , peeled, cored, chopped small
• 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
• 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons maple syrup
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Topping :
• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/3 cup brown sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into pieces
• 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
For the Filling:
• Mix all the ingredients together. Place into 7 to 8-ounce ramekins.
For topping:
Mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in large bowl. Blend the butter into the mixture until it forms pea size lumps. Stir in pecans and sprinkle over filling.
Bake crisps for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.
(Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle)
• 2 (14-ounce) packages gingerbread mix
• 1 (5.1-ounce) box cook-and-serve vanilla pudding mix
• 1 (30-ounce) can pumpkin pie filling
• 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
• 1/3 teaspoon ground cardamom or cinnamon
• 1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping
• 1/2 cup gingersnaps, optional
Bake the gingerbread according to the package directions; cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the pudding and set aside to cool. Stir the pumpkin pie filling, sugar, and cardamom into the pudding. Crumble 1 batch of gingerbread into the bottom of a large, pretty bowl. Pour 1/2 of the pudding mixture over the gingerbread, then add a layer of whipped topping. Repeat with the remaining gingerbread, pudding, and whipped topping. Sprinkle of the top with crushed gingersnaps, if desired. Refrigerate overnight. Trifle can be layered in a punch bowl.

Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner it is not, Trendy and Tasty it is!
If you want to provide a delicious, yet different Holiday meal for your family and friends, this menu may be just what the chef in you ordered: don’t have the time, but want the meal, just contact me via this blog or e-mail and we can have it at your door-piping hot, ready before your guests arrive.

Additional Resources:
*Down Home with the Neely's
*Paula Dean
*Robin Miller

Monday, October 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Decor

Set the mood for your Thanksgiving celebration with creative ideas for centerpieces, place settings, and more.
Centerpieces are a great focal point for your guests to admire once they feast their eyes on your table; and let's be honest the table and its spread are the most important thing on Thanksgiving day in terms of decor. A pretty vase with autumn flowers, a pumpkin on a pedestal,or a great conglomerate of flowers, vases, and fruit, there really is no end to what you can do as far as centerpieces are concerned, the look and feel of your table, really depend on you.

Place Settings
Place Settings come in an array of design and color, my recommendation for this season: try incorporating some organic flavor into your setting.
Dress up your silverware for the season with a little raffia and a magnolia leaf. Just roll your silverware up in a napkin, bind with raffia, and insert one magnolia leaf into the raffia tie. The glossy, green color of the magnolia will easily coordinate with napkins of any color.

Outside Decor

Let your company and neighbors enjoy your love for the Holiday Season with outdoor decorations. Choose a festive wreath for your door, nice foliage on the mailbox, pumpkins everywhere you can think of putting them(smile), bales of hay and of course those quirky scarecrows that have become so popular, adorning many neighborhoods throughout the country.

My Personal Assistant
can make this time of the year painless for you. You can conduct business as usual while I focus on your image and your home's presentation.

Additional Resources:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Company is Coming

The Holiday Season is just around the corner.....speaking of corners....have you checked yours lately? and the know...the clutter that's been piling in your guest room and every other available space in your home since the Last Holiday.

The time is now...time to clear the clutter....expose and clean the corners. I know you're much to busy to deal with this great task, and I delight in being your Personal Assistant to whip your home into shape!

Where do we start?!......First, with a consultation to examine and discuss the type of services you may need.......Next, I will start with a thorough cleaning,including but not limited to closets, garages, and attics if necessary.

I can also do all of your Holiday shopping, coordinate dinner,decorations,and accommodate guests, all with professionalism and a smile:)

Call Today for your FREE in-home Holiday'll be glad that you did!