Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thanksgiving Desserts...and Drinks!!!

Last week I gave you some suggestions on Thanksgiving side dishes (sausage stuffing plus a few sides from last year's post). This week we're dipping into the fun stuff...the dessert! As I said in my previous post, Thanksgiving is all about tradition, and there is nothing more traditional than pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dessert (don't forget the whipped cream!). Since there are countless recipes out there for pumpkin pie, what I thought I would do is post a couple of alternative pumpkin desserts.

As you probably know by now, my wife is the baker of our house. Just last week, she made a Pumpkin Ribbon cake for my dad's birthday. To say anything less than this cake was off the charts would be a dishonor. It was AMAZING. She found the recipe in a Pampered Chef book, and topped it off with a dollop of cool whip and drizzled it with melted caramel. Sounds decadent, but the cake was actually much lighter than we expected. This one is definitely a winner!

Next up is Pumpkin Tiramisu. I love pumpkin pie, and will probably make one for home. But what kind of Italian would I be to turn down a tiramisu, especially if it's combined with my other favorite dessert! I'll be making this for the first time this week, but I have no doubts that it's a knock-out.

Courtesy of Pampered Chef
2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon blend (mixture of cinnamon, ginger and allspice)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 c granulated sugar
3/4 cups butter or margarine softened
3 eggs
3/4 cups solid pack pumpkin
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a deep baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, spices, baking soda and salt in small bowl. In large bowl beat sugar and butter till light and fluffy. Add eggs, pumpkin,milk and vanilla. Beat well! Slowly add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture. Set aside.
3. Filling- Whisk cream cheese and sugar till well blended. Smooth 2-1/2 cups cake batter on bottom of pan. Spoon cream cheese mixture over cake batter using a large spreader. Pour remaining batter over top and spread evenly.
4. Bake 45-50 minutes . Cake tester will come out clean.

Before serving- sprinkle with powdered sugar-serve with whipped cream sprinkled with a bit of the cinnamon spice mix if desired.

Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens
1/4 cup pure maple syrup or maple-flavor syrup
1 tablespoon bourbon
1/2 of a 15-ounce can (3/4 cup) pumpkin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 of an 8-ounce container mascarpone cheese, softened
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 3-ounce package ladyfingers, split
Ground nutmeg or freshly grated nutmeg

1. Line a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap; set aside. For syrup, in a small bowl, combine maple syrup and bourbon. Set aside.
2. For filling, in a small bowl, combine pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. In a small mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup whipping cream and granulated sugar. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form (tips curl). Gently fold whipped cream into pumpkin mixture.
3. For topping, in another small mixing bowl, combine mascarpone cheese and powdered sugar. Beat on low speed until combined. Gradually beat in 1/2 cup whipping cream just until thickened (do not overbeat).
4. To assemble, arrange half of the ladyfingers in a single layer in the bottom of the prepared pan. Drizzle evenly with half of the syrup. Top with half of the filling, spreading evenly. Arrange remaining ladyfingers in a single layer over filling. Drizzle with remaining syrup and top with remaining filling. Dollop topping over filling. Using the back of a spoon, carefully spread topping evenly over filling. Cover and chill for 8 to 24 hours.
5. Use the plastic wrap to lift tiramisu out of pan. Place tiramisu on a serving platter. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Carefully cut the dessert crosswise into slices. Makes 6 servings.

Now, if you enjoy a tasty holiday cocktail, be sure to check out these fun Thanksgiving drinks. My friend John made his own pumpkin pie shot concoction last year that went over really well at his dinner. The Pumpkin Pie-tini is the closest to his drink recipe, but I'm sure that both of these suggestions will help crank up the fun during dessert.

Wishing you and yours a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!

1 oz. good quality Gin
1/2 oz. canned cranberry sauce
1/2 oz. Ginger ale
Garnish: 3 roasted walnut halves, speared cranberries or a sprig of rosemary
Shake vigorously with ice and strain into martini glass. Add a float of ginger ale after straining. Garnish with 3 roasted walnut halves, speared cranberries, or a sprig of rosemary

1 oz milk
2 tbsp Pumpkin puree
1.5 oz Three-O vanilla vodka
1.5 oz creme de cacao
Using a small amount of honey, rim martini glass with graham cracker crumbs. Shake milk and pumpkin puree over ice to combine. Pour in remaining ingredients and shake well. Strain into the martini glass.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thanksgiving Sausage Stuffing

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away? I couldn't be happier. It's my favorite holiday and my favorite time of the year. It's all about family and tradition, and of course good food. In our house, it always starts off with an argument of which parade to watch on tv, the Philly parade or New York's Macy's parade (I'll admit, I'm a fan of the Macy's parade. Willard Scott IS the voice of Thanksgiving!). Then it's off to Mom's for the best dinner of the year. Follow that up on Black Friday with a trip to G-Boys in Marlton, NJ to check out their amazing Christmas displays and take pics with Santa, then off to spend some good time with my wife's family. Wrap it up on Sunday with the neighborhood tree lighting...a perfect start to the holiday season!

A few of my friends are hosting Thanksgiving for the first time this year, and have asked me for some serving suggestions. Since my mom hosts the 'big dinner,' I don't have many suggestions of my own to offer. That's my mom's gig and I dare not get in her way. Now, we do bring a few sides, and I posted them last year (click here to check them out). However, my mom was gracious enough to share with me her sausage stuffing recipe. This may be my favorite part of the meal. Lots of flavor, and a great mix of crispy and moist texture. I love it even more when reheated on leftover day. My mom prefers to bake it in a pan rather than stuffing it in the turkey. It cooks faster and more evenly. Also, she does not prefer to use the gizzards (the heart and liver of the bird). But if you prefer to use the gizzards in the stuffing, have at it! Just chop them up and saute with some butter, onions and seasoning, then add to the mixture. It does make for more texture and flavor, but it's not necessary to complete the dish.

We're also going to experiment this week with a few alternatives to the traditional desserts. I'll be sure to post them next week!


2 celery stalks, chopped fine
1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine
1/2 stick butter
1lb. Sweet Italian Sausage, removed from casing
Celery Salt
(add all seasonings to taste)
1 bag Pepperidge Farm Herbal Stuffing Mix

In a large pan, melt butter. Add onion and celery and cook until soft. Add sausage, season with salt, pepper, celery salt and oregano. Cook until sausage is brown. In a separate pan, cook 1/2 bag of herbal stuffing (entire bag for larger crowd). Follow instructions on bag for butter and water measurements (for extra flavor, substitute chicken broth for water). When finished cooking, combine herbal stuffing with sausage mixture; stir together. Spoon into a greased 13x9 baking dish (I prefer an aluminum dish for this), cover with aluminum foil and heat in oven at 350ยบ for approximately 30 minutes.

For extra crunch, you can add chopped walnuts, pecans or chestnuts to the mixture before baking.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Sweet and Savory Country Chicken

This week I'm featuring a guest recipe from my friend, Johnny DeCarlo. A few weeks back, I posted a request for some slow cooker ideas on my Cucina Domenico Facebook group page. Johnny submitted this delicious recipe. Be sure to check it out.
Thanks agin for the suggestion, Johnny!


Begin by mixing the following ingredients together in the slow-cooker to make sauce
¾ of a bottle of KC MASTERPIECE bbq sauce
¾ of a bottle of ketchup
1 can of CENTO tomato paste
1 can of chicken broth (then 1 can of water)
½ a jar of GREY POUPON onion dijon
6 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons of worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons of ginger sauce
4 tablespoons of butter
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons of honey
3 tablespoons of diced garlic
3 tablespoons of red wine
Spices (a hearty handful of salt, fresh cracked pepper, MC KORMICK steakhouse grinder spice, sugar, brown sugar)

Leave sauce on HIGH for a half hour to get warm, then add in a package of 8 large chicken drumsticks. Keep crockpot on HIGH and allow everything to cook for 6 hours. The sauce will thicken and absorb the juices from the chicken, and the drumsticks will become extremely tender. When ready to serve, arrange platter with boiled rice and drumsticks on top. Ladle out a nice amount of the sauce and pour it all over

Jar extra sauce to use next time. Also makes a nice marinade. This same recipe can be used to slow-cook pork chops and spare ribs

Serves 4-5