Snickerdoodle Eggnog Creme Brulee Cups

Snickerdoodle Eggnog Creme Brulee Cups

Makes 42 cups

Ingredients
2 tsp cookie scoop
1-1/2 stick butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Eggnog Custard
Cinnamon Sugar for brûléeing

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. In a stand mixer cream butter with brown sugar, and granulated sugar until well combined. 
  3. Beat in egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract until fluffy. 
  4. Mix in dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg) until well combined. 
  5. Spray a mini muffin pan with cooking spray. Using a 2 tsp cookie scoop, scoop dough into a mini muffin pan. 
  6. Bake for 14 minutes.
Cookie Cups will look like this once they come out of the oven.

7. Allow cookie balls to cool slightly, press dough into the muffin pan so it resembles a little cup. 

8. Remove cookie cups from the mini muffin pan and allow them to cool completely on a cooling rack. 
9. Once cookies cool completely, fill them with Eggnog custard.  Place in the fridge, uncovered, to set up for at least 2 hours.


10. When ready to serve, sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture onto the cookie cups. One at a time torch the cups with a kitchen torch until the sugar melts and caramelizes.

Eggnog Custard

Ingredients
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup Eggnog  
1/3 cup sugar 
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream, Eggnog, sugar and vanilla extract. Place over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Heat just until bubbles appear at the edges and mixture is steaming (do not bring to a boil).
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Add 1 ladel of hot cream mixture to the eggs and whisk.  Add another ladel of cream mixture to the egg mixture and whisk.  Slowly add the rest of the cream mixture to the eggs and whisk. 
  3. Pour mixture back into the saucepan and return to medium heat. Cook, whisking until mixture is thickened. This will take 3-5 minutes. Once thickened, cook for an additional 1 minute, while continuing to whisk.

Cinnamon Sugar
2 tbsp granulated sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Lemon Ginger Glazed Cookies

Lemon Ginger Glazed Cookies

Makes 24 cookies 3 inch cookies

1-1/2 stick butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
Juice from 1 medium lemon (about 1/4 cup lemon juice)
Zest from 1 lemon
1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized  ginger
2 tbsp honey 
1-3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Lemon Glaze
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoons honey
1 tbsp  water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. In a stand mixer cream butter with brown sugar, and granulated sugar until well combined. 
  3. Beat in egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract, lemon juice, lemon zest and honey until fluffy. 
  4. Mix in dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt and ground ginger) until well combined.  Mix in diced Crystallized ginger.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  6. Using a 1 oz ice cream scoop or a cookie scoop to scoop cookie dough.
  7. Place cookie dough ball on prepared baking sheet.  Space balls of cookie dough evenly on baking sheet. 
  8. Bake for 7 minutes, and then spin the baking sheet, and bake for another 6 or 7 minutes.
  9. Let them sit on the baking pan for 2 minutes before removing to cooling rack.
  10. Prepare glaze by whisking lemon juice, honey, and water with confectioners sugar. 
  11. Once cookies cool completely, drizzle them with lemon glaze. Let stand until glaze is set, at least 20 minutes.

Eggnog Cookies

Eggnog Cookies

Makes 24 cookies 3 inch cookies

Ingredients
1-1/2 stick butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup Eggnog
1-3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Eggnog Glaze
1 cup confectioners sugar
6 tbsp eggnog

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. In a stand mixer cream butter with brown sugar, and granulated sugar until well combined. 
  3. Beat in egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract and Eggnog until fluffy. 
  4. Mix in dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg) until well combined. 
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  6. Using a 1 oz ice cream scoop or a cookie scoop to scoop cookie dough.
  7. Place cookie dough ball on prepared baking sheet.  Space balls of cookie dough evenly on baking sheet. 
  8. Bake for 7 minutes, and then spin the baking sheet, and bake for another 6 or 7 minutes.
  9. Let them sit on the baking pan for 2 minutes before removing to cooling rack.
  10. Prepare glaze by whisking eggnog with confectioners sugar. 
  11. Once cookies cool completely, dip them in eggnog glaze. Let stand until glaze is set, at least 20 minutes.

Gingerbread Snickerdoodles

Gingerbread Snickerdoodles

Makes 24 cookies 3 inch cookies

Ingredients
1-1/2 stick butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup molasses
1-3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Cinnamon Sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. In a stand mixer cream butter with brown sugar, and granulated sugar until well combined. 
  3. Beat in egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract and molasses until fluffy. 
  4. Mix in dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, allspice, ginger, cinnamon and cloves) until well combined. 
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  6. Using a 1 oz ice cream scoop or a cookie scoop to scoop cookie dough.
  7. Roll cookie dough ball in cinnamon sugar mixture.
  8. Place cookie dough ball on prepared baking sheet.  Space balls of cookie dough evenly on baking sheet. 
  9. Bake for 7 minutes, and then spin the baking sheet, and bake for another 6 or 7 minutes.
  10. Let them sit on the baking pan for 2 minutes before removing to cooling rack.

12 Days of Cookies

December is finally here. You know what that means… Cookies…. Cookies aren’t just for Santa. I love cookies during this time of year. I will be sharing 12 delicious cookie recipes with you. Check back here everyday for each yummy cookie recipe.

Day 1: Gingerbread Snickerdoodles

Day 2: Eggnog Gookies

Day 3: Lemon Ginger Glazed Cookies

Day 4: Snickerdoodle Eggnog Creme Brulee Cups

Day 5: Rugelach

Day 6: Caramel Spiced Apple

Day 7: Lemon Crinkle

Day 8: Apple Toffee Pecan

Day 9: Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

Day 10: Chocolate Chip Brookie

Day 11: Gingerbread Men

Day 12: Brown Sugar Maple Pecan

Maple Pecan Sweet Potato Waffle with Maple Cream Sauce

A few days ago I posted that delicious Sweet Potato Bunt Cake with Maple Cream.  I had a little bit of mashed sweet potato left over. It wasn’t quite enough to bake another cake with. Although that would’ve been perfect.  However waffles came to mind plus, I hadn’t made waffles in a while. 

Sweet potatoes are naturally dense and sweet, plus they add a special fluffiness to the waffles. However, it’s not an overpowering flavor. It’s very subtle and a perfect complement to the maple.

These waffles are great on their own, but the Maple Cream Sauce brings them over the top.  I’m warning you now, that Maple Sauce is dangerous lol.  After making it you’ll definitely want to put it on everything, hence the reason for me making it for the Sweet Potato Bunt Cake, and again for these waffles. The only thing that would make these waffles even better is topping them with candied pecans. 

Maple Pecan Sweet Potato Waffle

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins

Ingredients

Sweet Potato Waffle

  • 4 eggs separated
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup maple cream sauce
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potato
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Maple Cream Sauce

  • 1-1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 5 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 5 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Sweet Potato Waffle

  • Preheat the waffle iron according to the manufacturer's instructions.
    2. Combine flours, baking powder, corn starch, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
    3. In a second bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until the sugar is dissolved and the eggs have lightened to a pale yellow. 
    4. Add vanilla, milk, coconut milk, butter milk, maple cream sauce & mashed sweet potato to the egg mixture. 
    5. Combine the sweet potato mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until everything is blended but don't over mix.
    6. Use an electric mixer to whisk egg whites in a third bowl until the egg whites form stiff peaks. 
    7. Fold the egg whites into the waffle batter using a rubber spatula.  Do not over mix. 
    8. Spray the waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray and pour about a ladle full of batter into the waffle iron.  Close and cook the waffle per manufacturer's instructions until golden brown.

Maple Cream Sauce

  • Combine heavy cream, maple syrup and corn syrup in a sauce pan. 
    2. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 15 minutes or until sauce is reduced and thick. 
    3. The sauce will bubble as it cooks. 
    4. When sauce has thickened, add vanilla extract, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Sauce will thicken more as it cools.

Sweet Potato Bunt Cake w/ Maple Cream Sauce

This Sweet Potato Bunt Cake w/ Maple Cream Sauce is filled with fall flavors. This cake is dense and moist and topped with a delicious maple cream sauce. If anything, just make this recipe for the maple cream sauce. It’s so good you can drink it.

Whether you’re looking to make a cake for dessert for the week, or bring something to a dinner party or make a new dessert for your thanksgiving table, this sweet potato cake recipe is an absolute winner! Additionally, this cake makes a great breakfast cake. It’s not overly sweet, its just the right amount.

How to make the Sweet Potato Bunt Cake.

The first step in making this cake is creaming the butter and the sugars (granulated sugar as well as maple sugar). Once the butter and sugar are fluffy and eggs one at a time. Next, you’ll add the mashed sweet potatoes along with vanilla extract. Finally, you’ll add the dry ingredients, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well, but do not over mix. The batter will be thick, that’s ok. Pour the batter into a lightly greased bunt pan. Bake in a preheated oven for 45 – 55 mins or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Sweet Potato Bunt Cake With Maple Cream Sauce

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins

Ingredients

Sweet Potato Bunt Cake

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1-2 cups mashed sweet potato cooled
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup maple sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg

Maple Cream Sauce

  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 5 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Sweet Potato Bunt Cake

  • Preheat your oven to 350 F.
    2. Oil a bunt pan. In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until fluffy. 
    3. Add eggs one at a time. Once the eggs have incorporated into the butter and sugar mixture, add mashed sweet potatoes and vanilla. 
    4. Add dry ingredients to the mixing bowl (flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt) Slowly start the mixer to incorporate the flour, and then turn the speed up on the mixer a bit until the flour is completely mixed in. 
    5. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and transfer to the oven.

    6. Bake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with a crumb or two attached.

Maple Cream Sauce

  • Combine heavy cream, maple syrup and corn syrup in a sauce pan. 
    2. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 15 minutes or until
    sauce is reduced and thick. 
    3. The sauce will bubble as it cooks. 
    4. When sauce has thickened, add vanilla extract, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Sauce will thicken more as it cools.

Spiced Ginger Pear Preserves

When I was younger, my family and I looked forward to apple picking every year. We would drive about 2 hours upstate New York, and spend the day, and had so much fun. The orchard we used to go to sold preserves and other food products they made with the apples or other fruit they grew.
Every year my mom would buy either pear or apple preserves from the orchard. I loved the Ginger Pear preserves. I found myself recently reminiscing about those ginger pear preserves, and decided to make my own batch.
I used some fall spices in these pear preserves. I started this recipe by boiling some nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves in one cup of water. I allowed the spiced water to reduce by half and added about 1/2 cup more. Next, I added diced pears, some sugar, crystallized ginger, and grated about 1 inch of ginger into the pot. I allowed the pears to boil, then I reduced the heat and let the pears to simmer for about 2 hours until the preserves thickened a bit.

Spiced Ginger Pear Preserves

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time2 hrs

Ingredients

  • 1 nutmeg whole
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 8 cloves
  • 2 lbs Bosch or Asian Pears – peeled, seeded, and diced small
  • 2 lbs Bartlett Pears – peeled, seeded, and diced small
  • 5 oz crystalized ginger diced small
  • 1 inch grated ginger
  • 1 cup sugar

Instructions

  • In a 5 quart pot bring nutmeg, cinnamon stick, and cloves to a boil in 1 cup of water.  Water should reduce by half. 
    2. Add 1/2 cup more water, diced pears, crystallized ginger, sugar and grated ginger. 
    3. Allow pear mixture to come to a boil. After 15 minutes of boiling, reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer pears for 2 hours until the preserves have thickened. 
    4. Remove spices from the preserves. 





Lobster Mac and Cheese

Lobster Ma & Cheese is rich and decadent as Mac and Cheese except there are tender bits of buttery lobster mixed in.  This recipe is the perfect combination of cheesy, creamy, and gooey goodness.  When I decided to create this recipe I instantly thought about the delicious creamy lobster sauce from my Shrimp and Grits recipe (side note, if you haven’t tried it its definitely a must try 😉 ).  This Lobster Mac and Cheese essentially is a combination of my Shrimp and Grits recipe with my Mac and Cheese recipe.  I started this recipe by broiling 1 pound of lobster tails. I simply seasoned the lobster with Old Bay and butter.  If you don’t want to buy lobster tails, you can for sure buy lobster meat. If you buy the lobster meat, it will be cooked already so it will save you the step of broiling the lobster. However if you are broiling the lobster tails, it’s important to watch them so they don’t over cook. The last thing you want is dry tough lobster. Once the lobster tails are finished cooking allow them to cool to room temperature, so you can chop it.  While the lobster is in the broiler grate and dice the cheddar cheese.  It’s very important to grate the cheese by hand instead of using shredded cheese from a bag, it is not the same, Trust Me!! Shredded cheese that comes in a bag is actually coated in an anti-caking agent so the cheese won’t stick together in the bag, which is the reason why it won’t melt that great in a sauce.

Next I created a cheese sauce.  While you’re making your cheese sauce, boil your pasta.  The creamy cheese sauce is made with milk, shredded cheddar cheese, and lobster base.  I start the cheese sauce with butter and flour, to create a roux.  (Read more about what a roux is from The Best Mac and Cheese post. Add Old Bay seasoning and lobster base to your roux. Once the roux has cooked, you will add your milk.  Continue to mix the milk mixture until smooth, add shredded cheese, and whisk until the cheese has melted completely.

When the macaroni is cooked, I drain the macaroni and dump it into a big bowl. I mix in the lobster cheese sauce, and season to taste with salt, pepper, granulated garlic, and granulated onion. Next, I mix in the chopped lobster, and the diced cheddar cheese.  I pour the mac and cheese into a baking pan and bake on 350 degrees for about 30 – 35 minutes. When I take the mac and cheese out of the oven, I like to add another handful or two of shredded cheese on top, and put the pan back in the oven just long enough for the cheese to melt.

Lobster Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 3 tbsp Better Than Bullion Lobster Base
  • 1/2 tbsp Old Bay
  • 25 oz white cheddar cheese divided shred 12 oz, and dice the other 12
  • 1 lb lobster meat cooked

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°. 
    2.Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package, 8 to 10 minutes. 
    3.Meanwhile melt butter in a large skillet, whisk in flour until smooth.
    4.Gradually whisk in warm milk, old bay, and lobster base.  Cook, whisking constantly, 5
    minutes or until thickened.
    5.Whisk in the shredded cheese.  
    6.Place cooked macaroni in a large bowl, mix in cheese sauce, season with granulated onion, granulated garlic. 
    7.Mix in lobster meat and cubed cheese.  
    8.Spoon pasta mixture into a lightly greased 9×12 inch baking dish.
    9. Bake for 30 minutes






Slow Cooker Chicken Soup

What is more comforting than a warm bowl of chicken soup. The weather in Charlotte is finally transitioning from summer to fall, and we are getting some cool weather. Soup is just the perfect thing to eat when the weather is chilly.

When it comes to chicken soup, my recipe is pretty simple. I simply put carrots, celery, caramelized onions, and of course, chicken. I allow the chicken to cook in the soup. I usually remove the chicken skin before adding the chicken to the soup. I personally don’t like the texture of the chicken skin after it’s been boiled in the soup, plus it makes the soup oily. If you leave the skin on the chicken when cooking it in the soup, there is more fat to skim off the top of the soup when the soup has cooled.

I usually make my soup on the stove, but for the first time, I decided to make the soup in the slow cooker. It was nice to just “set it and forget it.” To make this chicken soup, I caramelized onions, sauteed carrots, and celery, and added the vegetables to the slow cooker. Cooking the vegetables isn’t necessary because they will cook in the soup, but I just love 😍 the flavor of caramelized onions. The next step is adding a whole chicken to the slow cooker, and adding enough water to cover the chicken, about 8 – 10 cups of water. I also add 2 bay leaves, about 1/4 cup of lemon juice, and season my soup with salt, pepper, granulated garlic, and granulated onion. The soup cooks on high for about 4-6 hours in the slow cooker. However, if you want to put the soup while you’re at work, you can sautee your vegetables the day before and refrigerate them overnight. Before you go to work, you can put your vegetables in the pot and add your chicken. You can set your slow cooker to low, and it will be ready in about 6-8 hours.

After about 5 hours (on high temperature), I turned the slow cooker off. Next, I removed the chicken from the slow cooker. I placed the chicken on a cutting board and allowed it to cool a bit. Once the chicken was cool to touch, I removed the meat from the bones, cut the chicken, and added it back to the pot.

Slow Cooker Chicken Soup

This homemade chicken soup is made in the slow cooker.  Just set it and forget it. Its loaded with
vegetables and broth is made as the chicken cooks in the soup. 
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time6 hrs

Instructions

  • In a large skillet, sautee onions, When the onions are done, sautee the carrots, and then the celery. 
    2. Remove skin from chicken
    3. Put sauteed vegetables in a large slow cooker (I have a 10 quart slow cooker)
    4. Place chicken in the slow cooker, and cover with 8-10 cups of water. 
    5. Add bay leaves, lemon juice, and season to taste with salt, pepper, granulated garlic and granulated onion. Set slow cooker to high.
    6. After about 6 hours, remove chicken from the slow cooker.  Turn slow cooker off.  Allow chicken to cool, cut up chicken and add it back to soup.

Thanksgiving Menu – Step by Step

I love having people over for dinner; however, planning and prepping is a lot of work. From the grocery shopping to cleaning the house, to prepping the meal and cooking it, it’s not always easy. Don’t even get me started on the cleanup, before and afterward. Just that list of things to do alone may deter someone from throwing a dinner party.

The most valuable bit of information I learned in Culinary School was the importance of knowing the cook times of the various items on the menu. That way, I know what to cook when. When it’s time for the dinner party to start, everything should be cooked and prepared so I can enjoy the party with my guests.

My mom is a schedule person, and I’m a list person. Every year for Thanksgiving, my mom and my aunt would alternate having Thanksgiving dinner. The year I finished culinary school, my mom and I hosted a Thanksgiving dinner. That was the year she took what I learned about scheduling to the next level. She created this extensive schedule that was color-coded and everything. My mother, brother, sister, and I each had our colors on the chart. BJ’s, Costco, and Stop and Shop each had their own individual colors on the chart.

I will never forget the story my mom always tells about the time she went shopping with her Thanksgiving checklist; it must have been about 3-4 pages. She ran into our next-door neighbor, and he asked her what she was holding, and she said it was her Thanksgiving chart. She explained to him how it kept us all organized. She pointed out her shopping list for each store and showed him the jobs she delegated to the family. He was shocked at how detailed it was.

I am going to share with you the Thanksgiving guide from start to finish. Everything from grocery shopping to dinner on the table. This menu includes the classic Thanksgiving favorites, mac and cheese, stuffing (or dressing), collard greens, candied sweet potatoes, cornbread, ham, and of course, turkey and gravy.

Shopping List

Meats

1 (12lb) Turkey
1 (9lb) Spiral Ham
1 large ham hock (or 2-3 medium sized ham hocks)

Dairy

2-1/2 lbs butter
1 cup buttermilk
4 cup whole milk
7 large eggs
25 oz cheddar cheese (divided)

Produce

7-1/2 lbs Sweet Potatoes (about 9 medium – large sweet potatoes)
2 – 1/2 quarts Apple Cider
2 (.5oz) packages of sage
3 onions
1 bunch celery
5 carrots
2 medium sized apple
3 lbs collard greens
About 24 lemons (4 cups lemon juice)

Other

2 cups Cornmeal
2 cups Bread Flour
1 – 1/2 cups cake flour
2 cups + 3 tbsp All purpose flour
1 lb box of macaroni
1 12oz bag herbed stuffing mix
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cups honey
2 (8.5 oz) cans of Sweet cream style corn
6 cups sugar
1 cup plus 3 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp bourbon
1/4 cup Shortening (cold)
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup hot sauce
About 8 large chicken bullion cubes
1 750 ml bottle of white wine
1/4 cup of brandy
1/4 cup Amaretto Liquor

Spices

1 tbsp plus 1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
4 cinnamon sticks
2 inches ginger sliced
10 cloves
2 nutmeg smashed
1 box of Bells Poultry Seasoning

Menu

Sage Apple Turkey
Spiral Ham
Baked Mac & Cheese
Sage & Apple Stuffing
Candied Sweet Potatoes
Collard greens
Sage Apple Lemonade
Pumpkin Spice Sangria
Sweet Potato Bourbon Pecan Pie

** Side note, in this menu I used many chicken bullion cubes to make liquid for basting the turkey, the stuffing, and the injection liquid. If you have the time feel free to make a large pot of turkey stock ahead of time to use in place of chicken bullion. 

Schedule

Saturday or Sunday before Thanksgiving – Do your grocery shopping

Sunday before Thanksgiving

• Slice 1 medium apple
• Make simple syrup for Sage Apple Lemonade & Pumpkin Spice Sangria
• Make Pie Dough
• Grate cheddar cheese, & cut cheddar cheese in cubes

Monday

• Boil Ham hock – cut up ham hock and reserve the liquid
• Cut and clean collard greens while ham hock is cooking.
• Set up buffet set up.  Meaning set up where your plates, forks, knives, spoons, napkins, cups and napkins will go.  At this time you should also set up chafing dishes.  Count how many dishes you have.  For this menu there are 6 items, plus cornbread and gravy.  You would need 3 double chafing dishes, sterno racks, or 6 individual dishes for your buffet. 
• As part of your buffet set up, make sure you put the sternos out, as well as lighters to light them. That way on Thanksgiving day everything is all set up, and that is a job you can ask someone to do.

Tuesday

• Make Sangria
• Make Sage Apple Lemonade
• Peel and slice sweet potatoes. Reserve 2 sweet potatoes to dice and boil for Sweet Potato Bourbon Pecan Pie.
• Prepare Sweet Potato Bourbon Pecan Pie
• Bake Sweet Potato Bourbon Pecan Pie
While pie is in the oven
• Large dice 2 onions, 5 carrots, 5 stalks of celery (Mirepoix) – place vegetables in ziploc bag
• Mince 1 onion, 3 stalks celery, 1 medium size apple – place vegetables in ziploc bag

Day before Thanksgiving

• Clean and Brine Turkey
• Cook Turkey necks, liver and giblets (this will be your liquid for injecting the turkey and basting the turkey and stuffing)
• Make 2 recipes corn bread (reserve one recipe to serve with dinner)
• Cook collard greens
• Prepare and bake Mac & Cheese
• Set table
• Put water in chafing dishes

Thursday – Day of Schedule: For a 5:30 Dinner

• 8:30 am – Take turkey out of refrigerator.
Allow turkey to reach room temperature. 

• 9:30 am –  Heat the injection liquid
Inject Turkey
Season Turkey

• 10:00 – Turkey goes in the oven – Turkey should be ready between 1:00 & 1:30
• Straighten up kitchen, do dishes.
• When Turkey comes out of the oven put ham in. 
• A 9 lb ham needs to be in the oven about 2 hours and 15 mins. 
• 1:00 Put ham in the oven when turkey comes out. 
• Ham should come out of the oven between 3:15 & 3:45 depending on what time you take the turkey out. 
• 3:00 – Make Candied Sweet Potatoes, and warm up the collard greens.
• When ham comes out of the oven, put Mac and cheese, and stuffing in the oven. 
• Allow to cook for 30 minutes. 
• While the Mac & Cheese and stuffing are in the oven make gravy, slice ham and carve turkey. 
• At this time if anything else needs to be cleaned up in your kitchen do it now. If you have dishes in the dishwasher put them away. When dinner is over, your dishwasher will be ready for dirty dishes. 
• Take a break, and clean yourself up before your guests arrive at 5:30.
• Around 5:00 begin lighting the sternos in your chaffing dishes. Start setting up the buffet with hot food. 

Apple Sage Lemonade

Ingredients
Cinnamon Sage Apple Simple Syrup
(1) .5 oz package of sage
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 apple sliced (gala)
2 cinnamon sticks
Follow the directions for How to Make Simple Syrup for the Cinnamon Sage Apple Simple Syrup

Directions
Follow the recipe for Fresh Squeezed Lemonade
Add 2-1/2 cups of Apple Cider
Substitute 2 cups of simple syrup for 2-1/2 cups of Cinnamon Sage Apple Simple Syrup

For the Pumpkin Spice Sangria click here

Sweet Potato Bourbon Pecan Pie

Ingredients

1 stick butter (melted)
2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp bourbon
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs beaten
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup of chopped Candied Pecans

Directions
1.If making your own pie dough, follow the recipe for How to make Pie Dough
2. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.
3. Combine butter, brown sugar, mashed sweet potatoes in a bowl.  Whisk until combined. 
4. Add eggs, whisk well. 
5. Add evaporated milk, bourbon, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. 
6. Pour sweet potato mixture into a prepared pan. 
7. Bake for 35 minutes. 
8. Remove pie from the oven, and top with candied pecans. Continue to bake about another 10 – 15 minutes. 
Allow the pie to cool. 

Candied Pecans

Ingredients
1 cups pecans 
1/4 cup brown sugar 
2 tbsp melted butter 
1 tbsp bourbon

Directions
1. Place your pecans in a food processor and pulse until your pecans are coarsely chopped. 
2. Place chopped pecans, brown sugar, butter, and bourbon on a sheet pan.
3. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. 
 

Collard Greens


Ingredients
3 lbs collard greens washed, and cut (Its ok to use the collard greens that are precut in the bag) However the stems aren’t removed.
1 large ham hock (or 2-3 medium sized ham hocks)
1/4 cup Hot Sauce
8 cups water
2 tbsp granulated onion
1 tbsp  granulated garlic
1 tbsp salt
3 large chicken bullion cubes

Directions
1. Bring 8 cups of water to a boil, and add ham hocks. 
2. Allow ham hocks to cook for about 2 – 2-1/2 hours until fork tender.
3. Add bullion cubes, hot sauce, season the water with, granulated onion, granulated garlic and salt
4. Add collard greens to the pot.  If needed add additional seasoning to taste. 5. Lower heat to a simmer.  Allow collard greens to simmer about 40 minutes or until tender.
6. Remove ham hock, and remove meat from bones, and add the meat back to the pot. 

Candied Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients
6 large sweet potatoes
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
Salt to taste

Directions
1. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into slices.
2. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet and add the sliced sweet potatoes.
3. Combine sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a bowl. 
4. Pour sugar mixture over the sweet potatoes and stir.  Cover pot, and reduce heat to low. Cook for about an hour or until potatoes are tender. 

Sage Apple Turkey

Ingredients

1 stick softened butter
Brining Liquid
Injection Liquid
Granulated garlic
Granulated Onion
Poultry Seasoning
Salt
Pepper
If you are following the Thanksgiving dinner menu I’ve prepared you should have two onions that you large diced, 5 large diced carrots, and 5 stalks of celery that were large diced in a ziploc bag

The first step to making the turkey is cleaning it. It is important to clean your sink before putting your turkey in it. If you purchased a turkey from the grocery store remove turkey from the bag.  Remove the bag from the center cavity of the turkey.  Lift up the skin on the opposite side od the turkey by the breast there will be another bag to remove from inside of the turkey. 

The bags inside of the turkey contain the neck and the giblets. Place turkey giblets and turkey neck in a small pot.  Add 1 cup apple cider, 2 sprigs of sage, 2 cups water and 1 large chicken bullion cube.  Bring to a boil.  Allow turkey necks to cook for about 2 hours.  After the turkey necks have cooked allow to cool to room temperature and refrigerate over night. 

Prepare Brining liquid while the turkey necks are cooking. 

For the Brine

Ingredients

2 cups apple cider
2 cups brown sugar 
1 cup coarse kosher salt 
3 tablespoons peppercorns 
5 whole bay leaves 
1 onion
4 sprigs sage
3 sliced apples

Directions

Bring apple cider to a simmer, add brown sugar and salt.
Stir until dissolved. Once dissolved remove from heat. 
Add ice to the brining liquid to allow it to cool to room temperature. 
Pour over your turkey. 
Pour enough water in the container to submerge your turkey. 

Refrigerate over night. 


The next Day
When you remove the turkey from the brine, and rinse the turkey off, allow the turkey to come to room temperature. 

Allow butter to reach room temperature

Heat the injection liquid, season with granulated onion, granulated garlic, pepper and poultry seasoning.  The injection liquid reduced while I was cooking it yesterday.  As I heated the injection liquid I added 1 cup of apple cider, 1 cup of water, and 1 large chicken bullion cube. 

Taste the injection liquid.  Make sure you are happy with how it taste. The liquid will not only be used to inject into the turkey, it will also be used to baste your turkey and your stuffing.

Place the diced vegetables (onion, carrots, and celery) in the bottom of a roasting pan.  If you have a roasting pan with a rack put the turkey on the rack above the vegetables. If you don’t have a rack it is perfectly fine to put the turkey right on top of the vegetables. 

Inject turkey with injection liquid.  Inject turkey in the breasts, and the legs.

Rub softened butter on the skin of the turkey, and under the turkey breast skin.  Season turkey with poultry seasoning, granulated garlic, granulated onion, salt and pepper.

Roast Turkey on 400 degrees until brown about 30 – 40 minutes.  Cover turkey with aluminum foil, and reduce heat to 325 and continue to roast until the turkey is done. 

Baste turkey several times with the injection liquid while the turkey is roasting. 

Allow Turkey to rest about an hour or two before slicing it. 

To make gravy
Once the turkey has cooled down, pour the turkey drippings into a measuring cup.
For every cup of liquid make a roux with the corresponding amount of butter and flour. (For example if there are 3 cups of liquid use 3 tbsp butter and 3 tbsp of flour to make a roux)
Cook roux in a pot, once combined slowly pour turkey dripping in the pot. Bring to a boil. The gravy will thicken as it boils. Remove from heat once the gravy reaches a boil.

Sage Apple Stuffing (Dressing)

Ingredients

If you are following the Thanksgiving dinner menu I’ve prepared you should have 1 minced onion, 3 stalks of celery minced, 1 apple diced small in a ziploc bag. 
1 9×9 prepared pan of cornbread
1 12oz bag herbed stuffing mix
poultry seasoning
salt and pepper

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2. Spray a 9 x 12 inch baking pan with cooking pray. 
3. Melt 4 tbsp butter in a skillet.  Sautee minced onion, celery and diced apple until soft.   
4. Break cornbread up in a bowl. 
5. Add the vegetables to the bowl.  Mix the cornbread and vegetables all together. 
6. Add about 1/2 cup of the injection liquid to the bowl.  Stir in about 1/2 bag of the herbed stuffing mix.  Season to taste with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.  If needed moisten the cornbread mixture more with some of the injection liquid until desired. 
7. Transfer the cornbread mixture to the baking pan, and bake about 30 minutes.

I prepared the ham according to the directions on the package.  I purchased Smithfield ham that came with a ready made glaze. 

Click here for mac and cheese recipe.

Apple Cider Doughnuts

When I was younger, my family went apple picking every year. One of the best things about the apple orchard is the fresh apple cider donuts. The smell of the doughnuts just stops you in your tracks, and you feel like you MUST have one. Well, that’s how I feel anyway. The apple orchard I used to go to would always have a line wrapped around the building for the amazing apple cider donuts. As I stood in line I would always contemplate should I buy a half dozen or a buy a dozen doughnuts? I mean a dozen doesn’t even seem like enough because I only get them once a year when I go apple picking.

After years of visiting the apple orchard, I finally decided to try to make these apple cider donuts on my own. I tried the Cider Spiced Doughnuts recipe from the 2018 October/ November Fine Cooking Magazine. I followed the recipe precisely since it was my first time making doughnuts like these. They were delicious, especially warm.  

This recipe was relatively easy to make. The first thing I did was bring apple cider to a boil until it reduced to a half cup. Once the apple cider reduced, I cooled it down in the refrigerator. Cooling down the apple cider is vital because if you put the hot cider in the bowl with the butter and eggs, it will just melt your butter, and cook your eggs. While the apple cider was cooling, I measured my dry ingredients to get them ready for mixing. Next, I creamed the butter with the sugar, and I added eggs one at a time. The next thing I did was pour in the buttermilk, vanilla, and reduced apple cider. I slowly added my dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. The dough was thick and a bit sticky. I lined a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkled it with flour. Next, I pressed the dough evenly into the pan, covered the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerated it overnight, (however the recipe says you can refrigerate it for 2 hours at minimum)

I used a 3 inch circle cutter to make the doughnuts, and a 1 inch circle cutter to make doughnut holes. Using the 3 inch circle, I was able to get about 9 doughnuts out of the dough. I filled a pot about 2/3 of the way with oil to fry the doughnuts. I used a candy thermometer to heat the oil to 350 degrees. It is important to measure the temperature of the oil because if your oil isn’t hot enough your doughnuts will be too oily, and if your oil is too hot your doughnuts the outside of your doughnuts may cook too fast and the inside my be raw. I cooked the doughnuts about 2-3 minutes per side.  When I took the doughnuts out of the oil, I tossed them in a cinnamon sugar mixture.

These doughnuts are definitely a must try. There is absolutely nothing better than biting into a warm, fresh doughnut that’s been tossed in cinnamon sugar.

Apple Cider Doughnuts

These doughnuts are definitely a must try. There is absolutely nothing better than biting into a warm, fresh doughnut that’s been tossed in cinnamon sugar.
Makes about 12 Doughnuts
Course: Dessert

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 2-1/2 cups Apple Cider
  • 4 oz Unsalted Butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • Zest from 1 Lemon
  • 16 oz All Purpose Flour (about 3-1/2 cups)
  • 1 tbsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Allspice

For Frying

  • 14 cups Canola Oil

Cinnamon Sugar

  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon

Instructions

Make Dough

  • Cook the cider in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 30 minutes; the texture should be thick and will become almost syrupy as it cools. Remove from the heat, and let cool to room temperature.
    2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a handheld mixer and a large bowl), beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl as necessary, about 3 minutes. While blending on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, mixing just to incorporate before adding the next, and then add the cider reduction, buttermilk, vanilla, and zest.
    3. In another large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and allspice. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the cider mixture 1 cup at a time until a wet, sticky dough forms, about 3 minutes total. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment, and sprinkle generously with about 1/3 cup flour. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet, dust the top generously with flour, and press into an even thickness of about 1/2 inch. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
    4. When ready to cook, use a 3-1/2-inch doughnut cutter (or 3-1/2-inch and 1-inch round cutters) to punch the doughnuts out 4 and a thin metal spatula to lift them 5 ; reserve the inner pieces (the holes). Punch additional holes out of the scraps (rerolling the dough to cut more doughnuts will make it tough).

Fry the doughnuts

  • Fill a fryer or large Dutch oven fitted with a candy thermometer with 2-1/2 to 3 inches of oil. Heat to 350°F. In a large bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon.
    2. Once the oil has reached temperature, carefully drop 3 doughnuts into the oil, and cook, flipping with a fork after about 1-1/2 minutes, until lightly brown all over, about 3 minutes total.
    3. Transfer the doughnuts to a large rimmed baking sheet lined with paper towels and then, while still warm, to the bowl of cinnamon sugar. Toss to coat the doughnuts completely, and then set on cooling racks. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts, and then fry the holes. Serve warm.