Sunday, December 5, 2021


Hello everyone!  I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.  I think most of using us were simply grateful to be with family and friends again.  But I don't doubt we still need to be careful.  Someone near and dear to us came down with Covid or the Delta variant even after having both vaccines and the booster.  He had spent some time with an unvaccinated person and he became very ill.  I think we can't yet become comfortable.  

My kids, grands, and the whole gang have a ritual of playing football every Thanksgiving morning.  This has been going on for longer than I can remember and they always take a group photo.  I'm never there unfortunately (😉) as I'm busy stuffing the turkey and 10:00 is an ungodly hour for me.  Also, I don't know one wit about football in spite of being a pom pom girl in high school, and that was all about shaking my bootie in a short skirt as opposed to watching the game.  

I always say that cooking a turkey is a no-brainer but this year was a near disaster.  This turkey did not have a pop up thingie to indicate it was done, so I used my meat thermometer.  It read 160 degrees but I didn't check the easy movement of the legs and wings which also show it's perfectly done.  It was just as we were carving and ready to serve when this was discovered, so my only choice was to microwave several of the parts one at a time so dinner was super late.  This has never happened...I've overcooked but never undercooked.  I was devastated.  Since dinner was late, most of the guests had consumed a good amount of cocktails and hors d' oeuvres, and I could have had a live turkey trotting about the kitchen and they wouldn't have noticed.

This is a true classic.  Two year-old Lucy must have been terribly hungry.  Look at her go!

I made my tried and true vanilla bark.  There is nothing easier to make and is always a hit with the kids.  I used Chex Party Mix for the "salty" which made it so much easier and cost effective.  I also made a pie with a recipe I had never tried.  It called for caramel sauce and it was my first time making it.  I think I overcooked it (unlike my turkey) and it had a bitter taste.  It definitely wasn't a hit.   

(Photo credit unknown) 

I meant to make these for Thanksgiving but it was just one of my lofty ideas and I didn't.  I make these candied nuts every Christmas.  They are perfect in small bowls scattered here and there during cocktail hour at holiday parties and I also make gift boxes for family and friends with all sorts of sweets.  Little bags of candied nuts are always appreciated.  You can find all sorts of nuts at a good price at Sam's Club and Costco.  I tweaked this recipe a bit so no link.  As Christmas approaches I thought I'd share this recipe.

1 egg white
1 t vanilla extract
3 c nuts such as cashews, pecans, walnuts, almonds...
1/2 c brown sugar
2 t ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Spray a baking pan with cooking spray.  In a medium size bowl, whisk the egg white and vanilla until frothy.  Add the nuts and toss until coated.

In a small bowl mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon.  Add to the nut mixture and toss well.  Spread evenly on the baking sheet.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, stirring and tossing every 15 minutes.  Cool and store in an airtight container.  

Obviously I double and triple the ingredients as I gift them.  Make some people happy and do the same!  I never knew it was the egg white that held everything together.  So with said egg whites, make your own version.

(Photo courtesy Smitten Kitchen) 

Creamy Cheese Spread with Warm Candied Bacon & Dates

This is a winner of an appetizer.  Doesn't it look delicious?  I can't take credit for the photo and it doesn't have to look this purdy, but the flavors are insane. And dates are in season!  This was a delicious appetizer and I was happy to try something different... I'm finding charcuterie boards getting a little old.  This does have cheese but with a nice twist.  You can serve some fruit alongside. With no further ado:

6-8 slices bacon, chopped
2 T chopped fresh rosemary*
1 t brown sugar
1/3 c plus 1 t honey
1/2 t cayenne pepper--more or less as your preference
12 plump dates, pitted and torn
1 10 oz. log creamy goat cheese
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
2 T olive oil
sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

On the baking sheet toss together the bacon, 1 T rosemary, the brown sugar, 1 t honey, and the cayenne.  Arrange in an even layer.  Scatter the torn dates around.  Bake until the bacon is crisping, about 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the goat cheese, cream cheese, olive oil, and a pinch of salt in a food processor and pulse until smooth and creamy.  This mixture can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days.  Bring to room temp before serving.

Spoon the cheese mixture into a serving bowl and top with the warm bacon and date.  Drizzle over a little of the honey and rosemary.  Serve with thin toasted bread rounds or crackers.  This serves 8 so you may want to double the recipe.   
*You can find fresh rosemary in the produce section of most grocery stores if you don't/can't grow it.  Like me.

Off I go.  I have a sweet, skinny Balsam Fir sitting in my living room and I'm waiting for the branches to drop before I string the lights.  Every available surface as well as the floor is filled with bins of my Christmas decorations.  My shopping is done and piled up in the guest room.  I love the ritual of wrapping while a Christmas movie is on. Maybe a cup of hot chocolate or a glass of chilled wine.  But first--the tree has to be finished and everything festive in its place. Call me strange but I have sixty-one years of experience of that.😊

Sending love and good wishes for a wonderful holiday season.  I'll be back soon!

Jane x