Sunday, November 13, 2011

An Intimate Thanksgiving Inspired Lunch

As a kid, Christmas was my favorite holiday. It was all about Santa and presents, Thanksgiving was just a day to eat turkey and pumpkin pie. It wasn't until we moved to Rota, Spain where my husband served as a Firefighter in the US Navy that my feelings changed. Living on the military base there and being in a foreign country completely changed my perspective. Choices and options were limited compared to the excess of life in America. There was only one clothing store, one grocery store, one school for all ages from Kindergarten all the way through to 12th grade. We met so many people who were away from their families, many who didn't know how to cook. It was then that I began to truly develop my cooking skills and began cooking homemade meals for the single firefighters my husband worked with. They were so thankful for those homemade meals that reminded them of home. At Thanksgiving, we would open our home to these servicemen so they could enjoy a traditional meal. Although our house was small and would be crammed full of people, no one complained. Everyone was thankful for the delicious food, the friendship and comraderie. Watching the look of appreciation on everyone's faces as they enjoyed the meal I made and hearing them give thanks for life's blessings even though they were far from home and away from those they loved was a rewarding experience. It was then that Thanksgiving became my favorite holiday.

These days Thanksgiving is just as meaningful to me and just as hectic. Most of our immediate family lives in San Diego so our house is still full at Thanksgiving. Everyone has their favorite dish so I rarely get to deviate from the menu or preparation. Making this Thanksgiving inspired lunch with Yvonne was a real treat. We got to develop a more "sophisticated" menu and adapt recipes any way we wanted. The afternoon we spent in the kitchen flew by and the end result was a delicious meal I would make again and again. The Cremini and Feta Crostini is so good (and I don't even like mushrooms!). The Stuffed Turkey Breast is easy, elegant and cooks in under 1 hour. The Cornbread Dressing is comforting and full of flavor. And I can't even begin to describe how delicious the desserts are....

No matter how you spend your Thanksgiving, I hope you are surrounded by those you love and I hope your blessings are too many to count.


Well it was definitely a fun-filled weekend! Faye and I were finally able to get together to cook and test out some new recipes. I showed up at Faye's house an hour earlier than expected. I guess I was excited to start cooking : ) We couldn't have picked a more beautiful Fall day to be in the kitchen. It was pouring rain outside, grey and chilly. Since Thanksgiving was on our minds, we stuck to the basics, Turkey, Stuffing, Green Beans, Potatoes and dessert! We incorporated all of the traditional Thanksgiving flavors but with a twist. I'm sure  many of you cooks out there have the same dilema that Faye and I have....our families hate any changes to the traditional dishes they enjoy on Thanksgiving and Christmas. So Faye and I decided to use this day to try out new recipes that we both personally would like to see at our Thanksgiving tables but would never be able to thanks to our stubborn families : )  The funny part was Faye's boys loved the new dishes once they tried them! They even said they wouldn't mind having them again on Thanksgiving, HA! I wish my sisters would have been there to try out these great new dishes. Maybe they also would have loved to have these new options at our Thanksgiving table!

I hope you have an open-minded family willing to try out these new recipes. Maybe they can become new traditions at your Thanksgiving table. If not, do what Faye and I did...create your own Thanksgiving on a rainy Saturday afternoon and try out anything new you want to.

Happy cooking!


               Happy Thanksgiving from LiveBakeLove where love is always our main ingredient!

An Intimate Thanksgiving Inspired Lunch Menu
Cranberry Mojitos*
Cremini Mushroom & Feta Crostini
Turkey Breast stuffed with Brie & Basil wrapped in Prosciutto
Cornbread Dressing with Sausage, Apples & Rosemary
Homestyle Smoky Green Beans & New Potatoes*
Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie
Chocolate Bottom Pumpkin Tart
* the recipes marked with an asterick are not posted but feel free to e-mail us if you want them

Some of the Crostini are without cheese because I can't eat dairy : (

Cremini Mushroom and Feta Crostini
Serves 4-6

2 cups cremini mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
2 tsp garlic, chopped
1/2 cup scallions, minced
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T flat leaf parsley, finely chopped + additional for garnish
2 T sundried tomatoes, chopped
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
Feta Cheese for garnish
1/2 loaf french baguette


Prepare the crostini:
With a serrated knife, cut 1/2 of the baguette on the diagonal into 1/2" thick slices. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and fresh cracked pepper.

Place on a baking sheet and bake at 375 for approx 5 minutes or until toasted. Remove from oven and set aside.

Prepare the mushroom topping:
In a skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil until hot. Add the scallions and cook until softened. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occassionally for 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occassionally, for 3 minutes. Spread onto the prepared crostini, top with feta cheese and return to the oven for a few minutes to warm up the cheese. Place on a platter and garnish with additional parsley. Serve warm.

Turkey Breast Stuffed with Brie & Basil wrapped in Prosciutto
Adapted from Relish
Serves 4-6

2 boneless skinless turkey breasts halves (each about 1 1/2 lbs)
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb brie (or fontina would be a good substitute as well)
Basil leaves
Prosciutto (approx 6 slices)

Preheat oven to 350

Make a large pocket like slit in each turkey breast half and unfold like a book. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Remove the rind from the brie and slice into 1/4-1/2" thich slices. Place a few basil leaves on top of the brie to cover.

Fold the other half of the breast over the filling. Loosely wrap the prosciutto around each turkey breast (I needed about 3 slices of prosciutto for each breast).

Place in a small roasting pan on a rack (I used whole carrots and celery to form a rack). Place in the oven and roast for approx 35-45 minutes. The turkey is done when a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 160F. Remove from oven, tent with foil and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes. The temperature of the meat will rise approx 5F during the resting process.

Place on a cutting board and with a sharp carving knife, slice on the diagonal into 1-1 1/2" thick slices. Place on a platter and serve warm.

** I recommend making a quick pan sauce with the pan drippings.

Cornbread Dressing with Sausage, Apples and Fresh Rosemary
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Serves 8

2 c cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 T Canola Oil
1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
2 c cornbread, cut into 1" cubes
2 c french bread, cut into 1" cubes
2 c artisan bread, cut into 1" cubed
1/2 lb italian sausage
1 c diced onion
2 granny smith apples, cut into large cubes
2 T brown sugar
1/2 c white wine
1/4 tsp kosher salt
16 oz low sodium chicken broth
1/2 tsp dried Thyme
1/2 tsp Tumeric
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp Rosemary leaves, minced
1 c dried cranberries
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
3/4 c Fresh Parsley, minced (for garnish)

Place diced bread on a cookie sheet and allow to sit out several hours or overnight to dry out

Preheat oven to 500

Place sliced mushrooms on a baking sheet. Toss with canola oil and 1/4 tsp salt. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through the process. Remove from the oven when mushrooms are deep brown. Set aside.

In a large skillet, brown the sausage over medium heat. Remove sausage from skillet and set aside.

Add diced onions to the skillet and brown for 5 minutes. Increase heat to high and add apples, brown sugar, 1/4 tsp salt. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until deep golden brown. Decrease heat to medium and pour in the wine. Stir and cook until liquid is reduced by half (about 2-3 minutes). Pour the apple/onion mixture in a bowl and set aside.

Add the chicken broth to the skillet and add the thyme, tumeric, rosemary salt and pepper. Stir and cook until warmed through. Set aside.

Put the cubed bread in a large bowl. Add the sausage, the apple onion mixture along with it's juices and the mushrooms and cranberries. Toss to combine. Add about 3/4 of the broth mixture (be sure to give the broth a good stir before adding to redistribute the spices). Toss to coat. If more moisture is needed, add more of the broth mixture. Keep in mind you might not need to use all of the broth mixture, the moisture level is up to you. Add the chopped parsley and toss to coat.

Taste the mixture for seasonings and adjust as needed.

Preheat oven to 375. Place mixture in a skillet or baking dish and bake covered for 20-25 minutes. The dressing is ready to serve at this point or you can uncover, return to oven and allow the top to get browned/crispy if desired.

Chocolate Bottom Pumpkin Tart
Makes a 10" tart (Serves 10)


Pumpkin SpiceTart Dough
2 c all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
6 T granulated sugar
1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 1/2 c unsalted butter, cut into pieces (butter should be cold)
2 large egg yolks
4 T heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla

Chocolate Bottom:
1/2 c heavy cream
4 oz dark chocolate. chopped

Pumpkin Filling
1 1/2 c canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 c heavy cream
2 large eggs
1 T cornstarch

Cinnamon Whipped Cream
1 c heavy cream
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla exract
2 T powdered sugar


Make the tart dough:
Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the cold butter pieces over the flour and pulse about 15 times until the mixture resembles course meal. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Whisk together the eggs, cornstarch and vanilla and pour over the flour mixture. Toss with a rubber spatula until the dough begins to stick together. Using your hands, knead the mixture very briefly to bring the dough together. Place on plastic wrap, form a disk and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 425. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a generously floured surface. Sprinkle a small amount of flour on top of the dough. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to form a circle approximately 11". Fit the dough into the tart pan with removable bottom, prick the bottom with a fork, line with aluminum foil and fill with beans or pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and beans/weights, reduce temperature to 350 and bake for a few minutes more until the crust is golden brown. Remove from oven to cool.

Make the chocolate bottom:
Place the cream and chopped chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 1 minutes. Remove and stir well to combine and melt the chocolate. If the chocoalte is not melting into the cream, return to microwave for an additional 30 seconds and stir again. Pour the chocolate onto the bottom of the crust and spread carefully in an even layer. Cool until set.

To make the pumpkin filling:
Combine the pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg and heavy cream in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until hot but not bubbly. Whisk the eggs with the cornstarch and add to the saucepan. Continue cooking, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Pour the cooled filling into the tart shell and smooth the top with a rubber or offset spatula. Refrigerate for a few hours or until firm.

To make the Cinnamon Whipped Cream topping:
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream on medium speed until it begins to foam. Add the cinnamon, vanilla and powdered sugar. Increase speed to high and beat until desired consistency (soft or stiff peaks).

To serve the tart: Garnish with Cinnamon Whipped Cream and drizzle with melted chocolate if desired.

Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator up to 2 days.

Caramel Apple Cheese Cake Pie
Adapted from Annies Eats
Serves 12-14


1/2 c graham cracker crumbs
3 T sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
6 T melted butter
3/4 c caramel (either homemade or store bought)
1 c chopped pecans

Apple Filling:
5 T unsalted butter
1/2 c light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
5 Granny Smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced

1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

Cinnamon Whipped Cream Topping
1 c heavy cream
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 T powdered sugar


Make the crust:
Preheat oven to 375. In a medium bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Toss with a fork to combine. Press into the bottom and 1" up the sides of an 8' or 9" springform pan. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until golden in color. Let cool 10 minutes. Pour the caramel on top of the crust and sprinkle with the chopped pecans.

Make the Apple Filling:
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Once the butter has melted add the brown sugar, salt and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute or until bubbly, stirring occassionally. Add the apples and mix to coat. Cook over medium to medium-high heat until the apples are tender and most of the liquid has reduced (about 15 minutes). Let cool for a few minutes and then pour into the bottom of the prepared pie shell.

Make the Cream Cheese Filling:
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until creamy and well combined with no lumps. Mix in the vanilla, egg and lemon juice until combined. Pour over the apple filling and spread evenly. Bake at 350 until the filling is set (appeox 20-30 minutes). Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for a minumum of 4 hours or overnight.

Before serving, make the Cinnamon Whipped Cream (directions above). Remove the sides of the springform pan and decorate/garnish with the whipped cream as desired. Store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

The layers of the caramel, pecans, carmelized apples and cheesecake filling we soooo good

Setting the mood for the afternoon....

A closeup of the Cranberry Mojito....yummm

Here's a shot of the Green Beans & Potatoes, we thought the colors in the dish were so pretty and the flavors were great

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