Monday, November 28, 2011

Apple & Toasted Pecan Cornbread Dressing

This Thanksgiving, I decided to change things up just a tiny bit.   Since the dressing is Brad's very favorite dish during the holidays, I always make this Classic Cornbread Dressing with Sausage, which is his VERY favorite.  The holiday just wouldn't be complete with it, and I'd have A LOT of explaining to do if I didn't make it for him...hah.  I needed to make extra dressing this year to take to family gatherings, so I thought it might be a good opportunity to try something new.

Our local Fox station has just recently started a brand-new cooking segment on the morning news show, where they feature a local chef whipping up a fabulous dish.  They even unveiled a beautiful new kitchen to use on the show.  One morning before Thanksgiving, Chef Chris Zapalowski from Homewood Gourmet made this Apple-Pecan Cornbread Dressing, and my mouth my drooling by the time the segment was over.  I knew then that this dish would grace our Thanksgiving table.

You can see the video of Chef Zapalowski making this dish HERE!

I'm so glad that I tried something new.  The sauteed apples that are added to the traditional onions and celery mixture really kicks things up a notch and adds such a wonderfully sweet flavor to the entire dish.  The bacon and toasted pecans just go one step further to make this an incredible recipe that will surely be added to my regular holiday rotation.

Bon Appetit!!!

Source:  Recipe courtesy of Chef Chris Zapalowski of Homewood Gourmet

½ cup unsalted butter
3 cups yellow or white cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups buttermilk

1 teaspoon olive oil
6 slices bacon
2 cups diced onions
1½ cups diced celery
3 cups peeled, cored, and diced apple, such as Cumberland Spur or Fuji
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons dry rubbed sage
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne
1½ cups toasted pecans
4 ½ cups reduced-sodium chicken or turkey broth
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

To Prepare the Cornbread:

Place ½ cup butter in a 9 x 13-inch baking pan; heat in oven at 425° for 4 minutes.

Combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; whisk in eggs and buttermilk. Pour hot butter into batter, stirring until blended. Pour batter back into 9 x 13-inch pan. Bake at 425°F for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer cornbread to a cooling rack and cool completely. Crumble cooled cornbread into a large bowl and set aside. Reduce oven to 350°F.

To Prepare the Dressing:
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, 8 to 10 minutes or until crispy. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, cool slightly, chop and set aside. Add onion, celery and apples to the skillet and sauté 1 minute. Add garlic and thyme and continue cooking for 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened.

Spoon onion mixture into bowl with cornbread crumbles. Stir in sage, salt, pepper, cayenne, pecans, and reserved bacon. Whisk together broth, butter, and eggs and pour over cornbread mixture, tossing until well moistened.

Spoon dressing into a lightly greased 11 x 15-inch (about 5 quart) baking dish and bake covered at 350°F for 30 to 35 minutes. Uncover and cook and additional 10 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Serve hot.

GDA Cooking - November 11, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

This year, I wanted to compile a list of some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes for you all.  Some of these are family recipes that have graced our table year after year, while others are more recent dishes that I've made and thought, "That would be perfect for Thanksgiving!"

Right now, there's a 24-lb turkey thawing in the bottom of our fridge, and I can't wait to roast him up!  This is the BIGGEST turkey I've ever attempted to roast, so let's hope it turns out okay.  I may do a combination of the two recipes below.  The Bacon-Herb Butter from Picture #1 that's placed underneath the turkey's skin is amazing, so I may do that but still top Mr. Turkey with the bacon and maple glaze from the second recipe.  Hmm...I'm still trying to decide.  I made the Roast Turkey with Bacon-Herb Butter in 2009, and the Maple Glazed Roast Turkey with Applewood Smoked Bacon last year.

I hope your family has a wonderful Thanksgiving this year, filled with delicious food and great times spent together.

Just click on the links below to see the full recipes.
Bon Appetit, my friends!  :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Salmon in Lemon Brodetto with Pea Puree

Wait!!  Stop right there!  Don't let the "pea puree" in the title scare you away...haha.

I know, I know...When we hear the two little words "pea puree," thoughts of irresistible deliciousness aren't usually the first things that come to mind.  However, maybe it's time to give peas a chance.

This dish from Giada de Laurentiis will put all those unsavory thoughts that pea puree sometimes conjures up to rest.  After all, this isn't just any old pea puree...It's flavored with fresh mint, garlic and grated Parmesan.  Plus, when paired with the Lemon Brodetto and seared salmon, you've got one pretty amazing dinner on your table.  

Every time I serve this dish, my husband insists that it looks (and tastes) like something you'd order in a 5-star restaurant.  It makes such a beautiful presentation, and you know what??  It's so EASY to make, too.

The Lemon Brodetto has such a great flavor, and the pea puree sort of melts into the brodetto as you eat it.  Simply delicious!

Bon Appetit!

Salmon in Lemon Brodetto with Pea Puree
Source:  Everyday Italian;  Giada de Laurentiis


Lemon Brodetto:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves

Pea Puree:

  • 2 cups frozen peas, thawed (about 10 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 (4 to 6-ounce) pieces salmon
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


To make the Lemon Brodetto, warm the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the lemon juice, zest, and broth. Bring to a simmer, and keep warm, covered, over low heat. 

To make the Pea Puree, combine the peas, mint, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor and puree. With the machine running, add the olive oil in a steady drizzle. Transfer the pea puree to a small bowl and stir in the Parmesan. Set aside. 

To make the Salmon, warm the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Season the salmon pieces with salt and pepper. Sear the salmon until a golden crust forms, about 4 to 5 minutes on the first side. Flip the fish and continue cooking until medium-rare, about 2 minutes more depending on the thickness of the fish. 

To assemble the dish, add the tablespoon chopped mint to the Lemon Brodetto and divide between 4 shallow dishes. Place a large spoonful of Pea Puree into the center of each bowl. Place a salmon piece atop each mound of Pea Puree. Serve immediately.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Vegetable Tian - Ina Garten

Are you looking for a veggie filled side dish that's got a pretty presentation?  Ina Garten's recipe for Vegetable Tian fits the bill perfectly!  This dish is easy to put together and is a great way to use up some yummy produce.  The colors of this recipe make you want to dive right in!

The combination of the potatoes, zucchini and tomatoes makes this a one-stop recipe.  Your starch and your veggies are all right need for a second dish to round out the meal.  And the Gruyere cheese...Oh my!  Gruyere has GOT to be one of my favorite varieties of cheese.  If you look closely at the photos, you can see that I actually had to substitute a little cheddar cheese since I didn't have enough Gruyere.  It tasted great, and I'm sure you could substitute your favorite if you aren't crazy about Gruyere.

This dish is so pretty that it would make a great addition to your holiday table this season.

Bon Appetit!!

Before going into the oven...

Vegetable Tian
Source:  Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten

  • Good olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, cut in half and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound medium round potatoes, unpeeled
  • 3/4 pound zucchini
  • 1 1/4 pounds medium tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus extra sprigs
  • 2 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 

Brush a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking dish with olive oil. In a medium saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the onions over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Spread the onion mixture on the bottom of the baking dish.

Slice the potatoes, zucchini, and tomatoes in 1/4-inch thick slices. Layer them alternately in the dish on top of the onions, fitting them tightly, making only 1 layer. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme leaves, and thyme sprigs and drizzle with 1 more tablespoon of olive oil. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

Uncover the dish, remove the thyme sprigs, sprinkle the cheese on top, and bake for another 30 minutes until browned. Serve warm.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Quick Macaroni & Cheese

It's beginning to feel more and more like the holidays around here with each passing day.  A few homes in our neighborhood even have Christmas lights up...I can't believe it's November already!  Christmas music is playing in most stores and on the radio, the department store aisles are decorated, and I'm getting in the mood for the yummy, comfort food that this time of year brings.

I can't quite decide how I feel about the rush to put up the Christmas decor.  On one hand, I'm super excited, and on the other I keep thinking about that saying - "Respect the turkey!"  Now, don't get me wrong - I still get excited about Christmas just like when I was a little girl.  My tree goes up every year promptly the day after Thanksgiving.  Hopefully everyone will still take a moment to remember all the things they are thankful for during the coming weeks.

With that, let's celebrate the approaching holiday season with some yumminess - How about a quick, simple and delicious Macaroni & Cheese recipe?!?  Sounds good, right?

This particular recipe is worlds away from the neon yellow variety that comes out of a blue box.  This is the real thing...A creamy, cheesy bechamel sauce envelopes each little piece of elbow pasta.  I used  whole wheat pasta to make it a teeny bit healthier.  I also added a dash of nutmeg to the sauce.  Yum!

Try this dish soon - You'll love it.

Bon Appetit!

Quick Macaroni & Cheese
Source:  Simply Recipes


  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 lb cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups, packed)
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup ham, chopped into 1/4 inch cubes (I left this out)
  • Freshly grated black pepper
  • A dash of nutmeg (my addition)


1 In a medium sized bowl, mix corn starch into the grated cheese, so that the cheese is coated, set aside. This will help the cheese from getting too stringy.

2 Bring 2 quarts of water with the tablespoon of salt to a boil in thick-bottomed saucepan. Add the elbow macaroni and follow the cooking time instructions on the package, minus about 2 minutes. (If your macaroni doesn't come with instructions, start checking at 7 minutes). Cook until al dente - cooked through, but still slightly firm. Drain the water from the cooking pan.

3 While the macaroni is cooking, prepare the sauce. Melt the butter in a large saucepan on medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Slowly dribble in the milk, while whisking (to avoid clumping) until the sauce is smooth. Slowly add the grated cheese, while whisking, until smooth. Stir in the nutmeg and lemon juice. Add the cooked, drained macaroni and ham. Do not over-mix. Sprinkle in some freshly grated black pepper.

Serve immediately.

Yield: Serves 3-4 adults or 4-6 kids.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween Party 2011

Boy oh boy, do we love Halloween time around our house!  We look forward to our annual Halloween bash every year, and this year was no exception!  I knew it would be hard topping the "Blood Fondue Bar" from last year, but I think I may have pulled it off this year with yummy tricks and treats!  

The menu consisted of:
Forked Eyeballs
Mummy Dogs
Slime-Covered Apples
Pumpkin Apple Spice Cake
Blood-Splattered Popcorn
Secondhand Swabs
Witches Wands
Nutty Ghosts
Kidney Stew
Bat Brew (aka coffee)

Sounds yummy, right?!?

I was so happy that so many of our family members got to come.  My sisters, and my aunt, uncle and cousin even came from out of town.  I couldn't have pulled the party off without their help! We were excited to dress up and have some fun with everybody!  After all, you're never too grown-up to put on a costume and party, right??

Here are some fun shots from the night...I'll start with the food:

Slime-Covered Apples (aka Caramel Apples!)

I used Caramel Bits...they worked great!!  The caramel didn't turn hard on the apples, so they were still easy to eat. 

"Forked Eyeballs"
These were doughnut holes speared with a fork and dipped in white chocolate, and decorated with one semi-sweet chocolate chip and red icing.
"Mummy Dogs"
Aren't these little guys adorable???  Simply cut a beef frank in half, cut crescent rolls into thin strips, and then wrap them around the beef franks.  Finish them off with two dots of mustard for eyes.

"Nutty Ghosts"
These are simple...just dip Nutter Butters in white chocolate and add two mini chocolate chips for eyes!

"Witches Wands"
These were my favorite!  Just dip pretzel rods into white chocolate and decorate with your favorite Halloween themed sprinkles.

"Secondhand Swabs"
Gross!!!  Brad came up with the name for these.  They are mini marshmallows dipped into caramel...using a toothpick.

"Blood-Splattered Popcorn"
To make this, just melt some butter and stir in enough red food coloring to turn it a deep red color.  Drizzle over popcorn and give the bowl a good stir.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Apple Spice Cake

"Kidney Stew"
(aka Carol's Famous Chili)

Yes, I was Snow

Me and the hubby...
Who you gonna call???

Final preparations before the guests start arriving...

Brad surprised me with a fog machine one afternoon before the party...I loved it.  It made our entrance extra spooky!


A pair of farmers and flowers...How adorable are they?!?

A kitty cat!

We had a costume contest, and "The Baby" was the official winner!  I must have the greatest mom-in-law ever!  ;-)

My sweet angel of a niece.

A pirate and a goddess!  (aka my Aunt Julie and Suzanne)

Me and my sisters

Group shot!

Spooky Centerpiece