I’m pumpkined out! Are you? Let’s face it, we are living with pumpkins since mid October, if not earlier.
All I see is PUMPKIN!
It starts with the carving for Halloween and doesn’t leave us until the last weekend of November. Wherever I turn I see pumpkins. And if I don’t see it, I smell it, or taste it, or read about it. I even had a pumpkin peel at my last facial. Eesh! Pumpkins are everywhere. You cannot avoid them.
Last night, I went out for sushi and was offered the special: Tuna Pumpkin Roll.
I was close to a pumpkin breakdown but controlled myself. “I’ll have just a regular tuna roll,” I said to the waiter.
But the Asian restaurant insisted on offering me something with pumpkin. They were also featuring a Pumpkin Tea. “Just for the month,” he promised.
You can bet that 48 hours before the Thanksgiving feast I’m changing the menu—I’m pushing the pumpkin aside. Graciously, I’ll apologize to my family and friends for the missing pumpkin pie, or pumpkin cheesecake, or any pumpkin desert and I’ll serve them a light, refreshing cranberry trifle.
You might think I’m losing it—but I’m not. I promise you that the cranberry trifle will make a beautiful statement to end the feast. Its colorful presentation is vibrant. It will capture everyone’s attention and will bring the energy back to the table. And did I mention it’s an easy recipe to follow, even if left until Thanksgiving morning? On the other hand, you can make it up to three days in advance and assemble it on the morning of Thanksgiving.
My guests greatly enjoy my cooking and hospitality and rave about my unique creations. Try this trifle this year and it will turn your Thanksgiving feast into a memorable celebration.
So let’s head to the kitchen, put on our aprons and get cooking!
Click here to find out what you’ll need to gather and do.
Let me know what your guests think of this delicious creation.
I’ll bet the turkey battle has crossed your mind more than once during the past few weeks. You may even be experiencing turkey fever by now.
Fresh! Frozen! Organic! Free-range! With or without a pop-up timer! The choices are endless. Eventually, you will buy at least one turkey for your holiday feast.
Most likely you’re already debating which recipe to follow. I know it’s hard to decide—there are so many. I’ve tried them all—marinating it, deep frying it, smoking it, wrapping it in bacon, cooking it on a can of beer, stuffing it with traditional dressing, stuffing it with dried fruits and chestnuts, soaking it in whiskey or even buying a fully cooked one from a gourmet shop.
I still have yet to find a recipe that will turn a turkey into a gourmet meal—a turkey is still turkey. No, I’m not asking you for a new promising recipe. I’ve already given up.
So I’m going to leave you to fight with the big bird and to follow whatever recipe you choose. I doubt you’ll create a miracle and turn that bird into a beef tenderloin or a rack of lamb, maybe not even a chicken.
But trust me, if you serve your turkey with my cranberry sauce I promise you that your turkey will be given two thumbs up. (You can’t tell my mother about this or she will never share any more of her secrets with me.)
Mom’s Cranberry Sauce
1 bottle of Ruby Port
1 ½ cups sugar
2 cups (1 pack) fresh rinsed cranberries
1 tbsp. frozen concentrated orange juice (do not dilute)
1 ½ tbsp. fresh ginger—grated
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
Place the wine and sugar in a pot. Bring to a boil until sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally.
Add the rest: cranberries, orange juice, ginger and garlic.
Cook over low-medium heat until reduced to 3 cups.
Press the mixture through a fine sieve over a bowl.
Add the residual from the sieve back into the strained mixture.
Place in a nice serving bowl, cover and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours before serving.
Follow my upcoming blogs for more delicious holiday recipes.
Gobble, Gobble, Gobble…Happy Cooking!
One of my favorite holidays is coming up—Thanksgiving! The best part about this fall holiday is, of course, spending time with family—but this is closely followed by the obligatory Thanksgiving green bean casserole. My family, your family, and millions of others across America will take part in our autumn feast this month, and for many, this side dish has a permanent place on the menu.
Yes, I’m writing an entire blog post about green bean casseroles. I’m sure you can see how passionate I am about this dish!
I’m a stickler for tradition, and among my favorite Thanksgiving customs, apart from the turkey and stuffing, is my green bean casserole. I have a mean recipe for the holiday dish, which I’m so excited to share with you!
Every year while in the kitchen, preparing the Thanksgiving feast, I wonder: how did the green bean casserole become such a staple in the American Thanksgiving meal?
Turns out, the green bean casserole was first invented by Campbell’s (the soup company) in 1955 when the company sought to create a quick, easy recipe that called for two things most Americans had in their pantries—green beans and cream of mushroom soup. The classic recipe can be found here.
Since then, the classic recipe has been modified to fit a variety of tastes and styles. In addition to keeping with society’s trend of eating less processed foods, I’m happy to share my own twist with you.
2 quarts water
2 lbs fresh green beans, ends snapped, cut to your preferred size
1 lb baby portabella mushrooms, cleaned with stems off and sliced
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 ½ tbsp. minced fresh garlic
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
2 to 3 tbsp. Wondra Quick-Mixing Flour
1 ½ cups chicken stock or broth
2 tbsp. dry sherry
1 ½ cups half & half cream (don’t use fat free, it will not thicken)
3 slices whole grain bread (day old bread works best)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2.8 oz can French fried onions (or follow my own fried onion recipe below*)
Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
Bring water to a boil. Add green beans. Cover and cook until crisp and tender (about 6 minutes). Drain beans and add to ice bath for a few minutes to stop the cooking. Drain again and dry beans well on a double layer of paper towels.
While beans are drying, melt butter in a 6 quart pan. Add the mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms begin to soften, about 6 minutes, stir often. Gradually stir in 2 tbsp. of Wondra flour and cook for a few minutes. Add chicken stock and sherry and bring to a simmer. Add half and half and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning and thickness to your preference. Stir cooked beans into sauce mixture and coat well.
Prepare the topping. Combine the bread, butter, fried onions and seasoning in a food processor. Pulse until mixed but not smooth (about 15 pulses). Set aside.
Pre-heat oven to 425 ˚F. Place bean mixture into a 9 x 12, greased casserole dish. Sprinkle the topping over the beans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
This dish can be prepared a day before. When doing so, assemble according to directions but do not add topping. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator 2 hours prior to cooking to bring to room temperature. Remove plastic wrap, pre-heat oven to 425 ˚F. Cook for 25 minutes. Sprinkle topping over the dish and bake for additional 10 to 15 minutes.
*Homemade Fried Onion:
4 medium yellow onions
3 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cup olive oil
Peel onions and slice thinly. Pull rings apart and place on a large flat plate. Sprinkle with the flour and salt, and coat well using your fingers. Heat the oil in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium-high and carefully add about one third of the onion. Make sure the rings are not touching one another. Fry for approximately 2 to 3 minutes, and turn over using a spatula. Fry for another 2 to 3 minutes until onions turn a nice light golden brown. Adjust heat so onion doesn’t fry too quickly. Use a fork to transfer the onion rings onto a plate with a double layer of paper towel. Repeat for the other two batches of onion. Add oil if needed before frying the next batch.
Whether you follow my recipe, Campbell’s original recipe, or add your own twist on this beloved dish, it’s critical to include green bean casserole as part of your Thanksgiving meal. It’s an American tradition! Thanksgiving just isn’t the same without green bean casserole!
Feel free to share your favorite green bean casserole recipe with me.
Happy cooking and Bon Appétit!
Do you or your spouse get jealous? How often? A little jealousy might be flattering, but when it becomes obsessive, it can ruin a relationship.
I often receive emails from fans, requesting my advice on matters related to their love lives. Truly, I’m flattered—who wouldn’t be? But we all know that I’m not Dr. Ruth, or Dr. Phil, I’m not even a PhD—just an RN and an author. Seriously, my degrees are not in counseling.
Yet I’ll admit, the reality of romance and relationships nourishes my heart and challenges my brain.
So here I go,
The Reasons Behind Jealous Behavior
There are a number of reasons why people may exhibit feelings of jealousy, but the two most common are: a perceived threat by the presence of another man or woman, or a lack of trust in one's partner. Yet at the core of jealousy are more serious issues including poor self-esteem and a fear of abandonment. Although jealousy may be triggered by something your partner does, it really stems from your own deeply rooted issues. The partner’s behavior is merely a trigger.
How to Deal with Jealousy
We are creatures of habit and we form relationships because we learn early on in life the benefit of it: survive and thrive. However, our early experiences in life can impact the quality of the relationships we build in later years.
Being aware of what triggers jealousy provides the opportunity to correct destructive behavior. Jealous behavior can be modified by the same kind of conditioning by which it was created.
The key to behavior modification is establishing strong communication skills to help eliminate feelings of jealousy. Discussing what each person wants from the relationship provides an understanding of how to meet each other’s needs. An honest account of what makes you feel jealous can solve problems before they begin.
Communication is huge in any relationship because none of us are mind readers. Your partner can't correct his or her own behavior until he or she knows how it makes you feel. If your partner does something that makes you feel terrible, that's the perfect opportunity to communicate how you feel. You might say, “I get really jealous when I see you talking with John, especially when he makes you laugh.”
At the same time, it's important for the object of jealousy to reassure the partner. Remember, you partner’s behavior stems from fear of the perceived threat. So, follow-up with a secure and positive message to alleviate any fears. For example, you could say, "John is just a friend. You are my boyfriend and he is respectful of that. I love you and want to be only with you, so there's no need to feel jealous of John."
Maintaining a healthy and balanced relationship is a daily commitment. You have to strive not only to communicate, but to develop more confidence in yourself, to avoid controlling behavior, and to nurture trust in your partner—don’t let assumptions run wild.
Remember that while jealousy can, at low levels of intensity, stimulate communication, revive passion, and bring two partners closer together, in higher doses, it can destroy relationships and self esteem. It is always best to work on your issues from childhood relationships, to avoid repeating negative behavior patterns with future romantic partners.
I will be happy to hear from you how I did on matters clearly outside of my field.