Pecan Cranberry Green Beans

I think one of my last posts was about how I don’t do too many side dish recipes on here. Well, here’s another one. I make these green beans for Thanksgiving every year. Sometimes for Christmas as well. They are always a hit and are so easy, you can make them any night of the year.

If you want to call it a recipe, you can, but the amounts are entirely up to you. I eyeball everything.

Fresh green beans (not canned!), trimmed and snapped in half

Bacon, cut into small pieces

Pecans, roughly chopped

Leeks, sliced in half moons

Dried cranberries (big handful)

Cook the green beans until crisp-tender. You can boil them for a few minutes or you can microwave them with a little water. My microwave has a fresh veggie setting that cooked them perfectly. You want them soft, but al dente.

In a skillet, crisp up your bacon. I used about 8 slices of bacon for a pound of green beans. Remove the bacon from the skillet, but keep the rendered fat. You really only need a couple tablespoons, so if there’s a lot, you can discard some, but keep at minimum 2-3 tablespoons.

To the rendered bacon grease, add your sliced leeks and cook until soft and starting to caramelize. Add the green beans, pecans, cranberries and bacon back to the skillet and toss altogether. Taste to see if you need salt and pepper, but you probably won’t.

This comes together within minutes, so save until the last minute and serve it warm.

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Cranberry Brie Appetizer Bites  

Full Disclosure here: This is not my recipe. I got from one of those recipe videos that are all over everyone’s Facebook/Instagram feeds. I don’t remember which one, but it was definitely either Tasty or Delish.

Either way, these are so yummy! I made them as a Thanksgiving appetizer, but you could use them for Christmas. Or New Years. Or any random Tuesday for that matter. They are super easy and really tasty.

You just need a wheel of brie cheese, a tube (or two; I’ll explain in a minute) of crescent roll dough, chopped pecans, and prepared cranberry sauce. Rosemary is optional.

In the video, they used a sheet of crescent roll dough without any perforations to make the triangles into crescents. I can’t find that particular item in any stores near me, so I bought two tubes of the dough with the perforations and just sort of “mushed” everything together to create my own solid sheet of dough. Then I cut the dough into small squares to fit into a mini muffin tin. My mini muffin tin has 24 spaces so I made 24 squares and placed a square of dough into each cup.

Then, cut the brie into the same amount of cubes and placed them into the cup on top of the dough.

I topped each one with a small spoonful of prepared cranberry sauce. I made my own (recipe here), but you can use your own recipe or buy canned. Make sure it is the whole berry sauce though, not the jellied. Finally, sprinkle the chopped pecans on top of each one.  The video also topped each one with a few rosemary leaves, but honestly, I couldn’t taste any rosemary, so you could probably leave it off.

After you have assembled everything, bake at 375 for 15 minutes.

Serve warm or at minimum room temp.  We had some leftover and they are not quite as good cold from the fridge.

Butternut Squash “Noodles” with Bacon and Goat Cheese

I love all the flavors of Fall and anytime I can put them together in a new way, I’m all about it. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a side dish on here, but this one was definitely worth it. I mean, it has bacon and goat cheese in it, so it couldn’t possibly be bad, right? We all know goat cheese is life.
 

If you are braver than I am, you can cut your butternut squash yourself and use a spiralizer to make your “noodles”. I, however, am terrified of cutting hard-skinned squashes for fear of stabbing myself. I either enlist the hubby to do it (although I still have a fear of watching, lest he also stab himself) or I just buy it precut, like these cute zig zag cut noodles from Trader Joe’s.

 

Anyway, once you get the noodles taken care of, you are on your way to a quick and easy and (most importantly) delicious side dish.

Butternut Squash “Noodles” with Bacon and Goat Cheese

1 butternut squash cut into “noodles” (or about 12 oz from a store-bought container)

4 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces

1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced

2 sprigs worth of fresh thyme, minced

Goat cheese to your heart’s content

In a skillet over medium heat, cook your bacon until crispy. Remove from skillet to a paper towel-lined plate.

 

In the same skillet with the bacon grease, add your butternut squash noodles. 


Cook until softened. Just before they are done, add the sage and thyme. You can add a little bit of salt and pepper if you want, but the bacon is pretty salty, so you shouldn’t have to. Stir to incorporate and when the squash is done, remove from the heat and transfer to your serving dish.

Add the bacon back in and the goat cheese. Since you cook the noodles in the bacon grease, you lose the orange of the squash a bit and it isn’t the prettiest dish, but it tastes really yummy!

Soft Pumpkin Spice Cookies 

Call it basic if you want, but I love the wonderful Fall goodness that comes from the pumpkin spice flavor. Plus, the aroma that fills your house while you are baking anything with cinnamon and nutmeg is hard to beat. 

My mom came over for dinner the other night and I know she’s a fan of pumpkin as well, so I whipped up a batch of these cookies. I pretty much wanted to see what would happen if I added pumpkin and spices to a regular sugar cookie recipe. These turned out so soft and pillowy with a great Fall flavor anyone would love. 

Soft Pumpkin Spice Cookies

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated if possible

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1 cup unsalted butter, softened 

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon caramel extract (optional)

1/2 cup (canned) pumpkin puree
In a large bowl bowl, add flour, baking powder and spices. Stir with whisk to combine.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until smooth and fluffy.

Add egg, vanilla, caramel (if using), and pumpkin and beat to combine.
Scrap down the sides of your bowl with a spatula.
While the mixer is running on low, add the flour mixture, slowly.
Mix until all of the flour is incorporated, and the mixture begins to ball up and pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

When the dough has chilled, knead the dough on a lightly floured surface into a ball. Pull off about pieces of dough and roll into balls. I used about 2” balls and pressed them with a cookie press. You could do whatever size you want to make your cookies. If you don’t have a press, you can always flatten the dough balls with the bottom of a glass. 

Bake cookies in a pre-heated, 350*F oven, on ungreased baking sheets 9-11 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies.

Cranberry Goat Cheese Spread (the sequel)

I’ll just start by saying this, out loud, right now: I could eat this stuff with a spoon! Straight out of the bowl. Who needs crackers to get in the way? No crackers makes it carb-friendly, right??

I’ve made a spread/dip similar to this before, but I thought this was different enough to warrant it’s own post. And to avoid confusion, I call this one “Cranberry Goat Cheese Spread” instead of “Goat Cheese Cranberry Spread”. See? Not confusing at all. We’re all on the same page, right?

The differences in the spreads are the ratio of goat cheese to cream cheese is reversed in this one and I used fresh cranberry sauce instead of dried cranberries. I think it makes all the difference.

It’s super easy and a great appetizer. And it looks really festive when you pair it with fun Holiday-themed Wheat Thins! Or, you know, just a spoon.

Cranberry Goat Cheese Spread

8 oz goat cheese with honey (this is the food of the gods, let me tell you. I find this easily at Trader Joe’s. If you can’t find anything like this, just add some honey to the spread. Maybe a tablespoon? Start there and taste test…)


4 oz whipped cream cheese (the whipped kind makes it easier to mix together)


A couple sprinkles of ground cinnamon

½ cup cranberry sauce (you can use homemade, leftover, from the can… whatever you want)

In a bowl, mix together the goat cheese and cream cheese. Then sprinkle in your cinnamon and add your cranberry sauce and mix until the whole thing is well combined.

 

Serve with Wheat Thins or whatever cracker you want.


See what I mean? So simple, but so delicious! You and your guests will devour this!

The Perfectly Roasted Turkey

Let’s talk turkey!

I meant to post this back on Thanksgiving, but I got a little busy. It’s ok, you can save it for next year. Or even if you want to do a turkey for Christmas.

Roasting a turkey seems really intimidating because turkey meat tends to dry out. It really isn’t that hard though and ever since I’ve done it this way, I’ve had a perfectly roasted turkey every year.

Start with a dry brine. You can buy one, like this great one from Williams-Sonoma, or you can make your own, which is what I did this year:

1-1/2 cups of kosher salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons onion powder

About 4 tablespoons poultry seasoning (it was ½ of the small McCormick container of the poultry seasoning)

Mix together. Clean out your turkey (remove the neck and giblets bag) and dry the outside. Cover the whole bird with your brine. It’s OK to put it on really thick.


Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 24 hours.

Meanwhile, make your herb compound butter:

Take 1 stick of room temperature butter (you’ll want it really soft), and mix in:

2 tablespoons fresh sage, minced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced

Heavy pinch of salt

 

Put the butter in plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to use. The day you need it, take it out of the fridge and bring it back to room temperature. This butter could really be used on just about anything.

 

When you are ready to roast your turkey, unwrap it and rinse off all the brine. Dry it off and rub the whole thing with your compound butter. Make sure you get under the skin. This is pretty easy to do.

 

Put the bird in the roasting bag with some flour (see instructions on the roasting bags). I’ve also tried it where I put the bird in the bag and then put the butter on it. Either way works. I found them both to be about the same level of difficulty.

Put half an onion and all the herbs from one of those plastic packages at the grocery store of the Poultry blend in the cavity. Close the bag and cut a few slits in the top of the bag.

 

Roast at 350 degrees for about 2-3 hours or so depending on the size of your turkey. The roasting bag box will give you the correct instructions.

 

These roasting bags will help you immensely! You don’t have to worry about basting or anything. You just put the bird in the oven and set your timer.

Let the turkey sit for about 30 minutes before you start to carve it.

 

Now pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy your Thanksgiving or Christmas or holiday or really any day. Where is the rule that you can’t just roast a turkey whenever you feel like it? 😊

Boozy Pumpkin Pie

I’m sure for most people, when they think of Thanksgiving dessert, they think of pumpkin pie first. In fact, according to the many Pie polls I saw, pumpkin was the number one choice.

Since pumpkin pie is pretty traditional, I decided to shake things up a bit.

Allow me to introduce to you, dear reader, my Boozy Pumpkin Pie.

That’s right. This guy took a shot of whiskey before hitting the oven. And after a taste during the doneness test, I can assure it, that shot of Jack was the right decision!

It is really yummy! It has just a hint of Jack and the alcohol cooks off, so it’s a winner for all ages. 

Boozy Pumpkin Pie

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon each: ground cloves, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, ground allspice 

Pinch of salt

1 can pumpkin (15oz) 

1 can evaporated milk (12oz) 

2 eggs

1-1/2 oz Jack Daniels 

In a small bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, salt, and other spices.

In a larger bowl, combine your eggs, pumpkin, and evaporated milk. Mix well. Add the sugar/spice mix. 

Add the Jack. I used the whole mini bottle.

Pour into an unbaked pie shell and bake at 425 for 15 minutes then 350 for 40-50 minutes.

Next: top with some whipped cream and watch this become a new favorite.