Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Company Carrots

This recipe has been in my family as long as I can remember.  If you've attended a Lister Family soirée or been a guest at one of the 16 Thanksgivings I've hosted, chances are you've not only tasted this dish, but have asked for the recipe by name...repeatedly (Andy, Jenn, Wendy, Marta, I'm looking at you and know I've totally slacked).

I don't know why it's called company carrots, other than it was always a dish my grandmother served for large dinner parties where inevitably, company was present.  Over the years that I've been making it, I've updated and (I'd like to think) improved upon it. I use more fresh ingredients and put it together in a slightly different way, while still maintaining the flavor and integrity of the dish that made it the beloved favorite that it remains today. 


5 lbs of carrots, julienned
       (I use packaged baby carrots-- yes, I know they are not really baby carrots-- for two reasons. 1)    
       They are already peeled- and it saves extra work. 2) The length is the perfect size (which again
       saves extra cutting work) for julienning, all you have to do is slice them in half, and then in half 
       again one or two more times. And before you ask, yes... julienne is that important to the recipe. 
       It's what allows for the sauce to trickle down and flavor all the carrots, making each bite better 
       than the last.  I did it with whole carrots one time, only one time. The extra work is worth it. Trust 


3/4 cup of the liquid the carrots cooked in
1 cup Mayonnaise
3 TBSP prepared horseradish 
2 TBSP Dijon mustard
1/4 cup white onion, minced 
1-2 cups of panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup of butter, melted
1 bunch of Italian parsley, leaves removed and diced


Preheat oven to 350.

Butter the inside of a 9x13 baking dish.

Bring a large stockpot of water to boil. Once boiling, add in carrots and cook until easily pierced by a fork. Approximately 10 minutes. Drain carrots, reserving 1/2 cup of cooking liquid. When carrots are dry, pour into baking dish.

In a separate bowl combine cooking liquid, mayo, onion, horseradish, mustard, and a pinch of salt. Mix with a fork until ingredients are combined. Spoon over carrots. 

Toss panko, parsley, and a pinch of salt. Sprinkle mixture gently over the top of the carrots. You aren't trying to create a thick crust, instead just a layer similar to a dessert crumble. Drizzle melted butter butter over the top.

Bake 30-45 minutes, until panko is a golden brown. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Turkey Stock

I typically don't make my own stock. Ever. Even though I know how incredibly easy it is to do, I still find it easier to pop open a box top. Always.

Except when it comes to Thanksgiving. The key to my pan gravy is the flavor, and part of that key is making my own, fresh, homemade turkey stock. 

Which I do religiously, every Thanksgiving Eve.  Jamie comes home with the fresh turkey, and I make stock. Like clockwork.


Turkey neck and giblets (I don't use the liver, but you? May feel free to do so if you choose)
8 cups of drinking water
3-4 carrots, lightly peeled and chopped in 4-6 pieces
4 celery stalks, chopped in 4-6 pieces
1 rosemary sprig
2 thyme sprigs
1/2  bunch of Italian parsley
1 bay leaf
1 TBSP whole black pepper corns
Large pinch of salt


Place all ingredients in large stockpot. Bring water to boil. Turn heat to low and let simmer 2 hours.

Strain ingredients using cheesecloth or other fine sieve. Refrigerate liquid overnight. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Winter Wild Rice Salad

I first came up with this dish when I was coming up with additional sides for Thanksgiving... But let's be honest, you can use it for any occasion.  It's a great side dish and, since it's served cold, you can use it any time of the year. The only reason I've termed it "winter" is because of its colors... The red and the green play against the wild rice nicely.

Too be fair, it's not solely wild rice, I use a rice blend... However, you could use only wild rice if you wanted, and I think it would be just as pretty.  And definitely as tasty!


1 cup wild rice
1 cup long grained white rice
2 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
4 cups of chicken stock (you can substitute vegetable stock to make a vegetarian version)
1 package of dried cranberries, chopped
6 green onions, white and light green part only, sliced
4 celery stems sliced and chopped
1/2 bunch of Italian parsley, leaves pulled and chopped
Juice and zest of one orange
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 TBSP Orange Marmalade
2 TBSP Dijon Marmalade
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste


Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add garlic, and stir for one minute. Add in rice, and sauté for 3 minutes. Add in chicken stock and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to low, cover. Cook until rice has absorbed stock, between 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool.

In a separate bowl, whisk orange juice, zest, vinegar, marmalade, Dijon, and oil. 

Add half of dressing to rice, and let sit overnight. 

Before serving, add cranberries, onions, celery and parsley to rice. Taste and add salt and pepper, and additional dressing as needed to taste.

Compound Herb Butter

Compound butter is a Fancy Nancy way of saying butter with stuff in it. It's sounds a lot more involved than it actually is. Making it is not complicated whatsoever.  But don't let it's simplicity fool you. It's this little, uncomplicated, butter that lends its flavor to all of the things that make Thanksgiving taste like Thanksgiving.

This particular compound butter I make the night before Thanksgiving.  I flavor it with the same herbs I use to roast my turkey, the same herbs I use to season my homemade turkey stock, and it's these same herbs that will flavor my pan gravy... Because this butter? Is what gets it all started.

I use this butter to coat the turkey; all over the top of the skin to help brown it, under the skin to keep the meat moist, and in the cavity to create flavorful drippings.  I use this butter, as it's melting, to baste the turkey throughout its roasting time. And finally? It's this butter, after the turkey has finished roasting and it's picked up every last morsel of flavor, that I use as the fat to form the base of my pan gravy.

Because this butter? Is the mainstay of my Thanksgiving. 


1 lb (4 sticks) of butter, softened
1 bunch of rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped
1 bunch Italian parsley, leaves stripped, and chopped
1 bunch of thyme, leaves stripped

Once butter is soft enough to be malleable, in a large bowl, use your hands to mix in fresh herbs with butter. Knead until evenly combined. Shape into a rough cylinder and wrap with Saran Wrap. 

Refrigerate overnight. 


I can't guarantee that Hamentaschen is a real word, or even a real cookie. What I am sure of, is how delicious these cookies are. Hamentaschen is what my Dad called them, when he would whip these little morsels out, so forevermore Hamentaschen is what they will be to me.

What they will be to you, is a tender cookie, rolled flat, filled with fruit, and popped in your mouth one after another. 

Whatever you want to call them, you'll love them. This? I can guarantee.

My dad said they were traditionally filled with prunes or poppy seeds, but he always filled them with an apricot mixture. When I first started making these as a Thanksgiving complement, I also created a Cran-raspberry flavor. I loved how the cookies looked with vibrant orange and red fruit poking out of the middle; playing off both the colors and the flavors of the Holiday. My favorite is the apricot... try them both and see what you think. Either way, you'll find them delicious.

For the dough...


2 eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla paste
Zest of one orange 
Juice of one orange
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour (up to 1 additional cup may be necessary)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt


Preheat oven to 350.

In an electric mixer, cream eggs and sugar. Add oil, vanilla, juice and zest. Mix until thoroughly combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 2 3/4 cups of flour, salt, and baking powder.  Add to wet ingredients, 1/2 cup at a time, blending on low until incorporated. Add additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough reaches the constancy of sugar cookie dough-- moist, but not sticky.

Roll dough out on a generously floured surface.  Approximately 3/16" thick. Using a 4" diameter cookie cutter, or wide-mouth glass, cut dough into rounds and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Place a spoonful of filling in the center of each round. Fold three edges of the cookie together, leaving only a portion of the center uncovered, and pinch the ends together.

When finished you will have created about two dozen triangular shaped cookies, highlighting the filling in the middle.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until just barely golden brown.

For the filling...



1 package of dried apricots
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract


1 package of dried cranberries
2 TBSP Raspberry jam
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract 


Place dried fruit in a sauce pan. Add just enough water to cover the top of the fruit. Simmer slowly over low heat, until the fruit has softened enough to mush together. Stir frequently while waiting,mad you don't want toe fruit to burn. If the fruit hasn't softened, yet all the water has been absorbed, add more water in 1/4 cup increments. Once the fruit has reached the consistency of a thick jam, whisk in sugar, extract, and jam (if called for). 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Chicken Soup for the Soul

It's been a rough couple of weeks. Multiple surgeries, illnesses passed back and forth, and lots of sick days.

So what's a mom to do? Make homemade chicken soup, of course.

I make a lot of soup. I roast a lot of chickens. What follows, is the most basic combo of them all... traditional chicken soup for the sick soul. 

In a tradition chicken soup, the kind grandma used to make, a whole chicken would be simmered for hours in water with vegetables and herbs.  After hours of slow cooking, although a delicious broth would develop, you might find the meat and vegetables to be lacking in taste-- after all, it was their flavor that leeched out into the water during the cooking process to create that great broth.

But my chicken soup? It's a little bit different. By using the same aromatic herbs and vegetables to roast my chicken beforehand, that I will use again as ingredients in my soup, I lock all the flavors inside the meat, and preserve the taste of each individual vegetable. The pan drippings are incorporated into the broth to further intensify the flavor. The result? A perfect cure for whatever ails you.

Roast Chicken for Soup


1 whole chicken, 6lbs
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
10 sprigs of thyme
1/2 bunch Italian Parsley
1 large yellow onion, cut into eights
4 celery stalks, cut into 4 pieces each
4 carrots, cut into 4 pieces each
1/2 cup chicken stock


Preheat Oven to 400. Rub butter all over chicken, thoroughly coating the inside of the cavity as well. Generously salt and pepper both the inside and outside of the bird.  Stuff the inside of the bird with 2 thyme sprigs, 1 garlic clove, 4 parsley sprigs, and an equal amount of carrots, celery, and onions. Scatter the rest of the vegetables in the bottom of a deep roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, and chicken stock. Place chicken on top of vegetables, breast side up.

Roast for 90 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 30 minutes.

Chicken Soup


Meat from a whole chicken, removed from bones, and torn into bite sized pieces
Cooking liquid reserved and strained from chicken roasted as above
Extra Virgin olive oil
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
2 small leeks, halved and sliced, using only the white and light green parts
2 cups baby carrots, chopped
1/2 onion, diced
1 small celery heart, top and bottom trimmed, chopped
The leaves of 10 thyme sprigs
1/2 bunch of Italian parsley, leaves removed
4-6 cups of chicken stock
2 cups egg noodles
Salt and pepper


Coat the bottom of a large Dutch oven with olive oil. Once ripples appear, sauté onions until just softened. Add leeks, garlic, carrots, celery, and fresh herbs, sauté. 

When all veggies are slightly tender, add reserved liquid from the roasted chicken. Turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add 4 cups of chicken stock, and bring liquid to a boil. Add egg noodles, amd turn heat back to low. Simmer for 10 more minutes, and add chicken once noodles are tender. At this point, depending on the type of noodles used, and the yield of liquid from your roast chicken, it may be necessary to add in more chicken broth.  I prefer a heartier soup, as it's simply easier for the kids to eat.  My husband prefers lots of broth.  Let your preference be the key, and add as little or as much as you would like, remembering that it might be a different amount each time you make the soup, depending on how 'juicy' your chicken was.  Add salt and pepper to taste. After adding liquid, bring soup to a boil once again, return to simmer, and serve.  Since flavor was developed during roasting, you don't need to spend as much time on the stove developing it, and this soup will be ready much faster than it's counterparts.

The Thanksgiving Collective

In case you haven't heard? Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. FA. VOR. ITE. 

What's not to love? Food, family and friends. And lots of them.

Over the last 16 years that I have been hosting Thanksgiving we've had anywhere from 4 to 40 people sitting at out table and sharing our food. To me, that is the whole point of the holiday, sharing a day and food with your your favorite people. Being surrounded by everything and everyone that you love, throughout a long and lazy day.  To that end we have always had a open door, open table policy.  

Thanksgiving is not just my favorite holiday, in my mind, it's the holiday.  I want my kids to remember Thanksgiving at home, to return to Thanksgiving bringing with them their friends and their families time after time, and most importantly to salivate over the tastes throughout the year.  

I'm all about creating food memories for my children, tying favorite foods and tastes to certain experiences. Enriching those experiences by fostering a love and appreciation of food. 

Thanksgiving is no different. I go back to the same flavors and dishes year after year that my grandmother cooked for our family Thanksgivings. The flavors and dishes that I associate with Thanksgiving. The ones that I salivate over throughout the year.  My overall menu never changes, as each dish is conceived to compliment its counterparts, with the same basic dishes being the starting point for each year's feast. What does change, is the number of additional sides I will add each year depending on our number of guests.  All these additional dishes continue to enhance the overall meal profile, yet are not missed if one is not hosting quite so large a gathering. Conversely, these "extra" dishes will also compliment any Thanksgiving meal, and will be well received anywhere you might choose to bring them.

Thanksgiving Menu



Pickles, olives, toasted French rounds


Compound Herb Butter
Turkey Stock
Pan Gravy
Mashed Potatoes
Company Carrots
Potato Rolls
Orange-Cranberry Sauce


Wild Rice Winter Salad
Corn Salad
Creamed Peas
Roasted Veggie Panzanilla Salad


Chocolate Cream Pie
Apricot and Cran-Rasp Hamentaschen Cookies