If your family is anything like mine, you’ll have a TON of food leftover from Thanksgiving because you went overboard just to make sure you have enough food. (We always have enough.) 
Here are some great things you can do with leftovers. I often see amazing recipes for leftover Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, potatoes, etc. but they require so much work – and who wants to spend all day in the kitchen after preparing a Thanksgiving dinner? Not me! I’d rather be drinking and watching movies, or getting ready to line up somewhere at 5 AM to cash in on the Black Friday craziness. So, here are some easy recipes that will give you something to do with your Thanksgiving leftovers. 

This spicy panini is just like my favorite turkey sandwich I used to have while I was in law school. The Pace cafeteria surprisingly made some amazing sandwiches, and my favorite was turkey breast on multigrain bread with bacon, cheddar or pepperjack cheese, and spicy chipotle mayo. Here is my recipe for the recreation:


(Serves 4)

2 cups leftover turkey breast
4 slices of pepperjack (or cheddar) cheese
8 slices of center cut turkey bacon
8 slices of thick multigrain bread
Chipotle Mayo

Chipotle Mayo Ingredients:
1 cup of reduced fat olive oil
2 chipotle peppers canned in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon of the adobo sauce
Lime or lemon wedge

First, make the chipotle mayo. Blend 1 cup of mayonaise with two chipotle peppers and a teaspoon of adobo sauce. Squirt some lime juice and stir. This sauce is also delicious on burgers or with seafood like crab cakes.

Next, spray a panini machine with PAM non-stick cooking spray. Spray two slices of bread with the spray. Spread some chipotle mayo on a slice of bread. Layer with bacon, spinach, turkey and pepperjack cheese. Cook in panini press until golden brown and crispy. Enjoy!

 Variation: If you don’t like spicy food (or your stomach still hasn’t recovered from Thanksgiving), try substituting a handful of fresh basil for the chipotle peppers when making the sauce and mozzarella cheese for the pepperjack.

(Serves 4-6)

2 tablespoons of olive oil
2-3 cups of shredded turkey breast
3 peeled and sliced carrots
2 stalks of sliced celery
1 cup of sliced mushrooms
1 cup of frozen pearl onions
1 cup of frozen corn
2 tablespoons of chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped dill
1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
4 cups of chicken broth
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the carrots, celery and mushrooms and saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the pearl onions and corn in for the last minute. Add parsley and dill. Stir in the flour and mix to coat all the vegetables. Add the chicken broth and whisk to make sure it is all blended. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer and stir until it reduces and thickens. (Note: because this is a slimmed down recipe, don’t expect the mixture to be THAT thick.)

Lay out 4 sheets of phyllo dough and spray with nonstick cooking spray to flavor. Cut into 4 pieces to fill the tops of the ramekins. Fill four ramekins with the mixture. Top with the phyllo dough. Sprinkle paprika on the phyllo dough. Bake at 350 until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

These pot pies are also great leftover. Just heat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. The phyllo dough will remain crispy!

Alternative: Instead of using phyllo dough, you can use Pillsbury Pie Crusts.


The concept of cooking a Thanksgiving meal can be very intimidating. During the past few years, I’ve been attempting to teach myself to cook through trial and error, and I promised myself that this would be the year that I finally made my favorite component of the Thanksgiving meal myself: a pumpkin roll. I’ve also been craving a REAL turkey sandwich (blog with recipe to follow), so I figured I would conquer another fear: roasting a whole fresh turkey. And I had to make mashed potatoes to go along with it! Gravy would’ve been pushing it – that will be next year. So here we go …

Whenever I have a question about the proper way to do something, I usually ask my family, do some Google research and I turn to two cooking bibles that have really helped me through a lot. The first is Martha Stewart’s Cooking School, a book which details through instructions and step by step photographs how to do everything from roasting a turkey, making a pie crust, preparing a souffle, etc. The second is a book which was a gift from my grandfather, called James Beard’s Theory and Practice of Good Cooking. He is a chef and swears by this book, so I don’t take his advice lightly. And you can’t go wrong with James Beard.

For Thanksgiving disasters, the New York Times also has a wonderful column called the Help Line where you can submit your own questions. http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/17/whats-a-good-entree-for-a-veganvegetarian-thanksgiving/?ref=dining So basically, this meal is a pretty big deal. And I wanted to prove I could do it.

So after I did some research, I began the process of roasting my first turkey. Right from the start, it was almost a near disaster. Holding a fresh fifteen pound turkey in my hands made me so uncomfortable, and I almost quit before I even got started. I genuinely felt sad for the turkey and I briefly contemplated becoming a vegetarian. (Removing the frozen neck from the “cavity” really put me over the edge. Why include the neck of the animal? I know they include the giblets, etc to make turkey stock and gravy but the NECK? I nearly gagged.)

The good news is that if you can get through the cleaning step, and maneuvering the little turkey legs so that it is in the proper position for roasting, the rest of the process is pretty simple. My advice is to just suck it up, do it, and move on. The way the house smelled while the turkey was roasting was amazing and how I imagine Donna Reed’s home smelled everyday. Plus, the leftover turkey I had to make sandwiches made it all so worth it. I was so happy I did it!

One slight problem: while the flavor was delicious, it was slightly dry because I left it in too long. Why? Because I followed the package instructions instead of trusting my gut!The package instructions on my turkey said to take it out at 170 degrees and other recipes I consulted said 180, so I went with 170. It was still too long. I should have taken the turkey out at 160!  So remember to keep checking your turkey, use a thermometer and KNOW your oven.


13-15 lb fresh turkey
2 tbl poultry seasoning
1 tbl salt
1 tbl pepper
2-3 large lemons, halved (plus more for garnish)
A few springs of fresh rosemary (plus more for garnish)
1 stick of melted butter
2-3 cups of chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the giblet package (and neck) from the turkey. Rinse the turkey with cold water. Pat dry. Tuck in the turkey legs under the turkey so they don’t stick up. (There’s a great illustration on how to do this in Martha Stewart’s Cooking School.) Combine the poultry seasoning, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over the turkey. Put the lemons and sprigs of rosemary in the cavity of the turkey. Pour the melted butter over the whole turkey. Add the chicken broth to the pan.

Cook the turkey, uncovered for an hour at 400 degrees until it is browned. Then lower the temperature to 325 degrees and cover with a sheet of tin foil for the remainder of the cooking time. Roast for about three more hours, or until the temperature reaches between 160-170 degrees. (You can baste with the chicken broth every hour, but experts from the NYT swear that the best way to roast a turkey does NOT include basting. So, baste at your own risk!)

Let the turkey sit in it’s juices for at least 30 minutes before carving. Serve!

I am not a fan of making mashed potatoes, but I am a fan of eating them. They are so simple to make yet so easy to mess up. No one wants lumpy or goey or cold mashed potatoes, but it happens. I’m not going to pretend I am the guru of mashed potatoes, I’m not, or that I know how to solve these problems (yet). Still, I fumbled my way through making them a handful of times and this recipe seems to work for me. I like to add Parmesan cheese instead of salt to give the potatoes a kick. The leftovers are also great for making potato pancakes. (Dredge lightly in flour and fry in oil and voila, potato pancakes!)

2 lbs of Yukon gold potatoes
1 cup of light sour cream
1 stick of light butter
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup of reserved liquid
1 tbl of chopped fresh dill
1 tbl of chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (plus more for garnish)

Peel the potatoes and boil them until you can stick a fork through them easily. Drain the potatoes, reserving some of the cooking liquid. Let cool slightly. Return the potatoes to the pot and add the butter, sour cream, and cheese. Mix well. Add the reserved cooking liquid as needed to bring the potatoes to your desired consistency. Mash by hand or use an electric mixer to puree the potato mixture. Lastly, stir in the dill and parsley. Garnish with more flat leaf parsley. Serve.


The Pumpkin Roll is the Pippa of Thanksgiving, stealing the spotlight from the traditional, beloved pumpkin pie. The Pumpkin Roll is superb in every way and perfection. Yes, you can buy a pumpkin roll in the supermarket – but they’re EXPENSIVE! And the store bought ones will never compare to the fresh, homemade roll. My Aunt Phyllis made me my first pumpkin roll and it was love at first bite. For years, I was too afraid to make one myself and instead enlisted a friend to graciously give me one of hers! I always envisioned a disaster at the point where you roll the cake up. But surprisingly, it’s easy if you just follow the instructions and the cake doesn’t crumble, if you’re careful. I promise! Follow this traditional Libby’s recipe, and you will have a hit dessert at your Thanksgiving dinner, courtesy of Libby’s Pure Pumpkin!
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup LIBBY’S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)*
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (optional)

*I substitued chopped pecans for the walnuts because they’re my favorite and I think they are perfect for this recipe.


  1. PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle towel with powdered sugar.
  2. COMBINE flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts.
  3. BAKE for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.
  4. BEAT cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake; remove towel. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

Enjoy! But be warned – this pumpkin roll is addictive.
Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂 

Te Deum
by Charles Reznikoff

Not because of victories, 
I sing,
having none,
but for the common sunshine, 
the breeze,
the largess of the spring.

Not for victory,
but for the day’s work done
as well as I was able;
not for a seat upon the dais
but at the common table.
In just a few days, people from all over the United States will celebrate Thanksgiving, a national holiday which symbolizes a time for people to come together at one table to break bread and give thanks. 
Last year, I wrote about the background of the first Thanksgiving and shared a menu with you that had some of my favorite Thanksgiving favorites: pumpkin soup, stuffed turkey roulade, orange cranberry sauce and my favorite chocolate pecan tart.  

For these recipes and more, click here:
This week, I will be posting more recipes that you can use on Thanksgiving Day and beyond. I am starting with this French Apple Tart, a recipe that I tweaked from the most recent issue of Cooking Light Magazine. I chose to make this tart instead of a traditional pie because it is lower in calories and it’s easy to make!  

Fairytale French Apple Tart
Serves 8

1/2 (14.1-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)
3 tablespoons apple jelly, melted and divided
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced

  • Directions:
  • 1. Preheat oven to 425°. Peel and slice apples. Keep them in a bowl of water with juice of a lemon but be sure to pat dry completely or add some flour so that the apples don’t get too watery and ruin the crust.

  • 2. Roll dough to a 12-inch circle and place in a tart pan. Brush dough with 1 tablespoon jelly. Place pan in freezer for 5 minutes.

  • 3. Combine brown sugar and nutmeg in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar mixture over dough. 
  • 4. Arrange apple slices in concentric circles on prepared crust. Sprinkle apples with the remaining sugar mixture. Bake at 425° for 35 minutes or until apples are tender and crust is golden brown.

  • 5. Brush remaining 2 tablespoons jelly over hot tart. Cut into 8 wedges.
  • Optional: top each wedge with 1 teaspoon crème fraîche or some vanilla ice cream!

Nutritional Facts (Per Serving)
205 cals, 8.5 grams fat, 32.6 carbs, 1 gram fiber.


I have always wanted to make a butternut squash dessert. I’ve seen Giada DiLaurentis make fried dessert ravioli on Everyday Italian before, so I came up with my own version using butternut squash and cream cheese. This is recipe really simple, but be warned, these little fried treats are absolutely addictive! They’re also great for entertaining. 
(Serves 5)
4 cups of cubed butternut squash, like a pack of Marketside Fresh squash at Walmart
1/2 cup of reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature (about 1/3 of a tub of Philadelphia Cream Cheese)
1 teaspoon of sugar (or packet of Splenda)
15-20 pot sticker wrappers
1 large egg
3/4 cup of canola oil
Optional: fresh mint leaves
Steam the butternut squash ravioli in the microwave according to the package directions. (Just add some water to the bag, put in a small bowl, cover and microwave for about 2 minutes.)
Add the cream cheese to the butternut squash, mix well to dissolve the butternut squash cubes. Add the sugar. Allow to cool.
Crack the egg in a small bowl. Fill each pot sticker wrapper with about 3/4 teaspoon of the squash mixture. Brush some egg wash on the ends of the pot sticker wrapper, and press together to close. When finished, brush all the pot stickers with remaining egg wash.
Heat the canola oil in a large frying pan. When hot, fry each pot sticker until golden brown. Place on a paper towel to drain. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and garnish with fresh mint leaves. Serve immediately.
“For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly thankful.”
Thanksgiving, also known as “Turkey Day,” is one of the most important “food” holidays of the year.  Thanksgiving, a harvest holiday celebrated in the United States and Canada, has traditionally been a day of giving thinks to God for all material possessions and mostly, for a bountiful harvest. Most modern Thanksgiving traditions originated with the first Thanksgiving dinner which took place in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621.  This Thanksgiving dinner was modeled after traditional harvest festivals which took place in Europe at the time.  There is evidence that the harvest for the first Thanksgiving feast lasted three days, providing food for over 50 pilgrims and 90 Native Americans.  This first Thanksgiving feast included: seafood such as cod, eel and bass; shellfish (clams, lobster, mussels); wild fowl (ducks, geese, swans, and TURKEY); venison; berries and other fruits; vegetables (peas, beetroot, possibly onions); harvest grains; beans; corn; and lastly, squash.
There were irregular Thanksgiving feasts after the first Thanksgiving, with an even larger one occurring in 1623 after a great drought. Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony described this Thanksgiving in his journal which was published as Plymouth Plantation, writing,

And afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. For which mercy, in time convenient, they also set apart a day of thanksgiving… By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine now God gave them plenty … for which they blessed God. And the effect of their particular planting was well seen, for all had … pretty well … so as any general want or famine had not been amongst them since to this day.[16]

William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation
Today, Thanksgiving is still celebrated every year in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November. It was originally celebrated as a religious holiday but it is also celebrated as a secular holiday and has been a National Holiday since 1863.  Though the modern Thanksgiving dinner varies by region and culture, a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner will typically include a roasted turkey, some kind of stuffing, mashed potato, vegetable, and pumpkin or apple pie.
The thought of making a real Thanksgiving dinner intimidates me and I know I am not alone.  There’s a reason why more and more restaurants are staying open on this holiday and offering complete takeout Thanksgiving faux home-cooking dinners. Making a Thanksgiving dinner can be costly, time consuming, and scary! But it doesn’t have to be. And this year I made sure that I was going to take on the challenge to prove to myself and my readers that not only is it possible for even an amateur chef to prepare an entire traditional Thanksgiving meal that tastes good, but it’s also fun!
Here is an elegant menu that I used for my first home-cooked Thanksgiving.

My Thanksgiving Fairytale Feast

Fairytale Feasts Thanksgiving Menu

First Course

Second Course 
Stuffed Turkey Roulade
Cranberry Fig Sausage Stuffing
Potato and Turnip Gratin
Oven Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
Orange Cranberry Sauce

Third Course
Chocolate Pecan Tart
Traditional Pumpkin Pie (Store Bought)


 I made the Fairytale Pumpkin and Acorn Squash Soup ahead of time and the rest of the dinner took me a few hours, but the entire meal can be made in a day.


1 Day Ahead:  

1) Prepare Pumpkin and Acorn Squash Soup. 
2) Prepare Stuffing for Turkey Roulade.
3) Prepare the Potato Turnip Gratin. You have the option of baking it in the oven and reheating next day. OR you can just prepare it and let it sit in refrigerator and bake it the following day.
4) Set the table.

Thanksgiving Day:
1) Prepare the Turkey Roulade.
2) Roast turkey and excess stuffing.
3) Prepare the chocolate pecan tart and bake in over after turkey and stuffing are done.
4) Heat the Potato Turnip Gratin in the Oven. 
5) Prepare the Orange Cranberry Sauce.
6) Prepare and bake the Chocolate Pecan Tart.
7) Roast the Parsnips and Carrots.


Thanksgiving Day:  
1) Prepare the Pumpkin Soup. 
2) Prepare the Turkey Roulade Stuffing. 
3) Assemble the Turkey Roulade. 
4) Roast turkey and excess stuffing.  
5) Prepare Potato and Turnip Gratin. Set aside.
6) When Turkey Roulade and Stuffing are finished, bake the Potato and Turnip Gratin.
7) While Turnip Gratin is baking, prepare the Chocolate Pecan Tart. 
8) Bake the Chocolate Pecan Tart. 
9) Prepare the Cranberry Orange Sauce. 
10) Prepare and roast the Parsnips and Carrots.

If you are looking for an easier, less time consuming take on this traditional Thanksgiving staple, try this elegant recipe for a stuffed turkey roulade. The roulade itself is so pretty and elegant to serve, not only on Thanksgiving, but on other holidays or special occasions.  I adopted from Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.  You can view her original recipe here.

Fairytale Stuffed Turkey Roulade
(Serves 8)

3/4 cup figs
1 cup cranberries
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups of chopped sweet cooking onion
1 lb uncased sweet Italian sausage
1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped fresh rosemary
3-4 cups of seasoned stuffing mix
1 1/2 cups of chicken stock
1 large egg
1 large turkey breast (or 2-3 halves of the white meat), deboned and butterflied (about 4-5 lbs)
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter (to pour over turkey)
Fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish

Add the figs, cranberries, orange juice and water to a small sauce pan and bring mixture to a boil.  Simmer for two minutes and set aside.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium high heat and add in the onions and celery. Saute until softened. Add the sausauge and crumble into small pieces, sauteeing for about 10 minutes until all the pieces are browned. Add the figs and cranberries (with the liquid) to the sausage vegetable mixture. Add the chopped rosemary and mix well.

Place the stuffing mix in a large bowl.  Add the sausage vegetable mixture, chicken stock, egg, and salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Lay the butterflied turkey breast down on a tray or cutting board (if skin, skin side down). Place saran wrap over the turkey and pound together with a mallet until flat.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread the stuffing over the turkey, creating about a 1/2 inch layer. Be careful not to put in too much stuffing! Now roll the turkey over into a cylinder and tuck in all the stuffing that falls out. Use kitchen twine to secure the turkey roll’s shape.

Place the excess stuffing in a buttered gratin dish and bake for about 40 minutes. Place the turkey on a sheet pan  or in a roasting pan.  Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven until the turkey reads 150 degrees in the center.  In a regular oven, this will take about 1 1/2 – 2 hours depending on the size and width of your turkey.  Using a convection bake oven, this takes about an 1 hour.  Baste the turkey roll with the juice from the pan while it is cooking.

Cover the turkey roulade with foil and let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.  Serve sliced on a platter and garnish with fresh rosemary. Serve the leftover stuffing in the gratin dish.

And remember, if all else fails and your Thanksgiving Fairytale turns into a Thanksgiving nightmare, “It isn’t so much what’s on the table that matters as what’s on the chairs.” ~ W.S. Gilbert.  

Roasted Parsnips and Carrots.
 A turkey isn’t the only symbolic dish of Thanksgiving. The sides are stars as well, with the stuffing or potatoes sometimes stealing the show! I am sure the recipe for the Cranberry Fig stuffing will more than satisfy you but these other side dish treats are equally as elegant and delicious. I used seasonal ingredients to create a fall menu that will be fresh and flavorful. I hope you enjoy 🙂

One of my favorite components of a traditional Thanksgiving meal is the cranberry sauce.  I also love oranges so I combined the two flavors in my unique cranberry sauce recipe, which I hope you enjoy! (I didn’t have enough fresh oranges so I used some orange juice as well. So that is how I wrote the recipe.)

Fairytale Orange Cranberry Sauce 
1 1/2 bags of fresh Ocean Spray cranberries
3 large oranges
1/2 cup of orange juice
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup of white wine
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup sugar
Place the cranberries in a large saucepan. Add the juice from 2 oranges, the orange juice, and water and cook on medium high heat. When almost to a boil, add the white wine and cinnamon stick.  The cranberries will burst open and mixture boils, summer for about 5 minutes.
Serve with orange slices as garnish.
I didn’t bother to make traditional mashed potatoes for this Thanksgiving because I wanted to make something different and something special. My answer: a potato gratin! I love making gratins! There is something to comforting and whimsical about them. They bring me back to my college days in NYC when me and my best friends used to frequent places like French Roast to get our fill of comfort food. When had the best times together and these types of dishes make me nostalgic for those days.  This potato gratin has a slightly different taste because I incorporated turnips, white root vegetables commonly found this time of year. Turnips are usually white and have a green or purple-ish color wherever the sunlight has fallen upon them.  Turnip roots are high in Vitamin C.  I also cut down on the fat content of traditional gratins by using 2% Swiss Cheese instead of Gruyere and reduced fat milk. I also baked my gratin for a little bit longer than I should have because I really like a nice brown crusty top for my gratin.
Fairytale Potato and Turnip Gratin

2 lbs of Russet Potatoes, peeled and sliced in 1/8 inch pieces
2 large turnips
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 large blog of 2% Swiss cheese (or 2 cups of Gruyere cheese)
1/2 cup of Parmesan Cheese
1 cup of Half and Half
1-2 cups of 2% milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel potatoes and turnips. Place in a large pot of water with lemon to prevent browning.  Slice all potatoes and turnips into small uniform pieces, measuring about 1/8 inch for each slice. (Using a mandolin would be great for this. But I don’t have one so I cut them by hand.)

Rub a large gratin dish with the butter. In a large skillet, combine milk, salt pepper, nutmeg, potatoes and turnips on medium heat.  Simmer until the potatoes and turnips are tender. (Be careful not to use high heat, you don’t want the milk to curdle!)

Add the potatoes and turnips to the gratin dish.  Shred in the Swiss cheese and sprinkle with parmesean.  Bake for 40 minutes in oven. Broil if necessary to brown the top.

Let this dish sit for about a half hour so it will settle before serving.

Potato and turnip gratin – ready to bake!

There’s nothing like a roasted seasonal vegetable to compliment any meal, including Thanksgiving. Parsnips, like turnips, are a white root vegetable.  They are related to carrots but have a slightly sweeter flavor.  There is evidence that the parnsips were commonly used by ancient Greeks and Romans.  Parsnips are commonly used today in soups and stews. I adopted this Ina Garten recipe for Roasted Parsnips and Carrots. Ina recommends using smaller sized parsnips because the root core of the larger ones are often too tough.

Fairytale Roast Parsnips and Carrots
(Serves 6)

2 large or 3-4 small Parnsips
1 bag of carrots, peeled
Olive Oil
1 teaspoon of dill weed
Ground black pepper

Options: fresh thyme or dill weed for garnish.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel parsnips and carrots.  Cut parsnips and carrots in half and slice diagnoally.  Place the vegetables on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle dill weed, salt and pepper over the vegetables. Toss well so that each vegetable is coated with oil and seasoning.  Roast for 20 to 40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Garnish with fresh dill or thyme sprigs.

I know Thanksgiving is traditionally associated with pumpkin pies, apple pies, pumpkin rolls, and other fall baked treats. But anyone that knows me knows that I don’t (can’t) bake. That doesn’t mean I don’t try though! 
When you fail at cooking, many times you can save your dish by fudging the recipe or adding more ingredients. But baking is so scientific and mathematical, it hinders my natural instinct to want to estimate the measurements of ingredients and add in my own flare to a recipe. So, I did what I do best for my Fairytale Thanksgiving Feast.  I made a rustic baked apple and cranberry crumble.  I also found a way to add in chocolate to this meal. Because for me, that is always the best part! This Fairytale Chocolate Pecan Tart, while technically a baked dessert, is so easy to make and CLEANUP IS EASY. I adopted this recipe from a Cooking Light recipe. The entire thing is prepared in a medium saucepan on the stovetop and thanks to the refrigerated Pillsbury pie crust, it’s almost idiot-proof. And the results are sooo worth it. Believe me, if you like brownies or anything chocolatey, like I do, then you will have to make this tart. I promise it will be a recipe you want to make over and over again!

Fairytale Chocolate Pecan Tart
(Serves 8)
1 cup Nestle’s semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter
3 large eggs, beaten
1 Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust half (the kind that unrolls!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an old-fashioned metal tart pan OR coat a removable-bottom tart pan with Pam baking spray. Lay the Pillsbury pie crust over the pan and gently press the dough into the sides of the pan. (Don’t force it into the crevices too much – you want to be able to get this tart out!)

Combine brown sugar, flour, salt and corn syrup in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat and whisk together until well blended. Bring mixture to a boil while whisking. Remove from heat and immediately add the butter, chocolate chips and vanilla extract. Stir with a wooden spoon until chocolate is smooth. Stir in the pecans. Let cool for a minute or two and add the egg.

Pour the mixture into the pie crust.  Back in the middle of the oven for a half hour. You can insert the toothpick into the center of the tart. It shouldn’t be wet or clean but have somewhat of a fudgy texture. You don’t want to overcook the tart.

When you remove the tart from the oven, if you are using a metal tart pan, let cool COMPLETELY for at least a half hour. Then gently press a large dish over the top of tart and turn over as you would a jello mold. Tap the tart gently on all sides and then left the metal tart pan away from the tart. It should be upside down on your dish. Invert the tart onto your serving platter.

Serve with a doll-up of cool whip or homemade whipped cream.

I baked! And I was so thrilled it came out to be so delicious! 

I also love to make this Baked Apple Cranberry Crumble. Like my summer specialty Fairytale Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble, this is a rustic dish that is easy to make and it’s fun because the measurements are really estimated. Usually I just throw in whatever I have or feel like using for the crumble topping. This dish screams AUTUMN and it’s a sure crowd pleaser! It’s also very portable. Hope you enjoy!

Fairytale Baked Apple Cranberry Crumble
Serves 8

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour 
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 stick of unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/4 cup of old-fashioned oats
1 cup of sliced almonds
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (divided)
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (optional)
6-8 large baking apples (I like honeycrisp.) 
1 package of Ocean Spray Cranberries

Optional: Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for topping!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel, core and slice all apples. Place in water with lemon so that the apples do not brown. 

In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice (if using) and pinch of salt. Rub in chunks of butter with fingertips until it forms coarse crumbs.  Mix in oats and almonds. Set aside.

Spray a large 9 X 14 aluminum tray with Pam baking spray (or use Crisco or butter). Add the sliced apples and cranberries and mix well. Sprinkle crumble mixture on top. Spray with Pam baking spray or add some thin slices of butter over the crumble filling to get a golden brown topping.  Sprinkle with additional cinnamon.

Bake until filling bubbles and topping is crisp and crunchy, 45 -60 min. The apples should be tender and soft and some of the cranberries will have burst open. Let cool for about 15 minutes.  Serve warm with cold vanilla ice cream on top.


This soup is a really great Thanksgiving starter course. Like my Fairytale Butternut Squash Soup, this soup is made by pureeing the pulp of two kinds winter squash (pumpkin and acorn squash) with some chicken broth and onions. This soup has a bit of a spicy bite to it though thanks to the thyme!  I highly recommend making the whole wheat croutons. They’re just delicious in the soup.

If you want to get REALLY festive, try using mini hollowed out roasted pumpkins as soup dishes. Or just roast a large pumpkin and put the soup in there and ladle it out to your guests right from the pumpkin.

Fairytale Pumpkin and Acorn Squash Soup


1 medium pumpkin (about 3.5 lbs)
1 medium acorn squash (2 lbs)
4 tablespoons of butter, divided
2 tablespoons of honey, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 medium size sweet onion, chopped
4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
5 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup of 2% milk (or half and half)
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin spice
Fresh ground pepper

Whole wheat croutons (recipe below)
Toasted pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut and clean pumpkin and squash.  Place the pumpkin and squash pieces on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet.

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave until melted. Stir in 1 tablespoon of honey and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  Brush the sides of the pumpkin and squash with the mixture.

Bake the pumpkin and squash pieces in the oven for 45 minutes or until the pulp is tender.  Let cool completely (this is important!) for about 20 minutes.  Scoop out the pulp with a large spoon and discard the shells.

Cooked Squash

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion, saute for about 5 minutes until tender. Add thyme and sage; saute 1 minute.

Add the broth and pumpkin and squash pulp. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool another 10 minutes before adding it to a food processor or blender in batches to puree.  After pureed, return the soup to the Dutch oven.  Stir in milk, cider vinegar, ginger, nutmeg, pumpkin spice and freshly ground pepper.  Stir in 1 tablespoon of honey and 1/3 teaspoon of salt. Cook over low heat and stir often.

Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with pumpkin seeds or whole wheat croutons or both. Serve immediately.

Fairytale Whole Wheat Garlic Thyme Croutons

6 slices of good crusty whole wheat bread
3 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop the bread into large chunks and add to a mixing bowl.  Melt the butter in the microwave. Pour the butter and olive oil over the croutons and immediately mix well.  Sprinkle the thyme and garlic powder over the top. Spread the croutons on an aluminum foil lined pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until browned.