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Thanksgiving Improv: Spinach Pinwheels

by Jane Wangersky November 27th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
spinach pinwheels (400x400)Happy Thanksgiving! Though if you’re reading this on Thanksgiving Day itself, you probably have some last-minute gap in your holiday dinner. Not to worry -- so did I, and I’ll tell you what I did.

Here in Canada, Thanksgiving comes in October. This year, unfortunately, it also came just after I’d been sick for several days. I had the turkey, cranberries, stuffing ingredients, and sweet potatoes, not to mention (almost) everything for pumpkin pie -- but I hadn’t been able to go out for fresh vegetables, and everyone else was too busy. So there I was on the morning of
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Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar Carrot Stuffing

by Jane Wangersky November 20th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
sweet potato (400x400)Sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping are a holiday food that cause just about as much disagreement as fruitcake – maybe more, because lots of people actually like this sweet potato dish. Others . . . well, I remember reading a Thanksgiving cookbook whose author had meant to put in a recipe for them, but, as she wrote, just couldn't bring herself to do it.

Still, for many families, sweet potatoes in some form are just part of Thanksgiving. And of course there are other ways to cook them. You can always just bake them like regular potatoes, but there are
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Cranberry-Ginger Relish

by Jane Wangersky November 13th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
cranberry relishAs Thanksgiving gets nearer (for those of you in the U.S., anyway -- in Canada, we had it last month, so you get the benefit of my recent experience), you probably know you’re expected to serve cranberries in some form. You may think your only choices are canned cranberry sauce, shaped exactly like the inside of the can, or homemade cranberry sauce, which you carefully concoct from fresh cranberries and boiling syrup. But there’s another option that’s fresh, homemade, and no-cook: Cranberry relish.

I discovered cranberry relish a few years ago while writing reviews of Thanksgiving cookbooks. You’ll find recipes
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Winter Squash: Seasonal Side Dish

by Jane Wangersky November 7th, 2014| Cooking Basics
pumpkins-228474_1280It’s the time of year when the zucchini finally gives out to make way for its late-season relatives. Winter squash comes in dozens of different shapes and colors, with imaginative names like butternut, delicata, and Calabaza, but inside it’s all much the same -- lots of seeds and orange or yellow sweetish flesh. Though it’s far from my favorite vegetable, I’ve learned to make it taste good, with a little work and a lot of cooking.

The work usually begins with cutting the squash in half. It’s the only way to get the seeds out, and two halves cook more
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Easy Stuffed Eggplant

by Jane Wangersky November 6th, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
eggplantEggplant is one of those foods, like fish, that people think they don’t like, but it’s really got a lot going for it -- a mild taste that goes with countless other foods, a shape and texture that can be transformed into almost anything you want, a Mediterranean background, plenty of fiber, relatively short cooking time -- and, contrary to popular belief, you don’t really have to salt it or squeeze out the juices to make it palatable. With all this in mind, I hit on eggplant when I was looking for some fresh ingredient to bring
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Salsa Aspic: Hot and Cool

by Jane Wangersky July 3rd, 2014| Recipes, Simple Solutions
aspicYou might think of this as really thick salsa. Or maybe as Jello for the main course. Or as something like cranberry sauce -- it’s made of fruit (tomatoes are fruit), it’s jellied, and it’s meant to be served along with meat or another main dish. However you look it at, this side dish is perfect for dinner on a hot night, packing both coolness and spice.

Aspic has been largely unknown for years -- a friend nearly as old as me had never heard of it -- but I’m not sure why. Maybe the availability of instant gelatin desserts
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Turkey With What Sauce?

by Elizabeth Skipper June 11th, 2014| Ask the Chef
backdrop-22024_640Maybe once or twice a year I make a turkey or turkey breast, when it is not during the holiday season.  However, I am not able to find fresh or frozen cranberries to make cranberry sauce.  Is there another fruit I could use (and find easily) to make a different sauce that would complement the turkey?

It sounds as though you want to duplicate the Thanksgiving presentation of turkey as closely as possible, just at other times of the year. Interesting. I like to make turkey other times of the year, too, but I always prepare it differently from a
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Thanksgiving Dinner Part II: Pies, Sides, Stuffing

by Elizabeth Skipper November 13th, 2013| Ask the Chef
pie etcI am making my first Thanksgiving dinner for the family, which is a group of 10. I've eaten many dinners and helped family, but my husband and I have never made the whole dinner. What advice can you offer?

Last week I wrote about the importance of planning when you're hosting Thanksgiving. This week I'm going to cover the menu, portion sizes, and stuffing the bird or not.

So, have you planned your menu? Good. Look it over to see what you can do when, and plug those things into your timeline.

Pies are a good place to start. Whether you make or
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Ricotta-Topped Zucchini

by TT July 16th, 2012| Appetizers, Recipes, Side Dishes, Tapas Monday
Living next to a farm, we have easy access to fresh produce during local growing seasons.  Even better, our farm very kindly lists what new items are in season on their roadside sign.  Thus, when I travel anywhere outside of our neighborhood, I am aware of what is ripe and ready for my kitchen.  At the end of last week, I noticed that summer squash and zucchini had been added.

Both my husband and I love zucchini and have used it in a multitude of ways:  in place of noodles in lasagna, in soup, stuffed with spinach, in quick bread. 
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Mashed Potatoes with a Ricer?

by Elizabeth Skipper May 29th, 2012| Ask the Chef
Watching a cooking show the other night, I saw a chef make mashed potatoes using a ricer. I've always used a handheld potato masher. Is it a ricer a better tool, or is there a different kitchen utensil/appliance that would make great mashed potatoes? (My family adores mashed potatoes, so the right tool would be appreciated.)

Interesting terminology. To be precise, there are riced potatoes and mashed potatoes; so making mashed potatoes with a ricer is mixing terms. Riced potatoes are simply potatoes that are boiled, put through a ricer, and served with melted butter on top. That said, I
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Green Bean Fries

by TT April 23rd, 2012| Appetizers, Side Dishes
I will start with a disclaimer.  Do not make this recipe as a way of replacing french fries for people who love them.  Although they are salty and have a similar shape, no fan of the french fry will think of these as an equivalent substitute.  That being said, these green bean fries will be enjoyed when presented as a secondary salty snack or side dish.

Personally, I am not a fan of most french fries.  They tend to be heavy in grease or oil and are unappetizing to me.  So, for me, switching to green beans is an easy
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Brussel Sprouts & Sausage

by TT January 5th, 2012| Main Dishes, Recipes, Side Dishes
It may be the first week of January, but I still have recipes from our Christmas Eve feast to share.  As I was considering what recipe to share next, I decided that since I started with dessert I should continue to work backward through the meal.  Thus, the next dish that was mine to prepare was the primo, Brussel Sprouts & Sausage.

For this recipe, I wanted the brussel sprouts to be the star.  Doing so would help to keep the dish lighter.  For those who like heartier dishes with more of meat focus, the amount of sausage definitely can
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