Thanksgiving Feed

World's Best Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

  Worlds best pumpkin pie 1

Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, so it’s time to start mastering one of this holiday’s classic desserts. There are tons of pumpkin pie recipes, and in November all of the food shows and magazines are filled with both classic and innovative recipes. I’ve tried many of them – most started with canned pumpkin, and from there the ingredients vary  - some use heavy cream, others swear by evaporated milk, and some are heavily spiced with cinnamon and cloves.  I love pumpkin pie, but have never found what I would call the BEST pumpkin pie until recently. I was watching an episode of America’s Test Kitchen (the leader in test perfected recipes) called “An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving”. The ingredients and the method were quite original and I couldn’t wait to try it. There are a few extra steps, but well worth it. If you don’t want to make your own crust, you can use your favorite Ready Made crust, like Wholly Wholesome. Feel free to alter the amount of cinnamon and other spices to suit your tastes. (I used Penzey's Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cassia Cinnamon Click here for Penzey's), but the fresh ginger is key to the pie’s flavor. This year I added the decorative maple leaves which makes this pie even more impressive. They are super easy to make using the Leaf Pie Crust Cutters from Sur La Table (click here) You can use leftover pastry dough, or cut them from a store bought rolled crust. Just brush the  cutouts with egg wash and bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Place the cutouts on the pie and soon as it comes out of the oven.

Download World's Best Pumpkin Pie recipe


Fool Proof Pie Crust  

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (6 1/4 ounces)

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 tablespoon sugar

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1/4 cup vegetable shortening, cold, cut into two pieces

2 tablespoons vodka, cold 

2 tablespoons cold water

Pumpkin Pie Filling

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

3 large eggs plus 2 large yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree

1 cup drained candied yams from 15-ounce can

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (or substitute 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger powder)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cassia Cinnamon is best)

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon table salt

 For the Crust:

1. Process 3/4 cup flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogenous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 10 seconds; dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining, but there should be no uncoated flour. Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining 1/2 cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty the mixture into a medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten dough into 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

3. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Refrigerate 15 minutes.

4. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch beyond lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. Using thumb and forefinger, flute edge of dough. Refrigerate dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes.

5. Remove pie pan from refrigerator, line crust with foil, and fill with pie weights or pennies. Bake on rimmed baking sheet 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights, rotate plate, and bake 5 to 10 additional minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp. Remove pie plate and baking sheet from oven.

6. For the Filling: While pie shell is baking, whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks, and vanilla together in medium bowl. Combine pumpkin puree, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in large heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to sputtering simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes.

7. Remove pan from heat and whisk in cream mixture until fully incorporated. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl, using back of ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer. Re-whisk mixture and transfer to warm prebaked pie shell. Return pie plate with baking sheet to oven and bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and continue baking until edges of pie are set (instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175 degrees), 20 to 35 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature, 2 to 3 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.

Pie dough 

Pie dough crimped 

Pumpkin pie filling 

Pumpkin pie baked

Worlds best pumpkin pie slice 1

Pastry cutouts

Pastry pie crust cutouts

Classic Sage Onion Bread Stuffing



This recipe is combination of technique and ingredients from Cook’s Illustrated and Joy of Cooking, which I suppose now makes it my own. There are tons of recipes with exotic flavors and ingredients, but if you’re looking for that classic Thanksgiving stuffing, this is the recipe to use. Drying the bread before making the stuffing is an important step for texture and flavor. If you plan ahead, you can just leave the bread cubes out on the counter for a few days to become stale. I usually just spread them out on baking sheets and dry in a 300-degree oven for 30 to 60 minutes. Let the bread cool before using in the stuffing. You can substitute three 14-ounce bags of plain dried bread cubes for the homemade dried bread cubes, but you'll need to increase the amount of  broth to 7-8 cups. This recipe can easily be halved and baked in a 13 by 9-inch baking dish for a smaller crowd. 

Download Classic Sage Bread Stuffing recipe

 To Make Ahead:

 The stuffing can be assembled in the baking dish, then wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before baking. To bake, let the stuffing stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and proceed to bake as directed in step 3.


1 ½ sticks unsalted butter (plus extra for baking dish)

4 medium ribs celery, chopped fine 

2 large onions, minced 

4 scallions, chopped fine 

3 tablespoons minced fresh sage leaves or 2 teaspoons dried 

3 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves or 2 teaspoons dried 

1 tablespoon minced fresh marjoram leaves or 1 teaspoon dried

1 teaspoon dried tarragon or basil

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons cognac

2 pounds high-quality sandwich bread (like Pepperidge Farm White), cut into 1/2-inch cubes and dried

5 cups turkey stock or low-sodium canned chicken broth

3 large eggs, beaten lightly

¼ cup cream

1-2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup fresh coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves (about 1 bunch)

1. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, scallions, and celery, and cook until onions are translucent, about 10-15 minutes. Add sage, thyme, marjoram, tarragon and nutmeg and stir to combine, and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Add cognac to deglaze pan, and then 1/2 cup stock, and stir well. Cook for about 5 minutes, until liquid has reduced. Transfer to a very large mixing bowl.

2. Add the dried bread cubes, remaining stock or broth, eggs, cream, chopped parsley, salt, and pepper to the sautéed vegetables and toss gently to distribute dry and wet ingredients evenly. Turn mixture into buttered 15-x 10-inch baking dish.

3. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until golden, about 30 minutes longer. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Perfect Turkey Gravy with Make Ahead Turkey Stock

Turkey gravy 

Rich Turkey Stock

This stock has incredible flavor and can be made ahead to save time at Thanksgiving. It’s the base for perfect turkey gravy, and can also be used in your favorite dressing recipe. To roast the trimmings and vegetables, it’s best to use a roasting pan that can sit on the stovetop, so that you can deglaze the pan and make sure all the dark flavorful bits wind up in the stock.

 6-8 turkey parts – wings, thighs, neck (most local markets will carry these around the holidays) 

2 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces  

2 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch pieces 

2  onions , chopped coarse 

1 leek, white and light green parts only, chopped in 2” pieces

1 head garlic , unpeeled 

12 cups homemade chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups dry white wine  

6-8 sprigs fresh thyme

1 sprig rosemary

6 sprigs flat leaf Italian parsley

1 tsp whole peppercorns

1 bay leaf   

  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place turkey trimmings, carrot, celery, onions, and garlic in large flameproof roasting pan. Spray lightly with cooking spray and toss to combine. Roast, stirring occasionally, until well-browned, 60-90  minutes.

  1. Remove roasting pan from oven and transfer contents of roasting pan to large stockpot. Place roasting pan over 2 burners set at medium high heat; add 4 cups of chicken stock and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits on bottom of pan with wooden spoon, and then pour into stockpot.

  1. Add remaining chicken stock, wine, and herbs; bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until reduced by half, about 1 1/2 hours. Strain stock into large pot using cheesecloth lined strained. Cool to room temperature; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until fat congeals, at least 1 hour or overnight. Skim fat from stock and reserve for Turkey Gravy recipe.

Turkey Gravy


½ cup reserved turkey fat (add melted butter if needed to make ½ cup)

½ cup all purpose flour

6-8 cups Rich Turkey Stock

Salt and pepper

  1. Bring stock to simmer in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. In second medium saucepan, heat reserved turkey fat over medium-high heat until bubbling; whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, until combined and honey-colored or brown, about 2-5 minutes. Continuing to whisk constantly, gradually ladle in hot stock; bring to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 10 -15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with turkey. (Can be refrigerated up to 3 days; reheat in medium saucepan over medium heat until hot, about 8 minutes.


 Download Rich Turkey Stock Recipe

Favorite Cranberry Sauce with Pears and Fresh Ginger



There are so many variations for cranberry sauce – experiment with a few until you find a favorite – this is one of mine. The maple syrup gives a more mellow sweetness than granulated sugar.  If you've got frozen cranberries, do not defrost them before use; just pick through them and add about 2 minutes to the simmering time.


¾ cup water, orange juice, or cranraspberry juice

1 cup maple syrup

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon table salt

1 (12-ounce) bag cranberries , picked through

2 medium firm, ripe pears , peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch chunks


1.    Combine all ingredients in medium nonreactive saucepan over high heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until saucy, slightly thickened, and about two-thirds of berries have popped open, about 5 minutes. Transfer to nonreactive bowl, cool to room temperature, and serve. (Can be covered and refrigerated up to 7 days; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.)




Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Oatmeal Cookie Topping

Sweet potato casserole

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Oatmeal Cookie Topping

This is a great alternative to marshmallow topped sweet potatoes. Cutting the sweet potatoes into slices of even thickness is important in getting them to cook at the same rate. A potato masher will yield slightly lumpy sweet potatoes; a food mill will make a perfectly smooth puree.  You can also skip the cookie topping and just serve the sweet potatoes on their own.

6 large sweet potatoes (about 4 pounds)
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 Tablespoons heavy cream

3 Tablespoons packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup sweet orange marmalade
1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh gingerroot
2 teaspoons salt

For topping
fourteen 3-inch crisp oatmeal cookies,(like HobNobs) broken into pieces (about 3 cups)

½ cup toasted pecans

3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1. Combine butter, cream, salt, sugar, and sweet potatoes in large pot; cook, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until potatoes fall apart when poked with fork, 45 to 55 minutes.

2. Off heat, mash sweet potatoes in saucepan with potato masher, then stir in marmalade and gingerroot .  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Spread potato mixture evenly in baking dish. Potato mixture may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring potato mixture to room temperature before proceeding.

Make topping:
In a food processor grind cookies fine. Add the pecans and pulse 3-4 times. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles soft cookie dough. Wrap topping in wax paper and chill until firm, about 2 hours. Topping may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

Preheat oven to 400F. Crumble topping over potato mixture and bake in middle of oven until topping is browned lightly, about 25-35 minutes.

Download Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Oatmeal Cookie Topping

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin cheesecake

Pumpkin Cheesecake

I’ve been making this cheesecake at Thanksgiving for years and it’s always a crowd pleaser. The Whipped cream topping is particularly good with the pumpkin spices; the addition of sour cream gives it a crème fraiche quality.

Cookie Crust :

4-5 whole graham crackers, broken into large pieces

25 Gingersnap cookies (about 1 cup crushed)

3 tablespoons granulated sugar 

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


1 1/3 cups granulated sugar (10 1/3 ounces)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 

1/4 teaspoon allspice 

1/2 teaspoon table salt 

1 cup pumpkin 

1 1/2 pounds cream cheese , cut into 1-inch chunks and left to soften at room temperature, about 30 minutes

1 tablespoon vanilla extract 

1 tablespoon lemon juice from 1 lemon

4 large eggs , left at room temperature, about 30 minutes

1 cup heavy cream 


1.    Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan evenly with nonstick cooking spray.

2.    Pulse cookies, crackers, sugar, and spices in food processor until evenly and finely ground, about fifteen 2-second pulses. Transfer crumbs to medium bowl, drizzle melted butter over, and mix with rubber spatula until evenly moistened.

3.    Turn crumbs into prepared springform pan and, using hand, spread crumbs into even layer. Using flat-bottomed measuring cup, press crumbs evenly into pan bottom, then use a soup spoon to press and smooth crumbs into edges of pan. Bake until fragrant and browned about the edges, about 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling.


1.    Bring about 4 quarts water to simmer in stockpot.

2.    Whisk sugar, spices, and salt in small bowl; set aside.

3.    In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat cream cheese at medium speed to break up and soften slightly, about 1 minute. Scrape beater and bottom and sides of bowl well with rubber spatula.

4.     Add about one third of sugar mixture and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute; scrape bowl and add remaining sugar in two additions, scraping bowl after each addition.

5.    Add pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat at medium speed until combined, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl. Add 2 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 1 minute; scrape bowl. Add remaining 2 eggs and beat at medium-low until incorporated, about 45 seconds; scrape bowl.

6.    Add heavy cream and beat at low speed until combined, about 45 seconds. Using rubber spatula, scrape bottom and sides of bowl and give final stir by hand.

7.    Set springform pan with cooled crust on 18-inch-square doubled layer heavy-duty foil and wrap bottom and sides with foil; set wrapped springform pan in roasting pan. Pour filling into springform pan and smooth surface; set roasting pan in oven and pour enough boiling water to come about halfway up side of springform pan.

8.    Bake until center of cake is slightly wobbly when pan is shaken, and center of cake registers 145 to 150 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 1 1/2 hours. Set roasting pan on wire rack and use paring knife to loosen cake from sides of pan. Cool until water is just warm, about 45 minutes.

9.    Remove springform pan from water bath, discard foil, and set on wire rack; continue to cool until barely warm, about 3 hours. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

TO SERVE: Slide thin metal spatula between crust and pan bottom to loosen, and then slide cake onto serving platter. Let cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve with Brown Sugar Whipped Cream

Brown Sugar and Bourbon Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream 

1/2 cup sour cream 

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar 

1/8 teaspoon table salt 

2 teaspoons bourbon 

1.     In bowl of standing mixer, whisk heavy cream, sour cream, brown sugar, and salt until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve cheesecake, at least 4 hours or up to 24, stirring once or twice during chilling to ensure that sugar dissolves.

2.    When ready to serve cheesecake, add bourbon and beat mixture with whisk attachment at medium speed until small bubbles form around edges, about 40 seconds; increase speed to high and continue to beat until fluffy and doubled in volume, about 1 minute longer. Spoon cream on individual slices of cheesecake.


Pumpkin cheesecake 3 

Pumpkin cheesecake 2 

Cheesecake 1  

Rustic Mashed Red Bliss Potatoes with Cream Cheese and Chives

Red potatoes mashed final 

One of my favorite mashed potato recipes  - great with Glazed Turkey Meatloaf -

This recipe is also featured on the popular blog ONE FOR THE TABLE - check it out there at:

Check out all the great recipes on ONE FOR THE TABLE

Rustic Mashed Red Bliss Potatoes with Cream Cheese and Chives


2 pounds Red Bliss potatoes (about 2 inches in diameter), unpeeled and scrubbed

Kosher salt 

1 bay leaf 

4 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and warm

1/2 cup cream cheese (4 ounces), at room temperature

2 tablespoons sour cream

 Ground black pepper 

3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (optional)


1.    Place potatoes in large saucepan and cover with 1 inch cold water; add 1 teaspoon salt and bay leaf. Bring to boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until paring knife can be inserted into potatoes with no resistance, 35 to 45 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain potatoes. Return potatoes to pot, discard bay, and allow potatoes to stand in pot, uncovered, until surfaces are dry, about 5 minutes.

2.    While potatoes dry, whisk melted butter and softened cream cheese in medium bowl until smooth and fully incorporated. Stir in sour cream and  2 tablespoons of reserved cooking water, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, chives (if using), and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Using rubber spatula or back of wooden spoon, smash potatoes just enough to break skins. Fold in butter/cream cheese mixture until most of liquid has been absorbed and chunks of potatoes remain. Add more cooking water 1 tablespoon at a time as needed, until potatoes are slightly looser than desired (potatoes will thicken slightly with standing). Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper; serve immediately.

Hearty Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

Wheat rolls


6 ¼ ounces Arrowhead Mills Organic 7-grain hot cereal mix , 1 1/4 cups

20 ounces boiling water (2 1/2 cups)

15 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour (3 cups), plus extra for dusting work surface

7 ½ ounces whole wheat flour (1 1/2 cups)

4 tablespoons honey 

4 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly

2 ½ teaspoons rapid rise yeast 

1 tablespoon table salt 

¾ cup pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, (unsalted)

½  cup old-fashioned rolled oats or quick oats


1. Place cereal mix in bowl of standing mixer and pour boiling water over it; let stand, stirring occasionally, until mixture cools to 100 degrees and resembles thick porridge, about 1 hour. Whisk flours in medium bowl.

2. Once grain mixture has cooled, add honey, melted butter, and yeast and stir to combine. Attach bowl to standing mixer fitted with dough hook. With mixer running on low speed, add flours, 1/2 cup at a time, and knead until dough forms ball, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes; cover bowl with plastic and let dough rest 20 minutes. Add salt and knead on medium-low speed until dough clears sides of bowl, 3 to 4 minutes (if it does not clear sides, add 2 to 3 tablespoons additional all-purpose flour and continue mixing); continue to knead dough for 5 more minutes. Add seeds and knead for another 15 seconds. Transfer dough to floured work surface and knead by hand until seeds are dispersed evenly and dough forms smooth, taut ball. Place dough into greased container with 4-quart capacity; cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled, 45 to 60 minutes.

3. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray two 9 by 9-inch baking pans with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and cut in half crosswise with knife or bench scraper. Cut each half into thirds, then into thirds again, to make 18 even sized pieces of dough. Gently roll each piece in circular motion to make round, then roll one side of dough in oats and place in baking pan, oat side up. Repeat to fill both baking pans with nine rolls each. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled in size, 30 to 40 minutes. (Dough should barely spring back when poked with knuckle.) Bake until internal temperature registers 200 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove rolls from pan and cool on wire rack for about 2 hours.