Amy’s Classic Cheese Ball

Amy’s Classic Cheese BallPortion Control
The biggest struggle for me on Thanksgiving (and I am sure I have mentioned this before) is managing my appetite leading up to the big event. Because we eat our Thanksgiving around two or three o’clock, my usual meal schedule is knocked completely out of whack.

I’ve tried over the years to have a substantial breakfast and coast into the big meal. But, I find it makes me hangry around one o’clock. Not a good situation for spending time with family. Also, eating that much food before the early morning trek to my mother-in-law’s- house is rough. I have tried to just eat a bunch of little things throughout the morning but I end up not hungry enough to get the whole turkey/gravy/cranberry experience.

I think the sweet spot is to have a normal breakfast at a normal time and then have a reasonable snack somewhere around the noontime hour. This is all well and good considering I am not the one making all the food for the feast. It’s hard enough to make sure everyone’s favorite is on the table—let alone to make certain there are also snacks. So, having something that is easy to prepare and doesn’t require extra ingredients is key. The best thing I’ve found is a cheese ball.

Cheese balls are great! You can make them with ingredients you already have in your fridge. And, you can customize them five weeks from Sunday. So, here is our recipe for Amy’s Classic Cheese Ball. I emphasize that this is my basic recipe because I like to add cayenne to it. Not everyone is into spice. So, you can leave it out if you prefer.

Most of the ingredients should be in your fridge already or they would be easy to grab on the way to pick up your turkey—along with some precut veggies and a box of your favorite crackers. You can make this the night before and pull it out when the I’m starving whining begins.

Amy’s Classic Cheese Ball Recipe
Serves 12 (sometimes more depending on appetite) Read more…

Fall Salad with Delicata Squash, Caramelized Apples, and Bacon

Fall Salad with Delicata Squash, Caramelized Apples, and Bacon

Eat Your Greens
As a kid, I always used to laugh at my mother’s and grandmother’s attempts at adding more veggies to the thanksgiving table. I mean, let’s be real. I was only there for the bird and the carbs. You can keep your green beans, thanks. The older I have gotten though, the more I look forward to something to help digest the potato and stuffing carb bomb.

The green beans are still an important part of our celebration. But, in recent years we’ve included various salads as well, such as this recipe for Persimmon, Asian Pear, and Toasted Almond Salad. Now, I am not the biggest salad person. Some people, like my sister, have salads with everything. That is not me. I kinda have to be in the mood for a salad. And, even then, using the word salad might be a bit of a stretch. I like additions to my salads. Chances are if I have made a salad, it is not just a bowl of greens. There will be a random mix of things like pieces of various fruits, cheese, nuts (usually spiced or candied), or cut-up cooked meats like chicken or even better, bacon.

On a recent trip to Oregon, while y’all were dealing with the “bomb cyclone” and 50 feet of rain, I had the opportunity to visit Powell’s, my favorite bookstore. If you have never been to Powell’s bookstore in Portland you are missing out. If you have, well then, you know. I could spend days in there and still want more. On this trip, I found a Portland Farmers Market cookbook that I have been working my way through since I returned.

Amongst the pages of beautiful Pacific Northwest offerings, I found this recipe for Fall Salad with Delicata Squash, Caramelized Apples, and Bacon. It would be the perfect addition as something green and a bit different for your Thanksgiving table.

Fall Salad with Delicata Squash, Caramelized Apples, and Bacon
Adapted from the Portland Farmers Market Cookbook
Yields 4 to 6 servings Read more…

Stuffed Cinderella Pumpkin

Stuffed Cinderella PumpkinOther
What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word Thanksgiving? If I had to guess, most people would say a turkey (followed very quickly by pie). It would make sense. Thanksgiving is the one holiday where everyone eats the same stuff…right?

Yes, turkey is what’s expected for your Thanksgiving feast. But, what if you don’t like turkey? I have a number of friends who are not fans of the majestic bird—either because of the flavor or the fact that it can dry out and feel like you’re eating sawdust. Plenty more can’t fit one in their oven. Most of those people choose to go with something different like a beautiful prime rib or a spiral cut ham. Either of these will please a crowd and screams of celebration.

That being said, presentation is everything. There is something about the drama of bringing a turkey or other roast to the table to carve that reminds you that this is not your typical Thursday dinner. I have thought about this a lot and I have always felt disappointment on behalf of vegetarians that they don’t always get to feel that excitement. Now, not being a vegetarian myself, I could be totally off the mark here. And, there are any number of ways to make an entrance with a vegetarian entrée. I would love to hear what those options might be.

In the meantime, I think this recipe for a Stuffed Cinderella Pumpkin would fit that bill and make a fantastic entrance while still having all the drama and ceremony of a traditional carving.

If you have seen the cover of the November issue of Food & Wine you know what I am talking about. This Greens and Cheese Stuffed Pumpkin is gorgeous and would even work well as a fantastic side if you use a smaller pumpkin….

Stuffed Cinderella Pumpkin
Adapted from Anna Theoktisto for Food and Wine Magazine
Yields 8 Servings Read more…

Endive, Orange & Bleu Cheese Salad

Endive, Orange & Bleu Cheese SaladSalad Queen
My sister is the Salad Queen. No matter what the occasion, she can be counted on to bring a bowl of greens in any of a thousand iterations. It’s a good thing, as everyone could use more greens in their life. But, her leafy predictability has also become kind of a family joke. She can also be counted on for a rockin’ good cake. But, I digress….

One thing I have noticed over the years is that while she loves to experiment, she does have her favorites. And, they change with the seasons—as you would expect. A couple of weeks ago, when the weather actually started to feel like Fall, we were at her house for dinner. We enjoyed a lovely pork tenderloin along with some spicy sweet potatoes and this Endive, Orange & Bleu Cheese Salad. It is one of my favorites as well. And, it is a more accurate signal that the seasons have changed than anything else I know…as one or both of us will make it as soon as we have a reason too.

This salad is a great side for any fall-themed dinner. But it is also good the next day for lunch—especially with some sliced cooked chicken or whatever is left over from the night before. This also works for Thanksgiving if you’re someone who is thinking ahead.

Endive, Orange & Bleu Cheese Salad
Yields 2 Servings
Adapted from Ina Garten and The Food Network
Read more…