Thanksgiving WIth Friends

Thanksgiving is a great time of year to spend time with friends and make traditions.  This year was our second in a row celebrating Thanksgiving a week prior to the real deal, with all of our friends!  Rob and Laura hosted in their beautiful new home, which meant they made the turkey.  It turned out so flavorful and juicy, just like the pros- it was perfection! We brought along some Triple Chocolate Pumpkin Pie and the Roasted Garlic and Chive Mashed Potatoes ( recipes below).  Other tasty additions to our meal included Green Bean Casserole, fresh bread rolls, Sweet Potato Casserole, Lemon Almond Broccoli, Mixed Green Salad with Apple and Apple Dressing, Stuffing, Gravy… and then for a dessert cocktail Lauren brought along homemade Irish Cream- which was so good I can’t even put it in to words to do it justice!  Our Chocolate Pumpkin pie was rivaled only with a delicious homemade Pumpkin Pie- the verdict was Chocolate was very rich and almost similar to a cheesecake and the Original Pumpkin pie was perfect, light, creamy and the perfect blend of pumpkinny spices!

Triple-Chocolate Pumpkin Pie
Serves 12
( the filling made enough to fill 2- 9″ pie crusts, go for a store bought graham crust if desired!)
2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs (about 16 crackers)
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 61 percent cacao), finely chopped

6 ounces semisweet chocolate (preferably 55 percent cacao), chopped
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Ground cloves
1 ounce milk chocolate, melted


1.Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugars, salt, and cinnamon in bowl. Firmly press mixture into bottom and up sides of a deep, 9 1/2-inch pie dish. Bake until firm, 8 to 10 minutes.

2.Remove from oven, and sprinkle bittersweet chocolate over bottom of crust. Return to oven to melt chocolate, about 1 minute. Spread chocolate in a thin layer on bottom and up sides. Let cool on a wire rack. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.
3.Make the filling: In a large heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt semisweet chocolate and butter, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat.

4.Mix pumpkin, milk, brown sugar, eggs, cornstarch, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and a pinch of cloves in a medium bowl. Whisk 1/3 pumpkin mixture into chocolate mixture. Whisk in remaining pumpkin mixture until completely incorporated.

5.Transfer pie dish to a rimmed baking sheet, and pour pumpkin mixture into crust. Bake until center is set but still a bit wobbly, 55 to 60 minutes. Let cool in pie dish on a wire rack. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 8 hours (preferably overnight). Before serving, drizzle melted milk chocolate on top. Serve immediately.
Read more at Triple-Chocolate Pumpkin Pie – Martha Stewart Recipes

Roasted Garlic and Chive Mashed Potatoes
( Serves 12)

5 pound bag of Yukon Gold potatoes, washed and cut in to cubes
1 stick un-salted butter, cut in tablespoons
1 head of garlic, roasted
1/4 cup chives, chopped
1/2 cup buttermilk, lowfat

Salt and Pepper

To roast Garlic, wrap the whole clove rubbed with olive oil in foil and bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes at 350.  It should be soft and fragrant. 

Place potatoes in a large pot with water to cover.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook for 30-35 miutes, until potatoes are fork tender.  Drain, return to stove in pot.  To fully dry potatoes, keep flame on under the pot and toss potatoes around until steam ceases.  This keeps your mashed potatoes light and fluffy not pasty. 

Using a fork or hand masher, blend in the whole head of garlic by squeezing each clove out of its shell.  Add in the butter ( save 2 tablespoons), mashing well after each tablespoon.  Slowly add in buttermilk, you may not use all, just mash in till desired consistancy.  Salt and Pepper, add chives and more butter to taste.


Spinach and Garbanzo Bean Salad

Light and refreshing salad, great for lunches with high protein, very filling garbonzo beans.

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
4 cups baby spinach leaves
Yogurt with Orange Essence, recipe below, optional
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves, optional


In a medium bowl combine the chickpeas, parsley and onion. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, zest, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the chickpea mixture and toss to combine. Serve the chickpea salad over a bed of spinach leaves. Top with the yogurt sauce and a sprinkle of mint, if using.

Yogurt with Orange Essence:

1/3 cup lowfat plain yogurt
1/4 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon honey

In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, orange zest, orange juice and honey.

Butternut Squash Ravioli and White Wine Butter Sauce

Who doesn’t love fall, especially the wonderful one we are enjoying this year?  With it comes some incredible produce like squash… acorn- pumpkin- spaghetti- butternut, and all are loaded with vitamins and nutrients that happen to be very tasty, especially when mixed with a blend of goats cheese, green onions and basil in ravioli!  Try this recipe and you will NOT be disappointed.  We usually only make enough to have for dinner since leftovers do not keep well.  Freeze and store the remaining filling for more future ravioli dinners, appetizer dips or fillings, or as a sauce on rice or whole grain pasta.
Serves 4
1 lb Butternut Squash, peeled seeded and cubed
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
3 scallions (green onions), thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth ( low sodium)
To make:
1 package of Wonton Wrappers
2 tablespoons water, to seal
To Serve:
Fresh Basil
Parmesan Shavings
More fresh cracked pepper
Put cubed squash in a large pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for additional 25 minutes until it is fork tender.  Drain well and return to pot.  Stir in goat cheese, scallions, salt and pepper.  Set aside.
Melt butter in a frying pan, add in broth and wine.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 10 minutes until reduced.  Set aside.
Bring another pot of water to boil to cook ravioli in.  Have a slotted spoon to remove them once cooked nearby as well as a large platter.
Set up a clean work surface to build your ravioli- bring the filling mixture, 2 tablespoons of water in a shallow little bowl and wonton wrappers.  Have the wonton wrappers laid out to make 4 at a time, so 8 wonton wrappers in a 4 x2 configuration.  Dip your finger in the water and swipe the edges of the wonton wrappers around the outer edge.  Place about 2 teaspoons of filling directly in the center of your wonton and top with the other wrapper, seal with a fork around the outer edges as shown in our picture. 
Working in batches of 4 at time continue to build as many ravioli as desired.  Place 4 at a time in to the pot of boiling water for 2 minutes, then with your slotted spoon remove them and place on your platter.  They stick to each other if you stack them, so keep it to one layer. 
To serve, place a portion of the ravioli on 4 plates, divide and spoon on the sauce, fresh basil, parmesan shavings, and fresh cracked pepper!

Banana Pancakes

Breakfast has always been our favorite meal, whether it’s making it at home or going out to a quaint and yummy restaurant.  There’s no doubt that when you wake up to start a new day, with the sun rising, the smell of freshly brewed coffee, and being in warm pj’s… that breakfast is a special meal, especially on the weekends with ample time to make delicious creations!   Pancakes are a favorite for many, and they are fun to customize based on your cravings or ingredients on hand.  To make a heart healthy AND very delicious, light, fluffy pancakes- follow this recipe and enjoy a happy morning 🙂

Yield: 4 servings (serving size 2, 5-inch pancakes)


DRY ingredients:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Sift together dry ingredients in a medium size bowl. 

** Sifting breaks up clumps, adds air to the flour which helps produce lighter cakes, and makes measurement more uniform**
WET Ingredients:
2 large eggs
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup mashed banana ( about 1 medium)
1/2 cup non-fat milk
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In another medium bowl, beat together the eggs then add buttermilk, banana, non-fat milk, honey and vanilla.

** Substitute the mashed banana for an equal amount of either Pumpkin puree, Applesauce or just buttermilk. 
*** If you don’t have buttermilk on hand simply add a tablespoon of lemon juice to regular milk, stir and let rest for about 3-5 minutes, and bada bing you’ll have Buttermilk!

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing only enough to combine them. The batter will be somewhat lumpy.

Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to ladle the batter onto the griddle or skillet. Flip the pancake when the top is bubbling and it is golden brown on the bottom. Then cook until the other side is golden brown. Hold on an oven proof plate in the oven until the entire batch is ready. When all the pancakes are ready, you can serve with warm pure maple syrup or fresh made fruit preserves and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar!