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Archive for the ‘Holiday dishes’ Category

At warm-up Thanksgiving this year, the annual pot luck my friend Jenna hosts a few days before Thanksgiving, I brought a butternut and kale side dish that was a hit. The butternut squash is tossed with spices and olive oil before it is roasted, and then sautéed onions, dried cranberries, and toasted pumpkin seeds are added to a bed of leafy green kale.

Not only does it look pretty on the table, it tastes delicious! This dish quickly emptied out at our pre-Thanksgiving meal.

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On most American Thanksgiving tables, pumpkin pie is as much a presence as the turkey centerpiece. In modern forms it may appear as a flan, a cheesecake, or a frozen whipped delight.

In a Victorian-era cookbook, “The Art of Cookery: A Manual for Home and Schools” by Emma P Ewing, I found a recipe for a pumpkin pie that surprised me for two reasons: the heavy use of molasses and no cinnamon.

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My Grandma Ruth’s birthday fell on the Fourth of July and hardly a year went by that she wasn’t presented with a sheet cake made to look like a flag with a blueberry-studded square in the upper left corner and rows of slivered strawberries marching across white frosting. Sometimes the sugary Old Glory was topped with sparklers.

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The Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Ky., falls on May 4-5, 2012. I’m not really swept up in the culture around the Derby, even though my mom lived in Lexington for nearly two decades. In my most cynical moments, I can’t understand the big to-do around a 2 minute race.

But I admit, I cried through “Seabiscuit,” “Secretariat,” and “War Horse.” There is something about these majestic, beautiful, intelligent creatures in motion that stirs the human spirit, no matter how intellectual one becomes about the trappings and heartbreak of betting on a horse.

What I do love without question is a Kentucky Pie That Shall Not Be Named – gooey pecans and chocolate over a buttery crust and smothered in a dollop of fresh whipped cream. With the Derby falling on Cinco de Mayo this year, I got to thinking about the perfect marriage: Mexican chocolate and buttery pecans.

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Forget plastic green grass. Go au naturel with these delightful and easy-to-make Chocolate Easter Baskets. You will need exactly three ingredients: a bag of pretzel sticks, a bag of semi sweet chocolate chips (or your favorite chocolate), a bag of mini candy-shelled Cadbury Eggs.

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You might call this a pre St. Patrick’s Day post, except here in Boston I’m a little bit late. St. Patrick’s Day celebrations start the weekend before March 17 because there just simply isn’t enough time to get in all the Irish-related festivities in just a day or two. We may not dye our river green the way Chicago does, but this is still the home of the Boston Celtics. Plus, we are geographically closer to Ireland than Chicago, so I think this qualifies us as more authentically Irish-American than our Midwestern cousins. Somehow. (more…)

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In the middle of the rush to get ready for the holidays, Rebecca stopped by armed with two shopping bags full of ingredients. As I wrapped presents she worked on these Cherry Winks for her colleagues at the private school on Beacon Hill where she teaches.

Cherry Winks aren’t a part of my Christmas memory index, but they do bring to mind Christmases of times past when our family Christmas tree was festooned with wildly blinking colored lights. (I’m partial to the calmer, classic white lights now.) The unnaturally bright red and green of the maraschino cherry toppers fit right in with all that sparkles and glows this season.

A reader of Stir It Up! shared an interesting history of Cherry Winks with me: “That recipe has a long history. Ruth Derousseau of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, entered it into the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest of 1950 as Cherry Winks and won the Junior First Prize. I think pecans and dates were actually part of the original recipe.”

When I finally stretched out in a chair Cricket climbed into my lap and started purring loudly as if to say, “Stay here for awhile.”

Faster than a wink of an eye, Rebecca handed me a mug of peppermint tea and a plate of warm cherry blinks. She changed things up a bit from the traditional recipe, using pecans and dried dates. Crunchy and sweet with their festive cherries, these would make a delicious addition to any Christmas cookie platter.

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Things are definitely looking cheery and sparkly and sugary these days. Thanksgiving may be all about gratitude and huge, heaping platefuls of food, but food traditions around Christmas tend to have more ethereal qualities like imagination and hope and wonder.

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For some reason Brussels sprouts is a vegetable capable of releasing passion. Like this:

I love Brussels sprouts!

or

I hate Brussels sprouts!

Very rarely do you hear, “Brussels sprouts? Meh. I could take them or leave them.”

It’s sad really, because in the much-loved, much-hated division we are all overlooking an important point: Brussels sprouts are cute.

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From last year’s archives,  I thought I’d dig it out this annual favorite for Thanksgiving 2012!

Every Thanksgiving I brace myself for the inevitable: green bean casserole.

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