An American Thanksgiving

Kind of a repetitive title, seeing as Thanksgiving is an American holiday but go with it! 

This past Sunday Gail and I put on a proper Thanksgiving feast for the gang. Despite a few grocery hurdles (including seeking out “an American store” for corn bread mix) it was a successful meal! Our menu included turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn casserole, green beans, stuffing, rolls, cranberries, pumpkin pie and cheesecake. Needless to say everyone was stuffed by the end : )

I used the November issue of Bon Appetit magazine to put together a stuffing recipe. This is very forgiving with portions and substitutions so definitely switch it up for your liking! 


Homemade Holiday Stuffing

Serves 12-15 as a side dish amongst many other things!

1 ½ tbsp chopped fresh thyme

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

½ cup (1 stick) of butter, plus 2 tbsp

2 cups chicken broth

2 large eggs, beaten to blend

Cookware: Large frying pan, greased 9” by 13” baking dish

1 small loaf of French white bread

Olive oil

8 ounces pork sausage, casings removed

6 stalks of celery, chopped

3-4 large carrots, chopped

1 medium leek, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

Tear up the bread into rough 1 inch pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in the large frying pan over medium to high heat and cook the pork sausage until brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Don’t worry about little pink bits as this will further cook in the oven.

Transfer the sausage to the mixing bowl. Add all of the chopped vegetables and herbs and cook until softened, 5-7 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the veggies to the mixing bowl. Add the apple cider vinegar to the pan to deglaze, allowing this to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the ½ cup of butter and cook until melted. Drizzle this over the mixing bowl mixture.

Combine the chicken broth and eggs in a separate container. Pour over the bread mixture and stir. Do this in batches until the bread is fully hydrated. Salt and pepper if needed.

Transfer the entire mix to the greased baking pan and dot with the remaining butter. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for an additional 30 minutes so that the top is brown and a bit crunchy.

Let sit 5 minutes or so to set before serving.


Logan’s Tips

-The added sausage provides a high level of salt. Consider reducing or omitting completely the addition of salt to the mixture before baking.

-This can be made a few hours ahead of time before cooking, just top with the foil and set aside. Keep this at room temperature to stay true to the cooking time. 

-The cook time and temperature is flexible; if you need to increase the oven temperature just slightly reduce the second half of cooking time.

Fresh and Bright Mango Shrimp Salsa

Sometimes the best recipes are born out of a desperation to use food before it goes bad! I threw together this salsa with a hodge podge of items I had on hand, and it was fantastic. 

Fresh and Bright Mango Shrimp Salsa serves 1-2

1 mango, diced

1/2 avocado, diced

8 shrimp (I love the Trader Joe’s frozen, cooked, peeled and deveined ones), cut into bite sized pieces 

1/4 red onion, diced finely 

1/4 jalapeño pepper, diced finely 

juice of 1 lime


Combine everything in a bowl and stir to mix. The lime juice will help prevent the avocado from browning so you can make this ahead of time. 

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Couscous Pilaf

This side dish is absolutely to die for. The recipe is straight off the Trader Joe’s Israeli Couscous box, with just a few little tweaks I’ve perfected from making this multiple times. Seriously, I could simply eat this alone for a meal. Since the sweet and savory flavor is so complex, pair this with a simple protein and side salad. 

Couscous Pilaf serves 4

3 Tbsp butter, divided

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/3 cup shallots, finely chopped

1 box Israeli couscous 

1 large cinnamon stick

1 dried bay leaf

1 3/4 cups chicken broth

salt to taste

1/3 cup parsley, minced

zest of 1 lemon

1/3 cup raisins

1 tsp ground cinnamon

black pepper to taste


Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add pine nuts and stir until golden brown (watch closely so they don’t burn!). Transfer to a small bowl.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the same pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until golden. Add couscous, cinnamon stick and bay leaf and stir until the couscous slightly browns. Add chicken broth and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender. Remove from heat and stir in parsley, pine nuts, lemon zest and raisins. Season with cinnamon and black pepper. 

Sweet and Savory Roasted Brussels Sprouts

This is such a simple yet flavor packed recipe. The slow roasting crisps up the Brussels sprouts, adding a fantastic crunch. And the pairing of veggies with sweet red grapes makes this the perfect combination of sweet and savory. This dish is great paired with roast turkey or a piece of chicken. I’m dedicating this one to my pal Steph, who is my fellow Brussels sprouts lover! 


Sweet and Savory Roasted Brussels Sprouts serves 4 as a side dish

1 pound Brussels sprouts (about 2 cups), washed, trimmed and halved

2 cups red seedless grapes, washed

1 cup mushrooms, washed, stems removed and diced

3/4 cup unsalted walnuts

2 Tbsp. oil (hazelnut, coconut, olive, etc.)

salt

pepper

cinnamon


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or cover with parchment paper. Place the Brussels sprouts, grapes, mushrooms and walnuts on the baking sheet and lightly stir to mix. Drizzle the oil over the mixture.

Cook for approximately 45 minutes or until vegetables are soft and crisp around the edges (my oven cooks faster therefore I lowered the temperature after 30 minutes to 350 degrees and removed from the oven after a total cook time of 40 minutes). 

Salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle a light dusting of cinnamon over the mixture. 

Enjoy!

All Things Corn

Every spring, I start to get anxious for summer corn. Perfectly sweet, summer corn (or maize) makes for the ideal side dish or addition to recipes. 

How to buy it and store it-

Peel back the top of the husk of each ear of corn at the store to make sure it’s fresh, with plump kernels. Husks should be green and not dried out. Once home, keep the corn cobs in their husks until you are ready to cook. 

How to prepare it-

Shuck the corn husks and pull off any stray silks. 

Summer corn can be eaten raw; cut the kernels off of the cob and toss into salads. 

The raw kernels can be microwaved to cook if you’d prefer to eat it this way. This also is the ideal preparation for freezing; place cooked loose corn into individual ziploc bags and freeze for up to six months. 

Now to eat on the cob, simply place the cleaned cobs in a large pot. Cover with water, place the lid on the pot and bring the water to a boil. Let it boil just a minute or two then remove from the water. 

Corn cobs can be served with corn holders (like these!) to make it easier to eat. Summer corn is so rich in flavor, it doesn’t need any seasoning or butter added. 

Corn nutrition-

Corn is rich in fiber and antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenoids including lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytochemicals that promote healthy vision). One medium cob of corn is approximately 75 calories, and a cup approximately 150 calories. The nutritional breakdown of corn is roughly: 

  • Carbohydrates – 82%
  • Fats – 10%
  • Protein – 8%

What are some of your favorite summer recipes with corn? 

CTB: Tomato & Avocado Salad

I decided to kick off my cooking endeavors with Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook “My Father’s Daughter” with a salad. The book contains a fair share of salads, and the best part is that Gwen includes homemade salad dressing recipes to go along with these dishes. 

I’m always reminded of just how simple it is to whip up your own dressing. Not only that, but you are using fresh ingredients you are eliminating all of the nasty chemicals and artificial junk that bottled salad dressing are laden with. 

I halved the portions of Gwen’s initial recipe, and ate this as my main course for dinner one night. I also made several substitutions based on what ingredients I had access to, and I’ve noted these changes below. 

Tomato & Avocado Salad Serves 4 as a side salad, 2 as a main 

4 large handfuls of Butter lettuce, washed and roughly torn (Gwen suggested using mizuna, a peppery Japanese lettuce) 

1 cup cherry tomatoes, washed and halved 

1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced

1/2 cup Miso Dressing (see below)

1 Tbsp sesame seeds (I used black sesame seeds) 


Put the lettuce on a serving platter. Scatter the tomatoes and avocado over the lettuce. Drizzle with the dressing and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. 


Miso Dressing makes approximately 1 1/4 cups

1/2 cup peeled and roughly chopped diced Vidalia onion

1 small garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped (I used crushed garlic)

1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp white miso

2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp soy sauce (consider reducing this amount at first  to 1 Tbsp then adding more to taste)

2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar 

2 Tbsp mirin (I did not have this so I substituted a dash of Truvia, an all natural sweetener)

2 Tbsp water 

1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp oil (olive, vegetable, etc)

A few grinds of black pepper

Sea salt, to taste


Blitz everything but the oil together in a blender (I did this is the food processor) until smooth. Slowly stream in the oil and lightly mix together. Season to taste with the salt and pepper (and additional soy sauce). 

Logan’s Thoughts

I liked the simplicity of this recipe, and I would definitely make this again. It’s a quick dish to whip up and it’s perfect for warm summer days when the last thing you want to do is turn on the stove. If you wanted to expand on the meal, I’d suggest adding a protein such as shredded chicken or a piece of grilled salmon.The combination of the avocado and tomato, along with the fun addition of sesame seeds, was delicious.

I really liked the general taste of the dressing, though I found the original batch a bit too salty. As I noted above, I’d consider reducing the amount of soy sauce and omitting the salt at first. This will allow you to salt to taste. I’d also consider playing around with the amounts of water and oil to balance out the flavor. Overall, I’d say to mess around with the amounts of each ingredient to get the dressing to your liking. 

Yummy Bran Muffins {Giveaway}

I’m back with another recipe and another giveaway for you!

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve recently partnered up with Hamilton Beach to become a Brand Ambassador. I’ll be reviewing their products and providing giveaway opportunities to my readers.

Read all about my experience with the SoftScrape 6 Speed Hand Mixer here and enter to win one for yourself! 

Today, it’s all about the Hamilton Beach 6 Speed Stand Mixer. I’ve paired my review with one of my kitchen staples: healthy yet delicious bran muffins! These rockstar baked goods can be customized with any combination of ingredients: some of my favorites include dried cherries, chocolate chips, or fresh lemon and blueberry like I made below. 

But let’s chat about the mixer first, shall we? I have never owned or used a stand mixer before. I’ve always thought of them as something that only “serious bakers” owned, plus was put off by the high price tag and large footprint on a counter. 

This is what makes the Hamilton Beach version so great. The size is compact; I love the narrow design and how it fits on my countertop. The bowl size is 3.5 quarts; for personal use this is a great size and I had tons of room to spare in the bowl when I made my single batch of muffins. If you were going to make a boatload of cookies though, you might wish that the bowl held more. The bottom of the unit has small suction cups which keep the mixer in place. The mixer comes with three attachments: a flat beater, a whisk, and a dough hook. 

But the best part? The top of the unit tilts up with the press of a button! This lets you easily pull out the mixing bowl or have more room to add ingredients. 

I do wish it tilted back a bit more; I had to weirdly angle myself to add in ingredients. Some of this might have been due to where I positioned the mixer on my counter. This isn’t a deal breaker, just something to get used to when using the mixer. 

The mixing head spins as it rotates inside the bowl, scraping the sides to allow minimal scraping by hand with a spatula.There are 6 speeds and a special “fold” setting. I love the little cheat sheet that is on the side of the unit for what attachment and speed to use!

I was very impressed by this mixer and would not hesitate to recommend it to friends. It was easy to go through the steps of my recipe, adding in the ingredients as needed. As I mentioned I barely had to scrape the sides of the bowl as the design of the attachment let the whisk do all of the work. It’s also definitely important to mention that this product retails for a fraction of the cost of the “it” stand mixer by KitchenAid. I’m looking forward to incorporating the stand mixer into my cooking! Now for what I made: 

Bran Muffinsmakes 12 muffins

1 cup each: rolled oats, plain yogurt

1/2 cup each: no sugar added applesauce, packed brown sugar

1 egg

1/3 cup each: oat bran, wheat germ all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour

1 teaspoon each: salt, baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 pint of fresh blueberries*

zest of 1 lemon*

*You can customize the ingredients to your liking; the possibilities are endless! Nuts, peanut butter chips, pineapple, any dried fruit, coconut….go crazy with your combinations! 

 

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12 muffin cup pan with liners. 

Combine oats and yogurt and let stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the applesauce, sugar and egg in your stand mixer (or with a hand mixer). 

Combine oat bran, wheat germ, both flours, salt, baking powder and soda in a separate bowl. 

Yes, that is a spatula with a pig on it. I may also have a matching whisk...
Yes, that is a spatula with a pig on it. I may also have a matching whisk…

Add the oat/yogurt mixture in with the applesauce/sugar/egg mixture until blended. Then add in the flour mixture. 

By hand, stir in your add-on ingredients of choice.

Divide batter among muffin cups, about 2/3 full. Bake about 22-23 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Muffins should be stored in an airtight container up to 3 days (more like 2 if it is warm in your kitchen), or 4 if in the refrigerator. These freeze wonderfully; I recommend making a double batch and freezing the lot! You can then defrost as needed. 

I hope you love these as much as I do! They really are surprisingly wonderful; the applesauce ensures they aren’t dry. And you don’t have to feel guilty about having one! 

And drumroll….the giveaway! 

The details:

-This giveaway will run from Wednesday, May 7th (12 AM) to Friday, May 9th (11:59 PM).

-To clarify, you are entering to win a brand new Hamilton Beach 6 Speed Stand Mixer. I will coordinate with the winner and Hamilton Beach to have the mixer shipped directly to you from their distribution center. 

-Using the Rafflecopter box below, log in and leave me a comment below telling me what your favorite spring-inspired dish is to make. 

-You can also follow me on Twitter (@loganmer) for extra points to win!

-Make sure you have clicked the link for this particular post so that the comment box shows up!

-Rafflecopter will randomly select the winner, who I will reach out to over the weekend. 

Good luck! 

Update: This giveaway has ended and a winner has been selected at random by Rafflecopter. Thank you to all who entered and I appreciate you checking out Sage & Serendipity! 

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“Five Star” Muffins

In keeping with my vegan attempts for the month of March, I made a batch of completely vegan and gluten free sweet potato muffins. The key ingredient in these is Chinese five-spice powder, which in my mind I keep accidentally calling “five star” powder. After making these, I think it’s fair to call them “five-star” muffins : )

“Five Star” Muffins

adapted from “It’s All Good” recipe

2 sweet potatoes (or 1 really large one)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

3/4 cup good quality maple syrup, plus a little extra for brushing the muffins

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups gluten-free flour (and add 1 tsp xanthan gum* if the flour doesn’t include it). You can also use regular/whole wheat/spelt/whatever flour you have on hand if you don’t mind the gluten. 

2 tsps baking powder

2 tsps baking soda 

1 1/2 Tbsp Chinese five-spice powder (I found mine at Whole foods; it’s a blend of cinnamon, fennel, cloves, star anise and white pepper, and really takes these muffins to the next level.)

1/2 tsp fine sea salt 

*This is a binding agent to hold food particles together, making it the ideal substitute in gluten-free baking. It’s a tad pricey but a little goes a long way.

Wrap your sweet potatoes in a dish towel and microwave until soft (about 8 minutes). Cut in half and allow to cool. 

Meanwhile, whisk together your wet ingredients (olive oil, milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract) in a medium sized bowl. Set aside. Mix together your dry ingredients (everything else) in a large bowl and set aside.

Peel the skin off of the sweet potatoes and place into the bowl with the wet ingredients. Using an electric beater, whisk the ingredients together until blended. Add in the dry ingredients until everything is mixed.

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Prep a 12 cup muffin tin with muffin liners and spoon the mixture into each section. Bake for 12 minutes, then baste the top of each muffin with maple syrup. Bake for another 5 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy!

Note: like many homemade baked goods, these have no preservatives and therefore will dry out/get yucky quickly when left out. Keep these in a sealed container in a dry, cool place and transfer to the refrigerator after a day or so. They should then keep up to 5 days. You can also freeze them and defrost as you need.