For those of you not familiar with pecan tassies, they are bite-size pecan pies. A guaranteed crowd-pleaser, they are perfect for holiday festivities and easy to prepare. We always have these on our Thanksgiving table. The pecans are freshly harvested and at their peak so they taste fantastic. And, after a big meal of turkey and dressing, one or two of these diminutive desserts are the perfect way to end the feast. A “tassie” is defined as a small cup, and these petite pies are baked in a mini-muffin tin. Pecan tassies feature the flavors and textures of pecan pie — tender and buttery crust, crunchy pecans and brown-sugar filling — all in one delicious bite.
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When it comes to Thanksgiving dessert, I come from a family of traditionalists. Pies are required, and they typically come in both pumpkin and apple (though when the gluten-free gather with us, I’ll often make an apple crisp with GF oats instead).
As I was plotting out my contributions to the two Thanksgiving meals I’m attending this year, however, I started to ponder options beyond the classic. Part of the reason I feel so free to monkey with the tried and true is that I’m attending two collaborative dinners (really, that’s just a fancy term for a potluck). I know others will bring the requisite pies, and so I am free to explore a little.
For my husband’s family, I’m taking vanilla pound cake with runny raspberry jam for topping. We’re traveling several hours for that meal and I know those cakes will survive even the most-arduous journey over the river, through the woods and up the New Jersey Turnpike. I made the jam with fresh fruit this summer, but a similar batch could easily be made by combining 2 pounds of frozen berries, 2 cups of sugar and a little lemon juice, then simmering until thick.
Mashed potatoes, stuffing and other sides that come in a delightful shade of beige make Thanksgiving the great holiday that it is. Still, everything in life is better with balance — even these all-important potato- and bread-based dishes. Next Thursday, build a well-rounded Thanksgiving plate with vibrant, seasonal vegetable recipes for classic Thanksgiving side dishes.
Though the green bean casserole of years past might have meant canned cream of mushroom soup and limp green beans, Alton Brown’s Best-Ever Green Bean Casserole (pictured above) is a modern take made totally from scratch. Fresh, crunchy green beans, half-and-half and real mushrooms give the dish its distinctive flavor, while home-fried onions create the crucial crispy topping.
The Thanksgiving turkey is the centerpiece of your holiday spread and has the potential to be the most-remembered component of the feast, so when it comes to picking a recipe to help you make the bird, you want one you can trust. That’s where Food Network comes in. Stick to these classic, tried-and-true recipes to transform your turkey into a holiday showstopper — best of all, each is a can-do pick from one of your favorite chefs, like Anne Burrell, Alton Brown and Bobby Flay. Read on below to get their top turkey recipes, then visit Thanksgiving Central for more holiday inspiration.
5. Big, Brined Herby Turkey — The secret to Anne’s super-moist bird is her brining method. She lets the turkey chill in a salt water-herb bath for three days so the meat has a chance to absorb flavor before it cooks.
4. Good Eats Roast Turkey — With a 5-star rating and nearly 5,000 user reviews, Alton’s no-fail turkey is the ultimate in Thanksgiving simplicity. After brining the bird, he roasts it first at 500 degrees F so it develops a golden-brown exterior, then lowers the temperature as the meat turns moist and finishes cooking.
A good breadbasket is a necessity on any Thanksgiving table. A warm, fluffy roll sops up the last gravy, cranberry sauce and potatoes on a plate better than any utensil ever could, and there’s nothing better for piling on leftovers than a fresh slice — especially when the bread is homemade. This year, fill up your Thanksgiving Breadbasket with cornbread, biscuits, rolls and more from your very own oven.
Bundling up in your scarf, gloves and hat isn’t the only efficient way to stay cozy this fall. Warm up with Veggie Pot Pie with Cornmeal Pie Crust from Damaris Phillips’ recipe reserve this Monday. This steamy, comforting dish is exactly what your body needs while adapting to the worsening weather. The recipe calls for fragrant ingredients like rosemary, thyme, mushroom broth and sherry vinegar, as well as hearty, substantial vegetables like potatoes, yams, parsnips, celery, shiitake mushrooms and frozen peas. And the fixings prove that the meal will please your palate along with your nose.
This recipe stands out because it calls for a made-from-scratch crust that consists merely of flour, cornmeal, salt, butter and an egg yolk. You’ll be happy you didn’t bother with those store-bought, premade crusts when you realize that all it takes to make this showstopper crust is a food processor.
When you look around your Thanksgiving table, the usual suspects are likely in sight: the buttery mashed potatoes, tangy cranberry sauce, from-generation-to-generation stuffing. If your family’s go-to menu is going from “traditional” to “monotonous,” perhaps it’s high time to try new seasonal side dishes that will reinvigorate your spread for years to come. Unexpected yet comforting, these newcomers are bound to become family favorites.
Long and vibrant, market-fresh Steamed Carrots with Lemon-Dill Vinaigrette (pictured above) may be simple, but they sure make a statement on the table. Steaming the carrots whole keeps them crunchy, while tossing them in vinaigrette while still warm helps them absorb all of the flavor.
Sweet potatoes are good, and good for you. Most comfort-food recipes absolutely drown them in butter and sugar. I haven’t always been fond of sweet potatoes. Then, I realized it wasn’t the sweet potato I didn’t like; it was the insane amounts of granulated sugar, brown sugar, marshmallows, maple syrup, vanilla extract and butter Southerners traditionally heap on top of them. With all that added flavor, it’s impossible to taste the naturally sweet and earthy essence of the actual sweet potato! In regard to marshmallows, frankly, I prefer them in a steaming cup of cocoa or sandwiched with a piece of chocolate between two graham crackers! This down-home-comfort fall dish is certainly sweet enough and is topped with a seasonally appropriate partner of chopped pecans. Read more
Winter is coming, and that means that it’s time to put the outdoor furniture away, insulate the spigots for the garden hose and make sure the house is ready for the coming chill. You may also be considering putting your grill away for the season, but I think you should hold off on that one and remember how your grill can serve you all year round.
Sure, it’s great for cookouts in the summer and fall, but it’s also an amazing workhorse for making big batches of grilled vegetables (you haven’t lived until you’ve had grilled delicata squash), for roasting chickens and turkeys, and even for prepping a week’s worth of ingredients for lunches and dinners.
This weekend, consider firing up the grill. Roast off a mess of squash. Grill up a couple of batches of Bobby Flay’s Spice-Rubbed Pork Chops. Finally, spatchcock a chicken, rub it with a little salt and pepper, and let it cook over the embers. You can get at least three meals from just a couple of hours of work, and the cleanup will be minimal.
We’re always down for a good carroty side or munching on a wholesome handful as-is, of course. But when it’s getting dark early and dessert intake is of the utmost importance, we need our carrot recipes to be comfortingly sweet. Typically taken with that familiar swirl of cream cheese frosting and just the right touch of spice, carrot-based baked goods add that veggie-packed punch — but this time, there’s a twist. Start grating those carrots for five new takes on carroty desserts. We have big plans for them.
1. If you believe that the cream cheese frosting is hands-down the best part of carrot cake, go all-out with a Carrot Cheesecake (pictured above). Food Network Kitchen’s comforting mash-up creation stacks a thick layer of cheesecake and a sour cream topping on top of moist, spiced carrot cake. See how to make it here.