The best winter recipes will warm you up inside and out, will warm your home and make your house smell fantastic.
Soups, stews, casseroles and chili are very versatile dishes. Not really in the mood to cook after a long day at work? Let your crock pot do the work for you. There are lots of crock pot recipes out there for stews, roasts, chicken, chili and more.
Even if your recipe doesn’t call for it, it’s easy to add or substitute any veggie or lean meat that you have in the refrigerator. These types of recipes usually make a lot of servings. You can always freeze leftovers in individual containers, so you’ll have a quick, pre-portioned meal for another day.
Below are five dinners guaranteed to help you warm up.
Sausage, Broccoli Rabe and Polenta
This dish is perfect for a cold winter night and is a complete meal all in one bowl.
- 1 pound broccoli rabe, tough stems removed
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds hot or mild Italian sausage
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (from a 14-ounce can)
- 1 1/2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/3 cups polenta or coarse/ medium cornmeal
- Grated Parmesan cheese
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the broccoli rabe for 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly. Cut into 2-inch lengths.
In a large frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderately high heat. Add the sausage links and cook, turning, until browned, about 10 minutes. Remove to a plate. When cool enough to handle, cut into slices.
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan. Reduce the heat to moderately low. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the wine; bring to a simmer. Add the sausage slices, tomatoes, broth, thyme and 1 1/4 teaspoons of the salt. Bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe, parsley and pepper to the sauce; bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring the water and the remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt to a boil. Add the polenta in a slow stream, whisking. Whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until very thick, about 20 minutes. Serve in individual pasta bowls and pour the sausage/broccoli sauce over the top. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.
Winter Fish Chowder
Serve with some delicious crusty bread.
- 2 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 dozen mussels, scrubbed
- 16 littleneck clams, scrubbed
- 2 slices of bacon, finely diced
- 1 celery rib, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 cup half and half
- 6 ounces skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 6 ounces white fish fillets, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
In a saucepan, cover the potatoes with the water and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and cook over moderate heat until the potatoes are tender, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered.
In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add half of the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, 5 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the mussels, cover and cook over moderately high heat until they open, 3 minutes; transfer to a bowl. Add the clams to the saucepan, cover and cook. As the clams open, transfer them to the bowl. Strain and reserve the cooking liquid. Remove the mussels and clams from their shells and coarsely chop them.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the bacon to the pan and cook over moderate heat until crisp, 4 minutes. Add the celery and the remaining onion and garlic. Cover and cook over moderately low heat until softened, 7 minutes. Stir in the flour, then gradually whisk in the potato cooking water. Bring to a boil, whisking, and cook until thickened slightly.
Add the potatoes and the half and half and bring to a simmer. Add the salmon and fish and simmer over moderate heat, stirring a few times, until the fish is just cooked, 3 minutes. Add the mussels and clams and pour in their reserved cooking liquid, stopping before you reach the grit at the bottom; stir until heated through. Season with salt and pepper and add the parsley. Serve the chowder in bowls.
A salad is all that is needed to complete this meal.
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 16 – ounce package shelf-stable potato gnocchi
- 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 3/4 cup finely chopped onion, divided
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 1 medium green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (2 ounces)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 2-quart rectangular baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.
Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Drain. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in marinara sauce; set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine ground beef, ¼ cup chopped onion, egg, bread crumbs, oregano, basil, garlic powder and fennel seeds. Shape meat mixture into 24 equal balls, about 1 inch round.
In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, bell pepper and the remaining onion; cook about 7 minutes or until tender. Add vegetables to the bowl with the gnocchi.
In the same large skillet heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Cook meatballs, half at a time, about 6 minutes or until cooked through (160 degrees F), turning occasionally. Transfer meatballs to the bowl with the gnocchi and vegetables. Gently stir to combine.
Pour gnocchi mixture into prepared baking dish. Cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake, uncovered, about 10 minutes more or until cheese is melted and golden brown.
Tuscan Kale and White Bean Stew
A meatless option.
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, quartered (2 cups)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 bunches kale, stemmed, torn into bite-size pieces (8 cups)
- 1 15.5-oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan and the 2 teaspoons of olive oil in small bowl. Set aside.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and butter in large ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add mushrooms; increase heat to medium-high. Stir, cover pan, and cook 5 to 6 minutes, or until mushrooms are lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
Uncover the pan, add garlic and stir 30 seconds. Add kale, and cook 2 minutes, or until wilted.
Add beans, broth and 3/4 cup water. Cover, and simmer 6 to 8 minutes, or until liquid has reduced by about three-quarters. Stir in the lemon juice and remove from the heat.
Heat broiler to high. Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over stew and broil 3 minutes, or until topping is golden.
Stuffed Chicken Rolls
Serve with a vegetable side dish for a complete meal.
- 4 (4-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, flattened to 1/4 inch
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 slices prosciutto, diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 12 ounces baby spinach
- 4 ounces light cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 1 ¼ cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray the bottom of a baking dish with nonstick spray.
Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat, add prosciutto and cook until crisp. Remove to a mixing bowl.
Add spinach to the skillet and stir until slightly wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Transfer wilted spinach to the bowl with the prosciutto. Add cream cheese, Parmesan and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Stir until thoroughly combined..
Divide spinach mixture evenly among the chicken breasts and spread over the surface. Roll up chicken, dip in egg and roll in breadcrumbs. Place chicken rolls seam side down in the prepared pan.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Spoon on marinara sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella. Turn on the broiler and broil the chicken rolls 2 to 3 minutes, until the cheese melts.
In Italian cuisine, a ragù is a meat-based sauce, which is commonly served over pasta. The Italian gastronomic society, l’Accademia Italiana Della Cucina, has documented 14 different ragùs. The commonalities among the recipes are that they are all meat-based and all are used as sauces for pasta. Typical Italian ragùs include ragù alla bolognese (Bolognese sauce), ragù alla napoletana (Neapolitan ragù) and ragù alla Barese (sometimes made with horse meat).
In the northern Italian regions, a ragù is typically a sauce of meat, chopped or ground, and cooked with sautéed vegetables in a liquid. The meats are varied and may include beef, chicken, pork, duck, goose, lamb, mutton, veal or game, as well as offal from any of the same. The liquids can be broth, stock, water, wine, milk, cream or tomatoes and often include a combination of these. If tomatoes are included, it is usually a small amount. Characteristically, a ragù is a sauce of braised or stewed meat that may be flavored with tomato, to distinguish it from a tomato sauce that is flavored with the addition of meat.
In southern Italian regions, especially Campania, ragùs are often prepared with whole cuts of beef, pork and regional sausages, cooked with vegetables and tomatoes. After a long braise (or simmer), the meats are then removed and may be served as a separate course. Examples of these styles of ragùs are the well-known ragù alla Napoletana (Neapolitan ragù) and carne a ragù.
Sometimes a thick meatless, vegetable based sauce is referred to as a ragu, such as mushroom ragu.
This sauce is excellent served over potato gnocchi.
- 2 pound boneless pork shoulder
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic (about cloves)
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (chili) flakes
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 3 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes, crushed by hand
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Trim the fat from the exterior of the pork. Cut it into bite-sized pieces, about 3/4-inch cubes, trimming more fat and bits of cartilage as you divide the meat. Pat the pieces dry with paper towels.
Pour the olive oil into a large pan, set it over medium heat and add the pork. Spread out the pieces in the pan and season with the salt. Cook the pork slowly for 15 minutes or so, turning to brown the pieces on all sides.
When the pork is brown, add the chopped garlic and chili flakes. Raise the heat and pour in the white wine, stir and bring to a boil. Add the crushed tomatoes and 1 cup of water; grate the fresh nutmeg over all and stir.
Cover the pan and bring the sauce to a boil, then adjust the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cook for about 1 1/2 hours or until the pork is tender and the sauce has thickened. If the liquid is still thin toward the end of the cooking time, set the cover ajar and raise the heat a bit to reduce it. Use immediately or cool and refrigerate until needed.
Mushroom Shallot Sauce
This sauce is excellent for pasta, baked in a lasagna or poured over polenta, cooked into risotto or as a condiment for grilled steak or fish.
Makes 6 cups
- 2½ pounds fresh mixed mushrooms, small and firm
- 1/2 ounce dried porcini, soaked in 1 1/4 cups warm water
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary, a tender stem about 4-inches long
- 1 sprig fresh sage, with 4 big leaves
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup shallots, finely chopped
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 1/3 cup tomato paste
- 1 cup dry Marsala
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups hot meat or vegetable broth
Squeeze out the soaked porcini and slice them into pieces about 1/4-inch wide. Strain the soaking water and set aside.
Clean, trim and slice the fresh mushrooms into thin slices, barely 1/4-inch wide.
Tie all the fresh herb sprigs together with piece of kitchen twine.
Put the oil and butter in the large skillet or saucepan and place over medium heat. When the butter melts, add the onions and shallots and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and stir well. Cook slowly for 6 minutes-stirring often-until they’re soft, wilted and shiny, without any brown color.
Add the fresh mushrooms and porcini to the pan and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add the herb bouquet, raise the heat a little and cover the pan. Cook, covered for about 3 minutes, so the mushrooms release their liquid.
Uncover and continue to cook over fairly high heat, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms shrink and the liquid evaporates, 5 minutes or more. When the pan is dry and the mushrooms begin to brown, clear a spot, add the tomato paste and stirring,cook for a minute or so, then stir it into the mushrooms.
Pour in the Marsala and stir constantly until the wine evaporates. Add the porcini mushroom water and 2 cups of the hot stock. Bring to a boil, stirring up any caramelization in the pan. Lower the heat to keep the sauce bubbling gently and cover the pan. Cook for about 20 minutes, occasionally stirring and adding stock to keep the mushrooms covered in liquid; expect to add at least a 1/2 cup, if not more.
Uncover the pan and cook for another 20 minutes, maintaining a simmer and adding stock as needed. Remove the herb bouquet and discard it. Taste and add salt, if needed, and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Use the sauce immediately or let it cool. Store it in the refrigerator for a week or freeze, for use within several months.
- 2 pound boneless pork butt or shoulder, in 1 piece
- 2 teaspoons salt, divided, more to taste
- 2 tablespoons finely minced parsley
- 1 pound onions, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/3 cup chopped pancetta
- 1/4 cup chopped prosciutto
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 pound Italian sausage, crumbled
Season the pork all over with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste.
In a food processor, chop together the parsley, onions, garlic, pancetta and prosciutto to make a very coarse paste.
Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the seasoning paste and another teaspoon of salt and cook until no more liquid appears when the paste is stirred, about 7 minutes.
Add the pork roast, cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook, turning every 15 minutes, until the meat is lightly browned and the onions have begun to color, about 1 hour.
Add the red wine, place the cover back but leave ajar and continue cooking until the wine reduces to a thick sauce, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
If, after 1 hour and 15 minutes, the wine has not reduced sufficiently, remove the roast to a plate, increase the heat to medium-high and cook the sauce until it thickens.
Reduce to low heat, stir in the tomato paste, 2 or 3 tablespoons at a time, stirring in each addition until it mixes into the sauce and darkens to a brick color. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, return the roast to the pan if previously removed and cover. Continue to cook, turning the meat every 30 minutes and stirring the sauce until the meat is tender enough to be easily pierced with a meat fork, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. If the sauce dries out too much and the meat begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, stir in a tablespoon or two of water.
Remove the roast to refrigerate and reheat when dinner is served, if desired. Crumble the Italian sausage into the sauce and cook until the sauce is a deep red color and thickened, stirring occasionally, about another hour. (The dish can be prepared to this point and refrigerated overnight.)
Winter Squash and Tomato Sauce
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup sliced shallots
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (chili) flakes, or to taste
- 2 cups chopped canned Italian tomatoes
- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds (about 5 cups) winter squash, peeled and cut into small cubes
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature, optional
- 8 ounces ziti or penne cut pasta
- Freshly chopped parsley or Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Put the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic and pepper flakes and cook for about 1 minute; add the white wine and cook for a few minutes.
Add the tomatoes and squash and season with salt and pepper.
When the squash is tender, about 20 minutes or so for small cubes. Remove the pot from the heat and mash the sauce with a potato masher.
Stir in the mascarpone cheese, if using. Keep warm while the pasta cooks.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until it is al dente.
Mix the sauce and pasta together and serve garnished with parsley or Parmesan cheese.
If fresh basil is not available in your market this time of year, substitute with fresh flat leafed parsley and 1 tablespoon dried basil.
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- 1/2 cup packed basil leaves, (see substitute above)
- 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan, plus more for serving
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons golden raisins
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
- 3 anchovy fillets in oil, drained
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 pepperoncini (Italian pickled pepper), stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Short pasta, such as corkscrew or penne
Place the cherry tomatoes in a food processor and process until finely chopped; pour tomatoes into a fine strainer and drain off excess juices. Return the pulp to the processor.
Process the tomato pulp along with the almonds, basil, Parmesan, olive oil, raisins, capers, chili flakes, anchovies, garlic and pepperoncini in a food processor until finely ground.
Season with salt and pepper.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat, add pasta and cook, stirring, until al dente. Drain, reserving ¼ cup cooking water, and transfer pasta to a large bowl along with the pesto; toss to combine, adding a couple of spoonfuls of pasta cooking water, if needed, to create a smooth sauce.
Transfer to a large serving platter or individual bowls and serve with more Parmesan cheese.
Today is Monday and you may be tired of heating up the turkey leftovers by now. There’s lots of ideas out there for using up the turkey but what about that leftover stuffing, veggies or cranberry sauce? Here are some easy ways to use them up.
Leftover cranberry sauce and turkey make a great lunchtime turnover
Turkey Cranberry Turnovers
Makes 8 turnovers
- 1 cup cooked turkey breast, diced into small cubes
- 1 box (15 oz/425 g) frozen puff pastry dough, defrosted
- 2/3 cup Swiss cheese, cut into small cubes
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) chopped onion
- 3/4 – 1 cup Cranberry Sauce
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C)
Flour the surface you will be working on. Roll one of the pastry sheets lightly to make the sheet an even thickness. Cut the sheet into 4 equal squares. Repeat with the second sheet of pastry.
Divide the turkey, cranberry sauce, onion and cheese equally among each pastry dough square.
Fold one corner of the square over to the opposite end (to make a triangle) and seal the edges with your fingers, pressing the pastry to merge the two edges. Use a fork and press the edges to further seal the turnovers.
Place the turnovers on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned and puffed.
Leftover mashed potatoes make delicious potato pancakes for breakfast or as a side dish.
Crispy Mashed Potato Cakes
- 2 cups cold mashed potatoes
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- Sour cream, for serving
Combine potatoes, eggs, cornstarch and garlic powder in a bowl. Form into 4 patties (about 1/4 cup of the potato mixture patted into 3 inch circles that are 1/2″ thick).
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until the bottom is browned and crisp, about 3-4 minutes. Carefully turn the patties over and cook the second side until brown and crisp, 3-4 minutes.
Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve with sour cream, if desired.
I make bread stuffing with Italian sausage and the leftovers are delicious in a frittata for a quick weeknight dinner.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups leftover sausage stuffing
- 1 cup shredded Italian fontina cheese
- 8 large eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves, divided
Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C)
Heat the oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat.
Add the stuffing to the pan and warm through.
Sprinkle with the grated fontina cheese.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, 1 tablespoon of parsley, salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the egg mixture over the stuffing and sprinkle with the Parmesan.
Carefully transfer the skillet to the preheated oven.
Bake until the eggs are set and the sides have puffed up a little bit and the cheese is golden, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Let rest before cutting.
Sprinkle with remaining fresh parsley.
Turn those leftover sweet potatoes into delicious waffles.
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 cup leftover sweet potatoes, mashed
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for brushing the waffle iron
- Maple syrup, for serving
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Place a wire rack on a baking pan and place in the oven.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour through allspice).
In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, sweet potatoes, eggs and vanilla until combined. Stir sweet-potato mixture into flour mixture until combined. Stir in melted butter until just blended – some lumps will remain.
Heat a waffle iron to medium-high and lightly brush the grids with melted butter. Ladle about 1/2 cup batter into the center of the iron (grids should be full but not overflowing), close and cook until the iron stops steaming and waffles are golden brown, about 4 minutes (or make according to your manufacturer’s instructions).
Transfer waffles to the wire rack in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with maple syrup.
Turn those leftover Thanksgiving vegetables into soup.
Turkey Leftover Vegetable Soup
- 8 cups turkey or chicken broth
- 1 turkey carcass, all meat removed
- 1 carrot, halved lengthwise, plus 1 carrot, minced
- 1 whole stalk celery, plus 1 stalk, minced
- 1 onion, halved, plus 1 onion, minced
- 2 bay leaves, divided
- 2-3 cups leftover turkey meat, diced into small pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cups leftover cooked Thanksgiving side vegetables ( Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, etc)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
Put the broth, turkey bones, carrot halves, celery stalk, onion halves and 1 bay leaf in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil and then simmer, about 1 1/2 hours.
Before straining the broth, remove the large bones and carcass with tongs. Strain the broth through a sieve covered with wet cheesecloth. Discard the solids and set broth aside.
In a large soup pot, heat the garlic in the olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced carrots, celery and onions. Cook over medium-low heat until softened, 7 or 8 minutes.
Dice the leftover Thanksgiving vegetables. Add the sage to the soup pot along with the reserved turkey broth and the remaining bay leaf. Bring to a simmer. When simmering, add the diced leftover vegetables and diced turkey meat to the soup. Bring it back up to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and cover. Allow to sit and steam for about 10 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
They’re simple, they’re American and, come Thanksgiving, everybody saves room for them. The recipes below for apple, pumpkin and pecan pie have been a tradition in my family for many, many years. It would not be Thanksgiving without them. I share these recipes with you and you can make them even if you do not celebrate Thanksgiving in your country.
Pie Crust for Apple and Pecan Pies
You will need three pie crusts for the Apple and Pecan Pies. You can double the recipe below and freeze the extra crust for another day or make one double and half of a double for the apple and pecan pies. I use a different crust for the Pumpkin Pie because my recipe needs a larger, deeper crust.
Classic Double Pie Crust
- 2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 cup trans-free vegetable shortening, such as Spectrum
- 10 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter
- 10 tablespoons ice water
Whisk together the flour and salt. Add the shortening, working it in until the mixture is crumbly.
Cut the butter into small (about ½”) cubes. Add the butter to the flour mixture and work it in with your fingers, a pastry cutter or a mixer. Don’t be too thorough; the mixture should be very uneven, with big chunks of butter in among the smaller ones.
Add 4 tablespoons of water and toss to combine. Add enough additional water to make a chunky, fairly cohesive mixture. It should hold together when you gather it up and squeeze it in your hand.
Divide the dough in half and form each half into a disk. Smooth the disks and the edges with floured hands. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes, or even overnight.
When you’re ready to make the pie, remove the crust from the refrigerator, leaving it wrapped. Allow it to warm a bit until it’s softened enough to roll, but still feels cold to the touch.
Next, measure the bottom diameter and up the sides of your pie pan. For example, if your pan is 7 inches across the bottom and 1 ½ inches up each side, that’s a total of 10 inches. This means you should roll your bottom crust to a diameter between 11 and 12 inches, which gives you enough extra pastry for crimping the edges.
Place the crust on a floured work surface and roll it to the desired width.
Place the crust in the pan by folding in quarters and placing it in the pan. Unfold the pastry and center it in the pan.
For a single-crust pie:
Fold the edges of the crust under and gently squeeze them together. Crimp, as desired. It’s good to make a tall crimped edge for a single-crust pie that is fairly liquid, such as pumpkin or custard.
For a double-crust pie:
Leave the edges of the bottom crust as is (no crimping). Once you’ve added the pie filling, roll out the top crust to the outside diameter of your pan and place it on top of the filling. Trim the excess crust with a pair of scissors; then press the two edges together.
Crimp, as desired. A simple fork crimp is fast and easy. At this point, it helps to return the pie to the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes; this chills the fat, which ultimately increases the crust’s flakiness. Cut a hole in the center of the crust for steam to escape or slash the pie’s top surface several times. Brush with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired.
Single Crust, recipe above. Chill in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
For the filling
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Whisk the first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl to blend. Mix in 3/4 cup pecans.
Pour into the prepared crust. Sprinkle with remaining 1 ¼ cups of pecans. Bake the pie until set, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; cool.
Double Crust, recipe above.
For the Filling
- 6 cups thinly sliced peeled McIntosh apples (about 2 pounds)
- 6 cups thinly sliced peeled Granny Smith apples (about 2 pounds)
- 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Pinch of ground allspice
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon milk
- 1 tablespoon coarse sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
To prepare filling:
Combine apples, brown sugar, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, flour and salt in a large bowl.
To assemble & bake the pie:
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 425°F.
Roll out half of the dough as directed in the recipe above and invert the dough into a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie pan. Pour the filling into the crust, mounding it higher in the center than on the sides of the pan.
Roll out the second crust and invert the dough onto the top of fruit. Tuck the top crust under the bottom crust, sealing the two together and making a rolled edge. Flute the edge with your fingers.
Combine the coarse sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl. Brush the top crust with the milk and sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar. Cut 6 steam vents in the top crust.
Bake the pie for 20 minutes; reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and continue baking until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, about 35 minutes more.
Let cool on a wire rack for about 1 1/2 hours before serving.
Pie Crust Ingredients
This recipe makes enough for a single deep dish crust.
- 1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/3 cup (2 3/8 ounces) olive or vegetable oil
- 3 to 4 tablespoons (1 1/2 to 2 ounces) water
You will need a 9 inch pie pan that’s at least 1 1/2 inches deep.
Whisk together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. This can be done right in the pie pan, if you like.
Whisk together the oil and water in a measuring cup; then pour over the dry ingredients.
Stir with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened. Pat the dough across the bottom of the pie pan and up the sides. A flat-bottomed measuring cup can help you make the bottom even.
Press the dough up the sides of the pan with your fingers and flute the top. Chill in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
Pumpkin Pie Filling Ingredients
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- Pinch black pepper
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 2 cups fresh cooked pumpkin
- 1 cup half & half
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugars, flour, salt and spices.
In a large measuring cup, beat together the eggs, pumpkin and half & half. Whisk into the dry ingredients.
For best flavor, cover and refrigerate the filling overnight before baking.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
When the oven is hot, place the pie pan with the chilled crust on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Pour the filling into the unbaked pie shell and place the baking sheet in the oven on the center rack.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the filling is set 2 inches in from the edge. The center should still be wobbly. Remove the pie from the oven and cool on a rack; the center will finish cooking through as the pie sits.
- This recipe makes enough filling to generously fill a 9 inch pan that’s at least 1 1/2 inches deep. If your pan isn’t quite that big, you can bake any leftover filling in custard cups; they will take 25 to 30 minutes to cook.
- Pumpkin pie filling is basically a custard; the eggs in the filling will continue cooking as the heat from the edge of the pie moves toward the center, which is why it’s important to remove the pie from the oven before the center is completely set. Leaving it in the oven too long will cause the eggs to overcook, tightening the proteins and causing the pie to crack in the center.
- Mixing the filling a day in advance (refrigerate until using) will improve the flavor of this pie by giving the spices’ flavors a chance to blend.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.
The centerpiece of contemporary Thanksgiving in the United States and Canada is a huge meal, generally featuring a large roasted turkey. The majority of the dishes in a traditional Thanksgiving dinner are made from foods native to the New World. However, many of the classic traditions attributed to the first Thanksgiving are actually myths.
According to what is known about “The First Thanksgiving,” the 1621 feast between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag at Plymouth Colony contained waterfowl, venison, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin and squash. William Bradford (Plymouth Colony Governor) noted that, “besides waterfowl, there was a great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many.” There were definitely wild turkeys in the Plymouth area, however, the best existing account of the Pilgrims’ harvest feast comes from colonist, Edward Winslow, author of Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. Winslow’s first-hand account included no explicit mention of turkey. He does, however, mention the Pilgrims gathering “wild fowl” for the meal, although that could just as likely have meant ducks or geese. Many of the foods that were included in the first feast (except for the seafood) have since gone on to become staples of the modern Thanksgiving dinner.
The White House Cookbook, 1887, by Mrs. F.L. Gillette, et al., had the following menu: oysters on the half shell, cream of chicken soup, fried smelts, sauce tartare, roast turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, baked squash, boiled onions, parsnip fritters, olives, chicken salad, venison pastry, pumpkin pie, mince-pie, Charlotte russe, almond ice cream, lemon jelly, hickory nut cake, cheese, fruit and coffee.
Many other foods are typically served alongside the main dish—so many that, because of the amount of food, the Thanksgiving meal is sometimes served midday or early afternoon to make time for all the courses. Copious leftovers are also common. Many diners would say the meal is “incomplete” without cranberry sauce, stuffing or dressing and gravy. Other commonly served dishes include winter squash, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, dumplings, noodles, corn on the cob or hominy grits, deviled eggs, green beans or green bean casserole, sauerkraut (among those in the Mid-Atlantic; especially Baltimore), peas and carrots, bread or rolls, cornbread (in the south and parts of New England) or biscuits, rutabagas, turnips and salad.
There are also regional differences, as to the type of stuffing or dressing traditionally served with the turkey. Southerners generally make their dressing from cornbread, while those in other parts of the country make stuffing from white, wheat or rye bread as the base. One or several of the following may be added to the dressing/stuffing: oysters, apples, chestnuts, raisins, celery and/or other vegetables, sausages or the turkey’s giblets. The traditional Canadian version has bread cubes, sage, onion and celery. Rice is also sometimes used instead of bread in some parts of Canada.
Other dishes reflect the regional or cultural background of those who have come together for the meal. For example, many African-Americans and Southerners serve baked macaroni and cheese and collard greens, along with chitterlings and sweet potato pie; while Italian-Americans often have lasagna on the table alongside the turkey and Ashkenazi Jews may serve noodle kugel, a sweet dessert pudding. Other Jewish families may consume foods commonly associated with Hanukkah, such as latkes or a sufganiyot (a type of jelly doughnut). It is not unheard of for Mexican Americans to serve their turkey with mole and roasted corn.
In Puerto Rico, the Thanksgiving meal is completed with arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas) or arroz con maiz (rice with corn), pasteles (root tamales) stuffed with turkey, pumpkin-coconut crème caramel, corn bread with longaniza, potato salad, roasted white sweet potatoes and Spanish sparkling hard cider. Turkey in Puerto Rico is stuffed with mofongo (a fried plantain-based dish). Cuban-Americans traditionally serve the turkey alongside a small roasted pork and include white rice and black beans or kidney beans. Vegetarians or vegans have been known to serve alternative entrées, such as a large vegetable pie or a stuffed and baked pumpkin or tofu substitutes. Many Midwesterners (such as Minnesotans) of Norwegian or Scandinavian descent serve lefse (a soft, Norwegian flatbread) at their holiday meal.
So, if you are not a traditionalist, you may want to change things around a little and try some new sides for your holiday meal. Much of the preparation in the recipes below can be done ahead of time.
Creamy Farro Pilaf with Wild Mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 cup farro
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- Coarse salt
- 12 ounces wild mushrooms, such as shiitake or oyster, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch slices
- Red-pepper chili flakes
- 1 bunch spinach (10 ounces), stemmed
- 1/4 cup crumbled Parmesan, plus more for serving
In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add farro, stirring until toasted, about 1 minute. Add wine and reduce by half. Add stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender and creamy, 35 to 40 minutes. Season with salt and cover to keep warm.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 450 degrees F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss mushrooms with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and season with salt and red-pepper flakes. Roast, stirring once, until crisp and golden, about 20 minutes.
Re-warm the farro over medium heat and add the spinach, stirring until wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in mushrooms and Parmesan. Serve with additional Parmesan.
Creamy White Bean and Vegetable Mash
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
- 1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 cups cooked white beans, drained (equivalent to one 16-ounce can)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion, celery and carrot until translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Add potatoes and white beans and cover with water by 2 inches. Season generously with salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until all the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking water.
Mash vegetables (or put through a ricer), adding reserved cooking water to adjust consistency. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil before serving.
Stuffed Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Pistachios
- 4 small acorn squash, halved and seeds removed
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 cup roasted, salted pistachios, chopped
- 2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
- Pinch red-pepper chili flakes
Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Brush squash with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast cut side down on two baking sheets until tender and caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring quinoa and 2 cups water to a boil in a small pot. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until tender and water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Let cool, then fluff with a fork.
In a large bowl, combine quinoa, parsley, feta, pistachios, remaining 2 tablespoons oil and vinegar. Season with salt and red-pepper flakes. Fill the squash cavities and serve.
Sweet Potato-Ginger Spoon Bread
- Butter forthe baking dish
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal, plus more for dusting the pan
- 2 small sweet potatoes (12 ounces), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 cups low-fat milk (1%)
- 2 large eggs, separated, plus 2 large egg whites
- 2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1 tablespoon grated, peeled fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 2-quart baking dish and dust with cornmeal.
Cook sweet potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and mash until very smooth; let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring milk to a simmer. Whisk in cornmeal in a thin stream. Cook, whisking constantly, until just thickened, 1 to 3 minutes; remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
In a large bowl, stir together mashed sweet potatoes, cornmeal mixture, egg yolks, sugar, molasses, ginger and salt.
Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold half of the egg whites into the cornmeal mixture. Very gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
Spoon mixture into the prepared baking dish, place on a baking sheet and bake until puffed and set, about 35 to 40 minutes.
Lemon-Garlic Brussels Sprouts
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh brussels sprouts
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Dash pepper
- 3 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
- 3 cooked bacon slices, crumbled
Cut an “X” in the core of each brussels sprout. Place in a shallow baking pan coated with cooking spray. Drizzle oil and lemon juice over the brussels sprouts; sprinkle with salt, garlic powder and pepper.
Bake, uncovered, at 400°F for 20-25 minutes or until tender, stirring once. Sprinkle with cheese and crumbled bacon.