It was a dessert heavy holiday.

I don’t know about you but my holiday was very sweet. I baked a red velvet cake for my birthday . . .

IMPORTANT reminder … do not use low-fat cream cheese. Full fat is the only thing that will work. I learned that the hard way.

I used Martha Stewarts recipe. It uses more chocolate than most other recipes so really the result is a nicely chocolaty cake. The recipe also uses and INSANE amount of red food coloring. FOUR bottles (ounces). Seriously. I only used three and the cake was dark, dark red. Two would have been sufficient I suppose. It was one amazing cake.

The other dessert we made was Lemon Meringue Pie. WOWee! We (my sister and I) used America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe. We used Meyer Lemons (see previous post) because they’re juicier than regular lemons, two gave us a half cup of juice. I made the crust by hand with butter, Crisco, vodka and water. It was perfect. The filling was so good it has converted me to actual fandom of meringue pies. The one problem with the pie was the weeping. We did exactly what the recipe said. Cornstarch paste added to the egg whites. Meringue placed on piping hot filling. It was a mile high and beautiful. But it still weeped. I’m thinking that weeping is a natural by-product of meringue pies. Have you ever made one? Did it weep?

Here’s the pie.

I should have taken a picture of it sliced. It didn’t last too long in this house. My Mr. loves lemon meringue.

Is it sacrilegious . . .

. . . to not serve Green Bean Casserole on Thanksgiving? It is the perennial side dish for the holidays. You don’t eat it any other time of the year and yet it’s kind of old and boring isn’t it? Don’t get me wrong, I love me some green bean casserole, but admit it, what we really love are the French Fried Onions, yum. Green beans don’t get that kind of love on their own. The rest of the year you eat them steamed or sautéed but never swimming in soup and onions.  Green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and sweet potato smothered in marshmallows (eewww… who invented that mess?) those are the dishes that are only served between November and December, I’m not wanting to have them now. I might like to re-invent the soupy mixture from scratch. The thought of buying a can of Cream of Mushroom soup  is gross. It’s so easy to make béchamel sauce and healthier too. Perhaps I’ll tackle that challenge, hmmm . . . perhaps. 

I’ve been searching my Cook’s Illustrated back issues, cookbooks and websites for new and interesting ideas to serve on Thanksgiving. Mine will be small and intimate with just three of us to feed. Since Thanksgiving is an “event” and deserves special attention directed to it. I’m excited about putting together a concerted effort and meal for the day. The question is … what?

The sweet potato has had a renaissance over the last few years. I eat them regularly in a lot of different ways: mashed, french fried, hashed, baked and chips. They’re so healthy and naturally sweet it’s like a tasty treat you don’t have to feel guilty about eating. I found a recipe on Pinterest for Hasselback Sweet Potatoes. Doesn’t this look amazing? Clicking on the picture will take you to the blogger with the recipe for this amazing treat!

Maybe not Thanksgiving but soon!

What I’m wanting to do is make something memorable. My family has never been one with long-standing traditions. Growing up Thanksgiving was always at Granny’s. Now that she’s gone, I’ve moved away and my sister is now single we have to start new traditions. I’m sad not to see my parents and it’s hard to make it feel like a holiday when all the things I’m used to are no where to be found. It’s a new day though and D and I must forge new family traditions. Thankfully, my sister will be here and we can share time down our mutually changed lives. We are blessed.

There are a few things that will happen. My birthday is November 21, the day before Thanksgiving. I want cake. Red Velvet Cake to be exact. I haven’t made one in years and think it will be the dessert of the weekend. Derek wants Lemon Meringue Pie so that will be on the menu too. Sweets are easy.

D loves onion rolls so I’ll make those. The recipe I use was found in an issue of Real Simple magazine a year or so ago. I’ve made them several times and they are light, airy, packed with flavor and simply . . . DELICIOUS! Click on the picture for the recipe.

So, we have the unhealthy choices nailed down. The big question is what’s for dinner? I’m thinking Gumbo sounds good. It’s hearty, earthy and packed with goodies and flavor. If not gumbo then perhaps Surf and Turf. I kind of think a Chicken Pot Pie with phyllo pastry crust sounds pretty amazing too. There are so many choices and ways to go. That’s what I love about cooking and food. A thousand variations and combinations to meet all culinary dreams. What will you serve?