Holiday Dishes Starred Favorite

thanksgiving menu

The Hard Earned Thanksgiving Meal

Thanksgiving this year was an enormous success, but there were a few dishes that ranked supreme in our minds.  Check out the below recipes for dishes that will not only please, but ones you’ll talk about for days!

Citrus Brine, Aromatic Stuffed, Pancetta-Roasted Turkey

Citrus Brine, Pancetta Roasted Turkey

If you have been keeping up with my turkey efforts this year, you know I jumped out on a limb and stuffed pancetta and sage beneath the skin of my turkey.  The results were undeniably delicious.  Check out the recipe, Citrus Brine, Aromatic Stuffed, Pancetta-Roasted Turkey.

Grilled Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranates & Vanilla, Pecan Butter

brussels sprouts, pomegranates, vanilla

Grilled Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranates & Vanilla, Pecan Butter

Everyone in my family has stories of hated brussels sprouts recipes, let me just confirm that every mind was changed with this recipe.  If you have a certain hatred for brussels sprouts, trust me you just have not had good ones.

Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay, Food Network.

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil oil
  • 6 tablespoons pomegranate molasses*
  • Seeds from 1 pomegranate
  • 2 lime, finely zested
  • metal skewers, for grilling
*pomegranate molasses is near impossible to find — check a Bristol Farms, that’s where my determined mother finally scored a bottle!


Combine the butter and vanilla bean seeds in a small bowl. Fold in the pecans and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Cut pomegranate in half and place in a bowl of water.  Peel out seeds underneath the water surface.  A clean and remarkable trick Chris’ mom taught me 🙂  Remove seeds from water and place in refrigerator until last step.

Rinse brussels sprouts and place in a microwave safe bowl, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and mix.  Microwave on high for 3 – 4 minutes, until tender.  Once cooled line brussels sprouts on metal skewers and grill until slightly charred on all sides.

Set aside until a few minutes before your ready to serve.  Remove brussels from skewers into a saute pan and toss with the remaining oil and season with salt and pepper. Saute until warmed through.  Add the pomegranate molasses and stir to combine.

Transfer the sprouts to a large serving bowl, add the pomegranate seeds and lime zests. Top with some of the Vanilla-Pecan butter and serve!

Apple Berry Crumb Pie

apple berry crumb pie

Apple Berry Crumb Pie

I am not a baker but I was truly shocked at how good this pie tasted and just how easy it was to make.  The crumb is based from chopped walnuts that add a crunch that normal fruit pies just don’t provide.

Recipe adapted from the Green Mountain Inn Apple Berry Crumb Pie.

. Makes one 9-inch pie.


  • 3 cup blueberries
  • 3 Granny Smith apples (peeled & sliced)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash nutmeg
  • 1 pre-made pie crust

Crumb Topping

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 4 tablespoons butter


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Mix together ingredients for the crumb topping. Line 9-inch pie plate with pastry, be sure to take a fork and poke the crust on the bottom and sides, ensuring an even bake.  Mix together pie ingredients and fill the pie crust. Cover filled crust with crumb topping. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake until filling is bubbly and crust is browned on the bottom (approximately 40 minutes).

Pumpkin Pie

pumpkin pie

Brown Eyed Baker's Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie or pumpkin flavored eats are a dream come true for me.  I honestly feel and perhaps have shown that I have the ability to devour pumpkin flavored things in substantial quantities.  The Brown Eyed Baker’s pumpkin pie recipe is to the utmost perfection.  I beg you to just take a bite, I promise you’ll love it!

Recipe & photo (I ate it to fast, I forgot to take a picture) from Brown Eyed Baker.

Makes one 9-inch pie.

  • 1 recipe for single pie crust or pre-made crust
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
  • 1 cup drained candied yams (from 15-ounce can)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Prepare the crust and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position, place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out on a lightly floured work surface to a 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate, leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around circumference, ease dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into plate bottom with other hand. Refrigerate 15 minutes.

Trim overhang to ½ inch beyond lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with edge of pie plate. using thumb and forefinger, flute edge of dough. Use a fork to prick the dough all over the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Refrigerate dough-lined plate until firm, about 15 minutes.

Remove pie pan from refrigerator, line crust with aluminum foil or parchment paper, and fill with pie weights or dried beans, filling the whole way up to the rim of the pie plate. Bake on rimmed baking sheet 15 minutes. Remove foil/parchment and weights, rotate plate, and bake 5 to 15 additional minutes until crust is golden brown and crisp. Remove pie plate and baking sheet from oven.

While the pie shell is baking, whisk cream, milk, eggs, yolks and vanilla together in a medium bowl. Combine the pumpkin, yams, sugar, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan; bring to a sputtering simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to simmer pumpkin mixture, stirring constantly and mashing yams against sides of pot, until thick and shiny, 10 t0 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from heat and whisk in the cream mixture until fully incorporated. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium bowl, using the back of a ladle or spatula to press solids through strainer. Rewhisk mixture and transfer to warm prebaked pie shell. Return pie plate with baking sheet to oven and bake pie for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 degrees and continue baking until edges of pie are set and the center looks firm but jiggles slightly (instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 175 degrees), 20 to 35 minutes longer. Transfer pie to wire rack and cool to room temperature, 2 to 3 hours. Serve with whipped cream


Camping Gourmet: Simple Breakfast & Dinner

Two extremely easy recipes that will create massive jealously from your camping neighbors!

Steak Filet with Blue Cheese & Carmelized Onions

Steak Filets with Blue Cheese & Carmelized Onions

Ingredients Needed:

  • 2 Steak Filets, frozen to stay cold
  • 2 oz Blue Cheese
  • Carmelized Onions
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


  • Carmelize onions before leaving for camping trip.  Simply re-heat & serve.

Carmelized Onions

  • 2 tbsp of olive
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced into 1/2 inch rings
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • salt

Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the oil/butter.  Once the butter has melted and is hot, add as many onions to the pan as will fit in a ½” layer in the pan. Sprinkle the salt over the onions.  Cook the onions over medium low heat.  Stir the onions every couple of minutes, and adjust the heat so you here just the merest sizzle.  Cook for 15 minutes then add sugar, continue cooking on medium-low to low heat for another 15 – 20 minutes, stirring frequently or until the onions are soft and anywhere from honey-colored to deep brown.  Let onions cool and place in a zip-lock bag.

Once on campsite to prepare dinner, simply heat your carmelized onions in a pot over high heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Place steaks on a grill or grate, top with Blue Cheese about one minute before desired doneness.  Plate and top with carmelized onions.

Cream Cheese Bagels & Lox

Cream Cheese Bagels & Lox

Get this — no clean up, no fire needed and a delicious/extravagant morning meal for the campsite.
Ingredients Needed:
  • (2) bagels, pre-sliced before you leave
  • 4 oz package of pre-sliced lox
  • (2) 2 oz packages of cream cheese, you can often find these by the bakery section in the grocery store
  • 1 small jar of capers
  • 1/4  red onion, pre-sliced and placed in a ziplock bag before you leave
To Serve:
Simply smear your bagels with cream cheese, top with red onion, capers, and lox!

Camping Gourmet: Beer Braised Brats & German Potato Salad

Camping Gourmet

For some reason when camping I cannot bear the traditional and typically expected dining experience of fire roasted hot dogs and canned beans.  I instead feel the need to go above and beyond in planning and preparing simple yet gourmet meals to enjoy around the campfire.  This camping trip I was inspired by Aimee & Mai-Yan’s blog Dirty Gourmet, where they provide a number of gourmet recipes that can be easily accomplished while camping! Thank you ladies for sharing your recipes!

I have discovered the key to camping gourmet is to prepare and chop everything you can before heading out on your adventure.  Chop all your needed vegetables, cook anything you can ahead of time, and baggy the items up so once your out in the wilderness all that needs to be done is the cooking and combining of ingredients.

Night 1: Beer Braised Brats/Peppers & Onions & German Potato Salad

Beer-Braised Brats with Onions & Peppers & German Potato Salad

Ingredients Needed for Brats:

  • 2 Brats, freeze them so they stay cold
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1 can/bottle of beer
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 rolls
  • mustard
  • Julianne peppers & onions, place in small ziplock
  • Complete Potato Salad, package for travel
  • Put olive oil in a small sealable bottle
Ingredients Needed for German Potato Salad:
  • 1/2 pound potatoes
  • 1/4 yellow onion, quartered
  • 2 slices of bacon, cooked and diced
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp cidar vinegar
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Place potatoes in a large pot with the onion and cover with cold water. Boil until tender. Drain, discard the onion, and cut the potatoes into cubes when cool enough to handle. Place the potatoes in bowl.  In a large saute pan add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove the bacon and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Add the onions to the rendered bacon fat and cook until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Carefully add the vinegar and mustard seeds and cook for 2 more minutes. Whisk in the canola oil and season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Add the hot dressing to the potatoes and toss gently to coat. Fold in the green onions and parsley. Season again with salt and pepper, to taste.

campfire cooking - beer & brats

Equipment Needed While Camping:
  • Pot
  • Tongs
Heat the olive oil in your pot and cook onions until softened.  Add peppers & brats to the pot and add the beer.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cover with a lid.  Let the brats come to boil for 20 minutes.  Throw the sausages on the grill to add the crunch for about 10 minutes over high heat.  Let the onions, peppers, and beer cook down in the meantime.  Heat your buns on the grill and then add brats and pepper/onion mixture.  Serve with mustard.

In The Kitchen: New-School Asian Ribs

New-School Asian Ribs

Who doesn’t drool over a meal of finger licking ribs?  Pork, beef, bone-in, bone-less. No matter the technique in which their prepared– slow cooked, grilled, baked.  You simply can’t get enough!  Ribs are a cross-culture favorite.  Today I share with you a recipe found in none other than Men’s Health Magazine.  The article featured Andrew Carmelli, executive chef of Locanda Verde (in New York City), and his attempt to, “replicate the deep rich flavor of great barbecue — indoors.”

Our small Santa Monica apartment boasts no room for a grill master’s fantasy.  Traditional backyard BBQ is something we rarely get to play out.  My ambitious boyfriend decided to take this recipe on and the result was something I simply had to share with you all.  This twist on traditional ribs features an Asian style BBQ sauce the creates the smokey flavor — typically only emitted on the grill.  The final result produces meat that simply falls off on your first bite.

A thank you to the man in my life.

New-School Asian Ribs

Makes 3 to 4 servings as an appetizer

What you Need:


  • 2 tbsp Chines five-spice powder
  • 1 tsp chipotle pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 full rack ribs (of your choice)


  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup rice-wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp black-bean sauce


  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds

What to do:

In a small bowl, mix the dry ingredients together to make a rub.  Cut a piece of foil a little longer than the rib rack.  Place the foil on a baking tray and lay ribs on top.  Sprinkle both sides of the meat with the rub, massaging it in.  Refrigerate the ribs, uncovered for 2 hours so the rub infuses the meat.

Preheat the oven to 250 F.  Fold the foil around the ribs so all the meat is covered, but leave a small vent on top.  Place the tray in the oven and bake for 3 hours.  Then reduce the head to 225 F and bake until the meat is very tender, about 2 hours more.  Meanwhile, whisk the sauce ingredients with 2 tablespoons of water in a bowl.

When the ribs are done, unwrap them and place the rack directly on the baking sheet.  Pour any juices into the bowl with the rib sauce and stir them in.  Brush both sides of the ribs generously with the sauce.

Raise the oven temperature to 400 F, return the ribs to the oven and bake them until the sauce caramelizes slightly, 5 to 10 minutes.  Brush the ribs with more sauce, sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds, and serve with the remaining sauce for dipping.

In The Kitchen: Gourmet Camping

Cooking while camping doesn’t have to be straight hot dogs and beans out of can.  Being creative with limited kitchen tools and refrigeration can be a daunting challenge.  While in Jackson Hole this summer I took on planning and preparing two meals that went above and beyond a campers expectations.  With nothing but a man-made fire, a grill grate, tongs, and a few other purchased supplies we dined on a gourmet dinner, both nights.


  • Select recipes that don’t need to many ingredients.
  • If you’re using a cooler for refrigeration avoid things like milk, sour cream, etc.
  • Freeze you meats, cheeses, etc before hand, they can act as ice blocks in the bottom of your cooler
  • If your planning meals for a couple of days make sure you think through what ingredients need to remain best kept and plan to prepare those meals first.
  • Take small plastic bags and fill with any combined spices you might need to make your recipe.
  • Cooking with a wood fire is unpredictable, make sure you give yourself extra time and cut through your meats to ensure they are cooked to your standards
  • The less dishes the better!

Shrimp Tacos

Recipe originated from Kristen’s Recipes and improvised by me.

  • 4 Corn tortillas (double up each taco to prevent breakage)
  • 8 medium or large shrimp, peeled and deveined (buy frozen & already deveined, or buy fresh, deveine at home and freeze)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro still on stems
  • 2 slices of lime for garnish
  • skewers (place in a zip lock bag with water to soak for 24-hours)


  • 1/2 c shredded cabbage (pre-shredded bag is easiest)
  • 1/4 c light sour cream (first night camping recipe, as sour cream should really be cold as possible)
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper


  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp hot sauce (for a kick if you like it hot)

Mix cabbage, sour cream, cayenne, salt & pepper, lime juice and chopped cilantro, set aside.

Skewer marinated shrimp and place directly on the grill grate, cook until shrimp is pink on both sides.  Heat your corn tortillas over the fire until soft and flexible.  Build your taco by lining up two corn tortillas.  Place a spoonful of slaw and then a couple of shrimp, top off with some fresh cilantro.  Add hot sauce of your choice for a little spice!

Tri-Tip Kebabs – 2 Different Marinades

Recipes from:  Food Network Magazine’s 50 Kebab Recipes

Pineapple Chili Beef Kebab (improvised by me!)

  • tri-tip, cut into large 1 1/2 inch – 2 inch cubes
  • 2 jalapenos, halved, seeded, and then halved again
  • 1 can pineapple chunks

Toss cubed beef tri-tip with:

  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Skewer with jalapenos and pineapples  and grill, basting with a mix of 1/4 cup each cider vinegar and brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon chili powder.

Steakhouse Kebabs

Marinate cubed beef tri-tip:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • chopped parsley
  • chopped thyme
  • salt and pepper

Skewer with onion, mushroom, red and green pepper and grill.