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Photo by gemmarose

I love any sort of hot drink — coffee, hot chocolate, chai tea lattes… If you add alcohol to any of those things, I am doubly happy. And if you know me, you know I also love wine. So how to put all of my favorite things into one glass? Mulled wine. It’s great for a cold afternoon, and a perfect end to a Thanksgiving day where you’ve eaten way too much and are too tired to chew. So don’t.

It’s super easy to make. Once it’s done, put in a crock pot to keep warm. I love that you can serve alcohol in mugs. (I mean, you can technically drink alcohol out of a shoe…) My husband and I got his/hers mugs for our wedding that say “His Better Half”, “Her Better Half”. I drink coffee every day. My husband doesn’t use his. I tell him that’s because he’s not my better half, I am. (He doesn’t care.)

Anyways, here’s the recipe. Everything is to taste, so tweak it to your taste.

You will need:

  • 1 bottle wine
  • 2 cups juice (I used cranberry, but apple works as well)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 oranges, rind removed, cut up
  • 1 lemon, rind removed, cut up
  • Spices: To taste, of course. 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 tsp whole peppercorns, 5 buds of cardamom, 1/2 vanilla bean, 1 tbsp fresh ginger and 1/2 tsp cloves (Whole Foods bulk spice section is a great place to get the spices you need without buying a ton.)

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients into a pot on stove.
  2. Let boil and then simmer for an hour.
  3. Strain spices out and put in crock pot to serve.  Option: Let everything sit, unstrained, overnight for the flavors to infuse more. Strain in the morning.
  4.  Heat in crock pot before serving in mugs

Enjoy!

~ Dana

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I love reading my November magazines and looking through all the Thanksgiving recipes, table settings, centerpieces and other fun holiday entertaining ideas. And I couldn’t wait to try out some of the Thanksgiving sides (even though I’m not cooking this year). So I had this big plan to cook turkey legs and make the sides and have a little Pre-Thanksgiving feast with my family while my cousin Elena was home for a visit. I had my grocery list made and set out to Whole Foods to get all my ingredients.

Well, Whole Foods doesn’t carry turkey legs yet. I found out they won’t have “turkey parts” until closer to Thanksgiving. Fine, I’ll make chicken. They’re not too different, right? At least it’s poultry. That won’t ruin the meal. Alright, next I needed fresh bread crumbs. Hmmm, Whole Foods doesn’t have that either. But they had some canistered Whole Foods-branded wheat bread crumbs. Fine, I’ll use those. Next on my list: peaches. Argh! Why are they included in a November recipe if they’re not in season? Oh, it was in the August issue? Oops. Fine, I’ll get frozen ones. This is basically how my shopping trip went.

Finally, I make it to my grandparents’ house with all my ingredients and start prepping. This was the menu:

Chicken legs and thighs, cooked in a marinade of lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, cracked pepper, rosemary and sage

Sautéed Asparagus with Parmesan Shavings

Yam and Apple Gratin

Onion Rolls

Peach and Vanilla Puff Pastry Pies

Prepping and cooking everything went fine until I got to the onion rolls. Because the onion rolls required yeast and yeast can be tricky. The first yeast/water mixture didn’t turn out. The water may have been too hot and I didn’t have a thermometer. I also didn’t have enough packets of yeast to make another batch. Thankfully, Elena ran to the store and bought more. The next batch looked iffy until I added sugar and that did the trick.

When it was time to make the puff pastry pies, I realized I didn’t have the muffin cups I needed. Argh! After looking high and low and in every cupboard and drawer I finally accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to be able to make these “pies.” So I made peach turnovers instead. I followed the recipe exactly until it was time to place the pastry dough into the cups. Instead, I cut the dough into four squares, and folded the dough over a big spoonful of peaches. I had never made turnovers before so they weren’t pretty but they were tasty! I’ll have to try that recipe another time because the peach filling was sooo good.

All the other recipes were pretty straightforward. I mixed the chicken marinade by sight (always favoring the garlic). I sautéed the asparagus spears in some butter until they were tender enough to bite and then immediately placed them on a dish and covered them in Parmesan shavings. The parmesan melted onto the spears and they were delicious enough to eat without any additional seasoning.

My favorite recipe of all (and Elena’s as well) was the gratin. The recipe listed sweet potatoes but I didn’t see any at Whole Foods (notice a pattern?) so I used yams instead. Oh my goodness, this dish was so delicious! The recipe calls for sliced apples and yams layered on top of each other in a dish and then covered in a heavy cream mixture. The last step is to cover the baked apples and yams with the bread crumbs and sprinkle with butter. When it came out of the oven the top was bubbly, buttery and brown – it smelled, looked and tasted wonderful. I definitely recommend trying it this Thanksgiving if you’re looking for a new side.

Wolfgang Puck’s Sweet Potato and Apple Gratin

Ingredients

  • 6 Tbsp. butter, divided, plus more for greasing
  • 3 large Granny Smith apples (about 1½ pounds), peeled, cored, and cut into ⅓-thick slices
  • 2 large sweet potatoes (about 2¼ pounds), peeled and cut crosswise into ⅓-thick rounds
  • 2 cups heavy cream (or half-and-half or milk)
  • 1½ tsp. nutmeg
  • 1½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ¾ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup fresh bread crumbs

Directions

Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1½ hours

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease a 9″ × 13″ baking dish with butter; set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 3 Tbsp. butter. Add apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until just caramelized, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix sweet potatoes with heavy cream, nutmeg, salt, cinnamon, and pepper.

Transfer half of sweet potatoes to prepared dish, arranging them in an overlapping pattern like shingles. Cover with apples, then remaining sweet potatoes, overlapping the potatoes as before. Pour any remaining cream over the top. Cover with foil and bake until tender, about 45 minutes.

Increase oven temperature to 500°. Uncover dish, scatter bread crumbs over the top, and dot with remaining 3 Tbsp. butter. Bake, keeping a close eye on the gratin in case bread crumbs start to burn, until golden brown on top, 8 to 10 minutes more. Serve immediately.

Source: Oprah Magazine

No-Knead Onion Rolls

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • kosher salt
  • 2 0.25-ounce packages active dry yeast
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more, at room temperature, for the pan
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for shaping the dough

Directions

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, 1 teaspoon of the sugar, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes.
  2. Place 2 cups warm tap water (105° to 115° F) in a large bowl; sprinkle with the yeast and let stand until foamy, 4 to 5 minutes. Whisk in the eggs, 4 tablespoons of the butter, the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the flour and three-quarters of the onions and mix until a sticky dough forms. Brush the top of the dough with the remaining tablespoon of oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  3. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Punch the dough down. With well-floured hands, form the dough into 16 balls and place in the prepared pan, spacing evenly. Sprinkle with the remaining quarter of the onions. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 30 to 40 minutes.
  4. Heat oven to 400° F. Remove the plastic wrap and brush the dough with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Bake until the rolls are golden, 18 to 22 minutes (tent with foil if the tops brown too quickly). Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before serving.

By Charlyne Mattox,  November 2011, Real Simple

This is how the yeast was supposed to look. "Frothy."

Peach and Vanilla Puff Pastry Pie Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 vanilla bean pod, halved lengthwise
  • 3 large peaches (about 1 pound), peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2″ chunks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 (9″ x 16″) pieces frozen puff pastry, thawed but still very cold

Directions

Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Preheat oven to 400°. Run a paring knife down the cut sides of the vanilla bean to remove the vanilla seeds, and transfer to a large bowl. (Discard vanilla bean pod, or save for another use.) Add peaches, sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla extract and toss until well combined; set aside.

Working on a sheet of parchment paper, cut 1 piece of puff pastry in half, and then roll each half into a 10 square. Using a bowl, glass, or cookie cutter, cut 4 (4 1/2″) circles out of each half. Use the circles to line the cups of 8 muffin tins, positioning them to form little pie shells or baskets. Save any remaining dough scraps to reroll and use for step 4, as needed.

Spoon peach mixture evenly into the muffin cups lined with the puff pastry shells; set aside.

Arrange remaining pastry on a sheet of parchment paper and cut out 8 circles, approximately 3 in diameter. Place 1 on top of each muffin cup, folding the edges of the bottom pastry over the top and pinching tightly to seal each pie.

Bake until pies are puffed and deep golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes. Carefully run a paring knife around the edges of each pie and immediately transfer to a platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Source: Oprah Magazine

Peach turnovers, not the "pies" as intended...

~Christina

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