The Weekender – Thanksgiving Edition

How’s everyone feeling after the Great Feast of 2012? I’ve had food hangover for two days now. I ate way more food than one should ever put in their body, but that’s what Turkey Day is all about, right?

It’s also about being thankful, and this year, I couldn’t be more thankful for this website and the wonderful people who read and comment on it. Thank you for stopping by everyday to see what’s on the menu.

Speaking of which, you may have missed a bite or two this week with the holidays and what not. Plus, I didn’t have a Weekender last weekend, so we’ve got extra catching up to do. Without further ado…

Let’s review, shall we?

  1. Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies (Gluten Free)
  2. Queso Potato Soup
  3. Pumpkin Graham Cracker Ice Cream Sandwiches
  4. David’s Ultimate Mac & Cheese
  5. Roasted Turkey Cake
  6. Gingerbread-Chocolate Pumpkin Mousse Trifle
  7. The Only Spinach Artichoke Dip You Need
  8. 40-Turkey Approved Recipes
  9. Chocolate Chip Cookies Revisited

Phew, aren’t you glad you didn’t miss any of that deliciousness? It was quite an indulgent two weeks, especially after Turkey Day. I think we’ll all be in need of a new Healthy Cookie recipe on Monday!

But before heading back to our healthy diets, let us take a moment to relive the sheer decadence that was Turkey Day. As you know, I don’t eat the turkey, but the rest of my family does. I’m perfectly satisfied with the cornucopia of side dishes like…

Ma’s Baked Corn Pudding…

This incredible Sweet Potato Casserole I’ve had every Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember…

A special homemade Green Bean Casserole coming your way soon…

And this decadent stove-top mac & cheese also coming soon.

We also had Pumpkin Cornbread (coming soon), mashed potatoes with a twist (coming soon), stuffing, and of course, the deep fried turkey (which was NOT on my plate).

There was so much wondrous food that I couldn’t even get it all on my plate at once. This right here is merely round one.

And of course, we capped the night with homemade pumpkin pie, Smart Cookie-style of course. The recipe for that divine pie will be up in the coming weeks along with all that other mouth-watering food.

After cooking AND eating all that, I was worn out. In fact, I headed straight for my bed for a nap after. Apparently, Turkey Day was quite exhausting for the kittens too.

How was your Turkey Day? I want to hear all about it!

Now that Thanksgiving is passed, we’re diving headfirst into Christmas at the Smart Cookie household. I decorated my tree today, and got to hang my brand new cookie ornament. How appropriate!

Before I go, I’ve got a quick announcement to make. We’re at almost 1500 likes on Facebook right now. If you guys help me hit 2000 likes on Facebook, I’m celebrating with a giveaway! I’ll randomly select on liker to receive a fresh-baked assortment of cookies made by yours truly! (Winner must be a U.S. resident). The quicker we get to 2000, the sooner you can win!

See you on, Monday!


Happy Turkey Day!

From the Smart Cookie Kitchen to yours, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving, and the most delicious feast you can dream up.

Please tell me about all the wonderful things you eat! I’ll have a special Weekender on Sunday dishing out the details from my Turkey Day.

Stuff your face, and be thankful!


40 Turkey-Approved Thanksgiving Recipes

To be Turkey-Approved, a recipe must meet two criteria:

  1. It must be delicious.
  2. No turkeys can be harmed in the making of the recipe.

Your fellow Smart Cookie Cook here has not one, not two, not even 10…but 40 Turkey-Approved recipes for the big day on Thursday! I hope you’re ready, because this is going to be one incredible feast.

Gobble, gobble!

(Psst…the numbers of the recipes correlate with the numbers on the photos, if you were wondering)

Appetizers

1) The Only Spinach Artichoke Dip You’ll Ever Want

2) Sweet Potato Pepper Jack Soup

3) Roasted Cauliflower & Asiago Soup

4) Butternut Squash & Corn Bisque

5) Roasted Eggplant Hummus

6) Easy Pesto Garlic Knots

7) Cheddar Jack Bean Dip

8) Creamy Tomato Soup

9) Party Bread

Desserts

10) Gingerbread-Chocolate Pumpkin Mousse Trifle

11) Roasted Turkey Cake

12) Pumpkin Graham Cracker Ice Cream Sandwiches

13) Classic Buttery Pound Cake

14) Pumpkin S’mores Bars

15) Pumpkin Ice Box Cake

16) Warm Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundaes

17) Soft Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Sugar Frosting

18) Pumpkin Cream Pie with Ginger Cookie Crust

Mac & Cheese, Please

19) David’s Ultimate Mac & Cheese

20) Pretzel-Topped Mac & Cheese

21) Chili Mac & Cheese with Roasted Squash & Beans

22) 3-Cheese Wagon Wheels with Spinach

23) 4-Cheese Mac & Cheese

24) Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

More Side Dishes

25) Spicy Corn & Rice Skillet

26) Mascarpone Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

27) Roasted Asparagus in Garlic Bechamel

28) Brussels Sprout Gratin

29) Cheddar & Gruyere Scalloped Potatoes

30) Pierogi Casserole

31) Kale & Sweet Potato Double Cheese Penne

32) No-Bake Twice-Baked Potato Mash

33) Ma’s Baked Corn Pudding

34) Green Beans with Caramelized Onions & Toasted Almonds

35) Crunchy Onion & Cheddar Potato Bake

Main Course Alternatives to Turkey

36) Caramelized Onion & Butternut Squash Lasagna Pie

37) Eggplant Parmigiana

38) Super Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

39) Pumpkin Alfredo Tortellini

40) Harvest Gnocchi with Squash & Kale

Lastly, here is one BIG thing you should do before all the cooking tomorrow. Check to if your oven is sick. Temperatures can be way off without you even knowing! Click here to read more.

Happy feasting!


Gingerbread-Chocolate Pumpkin Mousse Trifle

You guys get to see the amazing dishes I make on a daily basis, but what you don’t get to see are the epic fails. Those are swept under the rug and hidden from your vision because no one needs to see the apocalyptic catastrophes that occur in my poor kitchen.

For example, I had it in my head to make a pumpkin spice latte tiramisu. It was a totally delicious idea with all the best intentions, but when I actually went to execute it, I ran into trouble. I purchased craptastic-quality gingersnaps to soak in the coffee (in lieu of traditional ladyfingers), and they literally disintegrated when I added the liquid. No exaggeration, there was not a crumb or chunk to be seen; it became pure liquid.

Needless to say, I had to toss it. But then I was left with a bowlful of wonderful pumpkin mousse, and I sure as sugar cookies wasn’t going to waste that. So, with that luscious filling, I skipped the tiramisu and instead stacked my trifle dish high with this Gingerbread-Chocolate Pumpkin Mousse Trifle.

Hello, layers and layers of heaven!

Encompassed in this trifle dish are layers of smooth, creamy spiced pumpkin mousse, soft chunks of gingerbread, and gobs of rich, velvety chocolate ganache. It’s pure decadence, yet the mousse and cake are so light. Plus, the whole thing is chilled, making it just as refreshing as it is sweet tooth-satisfying.

Every spoonful tastes like the holidays; it’s all the flavors of Christmas and Thanksgiving in one. You get those great soulful fall spices, the classic Christmas treat that is gingerbread, and good old fall & winter-friendly pumpkin. Everything melts together in a perfect harmony of flavors. You won’t believe how well the spices, gingerbread, pumpkin, and chocolate taste together. It’s a dynamic, all-encompassing experience.

My sister really captured the essence of this dessert when she said, “You never know what you’re going to get in each bite.” There’s so many wonderful flavors and textures to experience! Plus, this is a super easy dessert that can be made ahead, but yields a beautiful presentation, making it perfect for your Thanksgiving dessert.

Be prepared; you’re going to need a big spoon for this!

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. The gingerbread can be replaced with store-bought gingersnaps, which will soften up beautifully when layered, to make this a no-bake dessert.
  2. Make this up to 24-hours ahead. The longer it chills, the better and more flavorful it tastes!
  3. If you don’t want to make your own ganache, by good-quality chocolate sauce at the store.
  4. No trifle dish? Make these as parfaits and serve in glasses instead.

Gingerbread-Chocolate Pumpkin Mousse Trifle
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Yield – 10 – 12 servings

*Note: this needs to chill at least 6 hours.

Ingredients:

For the cake

  • 1 8×8 pan gingerbread cake or spice cake, store-bought or homemade

For the Mousse

  • 1 15-oz. can pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 2 cups heavy cream, chilled
  • 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. allspice
  • 1/8 tsp. clove
  • 1/8 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

For the Ganache

  • 3 1.5-oz. milk chocolate bars, chopped
  • 3 4-oz. semisweet milk chocolate bars, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:

  1. Bake the gingerbread according the box/recipe’s directions. Let cool completely then remove from pan and chop into chunks.
  2. Make the ganache: Put chopped chocolate into a large heat-proof bowl. Pour the heavy cream into another small microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 30 second intervals until hot and simmering. Pour over chocolate and whisk until completely smooth. Allow to cool so that it is still slightly warm and liquid, but not hot.
  3. Make the mousse: Beat the mascarpone, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, ginger, and salt until fluffy and well-combined. In a separate bowl, beat heavy cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold into pumpkin mixture until well-combined.
  4. In a trifle dish or large bowl, spread one-third of the pumpkin mousse on the bottom. Sprinkle with half the gingerbread chunks then drizzle with half of the ganache. Top with another third of the pumpkin mousse, the rest of the gingerbread, and almost all of the remaining ganache, reserving about 1/4 cup. Top with the remaining pumpkin mousse and spread into a smooth, even layer. Finish with a drizzle of the remaining ganache. To repeat: pumpkin, gingerbread, ganache; pumpkin, gingerbread, ganache; pumpkin & final drizzle of ganache.
  5. Chill for at least 6 hours or up to 24 before serving. Store covered in fridge for up to a week.

Roasted Turkey Cake

Being a vegetarian, I don’t get to eat turkey on Thanksgiving. I’m okay with that because I was never a huge turkey fanatic to begin with. There is, however, one kind of turkey I do enjoy around this time. No, it’s no Tofurkey.

It’s cake, Roasted Turkey Cake, to be exact!

This adorable cake looks just like the golden brown roasted turkey that takes center stage on your Thanksgiving table each year. It’s so realistic, you can almost hear it gobble-gobbling.

Bring this baby to the table for dessert, and your guests will think you’re serving them a second course of dinner instead. But slice through the turkey’s exterior, and you’ll see it’s not made of fowl, but cake!

Let’s be honest; it’s easy to get sick of the same ol’ pumpkin pie. This festive cake disguised as poultry is the perfect alternative. Not only is it pretty to look at, but it’s filled with moist vanilla cake and a luscious Cinnamon Buttercream. Now that’s something to be thankful for!

Check out my video ASAP, and see just how doable this fancy cake actually is to make. As a bonus, enjoy dancing drumsticks and me gobbling like a turkey.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. The best way to understand how to make this cake is to watch the video.
  2. If fondant scares you, don’t be afraid. It’s just edible clay essentially. Roll it out, lay it down, BAM.
  3. But if you’re still not convinced, cover the cake with chocolate ganache instead!
  4. You’ll have extra frosting. Do with it as you please! My suggestion: I made a full batch of rice krispie treats instead of the halved version below and topped them with the extra frosting.
  5. Chocolate cake would be fantastic too.
  6. Large marshmallows work better than minis for making the Rice Krispie treats.

Roasted Turkey Cake
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch vanilla cake batter, homemade or boxed mix (I used this recipe)
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • Half a 10-oz. bag large marshmallows
  • 3 cups Rice Krispies
  • 5 1.5-oz. milk chocolate bars, chopped
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 – 4 tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • chocolate fondant, store-bought or homemade
  • green, red, and orange Betty Crocker Easy Flow Decorating Icing (these come with interchangable tips, so even amateur bakers like myself can make pretty decorations)

Special Equipment: 1.5-quart oven proof bowl like Pyrex

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare vanilla cake batter according to box/recipe instructions. Butter & flour 1.5-quart oven proof bowl then pour in batter until 2/3 full. Bake for 45-55 minutes, checking after 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out with just a bit of crumb. Because the bowl is so deep, the outside & top of cake may brown before the middle is done. Don’t panic. Place aluminum foil around the edges and/or over the top to keep it from browning more. Once the cake is cool, you will saw off the top anyway.
  2. Let cake cool for 20 minutes then use a knife to saw off the round domed top so that it’s flat. Slide a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen. Invert onto a plate and let cool completely.
  3. Meanwhile, make the drumsticks. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the marshmallows and cook, stirring constantly, until completely melted. Mix in the Rice Krispies until evenly distributed. Poor onto working surface lined with wax paper or parchment paper.
  4. Once the Rice Krispie have cooled and set just enough to work with, spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray and grab a small chunk and shape into a tiny log that widens at the end. Add an egg-shaped piece on top, and you’ve got yourself a drumstick. Repeat to make another drumstick and enjoy any leftover Rice Krispie treats!
  5. In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the chocolate chunks on high for 30 second intervals, stirring in between until completely melted. Dip each drumstick in the chocolate, leaving the very end of the “bone” exposed and the fat part covered. Set on wax paper.
  6. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat 1 cup of sugar into the butter until completely incorporated. Start at a low speed then increase as it starts to incorporate to avoid a powdered sugar dust storm. Continue mixing in one cup at a time, scraping down sides from time to time. Beat in heavy cream, vanilla, almond extract, cinnamon, and salt on high until light and fluffy.
  7. Frost cooled cake with a smooth, even, and THICK layer of frosting. Roll out the fondant as thin as it will go without tearing then lay gently over top the frosted cake. Smooth out gently and cut off excess with a pizza cutter. Tuck ends in so the cake is neat and smooth.
  8. Use leftover fondant to cut out two wings. It’s like a check mark shape. Stick one to each side of the turkey body towards the front.
  9. Attach the two drumsticks, on each side, to one end of the cake towards the back. You can either use a bit of frosting or a toothpick.
  10. Use the green frosting with the leaf tip to draw greenery around the turkey. Use the red with the round tip to make little cherry tomatoes. Finally, use the orange with the round tip to make little carrots.
  11. Store in fridge for up to 4 days.