Thanksgiving Treasures

Thanksgiving ideas from The Rowdy Baker

Thanksgiving ideas from The Rowdy Baker

When I was young, the anticipation of Thanksgiving was almost as exciting as that of Christmas. Thanksgiving was the beginning of the holiday season, but more than that, it was all about our family traditions and creating the warm memories that I still cherish today.

In elementary school I loved the songs we’d sing: “We Gather Together”,  “Come Ye Thankful People Come” “Over the River and Through the Woods”,  “Now Thank We All Our God”. (We were allowed to sing hymns in public school way back then.) My mother would sometimes make us torture entertain our guests with our wobbly renditions of these songs before dinner.thanksgiving songs

(Um, yes, I may have “forgotten” to return this book in 6th grade. I believe the statute of limitations applies here!)

We always had company, often foreign exchange students from the nearby college, grandparents, or any strays that my folks could coax into coming. The more the merrier! When we were very young, we’d hear my mom in the kitchen before it was light, preparing for the feast. As we got older, we were right there beside her, chopping celery and onions, and reaching our small hands into the (eeeeuwww) turkey cavity to pull out the neck and giblets that would go into her stuffing and gravy.

Crisp white linens, the good china and crystal (well, except at the “kids’ table”), candles, and the gravy boat were all placed carefully on the table. My father usually carved and served, and the wait was agonizing.

Now it’s my turn. Although I have my own style, I still produce the standard dishes…and then some. Beginning the week before Thanksgiving my kitchen becomes a whirlwind of flour that doesn’t settle until Christmas Eve.

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I’ve collected a few of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes together in one spot, each with a short description, photo, and link. Since this is a baking blog, I’ll leave the green bean casseroles and turkey to someone else and stick with rolls and desserts. Some are easy, some are more challenging. I hope you’ll find that all are festive and delicious.

Acorn Rolls in an edible cornucopia

Acorn Rolls cascade abundantly out of an edible cornucopia. Here’s a centerpiece for your table that won’t drop leaves, get knocked over, or block your view of the person across from you. Make a simple version or turn it into your own personal creative masterpiece.

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pumpkin cream cheese dessert edited

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Dessert (aka: dump cake!) This dessert just may become a new tradition in your home. Warm, creamy, crunchy, and fragrant…this is seriously good. AND it has received more views on my blog than any other recipe. Ding-ding-ding…it’s a winner!

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pumpkin dinner rolls
Pumpkin Sandwich Bread makes beautiful dinner rolls, too. The pumpkin flavor is mild, making the rolls perfect for turkey sandwiches the next day.

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humble pie
Humble Pie is a pumpkin pie with pastry depictions of all the things you’re grateful for dancing around the top crust. This takes a bit of time, but you can always narrow it down to a few important choices if you’re short on time.

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caramel corn

Triple Trouble Caramel Corn, dumped in a pretty bowl, will keep the hungry hoards from sneaking into the kitchen to swipe olives, dinner rolls, and the bacon from the top of the turkey. (What? You don’t put bacon on top of your turkey? Oooh, you should try it. Just a few pieces draped over the top will baste your bird and add a little extra flavor.) This caramel corn can be made days ahead, which is always nice. It has bacon, maple, and pecans in it – perfect for Fall.

I have lots of cookie recipes that would be perfect for the occasion too, but I think I’ll save those for a separate post.

I guess this should have been named “Thanksgiving Carbs”, huh? Pfffft. Don’t think about that – just enjoy.

Lorinda

 

Butter Rum Apple Cookies

butter rum apple cookies horizontalEnvision a cookie that is as light as a cake and filled with toasted nuts and soft bits of apple, and then imagine the fragrance of butter rum, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves wafting through your house as you pull them from the oven. This is one of those times when the reality is every bit as good as the fantasy.

My husband is not known for his effusive compliments, so when he told me “I can NOT STOP eating them…they’re that good!”, I knew my recipe was blog-worthy.

There’s no actual rum in these cookies, though if you wanted to add a little pizazz, you could substitute rum for some of the water in the icing. The flavor comes from using hot buttered rum mix in place of the sugar, butter, and spices.

You have a choice here. You can use:

    • Store bought mix. If you go this route, make sure you buy one that has butter as one of the main ingredients. The brand I bought had sugar as the first ingredient, and butter as the second. It was really delicious…and convenient!  OR:
    • My easy-peasy Hot Buttered Rum Mix.

The benefit of using my recipe for hot butter rum mix?  You will still have enough batter left for about 10 mugs of hot buttered rum! That’s a no-brainer, right? Oh, and you’ll save money.

Butter Rum Apple Cookies

Butter Rum Apple Cookies

Here’s what you’ll need. I love the flavor of the toasted pecans in these cookies, but you can use walnuts if you’d prefer. Either way, toasting them briefly will make a huge difference. I like to cook mine slowly in a skillet on the stove, but the microwave works too. 90 seconds to 2 minutes works well in my microwave (stirring several times) but some people cook them much longer.

ingredients for Butter Rum Apple Cookies

It’s a super easy recipe. The hardest thing you’ll have to do is peel, core, and chop the apple!

Butter Rum Apple Cookies
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Author:
Makes 30-36 cookies.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup hot buttered rum mix - slightly softened (make sure you use a mix that has butter as a main ingredient)
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 cups chopped apple (peeled and cored)...about 1 large apple or 2 small
  • 1 cup lightly toasted pecans or walnuts, chopped
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • GLAZE (optional)
  • 11/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons meringue powder (Optional - this will just keep the glaze firmer during storage.)
  • Water
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375 F.
  2. Cover baking sheet with parchment (or very lightly grease it).
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the Hot Buttered Rum mix, the egg, and the sour cream until combined.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients all at the same time. Mix until incorporated.
  5. For round cookies, use a cookie scoop. Otherwise, drop by slightly rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookie begins to lightly brown.
  7. Move cookies from baking sheet to cooling rack. Cool before adding glaze.
  8. GLAZE:
  9. Whisk together powdered sugar, vanilla, meringue powder, if using, and slowly drizzle in enough water (or rum!) to make a fairly thin glaze. Brush or spoon over cool cookies.
  10. Keep loosely covered in a cool location.

So easy. Once the rum mix, egg, and sour cream are combined, just dump the rest in!

So easy. Once the rum mix, egg, and sour cream are combined, just dump the rest in!

Drop by rounded tablespoons.

Drop by rounded tablespoons.

Mmmmm...can you smell them?

Mmmmm…can you smell them?

Spoon it on...

Spoon it on…

...or brush it on.

…or brush it on.

Butter Rum Apple Cookies - enjoy!

Butter Rum Apple Cookies – enjoy!

The cookies are soft and moist, so I’d recommend that you loosely cover them with foil so the glaze doesn’t get sticky. As with any spicy cookie, the flavor improves over the next day or two – if you can protect them from invaders for that long!

Lorinda

 

 

Hot Buttered Rum Mix

hot buttered rum mixEveryone has a favorite hot buttered rum batter, ranging from an ice cream mixture that’s kept in the freezer, to a plastic tub of pre-mixed batter found at the grocery store.  As much as I love the ice cream version, it goes down awfully easy, and can make you very sorry the next morning. (Or so I’ve been told…)

My recipe is for a batter similar to the store-bought kind, but with a little extra flavor. I’m posting this recipe because my next post will be for a recipe that calls for hot buttered rum batter, and I thought you’d like to be prepared!  (By all means, buy a tub of it if you prefer – but this is pretty darn easy.)

Here are the basic ingredients: butter, brown sugar, spices, and salt.

This is all you really need. Well...rum. You need rum!

This is all you really need. Well…rum. You need rum!

This makes a delicious batter!

But I jazz it up just a wee bit with my secret (okay, not so secret now) ingredient – Butter Rum Flavoring, purchased at a local craft store in the candy making aisle. You can also find pure butter rum extract online, which I’m sure would be wonderful.

Butter Rum Flavoring! Adds a little "kick".

Butter Rum Flavoring! Adds a little “kick”.

I’m never happy unless I’ve experimented a bit. Usually mistakes are given to my chickens to dispose of, but in this case, that didn’t seem like a good idea. You see, I figured I might as well add the rum to the mixture too and save a step when making hot drinks.

In case you’re wondering, no matter how long you beat the batter/rum combination, it doesn’t blend together. Seriously – it looks like cat barf.

I will not, however, waste it. It went into the fridge in a mason jar to be used when company is NOT here to witness this – this – slop. Ugh. But, as my mother would say: “It tastes perfectly fine”.

Kids, do NOT try this at home!

Kids, do NOT try this at home!

So…one rounded tablespoon of batter and 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of rum in a mug of boiling hot water is just about right. If you don’t like your drinks too sweet, either cut back the sugar in the mixture or use a level tablespoon per mug. Whatever you do, don’t cut back on the rum!

Hot Buttered Rum Mix
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Author:
Makes about 24 servings. This batter will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks in an airtight container.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • ½ teaspoon (or to taste) butter rum flavoring
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, beat together the brown sugar, butter, and butter rum flavoring well.
  2. Add cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Beat until thoroughly combined.
  3. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
  4. To make hot buttered rum drinks, add one rounded tablespoon to a mug of boiling hot water. Add 2 ounces of rum (1/4 cup) and stir well.

I think that is officially the shortest recipe I’ve ever offered on this blog!

This makes about 24 servings, but don’t drink it all – save some for the recipe that’s coming your way soon.

Lorinda

Maple Croissants (with a sweet, nutty filling)



Maple CroissantsFlaky, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth maple croissants – it just doesn’t get any better than this, right?

Oh, but it really does get better. Add a nutty filling and a drizzle of maple icing to create a perfect combination of flavors and textures…and be prepared for the clamoring for “MORE!” that will occur.

It’s no secret that I’m a maple fiend, and I’ve posted several croissant recipes over the years, like Chocolaty Croissant Puffs, Croissants – ooh, la la!, and Pumpkin Cronuts, but I never thought to combine my two passions until my husband suggested it. I guess he’s a keeper!

I’ve got to give you my standard disclaimer when it comes to croissants: they take some time. Not a crazy amount of work, but time. The dough must be chilled and rolled out several times, and though the rolling doesn’t take more than a few minutes, you have to wait at least 30 minutes between each roll. And then the dough should sit overnight. Once you shape them, they take a while to rise. You can’t try to rush this by putting them in a warm spot, because you do NOT want the butter to melt and puddle around the rolls.

So…ideally these should be started the day before you want to bake them. Or two, since the dough just gets more flavorful as it sits in the fridge. That’s a good thing, because it breaks up the process so you can do other things. A few hours before you need the rolls, fill and shape them and leave them to rise slowly. They only take 10-12 minutes to bake.

You won’t believe the fragrance that will fill your house while these beauties are in the oven!

Layers of flakiness surround that nut filling.

Layers of flakiness surround that nut filling.

This recipe makes 32 rolls. You could always cut the recipe in half, but you’ll be sorry! Remember, the dough stays good for days in the fridge, and I’m guessing you won’t let it go to waste. But…if that’s too many for you, freeze some of the filled croissants on a cookie sheet before they’ve risen, and then put them into an airtight container for another day. When you want to use them, simply put them on a baking sheet, cover with a clean towel, and let them thaw and rise slowly (approximately 6 hours) before baking.

I know this recipe looks scary, but it’s for the dough, the filling and the icing. And I’m kinda wordy.

Maple Croissants (with a sweet, nutty filling)
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Author:
Makes a lot - approximately 32 croissants. The recipe can be halved, or you can save some for later by freezing shaped rolls before they rise. To use, simply place frozen rolls on a baking sheet, cover with a towel, and let them rise slowly (about 6 hours) before baking.
Ingredients
  • CROISSANT DOUGH:
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 2¾ cups warm milk (about 110 degrees)
  • 2 tablespoons Mapleine (maple flavoring)
  • 6½ cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt (I use Kosher)
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) cold butter, unsalted
  • egg wash (1 egg + 1 teaspoon water, beaten well)
  • FILLING:
  • 3 cups walnuts or pecans (raw, NOT toasted)
  • 1 tablespoon softened butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Mapleine
  • ICING (optional) :
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Mapleine
  • ⅛ cup water
Instructions
  1. CROISSANT DOUGH:
  2. In a large bowl (a stand mixer works best), mix the yeast and warm milk together. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Using a dough hook, mix in the Mapleine, 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, and the salt. Beat until well combined, then add the remaining flour gradually.The dough should come cleanly away from the sides of the bowl. Cover with a dishtowel or plastic wrap, and let the dough rise for about an hour.
  4. Split the dough in half and on a lightly floured surface, form each half into a ball. Put each half into a heavy plastic bag and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  5. Bring one stick of butter out of the refrigerator at a time and cut lengthwise into 4 equal slices. Place them snugly together with two pieces end to end on top, and two pieces end to end directly below the first two on a piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper, forming a rectangle approximately 6-1/2 inches by 3 inches. Cover with plastic wrap and roll gently to make a solid rectangle, 6-1/2 by 4 inches. (If your butter comes in the long, skinny sticks, you'll have to improvise!) Wrap and place it back in the refrigerator while you repeat the process with the other 3 sticks of butter.
  6. Remove one bag of dough and two butter rectangles from the fridge.
  7. Roll dough out on a floured surface until it is approximately 13 inches by 8 inches, with the long side facing you. You may have to do a little stretching to get a nice rectangular shape.
  8. Place one piece of butter directly in the middle of the dough, with the short side of the butter facing you. Fold the right side of the dough over the butter and press all around it gently to seal the butter in. Put the other piece of butter on top, and fold the left side over it, pinching well to seal. So...your layers at this point are: dough, butter, dough, butter, dough.
  9. The short side should be facing you, and it should be like a book - with the open edge to the right. Now roll it gently, being careful not to squeeze butter out of the dough, until it measures 12 inches by 8 inches. Fold it in thirds again, press edges gently, and put it back in the plastic bag in the refrigerator. Repeat with the other bag of dough and remaining butter.
  10. Let dough rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then remove dough, turn the open side to your right (like a book) and roll each one to 12 inches by 8 inches, fold into thirds, press edges gently, and return to the refrigerator for 30 more minutes.Oovernight is best.) At this point you can let the dough sit in the refrigerator for several days if you wish. The flavor just gets better.
  11. FILLING:
  12. Process nuts in a food processor or blender until finely ground. Add softened butter and brown sugar, and process briefly. Add Mapleine and process until mixture begins to stick together. Cover and set aside.
  13. FORM CROISSANTS:
  14. To form the croissants, work with one bag of dough at a time, leaving the other bag in the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll it out to about 12 inches wide and 20 inches long, trimming the edges to make them neat and tidy. Cut in half, lengthwise, using a sharp knife or (my favorite) pizza cutter. Working with one half at a time, mark the edges every 5 inches on one long side. Cut into triangles. This will give you 7 full triangles and 2 half triangles on each half of the dough. Press the small halves together for a total of 16 triangles per bag of dough
  15. I find it helps to lightly roll each triangle with a rolling pin so it is thinner and sticks to the counter a bit. It helps with the rolling process. Place approximately 1 tablespoon of filling along the wide bottom of each triangle, pressing the mixture gently onto the dough. Roll each piece up, starting at the wide end, and stretching lightly as you go. Place each croissant on the baking sheet, tip down to hold it in place, curving the ends to the middle. You can make them "hold hands" if you want. They'll come apart when they rise, but it helps them retain their crescent shape. Repeat with the other bag of dough, or save it for later.
  16. Allow the croissants to rise at room temperature. Depending on the temperature of your home, this can be anywhere from 1-1/2 hours to 3 hours. They're ready to bake when they're plump and doubled.
  17. Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Brush the croissants lightly with the egg wash, and bake for approximately 12 minutes.
  18. Remove croissants from the baking sheet and allow them to cool on a rack.
  19. ICING: Combine powdered sugar, Mapleine, and water. Beat until smooth, and drizzle over cooled croissants.

The dough should come cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.

The dough should come cleanly away from the sides of the bowl.

Form dough into 2 balls, bag them and refrigerate.

Form dough into 2 balls, bag them and refrigerate.

Combine ground nuts, butter, brown sugar, and maple flavoring.

Combine ground nuts, butter, brown sugar, and maple flavoring.

Filling should hold together when sqeezed.

Filling should hold together when sqeezed.

Cut each stick of butter into four slices. Roll between waxed paper to proper size.

Cut each stick of butter into four slices. Roll between waxed paper to proper size.

Place one rectangle of butter in the center of rolled dough.

Place one rectangle of butter in the center of rolled dough.

Fold the right side over the butter and press to seal.

Fold the right side over the butter and press to seal.

Fold the left side over. The opening will be on the right, like a book. Press edges.

Place second rectangle of butter on top. Fold the left side over. The opening will be on the right, like a book. Press edges.

Chill, roll, chill, roll, chill and then...this puffy dough gets rolled thin and cut into triangles.

Chill, roll, chill, roll, chill and then…this puffy dough gets rolled thin and cut into triangles.

Add filling to the wide end and roll 'er up!

Add filling to the wide end and roll ‘er up!

Maple croissants with a sweet nutty filling

So…I can’t promise I’m through with maple recipes, but I can pretty much guarantee that I won’t need another croissant recipe. This is my best friend forever.

I can assure you, though, that even though it looks complicated, it’s just one easy step at a time. You can do it! And because I’m not out to scare you away, my next post will be super easy – I promise!

Lorinda