Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Instant Pot Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes

Making mashed potatoes in an Instant Pot is a perfect way to quickly cook the potatoes, and free up a burner on the stove. Then you can mash and stir all of the good stuff directly into the potatoes in the Instant Pot. After preparing, you can leave them in the Instant Pot on the warm setting for several hours before serving. This is very helpful when preparing a big meal with lots of last minute cooking details.

Yukon gold are my preferred type of potatoes for making mashed potatoes. Russet potatoes are great for baking, but can make for mealy mashed potatoes.

I flavor my mashed potatoes with butter, milk, cream, sour cream, and garlic. You can use regular minced garlic in these potatoes (or leave out the garlic all together), but using roasted garlic makes them a million times better! Sometimes I add a little bit of fresh grated Parmesan cheese as well.

To keep your potatoes nice and hot, be sure to heat the butter, milk, and cream before mixing them into the mashed potatoes. I like my potatoes slightly whipped with a mixer to remove most of the lumps, but don’t overwhip them or they will become gummy.

Here is a tutorial for roasting large quantities of garlic:

I roast about 3 pounds of garlic at a time (on a day I can leave the windows open), then freeze it in several 1 cup containers. I always have one container in the refrigerator to use whenever a recipe calls for garlic.


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Filed under Side Dishes

Crescent Dinner Rolls

Crescent Rolls 2

Looking for the perfect rolls to serve for Thanksgiving? Or more importantly, to use the next day to make turkey/cranberry sauce sandwiches?

Look no further: these rolls are amazing. They are soft and tender, but also hold up to slicing and using as a sandwich bun.

Leftovers are always the best part of a big holiday dinner. I love cooking once and then repurposing dinner for the next few days. And rolls are the perfect food to make ahead of time, freeze, and then reheat in the oven just before serving.

To help elongate the crescent rolls and keep them from being too thick in the center, I cut a slit in the wide edge, separate the slit slightly, and then roll the dough into a crescent shape.

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This gives longer ends that are easier to curve into a rounded crescent.

Crescent Rolls 4

Happy Thanksgiving!

Crescent Rolls 1

I posted about these rolls previously, but I have adapted the recipe this time to use instant yeast, which doesn’t require proofing before adding to the dough. You can find the original recipe, using regular yeast HERE.


Crescent Dinner Rolls

Crescent Rolls 3

2 ⅔ cups whole milk
½ cup sugar
6 Tbs butter
1 Tbs kosher salt
1 heaping Tbs instant yeast
8-8 ¼  cups all-purpose flour
3 beaten eggs
Melted butter (about 4 Tbs; for brushing on top of cooked rolls)

Combine milk, sugar, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until butter melts and sugar completely dissolves. Remove from heat and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer. Allow to cool to lukewarm.

Add 4 cups of flour and the instant yeast to the warm (but not hot) milk mixture. Use a dough hook to mix on low speed for 30 seconds, then scrape the sides of the bowl. Mix on high speed for 3 minutes.  Mix in eggs.

Knead in as much remaining flour as needed to make a soft dough. The dough should be very soft–it will be coming away from the sides of the bowl, but it will still stick to your finger when you touch it. Remove the dough hook and cover the bowl with a clean towel. Place the bowl in a warm place and allow dough to rise for 45-60 minutes, or until doubled.

Grease large baking sheets, or line with parchment paper or silicon mats.

Punch down dough. Lightly oil  your work surface (USE OIL, NOT FLOUR, TO KEEP THE DOUGH FROM STICKING TO YOUR SURFACE). Divide dough into 3 balls and place one of the thirds onto the lightly oiled surface. Keep remaining dough covered until ready to use.

Roll each dough ball into a circle and cut into 12 wedges. Cut a ½” slit in the wide end of the wedge, separate slightly and roll  into crescent shape and place on prepared pans.

Cover rolls with a clean cloth and allow to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes. When dough has about 15-20 minutes to go, preheat oven to 375°F.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden-brown. When done, remove from oven and brush lightly with melted butter.

Yield: 36 rolls

**To prebake (and freeze)  for serving another day: Bake rolls on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until rolls just barely begin to brown. Remove from oven. (Do not brush with butter) Cool completely. Place in Ziploc freezer bags. Freeze.

On serving day: Place frozen rolls on a baking sheet, bake at 350°F for about 7-10 minutes, or until hot and golden brown. Brush tops with melted butter.



Filed under Breads

Pumpkin Shaped Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Rolls 4

Looking for a fun roll to go with your Thanksgiving feast? These pumpkin shaped rolls are also made with pumpkin, but are a savory roll that goes perfectly with all of your Thanksgiving dinner favorites.

Pumpkin Rolls 3

If you can roll a hunk of dough into a ball and have a pair of sharp scissors, you have all the skills you need to make these cute little pumpkins.

You can make these rolls with either whole wheat or white flour. I usually use a combination of about half of each.

To make the pumpkin shapes: Place balls of dough on a greased baking sheet (or use a silicon baking sheet). Use kitchen shears (or other clean sharp scissors) to make about 5 cuts around the edge of the dough; cuts should be about ½” deep.

Pumpkin Rolls 5

Brush or spray dough with oil, cover with a towel and let rise until doubled. For a shiny finish, brush rolls with an egg white wash (room temperature egg white mixed with 1 Tbs water) before baking.

After rolls have baked, use a toothpick or a skewer to poke a small hole in the center of each roll. Press a long sliver of a pecan into the hole to make the stem.

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If you are not into pumpkin shapes, you can always make them into more traditional crescents or knots. Instructions on making these shapes can be found HERE.

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I like to serve these with honey butter: Mix 1 stick of very soft butter  with 1-2 Tbs honey. These rolls can also be made ahead of time and frozen, then baked again just before serving.

Pumpkin Rolls 2


Pumpkin Shaped Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Rolls 3

1 ¼ cups warm water
1 egg
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 Tbs honey
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs molasses
4 cups whole wheat or white flour
¼ cup wheat gluten
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice **
2 tsp salt
1  Tbs instant yeast***
about 1- 1 ½ cups additional flour
Egg wash: 1 egg white, mixed with 1 Tbs water
Pecans, for stem garnish

Mix water, egg, pumpkin, honey, olive oil and molasses in a large mixing bowl. Add flour, gluten, sugar, spices, salt and yeast. Mix until thoroughly combined. Add additional flour, if needed, a little at a time, until dough just begins to form a ball. Knead for 5-6 minutes, or until dough pulls away from sides of the bowl and springs back slightly when touched.

Shape dough into about 24 balls. Dough balls should be bigger than a golf ball, but slightly smaller than a tennis ball. Place on lightly greased baking sheets, or use a silicone mat. Use kitchen shears (or other sharp scissors) to make 5-6 cuts around the edge of the dough; snip completely through dough to a depth of about ½”. Spray or brush with oil and cover with towel. Let rise for 30-60 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Brush rolls with an egg wash: 1 egg white (room temp) mixed with 1 Tbs water. Bake at 375°F for about 15 minutes. After rolls have baked, use a toothpick or a skewer to poke a small hole in the center of each roll. Press a long pecan sliver  into the hole to make the stem.

Pumpkin Pie Spice substitute: 1 tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp each allspice, ginger, and cloves.
***If you are using regular, and not instant, yeast, let dough rise once in a covered bowl until doubled, and then shape into rolls and rise again. (Instant yeast only needs one rise period)

If desired, serve with Honey Butter: 1 stick softened butter mixed with 1-2 Tbs honey.

To make and freeze: Shape rolls and place on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon mat. Let rise as usual. Bake rolls for 10-12 minutes, or until rolls just barely begin to brown, but are cooked in the center. Rolls should look slightly underdone (not completely brown). Remove from oven. Do not put pecans into center of rolls. Cool completely. Place in Ziploc freezer bags. Freeze.

On serving day: Place frozen rolls on a baking sheet, bake at 350°F for about 7-10 minutes, or until hot and golden brown. If rolls are thawed, bake for 5-6 minutes, or until browned. Add pecans for stems after baking.

Yield: about 2 dozen rolls


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Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake with Butterscotch Sauce

Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake with Butterscotch Sauce 1

This cheesecake starts with an easy-to-make lemon gingersnap crust, followed by layers of pumpkin and vanilla cheesecake. After baking, the entire cheesecake is garnished with pecans and drizzled with a butterscotch topping. This is a great make-ahead dessert perfect for Thanksgiving, or any other holiday.

The Lemon Gingersnap Crust is made from these cookies:

Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake with Butterscotch Sauce 3

For detailed information about baking a cheesecake in a water bath, see this post: Creamy Citrus Cheesecake

Once the cheesecake has baked and chilled for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, the pecan garnish and butterscotch topping can be added.

Start by spreading a thin layer of butterscotch sauce over the top of the cheesecake, spreading to the edge. Place pecans around the outside edge of the cheesecake.

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Using a squeeze bottle or pastry bag with a thin round tip, drizzle butterscotch sauce over the entire top of the cheesecake and pecans, allowing some to drip down the sides. You can do a simple drizzle, or a lattice pattern by drizzling in straight lines along cheesecake, then turning 90 degrees and drizzling again (perpendicular to first layer).

Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake with Butterscotch Sauce 1


Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake with Butterscotch Sauce

Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake with Butterscotch Sauce 1

Lemon Gingersnap Crust
1 (7 oz) pkg Carr’s Ginger Lemon Cremes
½ cup pecans
2 Tbs butter, melted

Process cookies and pecans in a food processor until finely ground. Add melted butter and mix. Press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9” springform pan. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes while preparing filling.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Layer
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
¾ cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 Tbs flour
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp allspice
1/8 tsp each ground nutmeg and ground cloves
pinch of salt
2 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth. (You can also substitute 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice for the other spices)

Vanilla Cheesecake Layer
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese, softened
¾ cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Wrap springform pan in a double layer of foil. Place springform pan in a larger roasting pan.

Pour pumpkin filling into crust.  Slowly pour vanilla filling over top of the pumpkin batter. Fill roasting pan (not springform pan!) with very hot (almost boiling) water to about 1-2 inches deep.

Bake cheesecake in the water bath for about 80 minutes. (Cover top of cheesecake with foil if it begins to brown before it is set.) When it is cooked, the cheesecake will have puffed significantly, and the middle will still be slightly jiggly, but not soupy. Remove pan from water bath and run a sharp knife around the sides, but do not remove ring. Place on a cooling rack and let cheesecake stand at room temperature for one hour. Cover cheesecake pan (do not remove sides) with plastic wrap, taking care not to touch the surface of the cheesecake. Chill for at least four hours or overnight.

Butterscotch Sauce
4 Tbs butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (light or dark)
½ cup heavy cream
2 Tbs corn syrup
½ tsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbs vanilla extract
Whole Pecans for Garnish

Combine butter, brown sugar, cream, corn syrup, lemon juice and salt in a medium saucepan. Stir and cook over medium-low heat until mixture boils. Simmer for 5 additional minutes, or until slightly thickened. Stir in vanilla and cook for 2 more minutes. Cool before drizzling over cheesecake. Store in refrigerator. (This makes more than you will need for topping the cheesecake)

Remove sides of springform pan from chilled cheesecake. Remove bottom of pan and place cheesecake on a serving platter.

If butterscotch sauce has been refrigerated, you may need to warm it just slightly in the microwave until it can be drizzled (about 30-40 seconds). Spread a thin layer of butterscotch sauce over the top of the cheesecake, spreading to the edge. Place pecan halves around the outside edge of the cheesecake. Using a squeeze bottle or pastry bag with a thin round tip, drizzle butterscotch sauce over the entire top of the cheesecake and pecans, allowing some to drip down the sides. You can do a simple drizzle, or a lattice pattern by drizzling in straight lines along cheesecake, then turning 90 degrees and drizzling again (perpendicular to first layer). Refrigerate until ready to serve.



Filed under Desserts

Thanksgiving Dessert: Coconut Cream Pie Bars

Coconut Cream Pie Bars noemptychairs.me 059-1

Looking for a non-pumpkin dessert to add to your Thanksgiving menu?

How about a creamy coconut cream pie filling on a shortbread crust with the thinnest layer of chocolate ganache squeezed in, then topped with whipped cream and toasted coconut?!  And since they are so addicting, make them in a 9×13” pan so there are plenty of leftovers for the next day.

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Move over pumpkin pie!

Recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe


Coconut Cream Pie Bars

  • Servings: Makes 24 bars
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Coconut Cream Pie Bars noemptychairs.me 059-1

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) salted butter, cut into pieces

¼ cup heavy cream
¾ cup chocolate chips (bittersweet or semisweet)

Coconut Cream Filling:
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup cornstarch
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups (2 cans) coconut milk
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
4 eggs, beaten
½ teaspoon coconut extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cup sweetened, flaked coconut, toasted*

Whipped Cream Topping:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
¼ cup coconut, toasted*

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with baking Pamm (the kind with flour).

Crust: Combine the flour and powdered sugar; cut in the butter using a pastry blender, two knives or a food processor. Press the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 14-18 minutes until the crust is light brown. Cool crust on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Ganache: Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl. Heat ¼ cup cream in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave for 45 seconds, or until simmering. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let the mixture stand for 1-2 minutes, then stir until smooth. If chips do not completely melt, microwave for 20 seconds and stir again. Pour the chocolate over the bottom of the crust and smooth to the edges. Place pan in the fridge to chill until crust is cooled completely and ganache has hardened.

Filling: Use a whisk to mix sugar, cornstarch  and salt in a large saucepan. Mix in coconut milk, half-and-half, cream, and beaten eggs. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly until it is very thick. If the mixtures has lumps, you can strain it through a fine mesh sieve. (If you whisk diligently while cooking, you will not need to strain the pudding). Remove from heat and stir in the coconut and vanilla extracts and toasted coconut. Pour the filling over the chilled ganache and refrigerate the bars until they are set, about 4 hours.

Topping: With a mixer, whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Spread the cream over the chilled bars; sprinkle with toasted coconut. Chill until ready to serve.

Makes 24 bars


** To toast the coconut, spread coconut onto a baking sheet and bake at 325°F, stirring every 5 minutes for about 15 minutes, or until light brown. Watch closely so it doesn’t burn.

** If you are making these bars ahead of time, prepare the crust, chocolate and filling and refrigerate. Add the whipped cream topping just before serving. Whipped cream will begin to get watery if left in the refrigerator for more than a day.

** Halve recipe to make in a deep-dish pie pan or 8×8” pan.

(Recipe adapted from melskitchencafe)



Filed under Desserts

Pumpkin Oat Waffles with Cinnamon Syrup


Happy Halloween!

It is not feeling much like Halloween here in western Pennsylvania. On Monday, in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy, school was cancelled (Tue) and delayed (Wed), trick-or-treating was moved to Saturday, and school Halloween parties and parades moved to Friday. Gratefully, we had much less of an impact from the storm than was predicted, so kids are back at school today (on time!). But with all of the Halloween activities for today postponed, it feels like just another wet, slushy Wednesday.

We were all prepared to wake up on Tuesday without power, but instead we had a great day at home together with nothing on the schedule! I love days like that. Days that can start with a great breakfast full of healthy things like pumpkin and oats and topped with unhealthy things like a thick homemade cinnamon syrup.

New at waffle making? Try these Tips for Making Great Waffles.


Pumpkin Oat Waffles

  • Servings: Makes 20 small waffles
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2 cups flour
¾ cup rolled oats
2 Tbs cornstarch
2 tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

2 cups buttermilk
4 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
½ cup butter, melted
½ cup brown sugar

Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Use a whisk to mix. Combine wet ingredients in a separate mixing bowl. Use a mixer to beat thoroughly. Beat in dry ingredients until just mixed. Do not stir batter after mixing.

Use a ladle or measuring cup to pour batter evenly into hot waffle maker (about 2 cups for the 4 small Belgian waffles in my waffle maker). Cook for about 3-5 minutes, or according to directions on your waffle maker. Remove waffles from waffle maker and place on a wire rack (not a plate). Serve immediately or keep warm in a warm oven (very low heat).

Makes about 5 large Belgian waffles (20 small squares)

Cinnamon Syrup

¾ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbs butter
½ tsp cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 5 minutes. Serve warm.


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Filed under Breads, Breakfast/Brunch, Condiments/Sauces