On TODAY – Giada Puts a New Twist on Traditional Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Giada De Laurentiis Thanksgiving Sides on the Today  Show

Chef, author & television personality Giada De Laurentiis made a pre-Thanksgiving appearance on this morning’s Today Show.  Her contribution to the Thanksgiving meal was a novel take on a few classic side dishes: Bacon bourbon Brussels sprout skewers; Sweet potato salad with maple syrup dressing; and Cranberry soup with curried breadcrumbs.

I always love her seemingly casual recipes that result in deceptively delicious dishes.  Not to mention the bonus of being reminded how to properly pronounce “mascarpone” (and other Italian ingredients).

It might be time to change things up.  Give at least one of them a try.  Put a little Italian into the classic American Thanksgiving meal.

The recipes for the Brussels sprouts and Sweet potato salad are included below.

Buon appetito!

Giada De Laurentiis_Bacon bourbon Brussels sprout skewers

Image Source: Today.com

Recipe: Bacon bourbon Brussels sprout skewers

Courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound slab bacon, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
  • 1 pound small Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved if needed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 15 to 20 (8-inch) bamboo skewers

Heat a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the butter and allow it to cook until the butter begins to brown and starts to smells nutty, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the brown sugar and cayenne and cook another 2 minutes stirring regularly. Remove the pan from the heat and add the bourbon. Be careful as it will splatter. Place the pan back on the heat and ignite if desired. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until a smooth caramel has formed, another 3 minutes. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Spread the bacon on a small baking sheet and bake in the oven for 8 minutes, just to begin to render the fat. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the sprouts and simmer for

3 to 4 minutes or until just barely tender and still bright green. Spread on a sheet tray to cool slightly. Toss with the olive oil and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt.

Preheat the grill pan over medium heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Begin to assemble the skewers starting with a Brussels Sprout, then a piece of bacon, another sprout, another piece of bacon and finishing with a sprout. Continue until all of the skewers are assembled.  Brush the glaze lightly over the skewers. Place them on the prepared grill pan and grill, brushing them with glaze with every turn, until the bacon is beginning to crisp and the Brussels sprouts are starting to char, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove and serve warm drizzled with any remaining glaze.


Cooks Note: It may sound crazy, but the glaze for these Brussels sprouts also works well over chocolate ice cream with toasted pecans.

Serving Size: Makes 15 to 20 skewers

Recipe: Sweet potato salad with maple syrup dressing

Courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 2 1/2 pounds (about 3 large) sweet potatoes or red garnet yams, peeled and diced into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • For dressing:
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted (see Cook
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a heavy baking sheet with vegetable oil cooking spray.

Toss together the sweet potatoes, olive oil and salt on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 40 minutes until golden and tender.

For the dressing:

In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, mascarpone cheese, maple syrup, mustard, salt, and pepper until smooth.

Pour the dressing over the potatoes. Add the apple, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and parsley. Toss until all the ingredients are coated. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Cook’s Note:

To toast the pumpkin seeds, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 6 to 8 minutes until lightly toasted. Cool completely before using.

Serving Size:  Makes 4 to 6 servings

Five-Ingredient Fall Salads Food – Courtesy of Self.com

by Katherine Danesi

Self.com_Food and Diet_Beets and Herbs Salad

Image Source: Self.com

I don’t know about you, but I am always on the hunt for a fantastic salad recipe, one that works with the season when it comes to ingredients, taste and consistency.

Today, I discovered the utterly appetizing recipe for a Fig and Arugula Wheatberry Salad via a tweet from @SELFmagazine and bit, only to discover another nine fabulous, hearty fall salad recipes in a slide show: Kale Salad with Apples and Hazelnuts; Caramelized Root Veggies and Grain Mustard Vinaigrette (topped with a fried egg); Corn, Chard and Bacon Salad; and more.

Eat well!

Self.com_Food and Diet_Corn, Chard and Bacon Salad

Image Source: Self.com

Self.com_Food and Diet_Caramelized Root Veggies and Grain Mustard Vinaigrette (topped with a fried egg)

Image Source: Self.com


Chef Jeff Henderson – Friendly Fried Chicken As Fodder For Change

Chef Jeff Anderson

Image Source: ChefJeffLive.com

Each week, CBS This Morning: Saturday hosts a food segment called “The Dish.”  It’s not the standard, rushed cooking segment.  The food has already been prepared by the featured chef and it set out on a table at which he or she sits with the program’s co-hosts.  The three of them proceed to have a conversation — about food, how the chef came to cooking, why this is their favorite meal. And, at the end, each chef signs a plate, the dish.  In recent months, the show has hosted Gail Simmons, Rocco DiSpirito, Elizabeth Falkner and Frank Stitt.

This past Saturday, it was Chef Jeff Henderson.  I was not familiar with him, his cooking, or his story.  I am now and you should be too.  If there was ever an example of one’s ability to change his life for the better, it would be Jeff Anderson.  He is the embodiment of  the power of  transformation. As he told the hosts on This Morning, he spent almost 10 years on federal prison for drug trafficking. In business, we often talk about transferrable skills.  With some guidance, Chef Jeff was able to see that he had business skills that could be put to good use in areas other than the drug trade.  And he used his time in the prison kitchen to develop his cooking skills.  Once out, he searched for that first kitchen job and eventually “worked himself to the top of his industry as the first African-American executive chef at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.”  I like this man.

On the show, Chef Jeff prepared an early holiday feast that centered around his Friendly fried chicken (named after Friendly Womack, who was great mentor to Chef Jeff while he was in prison).  I’ve included that recipe, along with those for Blue cheese mashed potatoes, Sauteed kale with applewood smoked bacon and Chocolate s’more bread pudding.  On the CBS site you’ll find recipes for the rest of  dishes on his holiday menu: Cake-like cornbread, Jalapeno creamed corn, Fried greens and apple salad and Strawberry vodka-lemonade.


CBS Saturday Morning_The Dish_Chef Jeff Henderson's friendly fried chicken

Image Source: CBSNews.com

Friendly fried chicken

3/4 cup ground black pepper

1/3 cup kosher salt

3 tablespoons garlic powder

3 tablespoons onion powder

4 tablespoons cayenne pepper

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 pound chicken cut into pieces

1/4 cup of buttermilk

5 cups canola oil

1. To make the spice mix, whisk together the pepper, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne. Divide it in half and add one-half to the flour. Mix well with and set aside.

2. Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Season with the second half of the spice mix. Place chicken in a medium bowl. Coat with the buttermilk. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

3. When ready to fry, remove the chicken from refrigerator and coat well with the seasoned flour. Heat the oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet to about 375 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, test the heat by dipping one end of the chicken in the hot oil. If the oil starts boiling heavily, it’s too hot. The oil should have a medium boil when the chicken is put in the pan.

4. Place chicken in the oil and fry. Turn two or three times, until golden brown. Remove the chicken from the skillet to a large plate lined with paper towels.

Blue cheese mashed potatoes

5 or 6 medium potatoes, peeled, washed and cut into quarters

1 teaspoon of kosher salt

1/2 cup buttermilk

4 tablespoons of unsalted butter

3 tablespoons of blue cheese

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Place the potatoes in a medium to large pot and add water to cover. Bring to a boil and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Reduce the heat to a medium simmer. Cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 20 to 25 minutes

2. Drain the potatoes and place them in a large bowl.

3. Meanwhile, heat the buttermilk in a small saucepan.

4. Mash potatoes with a potato masher. Slowly add hot milk, butter and work in blue cheese.

5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sauteed kale with apple-wood smoked bacon

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup of red onions

4 slices of apple wood bacon, diced

2 tablespoons of fresh garlic, minced

1 1/2 pounds of kale, washed, stems removed and blanched

Kosher salt and black pepper

1. Heat olive oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Add onions and bacon to pan. Cook until caramelized.

3. Add garlic to pan and saute until soft.

4. Add kale and season with salt and pepper.

5. Cook for about 5 minutes or until kale is tender.

Chocolate s’more bread pudding

3 large eggs

4 cups milk

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon molasses

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 cup small marshmallows

1/2 cup small bittersweet chocolate chips

10 slices of pecan-raisin bread

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and molasses. Stir in pecans, marshmallows and chocolate chips.

3. Cut the bread into small cubes and place into a 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Pour egg mixture over bread cubes and push down until bread has soaked up the mixture.

4. Bake until the center is set, about 30 minutes. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.

Ode to the One-Pan Meal

Photo: MarkBittman.com

The one-pan meal.  Flavorful, easy-to-prepare, and minimal clean-up.  I have become an unabashed fan.  Two of my favorite one-pan recipes are Moroccan Chicken and Rice and Mark Bittman’s Cannellini with Shredded Brussels Sprouts and Sausage.  Both make it into pretty regular rotation on my weekly what-to-cook-for-dinner playlist.

Always on the lookout for more, I was thrilled when Chris Kimball, editor of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, appeared on the third hour of this morning’s Today Show with three one-pan recipes: Greek-style shrimp with tomatoes and feta; Skillet meaty lasagna; and Skillet apple crisp.  First up for me will definitely be the Greek-style shrimp, so I’ve included it below.

Three more great reasons to cook at home.

Eat well!


Greek-style shrimp with tomatoes and feta

Chris Kimball, Cook’s Illustrated (Sept. 1, 2010)

  • 1 1/2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on, if desired (see note)
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons ouzo (see note)
  • 5 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 5 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon grated zest from 1 lemon
  • Table salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 small onion, diced medium (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced medium
  • 1/2 medium green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced medium
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomato, drained, 1/3 cup juices reserved (see note)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 6 ounces feta cheese , crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill leaves

This recipe works equally well with jumbo (16 to 20 per pound) or extra-large (21 to 25 per pound) shrimp, but the cooking times in step 3 will vary slightly depending on which you use. Serve the shrimp with crusty bread or steamed white rice.

1. Toss shrimp, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon ouzo, 1 teaspoon garlic, lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper in small bowl until well combined. Set aside while preparing sauce.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, red and green bell pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir to combine. Cover skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables release their moisture, 3 to 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until moisture cooks off and vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes longer. Add remaining 4 teaspoons garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and reserved juice, wine, and remaining 2 tablespoons ouzo; increase heat to medium-high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors have melded and sauce is slightly thickened (sauce should not be completely dry), 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Reduce heat to medium-low and add shrimp along with any accumulated liquid to pan; stir to coat and distribute evenly. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are opaque throughout, 6 to 9 minutes for extra-large or 7 to 11 minutes for jumbo, adjusting heat as needed to maintain bare simmer. Remove pan from heat and sprinkle evenly with feta. Drizzle remaining tablespoon oil evenly over top and sprinkle with dill. Serve immediately.

Serving Size

Serves 4 to 6

Pancakes for those who prefer thin to thick

Photo: leedsstudent.org

Recently, I discovered that National Pancake Day (courtesy of IHOP) is coming up soon, on March 1st to be exact (one free short stack between 7:00 and 10:00 a.m. in exchange for a small charitable donation), which got me thinking about the flap jack.

I’m probably in the minority on this one, but I have do admit, I don’t love them.   I never make them and never order them when I’m out for breakfast.  For some reason I find their fluffiness unsatisfying from start to finish.

As a kid, I used to eat pancakes, but they were different: a cross somewhere between the standard flapjack and a crepe, and often the size of the whole plate.  Remembering this, and now wanting to cook pancakes in longer than I care to say, I sent an email to my mother asking for the recipe.  I knew it was simple – four or five ingredients, at most, all mixed in a blender, but what were the ingredients and their amounts?  Alas, my mother had long ago lost the secret recipe.  This was not good news, as in the intervening days, I had become like a dog with its proverbial bone.  I needed to find a similar recipe, and I did on Cooks.com.  It’s not exactly the same, but it’s close enough.  I offer this thinner take on pancakes to you below.

If it was me, once the pancakes have been cooked to perfection, I would  stack them two or three high, smear butter in between and on top, then douse them with a good pour of Aunt Jemima (accompanying my ambivalence towards fluffy pancakes is a general dislike of pure maple syrup, this to the horror of my brother and in spite of my Canadian heritage).  And I have vague memories of snowy Sunday mornings, sitting at the kitchen table with a pile of hot thin pancakes in front of me, and instead of syrup, I would spread thick layers of  strawberry jam in between and on top.  Now that sends me back…


Read more about it at Cooks.com
Content Copyright © 2011 Cooks.com – All rights reserved.
3 eggs
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. butter, melted
2 c. milk
2 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. sugar
Mix all ingredients in blender, adding butter last. This is a crepe-like batter. Fry on lightly greased preheated grill.

Mark Bittman Does It Again – Three Recipes to Change Your Life

Photo: “Rice and Beans” – Carlos Porto, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Three recipes to change your life.  I originally came across the concept in this past Sunday’s New York Times. The Week in Review section contained a series of articles with the theme “Sustainable Life.”  In one piece, Mark Bittman offered a compelling argument for cooking at home (it’s cheaper, healthier, and sometimes faster than eating out), along with three recipes that he believes can change the way we eat and live.  It’s a simple premise – cook and eat real food.  And Mr. Bittman shows us how to start.

The three recipes are: Broccoli Stir-Fry With Chicken and Mushrooms; Lentils and Rice With or Without Pork; and Crunchy Cabbage Salad.

Each includes an extensive list of variations and substitutions so that, should decide to embark upon a cooking adventure, you’ll be able to stretch three meal ideas into a few dozen.

As Mark Bittman said to Meredith Viera on this morning’s Today Show, “What you need is not so much a diet as a way to eat.”

Amen to that.


Broccoli Stir-Fry With Chicken and Mushrooms

Published: December 31, 2010

Yield: 4 servings.

2 tablespoons good-quality vegetable oil

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

4 scallions, chopped

1 pound broccoli, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces, the stems no more than 1/4-inch thick

8 ounces button mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced


8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch chunks or thin slices and blotted dry

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Freshly ground black pepper.

1. Put a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add half the oil, swirl it around, and immediately add half the garlic and ginger. Cook for 15 seconds, stirring, then add the broccoli, mushrooms and all but a sprinkling of the scallions. Raise heat to high, and cook, stirring, until mushrooms release their water and broccoli is bright green and beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Sprinkle with salt; add 1 cup water. Stir and cook until almost all liquid evaporates and broccoli is almost tender, another minute or two more, then transfer everything to a plate.

3. Turn heat to medium, add remaining oil, then remaining garlic and ginger. Stir, then add chicken and turn heat to high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken has lost its pink color, three to five minutes.

4. Turn heat to medium. Return broccoli, mushrooms and juices to the pan, and stir. Add soy sauce, sprinkle with more salt and some pepper; add a little more water if mixture is dry. Raise heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced slightly and you’ve scraped up all the bits of chicken. Taste and adjust seasoning, garnish with remaining scallion and serve.


Stir-fries work with virtually any combination of vegetables; protein-dense food (meat, poultry, fish, tofu, etc.) is optional. Use pork (like shoulder), shrimp, beef (like sirloin), or tofu instead of chicken; slice the meat thinly or the tofu into cubes.

Use cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, snow peas, carrots or spinach in place of either the broccoli or the mushrooms or both. Or use other mushrooms.

Use fish sauce instead of soy sauce and finish with a squeeze of lime to give it a Southeast Asian flavor.

Use olive oil, skip the ginger, use onion instead of scallion, and substitute 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary or thyme to give it a Mediterranean flavor profile.

Use coconut milk instead of stock; 1 tablespoon curry powder instead of soy sauce to give it an Indian flavor

Georgina’s Apple Pie – The Best Apple Pie Recipe, Seriously


Photo: Benimoto on Flickr, Creative Commons

They’re everywhere at the moment, from the farmers’ market to your local grocery store … white paper bags filled with Macintosh apples.  And it’s a good thing, because the best apple pie recipe I know is made with them.

What makes it, in my humble opinion, the best apple pie recipe?  Well, first of all, there’s the crust; it’s thin and flaky, which I happen to prefer to a thicker, heavier, doughier crust.  The crust is heaven.  Second, there’s the filling, starting with the key ingredient, those Macintosh apples.  When they’re cooked, they tend to be softer than other varieties; again, this is a personal preference.  And mixed with the cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg and tapioca, and topped with butter, well, you’ll have to judge the result for yourself.  To me, it bakes into sweet perfection.  And lastly, there is the beautifully browned, not burned, crust (there’s a tip for that).

Full disclosure Part I: this is my mother’s recipe – she’s modified it over the years with tips from here and there, making it the divine apple pie that it is today – but I promise this is an unbiased recommendation.  Everyone loves my mother’s pie; and her recipe is similar to my sister-in-law’s and her mother’s.  Full disclosure Part II: my mother lives in Canada, as do my sister-in-law and her mother, so maybe this is the all-Canadian take on the all-American classic.

Give it a try, you just might like it.

As always, eat well!


Georgina’s Apple Pie


2-½ cups all purpose flour

½ tsp. salt

½ lb. shortening or lard

½ cup ice cold water


  • In a medium bowl, light stir flour and salt with a fork.
  • Slice the shortening into one-inch cubes, then add it to the flour and salt.  Using a pastry blender, cut in the shortening until it is the mixture is the size of peas.
  • Sprinkle in the water, a tablespoon at a time, until the pastry holds together.
  • Shape into two balls and flatten into 1/2-thick round disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Note: you can refrigerate the dough for up to two days, or freeze for three months.


6-7 Macintosh apples, peeled and sliced into pieces about 1/8th of an inch thick

2 tbsp. lemon juice

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. nutmeg

2 tbsp. minute tapioca

2 tbsp. butter


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

  • Place the apple slices in a medium bowl and sprinkle with the sprinkle lemon juice.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the sugar with the cinnamon, nutmeg, and tapioca.
  • Add to the apples and stir, until the apples are coated.
  • Let sit the apple mixture sit while rolling out the pie crust.
  • Flour your rolling surface and pin.  Roll out one piece of the refrigerated dough, from the middle of the disk outwards, making a circle two inches wider than your inverted pie plate.
  • Roll the dough around the rolling pin and unroll over the pie plate.
  • Fill the pie shell with the apple mixture.
  • Cut the 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and dot over the apples.
  • Roll out the top crust, using the same method as above, and place over the apples.  There should be a 3/4-inch overhang of the dough.
  • Fold pasty overhang under and then bring over the top crust and pinch to make a decorative edge.
  • Use a fork to pierce all over the top pie crust, to vent steam during baking.
  • Sprinkle the top of the pie with sugar.
  • Cover edges with tinfoil for the first 40 minutes of baking time, and then remove.
  • Bake a total of one hour.

Remove from the oven and let cool before serving (preferably some fabulous vanilla bean ice cream).