Everything But the Turkey Decor:: Pumpkin Pepper Place Settings

Tie pumpkin peppers onto a napkin roll for Thanksgiving to create the perfect pumpkin place settings. Tie pumpkin peppers onto a napkin roll for Thanksgiving to create the perfect pumpkin place settings.

Pumpkin peppers are one of the cutest, most festive fresh items out there this time of year. You can typically find them in the cut flower section of Whole Foods or even at Trader Joe’s. They are branches filled with tiny baby “pumpkins.”

A few years ago, it occurred to me that they’d be super sweet tied onto a napkin roll for Thanksgiving to create the perfect pumpkin place settings. To spruce them up a little bit more, attach the pumpkins to a cinnamon stick using linen ribbon and add a tag with the guest’s name to tell them where to sit at your table.

Sometimes inspiration is just sitting around waiting for you at the grocery store, right?

xx Annette

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Everything but the Turkey Recipe :: Apple Cranberry Sauce

I am excited to bring you some of my best Thanksgiving recipes for our "Everything but the Turkey" series this month. Up next is my apple cranberry sauce.

I am so excited to bring you some of my best Thanksgiving recipes for our “Everything but the Turkey” series this month. Up next is my apple cranberry sauce. It’s a flavorful twist on traditional cranberry sauce and is sure to spruce things up at your Thanksgiving table.

To avoid being a frazzled hostess, prepare this sauce a little ahead of time. In fact, it can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two weeks if you store it in a closed jar. I recommend preparing it the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and jarring-up a few miniature versions to send home with Thanksgiving dinner guests. Tie some ribbon on the jar, and you’re all set!

_FRJ5023

_FRJ5032 I am excited to bring you some of my best Thanksgiving recipes for our "Everything but the Turkey" series this month. Up next is my apple cranberry sauce.

Cranberry Applesauce
Serves 6
You will need:

  • 8 cups of cranberries
  • 8 small or 6 medium apples sliced
  • 1/2 cup sugar

To prepare:

In a large sauce pan place cranberries, sliced apple, and sugar. Simmer on low heat, stirring regularly to prevent sticking, for 45 minutes until completely cooked and softened. Press the cooked cranberries and cooked apples with a fork to completely combine. The fruit should have a smooth yet chunky consistency. Let the applesauce cool then scoop into mason jars for keeping.

Stay tuned for more Thanksgiving fun later this month!

xx, Annette

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Picture Perfect Parties Turkey with Pear Walnut and Crispy Bacon Stuffing

Turkey with Pear Walnut and Crispy Bacon Stuffing

Tis’ the season for my book Picture Perfect Parties. If you want to pull off an amazing holiday soiree, dinner party, or Thanksgiving feast, now’s the time to pick up a copy. As a special treat on the blog today, I have my famous Thanksgiving turkey with pear walnut and crispy bacon stuffing recipe which is guaranteed to be a show stopper.

You’re welcome, and let me know how it turns out. Happy Thanksgiving! xx

Turkey with Pear Walnut Crispy Bacon Stuffing
Serves 8-10

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

You will need:
– 20 lb. Organic Turkey
– 2 teaspoons flake salt
– ¼ cup olive oil
– ¼ cup chopped fresh rosemary
– 4 cloves garlic minced
– 1 lemon

Ingredients for the *mirepoux mixture for the bottom of the roaster:
– 1 carrot diced
– 2 celery stalks dices
– 1 yellow onion diced
– 2 cups turkey stock (I use store bought)

To Prepare:
In the bottom of a roasting pan place carrots, celery, onion and stock. Put a rack into the roasting pan. Place turkey on the rack.

Combine salt, oil, rosemary, and garlic, rub the entire turkey with the mixture, place whole lemon into the cavity of the turkey. Place in the oven with an aluminum foil tent on the top of the turkey for 4 hours, basting every half hour. Remove the tent for the last hour of baking, and bake until meat thermometer reads 150 degrees F

Pull from the oven and let rest.

*Reserve the mirepoix for the gravy.

Stuffing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. *Note: place in the oven once you have pulled the fully cooked turkey from the oven, and it is resting.

You will need:
– 5 slices of bacon
– 1 yellow onion chopped
– 2 stalks of celery chopped
– 3 cloves of garlic minced
– 1 cup toasted walnut halves
– 3 pears cored and cubed
– 4 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
– 4 tablespoons chopped rosemary
– 3 links of Italian sausage, out of the casing and crumbled
– 1 loaf of country bread cubed
– 3 cups of turkey stock

To Prepare:

In a large sauté pan, cook bacon until crispy, drain, and set aside. Reserving about a ¼ cup of the bacon drippings in the pan (discard the rest) sauté the onion, garlic and celery in the bacon drippings, when translucent, add the sausage and sage and rosemary walnuts, pears remove from heat. In a large bowl place the bread cubes and the turkey stock, add the mixture from the sauté pan, and crumble the bacon into the bread bowl combine thoroughly.

Grease a casserole dish pour the stuffing into the dish. Set aside until ready to bake

*Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven, serve warm

Gravy

You will need:
– Mirepoix, defatted
– 2 cups turkey stock
– 2 tablespoons corn starch

Place the mirepoix into a saucepan, heat, and add turkey stock, and warm.

In a small bowl place cornstarch.  Add 3 tablespoons of the warm mixture to the cornstarch, mix with a small spoon until a paste forms. Add the paste to the gravy mixture to thicken. Stir until reduced. Remove from heat and strain into a bowl. Serve on the side with turkey and stuffing.

Photo Credit: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

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Picture Perfect Thanksgiving Starter: Squash Soup

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and happens to be one of my favorite hoidays. When you plan your menu, consider adding a soup to kick off the meal. It will warm your guests from the inside out and is a different way to start your meal than a traditional appetizer (although I do love a great charcuterie). This soup is a lovely starter to your Thanksgiving dinner – creamy and comforting.

This recipe, from my book  Picture Perfect Parties, is one of my favorite soups all winter long, and the sage croutons make it so unique!

Acorn Squash Soup with Sage Croutons
Serves 8

You will need:
– 3 acorn squash, sliced in half and seeds removed
– 6 tbsp. olive oil (3 tablespoons to toss the squash, 3 tablespoons to sauté the shallot, onion and celery and apple and herbs)
– 2 granny smith apples, cored and chopped
– 1 medium shallot, diced
– 1/2 yellow onion, diced
– 1 cup diced celery
– 1 tsp. kosher salt
– 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
– 1 tsp. fresh dried ginger
– 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
– 4 cups vegetable stock
– 1 cup water

To Prepare:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a baking sheet parchment paper or silpat.

In a large bowl toss the squash with olive oil and salt and pepper.

Place the squash, skin-side-down, onto baking sheet.

Roast in oven for 45-50 minutes, or until flesh is tender and skin is starting to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow the squash to cool. Once it’s cooled, remove flesh from skin by using a spoon to scoop out the flesh into the bowl set aside.

In a large cast iron pot heat olive oil over on medium-high add apple, shallot and onions and celery and sauté until tender, about 6-8 minutes, add salt, ginger, sage, , cinnamon, and cooked squash then the vegetable stock.

Bring to a boil about 5 minutes and then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Remove the soup from the cook top, and let stand for an hour to cool. Ladle the soup in batches into a food processor fitted with a steel blade, pulse until smooth, place into a storage container, and repeat. This can be done 2 days before and be stored in the refrigerator until ready to heat and serve.

Sage Croutons

You will need:
– 1 loaf of rustic bread cut into 1 inch cubes
– ¼ cup olive oil
– ¼ cup chopped fresh sage
– ½ teaspoon sea salt
– ½ teaspoon black pepper
– 2 cloves minced garlic

To Prepare:

Preheat the oven to 350 degree F

In a large bowl whisk oil, garlic, sage and salt and pepper.

Cut bread into 1 inch cubes, and toss into the sage oil mixture.

On a baking sheet spread the coated bread cubes and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. You may need to shake the baking sheet to toast the cubes evenly 5 minutes into baking.

Remove from the oven, let cool, and seal in a zip-lock bag until ready to serve.

Photo credit : Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

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Easy DIY Chalkboard Menu Vase

DIY chalkboard menu

October marks the third year my book Picture Perfect Parties (Rizzoli NY) has been on bookshelves. I run into people all the time that tell me they cook from my book regularly, or they threw one of the parties in the book with great success. This makes me extremely happy. To know that I have inspired people to live a better, more stylish life is a gift like no other. I am always humbled and touched with these wonderful personal stories, so thank you to everyone from the bottom of my heart for sharing your experiences with my book.

One of my favorite decor hacks is this one. I love chalkboard paint and recycling; this project has it all.

This fall centerpiece is definitely an easy fix to get your table in the autumn spirit.  One of the parties in my cookbook, Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY, is all about Sunday Supper. Sunday Supper is a staple at the Josephs; people that gather on Sundays include our family and our friends. The entire point of Sunday Supper is to hangout, enjoy comfort foods, and wrap-up the weekend. So give it a whirl! You’ll love this tradition as much as we do.

This DIY is perfect for Sunday supper, and it would be perfect for Thanksgiving. You will use this great addition to your tablescape again and again.

The step-by-step instructions are simple, and the items needed you probably already have on hand, and if you don’t, are easy to find. I love the texture that chalk adds to the vase. Be sure to add vibrant flowers to really make everything pop.

Have fun creating the menu vase DIY, and don’t stress if it doesn’t turn out perfectly; that’s part of the fun! BTW this is a great craft project to do with the kids, get them involved because they will be so proud when you unveil your table scape to friends. Happy Sunday Supper everyone.

Menu Vase DIY

You will need:
– Painter’s tarp
– 1 (8-inch) terra-cotta pot
– 1 chan chalkboard spray paint
– chalk
– Glass vase, slightly shorter than the terra-cotta pot
– 3 dozen fresh mums, dahlias, or other festive flower

To make:

1. Spread the tarp on a work surface in a well-ventilated space.
2. Spray the terra-cotta pot with the chalkboard paint, using 2 coats to cover, and allowing it to dry between coats.
3. Let the paint dry completely.
4. Write your menu on the pot with chalk.
5. Place a glass vase half-filled with water inside the menu pot.
6. Arrange the flowers in the glass vase and use the menu pot as a centerpiece of your table.

For this and more fun crafts run out and buy my book Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY

Photo Credit: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

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