Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving! Thank you for taking the time to read our posts and click through to see our pictures.


Papa Bird and I were feeling a little unenthusiastic about Thanksgiving this year. Neither of us have family in town, and the traditional “story” about Native Americans welcoming the English immigrants to the first Thanksgiving felt at odds with the current state of our country. But we talked about making new traditions and celebrating what we do value.

rotisserie turkey

We invited our sweet friends with a newborn over for a traditional meal at our house. At twelve pounds, the turkey was small enough to (just barely) fit on the rotisserie attachment of the grill. Thank goodness! However do you cook all the sides if there is a bird in the oven? Our friends made oven-roasted veggies and mashed potatoes with homemade creme fraiche, and even so, our oven was in full use throughout the morning and early afternoon.


Many thanks to Sarah and the girls’ “Tio Lou” for coming over, cooking, and sending us the pictures of us at the table. Papa Bird and I had seen their newbie at the hospital, but the Little Birds were thrilled to meet baby Mateo for the first time.

Sarah and Mateo

And there was pie. And pie crust cookies made by the girls. (Not pictured: chocolate mousse made by the girls, too.) I used my all-butter crust recipe and the “Real Pumpkin Pie” recipe from a few years ago with the following improvements: I used maple syrup instead of honey as the sweetener, which mixes easily without having to be warmed up. I also ended up using mostly cream and only a splash of milk, just because we had more cream than milk on hand.

real pumpkin pie

And the day after Thanksgiving we put up our tree. Christmas and Hannukah, here we come! (Another photo courtesy the Moras, as I was covering a shift at the hospital Friday.)

picking the perfect tree

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie from Chef Matt Gordon

While learning about the Mama’s Kitchen Pie in the Sky fundraiser, I had the opportunity to watch Chef Matt Gordon of Urban Solace and Sea and Smoke demonstrate his recipe for Sweet Potato Pecan Pie. He gave me permission to share the recipe below. Chef Gordon also dropped lots of pie knowledge and tips during the demonstration. Fortunately, I took furious notes and share his best tricks and tips for making pie here.

sweet potato pecan pie

Don’t forget that you can save yourself the time and trouble of baking by having Chef Gordon and other top San Diego restaurants and bakeries make a pie for you. Purchasing a pie for $25 will provide over 8 healthy meals to neighbors in need. That’s a win-win-win. You can also donate a pie to clients as well.

chef matt gordon baking sweet potato pecan pie

Chef matt Gordon’s advanced Pie making Tips

  • A cold kitchen and cold hands are best for pastry. The butter should never melt. The chef said that he sometimes goes into their walk-in refrigerator on hot days. Interestingly, he shared that the best pastry chefs often have naturally cold hands.
  • Use parchment paper between the dough and your rolling pin to roll out the dough more easily.
  • Adding egg yolks to the dough (as this recipe does) is called an “enriched” recipe. It is great for wet batters (such as pumpkin pie and pecan pie) when you don’t want to pre bake the crust. Although this recipe calls for brushing the crust with egg white before putting the filling in, he says it isn’t necessary for an enriched crust.
  • Citrus zest adds great flavor to any baked goods, such as this crust.
  • Wet finger can band aid together a tear in the crust. As you want to handle the dough as little as possible, never ball it up to roll out a second time.
  • Many home cooks have spices in the cupboards for ages. Fresh spices make a huge difference. (I love grating fresh nutmeg with a microplane.)
  • Use raw pecans. (I had always wondered which was better for pie!)
  • Setting the oven to 325ºF (instead of hotter) can prevent over browning the crust. You can use a bit of foil, too. (I use a pie shield.)
  • Don’t use the fan if you have a convection oven. A conventional oven is actually better.
chef matt gordon baking sweet potato pecan pie
Continue reading for a printable recipe.

Continue reading

Easy Cranberry Clementine Sauce

My sister Marjorie has been making a fresh cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving since she was a teenager. She shares her recipe for easy cranberry clementine sauce every year, since I never write it down. I’m happy to share it here because now I will be able to look it up next November, too! This is also a fun recipe to make with kids.

easy cranberry clementine sauce recipe

Easy Cranberry Clementine Sauce
Recipe type: Thanksgiving
Cuisine: Easy Vegan
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
An easy homemade recipe for cranberry sauce made with clementine juice and peel. Perfect for Thanksgiving.
  • 12 ounces of fresh cranberries (1 bag)
  • 1 clementine orange, juice and peel
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of sugar
  1. Rince cranberries. Juice the clementine and chop the peel in a small dice.
  2. Place all of the ingredients in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Cool slightly and serve.
  3. May also be refrigerated up to one week and served cold.

Pin the recipe to save. Please follow my Thanksgiving board on Pinterest for more ideas!

cranberry clementine sauce

Bacon Wrapped Turkey Breast Roasted with Vegetables: Two Meals in One Dish

Did you not get enough turkey yesterday? Or do you have too many leftovers and are looking for tasty ways to use them? This recipe features many of the flavors of Thanksgiving in a one dish meal. And part two of the recipe is a hash — a perfect way to make a second night’s meal, or to use extra Thanksgiving leftovers.

We didn’t cook the whole feast ourselves yesterday but joined a large, extended family gathering. I brought pies. The hosts are great cooks and so gracious that they actually send every guest home with a large to go container of leftovers. Still, I couldn’t wait for the tastes of Thanksgiving last weekend. I also make this recipe with chicken, but the chicken just didn’t look as good in the store as the half split turkey breast. Normally I wrap chicken breast in prosciutto or stuff the turkey with a mix of pancetta and fresh herbs, but this time I had bacon at home. To be perfectly honest, we preferred the taste of the prosciutto over the bacon. Any of them will work for adding moisture and flavor, so use what you like! Similarly, any number of vegetables will work. Use whatever you have on hand. Winter root vegetables are particular well suited to the dish and mushrooms add a lot umami.

Meal One: Turkey Breast Wrapped in Bacon Roasted with Vegetables

  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • Vegetables (Sweet Potato, Mushrooms, Fennel, Onion, Garlic, Parsnips, Potato, Bell Pepper, Butternut Squash, Leeks, Carrots etc.)
  • Black Pepper, Cayenne
  • 1 Split Half Turkey Breast, Bone-In (can also use Chicken)
  • Prosciutto or Bacon
  • Fresh Herbs (Sage, Thyme, Rosemary, Parsley, etc.)
  • 1/4 cup of Sherry, Marsala or White Wine

Preheat oven to 400° F. Add oil to a large oven proof skillet, pan, dutch oven or baking dish. Chop the vegetables into chunks (slightly larger than bite-sized as they will shrink down) and add them to the pan. Sprinkle with pepper and cayenne (salt is optional since the bacon/prosciutto is salty). Stir so that all are coated with a little bit of oil, and add a little more oil if needed.

Sprinkle pepper and fresh herbs on the turkey breast. Wrap with slices of prosciutto and bacon so that just the top is covered. Place on top of the vegetables. Toss any extra herbs in with the vegetables. Roast in the oven until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165° F. (I remove it just before then as I find the temperature continues to rise slightly.) Move the meat to a serving dish. If the veggies need more time, throw them back into the oven. If they are near done, add the sherry, marsala or wine, and stir. Place back in the oven for 3-5 minutes. (This can also be done on top of the stove, if using a skillet or dutch oven.) Using a spatula or wooden spoon, scrape up the caramelized bits, stir and serve.


  • If you are using chicken it will be definitely be done before the vegetables. So either cook them alone a little before adding the meat, after, or both.
  • For a nice variation, stuff the turkey with pancetta and herbs instead of wrapping. Make a slice length-wise down the breast and stuff.
  • For a true taste of Thanksgiving, use sage, among other herbs. I try to avoid eating sage while breastfeeding, however, since it can reduce milk production.
  • This is easily a one dish meal, but this time I served it with my favorite green salad of late: baby kale, citrus, fennel and feta.

Meal Two: Turkey, Roast Veggie and Bacon Hash

  • Leftovers from the above dish, or any combination of leftover meat, potatoes and/or veggies
  • 6 or so eggs, beaten

In a large pan heat any fat that has congealed in the leftovers. If needed, add a little oil. Remove the bacon (if any) from the meat and chop finely. Add to the pan. Remove the meat from the bone and cut into bite-sized chunks. Add the meat and vegetables to the pan. Add the eggs. Stir occasionally, like scrambled eggs, until the eggs are done and the other ingredients are heated though. No seasoning is usually needed since the leftovers are seasoned. Can be served with hot sauce and/or ketchup.

What is your favorite way to use leftover turkey?

Mike’s Pumpkin Cheesecake with Cranberry Gelée

Along with my favorite Chocolate Espresso Pecan Pie, another holiday dessert I have made a couple years in a row is this Pumpkin New York Cheesecake with a Cranberry Gelée topping. The recipe (and photo) comes from one of my friends from high school.  Mike shared: “I had the plain Cheesecake recipe ever since my first job in 8th grade as a busboy. It is still to this day my favorite cheesecake. It lends itself to flavor variations quite well, but for my money, you just can’t beat the pumpkin variety.”

Pumpkin New York Cheesecake with Cranberry Gelée Recipe

Makes two cakes: Divide everything in half for one.

8 cups ground cinnamon graham crackers
3 sticks melted butter

Add butter to crumbs until mixture molds in your fist. Then press evenly into 2 buttered 9” spring form pans. Bake 10 minutes at 375° F.


Soften 3 – 8 oz packages of cream cheese. Beat cream cheese together with 3/4 cups sugar until fluffy.

2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 cup sour cream

One large can of pre-seasoned pumpkin pie filling
5oz evaporated milk
2 eggs
Increase spice as desired, remembering that the cheesecake will dilute the flavor a bit.


POUR into graham cracker crusts

BAKE at 350° until center is firm.
(Note: Baking in a water bath will prevent the top from drying out and cracking.)

LET COOL completely.

Cranberry Gelee Topping for Pumpkin Cheesecake

2 Cups Fresh Cranberries
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
A sprinkling of fresh orange peel zest
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin

In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries with 1/2 cup water and cook over moderate heat until they begin to pop, about 5 minutes. Let cool. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Strain the puree through a fine sieve. Rinse out the saucepan.

Add the sugar and 1/4 cup of water to the saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until dissolved. Stir in the orange juice and strained cranberry puree. Let cool.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 2 tablespoons of water, and let stand until softened, 5 minutes. Microwave for 10 seconds or until completely melted. Stir to make sure it’s smooth, and then whisk the gelatin into the cranberry mixture, and pour over the cake; shake it gently to even out.

Refrigerate until set, at least one hour and up to two days.

Remove cake from fridge 10 – 15 minutes before serving. Tastes better when it’s not quite so cold.