Archive | November, 2010

My Perfect Cranberry Sauce and Herbed Not-So-Sweet Potato Casserole

If you’ve never made cranberry sauce from fresh cranberries; be prepared to shock yourself at how amazingly easy it is.  Here is my fool-proof recipe that’s perfect to make ahead of time; it’s also perfectly simple, perfectly delicious and perfectly beautiful… that’s why I call it “Perfect Cranberry Sauce”.let cranberries soften and pop

Perfect Cranberry Sauce

This recipe for cranberry sauce has never let me down; that’s why I call it “perfect”.


  1. 3 cups cranberries (1 12oz. bag)
  2. 1 cup orange juice
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. Cinnamon sticks- 2


  1. Combine all ingredients in saucepan; cook over medium heat stirring constantly
  2. Be amazed at how beautiful the cranberries look when they soften and begin to pop
  3. Once cranberries are completely softened and have popped (about 10-12 minutes), remove from heat, cool
  4. Remove cinnamon sticks before serving

Herbed Not-So-Sweet Potato Casserole

If you like your sweet potatoes to taste less like dessert and more like a side dish for your turkey; you’ll love this easy recipe.  Dried herbs bring an earthy flavor undertone to this usually-sweet side dish.dried herbs give an earthy flavor to this usually-sweet side dish


  1. Sweet potatoes- 2 1lb cans
  2. Butter- ½ cup (¼lb or 8 tbspns) plus a few tbspns more to pour on top
  3. Marshmallows- 1 bag
  4. Brown sugar- ¼ cup
  5. Dried sage and thyme- 1 tspn each


  1. Melt butter in microwave
  2. Combine sweet potatoes, melted butter, ½ of marshmallows, sugar and herbs
  3. Beat until smooth
  4. Transfer to casserole dish and pour remaining marshmallows and drizzle melted butter on top
  5. Bake on 375 for 30-45 minutes

Warm Cranberry Rolls


  1. Frozen white roll dough- 2 bags
  2. Fresh cranberries- 1 cup, chopped
  3. Butter- 4 tbspns


  1. Let dough thaw and rise according to directions
  2. Arrange dough on baking sheet
  3. Sprinkle chopped cranberries on top and brush with melted butter
  4. Bake according to directions

Cranberry Spinach Salad


  1. Baby spinach
  2. Dried cranberries (Craisins)
  3. Pine nuts
  4. Rasberry vinaigrette dressing


  1. Place spinach in salad bowl
  2. Top with cranberries and pine nuts
  3. Drizzle with dressing; toss

Let’s Talk Turkey

I’ve never been a stuffing-in-the-turkey person; so instead, I take fresh herbs like sage, thyme and rosemary with leafy stalks of celery and onion halves to stuff in my turkey before baking.  I found this link for the best tips on cooking your Thanksgiving Turkey: Sara Moulton’s Turkey Tips.

For my stuffing, I saute chopped onion, celery and cranberries in butter.  Then I combine that with my stuffing mix and chicken broth to bake separately.

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Thanksgiving Green Bean Casserole: Classic or Contemporary?

The Green Bean: Old vs. New

Before you go downloading or purchasing the latest and greatest recipe for the staple green bean dish on your Thanksgiving table, make sure your effort and time are worth putting it together.

Two years ago, I found a fabulous green bean recipe that I thought for sure would “wow” my family and guests.  It probably had about 20 ingredients and took up a good portion of my time, but I was sure it would be worth the effort.  At dinner, there were at least three, “where’s-the-green-bean-casserole” questions.  Everyone ate this  new elegant dish, but at the end of the night here’s what my husband had to say about my hard work, “your green beans were good, but I miss the old-fashioned green bean casserole”.  The classic takes about 20 minutes to make and this new recipe took me about 1 hour to make, not to mention the extra chafing dishes to clean.  You can probably guess which one I prepared the next year.  And for this year, I’ve come up with a much simpler contemporary green bean recipe, below, which will make it’s debut on my table here in a few days.  I will also be making the classic casserole version; we’ll see which one prevails at the dinner table.

Steamed Green Beans with Mushroom White Wine Shallot Sauce

Ingredients for Mushroom White Wine Sauce:

  • Butter-1/2 cup (1 stick or 8 tbspns)
  • Sliced mushrooms- 1 bag
  • Shallots- 2, peeled and minced
  • Flour- 3 tbspns
  • White Cooking Wine or White Wine, like Chardonnay- 1/2 cup
  • Chicken broth- 1 cup
  • Heavy cream- 1 cup


  1. Melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat
  2. Add shallots and mushrooms; saute until tender, approximately 3 minutes
  3. Add flour and saute for 1 more minute
  4. Deglaze pan with wine (or broth) and simmer for a few minutes until wine is reduced, approximately 3 minutes
  5. Add broth and cream; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes

Store in airtight container until Thanksgiving Day to pour over steamed fresh green beans.

Leave a comment below to cast your vote: Classic or Contemporary?  Or visit us on Facebook.

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Sparkling Cranberry Punch Ice Ring

This is Day 2 of The Organized Cook’s survival guide to cooking Thanksgiving Dinner for a large group.  My Sparkling Cranberry Punch is delicious and so easy to make; not to mention, it’s absolutely gorgeous!  You will need a large punch bowl and will want to freeze your cranberry ice ring ahead of time; and today is the perfect day to do it.  To make the ring, I use a plastic chip-and-dip server because it has the hole in the middle, like a bundt-cake pan.

Ice Ring for Sparkling Cranberry Punch

Ingredients:Pour juice directly into mold then add fresh cranberries to float on top before freezing

  1. Frozen cranberry juice cocktail- 1 canister, thawed (you can also use bottled cranberry juice)
  2. Cranberries- 1 cup
  3. Water


  1. Pour thawed juice into mold; add water to about an inch below top; mix well
  2. Add cranberries to float on top
  3. Freeze

Sparkling Cranberry Punch

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Survival Guide to Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner for A Large Group

Are you cooking for a large group this Thanksgiving?  Tradition has made my home the gathering spot each year and I love it.  I typically cook for about 20-35 people each Thanksgiving and everyone says, “that must be a lot of work”.  And you know what, they’re right.  Over the years I’ve created a system of planning, shopping and preparation to help ease the workload for the big day.  Not only that, it also frees me up to spend more time with the people I care about.Thanksgiving Menu and display welcome guests as they arrive

Here’s my planning guide to help free up more of my time on Thanksgiving Day.  By doing just one or two things each day for a week leading up to the big day, Thanksgiving dinner is a piece of (pumpkin) pie.

Thanksgiving Planning Menu and Shopping List

I love cooking with herbs and this menu is packed full of them.  This year’s theme is also cranberry…and lot’s of them!  Spilsbury Thanksgiving Menu and Grocery Shopping List; save time by eliminating those last-minute trips to the grocery store for forgotten items!  You may notice that dessert is missing from my list.  I didn’t forget it; rather, whenever a guest asks me, “what can I bring?”, I always answer, “pie”.  Now, it’s gotten to where it’s a contest to see who will bring the most unusual pie.

Spilsbury Thanksgiving Menu

Prepare Ahead

Here are just a few things you can do ahead of time to prepare for Thanksgiving Dinner:

  1. Freeze cranberry ice ring for Sparkling Cranberry Punch
  2. Cook Perfect Cranberry Sauce (this can made a few days and stored for Thanksgiving)
  3. Prepare Mushroom White Wine Sauce and store to pour over steamed fresh green beans
  4. Prepare Herbed Sweet Potato Casserole; this too can be made ahead of time so you will only need to bake it on the big day
  5. Arrange tables and chairs; if your house allows, you will save so much time by planning your seating a day or two in advance
  6. Chop onions, celery and cranberries for stuffing a day or two in advance; store in air-tight container
  7. Decorating your table just a day in advance it will free up a big chunk of time on Thanksgiving
  8. Set out and arrange each serving dish the way you want it to be on Thanksgiving Day; use sticky notes or place cards to label what goes in each dish

Let’s Talk Turkey

Here is a link to a great one-page article that will tell you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about selecting, thawing and preparing your Thanksgiving Turkey: Sara Moulton’s Turkey Tips

The Organized Cook

Boost your confidence, ease dinner preparation stress and have more time to enjoy your family on Thanksgiving Day through organization and preparation.

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