Everyone has a special recipe for Thanksgiving dinner and here are a few of my favorites; maybe you might like to try one for a new addition or a change in the menu.

Everyone has a special recipe for Thanksgiving dinner and here are a few of my favorites; maybe you might like to try one for a new addition or a change in the menu.

The breakfast sausage cups may be made the day before and heated up for a light and quick breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. You can substitute crumbled cooked bacon for the sausage.

In the coconut crust apple pie, a plain crust may be used; before baking brush top with a little milk and sprinkle with some granulated sugar, if desired.

The sausage stuffing is simple, but tastes so good, especially for leftovers. It can be baked inside the turkey or put into a buttered pie dish or casserole dish topped with some butter pats and baked until crusty on top. Cut into pie shaped wedges or spoon out. Great for leftover turkey sandwiches or with gravy and rice.

Happy Thanksgiving!



Breakfast Sausage Cups

Makes 10 muffins. Recipe may be doubled.

8     ounces cream cheese, softened

3     tablespoons milk

2     large eggs

½    cup grated Pepper Jack cheese or Italian or Mexican blend cheese

3     scallions, finely chopped, white parts and light green parts only

1     tablespoon dried parsley flakes

1     can or tube butter refrigerated biscuits (I use the butter flaky biscuits.)

2     Italian sweet sausage links or 1/3 pound breakfast sausage

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove sausage from casing and sauté, crumbling with a spoon, until browned; drain and set aside.

With an electric mixer beat cream cheese until fluffy; add milk and eggs, beat until creamy. Stir in cheese, parsley, and chopped scallions, fold in ½ the cooked sausage crumbles, set aside.

Separate biscuits into 10 portions. Pat each biscuit into a 5-inch circle and press in the bottom and up the sides of a greased muffin pan. Spoon cream cheese mixture evenly into baking cups. Sprinkle remaining sausage crumbles on top of each muffin. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-22 minutes or until set. Serve warm.


Sweet Potato Soup

1     tablespoon olive oil

1     large sweet onion, diced

2     cloves garlic, chopped

2     large sweet potatoes (about 1 ½ pounds) peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes

1     small white potato, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks

2     Gala or McIntosh apples, peeled, cored and cut into 2-inch cubes

1     cup apple cider, apple juice or water

3     tablespoons brown sugar

Pinch of salt and fresh ground black pepper

½    cup dry white wine or rum

Heat oil in a large, lidded pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for about 4 minutes; add garlic and cook for 1-minute. Toss in sweet potatoes, white potatoes, apples, chicken broth, and 1-cup cider or water, stir to mix well. Cover and simmer on medium for 20-25 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

In a blender or food processor, blend soup in batches until smooth. Return to pot and heat. Stir in brown sugar, salt, and pepper.


Hope’s Sausage Stuffing

1     large loaf white bread, a few days old

1     pound ground sausage meat ( I like to use sweet Italian sausage.)

1     medium onion, chopped

3     stalks of celery, chopped

6     tablespoons melted butter

2-3   cups chicken broth

2-3   teaspoons dried thyme

1     teaspoon dried sage (optional)

¼     cup dried parsley

½    teaspoon salt

In a large bowl break up the dried bread into small pieces, preferably done the night before, set aside to dry out. In a skillet brown the sausage meat breaking it up into small pieces. Cook thoroughly, drain and set aside in a bowl. In skillet sauté chopped onion, when tender remove from pan and put with the cooked sausage. Sauté celery until tender then add to sausage/onion mixture.

In a medium saucepan heat the chicken broth and butter until butter is melted.

Add thyme, parsley, and salt to bread mixture and mix thoroughly with your clean hands until spices are distributed evenly throughout the bread pieces. Pour sausage mixture over the bread mixture and stir with large spoon until thoroughly blended.

Add chicken broth mixture slowly stirring after each addition. Use enough broth until stuffing is of a doughy consistency. If stuffing is still dry add more broth or water until mixture is moist throughout. The stuffing may be put into a buttered casserole bowl and baked in a 350 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes or it may be stuffed into the cavity of a turkey or chicken or baked in a casserole dish.

Do not leave the uncooked stuffing inside the bird.  Once the stuffing is placed in the cavity the bird is to be placed in the oven. Follow cooking directions for stuffed turkey. When turkey is done remove the stuffing and serve hot in a bowl. With your favorite gravy.


Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

2     pounds white potatoes, (red skins look pretty) skins left on, cut in 1-inch chunks

1     tablespoon dried rosemary leaves, chopped

2     teaspoons dried parsley leaves

2     tablespoons olive oil

2     large sweet onions cut into ½ inch wedges

In a large bowl mix together all ingredients coating all potatoes. Roast in a 450 degree oven on a rimmed cookie sheet. Roast for 30-35 minutes or until potatoes are tender and a light golden brown, stir halfway through cooking. Serve hot.


Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower

1     small head of cauliflower, cut into 2-inch florets

1     small bunch broccoli, cut into 2-inch florets

2     tablespoons olive oil

1     teaspoon lemon zest

¼     cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a bowl mix together broccoli, cauliflower, olive oil, and lemon zest. On a rimmed cookie sheet spread vegetable mixture then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 30-35 minutes until tender.


Pumpkin-Cranberry Pecan Bread

Makes 2 loaves.

3     cups all-purpose flour

1     teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of nutmeg

1     teaspoon baking soda

2     teaspoons baking powder

½    teaspoon salt

1 ½   cups granulated sugar

¾     cup light brown sugar

1     15-ounce can pure pumpkin

4     large eggs, room temperature

2/3   cup canola oil

2/3   cup orange juice or water

1     cup sweetened dried cranberries

1     cup toasted pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Vegetable spray and flour two 9 x 5 –inch loaf pans . Set aside.

In a large bowl beat butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth and creamy. Mix in eggs, pumpkin, and orange juice.

In a bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, and nutmeg until well blended. Stir into pumpkin mixture until well blended. Fold in pecans and cranberries. Spoon batter into pan.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 65 to 75 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes on a wire rack, turn out and cool completely on wire rack. For best flavor make at least the day before, when completely cooled wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.


Apple Pie with Coconut Crust

1     premade refrigerated package of two 9-inch pie crusts, softened

1/3   cup flaked coconut toasted lightly, divided

6     cups cored, peeled, and sliced into ¼-inch slices, Granny Smith apples

2     teaspoons lemon juice

¾     cup granulated sugar

3     tablespoons all-purpose flour

1     teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

3     tablespoons butter, cubed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl toss together apple slices and lemon juice. In a small bowl whisk together sugar, flour, salt, and cinnamon. Sprinkle this mixture over apple slices tossing to coat and combine well. Set aside.

Sprinkle half the toasted coconut in a 10-inch circle onto a very lightly floured surface. Place one of the softened pie crusts over the coconut circle. With a rolling pin roll back and forth to make the coconut adhere to the surface of the crust. Carefully lift crust and place in a 9-inch pie dish with the coconut side facing down, press crust up the sides of pie dish.

Evenly spread apple mixture into pie shell. Dot top of apples with butter cubes.

Take the second pie crust and repeat procedure of rolling the coconut into the pastry. With coconut side facing out place this on top of pie. Trim and seal edges of crust fluting the dough.

Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 55-65 minutes or until crust is a nice golden color. Cover edge of pie loosely with foil during the last 10-15 minutes of baking to prevent too much browning. Remove foil and cool on a wire rack.


Mulled Cider

Make this early in the day to give a wonderful aroma to the house, then later sit, relax and enjoy a warm cup of the cider. A little rum or bourbon may be added for an alcoholic beverage, if desired.

2     quarts apple cider

2     oranges cut into ¼-inch round slices, reserve 8-slices for garnish

2     tablespoons brown sugar

3     cloves

1     cinnamon stick

¼     teaspoon ground cinnamon

1     tablespoon butter (Optional)

In a large saucepan, stir together apple cider, orange slices, butter, brown sugar, cloves, cinnamon, and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a simmer on low for about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to steep for at least 3-4 hours or overnight. Strain out spices and orange slices before serving. Serve warm. Garnish with fresh orange slices.


Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival, winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012, and placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing; and has won various other contest awards for her blueberry cheesecake, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.