Happy Thanksgiving, to you and yours. Be thankful for all that you have, especially your abundance of food.

Happy Thanksgiving, to you and yours. Be thankful for all that you have, especially your abundance of food.

Here are a couple of tips: 



Thanksgiving Cocktail Martini

This recipe makes one martini, but it may be multiplied for more then one martini.

2 parts good vodka, like Stoli, Kettle One, or your favorite, chilled

1 part Grand Marnier, Amaretto, or Frangelico, chilled

Finely crumbled, dark chocolate

Orange strips for garnish

Over ice cubes stir vodka and dessert liqueur together. Dip a moistened rim of a martini glass into the crumbled chocolate to coat rim. Place an orange strip, twisted, into the glass, pour chilled martini into glass. Serve ice cold. If you can chill the martini glasses beforehand in the freezer; it will add to the martini.


Breakfast Apple Bake

This easy to make apple treat is similar to the French Clafoutis dessert from an earlier column (July 17, 2014). It makes a nice breakfast treat with a pot of coffee, hot chocolate, or tea.

2 large Gala apples, peeled and sliced

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

4 tablespoons butter, divided

2 large eggs, beaten

½ cup milk or half-and-half

2 tablespoons Apple Schnapps or milk

½ cup all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or 5-Spice Powder

1 cup sour cream

½ cup light brown sugar, packed

2-4 tablespoons Apple Schnapps, apple cider, apple juice, or orange juice

Powdered sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Heat a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat for 4-5 minutes. In a bowl toss together apple slices and granulated sugar. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in skillet and add apples; sauté over medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until tender. Remove apples from skillet and put into a bowl. Wipe skillet clean.

In another bowl whisk together eggs, Apple Schnapps, and milk. Whisk in flour, salt, and cinnamon. Melt 2- tablespoons butter in skillet over medium high heat. Immediately pour egg mixture into hot skillet, and top with cooked apples.

Bake in skillet in a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until pancake is golden and puffed.

In a microwave safe bowl stir to together sour cream and brown sugar. Microwave at high for 40-45 seconds. Whisk until sugar dissolves. Stir in apple Schnapps or cider, 1-tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Serve with hot apple pancake dessert.


Pumpkin Pie Dip with Bourbon

This makes 4 cups.

This recipe is great for that leftover cooked or canned pumpkin. I like to use the 5-Spice Powder in this recipe, but cinnamon may be substituted. The dip is good served with sliced apples and/or pears, with ginger snap cookies, or as a spread on pumpkin or zucchini bread, or any other type of homemade bread.

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 cup canned pumpkin

1-2 tablespoons bourbon (Optional)

½ cup sour cream

1 teaspoon 5-Spice Powder or ground cinnamon

In a large bowl beat cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. With an electric mixer beat in pumpkin, sour cream, bourbon, 5-Spice powder or cinnamon until well blended. Chill covered for 2 hours or overnight. Refrigerate leftovers.


Cranberry-Pear-Orange Salad

Serves 4-6 . Make this the day before serving for best results. Add a little Grand Marnier to this recipe for an even better flavor.

2 cups fresh cranberries

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon 5-Spice Powder or ground cinnamon

¼ cup fresh orange juice

1 cup Barlett pears, cored, peeled and chopped about 1-large pear or 2 small pears

½ cup canned mandarin oranges; drained or fresh navel orange chopped

1 cup frozen strawberries, thawed

Grand Marnier liqueur, if desired

In a large saucepan bring to a boil cranberries, sugar, and orange juice over medium high heat, stirring often. Lower heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 20-25 minutes or until cranberries pop and mixture thickens. Remove from heat, let stand for 15 minutes, then stir in Grand Marnier, pears, oranges, and strawberries. Pour into a pretty serving bowl, cover and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.


Squash and Cheese Casserole

Serves 4-5

1 ½ pounds yellow squash, chopped

1 pound zucchini, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced, then smashed

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

½ cup sour cream

½ cup good mayonnaise

2 large eggs, beaten

4 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

2 ounces Pepper Jack, shredded

1 ½ cups crumbled Ritz crackers

3 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a Dutch oven place yellow squash, zucchini, onion, salt and pepper, to taste; add 2 inches hot water above squash mixture; stir to mix well. Bring mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Boil for 8-10 minutes or until squash is very tender. Drain vegetable mixture well; reserving juices for gravy or soup; let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes to cool slightly.

In a large bowl stir together sour cream and mayonnaise. Stir in beaten egg. Gently fold in cheeses and cooked squash mixture, mix well. Spoon mixture into a buttered 13 x 9-inch baking dish.

Bake for 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven until bubbly.

Stir together crackers and melted butter, tossing to coat. Spread over squash casserole then bake for another 10 minutes. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.


Green Beans with Garlic and Herb Butter and Mushrooms

Serve 6.

1 ½ pounds green beans, trimmed

10 ounce package button mushrooms

6 tablespoons butter, softened

2 cloves garlic, chopped and smashed

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, with 1-tablespoon salt. Add beans and cook until just tender about 3-4 minutes. Drain the beans and return to the pot.

In a skillet with 2-tablespoons butter sauté sliced mushrooms for about 7-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a bowl stir together 6 tablespoons butter, garlic, salt and pepper, to taste. Fold in parsley flakes. Add butter mixture in small spoonfuls to the beans and toss until the butter is nearly melted. Fold in sautéed mushrooms. Serve hot.


Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage and Cranberries

Olive oil

1 large sweet onion, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

Kosher salt

1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casing removed, broken into bite-size pieces

3 cloves garlic, minced and smashed

2 teaspoons sage powder

2 teaspoons dried, crushed thyme, or poultry seasoning, if desired

Pinch of rosemary leaves, powdered

10 cups stale cornbread, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 cups dried cranberries (Optional)

2 eggs, room temperature, beaten

3-4 cups chicken stock

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Coat a large skillet with olive oil, add onions and celery; sauté over medium heat and cook until soft. Add the sausage and cook until the sausage begins to brown. Stir in garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the sage, thyme, and rosemary; cook for another 2-minutes; remove from heat.

In a large bowl mix together cornbread, cranberries (Optional), and sausage mixture. Add chicken stock and eggs, and with your hands knead the mixture until the bread is very moist, actually wet. Taste to check for seasoning and season with salt and add more spices if needed. Transfer to a butter ovenproof dish.

Bake the stuffing until it is hot all the way through and is crusty on top, about 30-35 minutes.


Dry Brined 5-Spice Roasted Turkey

Put the dry brine on this turkey the day before cooking and let it set for up to 24 hours.

1 12-14 pound turkey, thawed, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels

2 teaspoons 5-Spice Powder (or sage)

3 tablespoons kosher salt

3 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons dried thyme powder

1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ cup butter, softened

vegetable cooking spray

In a bowl or glass measuring cup, stir together 5-Spice powder, salt, brown sugar, thyme, pepper, and garlic powder, mix well. Sprinkle 1- tablespoon brine into, a patted dry with paper towels. turkey cavity; rub into cavity. Reserve 1-tablespoon brine and sprinkle the outside of the turkey with the remaining brine; rub into skin. Chill turkey for 10-24 hours wrapped in a linen dish towel in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl stir together butter and reserved 1-tablespoon brine. Loosen the skin form the turkey breast without totally detaching the skin; spread butter mixture under skin. Replace the skin securing with wood toothpicks.

Tie ends of legs together with string; tuck wing tips under turkey. Place turkey, breast side up, on a lightly buttered rack in a large roasting pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours and 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion of turkey thigh registers 165 degrees. Remove from oven; let stand for 30 minutes before carving.


Easy to Make Pumpkin Cake with Raisins

This is an easy to make dessert that can be made the day before.

1 15-ounce box yellow or spice cake mix

1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin

½ teaspoon 5-Spice powder or ground cinnamon

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1 stick butter, softened

¼ cup light brown sugar

2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar

1 cup dark raisins (Optional)

In a bowl with an electric mixer beat boxed cake mix, 5-Spice Powder, and pumpkin for 2 minutes. Fold in raisins and distribute evenly. Spread in a buttered 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes until set.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, and brown sugar. Frost cooled cake with frosting.


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.