Thanksgiving Sliders

My favorite part of Thanksgiving (after friends and pumpkin pie) is the copious leftovers. Turkey isn’t actually my favorite on its own, but it’s one of my favorite sandwich/wrap fillings and I always look forward to a few days of tastiness. My go-to is a wrap with warmed cream cheese, cranberry sauce, and turkey, and then stuffed with some extra leafy greens. All the best flavors of Thanksgiving dinner rolled into one, and even a salad to boot. (Don’t worry, I probably already had the pie for breakfast.)

Last year I made homemade dinner rolls to take to our annual potluck, and ended up with quite a lot left over. It seemed prudent (and delicious) to utilize those instead of my standard tortillas, and as such the Thanksgiving slider was born.

Creamy mashed potatoes, moist turkey, and tart cranberry sauce are cozied up between fluffy bread, and it’s possibly my new favorite “leftovers” meal. A perfect contrast of sweet and savory, and a mouthful of delicious in every bite. I love this recipe because you can quickly make just one or two in the microwave, or you can heat up an entire pan in the oven. Admittedly the oven method is a bit slower, but with a little effort and a bit of patience you can have a meal for the whole family.

An added bonus of this recipe is obviously that you can add basically any leftovers you have around. Extras on the cheese platter? Go for it. Still a tureen of gravy in the fridge? Drizzle that on. A few green beans or carrots taking up space? Add those too. Nearly any Thanksgiving recipe could have a home here, it’s just a matter of your personal taste.

While using homemade rolls is delicious, you can certainly pick up some extras of the store-bought variety to prepare. Add a side salad and you have a perfect (and lighter) day-after lunch or dinner all ready to go. You can probably even convince any leftovers-haters in the house to partake without complaint.

Kick back, avoid the Black Friday crowds, and enjoy your favorite flavors of Thanksgiving in a new twist.

Thanksgiving Sliders

Ingredients

critical leftovers
dinner rolls
mashed potatoes
turkey
cranberry sauce

additional ideas
Brie, cream cheese, goat cheese
gravy
stuffing
green beans
glazed carrots
your favorites!

Directions

  1. Oven directions (for a whole pan): Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Carefully slice rolls in half (you can do this without separating them if you have a whole pan still).
  3. Layer bottom rolls, mashed potatoes, turkey, cranberry sauce, and any other toppings of choice.
  4. Add top layer of rolls, and cover pan with foil.
  5. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until heated through (easiest to use a thermometer in the center roll).
  6. Serve hot with a tasty beverage.
  7. Microwave directions (for just a couple): Slice rolls in half and lightly toast.
  8. Arrange all fillings in a single layer on a plate and heat 1-2 minutes or until hot.
  9. Assemble rolls with hot ingredients, and enjoy immediately.

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Perfect Pumpkin Pie

For years and years I’ve used the pumpkin pie recipe found on the Libby’s cans of pumpkin puree. It always turned out consistently delicious so I never really thought to try another recipe.

This was a mistake.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie {{Baking Bytes}}

Last year my mom linked me this recipe and was like “make this immediately and ditch the usual recipe.” She was quite right! This pumpkin pie is amazingly dense, superbly flavorful, and has zero of that occasionally slightly watery texture I sometimes noticed with the Libby recipe. I don’t often use qualifiers like “best” or “perfect” in my recipes, but trust me when I say Sally definitely figured this one out.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie {{Baking Bytes}}

Deliciously creamy and superbly spiced, this is sure to be your new favorite pumpkin pie recipe and a go-to staple for the upcoming holidays. M is not much of a pumpkin fan, so I’m looking forward to having this whole pie to myself over the upcoming holiday weekend. Don’t worry, I’ll make him a pie he can enjoy too; I’m not a complete monster.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie {{Baking Bytes}}

This is a rich pie but very smooth, and goes best with homemade whipped cream and an extra sprinkle of cinnamon. I like my pumpkin pie cold, but it was also excellent at room temperature if that is your preference. Like every pumpkin pie, it works just as well for breakfast as it does for dessert, and I’m sure after your first piece you’ll already be planning your second.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie {{Baking Bytes}}

It does require some overnight chilling, so make sure you plan your Thanksgiving preparations accordingly. This pie could easily be started Tuesday and finished Wednesday, leaving Thursday free for the items that can’t be made ahead. As long as you have fridge space (or a cold garage) you are good to go. I will say that if you are planning to add the pie crust cutouts (which are super easy and really fun), you should wait until just before serving to do so in order to avoid sogginess.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie {{Baking Bytes}}

Try out your new favorite pumpkin pie recipe this year, and don’t forget to thank Sally.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Makes one deep-dish pie

Ingredients

pastry for a double-crust pie (see below)

15 oz pumpkin puree
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups lightly packed dark brown sugar (light works great too)

1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
dash of ground cloves
dash of ground pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup milk

Directions

  1. The night before: in a large bowl whisk pumpkin, eggs, and brown sugar until completely combined. Add cornstarch, salt, spices, cream, and milk, and whisk until combined. Cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. The next day: if you haven’t already, prepare your favorite pie dough, or use the recipe linked above. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Roll out slightly more than half the dough and gently place into your pie plate. Trim edges to about 1″ then fold over and crimp as desired. Optionally, sprinkle edges of pie crust with cinnamon and sugar.
  4. Briefly whisk filling then pour carefully into the prepared pie plate. If you have extra filling, you can bake it separately in a glass dish (no crust necessary) next to the pie.
  5. Optional: With remaining pie dough, roll out to about 1/8″ thick (or slightly thicker) and cut leaves or other designs. Place on a lined cookie sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
  6. Bake leaves for about 20 minutes, they should be golden in color. Remove from oven and set aside.
  7. Bake pie for one hour. Pie should still be jiggly in the middle but look solid otherwise. To avoid cracking, turn off the oven and open the door but leave the pie in there while it cools down a little. Once it has settled (hopefully without cracks), move it to the counter to cool completely, at least four hours. I prefer pumpkin pie cold, so I placed mine in the fridge after two hours.
  8. Just before serving, decorate with pie crust shapes. (Eat any extra shapes, or serve them in a small bowl next to the pie). Top slices with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Refrigerate leftovers.

No-Fail Pie Crust

Makes 2 deep-dish pie crusts

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup + 1 Tbsp shortening
5-7 Tbsp ice water

Directions

  1. Measure shortening into a small bowl and place in freezer for 15-20 minutes. Pour water and a few ice cubes into a bowl or cup and set aside. (I typically pour 8 oz of water and then use what I need.)
  2. Mix flour and salt in a larger bowl. Using a pastry blender (or two table knives), cut in the chilled shortening until the pieces are pea-sized.
  3. One tablespoon at a time, add water into mixture and gently mix with your pastry blender (or knives). Repeat until all is moistened and the dough will stick together as one ball, about 6 tablespoons. Divide dough in half and gently roll each half into a ball.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, gently flatten one ball of dough into a disc. Gently roll into a circle large enough for your pie plate. Transfer dough to pie plate, and trim to a half-inch larger than the rim. Fold pastry under itself and crimp, if desired.
  5. Roll out second ball of dough for a second pie, or cut into strips or decorations as desired.

Arugula Sweet Potato Salad with Cinnamon Balsamic Vinaigrette

Lately I’ve been all aboard the sweet potato train, and today’s post will hopefully get you on the bandwagon as well. I love sweet potatoes in pretty much any form, and could happily eat them for several meals a day. Luckily they are great all year round as French fries or a delicious breakfast, and work just as well in salads as they do in soups and chilis.

Arugula Sweet Potato Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Several months ago my office had a catered lunch that was a bit higher class than our norm. Although all the food was delicious, the one that made the most impact on me was an arugula and spiced sweet potato quinoa salad. Their version was sweet, with heavily candied nuts, sugary dried cranberries, and a sweetened balsamic vinaigrette amongst the quinoa, arugula, and goat cheese. Although I loved this combination, it really was like eating dessert with arugula in it which isn’t necessarily something I want to do very often.

Arugula Sweet Potato Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Inspired by their concoction, I opted to test out a more savory version for myself. I kept the cinnamon roasted sweet potatoes but only lightly honeyed my walnuts. I also nixed the cranberries and used bacon instead, and adjusted the arugula:quinoa ratio to be more in favor of the former. Originally I was going to use brie as chèvre (goat cheese) can be exorbitantly expensive, but I discovered Costco carries goat cheese at an incredibly reasonable price and so I kept that flavor as well. Feel free to substitute brie or another neutral soft cheese if you prefer.

Arugula Sweet Potato Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

The spiced sweet potatoes, salty bacon, creamy chèvre and lightly sweetened and toasted walnuts come together in that fantastic sweet-and-salty juxtaposition that is so popular these days. Arugula and quinoa make a great base and let salad act either as a light lunch or a great side dish.

To round out the experience, I made a cinnamon balsamic vinaigrette only slightly sweetened with honey to mellow the flavor. The dressing gives the salad more of a punch of flavor, and I highly recommend you make it too. In fact, maybe make extra and use it on your other salads too since it’s just that delicious.

Arugula Sweet Potato Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Although my original recipe is clearly neither vegetarian nor vegan, it could easily be altered for those diet preferences. Vegetarians can simply ditch the bacon, and a pinch of salt to the dressing, and carry on as normal. Vegans will want to substitute maple syrup in lieu of the honey as well as nix the cheese. You may want to add another ingredient to round it out, dried cranberries or salted almonds would both be great options, depending on which flavor route you want to go.

Full of cinnamon flavor, tasty sweet potatoes and a tinge of sweetness, this would be a superb side dish to grace your Thanksgiving table. Instead of those overly sugary sweet potato and marshmallow concoctions normally served this time of year, this salad would be a healthier and more sophisticated twist for this year. Even better, you can absolutely make it ahead (even a few days!) and store it in the fridge until ready to use. It’s delicious cold, at room temperature, or warmed, so pick your favorite or the most convenient and serve it as such.

Arugula Sweet Potato Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

The dressing makes a fair amount, so start with half of the recipe and stir in more to taste or serve on the side for guests to add as they like. I am personally a light dressing kind of person but many people prefer a stronger flavor, and it’s good to have options.

If you’re not doing the Thanksgiving thing, or don’t want to wait that long, this also make a great lunch. I made a batch on Sunday and got about 4-5 lunches out of it. Stored in the fridge, it reheated beautifully at work for the rest of the week. Additionally, if you’re not a fan of arugula, some kind of baby spring mix would be a great substitution.

Arugula Sweet Potato Salad & Cinnamon Balsamic Vinaigrette

Inspired by Food for Thought and Just a Pinch
Serves 6-8 (side dish) or about 4 (lunch)

Ingredients

Salad
4 cups cubed sweet potatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1 Tbsp honey or maple syrup

6 slices bacon (optional)1

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water

5 oz arugula (or leafy veggie/mix of choice)
~4oz goat cheese (or brie, optional)1

Dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp honey or maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two cookie sheets with foil or parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine sweet potatoes, olive oil, and cinnamon. Stir with a rubber scraper until potatoes are well coated. Arrange in one layer on half of a cookie sheet.
  3. In the same bowl, combine walnuts and honey and stir until completely coated. (Heat the honey sightly to liquify for easier stirring.) Arrange in one layer on the other half of the cookie sheet.
  4. Arrange bacon in one layer on the other cookie sheet.
  5. Place cookie sheets in oven (I put the potatoes on the middle rung, and the bacon one rung below it) and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until walnuts are lightly toasted.
  6. Remove the walnuts to a plate to cool. Continue baking potatoes and bacon for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, and bacon is cooked to desired doneness.
  7. Remove bacon to paper towels to cool, pressing to remove excess grease. Dice bacon and set aside.
  8. Meanwhile, in a medium pot bring quinoa and water to a boil, then cover and simmer until all liquid is soaked up, about 15 minutes. Uncover and set aside.
  9. In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients until completely combined.
  10. In a large bowl, combine arugula and half the dressing, tossing to coat. Add quinoa and sweet potatoes, and stir gently until well combined.
  11. Add walnuts (breaking apart if necessary), diced bacon, and goat cheese, stirring gently to combine.
  12. Serve immediately, later today, or tomorrow since it’s good at pretty much any temperature. Store leftovers in the fridge, or make it ahead the night before. Reheats well with a brief stint in the microwave and is also excellent right out of the fridge.
  13. Add additional dressing just before serving if necessary, or serve it on the side.
  14. Delicious as a side dish (6-8 servings) or for a lighter lunch (4 servings).

Notes

For a vegetarian option, just leave out the bacon, it’s great without it too! To get that added salty flavor, add a pinch to the dressing or include a few chopped salted almonds in its place. Vegans could also use maple syrup and ditch the cheese, although you may want to add another ingredient (maybe dried cranberries?), and follow the same salty suggestion.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Fair warning, I never tire of pumpkin. I’ve already made my 2nd pumpkin pie of the season and I’m sure there will be a 3rd involved at Thanksgiving. As pumpkin pie is equally good for breakfast as it is for dessert, I don’t mind having a whole one to myself and happily eat it for several days in a row. I greatly look forward to Operation: Eat Everything Pumpkin! (which takes place annually between October and December) and do my best to mix in some new recipes along with my old favorites. If you’re looking for a slightly less traditional pumpkin dessert to serve this Thanksgiving, look no further.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes >> Baking Bytes

Traditional pumpkin and classic cheesecake come together in a wonderful dessert sure to please pumpkin lovers and cheesecakes fans alike. Even my boyfriend, who isn’t a huge fan of pumpkin, thinks these are pretty delicious. Smooth, creamy, and rich, it could very well become a new annual favorite. Even better, the mini size makes for ready to go individual servings and lets you enjoy the evening instead of attempting perfect slices with all eyes on you. These pop perfectly from the pan, and are excellent plain or with a swirl of whipped cream.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes >> Baking Bytes

This recipe does require a specialty pan, of course, but if you have room in your cupboards you surely won’t regret the purchase. Mini cheesecakes are great for potlucks, large dinners, and dessert parties because they’re easy to transport, quick to serve, and require no utensils to eat (although I do prefer a fork, myself.) However, if all you have is a regular cheesecake pan, head over to the original recipe to see instructions for a standard 9″ cheesecake. I’ve not made the full version [yet], but I’m sure it’s equally amazing.

So whether you try some new recipes or stick with the tried and true favorites, have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. (Or a wonderful regular weekend, for my foreign readers.)

Mini Pumpkin CheesecakesMini Pumpkin Cheesecakes >> Baking Bytes

Adapted from Glorious Eats
Makes 12 mini cheesecakes

Ingredients

Crust
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs1
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp butter, melted

Filling
8 oz cream cheese, at room temp
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 Tbsp sour cream
1/2 cup white sugar
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg2
pinch of ground cloves

1 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven  to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly spray a mini cheesecake pan.
  2. Using a fork or pastry blender, mix the crust ingredients in a small bowl.
  3. Add a rounded tablespoon of the mix to each well in the pan, and press firmly to form a crust, sealing the edges well.3
  4. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until fluffy and smooth.
  5. Beat in pumpkin, eggs, sour cream, sugar and spices, then add flour and vanilla and beat until completely combined.
  6. Divide batter among the wells, about 3 Tbsp of filling atop each crust.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, remove from oven, and cool 15 minutes on the counter.
  8. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours or until ready to eat.
  9. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon, if desired, and serve to adoring fans.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes >> Baking Bytes

Notes

About 6 graham crackers.
The original recipe calls for fresh, but dried works just fine.
A flat-bottomed shot glass works nicely for this, but use your fingers to make sure the edges are well sealed.
4 The cheesecakes keep well in the fridge for several days, or in the freezer for up to two months. They’re a great dessert to have on hand! Store in an airtight container.