Cinnamon Rubbed Roasted Turkey Breast

Cinnamon-Rubbed Roasted Turkey Breast | Set the Table

This has been one of those months that has been fast and slow at the same time. I feel a little bit like November has been here forever but when I write down the date I’m not sure how it got away from me so quickly. The leaves on our trees here are almost completely gone and we have gotten used to the annoying clanging of our old furnace, like we do every year, as it revs up, runs for a while and then turns off with a loud bang in our tiny house. Some of our neighbors have begun hanging their Christmas lights already. This is something I’m not used to seeing before Thanksgiving, but the holiday is so late in the month this year that I guess people just couldn’t wait. That’s OK with me since this time of year gets so brown and dull around Denver. The mountains are gorgeous, of course, but we need all the help we can get down here to make things look festive. I may not have all my holiday decorations hanging, but at least my house smells like the season. After making this cinnamon rubbed roasted turkey breast, it really felt like the holiday season around here.

Cinnamon Rubbed Turkey Breast | Set the Table

I’ve never been in charge of making the turkey for Thanksgiving. My dad took care of that as a kid and my husband typically tackles that challenge for us now. But this year, since we are spending the holiday as just our family of three in Crested Butte, I decided it was time to at least try my hand at roasting a turkey breast.

Here’s the truth: it’s easy. So very, very easy.

Cinnamon Rubbed Roasted Turkey Breast | Set the Table

I took inspiration from one of my favorite Greek dishes, chicken stewed in cinnamon, garlic and white wine, for this cinnamon rub. I love how the cinnamon adds a touch of unique flavor without compromising the flavor of the turkey itself. Plus, it makes the house smell incredible. There’s a little mingling of dessert-type of scents from the cinnamon with the savory smell of that crispy turkey skin everyone runs to taste before the turkey makes it to the dinner table.

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25. November 2014 by Rachael White
Categories: Entertaining, Lunch & Dinner, No Added Sugar | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Cranberry Pecan Upside Down Cake

Cranberry Pecan Upside Down Cake Recipe

So Thanksgiving is in ONE WEEK. Just wanted to throw that out there. In case, you know, it slipped your mind or something. Also, cranberry pecan upside down cake. I mean, wowzers. Upside down cakes are pretty amazing in general, but this one is perfection. Tart cranberries, toasty brown sugar, and crunchy, buttery pecans make the perfect topping to a white cake batter that’s been spiced up with a little cinnamon and nutmeg. I don’t mind telling you that I’m eating a slice of this awesomeness as I type and I don’t feel bad about it.

I’ll feel bad about it at 3am when I’ve eaten my 5th Tums. Because pregnancy heartburn.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake | Set the Table

I’ve never been one of those people to proclaim what I’m thankful for each and every day during the month of November. I think it’s a wonderful thing when people do, I just have never been one of those people. This year, I’m trying to be different. I’m trying to spend more time every day looking for reasons to be thankful and happy. Lucky for me, I don’t have to look too far for those little things that make life sweeter.

No cake necessary.

But sometimes it helps. Continue Reading →

20. November 2014 by Rachael White
Categories: Dessert, Entertaining | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Acorn Squash Polenta + Coconut & Spiced Brown Butter

Acorn Squash Coconut Polenta | Set the Table

I have a husband who doesn’t like potatoes. To be more accurate, he will eat them but probably won’t enjoy them very much. After growing up in a household where meat and potatoes happened weekly, mostly because my dad loved anything if it ended with “and potatoes”, this has been quite an adjustment for me. On the plus side, it’s given me a good reason to think of new, creative side dishes to serve in place of the humble potato. This acorn squash polenta is a new favorite at our house that works perfectly for the holiday season.  The coconut milk adds a little something new to a dish filled with traditional flavors and the spiced butter drizzled over the top makes it super special and festive.

Butter has a way of doing that to things.

Acorn Squash Polenta with Spiced Brown Butter | Set the Table

We are having a small Thanksgiving dinner this year. We are making one last pre-baby visit to Crested Butte, where we will roast a turkey breast (recipe for that coming tomorrow!), drink hot apple cider, and hopefully watch snow fall while sitting in front of a cozy fireplace. It’s going to be wonderful to have some quiet time in the mountains after what has been a month or two of insanity. It’s funny how life just tends to throw all the things at you in a very concentrated amount of time, isn’t it?

Acorn Squash Polenta | Set the Table

Not only will it be nice to unwind and refocus, it will also be wonderful to take one last trip together before our lives change dramatically. The closer we get to welcoming baby #2 into the world, the more acutely aware I am that our days as a family of 3 are quickly drawing to a close. I’m both excited and scared about that. There are so many things that I feel like we just figured out about being parents. I suppose the good news is that we have all survived and most likely will the second time around. Right? That plus we get to increase the amount of people to love in our lives. That’s going to be the best thing ever. Plus the baby snuggles. I’m banking on this one being a snuggler since our oldest never has been.

Other things that will be happening in Crested Butte: lots of Christmas music, sledding with daddy (don’t worry, I’ll be sitting out this year lest I be confused for a ginormous snow ball rolling down the hill), and lots of good food. I’m especially excited about the Crack Fries at Secret Stash. Yes.

No matter what you are doing for Thanksgiving, I know this acorn squash polenta will be a hit! It’s easy and fast to make and can feed small or large groups easily.

Bonus: it’s great leftover! Pile some in a bowl and top with your Thanksgiving leftovers in the days after the feast!

Continue Reading →

19. November 2014 by Rachael White
Categories: Entertaining, No Added Sugar, Sides + Condiments | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Planning the Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner

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When I started this blog, I wanted to bring a little of the holiday magic that seems to surround us at the table amidst clinking glasses and forkfuls of delicious food. I realize that can be difficult to achieve in the midst of everyday life. Between errands, work, shuttling kids, and general exhaustion, finding the time to set the table and enjoy a real meal can be a challenge. Guess what? Those challenges (and perhaps more) are around during the holidays as well. And yet somehow, it all comes together and that magic makes itself known. I may not be able to take care of all the challenges you’re facing around this time of year, but I can offer some tips for planning the perfect Thanksgiving dinner.

Since I know we are all crunched for time, I’ll get right to it! Let’s start with putting together a prep schedule.

5 days before:

  • Finalize your menu
    • Decide exactly what you’ll be making and what others will bring.
  • Write your shopping list
  • Plan time for work and relaxation
    • A successful Thanksgiving begins and ends with a happy host. Take care of you!
  • Determine the wines/cocktails you’ll serve
    • A favorite this time of year is Beaujolais Nouveau. I am a fan of a clean, un-oaked chardonnay and a nice pinot noir.
    • If you will have beer lovers around, go for something local, if you can, featuring autumn flavors.
    • An easy and festive bourbon apple cider is perfect for a crowd!

Silly Cider Cocktail :: Set the Table

4 days before:

  • Do your grocery shopping
    • Get as much of your grocery shopping done as possible. You’ll save yourself from battling heavy crowds and avoid running into product shortages at the store.
    • Be sure to have kid-friendly beverages and snacks if you will have little ones at your Thanksgiving dinner
  • Purchase wine & beer
  • Start getting your dishes ready
    • make sure you have plenty of dishes, serving vessels, and flatware for your guests
    • polish wine glasses with a soft, lint-free cloth

3 days before:

  • Clean out the fridge! You’re gonna need plenty of space as you prepare for the big day!
  • Begin preparing your mis en place
    • I always try to get the heavy-duty chopping and mincing done a couple of days in advance. Things like onions that will be used in dressing/stuffing, gravy, etc, are great for chopping in advance. I also chop up my celery and carrots. (Garlic I save for just before I need to use it.)
    • If you’re chopping in advance, store the chopped veggies in gallon sized ziploc bags lined with a couple slightly damp paper towels. This will help keep your vegetables from turning brown or drying out.

2 days before:

  • Tidy up the house
    • There are four main areas that I think have to be clean before guests come over, and giving them a good scrubbing a couple days in advance means that the day of consists of simply picking up any clutter and doing a quick wipe-down before guests arrive. The four main areas to pay attention to are:
      • bathrooms
      • living area/wherever guests will be lounging and spending the most time
      • kitchen (this is mostly for you but also for guests who come wandering in wanting to help out)
      • entryway (make sure there is enough space for shoes if you have guests remove them, and places to hang coats)
  • Plan a kids’ table if necessary
    • An easy way to keep kids entertained is to line a table with big sheets of white paper. Set jars filled with crayons and sheets of stickers on the table and let kids get creative while the adults enjoy themselves!
      • I also like to make plate-sized circles on the paper with the kiddos’ names written in the center so everyone knows where to sit. They can also decorate their “place mats”.

1 day before:

  • OK, now it is time to do the lion’s share of the cooking. Here are the items I prepare the day before Thanksgiving:
    • pies (prepare up to the point of baking
    • bread for dressing/stuffing (cut it into cubes and store in a ziploc bag)
    • Sweet potato casserole (or twice baked sweet potatoes- yum!)
    • thaw/brine the turkey (VERY important to do in advance!)
  • Have take-out for dinner. We always have take-out Chinese food (this tradition goes way back to when I was a kid) so that we don’t produce a bunch of extra dishes.

Simple Autumn Table Setting | Set the Table

Thanksgiving Day:

  • Eat a good breakfast
  • Drink coffee + make a to-do list
  • Take a shower
  • Begin cooking the turkey
  • Finish preparing your dishes before guests arrive (if they can be baked ahead, go for it and just warm them up before serving)
  • Do as many dishes as possible before guests arrive
  • Get yourself gussied up and have a glass of wine!
  • Turn on some festive music like this playlist from Food52

And there you have it! This is my no-fail list to making sure you have everything done without feeling rushed. Overall, no matter when you do these tasks, don’t overdo it on any particular day. You want to enjoy Thanksgiving, not resent it! Take lots of deep breaths and know that your guests are happy to be with those they love and in a welcoming home. Beyond that, don’t sweat it. Everything will work out.

I’ve got 3 delicious Thanksgiving recipes coming your way this week that will help you plan your menu, so stay tuned!

 

 

18. November 2014 by Rachael White
Categories: Entertaining | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Thanksgiving Stuffing with Miso Vegetables

Stuffing with Miso Glazed Vegetables | Set the Table

It is snowing and freezing cold and TOTALLY AWESOME in Denver right now. I’m so happy I want to skip and hop around the house like a very small child but my gigantic pregnant belly simply won’t allow it. Instead, I’m taking as much time as possible to soak it all in since there’s no telling when we will get snowy weather like this again. Christmas will probably be 60 degrees and sunny and I’ll be crying in my hot chocolate wishing my tears would turn into snowflakes. I know. I’m crazy. I’m OK with this and clearly I don’t mind spreading the news. I will say that it is much easier to test and photograph holiday recipes with this kind of weather going on outside my window. Making this Thanksgiving Stuffing with Miso Vegetables filled the house with warmth and delicious smells. I could have sworn there would be a beautifully golden turkey in the oven when I opened the door…

Thanksgiving Dressing with Miso Vegetables | Set the Table

We may not always think of Japanese food in the realm of comfort foods like stuffing, but there are cooking techniques that work beautifully to enhance the already addicting flavors found in many of the dishes we serve on Thanksgiving. Here, I’ve taken the vegetables and sauteed them until they just begin to soften. Then, I added some miso paste, a splash of cooking sake and a bit of soy sauce, allowing everything to simmer until the vegetables are nicely glazed with a beautiful sauce. I was worried that the sourdough bread I’d chosen would be too overpowering for the vegetables but they were a perfect match. A few finely diced green apples and some crunchy, earthy walnuts and this dish was a done deal. Perfect for a little something different (but not too different) for your Thanksgiving spread. Continue Reading →

11. November 2014 by Rachael White
Categories: Entertaining, Sides + Condiments | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Olive Oil Pumpkin Muffins

Healthy Pumpkin Muffins | Set the Table

Today was one of those perfect days. Beautiful weather, a happy, super sweet almost-3-year-old, and a morning full of moments that made me want to freeze time. From the aggressive movements of the baby inside of me to the sweet smiles and kisses of my not-such-a-baby boy, I melted over and over again. We passed by a huge Christmas tree while we were out running errands and the icing on the cake moment of the day was watching Riley’s face light up as a huge smile spread across his face and he covered his mouth with a very small, chubby, toddler hand. It made me not at all sorry that Christmas is all around us already. Even though the holidays seem to have exploded earlier than ever, I’m still holding on to pumpkin season. These super healthy olive oil pumpkin muffins are the perfect way to indulge without any guilt. These tasty treats are full of vitamin-packed pumpkin, heart-healthy olive oil and are sweetened with maple syrup and honey, which are significantly healthier options than white or brown sugar.

Bonus: they are kid-friendly!

Olive Oil Pumpkin Muffins | Set the Table

This recipe is largely based on the olive oil zucchini muffins Lindsay from Pinch of Yum posted over the summer. (Riley asks for them every time we go to the park. He assumes park time equals zucchini muffin time.) Needless to say, we fell in love with those muffins and I was sure we could create a fall version with pumpkin in place of zucchini. I added a lot of pumpkin spice seasoning plus a little extra cinnamon (I blame being pregnant for that one- I cannot get enough cinnamon), which make these muffins the ideal autumn treat. I can say from personal experience that they are equally delicious with a cup of coffee in the morning as they are with a cup of chamomile tea at night. Continue Reading →

06. November 2014 by Rachael White
Categories: Breakfast & Brunch, Kid Friendly, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Apple Butter

No Sugar Added Apple Butter | Set the TableI love so many things about this time of year. So. Many. I don’t even know where to start. Sometimes, I sit down to write a blog post and my mind just starts spinning with all the crisp-air-apple-pie-pumpkin-spice-boots autumny things. It’s hard to narrow it down, as you may be able to tell. I’m not sure how long this will last, but this time of year also brings me back to fall Tokyo. It felt like an eternity before the leaves would start changing and the weather became perfectly chilly for things like hot chocolate, yakiimo, and roasted chestnuts. There were streets lined with Gingko trees that became shockingly yellow, creating an amazing golden light that you don’t expect to see in a massive city. My favorite trees, no matter the season, were Japanese maples. Their small, star-like leaves were memorizing. I used stand beneath the branches and stare up at the bright red stars, their little points overlapping and creating perfect patterns and an endless blanket of autumn beauty against a brilliantly blue sky.  That, among other things, is where my mind wanders when I start making my fall favorites like pumpkin muffins (coming soon!) and this apple butter.

No Sugar Added Apple Butter Recipe | Set the Table

Apple butter is one of those things I make when I have an overabundance my favorite fruit. When fall arrives, I stock up on all my favorite apples and I’m blessed to have friends who bring bags of apples from their backyard trees. I’m convinced I could never have enough apples around, but having the space to store them is another issue entirely. So, when I start to feel a bit cramped, this apple butter is a perfect way to make the house smell incredible. It also helps me hold on to my favorite seasonal flavors for as long as humanly possible.

What makes this apple butter better than all the rest? Yep. I heard you. Continue Reading →

03. November 2014 by Rachael White
Categories: Dessert, No Added Sugar, Sides + Condiments, Vegetarian | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Irish Apple Cake

Irish Apple Cake | Set the Table

After a couple of pretty hectic and overwhelming weeks, I was able to spend a few quiet moments in my kitchen today calmly baking and sipping tea while listening to music that did not involve Disney or Raffi. I had forgotten how therapeutic it can be to cook for no other reason than “just because”. I kept things simple and seasonal with this beautiful and delicious Irish Apple Cake. Every step, from peeling and slicing the apples, creaming the butter and sugar, and crumbling the topping made me feel a little more like myself. The house smelled like warm cinnamon and apples, which was perfect on one of the first truly fall-like days we have had so far. Crisp, cool October air wafted through my kitchen window and I think I breathed a little deeper than usual in an effort to savor every wonderful smell.

Irish Apple Cake with Streussel Topping | Set the Table

Aside from needing the simple therapy baking provides, I also felt it was appropriate to bake a cake during my first week of the third trimester. Baby is moving and grooving, kicking my ribcage whenever possible, and making it difficult to get a full night’s sleep. This little boy is so active already that I’m beginning to think the whole second-child-is-easy-going rumor is a total lie. I guess we’ll see what happens when he arrives! Until then, I’m going to keep drinking lots of chamomile tea, following every meal with a couple of Tums and taking advantage of random energy boosts to do very important things. Like baking cake.

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As I was researching recipes for Irish Apple Cake, I realized that they are all slightly different. Some have crumble topping while others do not. Some call for brown sugar while other use white. It seems that apple cake is different from home to home. I based my recipe on this one from The View from Great Island.  Continue Reading →

29. October 2014 by Rachael White
Categories: Dessert | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Frozen Mini Pizzas

Mini Pizzas with Red Pepper Pizza Sauce | Set the Table

Sometimes frozen mini pizzas are all you can muster for a meal. That’s been the story for us the past few days.

This week has been a long one. Every day seems to drag by and move slower than the day before. We lost a college friend in a tragic accident. It’s hard to wrap your mind around the fact that someone, who was perfect healthy and well this time last week, is no longer here. The silver lining through it all has been this: realizing my college community is alive and well nearly 10 years later. The friends I at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa have made this week bearable in the way they have come together to remember the laughter and wonderful joy we shared together. Remember to appreciate your friends each and every day. Give your loved ones extra hugs. Don’t take important people in your life for granted.

Mini Bagel Pizzas | Set the Table

Honesty time: I’m sure I haven’t been the most present mother lately, which is probably why the level of picky-eating seems to have risen exponentially. Or maybe it is just all part of the toddler process. Either way, I’m working on keeping food on hand that are sure to please on the worst of days. These mini pizzas, made with mini whole wheat bagels, are topped with a roasted red pepper pizza sauce. It’s not as fancy as it sounds. Basically, I took store-bought pizza sauce, poured it in the food processor, and added 3 large roasted red peppers. A few pulses later, I was left with a bright red, super flavorful and vitamin-packed sauce that was perfect for my little hunger-striking-2-year-old.

Roasted Red Pepper Pizza Sauce | Set the Table

There isn’t a trick to making these freezer-friendly aside from this: freeze the pizzas on a large sheet pan before transferring them to a freezer bag. I let mine freeze overnight but I think 4 hours would be sufficient. Once they are frozen, you just take them out as needed and bake them in the oven for a quick 12 minutes and serve. Easy snack? Check. Pizza dinner? Check. Continue Reading →

17. October 2014 by Rachael White
Categories: Kid Friendly | Leave a comment

Curried Pumpkin Hummus

Curried Pumpkin Hummus | Set the Table

It’s true what they say: every pregnancy is different. I remember being at this stage with Riley. I was not able to eat much (especially not curried pumpkin hummus) because I would get heartburn instantly. I’ve traded the heartburn in for more aches and pains in general this time around but all in all I have no complaints. We are gearing up for life with two boys and I’m pretty certain it’s going to be great.

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Another difference between this pregnancy and the first is my ability to control my cravings and maintain a healthier diet. It’s easiest for me during the second trimester to eat nothing but the very best for me and my baby, but during the first trimester (plain noodles and mashed potatoes, please) and the third trimester (give me all the ice cream) I tend to struggle. Being able to expect this has helped me make better choices during my daily hunger attacks. This curried pumpkin hummus is a great midday snack to help power me through until dinner time. I like it with multigrain pita chips, spread on a piece of toast, or as a dip for fresh veggies. It’s easy to make at the beginning of the week and have around for those afternoon protein boosts that are so important when you’re growing a human.

Curried Pumpkin Hummus Recipe | Set the Table

And with this recipe, I will now give you a break from my plethora of pumpkin dishes. I hope that, at the very least, I’ve shown the variety of ways homemade pumpkin puree can be incorporated into your weekly meal plan. In case you missed my previous pumpkin-themed posts, here they are:

Continue Reading →

15. October 2014 by Rachael White
Categories: Cocktails & Appetizers, No Added Sugar, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

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