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Thanksgiving Pt. 1 - Coffee Cake + Roast Chicken

Welcome to the first of my two part Thanksgiving mini series! This year I wanted to compile a few simple, delicious, and trustworthy recipes that anyone interested in hosting a Thanksgiving feast could look to for guidance.

Autumn is my favorite season and there's truly no other time that beckons you to the kitchen like fall. Even before I started learning to cook, I wholeheartedly desired to host a homemade Thanksgiving feast for friends and family but didn't really know where to start. For anyone reading, I hope this mini series serves as a guide in helping you host a Thanksgiving feast you and your family can enjoy. Here's what you can look forward to in this and the following posts:

– PART #1 –

Cranberry Orange Rosemary Coffee Cake

Roasted Chicken with Spiced Apples & Sausage

– PART #2 –

Green Bean Casserole

Glazed Carrots

Admittedly, this menu is somewhat modest, especially in comparison to the smorgasborg you may be used to. Don't worry about it! You don't have to cook an elaborate or complicated meal. Keep it simple and have fun.

Cranberry Orange Rosemary Coffee Cake

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Adapted from Baking Illustrated by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated

Serves 16

What I appreciate most about a good coffee cake is that it's a 'wild card', meaning you can pair it with just about anything. It's such a safe bet because everyone loves it and this version that I've adapted from Baking Illustrated can be tweaked to your liking in a few different ways.


Fruit Filling
1 cup fresh cranberries, halved
zest of 2 medium oranges
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
dash of Angostura bitters
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp cold unsalted butter
1 cup walnuts, chopped
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened but still cool, and cut into 1-inch cubes


For the fruit filling: In a small bowl combine the cranberries, orange zest, chopped rosemary, bitters, and granulated sugar and stir gently to combine. Set aside for atleast 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.

For the streusel topping: In a food processor, combine the four, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, ground ginger, and nutmeg. Pulse a few time to combine. Remove 1 1/4 cup of the sugar mixture to a small bowl. With the remaining sugar mixture in the food processor, combine the butter and walnuts and pulse until the nuts and butter have broken down into small pebbly pieces. Set aside.

NOTE: If you don't have a food processor, no sweat. Instead, you can chop the walnuts into small pebbly pieces with a knife and incorporate the nuts and butter by hand. I may actually prefer this method because it means not having to wash the food processor bowl and attachments!

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheitand adjust the rack to the lowest position. Grease a tube pan or angel food cake pan. If using an angel food cake pan, it's recommended that you place a parchment cutout in the base of the pan to help prevent any possible leakage.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, place the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla and stir until combined. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir on low until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the butter and 1/2 cup of the sour cream mixture and continue mixing on low speed until well combined. Once combined, increase to medium speed and allow to mix for 30 seconds. Turn the mixer speed down to medium low and in 3 additions, begin incorporating the sour cream mixture, waiting 20 after each addition before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Once all of the sour cream mixture has been incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium high and beat for 1 minute, allowing the batter to increase in volume and become pale in color.

To assemble: Place 2 cups of the batter into the greased tube pan/angel food cake pan and smooth with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle half of the cranberry mixture on top of the batter, then half of the streusel (without nuts). Repeat, spreading 2 more cups of batter, the remaining cranberry mixture and remaining streusel (without nuts). Spoon in the remaining batter and top with the streusel nut mixture.

Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the lower third of the oven for 50-60 minutes until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Once baked, allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool for another 2 hours.

NOTE: To remove the cake from the cake pan, place a baking sheet over the top of the pan and then invert. Then place a wire rack over the exposed bottom of the cake and reinvert. Sprinkle the loose streusel back over the top of the cake.

Once cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar, garnish with fresh rosemary & cranberries, and serve!

Roast Chicken with Apples & Sausage

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Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1 by Julia Child

Serves 4

Thanksgiving aside, this dish has become a regular in our household. If you've never roasted a whole chicken before, the process can seem a bit intimidating. This is one of those things where the bark is definitely worse than the bite. It's so simple and once you get it down, it will easily become a go-to in your household as well.


1/2 lb breakfast sausage
4-5 crisp eating apples, such as Honeycrisp or Golden Delicious
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp fresh chopped sage
2 Tbsp cognac or bourbon
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup beef stock
whole chicken, 3 lbs
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt


For the spiced apples and sausage: Peel, core and quarter the apples. Cut each quarter into 2-3 lengthwise segments. If you have one of those handy corer slicer tools it works perfectly here. Set aside.

Place a large skillet or Dutch oven with 1 Tbsp cooking oil over medium heat. Once hot, place the sausage in the skillet and cook until just browned. Once browned, remove sausage from the skillet with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside, leaving as much of the rendered fat in the skillet as possible.

Once the sausage has been removed, place the apple slices in the skillet and briefly stir to coat the slices with the hot fat and oil. Sauté until beginning to brown and soften, but still keep their shape.

Remove to a bowl and sprinkle with the sugar, cinnamon, salt, and sage and gently fold to coat the apples, making sure not the mash them. Pour in the cognac or bourbon, and gently fold once more.

In a small mixing bowl or measuring cup, mix the red wine and beef stock. Remove any remaining fat and oil from the skillet and pour in the wine mixture. Deglaze the pan by scraping away any bits of sausage or apples that may have adhered to the pan. Increase temperature to high heat and boil down the wine mixture until it has been reduced to about 3 tablespoons. Pour over the sausage.

Once the sausage and apple slices have slightly cooled, combine and set aside.

For the chicken: Remove the chicken from its packaging and using a knife, scrape away any small feathers that may have been missed during processing. Blot dry with paper towels.

Smear the butter over the entire exterior of the chicken. It's important that you thoroughly smear the butter because this is what's going to help the chicken skin brown and crisp. Sprinkle with salt.

To assemble: Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the chicken breast up into a roasting pan or baking dish big enough for the chicken to fit somewhat snugly. If the skillet you were using for the apples and sausage is oven safe, you can use that and save yourself an extra dish! At home, I use the 12-inch braiser seen in the photos above.

Stuff the inside of the chicken with the apple and sausage mixture and place into the center of the roasting pan. Then, strew the remains of the mixture in the pan around the chicken.

Place into the lower third of the oven and roast for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, removing from the oven and basting with the fat in the roasting pan every 15 minutes.

The chicken is done when the internal temperature reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit and the juices from the chicken run a clear yellow color. If not done, continue roasting for 5 minutes and test again.

Once the chicken has cooked, remove from the oven and either serve from the baking dish or move to a platter with the apples and sausage scattered around it.

Shepherd's Pie with Scalloped Potatoes au Gratin

Shepherd’s Pie, a dish of hearty stew topped and baked with a potato crust, is the epitome of a fall dish. It’s deep, savory flavor is delicious on a crisp autumn day and its meat and potato elements are reminiscent of the family favorites I grew up on.

Technically, the dish I’ve made in this post is “Cottage Pie” because I’ve made it with ground beef, whereas a traditional Shepherd’s Pie is made with minced lamb. Regardless of whatever name you give it or meat your use, it’s doubtful that anyone should withdraw their appetite from such a homey meal.

To be completely honest, while I love mashed potatoes, I loathe making them. All that work for such a seemingly plain and simple side makes them a little too fussy for me. My take, which I’ve adapted from Mary Berry, is a version that doesn’t use mashed potatoes, but scalloped au gratin potatoes instead. If you’re like me, you’ll appreciate the simplicity of this potato topping.

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Shepherd's Pie with Scalloped Potatoes au Gratin

Adapted from Mary Berry Cooks by Mary Berry

Serves 6-8

Cook's Notes:

After the potatoes have cooked, they can be a bit tricky to separate. It works a lot easier if you slide them apart rather than trying to pull them from one another.

Make sure when you're baking this dish that it's on a rimmed baking sheet. Depending on how full you fill your baking dish, it can get messy.



1 Tbsp oil

2 lbs. ground beef or lamb

2 onions, diced

4 carrots, diced

1 tsp salt

1 liberal cup of red wine

1/3 cup flour

1 cup beef stock

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)

1 Tbsp brown sugar (optional)

1 Tbsp fresh thyme

1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick

3 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick

1/2 cup cream

2 cups cheddar cheese



To make the filling: Set a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat and add oil. Once skillet has come to temperature, add ground meat and sauté until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove meat and set aside. Add onions and carrots, 1 tsp salt, and sauté until beginning to soften, about 7 minutes.

While onions and carrots are cooking, in a small mixing bowl whisk together the flour and wine into a smooth paste. Add beef stock and whisk until combined.

Add meat to the pan with the onion and carrot mixture. Add the wine mixture along with the Worcestershire, sugar, thyme, Bring to a boil, stirring until thickened. Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes.

To make the scalloped potato topping: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the sliced potatoes and boil for 4-5 minutes, or until soft but not mushy. Drain into a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the potatoes from continuing to cook. Allow to sit, drain, and cool down. 

To assemble: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour the meat filling into a 2 quart baking dish. Arrange a layer of the sliced potatoes over the filling, being sure that each piece of potato slightly overlaps the potato before it. Once your completed your first layer, pour half of the heavy cream over it and season with salt and pepper. Repeat with another layer of sliced potatoes and the rest of the heavy cream. After you've added the cream to your second layer, arrange the cheese on top.

Put baking dish on top of a rimmed baking sheet and place in the middle rack of the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.