Orange Pumpkin Cloverleaf Rolls


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I realize that there are probably 835 other things you need to do before you worry about making your Thanksgiving bread from scratch, but allow me to make the case for these rolls.

These rolls were a big hit at my family's Thanksgiving dinner last year.  They're bready and a nice accompaniment to the turkey and other sides, but they're lightly flavored with orange and pumpkin, so there's this depth of flavor and even brightness you don't get with most other rolls.  In other words, they will stand in for the average dinner roll and raise the flavor stakes about 300%.  

If you're used to making breads, these are easy.  Heck, even if you're not used to it, you should be able to follow the recipe and end up with no problems.  I use a stand mixer to knead my dough, and these can be made ahead of time and frozen for later use.  

Orange Pumpkin Cloverleafs
from Gourmet Magazine

3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted, divided
2 teaspoons active dry yeast (from a 1/4-ounce package)
1/4 cup warm milk (105–115°F)
1 tablespoon mild honey or sugar
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour plus more for kneading and dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup canned pure pumpkin
2 large eggs, divided, plus 1 yolk
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon water

Butter muffin cups with 1 tablespoon melted butter.

Stir together yeast, warm milk, and honey in a large bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, start over with new yeast.)

Mix flour, salt, pumpkin, 1 whole egg, yolk, orange zest and juice, and remaining 5 tablespoon butter into yeast mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until a soft dough forms. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead, dusting surface and your hands with just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is elastic and smooth, 6 to 8 minutes. Form dough into a ball.

Put dough in an oiled large bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Punch down dough (do not knead), then halve. Roll half of dough on a lightly floured surface with lightly floured hands into a 12-inch-long log (keep remaining half covered with plastic wrap).

Cut log into 6 equal pieces, then cut each piece into thirds. Roll each piece into a 1-inch ball by cupping your hand and pushing dough against work surface as you roll in a circular motion. Put 3 balls side by side in each of 6 muffin cups.

Make more rolls with remaining dough in same manner. Cover rolls with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until dough is about 1 inch above rim of muffin cups, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.

Whisk together remaining egg and water and brush on tops of rolls. (You will have leftover egg wash.)

Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer rolls to a rack and cool at least 20 minutes.

recipe note:
Rolls are best the day they’re made but can be frozen (cool completely, then wrap well) 1 month. Thaw, then reheat on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven until warmed through, 5 to 10 minutes.

Retro Thanksgiving: Sweet Potato Balls


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Did you have sweet potato balls in your Thanksgiving traditions past?  Not the most flattering name, mind you, but these were at my grandmother's house every Thanksgiving as far back as I can remember.  At some point my aunt started making sweet potato casserole, and the sweet potato balls faded into obscurity.  

As a kid, I didn't entirely love sweet potato, and I absolutely hated coconut, but somehow this dish was something I looked forward to every year.  If I'm really honest, I think it was the marshmallow inside.  Yes, I said a marshmallow.

I'm guessing that me making and posting this dish is pretty much fate, because I hadn't eaten or thought about sweet potato balls for years, and then for some reason last week I did think about them, and then I saw a recipe from David Leite for something similar, but deep fried.  No, thanks.  I then Googled it and found today's recipe from Paula Deen.  It's the same beloved idea, but a bit updated with a flavorful orange twist. 

These are really tasty, easy, and they waddle down that fine line between side dish and dessert.  Oh, and the coconut mixed with cinnamon and sugar?  What falls off during baking becomes this coconutty soft candy.  Enough said.

from Paula Deen

serves 6-8

4 large sweet potatoes
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
2 cups shredded coconut, sweetened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Large marshmallows, 1 large per sweet potato ball (about 8 total)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Bake the potatoes until tender, then peel and mash them. Stir in the brown sugar, orange juice, zest and nutmeg.

In a separate bowl, toss the coconut with the sugar and cinnamon. Press mashed potatoes around each marshmallow, creating a 2 to 3-inch diameter ball. Roll the balls in the coconut mixture. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Watch carefully for the last few minutes of cooking; the expanding marshmallows can cause the potato balls to burst open.

  • I had 3 large sweet potatoes and still got about half a dozen balls out of it.  
  • Next time I will cut back a bit on the sugar, and even just a bit on the orange juice.  It was very good, but cutting back on the two will make it a little more savory.  

Egg Muffins


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As the holiday season (i.e. Season of Eating) has kicked off, we often find ourselves trying to do what we can to avoid or offset the dreaded holiday weight gain.  We go from Halloween candy to turkey and sides, to Christmas parties.  Some of us throw all caution to the wind and just enjoy ourselves, while others try sort of crazy quick fixes, and then of course there's the rest of us, who just try to find that balance between indulgence and temperance.

While I can't offer a one-dish-solves-all solution to your efforts, I can offer you this breakfast.  It's quick, easy, and very customizeable.  Known as egg muffins, these crustless mini-quiches or mini frittatas are a great make-ahead breakfast that are a good source of protein and are low carb.  These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and do express the minimal nutritional knowledge possessed by the writer.  Is that an OK disclaimer?

I made these for the first time last week, after perusing my Pinterest breakfast board for a breakfast item that would be quick and nutritious and a little bit of a departure from my normal breakfasts.  They are good for making ahead and storing in the fridge or freezer.  Reheat 1-3, depending on your appetite, for a nice breakfast.  I enjoyed them, Drew enjoyed them, and they will likely become a fairly regular item in the Givens household, especially on those mornings when you need a quick, grab and go breakfast.  

Egg Muffins
adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen

To fill a standard egg tin, about 12 egg muffins

10 eggs, beaten
Salt and Pepper
1/4 cup half and half (optional)
3/4 cup grated cheese- I suggest cheddar
1/2 bunch (4 standard size) green onions, sliced thin, white and green parts (can use about 1/4 cup diced yellow onion if no green onion)
1 1/2 cups assorted other ingredients, such as small diced bell pepper, mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, and spinach, sauteed or sweated (optional)
1/2 lb breakfast sausage or bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled (optional)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Well oil or line a standard muffin tin with paper liners.  If you have not already done so, saute or sweat your veggies of choice except for the sliced green onion.  Beat your 12 eggs with about 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt and several grinds of pepper, as well as the half and half.

Place your onion, vegetables, meat and cheese into the wells of the muffin tins and then fill about 3/4 of the way with the egg mixture

Bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes (varies on oven) or until the eggs are just set.


  • Learn from my mistakes.  Oil or line your muffin tin if it is not "non-stick."  Even if it is, it's still not the worst idea.  I spent FOREVER cleaning out that tin.
  • These work in mini muffin tins too- baking time is shorter
  • The base of this muffin is the egg.  All other add-ins are optional.  What else might you try?  Olives?  Jalapenos?  Feta Cheese?  I had a combination- some contained cheese, greens, mushrooms, peppers, onions, and sausage, while others had just cheese and slow roasted tomatoes
  • These are good, and I loved that I can store them in the fridge or freezer and reheat them.  I am not completely convinced that they're at optimum, but I could have overbaked them or maybe they need a little more to be perfect textured.  Either way, they're pretty good.  

Taco Pizza


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I just love a good homemade pizza.  It's a fun thing to make, and the whole family can get involved.  It's also a really good time to get creative with toppings.  This particular one is inspired by the taco pizzas I used to get in elementary school and the ones occasionally seen at pizza buffet restaurants.

The base for the pizza is chili, instead of tomato sauce, and let me tell you, it was such a good idea.  I used this chili recipe, which is one of my favorites, but you could probably use any chili or chili- like soup.  It's a creative way to use up leftovers.  I put down some of the chili, and then topped it with cheese and sliced green bell pepper.  I baked it in the oven until the crust was browned and the cheese was bubbly.  

I then topped it with sliced Romaine lettuce, avocado, and more cheese, because more cheese is always a good thing.  It was so good!  Make this soon for a fun way to use up some of your big batch chili leftovers.

Taco Pizza
all ingredients may be adjusted to feed your crowd.

1 pizza dough ball or prepared pizza crust
1-2 cups chili
1 cup cheddar or other cheese of your choice
1 cup shredded lettuce
1/2 avocado, diced
Salsa or taco sauce

Preheat your oven to its highest setting and place a pizza stone in the oven on the center rack.  Allow it to preheat for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, prep your crust according to recipe or package directions.  Top with a thin layer of chili and cheese and bake for about 10 minutes, or until crust is browned and toppings are melted and bubbly.

Remove from oven  and allow the pizza to rest on a cooling rack about 2-3 minutes.  Top with lettuce, some remaining cheese, and the diced avocado.  You can also top with salsa or taco sauce for additional taco flavor.  Slice and serve.

Stuffed Butternut Squash


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I saw this recipe about a year ago on the Rachael Ray Show as a side dish for the upcoming holiday meals we're about to be going crazy over or as a meatless main dish.  I had pinned it but did nothing else with it.

Two weeks ago, I was in a dinner funk.  Do you ever have those?  Everything we might normally eat didn't sound appealing, and in preparation for our then upcoming trip to Nashville and the aforementioned holiday season (translation: season of eating), I wanted to make sure we were a. eating at least mostly healthy, and b. eating up what we had in the house.

I started going back over my Pinterest "to try" board and came across the stuffed butternut squash recipe and went "yes!" in my head.  I had almost everything I needed on hand to make it, so it was dinner a couple nights.  I paired it with the kale salad and called it dinner, and it was oh. so. good.  

You just about have me sold with anything containing butternut squash, but add in the cheese, herbs, and onion?  Over the top.  This may be one of my new favorites.  

I tweaked the recipe for ingredients I had, so it's just slightly different.  I'll post it as I made it and you can click on the recipe title for a link to the recipe and a video from the show itself.

adapted from Rachael Ray
serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side

1 medium butternut squash
EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
1 cup cottage cheese
1 tsp. rosemary, chopped
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

Heat the oven to 425F.

Halve the squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and drizzle with EVOO. Season with salt, pepper and a little fresh nutmeg; roast to just tender, 30-35 minutes. Remove and cool to handle.
Reduce oven heat to 375F.

Carefully scoop the flesh of the squash into a bowl, keeping the skins intact. Mash squash flesh with 1 cup of cheddar, 1 cup of Parm, all of the ricotta, and the rosemary. Adjust seasonings and stuff the shells with the mashed squash. Top with a sprinkle of remaining cheddar and Parm, and bake to golden on top, about 10 minutes.

Garnish with scallions.

  • If you're a sort of regular reader, you've probably read before about how I'll choose foods I can cook in stages, and this dish is another good example of breaking up the prep over different days or times of day.  I roasted the squash the night before and stuck it in the fridge.  The next day, I picked up with the rest of the prep and served it.  It turned what would have been about an hour or so prep into two sets of 30 minutes or so each.
  • You don't want the squash super, super soft (though tender) after roasting, because you want to make sure the skins or shells hold up.
  • The original recipe called for ricotta cheese.  When I went shopping, the store was out of ricotta, so I took a cue from my favorite lasagna recipe and used cottage cheese.  It worked well, but I wonder if the ricotta would yield a slightly smoother and maybe creamier end result.