So here we are. Like most Americans, we’re waking up in varying degrees to a food hangover. After a day of thankfulness, football and food, we’re all probably thinking about dialing it back a bit. After, of course, a breakfast of pumpkin pie. And a turkey sandwich. After all, what is Thanksgiving without leftovers?? An honest assessment of the situation is this: we are now right in the thick of the holiday food scene. The next 4-5 weeks will be full of holiday parties and more blowout meals. It’s here people and I love every minute of it.

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It’s go time. That mad rush to what I consider the best holiday of the year. It’s not about gifts or even décor, though you certainly could go off the rails with the latter if you so choose. Thanksgiving is about friends and family and being together, thankful for what you have. And it’s about food. Oh boy is it about the food. And maybe football. Can’t have Thanksgiving without good food and football, methinks. It’s a rule.

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1bakedsheet.lrg.IMG_5681I am always looking for a good party hors d’oeuvre, especially around the holidays. Something that’s nice to nibble on with a glass of wine, while you pick at the turkey and make radish roses for the relish tray. One that isn’t too difficult to eat, doesn’t require silverware or even a napkin. A real crowd pleaser if you will, that can dance that fine line between fancy and down home. If it has butter or cheese in it, all the better. Most importantly, one that isn’t a big exhausting over thought project that eats up far too much time. This one hits all the marks and has been a favorite of mine for years and years.

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Driving to a friends Wisconsin home a few weeks ago, we passed several farms on our way off the highway, many with big pumpkin displays covering the front lawns. Never one to pass something interesting, I stopped. Coming and going, I stopped. The first time, I bought a giant white pumpkin for 2 bucks and a half dozen delicata squash for 25 cents a piece. Score! On the way home a few days later, I stopped again and picked up a few additional squashes – red kuri, a fat pie pumpkin and some strange blue-grey variety who’s name I’ve long forgotten. I spent a total of $6 on both trips, happily stuffing my dollar bills in the honor box while the farm dogs sniffed my muddy boots. Of course I stopped twice, once in the rain. Wouldn’t you?

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The last several weeks have been rather complicated. I’ve made two multi-tiered wedding cakes for good friends and countless desserts for a client tasting, many with numerous components and sub-recipes. To-do lists are spilling from my computer at an alarming rate and stacks of receipts have turned my wallet into something worthy of George Costanza. Today I just wanted to make something simple. Spying the basket of apples on my counter, I formulated a plan.

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Wandering about the farmers market a few weeks ago, in that weird time of the year where you can buy both squash and tomatoes, I was in a funk. I couldn’t decide if I should be wearing a sweater or not, much less what I wanted to cook. Was it chilly or wasn’t it? Did I want potatoes? Radishes? Should I get eggs, or cheese or apples? I was half asleep and fully distracted, walking in circles with nothing in my bag to show for my efforts. I eventually found myself in front of the mushroom vendor and simply said “yes”.

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Remember, pre-Whole Foods, when there were health food stores? Shops, usually on the small side, that carried unusual things you didn’t see in the regular grocery stores like countless bulk bins of oats, nubby whole wheat flours, nuts and everything “chocolate” was actually made from the always disappointing carob. You were sure to see some tie dye, several pairs of Birkenstocks and a machine that ground peanuts into fresh peanut butter was tucked in a corner. In my younger days, freshly ground nut butters fell squarely into that “good for you” category which was an automatic strike against it’s character (refer back to carob). I never cared much for it and the requisite oil slick on top then but I’ve come to the realization that the Skippy of my youth is no longer my favorite. (Except for peanut butter cookies. Nothing makes a better cookie than creamy Skippy.) These days, I actually seek out these machines and now I even grind my own nut butters. Whoa. I’ve come a long way baby.

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