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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: Thanksgiving

A Modern Thanksgiving Menu

Marc J. Sievers

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My absolute favorite thing about Thanksgiving is that it’s a holiday all about family, friends and FOOD! Gathering everyone around the table for a fabulous meal is the perfect way to catch up and enjoy the start of the holiday season. While you could go the traditional route and labor over a turkey and stuffing, why not amp up the luxe factor with my take on a modern Thanksgiving dinner?

My Apple and Herb Wellington can be assembled the day before and be baking away in the oven as your guests arrive. Pair it with my Simple Green Salad with French Bistro Vinaigrette. Your home will smell amazing and you will be free to greet everyone with my Fried Blue Cheese Olives and a lovely glass of wine! Save the best for last with my Pumpkin Spice Trifle, a fall-centric version of the traditional English dessert.

Need a refresher on the perfect presentation? Be sure to check out my tips how to set a Thanksgiving table. The full, delicious menu is below. Happy Thanksgiving!  

 

 
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A Thanksgiving Table

Marc J. Sievers

Thanksgiving for me has always been a favorite holiday as it mostly takes place around a table filled with family and friends, sharing stories and while making more great memories!  While the food is always special, and bit more decedent (more butter!) on the day, one of my favorite parts is setting a festive table.

A great Thanksgiving table doesn’t have to be as complicated to create as the Thanksgiving meal itself, or take as much time.  A beautiful table is the perfect complement to a hearty and flavorful meal, creating a warm and inviting environment.  I love mixing textures, patterns, and autumnal colors to help bring together a rustic and elegant tablescape.

Textures

A layered table filled with different textures instantly creates a visually interesting and cultivated table—and truth be told is even better when everything isn’t so “matchy-matchy”.  I love mixing different metals like copper mirror-finish stemless glasses (for water), hammered gold flatware, pressed glass amber chargers and salad plates, casual stoneware dinner plates, and a rustic low centerpiece of dried twigs (from the grocery store!), pinecones, and fresh orange tulips (in floral water tubes)!  All of these elements add interest and complexity and help create a table filled with textures that work together—even though they are all different.

Patterns

I love using traditional damask tablecloths as a backdrop to most of my tablescapes.  This sets the backdrop elegantly, setting the stage for even the most modern table.  Mixing in damask napkins in complimentary tones keeps everything fresh and new (again, not so matchy-matchy, but complimentary).  Patterns are also found in the design of the plates, silverware, and even the ridges in the goblets.  All of which provide visual diversity.

Autumnal Colors

Classic autumnal colors like orange, wheat, amber, and other warm tones are all brought together with the help and balance of a neutral dove grey, copper, and bright green (from the tulips).  I love using bold tones against neutral tones—it warms the neutral colors and helps the bold colors really pop!

While this is a quick course in creating a fabulous Thanksgiving table, these are not “rules” so much as guidelines that apply also to everyday living and holiday entertaining.  If you are feeling curious, here is a link to all things Thanksgiving!

From my table to yours, happy Thanksgiving!


Some furnishings provided by Mikasa.

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Apple & Herb Wellington

Marc J. Sievers

When I began testing this recipe for my new cookbook Table for Two: Cooking and Entertaining for You and Your +1, the combinations of ingredients seemed endless (and they really are!).  I finally settled on a selection of fresh herbs, apple, fragrant fennel and onions.  To give it even more “body”, I added Gruyère cheese that I diced into very small cubes.  This prevented the filling from getting too heavy with melted cheese, and instead created pockets of gently melted Gruyère that added the right amount of richness to the finished dish.  Keep in mind, this recipe does make two larger portions, so I like to serve it alongside a salad dressed in my French Bistro Vinaigrette

What I love most about this recipe is that you can interchange the fresh herbs and filling and have it adapt to be season specific.  During the fall and winter, I like to use fresh sage and rosemary (a perfect vegetarian main course for the holidays!), and replace the parsnip with butternut squash.  In the spring and summer, I love using basil and chives, and replace the apple with zucchini.

Like this recipe, so many other recipes from Table for Two are adaptable to help make entertaining as easy, elegant, and as truly delicious as possible, for you and your plus one!


Apple & Herb Wellington

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons

  • Fennel – ¾ cup, ½-inch diced

  • Yellow Onion – 1 medium, ½-inch diced

  • Parsnip – 1 medium, peeled, ½-inch diced

  • Pink Lady Apple – 1 medium, ½-inch diced

  • Thyme – 2 teaspoons, finely minced, fresh

  • Sea Salt – ¾ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¾ teaspoon

  • Garlic – 2 cloves, finely minced

  • Parsley – 3 tablespoons, finely minced, Italian flat-leaf variety recommended

  • Whole Cashews – ⅓ cup, rough chopped

  • Golden Raisins - ⅓ cup

  • Parmesan Cheese – 2 tablespoons, freshly grated, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended

  • Gruyère Cheese – 3 ounces, ¼-inch cubed

  • Frozen Puff Pastry – 1 sheet, thawed overnight in the refrigerator

  • *Egg Wash – 1 extra-large egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water

Directions

1.     Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper.  Set aside.

2.     In a medium sauté pan set over medium heat, add the olive oil.  Once hot, add the fennel, onion, parsnip, apples, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very tender, but not brown.

3.     Add the garlic and parsley and continue cooking for another 1 minute, being careful not to burn the garlic.  Transfer to a medium bowl to cool for 5 minutes.  Once cooled, stir in the cashews, raisins, and both cheeses.

4.     Next, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the thawed puff pastry dough to be roughly 12x14-inches.  Cut the dough in half creating 2 pieces measuring 12x7-inces.

5.     Divide the filling evenly onto half of each piece of dough, leaving a ½-inch border.  Brush the border with egg wash*, and fold over top the other half of each side of the dough.  Using the tines of a fork, seal the edges by of the dough by pressing the tines lightly into the dough.  Do this on all three sides or each packet.  Transfer to the prepared baking sheet.

6.     Brush the tops with egg wash*.  Using a small knife, cut three slits on the top of each packet.

7.     Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown.

8.     Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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Apple Salad with Croutons

Marc J. Sievers

One of my favorite things about writing recipes is surprising readers and my guests with complex flavors by using everyday ingredients!  My Apple Salad with Croutons made its television debut on WGN TV Midday News: Lunchbreak and the star of the dish was my simple and incredibly flavorful homemade vinaigrette!

I made the vinaigrette with cinnamon, honey, and apple cider vinegar as my secret ingredients.  All of those flavors are classic combinations with apple, and the addition of tart cranberries, intense Blue Cheese, nuts, and crunchy croutons creates a layered and complex salad with wonderfully everyday ingredients. A match made in food-flavor heaven!  In fact, I served this same salad on Thanksgiving Day, and the entire platter was devoured with guests actually asking for seconds – of salad!  


Apple Salad with Croutons

Ingredients for Salad (serves 8)

  • Granny Smith Apple – cored, and thinly sliced

  • Honey Crisp Apple – cored, and thinly sliced

  • Lemon - juice of 1 lemon

  • Apple Cider Vinegar – 1/3 cup

  • Honey – 1/3 cup

  • Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – ¼ teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Olive Oil – ¼ cup

  • Dried Cranberries – ½ cup

  • Pistachios – ½ cup

  • Candied Pecans – ½ cup

  • Blue Cheese – 4 ounces, crumbled

  • Arugula or Spring Mix – 8 ounces

Directions for Salad

  1. Start by placing the cut apples in a large bowl of cold water. Add the lemon juice, and allow to sit until ready to serve.

  2. Meanwhile, mix vinegar, honey, cinnamon, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking vigorously. Set aside.

  3. Drain the apples.

  4. Arrange the greens down the center of a big platter. Add the apples, dried cranberries, pistachios, pecans, and blue cheese on top. Drizzle evenly with the vinaigrette.

  5. Serve immediately.

Ingredients for Croutons

  • Demi Baguette – cut into ½-inch cubes

  • Butter – 3 tablespoons, unsalted

Directions

  1. In a medium sauté pan set over medium heat, add the butter. Once melted, add the bread cubes.

  2. Toast for 5-7 minutes, tossing occasionally, until lightly brown.

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Pumpkin Spice Trifle

Marc J. Sievers

My Pumpkin Spice Trifle is one of my all-time favorite desserts to make during the holidays!  Filled with the most flavorful Spiced Pound Cake and luxurious Pumpkin Orange Pastry Cream, this trifle will be a fabulous addition to your holiday soirée.  While there a few steps for each component, a majority of them like the pound cake and pastry cream can be made up to three days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.  Then, all you need to do is make some Vanilla Whipped Cream, and then assemble the trifle!

You can also assemble this dessert in individual glass bowls or parfait glasses.  Simply follow the same assembly instructions but for each individual dish.  The dessert can sit out for a couple of hours, making it a perfect seasonal dessert for entertaining.  This is one of those desserts that you and your guests will always remember – and ask for year after year!

This recipe is part of “An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite”.  Explore the other recipes in this series:

Happy cooking!


Pumpkin Spice Trifle

Ingredients (serves 8)

Pumpkin Orange Pasty Cream

  • Half and Half – 2 cups

  • Egg Yolks – 6 extra-large, at room temperature

  • Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Granulated Sugar – ¼ cup

  • Dark Brown Sugar – ¼ cup, lightly packed

  • Pumpkin Purée – ½ cup (not pie filling)

  • Cinnamon – ½ teaspoon

  • Orange Zest – 1½ tablespoons, finely grated

  • Vanilla – 1½ teaspoons, pure extract

  • Honey – 1½ tablespoon

  • Fine Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Cornstarch – ¼ cup

Spiced Pound Cake

  • Butter – 2 sticks, unsalted, room temperature, plus more for preparing pans

  • Eggs – 4 extra-large, room temperature

  • Flour – 3 cups, all-purpose, plus 2 tablespoons

  • Baking Powder – ½ teaspoon

  • Baking Soda – ½ teaspoon

  • Kosher Salt – ¾ teaspoon

  • Buttermilk – 1 cup, at room temperature

  • Vanilla – 1½ teaspoons, pure extract

  • Honey – ¼ cup

  • Sugar – 2 cups, granulated

  • Golden Raisins – 1 cup

  • Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon

  • Cloves – ½ teaspoon

  • Allspice – ½ teaspoon

  • Nutmeg – ½ teaspoon, freshly grated

  • Ginger – ½ teaspoon, dried

Vanilla Whipped Cream

  • Heavy Cream – 2 cups, very cold

  • Granulated Sugar – 2 tablespoons

  • Vanilla Extract – 1 tablespoon, pure extract

Components

  • Fleur de Sel Caramel – 5 tablespoons, store-bought

  • Gingersnap Cookies – 9 ounces, lightly crushed

Directions

Pumpkin Orange Pastry Cream

  1. In a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, both sugars, pumpkin purée, cinnamon, orange zest, salt, and cornstarch until smooth. Set aside.

  2. Next, in a medium-sized sauce pan set over medium heat add the milk and heat until just under the simmering point.

  3. Remove from the heat and, very slowly, add the hot milk to the pumpkin mixture in small amounts while whisking constantly.

  4. Return the mixture back to the sauce pan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for 7 to 9 minutes, until very thick. Do not be alarmed when the mixture turns lumpy.

  5. Remove from the heat and add the butter and vanilla. Whisk vigorously until smooth, about 2 minutes.

  6. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the custard. Refrigerate until completely cool, or until ready to use - up to 3 days.

Spiced Pound Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter and flour (2) 9x5-inch loaf pans and set aside. Toss the raisins with 2 tablespoons of flour and set aside.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

  3. With the mixer turned to low speed, add the vanilla, honey, and eggs one at a time, allowing each to fully incorporate. Turn the mixer off.

  4. Next, in a large bowl sift together the remaining flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.

  5. With the mixer running on low speed, add the flour and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour. Then, scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl and fold in the raisins.

  6. Transfer the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Tap the pans on a flat surface to release as many air bubbles as possible.

  7. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

  8. Once you have removed the loaves from the oven, allow them to cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Then, turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Vanilla Whipped Cream

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the cold cream and whisk on low.

  2. Gradually raise the speed of the mixer from low to high, making sure the cream does not splatter out of the bowl.

  3. Once the cream begins to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla. Whisk until it forms stiff peaks, or about 1 to 2 minutes.

Assembly

  1. Cut the pound cake into ½-inch thick slices.

  2. Place a layer of cake in the bottom of a 2½ to 3-quart glass serving bowl, cutting the pieces to fit as necessary. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of caramel. Top with a layer of the pastry cream, then a layer of whipped cream, then sprinkle with crushed gingersnap cookies.

  3. Repeat the same process 3 more times. The completed trifle will have 4 glorious layers.

A Helpful Preparation Timeline

  1. First, bake the Spiced Pound Cake - up to 3 days in advance.

  2. Then make the Pumpkin Orange Pastry Cream - up to 3 days in advance.

  3. When you are ready to assemble, find your favorite trifle dish, have your store-bought components ready, and then make the Vanilla Whipped Cream.

  4. Assemble the Pumpkin Spiced Trifle and serve!

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Mulled Wine

Marc J. Sievers

Every year Ryan and I attend the Christkindlemarket in Chicago which is inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany.  The Christkindlmarket Chicago brings cherished German and European traditions, with international flair and local charm, to Chicago.  One of my favorite things to get every time I go is something called Glühwein or mulled wine usually made with red wine along with various mulling spices.  It is typically served hot and is a traditional drink during colder months.  Think of it like the European cousin of Sangria.

My version of Mulled Wine gets it's depth of flavor from a good Cabernet Sauvignon, spiced apple cider, peppercorns, and other aromatics!  You can allow the wine to sit on the stove at the lowest heat keeping it warm throughout your party and guests can serve themselves.  Of course, this can be made days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.  When you are ready to serve, gently re-heat over a low flame, then toast to good health!

This recipe is part of “An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite”.  Explore the other recipes in this series:

Happy cooking!


Mulled Wine

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Spiced Apple Cider – 4 cups

  • Cabernet Sauvignon – 1 bottle (750ml)

  • Honey – ½ cup

  • Black Peppercorns – 25, whole

  • Cinnamon Sticks – 4

  • Cloves – 8, whole

  • Star Anise – 3, whole

  • Orange – 1 large, juiced

  • Orange Peel – For garnish

Directions

  1. Start by cutting two pieces of cheesecloth into 8×8-inch squares and layer them to make a single sachet.

  2. In the center of the cheesecloth place the orange peels, cloves, star anise, peppercorns, and cinnamon sticks. Pull the four corners of the doubled-up cheese cloth together and tie tightly with kitchen string to form a sachet.

  3. Next, combine the cider, orange juice, honey, and wine in a heavy-bottomed pot or large sauce pan). Add the sachet, and bring to a low boil. Then, lower the heat to a simmer, allowing the wine to mull for at least 20 minutes before serving.

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Fruit Conserve

Marc J. Sievers

A holiday dinner in my family would not be complete without jellied cranberry sauce (with the can lines!) in a little crystal dish on the table!  While I still love that sentiment and tradition, I have upped the game with my Fruit Conserve.  My version of “cranberry sauce” is brimming with flavorful ingredients like dried figs, golden raisins, dried cherries, and currants – just to name a few!  I have even added a few tablespoons of Grand Mariner, an orange liqueur, to add a little more depth of flavor – it is the holidays after all!  What I love the most about this recipe is it can be made up to three days ahead of time and stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.  Allow it to sit for 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.  Leftover conserve is fabulous when warmed through and served over vanilla ice cream or even on crackers with slices of Brie.  A triple-duty recipe, perfect for this time of year!

This recipe is part of “An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite”.  Explore the other recipes in this series:

Happy cooking!


Fruit Conserve

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

  • Water – 1 cup

  • Sugar – 1¼ cups

  • Fresh Cranberries – 1 bag (12 ounces)

  • Honey Crisp Apple – 1, peeled, cored, ½-inch diced

  • Bosc Pear – 1, peeled, cored, ½-inch diced

  • Orange – 1, zested, seeded and ½-inch diced

  • Lemon – 1, zested, juiced

  • Grand Marnier – 3 tablespoons

  • Cinnamon – ¼ teaspoon

  • Course Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Golden Raisins – ½ cup

  • Dried Black Mission Figs - ½ cup, rough chopped

  • Zante Currants – ½ cup

  • Dried Cherries – ½ cup

Directions

  1. Start by placing the water, sugar, and cranberries into a medium-sized saucepan set over medium heat. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cranberry skins open.

  2. Next, add the apple, pear, orange, zests, and lemon juice. Continue cooking for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Finally, off the heat, add the raisins, currants, cherries, figs, cinnamon, salt, and Grand Marnier. Allow to cool and place into the refrigerator to set.

  4. Serve slightly chilled.

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Savory Beet & Farrow Cake

Marc J. Sievers

Inspiration for new recipes really can come from anywhere.  A certain smell, a store window, a trip to a fabulous specialty foods store, and of course a restaurant!  Last year when Linda and I were out to lunch, we both ordered a vegetarian burger filled with roasted beets and nutty farrow – it was so good!  After a few tries, I came up with my Savory Beet & Farrow Cake – an elegant twist on the veggie burger we had at lunch.

Instead of making individual patties, I decided to bake it in cake form, making it elegant enough to serve at a dinner party or cut up into small squares for a cocktail party.  You can roast the vegetables and sauté the onion mixture up to three days ahead of time.  You can store them together in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Then, on the day of your soirée, continue to follow the assembly and cooking directions - et voilà!

This recipe is part of “An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite”.  Explore the other recipes in this series:

Happy cooking! 


Savory Beet & Farrow Cake

Ingredients (serves 6 as a main course or up to 12 as an hors d'oeuvre)

  • Sweet Potato – 1 large, peeled, ½-inch diced

  • Beets – 2 medium, peeled, ½-inch diced

  • Farrow – ½ cup, uncooked

  • Water - ½ cup

  • Red Onion – 1 medium, peeled, ½-inch diced

  • Sage – 1 tablespoon, finely minced, fresh

  • Garlic – 4 cloves, peeled, finely minced

  • Nutmeg – ⅛ teaspoon, freshly grated

  • Panko – 1 cup

  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon, divided

  • Black Pepper – ¾ teaspoon, divided

  • Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted

  • Olive Oil – 3 tablespoons, divided

  • Parmigiano Reggiano – ¼ cup, freshly grated

  • Gruyère – ½ cup, freshly grated

  • Eggs – 5 extra-large, at room temperature

  • Half and Half – ¼ cup

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a 9-inch round spring-form pan by buttering both the interior sides and bottom. Line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter the top of the parchment paper. Set aside.

  2. Place the sweet potatoes and beets onto a sheet pan. Toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, ¾ teaspoon of salt, and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Roast for 40 minutes, turning once half way through the roasting time. Remove from the oven and set aside.

  3. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, bring ½ cup water to a boil. Add the farrow, and cook for 18 to 20 minutes, or until tender. The farrow will still have a bite to it. Drain well and set aside.

  4. In a medium sauté pan set over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Once heated, add the onions and ¼ teaspoon of both salt and pepper. Cook until tender and translucent, stirring occasionally.

  5. Next, add the garlic, nutmeg, and sage, and continue to cook for an additional 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the roasted vegetables and cooked farrow and set aside.

  6. In a small bowl, beat the eggs and half and half. Then add both cheeses.

  7. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetable mixture and add the panko. Gently stir to mix completely.

  8. Transfer the mixture into the prepared spring form pan. Bake for 25 to 27 minutes, or until set.

  9. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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Brown Butter & Basil Mashed Potatoes

Marc J. Sievers

Growing up, my absolute favorite thing to eat (and still is!) were mashed potatoes!  The smell of a big pot of potatoes boiling away always reminds me of family dinners and holidays – the best!  While I still prepare traditional mashed potatoes with just milk, butter, salt, and pepper, I have a new twist on a classic – my Brown Butter & Basil Mashed Potatoes.  These potatoes are filled with browned butter, garlic, spicy basil, nutmeg, and white pepper, making them a welcomed update to the classic version!

You can even make mashed potatoes in advance by keeping them warm in a glass bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap set over a pan of barely simmering water.  They can remain like this for up to 1 hour.  Stir them every 20 minutes to help them maintain an even temperature.  You can add a little bit of warm half and half if they become too thick.  Remember, if making them in advance, stir in the basil just before you serve them, or the basil will turn dark – not a good look!

This recipe is part of “An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite”.  Explore the other recipes in this series:

Happy cooking!


Brown Butter & Basil Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Yukon Gold Potatoes – 3 pounds, peeled, cut into 2-inch cubes

  • Garlic – 4 cloves, peeled, lightly smashed

  • Butter – 12 tablespoons, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Half and Half – 1½ cups

  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon

  • White Pepper – ¾ teaspoon

  • Basil – ½ cup, finely minced, fresh

  • Nutmeg – ⅛ teaspoon, freshly grated

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the potatoes, return to a boil, and cook for 20 minutes or until tender all the way through.

  2. Meanwhile, in a small sauté pan, set over medium-low heat, add the butter and smashed garlic. Cook until the garlic is golden and the milk solids in the butter have browned, about 10 to 12 minutes.

  3. Scrape all the browned bits, butter, and garlic into a small blender or food processor. Add the half and half, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. Blend until smooth, or about 1 minute.

  4. Pour into a small saucepan and gently reheat. Once hot, turn off the heat, cover and set aside.

  5. Once the potatoes are fully cooked, drain them, and add them back into the pan.

  6. Using a handheld mixer fitted with the beater attachment beat the hot potatoes in the pot until they are broken up. Slowly add the hot half and half mixture and beat until mostly smooth. They should still have a few small lumps for texture.

  7. Lastly, stir in the fresh basil. Serve immediately.

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Baguette Stuffing

Marc J. Sievers

Like many of you, stuffing is one of my favorite parts of a Thanksgiving meal!  Instead of preparing a stuffing from a bag (boring!), my Baguette Stuffing only takes a few steps and the result is just delicious and fabulous!  The combination of French bread and rye bread gives this dish a real depth of flavor, along with all of the fresh vegetables, herbs, and of course butter!   This recipe is as equally wonderful with almost-ripe pears.  Simply substitute the apples for pears and follow the same cooking directions.  You can also change the cashews for almonds, or even pecans.  Your traditional bread stuffing is about to get a major flavor makeover!

This recipe is part of “An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite”.  Explore the other recipes in this series:

Happy cooking!


Baguette Stuffing

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

  • French Baguette – 24-inch, cut into ¾-inch cubes

  • Dark Rye Bread – 1 pound loaf, cut into ¾-inch cubes

  • Butter - 12 tablespoons, unsalted

  • Celery – 5 stalks, ½-inch diced

  • Onions – 2 medium, ½-inch diced

  • Granny Smith Apples – 2 medium, ½-inch diced, peeled, and cored

  • Garlic - 4 cloves, finely minced

  • Flat Leaf Parsley – ½ cup, roughly chopped, fresh

  • Rosemary – 3 teaspoons, finely minced, fresh

  • Thyme – 2 teaspoons, finely minced, fresh

  • Sea Salt – 1½ teaspoons

  • Black Pepper – 1½ teaspoons, freshly cracked

  • Vegetable Broth – 3 cups (low sodium preferred)

  • Raw Cashews – 1 cup, rough chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

  2. Place the bread cubes on a sheet pan and toast them in the oven for 10 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan set over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Once melted, add the onion, celery, apples, garlic, parsley, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Sauté for 15 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the mixture is soft.

  4. In a large bowl toss the bread, onion mixtue, vegetable broth, and cashews.

  5. Transfer to a 3-quart baking dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

  6. Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

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Curried Pumpkin Soup

Marc J. Sievers

I love taking a classic flavor, like pumpkin, and giving it a flavor-makeover!  My Curried Pumpkin Soup is a new classic in my home this time of year.  The flavors are still very traditional, but the addition of dried yellow curry powder make it a feel a little bit more special and, dare I say, exotic!  This is a perfect soup for a chilly autumn or winter day!  This soup can be prepared up to three days in advance of serving and stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.  You can also freeze large containers of soup to be enjoyed at a later time.  Gently re-heat in a large pot over medium-low heat – soup anytime!

This recipe is part of “An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite”.  Explore the other recipes in this series:

Happy cooking!


Curried Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Carrots – 2 large, peeled, ½-inch diced

  • Leeks – 2 large, ½-inch sliced (white and light green parts only)

  • Yellow Onion – 1 large, ½-inch diced

  • Honeycrisp Apples – 2 medium, peeled, cored, ½-inch diced

  • Garlic – 5 cloves, finely minced

  • Pumpkin Purée – 2 cans (15 ounces each), plus ½ cup (not pumpkin pie filling)

  • Vegetable Broth – 8 cups (preferably low sodium)

  • Thyme – 2 tablespoons, finely minced, fresh

  • Sea Salt – 2 teaspoons

  • White Pepper – 1 teaspoon

  • Yellow Curry Powder (mild) – 3½ teaspoons, divided

  • Half and Half – 1 cup, at room temperature

  • Butter – 6 tablespoons

  • Olive Oil – 6 tablespoons

Directions

  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, set over medium heat, add the olive oil and butter. Once hot, add the onions, leeks, apples, carrots, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and 3 teaspoons of curry powder. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  2. Add the vegetable stock and 30 ounces of the pumpkin puree. Continue cooking uncovered for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Carefully transfer the hot contents of the pot into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Purée for 2 minutes until mostly smooth. The soup should still have a slight texture. Note that you may have to do this in smaller batches if you are working with a smaller processor or blender.

  4. Pour the soup back into the pot and add the half and half, the remaining ½ teaspoon of curry powder, and the remaining ½ cup of pumpkin purée. Whisk until completely incorporated.

  5. At this point you can gently reheated, and serve.

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An Autumnal Feast! A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite

Marc J. Sievers

This year, Ryan and I are spending my birthday and Thanksgiving in Chicago and will be taking full advantage of our festive city leading up to the big feast!  On my birthday we have dinner plans at my favorite restaurant RL, then will walk over to The Peninsula Chicago to enjoy a cocktail and ice skating atop their Sky Rink—what a fabulous birthday!   On Thanksgiving Day, our menu will consist of things that are store-bought, a few recipes that can be made in advance, and the main course—Gruyere Cheese Soufflé—that will be made right before serving (Julia Child, thank you!). 

In addition to making some of the recipes in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, I will also set the table in a palette of white, grey, and pumpkin colored plates, bowls, linens, and white un-scented candles.  Simple white roses, fresh herbs, and silver dollar eucalyptus arranged in silver bowls will take center stage!

Last year, my friend and watercolor artist Linda Marie Clark and I launched Watermarc – Art & Appetite, a growing line of vibrant and collectible occasion cards that are created around collections of my original vegetarian recipes and Linda’s whimsical watercolors.  We developed a series of cards titled “An Autumnal Feast” which had some of the most flavorful Fall recipes you could dream of!  That series has since been retired and I have wanted to share my recipes and Linda’s artwork that were a part of the original collection as they are just too delicious and colorful to keep locked up. 

These are some of my favorite recipes I have created as they’re classic delicious twists that really bring home the Autumnal flavors.  Whether you are looking to spice up your holiday menus, inject some variety for a weeknight/end dinner party, or completely revamp what you normally serve, I know these recipes will add the “Wow!” factor, up the flavor factor, and will have your guests asking for more! 

From our home to yours, Ryan and I wish you the most glorious Thanksgiving filled with good food, good wine, and the most important ingredients:  Big pinches of love and appreciation!

Cheers!

An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite

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Simply Fabulous - A Thanksgiving Table

Marc J. Sievers

Every year I dress my Thanksgiving table using everyday linens, plates, and glassware and add new design elements with flowers, candles, and colors.  This year I decided to try something new with textures and colors.  Instead of opting for traditional autumnal colors I experimented with lime, ivory, and purple and boy-oh-boy am I glad I did!  The color palette is fresh and clean and the pop of purple really adds a sophisticated touch. I love using simple round glass vases for arranging all types of flowers.  This year I wrapped them in burlap and ivory grosgrain ribbon.

The burlap adds a rustic element and the ribbon softens it, furthering my style of rustic-chic living.   Everything is held together with double-sided tape so after the holiday my vases can easily return to plain glass for another treatment (my mind is already wandering for Christmas!).  The ivory ribbon really pulls out the color in the flowers and adds a modern clean-line touch.


Tips for flower arranging:

  1. Flowers are a must for any soirée! Buy flowers and arrange them one or two days in advance of your soirée with warm tap water. This allows the blooms to relax and open which will make your arrangements appear fuller and more natural the day of your gathering.

  2. Buy flowers with little to no scent for the dining table or sideboard. You never want the scent of flowers to compete with the aromas of your food. Keep heavily scented flowers for the guest bathroom or foyer.

  3. Instead of placing one flower arrangement in the center of the table try placing three or five (use odd numbers) smaller arrangements in a single row that spans the entire length of the table.

  4. Cut the stems on the diagonal to allow them to drink the most water. Change the water daily to keep your arrangements fresh and vibrant.


Simple turnips have been transformed into tea light holders for my table this year!  I just love the earthy texture and pattern they have and they look fabulous with the purple tulips and pompom mums that I chose.  It almost looks as if they are made of clay.  I decided to place them down the center of my table but you can place them in clusters on silver trays, on a buffet, or even at each place setting if you are hosting a sit-down dinner.  Carve out a small hole on the top of each one just large enough to fit an unscented teal light in, then trim the root from the bottom so it can stand upright.  I added glass tea light holders amongst the turnips to add some elegance and sparkle.

Because I am hosting Thanksgiving this year potluck-style I need simple food markers to label each dish for my guests.  I will use simple green pears with brown tags, with each name written out in pencil (this also gives me flexibility in case a guest brings something different than what was planned).  The bright green pears will stand out nicely against the food and tablescape.  The little brown tags and twine can be used year after year!

I hope my tips, tricks, and photos bring you lots of inspiration!  Use them as a guide and create your own beautiful setting that reflects your personal tastes, favorite colors, and style.  Happy creating!

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Cheers! Pumpkin Pie on the Rocks!

Marc J. Sievers

It’s cocktail time!  Every now and again I love to create what I would call a “kitschy” drink, and my Pumpkin Pie on the Rocks fits the bill perfectly.  Things like Pumpkin Cream Liqueur, whipped cream vodka, and buttershots are certainly not everyday ingredients but they really do make this cocktail one of my new favorites.  I especially love the toasted mini marshmallows on a “stick”, I mean that is just too cute!

I plan on serving this as my signature drink on Thanksgiving Day.  Regardless of how many people join in the festivities I can expand the recipe as needed and fill a large glass pitcher and leave it in the fridge.  Then when a guest wants a “cockatoonie” (that’s what my godmother calls a cocktail!) all they have to do is fill a glass with ice and pour.  The toasted marshmallow skewers can be pre-done the morning of and set to the side with cocktail napkins and with a small salt shaker filled with cinnamon for garnishing.  It’s easy as “pie”!


Pumpkin Pie on the Rocks

Ingredients (makes 1 cocktail)

  • Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur – ⅓ cup, Fulton’s Harvest brand recommended

  • Whipped Cream Vodka – 2 tablespoons, Pinnacle brand recommended

  • Buttershots Butterscotch Schnapps – 1 tablespoon, Dekuyper brand recommended

  • Mini Marshmallows – for garnish

  • Cinnamon – for garnish

  • Wooden Skewer

Directions

  1. Start by filling a double old fashioned glass with ice.

  2. Place the marshmallows onto the top end of the wood skewer.

  3. Using a kitchen torch or candle flame, gradually toast the marshmallows until desired color is achieved.

  4. Pour in all three liqueurs and gently mix with a spoon.

  5. Garnish with a light sprinkle of cinnamon and toasted marshmallow skewer.

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Pear & Orange Punch

Marc J. Sievers

Thank you to Crate&Barrel for all of the beautiful wired-edged ribbons and packaging supplies!

Thank you to Crate&Barrel for all of the beautiful wired-edged ribbons and packaging supplies!

I was recently asked by Crate&Barrel to host the ultimate cookie swap!  I created a custom punch for the event and shared some of my favorite ways to package holiday baked goods for gifting.  The turnout was amazing!  I served over 20 gallons of my Pear & Orange Holiday Punch, wrapped over 1,000 cookies and had an audience of over 500 people!

A traditional cookie swap is simple: Invite friends and family, and have each person make enough of one kind of cookie to share. At the party you taste the treats, then trade and package them in creative and unique ways!  Everyone leaves with finished gifts—and plenty of new recipes.

I have hosted many cookie swaps in my day and have some tried-and-true tips that will make your next party a success!


  • Start by sending out invitations to your guests, which should also explain the cookie swap concept.

  • Ask each guest to bring one kind of cookie and indicate how many dozen.

  • Create a theme to your party! Ask guests to bring all types of chocolate cookies, sugar cookies, or even decorated cookies.

  • Ask your guests to bring copies of the recipes to hand out at the party.

  • I like to make a small assortment of savory tea sandwiches to counteract the sweetness of the cookies.

  • Serve my Pear & Orange Holiday Punch!

  • Remember, be creative and have fun with the packaging supplies. I supply clear glycine bags, an assortment of holiday ribbons, and even food-safe paper shred. Stickers, seals, and labels are also great additions.

  • Cookie swaps are meant to be casual and social, do remember to play holiday music!

  • My BEST tip is, have FUN! This is also an event for you to enjoy!

The next time you host a cookie swap, incorporate my tips, tricks, and punch recipe to ensure a great time is had by all!


Pear & Orange Punch

Ingredients

  • Pear Nectar – 4 cups, bottled

  • Orange Juice – 8 cups, natural

  • Club Soda – 4 cups, cold

  • Orange – 1 whole orange, ¼-inch sliced

  • Rosemary – 5 sprigs, fresh, on stem

  • Cranberries – 1 bag, frozen, whole

Directions

My Pear & Orange Holiday Punch is being served to hundreds of waiting guests!

My Pear & Orange Holiday Punch is being served to hundreds of waiting guests!

  1. Begin with well-chilled ingredients. First, pour the club soda into a large pitcher. Next pour the orange juice into the pitcher, and then the pear nectar. Stir gently.

  2. Next, add the orange slices and whole rosemary sprigs to the pitcher, followed by the frozen cranberries. Stir the pitcher and allow the orange slices, rosemary, and cranberries to stay at the surface. Stir occasionally to keep the fresh juices well-mixed.

  3. Provide punch glasses for your guests and enjoy the merriment!

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A Chic Thanksgiving Table

Marc J. Sievers

Here are some of my favorite ways to dress up a table for Thanksgiving!

I hope these rustic, chic, and easy ideas bring you inspiration for your Thanksgiving day table! Ryan and I wish you a healthy, happy, and delicious Thanksgiving! Cheers!

I hope these rustic, chic, and easy ideas bring you inspiration for your Thanksgiving day table! Ryan and I wish you a healthy, happy, and delicious Thanksgiving! Cheers!


Mini pumpkins are everywhere! You might even have some left over from Halloween. Simply cut a hole large enough into the top of each pumpkin and insert a tea light candle. Scatter them down the center of your table and put one at each place setting. When the day is done, you can throw them away or compost them. The days of scraping wax off of your crystal candle sticks after dinner will be a thing of the past!

Mini pumpkins are everywhere! You might even have some left over from Halloween. Simply cut a hole large enough into the top of each pumpkin and insert a tea light candle. Scatter them down the center of your table and put one at each place setting. When the day is done, you can throw them away or compost them. The days of scraping wax off of your crystal candle sticks after dinner will be a thing of the past!


For a slightly more elegant look, use plain satin ribbon tied in a simple bow. Because the ribbon has a more delicate feel I liked the addition of a small thyme sprig.

For a slightly more elegant look, use plain satin ribbon tied in a simple bow. Because the ribbon has a more delicate feel I liked the addition of a small thyme sprig.

Instead of placing flower arrangements in the center of your table, use a small glass votive candle holders filled with fresh herbs! I used rosemary and thyme and then wrapped each container with a bit of jute twine. Each guest will feel extra special with there own individual arrangement.

Instead of placing flower arrangements in the center of your table, use a small glass votive candle holders filled with fresh herbs! I used rosemary and thyme and then wrapped each container with a bit of jute twine. Each guest will feel extra special with there own individual arrangement.


Laying out my serving platters and bowls is essential to staying organized and making sure everything fits on the table. I like to mark each serving piece with a sticky note, making it easy to remember what goes where. It's also handy because guests can assist you in placing items onto the table. They will not have to second-guess if they are grabbing the correct "big white bowl" as you shout from the kitchen (chances are there are more than one)!

Laying out my serving platters and bowls is essential to staying organized and making sure everything fits on the table. I like to mark each serving piece with a sticky note, making it easy to remember what goes where. It's also handy because guests can assist you in placing items onto the table. They will not have to second-guess if they are grabbing the correct "big white bowl" as you shout from the kitchen (chances are there are more than one)!


Use simple jute twine, wrap it around the napkin multiple times and tie a double knot to secure for a simple napkin ring. I placed a rosemary sprig to add a touch of color to my monochromatic table. Guests will also love the aroma.

Use simple jute twine, wrap it around the napkin multiple times and tie a double knot to secure for a simple napkin ring. I placed a rosemary sprig to add a touch of color to my monochromatic table. Guests will also love the aroma.

I hope one of my simple ideas makes it onto your Thanksgiving table!

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A Rosemary Thanksgiving Touch

Marc J. Sievers

Thanksgiving for my family has always been a holiday when everyone comes together and truly celebrates one another and what we are thankful for:  Each other!  Sitting together around the dinner table during Thanksgiving has always been a time for catching up, laughter, and walking down memory lane. This year I wanted to add a special touch to the table that could be easily created with supplies from our local grocer (or even your yard).

Rosemary Napkin

Rosemary Napkin

Enchanted Pumpkin

Enchanted Pumpkin

As I thought about what to create I wanted to focus on some essence of Thanksgiving (and the Autumn season) and I realized that for me it is rosemary!  I devised two place setting accents that will evoke the aromas of Thanksgiving and the colors of Fall; fresh rosemary napkin rings and enchanted pumpkins!

The following are the instructions for you to easily add a bit of rustic glamour to your holiday table, as well!  They are simple, easy, inexpensive and oh-so-chic! Here's what you need:


Rosemary Napkin Rings

Supplies

(List is for one napkin ring; multiply for however many place settings you wish to set.)

  • 2 fresh sprigs of Rosemary (each about 7 inches long)

  • Green floral wire (1 piece approximately 6 inches long)

  • Jute twine (1 piece approximately 4 inches long)

  • 1 small pine cone (an acorn will also work)

  • Glittered floral/wreath pick (preferably in rust or autumnal color)

  • Hot glue gun and extra glue sticks

Directions

  1. Start by stacking the stems of rosemary together. Using the floral wire, wrap the stacked rosemary, end to end, forming a ring.

  2. Apply a small dot of hot glue to the area where the floral wire has been wrapped, and attached one end of the jute twine. Continue to wrap until the wire has been covered. Secure the loose end of the jute twine with another small dot of hot glue.

  3. Cut a 2 inch section of the floral/wreath pick, preferably a section with small leaves, and attach with hot glue to the top of the ring, centered, on top of the jute twine.

  4. Place the pine cone (or acorn), centered on top of the floral decoration.

  5. Thread napkin through and place at each place setting

These fresh rosemary napkins rings will definitely add an unexpected element to any table!


Enchanted Pumpkins

Supplies

(List is for one Enchanted Pumpkin setting; multiply for however many place settings you wish to set.)

  • 1 mini pumpkin

  • Jute twine (1 piece approximately 6 inches long)

  • Fresh rosemary (1 piece cut to a two inch length)

  • Glittered floral/wreath pick (preferably in rust or autumnal color)

  • Hot glue gun and extra glue sticks

Directions

  1. Start by placing a small dot of hot glue to the end of the rosemary. Attach the jute twine and wrap using about 3 inches of the twine.

  2. Place another small dot of hot glue to the wrapped area and secure the jute twine, creating a “tassel” look.

  3. Tie the other end of the jute twine around the stem of the pumpkin, allowing the tassel to hang about 1 inch, and secure using a simple knot. Cut any excess twine.

  4. Cut a 2 inch section of the floral/wreath pick, preferably a section with small leaves, and attach with hot glue to the top of the pumpkin, just under the stem.

Simple, easy, and elegant! Enchanted pumpkins will delight all of your dinner guests!

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