Thanksgiving is a magical time of the year. It’s the beginning of more than a month of traditions and celebrating with family and friends. Of course today Jena and I will be getting ready to partake in all the festivities like everyone else, which reminds me of a tradition my mom started when I was a kid. Every holiday season, my mom would make the most unbelievable caramel rolls. They were crunchy yet gooey on the outside, and perfectly moist on the inside. It wasn’t the holidays without them. I would find out, many years later, that these rolls are commonly called “monkey rolls”. Monkey rolls are made by combining ingredients like Rhodes frozen bread dough rolls, which have been thawed, butterscotch pudding mix, butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. You let it all rise in a pan overnight, then bake them in the morning, creating a symphony of smells that can only be described as eye opening. They are literally eye opening, because the smell will wake you from a heavy slumber.
The thought of those caramel rolls gave us an idea. Why not use the Rhodes frozen bread dough rolls, but use savory stuffing ingredients instead of sweet ones? Think about it, all the flavors of stuffing in a tender, buttery, pull apart bread? Genius! So, Jena and I tackled this idea head on, and I must say after a couple versions, they turned out exactly as we had hoped for. Tender rolls, enveloped with the flavors of celery, onions, sage, parsley and poultry seasoning, with the additional twists of fresh cranberries, spicy pork sausage and swiss cheese. The result is delicious.
Making this pull apart bread is quite simple. Start by sauteing onions, celery and precooked pork sausage crumbles (we used a Jimmy Dean Pre-Cooked Hot & Spicy Pork Sausage) in a large skillet with melted butter until veggies are softened. Add your herbs and chopped cranberries. Let cool for a few minutes then fold in the swiss cheese. Cut 9 0r 10 Rhodes Traditional Rolls into quarters and gently fold into the reserved vegetable mixture in batches, so the roll pieces don’t stick together. Transfer the mixture to a greased bread loaf pan, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about an hour). Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Let cool, then serve in or out of the pan.
We thought that this additional Thanksgiving post and recipe might help you create some new traditions at your house this year. Enjoy, and may your Thanksgiving be filled with family, friends and a healthy dose of thanks. Stop back soon. Jena and I have an extra special December planned with great ideas for appetizers to spruce up your holiday parties. Remember to cook with love and live to cook.
This pull apart bread combines all the flavors of stuffing, with a tender Rhodes bread roll. The added cranberries, sausage and swiss cheese add a deapth of flavor that will make them irresistible Try them in addition to your other holiday traditions.
Author: Little Rusted Ladle
Recipe type: Side Dish
3 tbsp. butter
2 stalks celery, diced
1 med. onion, diced
¾ cup pre-cooked pork sausage
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh sage
1 tsp. dried poultry seasoning
½ cup fresh cranberries, chopped
1 cup swiss cheese, cut into small cubes
2 lg. eggs, beaten
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. pepper
10 ea. Rhodes frozen bread rolls, such as Multi-Grain and Texas Rolls, thawed and quartered.
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease a 9" X 5" bread loaf pan and set aside.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add celery, onions and pork sausage. Cook until vegetables are softened. Remove from heat, then add cranberries. Let cool for a few minutes, then add cheese and egg. Toss to coat.
Cut thawed rolls into quarters, adding to the cooled stuffing mixture, letting the butter coat each piece to prevent sticking.
When all dough pieces have been added, layer the mixture in the greased loaf pan, alternating with dough and vegetable mixture until all has been added. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap that has been coated with non-stick spray.
Let rise in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled in size.
Remove plastic wrap and bake on middle rack of oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.
Transfer loaf to a wire rack to cool.
Transfer loaf to a serving plate or serve out of the pan.
You can use any combination of Rhodes frozen bread rolls you wish for this recipe. Feel free to eliminate or add any ingredients you wish, such as sausage or cheese to suit your needs.
This article is a sponsored post. All opinions and photography are Jim and Jena’s
Is everyone ready for a plump, juicy turkey with all the trimmings headed our way next week? I know I am. That’s because I rarely get to eat any of the turkey that is made for the photography that we do. Food stylists like myself, usually paint turkeys with coloring solutions to make them look perfectly browned. However, the middle is always raw, and nobody likes turkey sushi. So this year, Jena and I decided it was only appropriate to make another turkey dinner for Little Rusted Ladle. Except this time we decided to make a turkey that anyone can make look and taste fantastic. No raw turkey with this one. We wanted an eater. What’s the key you ask? Here’s a few simple tricks from people who do it for a living.
One big lie about turkey you see in a photograph or commercial is that the front of the bird is all puffed out, making it look like it has the biggest breasts ever. Well, it’s usually stuffed with mashed potatoes. However, you can create this look for real by stuffing fruits such as lemon, lime and orange wedges, herbs and vegetables like onion and celery under the skin in the neck and chest cavity of the bird to create the same look. This will add great flavor to your bird, while creating that puffed up chest you see on the packages. You can see that same look on just about every actress in Hollywood as well, but that did not happen with fruits and vegetables. Skewer the skin tight against the body, so the skin will tighten as it cooks. To avoid having the wings burn, simply tuck them under the bird. It creates a more stable bird for cutting as well.
Some of us are equally excited about the fall decor! Here are some helpful tips for your tables scapes: Mix metals and metallics! Our Thanksgiving table setting displays an eclectic arrangement of metal plates and metallic chargers. Bronze, silver and pewter spray paint covers the real leaves and and a mix of real and fake pumpkins to scatter the table and fill the lanterns and bird cages. Try your center piece off center! Lanterns and bird cages are great for centerpieces! Especially because they can change with the season: Fill with pumpkins and leaves now, christmas bulbs and pine needles next month. Hobby Lobby has a great selection and are often on sale.
Add some creative sides such as Cranberry Sage Stuffins, Sweet Pomegranate Squash with Spiced Squash Seeds, Parsnip Potatoes, fresh green beans, and some creative decorations, and you have a meal that will not disappoint even the hardest to please in-laws. We hope your Thanksgiving is filled with joy, laughter and an extra helping of thanks. Until next time, remember to
This recipe will help your turkey be the star it wants to be. Golden brown, beautiful skin and juicy meat. Just like in the commercials.
Author: Little Rusted Ladle
Recipe type: Main
1 12-14 lb. turkey, thawed, neck and giblet bag removed, rinsed and patted dry.
4 cloves garlic, halved
2 clementines, cut into wedges
10 baby carrots, halved
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 lemon, quartered
1 small onion, chopped
1 sprig thyme, chopped
2 sprigs sage, chopped
1 sprig parsley, chopped
3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
3 tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp. turkey or rotisserie chicken seasoning
Position oven rack to lower third of oven.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine garlic, clementines, carrots, celery, lemon, onion and herbs.
Turn turkey upside down, then fill neck cavity with mixture. Pull neck skin over and fasten skin to turkey using wooden skewers or toothpicks. Turn turkey over and adjust neck area with your hands to make the front as rounded and smooth as possible.
Spoon remaining mixture into chest cavity, packing it in as you go.
Place turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan. Tuck wings underneath turkey. Bring chicken broth and soy sauce to a boil, then remove from heat.
Place a piece of aluminum foil over chest cavity, so broth does not run into the cavity.
Slowly ladle hot broth over entire turkey. The skin will tighten up and look cooked. Remove aluminum foil, and place turkey in the oven.
Cook for 2½ hours, then remove turkey from oven.
Brush melted butter over turkey using a pastry brush.
Sprinkle seasoning over turkey.
cover ends of legs with aluminum foil and place turkey back in oven.
Roast an additional 2 hours, or until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh.
Remove turkey from oven and loosely cover with foil.
Ask my kids what the best thing I make is, and they will without a doubt say my mashed potatoes. This version is the easy breezy version. Not as good, but better than plain instant. The key is the parsnips. They add just enough natural sweetness that perks up the potatoes. The added broth, cream and potatoes doesn't hurt either.
Author: Little Rusted Ladle
Recipe type: Side Dish
4 small parsnips, peeled, and finely chopped
2¼ c. reduced sodium chicken broth
1 c. half & half
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 tablespoons, divided
2 c. instant mashed potato flakes
hickory salt or kosher salt and pepper to taste
In a medium microwave safe bowl, combine parsnips, broth, half and half and 3 tablespoons of butter.
Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 5 minutes or until parsnips are tender.
Stir in potato flakes and stir until smooth and creamy. Stir in 3 more tablespoons of butter and season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with 2 tablespoons of butter.
If you want really smooth potatoes, strain the parsnips from the liquid after cooking and smash them with the back of a fork, then add back to broth before adding potatoes.
Feel free to boil and mash fresh russet or yukon gold potatoes in place of instant flakes for a more gourmet flavor.
Hickory salt can be found in gourmet grocery stores or in specialty shops.
“Pork chops and apple sauce, that’s swell”. Those of you old enough to understand that quote from The Brady Bunch, are also old enough to have probably tasted enough tough and flavorless pork chops over the years. Apples go great with pork. There is no question about that. But how does a novice home cook combine the two without ending up with a pork chop so dry that you’d have to bury it in applesauce to make it edible? The answer to that question has eluded me for many years until recently. See, I’ve been brining turkey every thanksgiving for years, and the one benefit that brining a turkey has, is that is ensures a very juicy bird. Even when you get caught watching a football game and forget about checking the bird. A brine is basically a salt water solution. When meat such as turkey, chicken or even pork is submerged in a mixture of water and salt, it opens up the pores of the meat, allowing for liquid to be more readily absorbed. By adding other flavorings such as spices, you can add flavor into the liquid that then gets absorbed into the meat. Take a walk down any meat isle and you’ll see many examples of this being done by every meat and poultry company out there.
So why not just buy store bought flavored pork? Well, much like life, too much of a good thing can be bad. Pork only requires about eight hours of brining to create really flavorful, juicy pork chops. Any more than two days, and the meat becomes too salty. Most flavor enhanced, packaged meat in the stores has been there for days. It’s even more likely that it has been sitting in the solution for weeks. This may help preserve the meat, allowing for a longer shelf life, but it does little to satisfy my desire to get the freshest, local food available. It also does something else. It raises the price of the meat you buy. Packaged, raw meat is almost always sold by the pound. So, imagine how that package weight increases by injecting the meat with liquid. For these reasons, it is beneficial to not only know where your pork is coming from, but what is pumped into it.
Now back to pork chops and applesauce. The best way to give pork chops apple flavor and make them retain their moisture is to skip the applesauce, and instead add apple cider to your brine. Fresh apple cider has a very fresh apple flavor and goes great in brines. Add some of uncle Bernie’s local maple syrup, a touch of bourbon, fennel seed, onions, red pepper flakes, black pepper and of course salt to water and you have a brine that will transform your boring, everyday pork chops into gourmet restaurant quality. It also makes chicken, and turkey taste great as well.
For the photos, we used a bone-in rib pork chop with the bones cut longer. There is a reason for this. Many meat departments now get their primal cuts already trimmed up and often already cut into chops. This may be easier for them, but it rarely ensures the freshest pork. We chose a local butcher shop called Sorg’s near Darien, WI for the chops because they cut their meat fresh. If you order extra long bones in your chops, you’ll find out right away whether they get them in pre-cut of cut them in-house. It is just another way of maintaining the highest quality.
I know what you’re saying. “Why all the fuss about pork chops? Well, it is our hope that people realize that what you eat, where it comes from and what it’s flavored with is important. Local products are all around us. By using them in our cooking, we create better tasting, healthier food, while supporting local business. What could be better than that? Enjoy your pork chops and applesauce or cider. Until next time, when Jena and I will delve into the flavors of Thanksgiving, remember to cook with love and live to cook.
The flavors of apple cider and fennel are the perfect combination when brining pork chops or poultry.
Author: Jim Rude
Recipe type: Main
1 qt. cold water
¼ cup fine sea salt
½ cup fresh apple cider
2 tbsp. bourbon whiskey, optional
¼ cup real maple syrup
2 tsp. dried fennel seed
¼ cup diced onion
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 sprigs fresh parsley
1 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh sage
2 8-12 oz. bone-in pork rib chops
Combine all ingredients except pork chops in a 2 qt. container. Stir, then let sit until salt dissolves. Stir again, then add pork chops, making sure liquid covers meat. Cover and refrigerate for 8-12 hours or overnight.
The combination of apple brined pork chops and flavorful winter vegetables such as parsnips, brussel sprouts and cranberries is the perfect dish for a cool autumn night.
Author: Jim Rude
Recipe type: Main
3 strips of applewood smoked bacon, cut into ½" pieces
2 8-12 oz. pork bone-in rib chops, brined (see recipe above)
1 tsp. curry powder
½ tsp. dried basil
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3 small parsnips, cleaned and halved lengthwise
¼ cup apple cider
1 small red onion, cut into strips
½ small bulb fresh fennel, top removed, halved and thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh cranberries, halved
2 cloves garlic, peeled, roughly chopped
4 large brussels sprouts, stems removed, separated into leaves
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Transfer brined pork chops to a plate and dry with paper towels.
In a large heavy bottomed skillet or frying pan, cook bacon over medium heat until browned. Transfer bacon to a small plate leaving remaining bacon grease in pan to brown pork chops.
Meanwhile, combine curry powder, basil and red pepper flakes in a small dish. Sprinkle over pork chops. When bacon is removed from pan, add pork chops and parsnips to pan with bacon grease. Cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes per side or until golden brown. Transfer chops to a plate and set aside. Add apple cider to pan with parsnips and scrape up any brown bits with a spatula.
Transfer parsnips and pan drippings to a small roasting pan or shallow baking dish. Add onions, fennel, and cranberries to pan with parsnips. Add any juices from pork and toss to coat. Roast in oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, place pork chops over vegetables, add brussels sprouts leaves and return to oven. Roast an additional 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are tender and pork is slightly firm to the touch and cooked to medium. Remove from oven. Serve topped with cooked bacon.
Since the pork chops have been brined in a salt solution before cooking, do not season with salt and pepper until after tasting.
If you are like Jena and I, the excitement in anticipation for apple season is almost unbearable. It’s almost understandable why Adam took that first bite of an apple in the Garden of Eden. Apples are sinfully delicious. Wisconsin in October may not be Eden, but if you like a change of seasons, it’s pretty darn close. It’s the beginning of all that is fall. The colors, sweaters, football, pumpkin patches, corn mazes and an almost endless supply of local apple products. Products like homemade apple cider, apple butter, apple cider doughnuts, applesauce, apple pie, and caramel apples, just to name a few. The thought of any one of these makes our mouths water. We, like the hundreds of thousands of other apple crazed people, flock to the orchards that provide us with our apple fix on a given fall day. It becomes a family tradition. I have taken my kids Logan and Kennedy since they were able to walk. I’m sure baby Carlin will enjoy the same tradition in the years to come.
There are over 7,500 varieties of apples worldwide. That’s a lot of apples. So, the question is, what do we do with the apples we get? Apples with salted caramel sauce, apple crisp, apple sauce, or perhaps an apple bourbon cocktail? They are all good options. No, this unbelievably versatile fruit deserved a special recipe that highlights the many options of apple products available. An outrageously rich and delish Apple Upside-Down Cake with Bourbon Apple Caramel Sauce.
This cake is packed with apple flavor. If the most decadent cinnamon roll on the planet was fused with the most gooey caramel apple ever, it would transform into this cake! I adapted a recipe from King Arthur Flour’s website for the foundation. I simply added a couple of things, and then made it twice as good by making it twice the size. If you are wondering what boiled cider is, it happens to be one of the most incredible products ever. The intensity of the apple flavor is insane and you can use it in so many different ways. You can substitute apple juice concentrate, but trust me, it’s worth the investment. It also happens to go extremely well with that Apple Pie Bourbon from our Infused Booze II – Return of the Cocktail article from last year. Stop back next week for another amazing apple recipe. See you at the apple orchard. Enjoy, and remember to
This sinfully rich, apple intense cake combines four different flavors of apple in one recipe. Two kinds of apples, boiled cider, apple bourbon and apple butter. It's then topped with a gooey caramel apple bourbon sauce. Try to resist, we dare you.
Author: Little Rusted Ladle
Recipe type: Dessert
Caramel Apple Bourbon Sauce
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
2 tbsp. butter
¾ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tbsp. boiled cider, or thawed apple juice concentrate
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ cup light corn syrup
1 oz. apple pie bourbon or regular bourbon whiskey, optional
1 tbsp. apple butter, optional
¾ c. vegetable oil
2 tbsp. apple butter, optional
1 tbsp. apple pie bourbon or bourbon whiskey, optional
1 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tbsp. boiled cider or thawed apple juice concentrate
2 lg. eggs
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground ginger
⅛ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 lg. granny smith or honey crisp apple, peeled, cored and chopped
¾ c. chopped pecans, optional
⅛ tsp. ground cloves
½ c. store-bought caramel corn, optional
6-8 ea. dehydrated apple slices, optional
5-6 ea. mint sprigs, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 6" round cake pans at least 2" deep. Line the bottom with parchment, and grease the parchment. Place apple slices in a circle around the bottom of the pan.
Prepare the caramel apple bourbon sauce by heating the butter, sugar, boiled cider, cinnamon, corn syrup and bourbon together over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Pour ⅓ cup of the syrup mixture into the prepared pan, and set the rest aside.
To make the cake: Beat the oil, apple butter, bourbon, brown sugar, boiled cider, eggs, spices and salt together for 2 minutes at medium speed.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking soda. Stir into the batter.
Stir in the chopped apple and nuts until just blended.
Divide batter into each pan by carefully spooning the batter over the apples. Cover them completely. Bake the cakes for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven, and run a thin knife or spatula around the edge to loosen.
Let cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn one cake out onto a serving plate, bottom side up. Scrape out any sauce that remains and spread it over the cake.
Spread half of the reserved sauce over the cake on the plate, then top with the other cake, bottom side up. Pour remaining sauce over the top.
Garnish with caramel corn, dried apples and mint sprigs if desired and serve.
Growing up my mom and I would be into all sorts of crafts. For a while we would make dried flower wreaths which inspired this blog post on dried herb crafts. Jim has an amazing herb wall where we gathered the herbs and started planing our creations: a home decor wreath, dried soup gift with mini wreath and tea swags.
Start by gathering all of your herbs and cut string to ten inches long. For this wreath I made six bouquets, but you can add more for a fuller wreath. Take about two strands of each herb and go from largest to smallest, back to front to make each bouquet. Tie it together and hang upside down to dry. Continue until you have the desired amount of bouquets for your wreath. Let dry for two weeks. Make a circle out of thick wire. I used a jute wire from Jo-Ann Fabrics. Use a thin wire, like floral wire, to attach the bouquets to the circle. Keep overlapping the bouquets until you go all the way around to complete your wreath.
Next, for our dried soup gift we made a mini herbal wreath to tie to the front of the jar. The mini wreath is meant to be used in the soup itself. For this mini wreath we used six tiny bouquets that included basil, parsley, oregano, rosemary and thyme. Follow the same instructions above but only using one piece of each herb. The jute wire circle should be about the size of a quarter. Click here for free printable tags for the dried soup gift.
Lastly, our herbal tea swags are a mix of lemon verbena, lavender, mint and rosemary. Bundle and tie 1-2 pieces of each together. Tie the tags to the tea swags. Hang them upside down to dry for two weeks or use fresh. Add to hot water steep for 3-5 minutes and enjoy! Click here for free printable tags for the herbal tea swags.
Now go out an decorate your kitchen, give a edible gift or have a tea party! Don’t wait until a special occasion, create one!