Pumpkin and Stout Soft Pretzels

Soft pretzels, pumpkin spice, oatmeal stout

We know, we know…everyone is overdosing on pumpkin spice, it’s a fall cliche, it’s just too hip. But . . . so? We’re not ashamed to admit we love pumpkin spice! In fact, we’re downright happy to ride the pumpkin-spice tidal wave until it crests sometime next week, following the palate-resetting mini-candy-bar blowout that is Halloween.

Stout is very complementary to pumpkin; the flavors work really well together, especially with the addition of warm fall spices, yeast, and a touch of brown sugar.

You can use whatever stout makes your heart sing. (I used our own homebrewed oatmeal stout, which is a damn fine specimen, if I do say so myself.) Canned pumpkin works a treat–but be sure to use plain pureed pumpkin and not pie filling.

Don’t skip the boiling process–it takes only a few seconds and is super simple to accomplish. Make sure to let the pretzels cool before buttering and sugaring them. And this is one case where less is more, as far as the butter basting goes. Too much butter (hard to believe there is such a thing), and your spiced sugar will just clump up and fall off. Restrain yourself.

Click HERE to visit Growlers and Lace for the recipe for these fun-to-make-and-eat soft pretzels.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Beurre Noisette

sweet potato gnocchi, gnocchi recipes, Thanksgiving side dishes, sweet potatoes

Rich little pillows of deliciousness, these hearty sweet potato gnocchi are spiced with fresh nutmeg and finished simply with beurre noisette (which, I believe, means “drink me” in French. Only kidding…”beurre noisette” is just a pretty word for butter cooked until it’s hazelnut brown).

Beurre noisette, also called browned butter, is what young, ambitious butter aspires to be. It makes a ridiculously easy and utterly delectable sauce for anything from pasta to fish, and is a fantastic way to elevate any simple protein or pasta dish to “company” status.

Sweet potato gnocchi are perfect for the fall table. Try them alongside roasted ham, chicken, or pork. Consider starting a new tradition and serving these as a side dish with your turkey this Thanksgiving!

Click here to find this recipe on Eat Real.

Countdown to Thanksgiving: Indian Pudding with Cinnamon Cream

Thanksgiving dessert
Indian Pudding with Cinnamon Cream

We all know that Thanksgiving dessert is all about the pie. But what if it wasn’t? What if we tried something a little closer to the reality of that original Thanksgiving, when no one had a deep-dish Pyrex or even an oven? It’s far more likely that dessert at the first Thanksgiving dinner wasn’t pumpkin pie but Indian pudding, a homespun cornmeal-and-molasses creation fashioned after the Native Americans’ supawn. Colonists at Plymouth, Massachusetts, were likely looking to re-create some familiar comfort foods from Mother England, but lacking the wheat flour or oats that comprised their staple hasty pudding, they made do with cornmeal, courtesy of their friendly new Native American neighbors. Hence the name “Indian Pudding.”

Visit Eat Real for the recipe: Indian Pudding with Cinnamon Cream.

Countdown to Thanksgiving

T-minus 23

Thanksgiving Ent, Bellagio
The Ent, Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas

There are many misconceptions about Thanksgiving. Chief among those is the widely held notion that Thanksgiving is a celebration of family and food, good times and happy meals together, plus some football. Nope. In reality, Thanksgiving is a celebration of survival. Of eating and not being eaten. Of not freezing to death. Of not dying from a ingrown toenail or “catarrh”–whatever that is.

I like family and food as much as the next guy (football not so much), but I really dig surviving. I like waking up. I like feeling better. And I like not being eaten. You too? I thought so.

So this year, I’d like to celebrate survival by helping you traverse the treacherous waters of holiday stress and mayhem. Can we agree that hosting Thanksgiving Dinner–especially if you find yourself solely responsible for it–is right up there with facing down a charging bear or trying to survive a six-month winter in a tent, gnawing on fish jerky and hardtack. [I mean, in terms of the cortisol explosion going on in your body. Obviously, facing a bear may be preferable to hosting two dozen family members with high expectations, assorted food allergies, and picky palates.]

You will survive. I will give you recipes, tips, maybe a giveaway or two…we’ll get through this together. And on Thanksgiving Day, we will sit and eat the bounty of our season of survival with everyone else, and we’ll smile and stuff our faces and take a day off of fighting-and-flighting to simply enjoy ourselves…before we buckle down once again, girding our loins and our larders to face the harrowing struggle of the yuletide season.

Now, go fix yourself a Hot Buttered Rum and put your feet up. You need your strength.