All posts by Barbara99

Classic Banana Bread Recipe

Banana Quick Bread
Classic Banana Bread

This Classic Banana Bread is super moist and tasty.  Best of all, it’s really easy to make and, apart from the bananas, takes only standard pantry ingredients.  It’s the perfect way to use up extra ripe bananas since Banana Bread is best made with overripe bananas. They have so much flavor and add the extra moisture for which banana bread is known. Continue reading Classic Banana Bread Recipe

MEAL PLANNING – WEEK 5

Here is my suggested meal plan for the upcoming week which is Week 5 in our meal planning series. If you want to check out previous weeks’ meal plans, hotlinks to them are included at the end of this posting.

As with previous meal plans I have published, I’ve provided a list of the main ingredients for each recipe that, for the most part, would probably involve a shopping trip to the supermarket for most. However, as always, read each recipe thoroughly and carefully to create your own list as I have not listed what I consider to be “staple” items like regular milk, butter, eggs, flour, sugar, butter/shortening, oil, spices, etc.

This week, we’ll start off with a baked ham which will give us leftovers for the next day. Continue reading MEAL PLANNING – WEEK 5

How To Make Perfect Scones

Scones
Scones

There is just something absolutely delightful about fresh scones still warm from the oven.  Ever so much better they are when slathered with a dollop of either clotted cream or English double cream and a favorite jam or lemon curd. This posting today is all about how to make perfect scones. Continue reading How To Make Perfect Scones

A Cream Tea to Celebrate 8th Blogiversary

Cream Tea
Components of a Cream Tea

Today marks my 8th Blogiversary. Eight years since I began My Island Bistro Kitchen food blog.  My, how time does fly!

In previous years, I marked this day with some kind of special sweet treat.  You can check those out by clicking on the links at the end of this posting.  It has occurred to me that I have never celebrated the occasion with a simple Cream Tea. And, regular followers of my blog will know I love anything related to a tea event!  So, a Cream Tea it is to celebrate my 8th Blogiversary! Continue reading A Cream Tea to Celebrate 8th Blogiversary

Gluten-free Blueberry Zucchini Muffins

I am not a fan of muffins that have a cake-type texture.  I like the muffins, whether wheat-based or gluten-free, to be deli-or café-style, hearty, and generously sized.  That’s exactly how I have created these tasty Gluten-free Blueberry Zucchini Muffins to be! Continue reading Gluten-free Blueberry Zucchini Muffins

Coffee Hazelnut Energy Bites

These Coffee Hazelnut Energy Bites prove there is more than one way to enjoy coffee!

Energy Balls
Coffee Hazelnut Energy Bites

Energy bites are known by several different names including energy balls, power balls, or bliss balls. A tasty, portable, and convenient on-the-go snack, these bites are great for the lunch bags. They are also  the perfect pre- or post-workout snack. I often take one with me if I am out running errands and they are a frequent snack packed when I travel as they can be consumed on the go.

Energy Balls
Coffee Hazelnut Energy Bites

One of the best places I find for ingredients for these energy bites is my local bulk food store. Here, I can purchase just the precise amount of each ingredient needed for the recipe and I am not left with a big bag or container of some ingredient I might not use for anything else.

This recipe for Coffee Hazelnut Energy Bites calls for Medjool dates.  These are large dates that have a softer, more chewy texture than the smaller firmer dates.  The latter do not have the rich flavor that the Medjool dates have. Because of their soft texture, Medjools are great to infuse with the coffee for these energy bites.

Energy Balls
Coffee Hazelnut Energy Bites

Energy bites freeze very well and I have a stash of about four kinds stowed away in my freezer at the moment as I like a variety to choose from.  Later in this posting, you will find links to other energy bite recipes on my website.

These treats are not difficult to make but, in terms of special equipment, a food processor is required to prepare them and to get the ingredients well mixed.

Energy Balls
Coffee Hazelnut Energy Bites

 [Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Coffee Hazelnut Energy Bites

Ingredients:

5 oz Medjool Dates, pitted and coarsely chopped (apx. 6-7 large dates)
½ cup strong hot coffee (e.g., Espresso)

4 oz hazelnuts, finely ground (apx. 1 cup)
¼ cup smooth hazelnut butter
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted and cooled
2 tbsp cocoa
2 tsp hemp protein powder
1 tbsp ground chia seeds
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/16 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup quick rolled oats (gluten-free, if required), pulsed 4 – 5 times in food processor
2/3 cup shredded coconut

Method:

Pour hot coffee over dates in small saucepan. Cover and let sit 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. Drain, reserving the coffee.

Place drained dates in bowl of food processor. Pulse 8 – 10 times. Add 1 tbsp reserved coffee, pulsing until dates form a thick, pliable, moist, paste-like consistency. Add 1 tbsp additional coffee, if required.

Add remaining ingredients and pulse mixture until well combined. If mixture seems too dry, add 1 – 2 tsp of reserved coffee. Place mixture in refrigerator for 15-20 minutes to chill.

Roll mixture by hand into balls, using approximately 25g of mixture per ball.  Place balls on parchment-lined baking sheet and place in freezer for 20-25 minutes to firmly set. Store, in single layers separated by waxed paper, in airtight covered container in refrigerator for up to five days or, for longer storage, store in freezer.

Yield: Apx. 22 balls

For other energy bite recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

No-bake Chocolate Almond Bliss Balls
Peanut Butter Coconut Energy Balls
Prune and Pistachio Power Balls

Coffee Hazelnut Energy Bites

These no-bake Coffee Hazelnut Energy Bites prove there is more than one way to enjoy coffee! Super great treat for when the energy wanes.
Course Snack
Keyword energy balls, energy bites
My Island Bistro Kitchen My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 5 oz Medjool Dates, pitted and coarsely chopped (apx. 6-7 large dates)
  • ½ cup strong hot coffee (e.g., Espresso)
  • 4 oz hazelnuts, finely ground (apx. 1 cup)
  • ¼ cup smooth hazelnut butter
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 2 tsp hemp protein powder
  • 1 tbsp ground chia seeds
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/16 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup quick rolled oats (gluten-free, if required), pulsed 4 – 5 times in food processor
  • 2/3 cup shredded coconut

Instructions

  1. Pour hot coffee over dates in small saucepan. Cover and let sit 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. Drain, reserving the coffee.
  2. Place drained dates in bowl of food processor. Pulse 8 – 10 times. Add 1 tbsp reserved coffee, pulsing until dates form a thick, pliable, moist, paste-like consistency. Add 1 tbsp additional coffee, if required.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and pulse mixture until well combined. If mixture seems too dry, add 1 – 2 tsp of reserved coffee. Place mixture in refrigerator for 15-20 minutes to chill.
  4. Roll mixture by hand into balls, using approximately 25g of mixture per ball. Place balls on parchment-lined baking sheet and place in freezer for 20-25 minutes to firmly set. Store, in single layers separated by waxed paper, in airtight covered container in refrigerator for up to five days or, for longer storage, store in freezer.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Apx. 22 balls

 

Connect with My Island Bistro Kitchen by:

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(and you can pin the Pinterest-ready photo(s) below to your favorite Pinterest boards)

PIN ME TO PINTEREST!

Energy Balls
Coffee Hazelnut Energy Bites

 

Glamorous Gold Plated Christmas Tablesetting

Glamorous Gold Plated Christmas Tablesetting
Glamorous Gold Plated Christmas Tablesetting

Christmas is, in my opinion, a time of the year when a tablesetting can be well glitzed and glammed up.  If you want to add opulence and glamour to a holiday tablesetting, go with gold.  It shines, it sparkles, it shimmers and glows in all kinds of light, and it has such warm tones. This is my Glamorous Gold Plated Christmas Tablesetting.

The Christmas color theme in my dining room is gold.  It appears on my tabletop tree and in my mantle design.  Therefore, for continuity, my table carries the same singular color theme.

The Backdrop

Basic white is most often the blank canvas I start with when constructing my tablesettings.  It’s neutral and, in the case of this gold-plated tablesetting, it provides a wonderful plain backdrop to let the metallics form the focal point of the table.  Had I left my maple table bare, the gold-colored centerpiece would not have stood out as dramatically as it does against the white backdrop. Conversely, had I used a patterned tablecloth, it would have been very busy and cluttery looking and the effect of the centerpiece would have been completely lost.

Gold Plated Christmas Tablesetting
Glamorous Gold-Plated Christmas Tablesetting

The Centerpiece

Nothing was bought new specifically for this centerpiece.  I have had all the Christmas balls, baubles, twigs, feathers, and berries for years and they have been used for many different purposes at previous holidays. So, I simply went shopping in my own storehouse!

For this setting, I have chosen one large gold ball and then added three or four other different sized balls of a scale that will fit the size of my dining table.  This type of centerpiece is scalable meaning it can be made somewhat larger to suit a longer table. It is important to keep the elements in the centerpiece to scale both to the other components of the centerpiece as well as to the size of table itself.

Glamorous Gold Plated Christmas Tablesetting
Glamorous Gold Plated Christmas Tablesetting

I have used balls/baubles with different textures with some having designs and others perfectly plain.  So, in the centerpiece, I have included balls that are plain satin-finished, glittery, pearlized,  and matte finish.  The balls are in various shades and hues of gold. This adds wonderful texture and interest to the centerpiece plus their finishes play well off each other and they all react to light differently.

Gold Christmas Table Centerpiece
Use a Variety of Balls in Various Textures and Shades of Gold in Centerpiece

I had some gold twigs that I used to create a base for the balls.  To achieve the luxe look, I did not want to introduce any greenery or other color into the centerpiece, save for a bit of ivory in the berries and on ribbon.

The twigs serve the purpose of providing a nest for the balls so they do not roll out of place.  I then started with placement of the large ball, followed by the next sized balls, and so on until I achieved the aesthetic look I was going for, filling in any gaps with smaller balls.  Some gold-colored feathers and ivory berries were added for interest.  Finally, I strategically placed some pretty ribbon bows of ivory and glittery gold  in various places throughout the centerpiece arrangement. By doing this, I addressed any remaining gaps and made the centerpiece look full and luxurious.

Glamorous Gold Plated Christmas Tablesetting
Glamorous Gold-Plated Christmas Table Centerpiece

The ribbon corresponds with that on my dining room tabletop tree. Tabletop trees are so adorable and I find they are particularly suitable for dining rooms.

Tabletop Flocked Christmas Tree
Beribboned Tabletop Christmas Tree

Candles

As those of you who are regular visitors to my website will know, I am not a huge fan of taper candles. I find they are a bit precarious for my liking for use on dining tables. For that reason, I typically use the more stable pillar candles in tablesettings.  However, in this case, the table has a very elegant and glamorous theme so the tall, slender tapers do work better than the larger pillar candles. The tapers give height and elegance to the table and, because they are slender, they do not obstruct diners’ view of each other. And, of course, tapers burn down faster than pillars so they become even lower as the meal progresses.

Glamorous Gold Plated Christmas Table Centerpiece
Glamorous Gold-Plated Christmas Table Centerpiece

I have a collection of glass candlesticks in various shapes and sizes and many are cut glass with prisms that really do play well to light. This makes them really sparkle on a table, further adding glitz to the tablescape.  It is not necessary to have the candlesticks all matching and I do recommend using ones that vary in height as that contributes to layers of lighting when the candles are lit. Using clear glass candlesticks keeps the focus on the gold in the centerpiece and gives it an airy look. In other words, the candlesticks accent and do not compete with the gold centerpiece.

Glamorous Gold Plated Christmas Tablesetting
Cut Glass Candlesticks Reflect Light and Give an Airy Look to the Centerpiece

I have used two types of gold tapers in this centerpiece.  Some candles have a glittery finish while others have a polished, satin finish.  This adds interest to the centerpiece and does not make it look so matchy-matchy or that it all came out of a box, pre-assembled in a factory. These are the types of details that give a centerpiece a custom-designed look.

Gold-colored Christmas Tablesetting
Different Textured Tapers Add Interest to Table Centerpiece

Varying the height of the tapers as well as the candlesticks, also adds light from different levels  of the centerpiece.  If I can, I try to add about three layers of light to a centerpiece like this – high, medium, and low – so that the centerpiece is really glowing from all angles.  Of course, using an odd number of candles makes the centerpiece more pleasing to the eye.

Smaller gold-colored votives are nestled in around the edges of the centerpiece. To keep the votives clean and free from wax build-up inside,  I have used small tealights that are already encased in little tin holders.  They still add lots of light from the lowest level of the centerpiece. In the photo later on in this post that shows the dinnerware up close, the tea light in a votive can be seen.

Glamorous Gold Plated Christmas Tablesetting
Glamorous Gold Plated Christmas Tablesetting

I do not recommend using scented candles in a tablesetting as they can be quite overpowering and interfere with the enjoyment of the scent of a good meal. Also, anyone with scent allergies can find scented candles distressing. It’s important to always consider the comfort of dinner guests.

Linens

My fall-back for table linen is often a vintage Irish linen tablecloth which is what I have used in this setting.  I am not a fan of busy tablecloth designs or seasonally-themed ones. Tablecloths with Christmas designs, for example, may be pretty but they typically  require plain dinnerware so they are not too busy for the eye. Additionally, they can really only be used at Christmas and must be stored for the rest of the year.

My preference is to go with non-seasonal neutral tablecloths. If I want to have a seasonal design in table textile, I will usually opt for seasonally-themed napkins, like the cotton napkins with the gold snowflake motif shown in the photo below. Because the thread in the motif pattern is glittery, the napkins blend well with this tablesetting.

Christmas Table Placesetting
Snowflake Motif Napkins

I find the best way to fold napkins that have motifs is to use a simple flat fold.  Trying to fold this style of napkin into an intricate or fancy fold would result in the motif and its effect being lost.

Snowflake Motif Napkins
Snowflake Motif Napkins

For that reason, I simply laid the flat-folded napkin over the salad plate so it becomes the focal point of each individual placesetting.

Snowflake Motif Napkin
Snowflake Motif Napkin

Dinnerware and Flatware

Plain gold charger plates frame each placesetting. The gold color connects the placesettings to the centerpiece. Chargers are an easy and simple way to glam up a tablesetting plus they serve a useful purpose in keeping the tablecloth clean should any food escape the dinnerware. We all know it happens from time to time!

Glamorous Gold Plated Christmas Tablesetting
Glamorous Gold Plated Christmas Tablesetting

I have chosen dinnerware with a significant amount of gold metallic color for this setting as it ties in with the gold theme and does not introduce another color. The contemporary metallic gold polka dot porcelain dinner plates add some pizzazz to each placesetting.  The gold-edged salad plates are in a coordinating design.  It is not always necessary (and sometimes it is too much) to have completely matching dinnerware. Mixing dinnerware designs is another great way to create a customized tablesetting look.

So long as the color scheme remains the same and the patterns do not clash, coordinating plates can contribute to a glamorous tablesetting. When mixing dinnerware patterns, it’s a good idea to have one plate with a fairly large design (like the polka dot dinnerplate) and the second plate to have a much smaller design (like the salad plate).

Luxe by Ciroa Gold Polka Dot Porcelain Dinner Plates
Gold Polka Dot Porcelain Dinner Plates and Coordinating Salad Plates

Because there is so much gold color on the table, I did not want to introduce silverware. I have, therefore, opted to use a very simple design of gold-colored stainless steel flatware. I think it is more pleasing to the eye as it holds and carries the gold theme. It is elegant in its simplicity of design.

Gold-colored Stainless Steel Flatware
Gold-colored Stainless Steel Flatware

Glassware

The super tall gold and rhinestone decorated champagne flutes add grand glitter and glam to this tablesetting giving it a totally festive look and feel. When you see glasses like this, you just know it’s party time!

Champagne Flutes
Sparkly Champagne Flutes

Because the flutes are very tall, I used my tallest wine glasses for proportion. They are about 9″ tall and are perfectly plain tulip-shaped stemware. Using tall stemware in this type of setting balances out the height of the tapers.

Glamorous Gold Plated Christmas Tablesetting
Glamorous Gold Plated Christmas Tablesetting

Consider How  the Table Looks in Different Lighting Situations

When constructing a tablesetting, it is important to consider how it looks in different lighting situations in which it will be used.  For example, if the dining event is in the evening, you want the table to sparkle in the candlelight. Notice how the tablesetting takes on a different hue and ambience with just the Christmas tree lights and the lit candles on the table.

Candlelight Tablesetting
Glamorous Gold Plated Christmas Tablesetting at Night

The tablesetting becomes much more dramatic when lit for evening dining. Layers of candlelight bathe the table in soft glowing light and the tea lights in the votives provide great highlights to the setting. It is best to avoid harsh overhead lighting of tablescapes that have bright gold or silver as it can be quite hard on the eye and distracting.

Christmas Candlelight Tablesetting
Glamorous Gold Plated Christmas Tablesetting at Night

This tablesetting will easily carry me through the entire holiday period up to and including New Year’s. There are no flowers to water or wilt and I can easily exchange my plain white dishes for the patterned dinnerware and use other glassware to change up the look without having to touch the centerpiece (unless, of course, it is to replace the candles that have melted their way down in the candlesticks).

Glamorous Gold Plated Christmas Tablesetting
Glamorous Gold Plated Christmas Tablesetting at Night

A beautifully set table sets the tone for a wonderful meal. Using a single color palette that looks polished and sophisticated helps to create an elegant and glamorous tablesetting.

Gold-themed Christmas Tablesetting
Glamorous Gold Plated Christmas Tablesetting

I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into my custom-designed holiday tablesetting.

To view other Christmas-themed tablesettings from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

Snowmen and Snowballs Tablesetting
The Christmas Rose Tablesetting
Blush Pink Holiday Tablesetting
The Christmas Greens Holiday Tablesetting
Just Hear Those Sleigh Bells Jinglin’ Tablesetting
Twas The Night Before Christmas Tablesetting
The Warmth of the Christmas Light Tablesetting
A Tartan Holiday Tablesetting
Pretty Poincettia Tablesetting
Poinsettia Trio Tablesetting
The Holiday Table
The Pink and Green Holiday Table
Purple Tablesetting for the Holidays
Christmas at My Island Bistro Kitchen
Christmas Eve Tablesetting and Dinner
Cupcake Tablescape
Evergreens and Reindeer Christmas Tablescape

Connect with My Island Bistro Kitchen by:

Joining the Facebook page for My Island Bistro Kitchen:  https://www.facebook.com/MyIslandBistroKitchen/

Following “the Bistro” on Twitterhttps://twitter.com/PEIBistro/

Seeing the drool-worthy gallery of mouth-watering food photos from My Island Bistro Kitchen on Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/peibistro/

Following “the Bistro” on Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.ca/peibistro/

(and you can pin the Pinterest-ready photo(s) below to your favorite Pinterest boards)

Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce

Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce
Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce

Homemade cranberry sauce is so easy to make and tastes fabulous.  This Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce has a wonderful blend of flavors that complement each other nicely.

Pears and cranberries pair well together with the sweetness of the pears balancing the tartness of the cranberries.  The addition of red wine adds a layer to the flavor profile of the sauce and, let’s just say, amps it up a bit!  However, even though red wine is a key ingredient in this sauce, more wine is not necessarily more in this case.  One-third cup of wine is adequate as adding too much wine can quickly overtake the cranberry flavor and become too strong and overpowering.

Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce
Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce

Essentially, this sauce begins with boiling water and sugar together, much in the same way as making a simple syrup.  Some red wine (any kind you would drink will do) is then added along with the cranberries, pear, citrus marmalade, and some pure maple syrup for an extra dash of sweetness.  Stirring the sauce as it cooks helps it to thicken so it is not watery.

During the last half of the cooking process, a pinch of cardamom, a piece of cinnamon stick, and a star anise pod are added for a boost of flavor.  The cinnamon stick and star anise are then discarded once the sauce comes off the stove as their function of infusing flavor into the sauce is complete.  Continue to stir the sauce as it cools because this will really help it thicken.

This sauce keeps in the refrigerator for up to five days.  It freezes very well so is great to have on hand in the freezer.

Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce
Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce

Cranberry Sauce complements any poultry dish.

Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce
Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce

With its stunning rich ruby-red color, this delectable sauce is a fine condiment to any holiday dinner.

Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce
Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce

Complete your next roast chicken or roast turkey dinner with this sauce as a condiment.

Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce
Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce with Roast Chicken

Make some extra and share this sauce as gifts with others.  A jar of this tasty sauce makes a fine host/hostess gift, too.

Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce
Cranberry Pear Sauce Is Great for Gift-giving

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Red Wine Cranberry Pear Sauce

Ingredients:

¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup red wine
2 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 Bosc pear, peeled and cut into small pieces
2 tbsp citrus marmalade
2 tbsp maple syrup
Pinch cardamom
1½” chunk cinnamon stick
1 star anise

Method:

In medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring sugars and water to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and boil, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add red wine, cranberries, chopped pear, marmalade, and maple syrup. Increase heat to medium-high to return mixture to boil then reduce heat to medium-low. Stir mixture frequently throughout the cooking process, for about 8 minutes. Then, add the cardamom, cinnamon stick, and star anise. Continue to cook mixture, uncovered, stirring frequently while cooking it for another 7-10 minutes, or until sauce thickens (it will thicken somewhat more as it is stirred during the cooling process).

Remove saucepan from heat and discard the chunk of cinnamon stick and the star anise. Stir sauce several times as it cools as this will help it to thicken.

Store sauce, tightly covered, in refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for longer storage. Serve sauce cold or at room temperature alongside roasted poultry.

Yield:  Apx. 2 cups

For other cranberry sauce recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

Zesty Cranberry-Orange Sauce
Cranberry Rhubarb Sauce
Cranberry Blueberry Sauce

Connect with My Island Bistro Kitchen by:

Joining the Facebook page for My Island Bistro Kitchen:  https://www.facebook.com/MyIslandBistroKitchen/

Following “the Bistro” on Twitterhttps://twitter.com/PEIBistro/

Seeing the drool-worthy gallery of mouth-watering food photos from My Island Bistro Kitchen on Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/peibistro/

Following “the Bistro” on Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.ca/peibistro/

(and you can pin the Pinterest-ready photo(s) below to your favorite Pinterest boards)

PIN ME TO PINTEREST!

Cranberry Sauce

Snowmen and Snowballs Tablesetting

A number of years ago, I made these snowmen and, this year, thought they should be part of a casual holiday tablesetting that is aptly named “Snowmen and Snowballs“.  So, here they are, all dressed in their finery to preside over the dinner table!

Christmas Tablesetting
Snowmen and Snowballs Tablesetting

These two snowmen are positioned at opposite ends of the table because they can’t be trusted not to engage in a snowball fight!  As you can see, they’ve already been busy with all those snowballs you see on the table!

I am a big fan of using what I already have as opposed to buying new items for tablesettings. In fact, I will often re-purpose decorations and ornaments (especially ones I can’t otherwise find a place for!) by using them in my tablesettings. And, this is exactly what I have done with this tablesetting.

How adorable are these little snowmen votives that adorn each placesetting!

Christmas Tablesetting
Snowman Votive Candle

The napkins are a rosy-pink-red pinstripe on fabric that has a homespun texture.  They are very suitable for this casual tablesetting.  The napkins don’t shout Christmas but are quite  suitable for the season.  They are also napkins I use other times of the year.

I am using my standard white dinnerware and have framed it with a red plaid charger plate on top of a round green placemat. The combination gives a nod to the traditional red and green colors typically associated with Christmas.

Christmas Placesetting
Snowmen and Snowballs Placesetting

Because this is a fun, casual tablesetting, some liberties can be taken with the placement of elements of the placesetting. For example, because space is at a premium on this table, there really isn’t a lot of room for the cutlery on the sides of the placesetting. Therefore, I have casually laid the flatware at an angle on top of the plates as shown in the photo above.

How cute is this lumberjack snowman with his little red toque! This tablesetting is all about creating a vignette and a story and making it fun.

Christmas Tablesetting
The Lumberjack Snowman

I seriously think lumberjack snowman is eyeing up his partner-in-crime, the bird watcher, at the other end of the table and taunting him to a snowball fight! We’ll see if we can get through dinner without snowballs flying between these two!

Christmas Tablesetting
Birdwatcher Snowman

Around, and in between, the two snowmen, I have simply made a base of faux snow. I then just laid some faux greenery, along with some pine cones, mini white twinkle lights, and a string of snowball lights, on top of the snow. The battery-operated snowball lights do double duty in that they are part of the tablesetting story and they also add some unique lighting to the table. The snowballs look eye appealing, both in daylight and at night.

Christmas Tablesetting
Snowmen and Snowballs Tablesetting

I didn’t fuss too much with the placement of the greenery, red berries, and pine cones, all of which are needed to contrast the white snow.

Christmas Tablesetrting
Snowmen and Snowballs Tablesetting

This type of tablescape is a good option for anyone who is not comfortable creating a precise table centerpiece as there really is no right or wrong way to position the greenery.

Christmas Tablesetting
Snowmen and Snowballs Tablesetting

Some of today’s faux greenery is quite a good replica of the real greenery, pinecones, and berries. Plus, it is reusable, year after year.

Christmas Tablesetting
Snowmen and Snowballs Tablesetting

Using both the snowball lights and twinkle lights adds a layer of drama to the tablesetting, particularly for evening dining. Without the layers of lights, the whole center of the table would be quite dark in the evening even with ambient room lighting.

Christmas Tablesetting
Snowball Lights

It’s always important to think about how the tablesetting will look in different lighting situations for different dining experiences. This is especially true if the dining event is in the evening when no daylight will provide natural light in the room.  The snowball lights really pop and come to life after dark. With nothing more than the tree lights, the lit votives, and the snowball and twinkle lights, the table comes to life and provides a cozy, warm, and inviting dining experience.

Christmas Tablesetting
Snowmen and Snowballs Tablesetting

The little votive candles exude a warm, soft glow at each placesetting. I love the detail on these votives. They add a touch of whimsy to the tablesetting.

Christmas Tablesetting
Snowmen and Snowballs Tablesetting

Typically, I would seat guests around all sides of the table. However, no matter how I positioned the snowmen, someone was going to be looking at the back or side of one of the snowmen.  When constructing a tablescape, it is important to ensure that all guests, from all angles, have an equal view of the whole tablescape.

To ensure optimal visibility of all sides of the tablescape in the”Snowmen and Snowballs” tablesetting, a simple fix is to place two guests on each side of the table, leaving the ends vacant. This way, all guests have a full view of the entire tablescape/vignette.

Because the taller elements (the snowmen) are at the ends of the table and the center part is low profile, it is conducive to good dinner conversation among guests. Had I placed the snowmen in the center of the table, their height would have somewhat obstructed the view of diners of their dining companions.

Christmas Tablesetting
Snowmen and Snowballs Tablesetting

I hope you have enjoyed a peek of my whimsical “Snowmen and Snowballs” Tablesetting. This setting is proof that not all tablescapes have to have the focal points of interest dead in the center of the table.  Sometimes, the focal points can be at either end, or indeed, both ends of the table.  This works so long as there is a connector between the two such as the low-profile runner of greenery and snowball lights atop faux snow in this setting.

Connect with My Island Bistro Kitchen by:

Joining the Facebook page for My Island Bistro Kitchen:  https://www.facebook.com/MyIslandBistroKitchen/

Following “the Bistro” on Twitterhttps://twitter.com/PEIBistro/

Seeing the drool-worthy gallery of mouth-watering food photos from My Island Bistro Kitchen on Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/peibistro/

Following “the Bistro” on Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.ca/peibistro/

(and you can pin the Pinterest-ready photo(s) below to your favorite Pinterest boards)

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To view other holiday tablesettings from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

Blush Pink Holiday Tablesetting
Just Hear Those Sleigh Bells Jinglin’ Tablesetting
Glitz ‘n Glamour New Year’s Eve Tablesetting
The Warmth of the Christmas Light Tablesetting
Christmas Eve Tablesetting and Dinner
A Tartan Holiday Tablesetting
Pretty Poinsettia Tablesetting
Poinsettia Trio Tablesetting
The Holiday Table
The Pink and Green Holiday Table
Christmas at My Island Bistro Kitchen
Purple Tablesetting for the Holidays
Evergreens and Reindeer Christmas Tablesetting
Cupcake Tablescape
Twas The Night Before Christmas
The Christmas Rose Tablesetting

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Christmas Tablesetting

Cranberry and Eggnog Drop Cookies

These hearty Cranberry and Eggnog Cookies are good any time but they are especially good at Christmas. This is because they combine traditional flavors of the season – eggnog, dried cranberries, orange rind, pecans, and the warm spices we associate with Christmas – cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.

Drop Cookies
Cranberry and Eggnog Drop Cookies

Cranberry and Eggnog Drop Cookies are easy to make.  Make sure all the ingredients are at room temperature before making these cookies. I do NOT recommend softening the butter in the microwave for baked products as it changes the properties of the butter and liquifies it too much.  For butter at room temperature, I remove it from the refrigerator about an hour before I need it and dice the amount I need into about 1” cubes. This hastens the softening.

For other ingredients (e.g., eggs, milk, yogurt) for which a recipe calls for them to be at room temperature, I usually take them from the refrigerator about 30 minutes or so before using them in a recipe. Simply put, room temperature ingredients incorporate into most batters much better than do cold ingredients.

Christmas Drop Cookies
Cranberry and Eggnog Drop Cookies

Two baking sheets of these cookies can be baked at once with the oven racks positioned in the upper and lower third of the oven.  Rotate the cookie sheets and switch them between racks halfway through the baking to ensure even baking of all the cookies.  These cookies will have a tender texture and be somewhat soft and chewy if they are not overbaked.

I have given a baking time guide of 13-16 minutes.  However, some judgment on the part of the cook is required to determine the baking time for his or her oven because ovens are known for baking somewhat differently. The cookies are done when they are just barely set and the edges and the underneath sides just start to turn a light golden tan color.  Overbaking will result in a harder, crisper cookie.

These festive Cranberry and Eggnog Drop Cookies are hearty, wholesome cookies that freeze well and are perfect for holiday cookie exchanges.

Christmas Drop Cookies
Cranberry and Eggnog Drop Cookies

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Cranberry and Eggnog Drop Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp allspice
1/8 tsp cloves

1½ cups quick cooking rolled oats
¾ cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped pecans

½ cup salted butter, room temperature
¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 large egg, room temperature, lightly beaten with fork
¼ cup eggnog, room temperature
1½ tsp finely grated orange rind
1 tsp pure vanilla

Method:

Position oven racks in upper and lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and spices together into a bowl. Set aside.

In separate bowl, combine the rolled oats, cranberries, and pecans. Set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed. Gradually blend in the brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy, stopping to scrape sides of bowl with rubber spatula, as required. Add the egg, eggnog, grated orange rind, and vanilla. Beat until combined with butter and brown sugar.

Reduce speed to low and gradually add the sifted dry ingredients, Increase speed slightly and mix well until ingredients are incorporated.

Stir in the rolled oats, cranberries, and nut mixture until combined.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonful onto prepared cookie sheets, leaving approximately 1½ – 2” between cookies. Bake 13-16 minutes (rotating and switching baking sheets between racks halfway through the baking), or until edges and bottoms of cookies are light golden tanned. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheets for 2-3 minutes before using a cookie lifter to transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

Store cookies in airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or freeze for longer storage.

Yield: Approximately 2½ dozen

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Cranberry and Eggnog Drop Cookies

These festive Cranberry and Eggnog Drop Cookies are hearty, wholesome cookies that are perfect for holiday cookie exchanges.
Course Snack
My Island Bistro Kitchen My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • cups quick cooking rolled oats
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup salted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 large egg, room temperature, lightly beaten with fork
  • ¼ cup eggnog, room temperature
  • tsp finely grated orange rind
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla

Instructions

  1. Position oven racks in upper and lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, and spices together into a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In separate bowl, combine the rolled oats, cranberries, and pecans. Set aside.
  4. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed. Gradually blend in the brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy, stopping to scrape sides of bowl with rubber spatula, as required. Add the egg, eggnog, grated orange rind, and vanilla. Beat until combined with butter and brown sugar.
  5. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the sifted dry ingredients, Increase speed slightly and mix well until ingredients are incorporated.
  6. Stir in the rolled oats, cranberries, and nut mixture until combined.
  7. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonful onto prepared cookie sheets, leaving approximately 1½ - 2” between cookies. Bake 13-16 minutes (rotating and switching baking sheets between racks halfway through the baking), or until edges and bottoms of cookies are light golden tanned. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheets for 2-3 minutes before using a cookie lifter to transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

  8. Store cookies in airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or freeze for longer storage.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Approximately 2½ dozen

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Christmas Drop Cookies
Cranberry and Eggnog Drop Cookies

The Bistro’s Scotch Cookies

Shortbread
Scotch Cookies

Scotch Cookies (sometimes called “Scotch Cakes”), close cousins of Shortbread, are a must-have Christmas tradition in many PEI households. They are a very common addition to holiday sweet plates. I am often asked if I have a recipe for Scotch Cookies and this is it.

The proportions of the main ingredients in these Scotch Cookies follow the holy grail ratio for traditional Scottish Shortbread – 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter, and 3 parts flour.  What differentiates Scotch Cookies from traditional Scottish Shortbread are the liberties taken with ingredients for Scotch Cookies and their decorations. In that way, I suppose one could refer to Scotch Cookies as a modernized version of traditional Shortbread.

Shortbread
Scotch Cookies

Texture of Scotch Cookies

If you have ever heard someone refer to a cookie as “short”, they mean it has a crumbly texture that melts in the mouth. This texture is achieved by producing a somewhat dry dough which comes from the high flour content in relation to the proportion of fat in the recipe. The use of icing sugar and addition of cornstarch, and only moisture that comes from the butter are also contributing factors. There will be a shortness and crispness to a well-made Scotch Cookie.

INGREDIENTS

Butter

Butter is considered an essential ingredient for which I do not recommend any substitutes in Scotch Cookies. Yes, use the good stuff in Scotch Cookies because you can taste the difference and pure butter is a main contributor to both flavor and the crumbly texture in these cookies.  The cookies may be made with either salted or unsalted butter.  If using unsalted butter, add ¼ teaspoon or a little more of salt to the dry ingredients.

Icing Sugar vs Granulated or Brown Sugar

While traditional Shortbread will typically be made using granulated sugar, I use icing sugar in my Scotch Cookies. Some of you may know icing sugar as powdered or confectioner’s sugar.  I find this sugar gives a much more light and tender crumb in the cookies than does traditional granulated or even brown sugar (called for in some recipes).  Make sure the icing sugar is sifted before measuring out the ½ cup called for in the recipe.

Additional Flavorings

Traditional Shortbread would not typically have any additional flavorings added – it’s basically just the sugar, butter, and flour in Shortbread.  However, I sometimes like to add just a small amount each of pure vanilla and almond flavoring in my Scotch Cookies.  These flavorings are entirely optional in this recipe.  If added, they should be in very small amounts – i.e., ¼ tsp and 1/8 tsp, respectively.  These cookies are meant to taste like butter and adding too much flavoring will interfere with that pure flavor so do exercise caution in how much is added.

Cornstarch

My recipe calls for 1/3 cup cornstarch to which I attribute the melt-in-your-mouth tender texture in the cookies. Mix it in with the flour before incorporating it into the butter/sugar mixture. Cornstarch works magic in combination with the other ingredients to create the “shortness” texture in the cookies.

Flour

Basic, all-purpose flour is fine to use in Scotch Cookies. No special flour is required.

No Leavening in Scotch Cookies

There is no leavening in Scotch Cookies which makes the dough great from which to cut shapes since the stiff, dry dough retains its shape during baking.

Shortbread
Scotch Cookies

MEASURING INGREDIENTS

When measuring the icing sugar and cornstarch, as well as the flour, make sure you use an accurate measure.  To measure, simply spoon the dry ingredients into the measuring cups without stirring, and then, with the flat side of a table knife, level off the excess.  Do not pack the dry ingredients into the cup, tap the measuring cup with the spoon to settle the dry ingredients into the cup, or tamp the cup on the counter to make room for more.  This will result in an inaccurate measure of the ingredients and may cause the dough to be overly dry if too much of these ingredients is used.

TEXTURE OF DOUGH AND CHILLING DOUGH

Shortbread/Scotch Cookie dough is considered a dry dough as no liquid is added, save for the moisture that comes from the butter.  The dough texture will be soft when mixed.  Placing it in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes or so to chill will help it to firm up enough to roll out and cut out shapes.  The dough for Scotch Cookies should not be over-kneaded or worked as it will get the gluten in the flour all excited and stirred up resulting in tough cookies.  Just work it enough that the dough comes together and can be rolled out to about ¼“ thickness. The scraps of dough should be handled in the same manner until all the dough has been cut out in shapes. Minimal handling of the dough is one of the keys to tender Scotch Cookies.

I recommend dividing the dough in half and forming discs with each half.  It is a smaller amount of dough to work with at a time, especially for gathering up and re-working the dough for the remainder of the cookie cutting.

CUTTING OUT SCOTCH COOKIES

Scotch Cookies are intended to be small, dainty cookies, about two-bite size.

Because the dough is a dry dough, it does not spread during baking. It, therefore, lends itself well to being cut with any shape of cutter desired.  I recommend a cookie cutter of about 1¾ – 2” in diameter as a suitable size.

Shortbread
Scotch Cookies

BAKING THE SCOTCH COOKIES

I use insulated cookie sheets lined with parchment paper for baking my Scotch Cookies.  I find the insulated sheets give a bit more protection for the cookies from the heat. That is not to say that other cookie sheets do not work well.

The oven rack should be positioned in the center of the oven to allow good air circulation for the cookies to bake evenly. The cookies (of the size indicated in this recipe) are baked in a slow oven (300°F) for about 22-24 minutes. They will be almost the same color when baked as was the dough. They should not be brown on the edges or the underside side as they are meant to be very pale and delicate. Once removed from the oven, let the cookies rest 3-4 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

DECORATING SCOTCH COOKIES

A significant difference between Scotch Cookies and Shortbread is that Shortbread is left plain, unfrosted.  With Scotch Cookies, however, liberties can be taken to decorate them with a small dob of icing piped in the center of each cookie which may, if desired, be decorated with a small bit of very well drained maraschino cherry, a dragée, or quinns of choice as I have done in the photos here with the holly leaves and berries. The cookies can, of course, be left unfrosted, if desired.

Decorated Scotch Cookies
Scotch Cookies Decorated with Christmas Quinns

STORING SCOTCH COOKIES

Undecorated, the cookies can be stored in layers separated by wax paper in an airtight container in a cool location for about 4-5 days.  Alternatively, they can be frozen for longer storage.  If applying icing and decorations to the cookies, I recommend doing so just before serving.  This will ensure no damage occurs to the icing or decorations during storage plus the cookies are easier stored in layers, undecorated.

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

The Bistro’s Scotch Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup salted butter, room temperature
½ cup sifted icing sugar (aka confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar)
¼ tsp vanilla (optional)
1/8 tsp almond flavoring (optional)
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch

Method:

In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed until it is light in color and very soft and smooth, about 3-4 minutes. Reduce the speed and gradually add the icing sugar, continuing to beat the mixture until blended and smooth, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if required. Beat in the vanilla and almond flavoring, if using.

Sift the flour and cornstarch together. With mixer set on low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix until all are incorporated, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as required. Mixture will be soft. Divide dough in half and form each half into a disc shape. Wrap discs separately in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes, or just until dough becomes firm enough to roll out.

Position oven rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 300°F. Line cookie sheet(s) with parchment paper.

Remove dough from refrigerator and, on very lightly floured surface, roll each disc of dough evenly to approximately ¼“ thick. With lightly floured cookie cutter of choice about 1¾“ – 2” in diameter, cut out shapes and transfer cookies to prepared baking sheet. Gather and re-roll scraps of dough until all dough has been used up and cut out into shapes, being careful not to overwork dough. Place cookies about 1½” apart on the prepared baking sheet(s). Bake 22-24 minutes, or until cookies are just set. Cookies will be very light colored. Note that baking times will need to be adjusted if other sized cookie cutters are used.

Remove cookies from oven and leave on baking sheet for about 3-4 minutes before, using a flat cookie lifter, transferring them to wire rack to cool completely.

Cookies may be left plain or a small dab of icing may be piped on to center of each cookie and then, if desired, topped with a small bit of well-drained maraschino cherry, dragée or quinns of choice.

Yield:  Apx. 3 – 3½ dozen cookies. [Note that exact yield will depend on thickness to which dough is rolled and the size of cutter used.]

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Following “the Bistro” on Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.ca/peibistro/

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Shortbread
Scotch Cookies

PRINTABLE RECIPE:

The Bistro’s Scotch Cookies

These melt-in-the-mouth Scotch Cookies have a delectable buttery flavor and a tender light crumb.
Course Sweet Treats
Cuisine Canadian
Keyword Scotch Cakes, Scotch Cookies, shortbread
My Island Bistro Kitchen My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup sifted icing sugar (aka confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp almond flavoring (optional)
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch

Instructions

  1. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed until it is light in color and very soft and smooth, about 3-4 minutes. Reduce the speed and gradually add the icing sugar, continuing to beat the mixture until blended and smooth, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if required. Beat in the vanilla and almond flavoring, if using.
  2. Sift the flour and cornstarch together. With mixer set on low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix until all are incorporated, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as required. Mixture will be soft. Divide dough in half and form each half into a disc shape. Wrap discs separately in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes, or just until dough becomes firm enough to roll out.
  3. Position oven rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 300°F. Line cookie sheet(s) with parchment paper.
  4. Remove dough from refrigerator and, on very lightly floured surface, roll each disc of dough evenly to approximately ¼“ thick. With lightly floured cookie cutter of choice about 1¾“ – 2” in diameter, cut out shapes and transfer cookies to prepared baking sheet. Gather and re-roll scraps of dough until all dough has been used up and cut out into shapes, being careful not to overwork dough. Place cookies about 1½” apart on the prepared baking sheet(s). Bake 22-24 minutes, or until cookies are just set. Cookies will be very light colored. Note that baking times will need to be adjusted if other sized cookie cutters are used.
  5. Remove cookies from oven and leave on baking sheet for about 3-4 minutes before, using a flat cookie lifter, transferring them to wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Cookies may be left plain or a small dab of icing may be piped on to center of each cookie and then, if desired, topped with a small bit of well-drained maraschino cherry, dragée or quinns of choice.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Apx. 3 – 3½ dozen cookies. [Note that exact yield will depend on thickness to which dough is rolled and the size of cutter used.]

 

Coconut Date and Cherry Square

Coconut Date and Cherry Square
Coconut Date and Cherry Squares

These Coconut Date and Cherry Squares are one of the easiest squares to make as there is only the one layer.  Simply place the coconut, dates, cherries, and pecans in a large bowl. Stir in sweetened condensed milk and transfer mixture to a baking pan.  How easy is that!

The trick is not to overbake the square as it will dry out.  Just bake it until it barely starts to turn golden on the edges and it will stay lovely and moist. It’s a supremely lovely treat with a cup of tea (or coffee)!

Coconut Date and Cherry Square
Coconut Date and Cherry Square

A simple way to deal with icing and cutting squares is to leave a bit of parchment overhang when lining the baking pan with parchment paper.  This “overhang” can then be used to easily lift the square, once completely cooled, from the pan.  This makes it very easy to ice and cut the square and the knife does not damage the finish on the baking pan when squares are cut.

One thing I like to do with my squares is cut off the outside edges by about 1/4″ all around the square.  This gives every cut square a nice tidy, even edge.

While this square is fabulous any time of the year, the wonderful delicious flavors of coconut, dates, cherries, and pecans also make this square a great addition to holiday sweet trays.  Of course, the delectable icing with a drizzle of chocolate on top is the crowning glory. While the chocolate drizzle is optional, it does add interest to the white icing. No need to fuss with how the drizzle goes on – just use either a fork or a spoon and quickly drizzle the chocolate any which way!

Coconut Date and Cherry Squares
Coconut Date and Cherry Squares

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Coconut Date and Cherry Squares

Ingredients:

2½ cups medium shredded non-sweetened coconut
2 cups dates, chopped
½ cup maraschino cherries, very well drained, cut into pieces
½ cup pecans, chopped
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (no substitutes)
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt

Icing:

½ cup + 1 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
2½ cups sifted icing sugar (aka powdered or confectioner’s sugar)
2 – 2¼ tbsp milk or water
½ tsp almond flavoring (or vanilla)

1 – oz square semi-sweet chocolate (optional)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line 9”x9” baking pan with parchment paper, leaving just enough overhang that there are “handles” to easily grip and lift the square from the pan when cooled.

In large bowl, combine the coconut, dates, maraschino cherries, and pecans. Mix the vanilla and salt into the sweetened condensed milk and pour over the coconut, dates, cherries, and pecans. Stir well to combine ingredients. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for about 22- 25 minutes, or just until edges of square start to turn light golden brown. Do not overbake. Remove square from oven and transfer to wire rack to cool in pan completely before icing. When completely cooled, lift square from pan.

To prepare icing, place butter in bowl of stand mixer and beat at medium speed until creamy. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the icing sugar. Add the milk (or water), a couple of teaspoons at a time, along with the almond flavoring. Increase speed to medium-low to blend ingredients. Increase speed to high and beat an additional minute to ensure ingredients are well combined and icing is smooth. Additional milk or water may be required to make icing of desired spreading consistency. If adding additional milk or water, add by ½ teaspoon at a time. Icing should be of spreading consistency but not “soupy”.

Spread icing evenly over cooled square. Melt the chocolate square in small dish in microwave. Using a fork or spoon, drizzle chocolate in desired design over icing. Cut squares into desired size. Squares freeze well.

Yield: One 9”x9” pan of squares

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Coconut Date and Cherry Squares

Full of delicious flavors, this easy-to-make Coconut Date and Cherry Square is perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.
Course Dessert
Keyword iced squares, squares
My Island Bistro Kitchen My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • cups medium shredded non-sweetened coconut
  • 2 cups dates, chopped
  • ½ cup maraschino cherries, very well drained, cut into pieces
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (no substitutes)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Icing:
  • ½ cup + 1 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
  • cups sifted icing sugar (aka powdered or confectioner’s sugar)
  • 2 – 2¼ tbsp milk or water
  • ½ tsp almond flavoring (or vanilla)
  • 1 oz square semi-sweet chocolate (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line 9”x9” baking pan with parchment paper, leaving just enough overhang that there are “handles” to easily grip and lift the square from the pan when cooled.

  3. In large bowl, combine the coconut, dates, maraschino cherries, and pecans. Mix the vanilla and salt into the sweetened condensed milk and pour over the coconut, dates, cherries, and pecans. Stir well to combine ingredients. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for about 22- 25 minutes, or just until edges of square start to turn light golden brown. Do not overbake. Remove square from oven and transfer to wire rack to cool in pan completely before icing. When completely cooled, lift square from the pan.

  4. To prepare icing, place butter in bowl of stand mixer and beat at medium speed until creamy. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the icing sugar. Add the milk (or water), a couple of teaspoons at a time, along with the almond flavoring. Increase speed to medium-low to blend ingredients. Increase speed to high and beat an additional minute to ensure ingredients are well combined and icing is smooth. Additional milk or water may be required to make icing of desired spreading consistency. If adding additional milk or water, add by ½ teaspoon at a time. Icing should be of spreading consistency but not “soupy”.
  5. Spread icing evenly over cooled square. Melt the chocolate square in small dish in microwave. Using a fork or spoon, drizzle chocolate in desired design over icing. Cut squares into desired size. Squares freeze well.

Recipe Notes

Yield: One 9”x9” pan of squares

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Granola
Pumpkin Spice Granola

Oh, the divine tantalizing scent in the house when this homemade Pumpkin Spice Granola is baking in the oven!  The combination of pumpkin purée and warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and ginger make this a winner!  If you want a clean, healthy breakfast cereal, or snack food, free of preservatives and additives, this granola is for you.

This is chunky style granola which means binding agents are needed to clump and hold the ingredients together.  In this granola, that includes pumpkin purée, applesauce, maple syrup, and the mother of all food glue, an egg white beaten till frothy.  I do add a couple of tablespoons of oat flour to this recipe and I have labeled it as an optional ingredient.  This means the granola is fine without it but the oat flour does, along with the ground flax and chia seeds, give something extra for the syrup to cling to and it does help bind the ingredients together.  If you don’t have oat flour and wish to add it, you can simply toss some rolled oats into a small food processor, or even a coffee grinder, and grind them into fine flour.

In addition to the binding ingredients, the other thing that is necessary to keep the granola clumpy and chunky is not to stir it while it bakes and to leave it in the pan, undisturbed, for approximately 30 minutes after it comes out of the oven.  This helps the granola crisp up and then it can be broken into desired size chunks.

granola
Pumpkin Spice Granola served with Greek yogurt and fresh pear

Typically, I don’t add nuts or whole seeds to my granola but a pumpkin-flavored granola just seemed to call for them.  Any favorite nuts or seeds can be used.  Slivered almonds and pistachios pair well with the pumpkin so those are my choices for this granola.  I do include these nuts in with the rolled oat mixture that gets baked in the oven.  The pumpkin and sunflower seeds, on the other hand, are very small and delicate.  As such, they are very susceptible to easily burning.  My preference is to buy these seeds already roasted and add them along with the raisins and dried fruit after the rolled oats mixture has been baked.  I recommend the same thing with coconut, preferring to buy it already toasted as it can burn very quickly, ruining the flavor of the granola.

Bulk food stores are great places to buy ingredients for granola as one can buy just the amounts needed instead of buying a big bag of one ingredient and only using 1/3 cup of it with no plans for the rest of the bag’s contents.  The great thing about granola is, once you have a good recipe for the syrup and spices, you can swap out any of the dried fruits, seeds, and nuts so long as you replace them and keep the new substitute(s) in the same quantity/weight.  So, if you don’t like raisins, for example, simply swap them out for the same quantity of another dried fruit like cherries, cranberries, apricots, etc.

Granola
Pumpkin Spice Granola

Add the dried fruits and raisins after the rolled oat mixture has baked and cooled.  Adding these before the baking process will turn the fruits into hard, tough little nuggets which are not pleasant to eat.

This granola is a staple in my freezer.  There are  so many different ways in which it can be used.  I use it on its own as a cereal and, sometimes, I’ll top oatmeal or a cold cereal with it.

Granola
Pumpkin Spice Granola

It’s also great to serve alongside (or on top of) Greek yogurt and some fresh fruit.

Granola
Pumpkin Spice Granola

Toss some of the Pumpkin Spice Granola on top of a salad to add some extra crunch and texture.  Or, simply eat it, as is, as a snack.

granola
Pumpkin Spice Granola

Of course, homemade Pumpkin Spice Granola makes a great gift, too.  Package it attractively in a small cellophane bag or in a glass jar.

granola
Pumpkin Spice Granola

Add a ribbon and it makes a nifty host/hostess gift or small remembrance for someone. I love to give consumable gifts as they don’t clutter up anyone’s life and who doesn’t love a treat from someone else’s kitchen!

Granola
Pumpkin Spice Granola Makes a Great Gift

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Ingredients:

½ cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut oil, liquid state
2 tbsp applesauce
2 tbsp light brown sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla
1¼ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp allspice
¼ tsp cloves
1/8 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp mace (optional)
½ tsp fine sea salt

3 cups old-fashioned large flake rolled oats
½ cup slivered almonds
½ cup shelled pistachios
2 tbsp oat flour (optional)
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
2 tbsp ground chia seeds

1 extra-large egg white

2/3 cup golden raisins
½ cup sultana raisins
½ cup dried mixed fruit (e.g., cranberries, cherries, blueberries)
1/3 cup diced dried apricots
¼ cup hemp hearts
½ cup roasted pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup roasted sunflower seeds
½ cup toasted coconut flakes

Method:

In small saucepan, combine the pumpkin purée, maple syrup, coconut oil, applesauce, brown sugar, and vanilla. Stir over medium-low heat until mixture is well blended and heated. Do not boil. Stir in spices and sea salt. Cool for about 20 minutes.

While the syrup is cooling, combine rolled oats, almonds, pistachios, oat flour, ground flax and chia seeds in large bowl.
In separate large bowl, combine raisins, dried mixed fruit, apricots, hemp hearts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and toasted coconut flakes. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spray lightly with cooking oil.

Beat egg white until frothy.

Pour cooled syrup over rolled oats mixture. Stir in the frothy egg white to coat the rolled oats mixture.

Spread oat mixture evenly in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Pat down with the back of a spatula. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until oats are a deep caramel color and start to get crispy and fragrant. Do not stir mixture during the baking. If granola starts to brown quickly, rotate the baking sheet in the oven and/or reduce the heat. Remove pan from oven and cool granola in pan for about 30 minutes. Break granola into desired sized pieces and add to the large bowl containing the dried fruit and seeds. Stir to combine all ingredients.

Store granola in airtight container at room temperature for 5-7 days or store in freezer for longer use.

Yield: Apx. 2½ pounds

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Pumpkin Spice Granola

Perfectly flavored with warm autumnal spices, this chunky style Pumpkin Spice Granola has great flavor and texture. Perfect for breakfast, snacking, and gift giving.
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Canadian
Keyword granola, pumpkin spice granola
My Island Bistro Kitchen My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • ½ cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, liquid state
  • 2 tbsp applesauce
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla
  • tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp mace (optional)
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 3 cups old-fashioned large flake rolled oats [gluten-free if required]
  • ½ cup slivered almonds
  • ½ cup shelled pistachios
  • 2 tbsp oat flour (optional) [gluten-free, if required]
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 2 tbsp ground chia seeds
  • 1 extra-large egg white
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup sultana raisins
  • ½ cup dried mixed fruit (e.g., cranberries, cherries, blueberries)
  • 1/3 cup diced dried apricots
  • ¼ cup hemp hearts
  • ½ cup roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup roasted sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup toasted coconut flakes

Instructions

  1. In small saucepan, combine the pumpkin purée, maple syrup, coconut oil, applesauce, brown sugar, and vanilla. Stir over medium-low heat until mixture is well blended and heated. Do not boil. Stir in spices and sea salt. Cool for about 20 minutes.
  2. While the syrup is cooling, combine rolled oats, almonds, pistachios, oat flour, ground flax and chia seeds in large bowl.
  3. In separate large bowl, combine raisins, dried mixed fruit, apricots, hemp hearts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and toasted coconut flakes. Set aside.
  4. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spray lightly with cooking oil.
  5. Beat egg white until frothy.
  6. Pour cooled syrup over rolled oats mixture. Stir in the frothy egg white to coat the rolled oats mixture.
  7. Spread oat mixture evenly in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Pat down with the back of a spatula. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until oats are a deep caramel color and start to get crispy and fragrant. Do not stir mixture during the baking. If granola starts to brown quickly, rotate the baking sheet in the oven and/or reduce the heat. Remove pan from oven and cool granola in pan for about 30 minutes. Break granola into desired sized pieces and add to the large bowl containing the dried fruit and seeds. Stir to combine all ingredients.
  8. Store granola in airtight container at room temperature for 5-7 days or store in freezer for longer use.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Apx. 2½ pounds

For Other Great Granola Recipes From My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

Nut-free Granola
Clumpy Almond Butter Granola

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Granola

Gluten free Carrot Zucchini Muffins

gluten free muffins
Gluten-free Carrot Zucchini Muffins

These Carrot Zucchini Muffins are so packed full of flavor!  Even though they are gluten free, that should not be construed that any one who is not celiac or gluten-sensitive cannot eat them. In fact, I would be very surprised if anyone could guess they are gluten free!

The muffins rise and dome beautifully into just the right contoured shape for a perfect muffin.  Adding the streusel topping is such a treat on these muffins.  It not only dresses them up and adds texture but it makes the muffins ever so tasty by adding additional flavor.

Gluten-free Muffins
Gluten-free Carrot Zucchini Muffins with Streusel Topping

When I started developing gluten-free muffins, I soon discovered that, in order for them to closely replicate wheat-based muffins and have that deli quality I so desire in muffins, the gluten-free version takes a mixture of flours and starches.  Simply using a gluten-free all-purpose flour or the cup-for-cup/1-to-1 flour will not substitute well for these muffins.  The thing about gluten-free flours is that they each have their own unique properties and, for the most part, they cannot be substituted, cup-for-cup, for other flours. Nor, can an ingredient be left out without affecting the success of the baked good. Some flours, for example, absorb more liquid than others and that affects the amount of liquid ingredients required in a recipe.

Gluten-free Muffins
Gluten-free Carrot Zucchini Muffins

From experience, I can say it takes several attempts at perfecting gluten-free baking with speciality flours.  However, I have done that work for you, testing, and re-testing several times, each recipe I develop and publish to ensure it can be made with success in the kitchens of others, provided the baker follows my directions exactly, makes no ingredient substitutions, or leaves no ingredient out. Every ingredient (except maybe the spices) contributes to the batter consistency and texture of the finished product.

Gluten-free Muffins
Gluten-free Carrot Zucchini Muffins

The  Carrot Zucchini Muffins are a great way to add (hide!) vegetables into a muffin. Apart from their wonderful flavor, these two vegetables also add moisture to the batter.

Gluten-free Muffins
Gluten-free Carrot Zucchini Muffins

The texture of these Carrot Zucchini Muffins is moist and tender and the interior of the muffins show a somewhat coarse yet uniform interior crumb with small irregular air holes, characteristic of a well-constructed muffin.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Gluten Free Carrot Zucchini Muffins

Ingredients:

2/3 cup sorghum flour
½ cup gluten-free quick cooking rolled oats
¼ cup brown rice flour
¼ cup coconut flour
¼ cup + 2 tbsp oat flour
2½ tbsp potato starch
2 tbsp ground chia seeds
1 tbsp + ¾ tsp tapioca starch
1½ tsp zanthan gum
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
Pinch cloves

½ cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1/3 cup coconut oil
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1½ tsp vanilla
½ cup Greek style vanilla yogurt
2 tbsp whole milk
¾ cup shredded zucchini
¾ cup grated carrot

¾ cup raisins

Streusel Topping:

¼ cup sorghum flour
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
3 tbsp quick-cooking rolled oats
1/8 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp cold butter

Method:

Set out the eggs, yogurt, and milk to bring them to room temperature. If using solid coconut oil, melt and let it cool to room temperature before proceeding with recipe. Shred the zucchini and grate the carrot.

Preheat oven to 475°F.

Prepare 12 muffin cups (each at least ½-cup capacity) by spraying each muffin cup with cooking spray or greasing individually.

Prepare streusel topping by combining the flour, brown sugar, rolled oats, and cinnamon together. Cut in the cold butter until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.

Combine flours, rolled oats, starches, ground chia seeds, zanthan gum, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices together in a large bowl. Whisk ingredients well to combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Set aside.

In separate medium-sized bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla. Stir in the yogurt, milk, zucchini, and carrots.

Pour wet ingredients into well in dry ingredients. With large spoon, mix ingredients together just until dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Do not overmix. Fold in raisins.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling almost to the rim of each cup. Sprinkle streusel mixture over tops of muffins. Transfer muffins to pre-heated oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 400°F. Bake for apx. 20 minutes, or until muffins are just firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. Do not overbake or muffins will be dry. Remove from oven and let muffins rest in pans for 5 minutes then gently remove from pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 12 muffins

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(and you can pin the Pinterest-ready photo(s) below to your favorite Pinterest boards)

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Printable Recipe:

Gluten Free Carrot Zucchini Muffins

Perfectly domed, packed full of flavor, and topped with a tasty streusel topping, these Gluten-free Carrot Zucchini Muffins are a special treat!

Course Breakfast
Cuisine Canadian
Keyword gluten free carrot zucchini muffins, glutenfree, muffins
Servings 12
My Island Bistro Kitchen My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup sorghum flour
  • ½ cup gluten-free quick cooking rolled oats
  • ¼ cup brown rice flour
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp oat flour
  • tbsp potato starch
  • 2 tbsp ground chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp + ¾ tsp tapioca starch
  • tsp zanthan gum
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • Pinch cloves
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup Greek style vanilla yogurt
  • 2 tbsp whole milk
  • ¾ cup shredded zucchini
  • ¾ cup grated carrot
  • ¾ cup raisins

Streusel Topping:

  • ¼ cup sorghum flour
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 tbsp quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp cold butter

Instructions

  1. Set out the eggs, yogurt, and milk to bring them to room temperature. If using solid coconut oil, melt and let it cool to room temperature before proceeding with recipe. Shred the zucchini and grate the carrot.

  2. Preheat oven to 475°F.
  3. Prepare 12 muffin cups (each at least ½-cup capacity) by spraying each muffin cup with cooking spray or greasing individually.
  4. Prepare streusel topping by combining the flour, brown sugar, rolled oats, and cinnamon together. Cut in the cold butter until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.
  5. Combine flours, rolled oats, starches, ground chia seeds, zanthan gum, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices together in a large bowl. Whisk ingredients well to combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Set aside.
  6. In separate medium-sized bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla. Stir in the yogurt, milk, zucchini, and carrots.
  7. Pour wet ingredients into well in dry ingredients. With large spoon, mix ingredients together just until dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Do not overmix. Fold in raisins.
  8. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling almost to the rim of each cup. Sprinkle streusel mixture over tops of muffins. Transfer muffins to pre-heated oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 400°F. Bake for apx. 20 minutes, or until muffins are just firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. Do not overbake or muffins will be dry. Remove from oven and let muffins rest in pans for 5 minutes then gently remove from pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe Notes

Yield: 12 muffins

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Gluten-free Muffins

Thanksgiving Dinner for Two

The Thanksgiving Turkey
The Thanksgiving Turkey

So, we all know how beautiful a decorated roast turkey on a platter looks and many of us associate this with the ideal Thanksgiving.  The reality is, however, that many households are small and either don’t need, or want, a large turkey.  The responsibility of getting a turkey properly cooked can be somewhat daunting.  Yet, who among us does not want to celebrate Thanksgiving in a somewhat traditional manner and have the heavenly scent of turkey roasting in the oven.

To show how the traditional elements can be incorporated into a small-scale Thanksgiving dinner, I have prepared a dinner for two.  This meal is easily scalable meaning it can be multiplied to serve the number of guests you have.

I still wanted turkey but I wanted something manageable in size and meat that would cook quickly and without having to have a large roaster.  That’s where fresh boneless turkey breasts come in.  They are available in all sizes, ranging from the small 1-pounders. These cook quickly, especially in a convection oven, and you still get the same wonderful scent in the house as the turkey breast roasts.  The other benefit to a boneless turkey breast is that it is all pure meat.  There is no large carcass to deal with and the meat slices so perfectly for stylish plating.

Roasted Turkey Breast
Stuffed Roasted Turkey Breast

I brine my chicken and turkey.  It makes such a difference to the flavor and texture of the meat.  All I do to brine a fresh turkey breast is let it sit for a few hours submerged in a salt-water brine.  After brining, I pound it somewhat thin, roll some of my stuffing into the breast, and tie it securely.  I then brush the entire meat with melted butter mixed with olive oil and sprinkle it lightly with paprika.  I head to the garden and pick some fresh parsley, rosemary, dill, oregano, and thyme (or whatever blend of herbs I happen to have at the time).  Chopped really fine, these herbs are then sprinkled over the meat which is set on a rack in a small roasting pan.

Roasted Turkey Breast
Roasted Turkey Breast

I am a huge proponent of using a meat thermometer.  This ensures my meat is always cooked properly and stays tender and juicy.  I cook the turkey breast in my convection oven till it tests done on the meat thermometer.  After the turkey comes out of the oven, I loosely tent it with tinfoil for about 20 minutes or so before proceeding to carve it. Comes out perfectly cooked and juicy every time. Easy-peasy.

Roasted Turkey Breast
Sliced Stuffed Turkey Breast

For gravy lovers, the downside to roasting turkey breast is that there are virtually no drippings from the meat which can be used to make gravy.  This is easily enough remedied, however, by making the gravy using poultry stock which is what I have done here from some homemade turkey stock I had in the freezer.

Stuffed roasted turkey breast with pan gravy
Stuffed Roasted Turkey Breast with Pan Gravy

Whether it’s a meal for 2 or 22, I always recommend doing as much of the prep work ahead of time as possible.  In this case, I made the Rhubarb-Cranberry Sauce the day before and refrigerated it.  This is my newest cranberry sauce and it combines two wonderful flavors beautifully.  Either fresh or frozen cranberries and rhubarb can be used for the sauce.  It has the most glorious jewel-toned color and fabulous flavor.  The sauce pairs particularly well with turkey.

Bowl of Cranberry Rhubarb Sauce in foreground with Rolled Stuffed Turkey Breast and Two Stalks of Rhubarb in Background
Cranberry Rhubarb Sauce

For the soup course, I am also featuring my newest soup recipe, Roasted Parsnip and Pear Soup.  For Thanksgiving, I try to use seasonal produce like parsnips and pears.  This soup freezes well so can be made ahead, thawed, and reheated in the microwave.  Or, a batch of it can be made specifically for Thanksgiving and the leftover frozen.

Roasted Parsnip and Pear Soup
Roasted Parsnip and Pear Soup

For the salad course, I have gone with a really simple salad, most of which came from our backyard garden – fresh lettuce, beets, red onion, and nasturtium flowers.  I roasted the beets (though they could be boiled instead).  So, on a bed of lettuce, I placed slices of beets and added some mandarin orange sections and slices of red onion.  This was topped with crumbled feta cheese and the salad was served with a simple vinaigrette and topped with a colorful and edible nasturtium.

Roasted Beets and Mandarin Orange Salad
Roasted Beets and Mandarin Orange Salad

Because I have included both a soup and salad course, it is not necessary to have a number of different vegetables on the plate.  Here, I have included the decadent Duchess Potatoes and colorful carrots which, though basic, add a wonderful pop of color to the plate.

Plated Thanksgiving Dinner
Plated Thanksgiving Dinner

My wine pairing with this Thanksgiving Dinner is a 2016 Riesling from Thirty Bench Winemakers in the Niagara Peninsula. A Reisling is a good choice as it has lots of palate-refreshing acidity along with a slight touch of sweetness to balance and complement the variety of flavors in the dinner.

For dessert, it’s Squash Pie.  I always maintain that, while similar to pumpkin, squash pie has a richer, deeper flavour.

Squash Pie
Squash Pie

I have opted for a very simple tablesetting and I have used items I already own in its construction.  Miniature white pumpkins were placed on three candlesticks of varying heights.  Some hydrangea plucked from my hedge formed a colorful, yet soft-colored, base for the pumpkins. I used three small votives at the base of the arrangement to give a glow of soft light.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece
Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Here’s a closer peek.

Miniature White Pumpkin
Thanksgiving Centerpiece

I intentionally left the tabletop bare because the deep maple wood provides a warm looking canvas for an autumn meal.  Each placesetting was framed with gold charger plates sitting on gold-colored round placemats.  This keeps the tablesetting muted but yet has the warm tones of fall.

To draw the connection of the pumpkin-focused centerpiece down to the placesettings, I simply placed a small pumpkin atop the napkin at each place.

Miniature white pumpkin
Thanksgiving Placesetting

When the napkins have a lot of colorful border design on them, like these, it is sometimes best to just fold them flat on the plate so that the design is visible. Otherwise, the design may be lost in a napkin fold and not be as effective.

Thanksgiving Napkin
Thanksgiving Napkin

Glassware does not need to match.  Here, I have chosen two different vintage pieces from my collection for the wine and water glasses. The tablesetting is clean, simple, and uncluttered. Best of all, it only took a few minutes to create, used items I already had, and the tiny pumpkins cost me less than $4.

Thanksgiving Tablesetting
Thanksgiving Tablesetting for Two

I am a big fan of using white dinnerware as it goes with everything and food always looks so appetizing on a white background.

Roast Turkey Dinner
Roast Turkey Dinner

So, regardless the size of your household, there are options to preparing a tasty Thanksgiving Dinner that still includes the elements we expect to see in a Thanksgiving dinner.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!