Thanksgiving Food + Pizza = Thanksgiving Pizza

Yep, you read that right. I’ve put two of the most glorious things in the world of food together – pizza + Thanksgiving food. And I may as well just say ‘you’re welcome’ right now, because once you make this, you definitely will be thanking me. And it is the season that we’re supposed to give thanks and all, so it’s nice when things come full circle.

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Bacon Grease Brussel Sprouts with Parmesan Cream Sauce

Baconnnnnnn grease! The mother of all cooking ‘oils’. The secret to taking some of your healthiest dishes (hello B Sprouts!) and making them, well, not so healthy. Honestly, if you’ve never cooked corn in bacon grease, do yourself a favor and put that on your meal plan immediately. And FYI, you can save your bacon grease so you don’t have to cook a package of bacon each time you need the grease. Although I would never argue against cooking a package a bacon up, it’s just if you’re like me, you’ve ate about 5-7 pieces of bacon before you actually finish cooking the package of bacon.

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Spiced Blood Orange Champagne Punch

For Nick’s Thanksgiving I was tasked with food, and Nick with the booze. And not just any alcohol, but fun holiday-ish themed drinks. Buzzfeed came out with a timely article called “21 Big-Batch Cocktails to Get Your Family Drunk on Thanksgiving“, and Nick’s sister promptly forwarded it (one of the many reasons I’m a big fan of his family).

He was tasked to pick out two drinks, and I tried REALLY hard not to interject with my opinion. When it comes to food and drink, I definitely have an opinion, but I exercised some self-restraint and let him choose the drinks to bring. That being said, I had of course taken a looksy through the list a few times. Each time I kept coming back to the Spiced Blood Orange Champagne Punch and I just kept hoping that he would pick it. 
When it came time to make the big decision, he didn’t choose my champagne punch. Not wanting to be a poor sport, but also knowing that I’m picky about my alcohol (When it comes to alcohol, I basically live off of wine, vodka soda water with lime, an occasional Captain and coke, and a filthy dirty martini, but only if it has blue-cheese stuffed olives), I let him give me the recipe run down of his choices.
Now let me be very clear here. I am VERY aware that just because I don’t care for something, doesn’t mean that others don’t like it. I have zero expectations that people like only the same things that I do. So long story short – because good god I’m rambling – I definitely wasn’t on board for one of his recipes, and the other was really heavy on beer. I happen to really like beer, but it makes me SO FULL, so fast, so I can only drink one or two before I have to switch to something light.
It was the perfect opportunity to make my own little batch of the Spiced Blood Orange Champagne Punch. I had enough to share a couple glasses if others wanted, but I just sort of kept it in the corner so I didn’t steal Nick’s thunder. 
Only a few ingredients were required, and I’ll be damned if I couldn’t find cinnamon sticks and star anise to save my life. Enter Amazon Prime! One of the other loves of my life, Amazon Prime had exactly what I needed at a fraction of the price and was here in two days. So. Easy. 
You basically combine the star anise, a cinnamon stick and the blood orange juice, bring to a boil and let reduce for about an hour. Once completed, chill it in the fridge for at least 2 hours and BOOM! Use about 3 tablespoons of the spiced blood orange mix and fill the rest of the glass about 3/4 full with Champagne. Delish. And since I received a pound of cinnamon sticks, I’ll be bringing this to Christmas as well.
Also, I have to note that Nick’s drinks were a huge success!

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Spiced Blood Orange Champagne Punch (Recipe from SpoonForkBacon)
Serves 3-5
INGREDIENTS:
  • 3 cups freshly squeezed blood orange juice or store bought 100% blood orange juice
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 c. dry white wine
  • 1 (500ml) bottle brut champagne, chilled
DIRECTIONS:
1. Place the blood orange juice, sugar, cinnamon stick and star anise in a pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
2. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half – 30-40 minutes.
3. While the mixture is still hot, stir in the white wine until completely combined. Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours.
4. When ready to serve, place 3 tablespoons of the blood orange mixture into the glass and top with champagne!
NOTE: For extra spice, add another cinnamon stick in while you sip!
Cheers!
Heather

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Pull-Apart Stuffing-Flavored Rolls

I don’t even recall how I stumbled upon this recipe. It seems the stars were aligned and the food gods were shining down on me though, because this recipe was one for the books. 

What I do remember was printing it off and pocketing it. Thanksgiving was approaching and I was going to help cook whatever needed to be done. And I was going to cook this as well, regardless of whatever else I was tasked with bringing. Just what every family needs at Thanksgiving – more food!
I had also decided that they were going to be a surprise. I would walk in and proclaim that I had brought the rolls to top all rolls! But as I talked to Nick’s sister and she tasked me with bringing the stuffing,  I kept my surprise rolls a surprise until maybe the 2nd message. When I’m really excited about something, I’m terrible at keeping it to myself. I think it stems from being an only child and not having anyone to tell exciting news to – but this isn’t a self-help blog and I’m digressing. So, the rolls!
They were make-ahead which was amazing for me. Not only did we have stuffing to bring, but we had to bring drinks and I just had to bring my rolls, so it was a huge timesaver to make them the night before. 
So you all know my golden rule by now – PREP! Seriously, I can’t stress it enough. Have everything you need out and ready to go. It will make cooking so fast!

Once all your veggies and herbs are chopped up, cook the sausage, dicing it into very small pieces. This is very important – the smaller the pieces, the better they stick to the rolls. Transfer to a bowl when cooked through.

So the next part I totally spaced on taking pictures.  This was my fault, but not without a little leeway. I was home alone, rolling dough, and had a hard time taking pictures of tying the dough into knots with floury hands. I guess I’ll just have to make these again and get some pictures. Sacrifices.
Anyway, once you have them tied into knots (and mine were NOT pretty or even sized), you’re going to roll them in the sausage mixture.

Next, you’ll line them in a pan and let them sit. 

So here’s where the recipe wasn’t true to form. It said that I could put them in the refrigerator overnight, for 12-16 hours or until they rose. I made it 15 hours before I had to bake them, and let me tell you that there was no rising happening. Of course when I baked them they rose, as dough naturally does, but not a damn thing happened in my fridge overnight. Ultimately, while delicious, the rolls didn’t quite look like the poofy, beautiful rolls that are on the original recipe. Naturally the only solution was to eat them quickly so no one noticed.

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Pull-Apart Stuffing-Flavored Rolls (Recipe from Serious Eats)
Serves 8-10
INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 8 ounces of sage sausage, or breakfast sausage
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (about 3/4 c.)
  • 1 stalk celery, fine chopped (about 1/2 c.)
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 c. minced fresh sage leaves
  • 1/4 c. minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 pound homemade or store-bought pizza dough
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
DIRECTIONS:
1. Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and break into fine pieces (largest pieces should be no greater than 1/4″). Cook, stirring frequently until only a few pits of pink remain – about 8 minutes.
2. Add onions, celery, garlic and sage, stirring frequently until the vegetables are softened – about 10 minutes. Add parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer contents to a large bowl and set aside until completely cool.
3. While filling cools, make knots. On a lightly floured surface, divide dough into two even pieces. Working one piece at a time, roll or stretch into and oblong strip about 8″ long and 4″ wide. With a knife, cut crosswire into 12 strips. Repeat with the other half of dough.
4. Tie each strip into a knot and transfer to bowl with sausage mixture. Toss and fold with your hands until every knot is thoroughly coated in mixture. Grease a 9 x 13″ casserole pan with 1 tbsp. of butter. Transfer the knots to the casserole dish in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, cover tightly with plastic, and set aside until doubled in size – about 4 hours. Alternatively, refrigerate until doubled in size – 12-16 hours.
5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 425 degrees and adjust oven rack to center position. Unwrap rolls. Transfer to oven and bake until golden brown and crisp – 25-30 minutes.
6. When rolls are almost ready, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the microwave. Remove rolls from oven and immediately brush with butter.  Enjoy!
Cheers!
Heather

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