Giving thanks for second helpings

Thanksgiving is the ultimate time to connect with others; what better way than through their stomachs?

Pumpkin bars.
Pumpkin bars.
Photo: 
Triple chocolate cookies.
Triple chocolate cookies.
Photo: 
Red wine sangria.
Red wine sangria.
Photo: 

It’s that time of year again.Thanksgiving weekend is right around the corner. Whether this means reciting prepared answers about your future career plans to distant family members, watching your uncle John get way too drunk or listening to your cousin’s boyfriend talk about football for the hundredth time, I’m sure there’s one thing that never disappoints: the food, of course!

As soon as October hits, food blogs are overrun with classic comfort foods—from chilli to cheesecake and cinnamon to ginger, it’s easy to allow yourself to be transported to a much simpler time through flavours and textures.

Food blog smittenkitchen.com notes fall as the perfect time to get inspired, since markets are flooded with seasonal fruits and vegetables.

As Food network celebrity chef Jamie Oliver remarks on his website, one of the best reasons to cook with in-season foods is the food is more likely to be produced locally. It will be fresh as ever and you’ll be in perfect harmony with nature’s rhythms—who wants to eat a pie with shrivelled-up strawberries from June, after all?

The biggest fall and Thanksgiving recipe trends incorporate a range of in-season fall fruits like apples, pumpkins, figs and pears.

Whether you’re trying to distract yourself from schoolwork or looking for a way to bond with friends and family, spending some time in the kitchen and getting creative is arguably the best way to escape the incoming autumn chill.

Pumpkin bars

A classic favourite—Re-vamped!
Yields 48 small or 24 large bars
Cook time: 30 mins

Ingredients
Bars:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 15-ounce can pumpkin
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Icing:

  • 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350
degrees F.
Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy. Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth. Spread the batter into a greased 13 by 10-inch baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting. Cut into bars.
To make the icing: Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and mix at low speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla and mix again. Spread on cooled pumpkin bars.

Triple chocolate cookies

Can you ever have too much chocolate?
Yields 24 servings
Cook time: 12 mins

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, optional
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped dark chocolate (2 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped milk chocolate (2 ounces)
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans, optional

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, mash together the butter and sugars with a fork until well combined. Add the oil and egg and beat until creamy.
Mix in the vanilla.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, and salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Stir in the dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and the pecans and mix well.
Using a tablespoon, scoop the batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.

Apple-bread pudding cake

Apples, pudding and cake had a baby.
Yields 8-10 servings
Cook time: 35 mins

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
  • 2 1/2cups chunky applesauce
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 1-pound loaf sliced whole-wheat or cinnamon-raisin bread, crusts removed
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3/4 cup apricot preserves

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch-square baking pan and line with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; butter the foil.
Mix the applesauce, raisins, lemon zest and cinnamon in a bowl; set aside. Whisk the melted butter, milk and egg yolks in a shallow dish.
Dip half of the bread slices in the egg mixture and layer in the prepared pan, trimming as needed. Spread the applesauce mixture over the bread. Dip the remaining bread slices in the egg mixture and layer on top. Bake until the egg mixture is set and the bread is golden, about
35 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat the egg whites and confectioners’ sugar in a bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Spread the apricot preserves on top of the cake. Spread the egg-white mixture on top of the preserves, forming peaks with the back of a spoon. Return to the oven until the meringue is golden, 5 to 7 minutes.
Let the cake cool in the pan, about 1 hour. Lift out of the pan using the foil and slice
into squares.

-All recipes sourced from foodnetwork.com

Red wine sangria

The perfect way to catch up with high school friends over the weekend.
Yields 8 servings
Preparation time: eight mins

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle Spanish red wine
  • 1/3 cup super fine sugar
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced
  • 1 red apple, thinly sliced
  • 1 mango, pit removed and sliced
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 (12-ounce) can seltzer water
  • Ice cubes

Directions
In a large pitcher combine the wine and sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the remaining ingredients, excluding the seltzer, and mix well. Put the pitcher in the refrigerator and let the sangria sit for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours. Just before serving, stir in the seltzer and
ice cubes.

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