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Entertaining, Holidays, Recipes

Wild Rice Stuffing

I just had the most interesting conversation with my Mom.  We were talking about Thanksgiving dinner – and our Wild Rice Stuffing/Dressing recipe. I had been under the impression that it was a Northern Minnesota thing – but she said actually my Grandma started it – so it hits even closer to home! My grandma passed away when I was about 6-mos old – so this is one of those “legacy” recipes that I will pass on to my kids.

So the story goes, the idea was started in the late 50’s or early 60’s by Grandma Alpha when Grandpa Don asked her what they could do with all that wild rice. At the time he was a buyer of the raw rice and would sell it raw. Then one year he had it processed and was selling it already processed and they had a ton of it.

The history of wild rice is uniquely American.  It is actually a grain, and is the only cereal grain native to North America.  Wild Rice is a strong replacement for white or brown rice in your diet.  It is higher in protein, lower in carbs , and is higher in Vitamin A and folic acid.  Its pretty low in fat (depending upon how you cook it) but it is a really good source of Omega-3s.  It’s a great alternative to rice in casseroles and soups.

This is a really cool video about how it was harvested and how it is now harvested.

I cannot imagine a turkey dinner without this stuff. It’s why I have almost always cooked thanksgiving – or had it at mom’s – since I was married and had children. We’ve gone elsewhere a few times, but I always made stuffing and turkey at home so we had “the right stuff” for the holiday!

What holiday traditional foods are you looking forward to on Thursday?

Wild Rice Stuffing
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Wild Rice Stuffing


  • 8-10 C Dried Bread Cubes (cubes are important)
  • 1 C Uncooked Wile Rice
  • 1/2 C (1 Stick) Butter
  • 4-5 Stalks Celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4-6 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 1-2 tsp Poultry Seasoning
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper


  1. In a saucepan bring 3 cups water and the wild rice to a boil. Cover and simmer until the grains start to break apart and curl just a bit - see image above. Be aware - this is going to take AT LEAST 30 minutes, more like 45. This is not a quick cooking grain. Test a taste or two to be sure it's not crunchy - drain. (I usually do this a few days ahead of time)
  2. Dump your bread crumbs into a very large bowl or turkey pan.
  3. Put your turkey (or chicken) stock in a pot to warm, you don't need to boil it, but warm stock incorporates better.
  4. In a large skillet, melt the butter and saute the celery and onion until transparent. Mix in the poultry seasoning and pour over the bread cubes. Stir well
  5. Start adding your warmed chicken stock, you want your stuffing to be pretty moist, but not mushy. The amount you need varies depending upon your type of bread cube and the humidity of the day. Keep adding until the stuffing forms into a ball in your hand and sticks together without crumbling when you toss it from hand to hand.
  6. Stuff your bird (remember, stuffed birds take longer to bake), or bake in the oven, or put it in the crockpot until the turkey is ready!
  7. Enjoy!

Entertaining, Holidays, Menu Planning, Recipes

Beer Braised Pork Roast with Fennel Seeds

It’s that time of year again – fall and winter mean slow and low roasting in a warm oven – with the byproduct being a warm kitchen and a smell that will bring the whole family running.  This roast is so amazing, it could easily grace the table for holidays or company!

I made up this recipe mostly because I have a HUGE jar of fennel seeds and I was looking for something to do with them before they loose their oomph.  Fennel and citrus go well together and I had a pork roast and some Fat Tire Sunshine Wheat beer…so voila – this.

Ah.  Mah.  Zing.

If you don’t have sunshine wheat, you could use something else, but it should be a beer that has some citrus tones in it.

Beer Braised Pork Roast
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Beer Braised Pork Roast


  • Beer Braised Pork Roast
  • 3-4 lb pork shoulder roast
  • 1/4 C Whole Fennel Seeds
  • 4-5 Tbsp Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/4 C Olive Oil
  • 1 C Chicken or Beef Stock
  • 1 12-oz bottle Fat Tire Sunshine Wheat (the citrus and coriander of this beer with the fennel on the roast is AH-MAH-ZING)


  1. Preheat Oven to 300 degrees
  2. Dry the roast well with a paper towel
  3. Coat the roast with the steak seasoning and the fennel - get your hands in there and really press it in.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven until it is snapping hot!
  5. Brown the roast on ALL sides, until each one is crunch and dark brown - this is part of the amazing part.
  6. After the roast is browned - lift it out and line the bottom of the dutch oven with the onion and garlic - place the roast back in and pour over the beer and stock
  7. Braise covered at 300 for about 2 hours
  8. Uncover and raise heat to 375 and continue to braise for an hour or so - until internal temp is about 180 - this means it's fall off the bone tender.


Enjoy!  I served mine with mashed cauliflower and fresh steamed green beans!
Entertaining, Holidays, Recipes, Weeknight Favorites

Nigella Lawson’s Italian Tray Bake – Carrie Style

nigella lawson italian tray bake

I love Nigella Lawson – I love her skin, her accent, her recipes, her skin….okay before I get to “silence of the Lambs” here – lets talk Tray Bake.  Nigella uses butter and olive oil in everything, i think this is why her skin is so amazing….sorry, I’m wandering again……

I saw Nigella Lawson do Italian Tray Bake on her TV show years ago – and have done my own versions ever since.  She doesnt have the recipe posted online or I’d link to it.  We cannot get the cute little sausages she gets in England in my neck of the woods, so I substitute some sweet Italian sausage.  If you like you can mix sweet and hot Italian sausage if you like.  The opportunities to use up veggies here are endless.  You could use Andoullie, corn on the cob, potatoes, onions, garlic and Creole seasoning and make a completely different flavored dish.  Use shrimp instead of sausage, or chicken instead of shrimp.  Just adjust when things go in the oven by how long it will take each ingredient to finish cooking.

nigella lawson italian tray bake

Of course, root veggies work the best, but spring veggies like mushrooms and asparagus are great also.  Timing is everything.  Not every ingredient will cook at the same rate and be done at the same time, so I split this into step 1 and step 2 – here’s my whack at it:

Italian Tray Bake – Carrie Style
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Italian Tray Bake – Carrie Style


  • 1 Package Sweet Italian Sausages, about 5
  • 2 large russet or red skinned potatoes, halved, quartered and chunked up
  • 3 small shallots, peeled & sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced fine
  • 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends removed
  • 1 lb button or crimini mushrooms, stems removed
  • 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper


  1. Preheat Oven to 400 Degrees
  2. Step 1 - On a large backing tray toss Sausages, raw potato, shallot, garlic and 2 Tbsp Olive Oil - add salt & pepper. Scoot so this is on 1/2 of the tray. Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are about 1/2 done
  3. Step 2 - In a bowl or on another tray - toss the mushrooms and asparagus with the remaining 2 Tbsp of Olive Oil and salt & pepper - set aside. When the potatoes in step 1 are about halfway done, add this to the other half of the sausage tray and continue to roast, for about 20-25 more minutes, give or take.
  4. When done, toss everything together and serve with a crusty bread
  5. Enjoy!

Holidays, Recipes, Veggies and Fruit

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Honey & Pecan Topping

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

This side dish is a staple on our holiday table, but honestly it’s good any time of year.  Consider varying the spices and topping to accommodate your tastes, but this is the best version I’ve ever had.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Honey & Pecan Topping
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  • 3-4 lbs Sweet Potatoes
  • 1/4 Cup Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Milk or Cream
  • 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/4 Tsp Cloves
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt
  • 3/4 Cup Pecans, chopped
  • 3-4 Tbsp Clover Honey


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into like-size chunks - I generally do 1-2 inch chunks. Cover with cold water and bring them to a low boil and simmer until soft
  3. Drain and dump into the bowl of your mixer while still hot, add the butter, milk or cream, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cloves and mash/whip until smooth.
  4. Slide into a greased baking dish and level
  5. Top with chopped pecans and drizzle the honey over the top
  6. Bake for 30 minutes

Budget Friendly, Holidays, Odds & Ends, Recipes, Weeknight Favorites

Leftover Turkey Chili

Leftover Turkey Chili Recipe

I’m always on the lookout for leftover recipes.  This turkey chili recipe uses holiday leftovers, but you could easily use leftover chicken, like a rotisserie chicken.  It uses canned beans, you could use dried very easily and have no problem at all.  I recommend the white dried great northern beans.  They’re easy to deal with and don’t require overnight soaking.

I served mine with cornbread, sour cream, and cheddar cheese.  We like cheese in any sort of chili!

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