christmas-583369_1920By Lorie Fangio, Guest Blogger

Thanksgiving Inspiration can be in short supply.  Each year rolls around with the usual requests for favorite dishes. Making the same recipes year after year can get monotonous but if you stray too far from the standards, there may be mutiny at the table.

This year, for some much needed creative expression, I took a fresh look at my southern holiday classics. Using seasonal ingredients as my muse and a simple approach to cooking; produced crave able classics with a twist. Dishes that wake up the taste buds like Roasted Pears with Gorgonzola and Pecans. The pecans can be made days in advance but beware they are snack able and hard to resist. Take mashed potatoes to a new level with rich nutty browned butter and then top with my cinnamon candied bacon crumbles oh my. Turn the volume up on turkey with a sweet glaze of bourbon and brown sugar just before removing from the oven to carve. Turkey has never tasted so good!

Relish time spent with family and friends this year with dishes that excite the palate. Enjoy!Grilled Pear with gorgonzola

Roasted Pears with Gorgonzola and Pecans

4 firm Bosc pears

4 ounces crumbled gorgonzola cheese

½ cup Sweet and Spicy Pecans

Blanch pears in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, place pears in ice bath to cool and remove skin. Cut pears in half and remove core. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place pears in a roasting dish cut side up and into the oven for 4-6 minutes until pears are hot and beginning to break down. Sprinkle with gorgonzola and pecans and serve.

Sweet and Spicy Pecans

2 cup whole pecans

3 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon smoky paprika

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, brown pecans in butter over medium heat. Add sugar, spices and toss until pecans are coated. Add vinegar to mixture, stir over low heat until the moisture is mostly evaporated. Line a baking sheet with greased foil or silpat. Pour pecans onto prepare pan and bake for 3-7 minutes until golden brown and pecans dry to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool.

mashed potatoes with bacon-1Browned Butter Mashed Potatoes with Cinnamon Bacon

4 pounds potatoes peeled and chopped

1 stick butter

1 cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper

6 strips of Cinnamon Candied Bacon

Place potatoes in a medium sauce pan, cover with water and put on a burner set to medium high heat. Cook until tender. In small chefs pan heat butter until melted, continue to cook over medium heat until it begins to brown. Mash potatoes with cream and butter and add salt and pepper to taste and top with crumbled bacon.

Cinnamon Candied Bacon

1 pound Applewood smoked bacon

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of salt

In a small bowl; mix sugar, cinnamon and salt. Place a wire rack in the center of a metal baking pan. Lay bacon out on rack and sprinkle with sugar mixture. Press sugar in place. Put baking sheet into a cold oven set to 400 degrees and cook until bacon is crispy about 20 minutes.

Bourbon Brown Sugar Glaze for Turkey

½ cup bourbon

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup real maple syrup

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Place ingredients into a small saucepan set over medium low heat and cook at a simmer until sugar dissolves and mixture thickens slightly. When turkey reaches 145 degrees remove from oven and baste with bourbon mixture. Baste a second time at 155 degrees and last when it comes out of the oven.

LorieFangioHeadShot

Lorie Fangio is a Culinary Professional with a passion for bringing families back around the dinner table. She can be seen regularly sharing her expertise on local morning TV shows. Lorie’s latest endeavor, taking small groups to France for culinary excursions, has proven to be a huge success. She enjoys teaching students of all ages in her McKinney, TX cooking school, A Slice of Heaven. Lorie created a blog called Around the Table, which offers original recipes and advice for busy families. She enjoys working in the corporate world as well and serves as a spokesperson for national brands such as Oil and Vinegar, Walgreens, Ziploc Brand and Zoës Kitchen. Lorie enjoys developing unique recipes, guest blogging, creating customized video series, and making personal appearances. She worked with a successful production company to produce a television show pilot focused on food and families. Lorie is an e How Food Expert and has over 100 food videos on the web.   She works as a private chef for corporate events, parties and enjoys public appearances at local wine events, festivals and speaking engagements.