The Little Things Newsletter #339 – Life, laughter, and lots of great food!

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Welcome to the weekend, friends! Can you believe it’s Thanksgiving week already? We have family in town and I’m looking forward to lots of great food and games.

Want a stress-free Thanksgiving dinner? Find out what you can make-ahead and follow the timeline to get it all done on time! Are you a list maker? Do you love having a plan for everything and then checking things off? If so, this post is for you.

ON THE BLOG this week: Are you looking for the perfect pork roast recipe? Roasted all day, left falling apart and tender enough to cut with a fork; this Italian Pork Roast just might become your favorite pork roast with the very first bite.

These creamy, buttery, cheesy mashed potatoes are what food dreams are made of, I suggest making extra, to avoid arguments over who gets seconds.

Tasty and pretty these green bean bacon bundles with their buttery, sweet glaze and a hint of warmth are a dinner-time treat.

Savory, and sweet with a touch of heat comes together perfectly in this sausage and apple stuffed acorn squash. My friend Margaret told me about this recipe a while back and I’ve looked forward to trying it ever since. As soon as the winter squash hit the stores, this was on our meal plan. You’re going to love it.

From the crunch of the sugar crust on the bottom to the juicy cranberries to the flaky cake layer on top; Nantucket Christmas Cranberry Pie is cranberry dessert heaven.

Have you heard of Milk Punch? This old-school cocktail is made with bourbon, whisky, or brandy. It is a very lightly sweetened drink that starts with milk and half-and-half, it’s flavored with hints of vanilla and nutmeg.

Slightly chewy with a sweetly tart combination, cranberry oatmeal bars are full of cranberries and apples topped with brown sugar and oatmeal crumbs.

Smooth, creamy, and filled with the warm spices of the holiday season Eggnog Ice Cream is the perfect fireside treat. While ice cream is often considered a summer treat, eggnog ice cream is a winter favorite. This lightly spiced ice cream evokes a cozy feeling and we enjoy it through the holiday season.

What I’m CRAVING: My friend Maegan transformed a tube of crescent rolls into these absolutely irresistible cinnamon sugar cruffins and I can’t wait to try them.

Cranberry Oatmeal Bars

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Slightly chewy with a sweetly tart combination, cranberry oatmeal bars are full of cranberries and apples topped with brown sugar and oatmeal crumbs.

Cranberry oatmeal bars with ice cream

Cranberry Oatmeal Bars

Sometimes, not often, but sometimes desserts are just too overpoweringly sweet. Especially during the times of the year when we are surrounded by so many rich indulgent foods. Desserts with cranberries are the perfect answer to that.

I can’t be the only one feeling that way. I know, because if I make a dessert with cranberries to take to a gathering, it guaranteed that I will come home with an empty pan. I have a feeling that these easy cranberry oatmeal bars with fresh cranberries will meet a similar fate.

Cranberry oat bars loaded with cranberries and chopped apples bring just the right amount of sweetness to any dessert or snack time. Because they have fruit and oatmeal I would argue they could be considered for breakfast as well.

The layer of fruit between the crust and easy crumb topping is thickened by the cranberries and cornstarch and sweetened by the apples with a touch of sugar. The crust is a buttery oatmeal shortbread pressed firmly into the pan.

The topping is the remainder of the crust ingredients, just crumbled and loosely spread over the fruit. When baked the topping will brown and the cranberry and apples will bubble and smell amazing.

To serve, you can even top the bars with Brown Sugar Ice Cream or Eggnog Ice Cream for an unforgettable holiday dessert.

Cranberry and apple oatmeal bars

Cranberry Desserts

Cranberries are s

Homemade Apple Pie

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Homemade Apple Pie

There might actually not be anything better on the earth than a warm slice of homemade apple pie topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Am I right? Or am I RIGHT? 

When I was a little girl I was a cookie lover. Quite a few of my very first memories involve being in the kitchen with Dad to make oatmeal raisin chocolate chip cookies and with Mom to make Halloween sugar cookies. Which is funny because I never really liked those sugar cookies. I remember Mom rolling out that soft, delicious dough (the dough was yummers, it was the baked cookie that lost its appeal to me) and me stamping out as many spooky shapes as I could. But those things are fading because as I get older I’m finding that I enjoy a slice of pie more and more. Especially this homemade apple pie.

In my experience, you are either an apple pie lover or an apple pie hater. If you read about Cade’s apple pie you’ll learn that my mom HATED apple pie which is why I don’t have a recipe from her. But that seems to be common, a lot of people don’t like apple pie while others adore it. I’m an adorer. ADORER? Is that even a word?

a photo of a slice of homemade apple pie with a golden lattice top and cooked cinnamon apples inside topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

 

What Do I Need to Make Homemade Apple Pie?

I think most people think apple pie is super complicated and involved, but it is really so simple and only takes a few simple ingredients. There are only 5 ingredients in the pie crust, and then for the filling, I love to use a blend of apples with some sugar, salt, spices and flour for thickening. It’s so easy! Anyone can do it! Here is what you will need…

Pie Crust: flour, butter, salt, sugar, and ice water

Pie Filling

  • Apples: a blend of Honey Crisp, Granny Smith, and Golden Delicious
  • Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Kosher Salt
  • Spices: Nutmeg, Cinnamon, and Cardamom
  • Flour
  • Milk
  • Sprinkling Sugar (optional)

The measurements for all the ingredients can be found in the recipe card at the end of the post. I should also mention here that some people swear by adding a little lemon juice to apple pie filling. I feel like it messes with the pure apple flavor of the filling, but if you are fan of lemon in the filling, by all means

Italian Pork Roast with Red Wine

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Are you looking for the perfect pork roast recipe? Roasted all day, left falling apart and tender enough to cut with a fork; this Italian Pork Roast just might become your favorite pork roast with the very first bite.

pork roast with Italian herbs and red wine

Italian Slow Cooker Roast

The first time I made a slow cooker red wine roast beef (over ten years ago now), my husband requested that I please put that roast on the menu at least once a month. I was more than happy to oblige.

My family was still talking about that meal two days later. So, naturally, I decided to play with a pork version of that Italian flavor-inspired roast.

When I cooked that first five-pound pork roast, I expected to have a huge amount of leftovers. However, almost everyone went back for seconds and I wound up with far less than half of the roast left for another meal.

If you are fortunate enough to have leftovers at the end of the meal, they are delicious when combined with potato, onion, and apple to make this Roasted Italian Pork with Apples and Potatoes.

Italian Pork Roast

This Italian pork roast recipe is an absolutely hassle-free dinner. Less than 10 minutes are required to prep the roast; then just sit back and enjoy how wonderful it smells as it cooks through the day.

Cooking this roast in a slow-cooker makes it easier than you ever imagined to roast pork to perfection. This Italian-inspired slow cooker roast starts with a 7lb pork shoulder (shoulder blade is my favorite cut of meat for this roast recipe).

After layering thinly sliced onions on the bottom of a crock-pot, cook the roast with the onions, a blend of fragrant Italian herbs and spices, water, and red wine for 9 to 10 hours.

pork roast in crockpot with spicesRead more

Milk Punch

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Have you heard of Milk Punch? This old-school cocktail is made with bourbon, whisky, or brandy. It is a very lightly sweetened drink that starts with milk and half-and-half, it’s flavored with hints of vanilla and nutmeg.

milk punch in clear glass with grated nutmeg on top

What is Milk Punch?

Milk Punch is about as old-fashioned as a cocktail can get. This creamy, dairy-based cocktail actually dates back to Scotland in the 1600’s. And as far as I can tell, there isn’t just one way or accepted recipe for the drink either.

This drink was originally made and served warm, as refrigeration wasn’t a thing when Benjamin Franklin was sipping his own milk punch. Lucky for us, the cocktail is now more commonly served cold.

This particular recipe creates a slushy-like drink that is irresistible both in the winter months and in the midst of a hot summer. Imagine a boozy milkshake that’s not overly sweet, and still refreshing. Yes, it’s possible and yes, it’s good.

Milk Punch Recipe

This recipe is one that I found in my Canal House Cooks Everyday cookbook and as soon as I saw it, I had to try it. I’d never even heard of Milk Punch prior to that day.

I absolutely love finding fun new recipes to share with you and like the Italian Cream Liqueur that our friend Tony introduced us to a few years ago, this Milk Punch begged to be shared from the very first sip.

It was a real hardship, but I went ahead and made another batch to photograph and share with you this year for the holidays.

In case my sarcasm wasn’t clear enough, it’s no hardship to mix this recipe together. Pour everything into a jar and pop it in the freezer. Shake a few times as it chills. That’s it. You’ll be sipping an old-fashioned, new-to-you drink in no time!

Milk punch with Jameson whisky

Milk Punch Ingredients

  • whole milk
  • half-and-half
  • powdered sugar
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