{best of} Thanksgiving 2012

{download the menu and pdf here, under Bonus: Classic Menu. }

Thanksgiving comes but once a year. Unless, of course, you're a food stylist, recipe developer, food editor or anyone who works in food media. For us, there's thanksgiving #1, in the summer, when we're busy cooking up the features, and then real thanksgiving again come November, when, incredibly, we're finally in the mood for it again.

This year, I contributed a classic Thanksgiving feast to Rachael Ray Magazine {download here}, complete with a few tricks for making your bird the juiciest ever (hint, flip the bird halfway through cooking), killer mashed potatoes and a pumpkin pie I think you'd be super proud to call your own. 

And then I sort of forgot about Thanksgiving until the November issues of every magazine I subscribe to (too many, I can't help myself) starting hitting my mail box. Miraculously we, the *food people* behind these pages, managed to recreate the classics yet again, in ever new and inspiring ways that have me, frankly, salivating. If I had the help (and the stomach) for the world's largest feast, here's what I'd serve between my turkey and my pumpkin pie.

The Best of Thanksgiving 2012


Hats off to my friends and colleagues in the food world. You are a remarkable bunch, and I'm grateful to be among you. And to the rest of you, I hope your platters are full of plenty, and your home the host to dear friends, family and oodles of things and moments to give thanks for. 

with love + gratitude,


the sweet smell of Saigon + an apple-pear sauce

Do you know what's really wonderful eaten along side a generous hunk of fresh Carrot Banana Hazelnut Bread? A bowl of warm Apple-Pear Sauce. The apples break down into a tender mush, leaving elegant slivers of pear in tact, every bite swimming in the heady satisfaction of Saigon cinnamon. I make mine in small batches because we all love it warm, straight from the stove, but it keeps like a dream in glass jars in the fridge for the week. There's really little more to say....


Apple Pear Sauce

Serves 4

4 pounds sweet-tart apples such as Macintosh, Jonagold, empire, or Macoun
1 pound firm, ripe pears such as Bartlett
1 stick cinnamon, or ground cinnamon to taste
about 1 cup apple cider, or as needed

Wash, quarter and cut out the core of your favorite apples (I like a variety, just like in my pie). Repeat with the pears. Cut the apples into chunks and the pears into chunks or slivers. Layer them in a large saucepan with 1 stick of cinnamon, or a generous pinch of Saigon cinnamon. Add just enough apple cider to reach about 1 inch up the pot and cover and simmer over medium heat until the apples are soft and start to break down, and the pears are soft throughout, about 25 minutes.

Spoon the sauce into four bowls and eat warm, or remove from the heat and puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Serve warm, or spoon it into sterile jars and cool on the counter before sealing. Store in the fridge up to one week. 


{bake shop} Carrot Banana Hazelnut Bread

Did you ever wonder why moms make so much banana bread? I hadn't given it much thought until this weekend, but now I know. If you have kids, bananas are a staple. An utter must. Since the amount of kids I might need to feed can jump from one to five in an instant at the whim of our little social bee, I now stock them in the double digits. This also means that there are bananas of varying ripeness on hand, and more and more often lately, the smashed carried all day in my purse in case Greta got an instant case of the hungries bruised and beaten banana that gets stuck back in the fridge if still uneaten when day is done.  

This lovely bread—as inviting as a breakfast bread as it is an after-nap weekend snack—is the happy accident when a few of those bruisers and last night's leftover carrot mash were calling to me "Reinvent me. Bake! Make me beautiful again!" 

And here's the big reveal...there were. I topped my Carrot-Banana bread with sprinkling of sunflower seeds, rolled oats and hazelnuts (and walnuts on the other) for extra flavor and fiber, but you could add any combo of nuts, seeds and grains to the top (or insides) or yours. Give it a little love, it's deserving. 

Carrot-Banana-Hazelnut Bread

Makes 2 large loaves or 4 to 5 small loaves

4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups raw organic sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
10 ounces pure carrot puree (1 1/4 cups)
2 cups white whole-wheat flour or whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 very ripe smashed bananas
¼ cup rolled oats or barley
¼ cup lightly toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped (or walnuts)
3 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter 2 standard loaf pans or 4 to 5 mini pans and dust evenly with flour.

Beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer in a medium bowl on medium-high speed until thick and pale yellow, about 4 minutes. Add the oil and carrot puree. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and cinnamon and stir into the batter until evenly combined. Pour into the prepared pans and top with oats, nuts and sunflower seeds. Bake until the breads spring back lightly when touched and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes, or 20 to 22 minutes for small loaves. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Wrap well and set aside to ripen overnight or eat warm with butter.     

Photos and Recipes © Sarah Copeland 2012
Please credit source on Pinterest. All other uses require permission via email.


{season's last} carrots

Last weekend, when we got wind of pending snow, we picked the last of our carrots, and anything else that won't fare well in a frost. My guess is the farmer's did too. Go, while the getting's good, and see them at your weekend market. Not too many day's left of this bounty. Happy weekend! 


a very happy birthday + the easiest from-scratch birthday cake ever

The day after the election is a good day to talk about something light and fluffy, don't you think? Like birthdays. And cake. My favorite cake is carrot cake. What's yours?

There's something about carrot cake. Well, I can't explain it but those who love it know what I'm trying to say. 

Have you ever done that thing where you project your own likes onto your child? Like, "She really likes soft pillows and her bath extra warm" when it's really what you like? Well, I do that with Greta and food. Once, when she wouldn't eat sweet potatoes, one of my favorite (and one of the healthiest) foods, I said, aghast, "but it's your favorite!" Now, when I serve her sweet potatoes, she says, "my favorite!" and gobbles them right up. So on her second birthday, I knew exactly what cake I'd be making her—the same carrot cake mom made me each and every year.

On the way to this decision, I actually tried on other people's carrot cakes, just for fun. I made some healthier, some double deckers and some plain old-fashioneds.  But here's the thing—on a birthday, only the very best will do. That's mom's cake. 

During this journey, here's what I figured out—this is the easiest from-scratch cake, ever. And I mean ever. Like, make on your lunch break (if you work from home) or while the laundry is on the spin-cycles easy. Which is probably why, besides the fact that I love it so much, my mom always made it for me—I'm the third of four kids and my guess is she didn't have a lot of spare time for making cakes.

What she did do is decorate my cakes to the max, aqua-blue pool for a pool party, a yellow-studded pineapple for a luau party, but whenever she’d slice it open, there was my favorite orange cake. I don't have the patience for piping bags lately, so I opted instead to make Greta’s cake these sweet vintage Jell-O molds my sister bought me during my last visit. I didn't do a test run, just buttered and floured the day of the party and crossed my fingers while I put out the rest of the spread.

It was a risk, I admit, baking them blind on the day of the party. I did pour the remaining batter into a quarter sheet pan for backup, but the mini bundts worked like a charm, too. Just one more reason I love and adore this cake—in any shape or size, it rarely disappoints.

Here's the very, very special thing about carrot cake that really must be said—if you want to, you can go ahead and convince yourself it is good for you, and that it’s a perfectly okay cake for kids. It's carrots, after all. While we know it's not exactly health food, I have made a few modifications to my version (whole wheat white flour, less oil, less sugar) that I guarantee you, even if you happened to have come to one of my birthday parties between age 2 and 12 and got hooked like me, you'd never know the difference.

But enough about cake, let's talk about my itty bitty little lady, who I made this cake for. I adore her. Her spirit is huge and happy. Her eyes shine light and joy on the world. She's a little lover, cradling anything from a baby doll to a bath toy in the nook of her arm and showering everyone she knows with hugs and kisses. It doesn't take carrot cake to sweeten her disposition, but like her mamma, she can down a piece like nobody's business. She knows how to have a good time, and she won't quit until you absolutely make her. We are so, so very grateful for two healthy, delicious years with her and for two loving, doting grandparents who drove 19 hours to celebrate with us. Thanks for the recipe Mom, I owe you one! 

While were telling stories, won’t you tell me your best birthday cake ever story, please? And in the meantime, happy birthday sweet Greta pie. Here's a carrot cake to grow on. 

The Easiest Carrot Cake Ever + Creamy Cheese Frosting

Serves 12 adults or 24 kids

4 large eggs
1 ¾ cups raw organic sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
10 oz organic carrot baby food (or 1 1/4 cups carrot puree) 
2 cups white whole-wheat flour 
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
12 oz Neufch√Ętel or cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9 by-13-inch pan, quarter sheet pan or 24 muffins or molds. Line the pan with a wide piece of parchment paper cut so that it tucks neatly along 2 opposite sides and hangs over edges by about 1 inch on the other opposite sides to create flaps. Butter and flour the paper or the molds

To make the cake: Beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer in a medium bowl on medium-high speed until thick and pale yellow, about 4 minutes. Add the oil and carrot puree. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and cinnamon and stir into the cake batter until evenly combined. Pour into the prepared pans and bake until the cake spring back lightly when touched, about 40 minutes for a sheet cake, or 20 to 22 minutes for small cakes or cupcakes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.      

Meanwhile, to make the frosting: Make sure the butter and cream cheese are soft but still cool. Beat them together with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy, with no remaining lumps. Sift in the confectioners’ sugar and add agave and vanilla extract. Beat until light and fluffy. 

Spread the frosting evenly over the top of the cooled bars, or top each mini cake with a tuft of frosting. Serve at room temperature.   

P.S. Some 2nd birthday party tips: 

1.  Musical Chairs (or pillows) with sticker prizes is a huge hit with the two-to-three set.

2. If you decide you're going to do face painting at your child's birthday party, by Murphy’s Law, your child will be the only one who doesn't want their face painted. Let them paint your face instead.

Photos and Recipes © Sarah Copeland 2012
Please credit source on Pinterest. All other uses require permission via email.

My photo
New York City, United States
Sarah Copeland is a food and lifestyle expert, and the author of Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, and The Newlywed Cookbook. She is the Food Director at Real Simple magazine, and has appeared in numerous national publications including Saveur, Health, Fitness, Shape, Martha Stewart Living and Food & Wine magazines. As a passionate gardener, Sarah's Edible Living philosophy aims to inspire good living through growing, cooking and enjoying delicious, irresistible whole foods. She thrives on homegrown veggies, stinky cheese and chocolate cake. Sarah lives in New York with her husband and their young daughter.