Homer Alaska - Cooking

Story last updated at 1:44 PM on Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's time to cozy up with comfort food, good friends


Each year it surprises me how fast winter arrives, screaming down Baycrest Hill in a rusty old Subaru with bald tires driven by a teenager texting. One day it's autumn and the next you wake up and the thermostat has been turned down to extra chilly and the ground is white. This time of year also means it's time for holiday celebrations, so I wanted to share a couple of special recipes with you as I have missed you all terribly!

The traditional foods of Thanksgiving are a far cry from the usual salmon on the grill and roasted vegetables. There is an obvious reason for this. It's cold and windy on the grilling deck. I am using the oven a lot more these days.

As usual, I will have a house full for Thanksgiving dinner. We'll be roasting a big turkey the Other Fisherman raised and sharing this feast of thanks with our boys and special family friends. I love preparing this meal, as it's all about cooking and entertaining with lots of love, which is my favorite thing to do. The extra table will join the big dining room table, covered with mismatched table cloths, a selection of sad, old folding chairs will be scrounged up to accommodate our many guests and my beautiful china that was a gift from my wonderful husband years ago will be set. Everyone sits down at the same table in our house and made to feel a special part of this day of thanks giving.

You'll be well into preparing for your own celebratory feast by the time you read this, so I thought I'd share a recipe that would use leftover turkey. On Friday, I will be standing in front of the refrigerator with a fork in my hand, just like you, as I like the leftovers more than the formal dinner itself.

Creamy Gorgonzola, Pear and Turkey Pasta with Walnuts

By chance, if you have any turkey left, you might want to give this a try. Creamy gorgonzola and pears are perfect ingredients to compliment turkey. This is delicious made with chicken breast as well. You also can serve it without any meat and is a great side dish.

Serves 4-6

1-pound rigatoni pasta

2 tablespoons butter

2-3 firm ripe pears, skinned and sliced

8 oz. creamy gorg cheese or regular gorgonzola cheese, plus about 4 tablespoons extra for garnish

1/4 cup pasta water

2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese or whipped cream cheese

2 cups cooked, diced turkey heated to warm

1/3 cup roasted chopped walnuts

Salt and pepper to taste

Boil pasta in salted water until al dente. While pasta is boiling, cut creamy gorgonzola cheese into small cubes and place in saucepan. Add 1/4 cup boiling pasta water to the cheese and heat over low heat while stirring constantly until cheese is melted and has created a sauce. Cover to retain heat.

In medium size saucepan, melt butter and add pear slices, sautéing pears until just tender. Set aside.

Heat up diced turkey in the microwave with a bit of water to warm it.

Drain the pasta, return it to the pot and stir in the mascarpone or cream cheese to coat the pasta. Add a little salt and pepper. Stir in half the cheese sauce, then the warm turkey and gently fold in the sautéed pears. Place pasta in warmed serving bowl and top with remaining cheese sauce. Garnish with roasted walnuts and crumbly gorgonzola. Serve with a nice loaf of hot bread, a crisp green salad and a glass of white wine.

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

We love anything pumpkin at our house; everything from Halloween jack-o-lanterns to pumpkin cookies. This yummy pumpkin dessert definitely qualifies as comfort food. You'll need to loosen your belt a notch, as this calorie bomb has two sticks of butter in it.


1 (18 1/4 ounce) package dry yellow cake mix

1 egg

8 tablespoons butter, melted


1 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened

1 15 ounce can of pumpkin

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

8 tablespoons butter, melted

1 16 ounce box of powdered sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

Whipped cream for garnish.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the cake: Combine egg and butter with the cake mix and blend well with electric mixer. Pat into the bottom of a lightly greased 9-by-13-inch pan. Set aside.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, butter and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and mix well. Spread the pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for about 40-50 minutes. Make sure not to over bake, as the center should be a little gooey.

Serve with fresh whipped cream.

Bundle up and go for a long walk with the dog after eating this. Until next time, I wish you a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving full of good food, family, friends and fun.