Monday, November 23, 2009

Review and Giveaway: Thanksgiving with Sandra Lee and Joshua Bell CLOSED

Thanksgiving is just three days away and I'm sure your turkey is thawing as we speak. If you're taking on the monumental task of hosting the big dinner and need some last-minute, creative menu planning ideas, look no further.

Food Network star Sandra Lee has teamed up with Grammy-award winning violinist Joshua Bell to provide you with the perfect holiday ambiance - amazing, time-saving recipes for the great feast and music to set the tone for a celebration of blessings with family and friends.

Sandra's new book, Semi-Homemade Cocktail Time, mixes a selection of her most popular cocktails and canapes. Whether you want to bring happy hour to your living room or you're entertaining for the holidays, Sandra gives great ideas for mixed drinks that anyone can make for any occasion, small or large. Joshua's new album, At Home With Friends, (remember my rave review?) features duets with a diverse group of world-renowned artists including Josh Groban, Sting, Regina Spektor, and Kristin Chenowith. It's the perfect accompaniment to your meaningful meal. And you can stream it from my site on the big day! Just click on the link below to activate the pop-up widget:

Pop Up Audio

To get you started, here are a few tips along with some of Sandra's most delicious Thanksgiving recipes:

Tip #1: Greet your guests at the door with a vibrant cocktail. Sandra says, “Re-name your cocktails for a signature touch and serve them in an array of glasses in different shapes and sizes for a glamorous effect. If you have a special album playing, review your song list and allow the song titles to inspire your cocktails, i.e. Peach Cider can be turned into “Cinema Paradiso” to match the beautiful duet of the same name on Joshua Bell’s new album At Home With Friends. Brilliant!”

Cinema Paradiso

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 2 hours (Low)
Makes 10 drinks

2 cans (11.5 ounces each) peach nectar
2 cans (11.5 ounces each) apricot nectar
1 bag (12-ounce) frozen peach slices
3 cups water
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup bourbon, Bulleit®
1⁄2 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cinnamon sticks
Cinnamon stick (for decoration)

In a 4-quart slow cooker, combine peach nectar, apricot nectar, peach slices, the water, brown sugar, bourbon, lemon juice, allspice, and 2 cinnamon sticks. Cover and heat on Low heat setting for 2 to 3 hours. Discard cinnamon sticks. Turn slow cooker to Warm heat setting. Serve in mugs with additional cinnamon sticks.

Excerpted from the book, Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Cocktail Time, by Sandra Lee Copyright © 2009 SLSH Enterprises, Inc.

Tip #2: Don't stress yourself with complicated, time-consuming appetizers. Sandra suggests, “If you’re facing a time crunch—pick party foods that are delicious and impressive, without being fussy. I recommend, Savory Bread Pudding and Fig and Port Tartlets—both of these tasty treats can be prepared before your guests arrive and served at room temperature.”

Savory Bread Pudding

Prep: 25 minutes
Bake: 35 minutes
Makes 12 mini bread puddings

o-stick cooking spray, Pam®
8 ounces sweet Italian sausage, Johnsonville®
1 package (8-ounce) sliced fresh mushrooms
1 tablespoon canola oil, Wesson®
1 teaspoon bottled crushed garlic
2 cups milk
4 eggs
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, McCormick®
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1⁄2 loaf country-style bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Coat twleve 21⁄2-inch muffin cups with cooking spray; set aside. In a large skillet, over medium heat, cook sausage until browned, breaking up lumps. Remove sausage from skillet. Add mushrooms, oil, and garlic to skillet. Cook and stir until mushrooms are lightly browned. Remove from heat and stir in sausage. Let cool. In a large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Add cubed bread and sausage mixture to egg mixture; press bread with back of a large spoon to submerge into milk mixture. Let stand for 10 minutes or until bread absorbs milk mixture. Ladle bread pudding mixture into prepared muffin cups and place in a large rimmed baking pan. Carefully pour hot water into the baking pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until top is golden brown and bread pudding puffs. Serve warm.

Excerpted from the book, Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Cocktail Time, by Sandra Lee Copyright © 2009 SLSH Enterprises, Inc.

Fig and Port Tartlets

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 6 minutes
Makes 15 tartlets

1 jar (12-ounce) royal fig preserves, St. Dalfour®
1⁄4 cup port
2 cups whipping cream
3 tablespoons granulated sugar, Domino®/C&H®
1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon extract, McCormick®
1 package (2.1-ounce) baked miniature phyllo dough shells, Athens®
round cinnamon, McCormick®
Powdered sugar, Domino®/C&H®

In a saucepan, over medium heat, heat preserves and port, about 6 minutes or until mixture thickens. Remove from heat; set aside. In a chilled mixing bowl, beat whipping cream, sugar, and cinnamon extract with an electric mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form. Transfer whipped cream mixture to a large resealable plastic bag. Snip 1⁄2 inch off one corner of the bag. Fill each shell with about 1 tablespoon of fig mixture. Pipe whipped cream on top. Garnish with a dusting of ground cinnamon and powdered sugar.

Excerpted from the book, Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Cocktail Time, by Sandra Lee Copyright © 2009 SLSH Enterprises, Inc.

Tip #3: Say yes to comfort foods. As Sandra notes, “Sometimes you need the culinary equivalent of a big warm hug. Praline Sweet Potato Casserole is a classic, comfort food creation that is baked to perfection.”

Praline Sweet Potato Casserole

Prep: 15 minutes
Bake: 45 minutes
Makes 6 servings

No-stick cooking spray, Pam®

3 cans (15 ounces each) cut sweet potatoes, drained, Princella®
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 can (5-ounce) evaporated milk, Carnation®, or 1⁄4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice, Minute Maid®
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, McCormick®
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, McCormick®

1 cup packed light brown sugar, Domino®/C&H®
1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted cold butter, cut in small pieces
2 cups finely chopped pecans, Diamond® Pecan halves (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray; set side. To make the casserole, in a large mixing bowl, mash the drained sweet potatoes with a potato masher. Stir in the eggs. Add the butter, evaporated milk, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and pumpkin pie spice; mix until well combined. Spread into the prepared baking pan. To make the topping, in a medium bowl, combine the sugar and flour. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture is the size of peas. Stir in the chopped pecans. Sprinkle topping over the casserole. Garnish with pecan halves (optional). Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is browned.

Excerpted from the book, Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Weeknight Wonders by Sandra Lee Copyright © 2009 SLSH Enterprises, Inc.

Tip #4: Make your dining room festive with an inviting table filled with rich colors and seasonal textures. Sandra says, "The main attraction is food, so try turning your Turkey or Pork Roast into a colorful centerpiece, served with a side of cornbread stuffing or cranberry sauce."

Pork Roast and Cranberry Dressing

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 5 to 6 hours (Low)
Stand: 15 minutes
Makes 6 servings

1 1⁄2 cups frozen chopped onions
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 3-pound boneless pork shoulder roast
2 tablespoons Montreal steak seasoning
1 can (16-ounce) whole cranberry sauce
1⁄2 cup dry white wine
1 cup vegetable broth
1⁄4 cup butter
1 box (6-ounce) pork stuffing mix
3⁄4 cup sweetened dried cranberries

In a 5-quart slow cooker, combine onions and celery. Sprinkle roast with steak seasoning; place on vegetables in slow cooker. In a medium bowl, stir together cranberry sauce and wine until combined. Spoon over roast in slow cooker.Cover and cook on Low heat setting for 5 to 6 hours.Transfer roast to a cutting board; let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, over high heat, bring vegetable broth and butter to a boil. Stir pork stuffing mix and dried cranberries into pan. Cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.To serve, mound some stuffing on center of plate. Spoon a portion of celery, onions, cranberries, and accumulated juices from slow cooker over stuffing. Top with sliced roast.

Excerpted from the book, Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Money Saving Slow Cooking, by Sandra Lee Copyright © 2009 SLSH Enterprises, Inc.

Tip #5: Be careful not to spend so much time on preparing and cooking food that you are unable to enjoy yourself. Sandra recommends, "For a quick and easy dessert, try Semi-Homemade Glazed Spice Donuts with Pecans or a Sweet Potato Cake with Citrus Glaze, so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time celebrating with your family and friends.”

Brownie Bottom Cheesecake

Prep 30 minutes
Cook 2 1⁄2 to 3 hours (High) + 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours (Low)
Chill 4 hours
Makes 8 servings

Canola oil cooking spray
1 box (18.3-ounce) fudge brownie mix
4 eggs
2⁄3 cup canola oil
1⁄4 cup espresso-and-cream coffee drink
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese
1⁄3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cake flour
Pinch salt
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Coat an 8 1⁄2-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Wrap foil around the bottom of cake pan. Crumple additional aluminum foil to create a “ring base” about 5 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. Set aside.In a large bowl, stir together brownie mix, two of the eggs, the oil, and coffee drink until combined. Pour into prepared pan. Place foil ring in bottom of slow cooker; pour 1⁄2 inch of hot water into bottom of slow cooker. Using 2 long strips of foil, make an “X” over foil ring and bring it up along the sides of slow cooker to assist removing pan from slow cooker. Place springform pan on top of ring and the “X” in slow cooker. Stack 6 paper towels; place over top of slow cooker bowl. Secure with lid. Cook on High heat setting for 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours. (Do not lift lid for the first 1 hour of cooking.)Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth. Add sugar, flour, and salt; beat until smooth. Add the remaining two eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add cream and vanilla; beat until combined. Pour over brownie mixture in slow cooker.Cover and cook for 1 1⁄2 hours more. Turn slow cooker to Low heat setting. Cook for 1 to 1 1⁄2 hours or until cheesecake is set with a wet-looking center. Turn off heat and let sit, covered, for 30 minutes.Use foil strips to lift springform pan from slow cooker. Place pan on wire rack; let cool to room temperature. Chill in pan for at least 4 hours. Just before serving, remove cake from pan.

Excerpted from the book, Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Money Saving Slow Cooking, by Sandra Lee Copyright © 2009 SLSH Enterprises, Inc.

Now you can have great food AND great music to go along with your great company this holiday season.

BUY IT: You can purchase Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade Cocktail Time on or at Barnes and Noble booksellers (ARV $17.95). You can also find Joshua Bell's At Home with Friends on Amazon or at select music retailers (ARV $11.99).

WIN IT: In the spirit of giving, Sony Music Group is giving one lucky reader a copy of Joshua Bell's album, At Home with Friends!

MAIN COURSE (MANDATORY ENTRY): Listen to the streaming tracks on the link above and tell me your favorite song from the album. Warning: choosing just one is going to be a challenge! Remember to please leave your email address in your comment if it isn't visible on your profile or if you are not a blogger!

SUGAR ON TOP (BONUS ENTRIES): To maximize your chances of winning, you may do any or all of the following. Be sure to complete the above mandatory entry or your bonus entries will not count!

1.) Follow my blog or subscribe via reader or email. Comment telling me which method you chose. If you already follow or subscribe, that counts! (1 entry)

2.) Follow me on Twitter and tweet about this contest. Just leave me a comment with your tweet link. (1 entry)

3.) Become a fan of Joshua Bell on Facebook. (1 entry)

4.) Add my blog button and/or my holiday button to your site and leave a comment with the link to where I can find it. (1 entry for each)

5.) Enter any of my other current giveaways and leave a comment telling me which one(s) you entered. (1 entry each)

Giveaway will end on December 7, 2009 at 11:59pm EST. Open to U.S. only. Winners will be chosen via and will have 48 hours to respond to congratulatory email or prize will be forfeited and another winner will be chosen.

Disclaimer: I received the streaming music link and recipes listed above from Dana at Sony Music Group. I was not sent a review copy of the Joshua Bell album, as I already own it from a prior review, nor was I sent a copy of the Sandra Lee book. I was not compensated in any way for this post.


Amber said...

Eleanor Rigby is my favorite!
Thank you for the giveaway :)

Amber said...

I follow your blog!
Thank you for the giveaway :)

Rebecca Graham said...

Elanor Rigby is my fav. I haven't heard that song in a long, long time.

rhoneygtn at yahoo dot com

Janet and Maya said...

You're right! It was hard to choose. I think I'll settle with Funny Valentine. I didn't realize a violin could sound so beautiful!

mayacarpenter at verizon dot net

Mysharona said...

Eleanor Rigby is a good version.

Molomatic said...

Funny Valentine is my fav!

Ken said...

I like "I Loves You Porgy" from that great American folk opera, Porgy And Bess. I remember buying the sheet music once. Please accept my entry. Thank you.

etirv said...

I like Eleanor Rigby!


etirv said...

Google Friend Follower!


etirv said...

Entered Sound of Music giveaway!


etirv said...

Entered Lysine giveaway!


Joannof10 said...

I think my favorite song is Maybe So

Joannof10 said...

I now follow your blog

Joannof10 said...

I am now a fan of Joshua Bell on Facebook

Wehaf said...

I love "O Cease Thy Singing, Maiden".

urchiken at gmail dot com

Wehaf said...

I entered the sound of music giveaway.

urchiken at gmail dot com

erma said...

I like Funny Valentine.

saturdaynightfever said...

"Eleanor Rigby"!

Hotsnotty2 said...

Eleanor Rigby is my favorite, thanks!

bethany said...

As a Beatles lover, I love Eleanor Rigby! Thanks for the chance!!

bethany said...

Following you and tweeted! (theivytwines) Thanks for the chance!!

bethany said...

Follow you via Google Reader!! Yay thanks a bunch!

ktgonyea said...

Funny Valentine :)

ktgonyea at

Atreau said...

My favorite song off this album is My Funny Valentine.

Pamela S said...

I like "Variant Moods" the duet with the sitar. Very unique. Thanks so much! pamelashockley(AT)netscape(DOT)net

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