Laura's Thanksgiving essentials: rosemary rolls, creamy mashed potaotes & bourbon pecan pie

Still have some holes in your Thanksgiving menu? Have no fear, the 3 Happy Eaters are here to help! This week, we'll each be sharing our favorite tried-and-true, must-have Thanksgiving recipes!

First up: three carb-o-licious staples from Laura.

[photo credit here]

This is a simple but impressive way to step up your bread game. My sister calls them Stick Rolls because of the delicious rosemary "sticks" sprinkled on top. These are definitely best served straight out of the oven, but make sure you allow 3-5 hours for the frozen rolls to rise. Make sure you get unbaked frozen rolls--the pre-baked ones will not work for this! Again, don't freak out over the amount of buter--just get organic and move on.

Rosemary Rolls (aka Stick Rolls)

bag of frozen, unbaked rolls (Rhodes is the brand I find at Publix)
butter, melted (depends on how many rolls you're making, but around 2 sticks--1 before cooking and 1 after cooking)
rosemary (I use dried bc lazy)
coarse sea salt

Spray a round pan (iron skillet, cake pan, whatever you have on hand) with nonstick spray, or rub with olive oil. Place rolls in pan an inch or so apart for room to rise. Cover with a clean dish towel and set in a warm-ish place (on top of an oven that's cooking your turkey, in the laundry room, etc) to rise for 3-5 hours.

When risen, brush generously with melted butter, and sprinkle with rosemary and sea salt.

Preheat oven and cook according to package (usually 350-400 for 10-15ish minutes). If you're so inclined, which I always am, brush again with butter upon removing from oven.

[photo credit here]

One of the most important dishes at Thanksgiving is the mashed potatoes. A friend of mine recently reached out to me for my go-to recipe because she felt like hers were just kind of boring. So if you, too, are looking for an easy way to spruce up this essential dish, look no further. (Disclaimer: if you're looking for a low-fat version of mashed potatoes, I don't wanna hear it. Stop counting calories and buy organic dairy products for "clean" fats that are actually good for you.)

PW's Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Makes a heaping 13x9 pan's worth. I usually halve it.

5 lbs potatoes (I use regular "baking" potatoes, but russet or gold are good too, whatever you prefer)
1.5 sticks of butter
8oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 tsp Lawry's seasoned salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Peel and quarter potatoes. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add potatoes. Cook for 30-35 minutes or until cooked through (a fork should easily slide into the potatoes with no resistance, but they shouldn't quite be falling apart).

Drain potatoes in a colander. Dump potatoes into a large mixer bowl with paddle attachment, and turn on lowest setting for a couple minutes to let steam escape. When steam has slowed down, start adding the remaining ingredients. (If you're into the mash-it-by-hand method, do that until most of the steam has escaped.)

Keep the mixer on the lowest setting, and slowly add the butter and cream cheese in tablespoon-size cubes. (The hot potatoes will melt and incorporate them better in smaller chunks rather than whole sticks.) Then, the mixer still on the lowest setting, add the half-and-half and let run until incorporated. Add the seasoned salt and pepper, and mix until incorporated. You can turn the mixer up higher to mash the remaining chunks, but don't over-mix or it'll turn to paste.

At this point, you can pour into a dish and serve, or pour into a dish, top with MORE pats of butter and bake at 350 until heated through (helpful if you've made them ahead of time).

Pecan pie is almost as essential to Thanksgiving as the turkey itself. As I've said before, I'm not ashamed of pre-made pie crust. Go right ahead and make your own if you want, but I am all for the packaged stuff. There are zillions of pecan pie recipes out there, but this one is my go-to because chocolate and bourbon. Of course, it's from my favorite baking cookbook, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. I'm telling you: Christmas list that shiz!

Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie
from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

1 pie crust (I've used both the in-pan version and the rolled up version, either work)
2 cups pecan halves, toasted (spread on baking sheet for 10 min at 350--don't skip this!)
3 eggs
3/4 cup light corn syrup (I don't wanna talk about it)
3 Tbs sugar
4 Tbs brown sugar
3 Tbs butter, melted
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbs bourbon
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Whichever crust version you go with, stick it in the freezer (in the pie dish) for a couple hours, or if you're lazy like me, just while you put together the other ingredients.

If you haven't already, toast your pecans. No arguing, just do it. Roughly chop 3/4 cup of them and set aside.

Preheat oven to 325.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs until combined. Add the corn syrup, sugars, butter, salt, vanilla and bourbon. Whisk again until combined. Stir in the chopped pecans.

Take your pie crust out of the freezer. Spread the chocolate chips evenly along the bottom of the pie shell. Slowly pour the filling you just mixed together on top of the chocolate chips. Sprinkle/arrange the remaining pecan halves (not chopped) on top of the filling.

Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, then loosely cover the edges of the crust with foil and bake another 30 minutes (keeps crust from burning) until knife stuck in center comes out clean (no clumps of filling).

Cool on wire rack and serve warm or room temp.

Give these recipes a try this Thanksgiving, your family will thank you!

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