Sunday, November 20, 2011

Our Thanksgiving Menu: Appetizers and side dishes

Here's what we'll be eating on Thanksgiving. Some of the recipes are mine, and some are recipes I've collected over the years. I have a few pictures of some of the dishes from last year, but will post the rest after Thanksgiving. Hope you all have a wonderful and delicious Thanksgiving!

Butternut Squash Bisque served in Squash Bowls:
I found this recipe on and thought it sounded amazing. This will be our first course. If you are serving this to your little one too, serve it without the toppings.

For the Bowls:
4 small baking pumpkins (such as hooligan or sugar pie), acorn squash or sweet dumpling squash
2 teaspoons sugar
Kosher salt

For the Soup:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 small onion, chopped
Kosher salt
2 sprigs thyme
1 medium butternut or kuri squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
Freshly ground pepper

For the Toppings:
Pepitas (hulled green pumpkin seeds)
Sourdough and/or pumpernickel croutons
Paprika, chili powder or Spanish pimenton
Crisp diced pancetta
Fried onions
Fried sage or parsley leaves
Make the bowls: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Use a paring knife to cut a large circle around the stem of each pumpkin (make a zigzag cut, if desired). Remove the lid and scoop out the seeds and fibers. Sprinkle the inside of each with 1/2 teaspoon each sugar and salt. Place the pumpkins and lids on a baking sheet; roast until tender, 20 to 35 minutes, depending on their size.
Meanwhile, make the soup: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon salt. Strip the thyme leaves into the pot, increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the squash and sugar and cook, stirring, until glazed, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 5 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the squash is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
Working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender, crack the lid to let steam escape and puree until smooth; return to the saucepan (or puree directly in the pan with an immersion blender). Stir in the heavy cream, if desired. Season with salt and pepper, and top as desired.

Side dishes:

Sweet Potato Casserole:

4 to 5 sweet potatoes
2 tblsp butter
2 to 3 tbslp maple syrup
1 tblsp dried sage
1 tsp salt
1/ 2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 tsp nutmeg
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350F. Cut up sweet potatoes and put in a large pot of water over med high heat. Boil sweet potatoes until tender. Drain, remove skins and mash. Stir in butter, maple syrup, salt, pepper, sage, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour sweet potato mixture into a deep baking/casserole dish and top with chopped pecans. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta & Shallots

10-12 Brussels Sprouts halved
2 Shallots minced
1 package diced pancetta
1 tblsp Italian seasoning
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray baking dish with olive oil. Place halved brussels sprouts around dish. Add shallots. Season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Spray generously with olive oil spray. Add pancetta. Place in oven and roast for 30 to 40 minutes.

Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes 

4 to 5 Yukon Gold Potatoes cut up
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp herbs de provence
1/4 cup skim milk

Boil potatoes in a large pot until tender and then drain. Remove peels and mash. Stir in milk and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and herbs de provence. Mix until smooth.

Green Bean Casserole
This is the good old recipe that you can find on the back of any cream of mushroom soup or fried onion pieces container.

2 cans whole green beans
2 12oz containers cream of portobello mushrooms
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup milk
1 cup fried onion pieces divided

Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Add green beans. Cover with mushroom soup. Add milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Toss to coat. Cover with 3/4 cup fried onion pieces. Place in oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Add rest of onion pieces before serving.

Pecan Date Stuffing
I came up with this recipe last weekend, and tested it out for the first time today. Not to toot my own horn, but my husband said it was the best stuffing he'd ever had! Hope you enjoy it!

1 cup chopped pecans
2  cups chopped dates
1 loaf stale whole wheat bread diced
1 onion finely diced
2-3 ribs celery finely diced
2 cloves garlic minced
2-3 tblsp dried Herbs de Provence
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups chicken or turkey stock
olive oil
2 tblsp butter

Add 1 tblsp olive oil and 2 tblsp butter to a  large saute pan, over medium heat. Add onions, celery and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and saute until tender. Add dates, pecans, and Herbs de Provence and toss. Cook for another few minutes. Toss and then remove from heat.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Add the diced bread and toss together. Pour in the chicken stock and knead with your hands until the bread is very moist. Season with salt if needed. Transfer to a large deep ovenproof dish and bake until it is hot all the way through and crusty on top.
Remove from the oven and serve.

Sweet Potato Biscuits:
This is a Paula Dean recipe that I'm trying for the first time this year. I'll let you know how they are.

3/4 cup cooked mashed sweet potato (about 1 large sweet potato)
1/3 to 1/2 cup whole milk, as needed
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet (with butter, oil or cooking spray).

In a small bowl, whisk together the sweet potato and 1/3 cup milk. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter with your hands, a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the sweet potato mixture and fold gently to combine. Add the remaining milk a little at a time until all the flour is moistened. The amount of milk you will need will depend on the moisture of the sweet potato.

Sprinkle a small handful of flour on a work surface. Turn the dough out onto the surface and knead lightly 2 to 3 times with the palm of your hand until the mixture comes together. Pat the dough out into a 1/2-inch-thick round.

Using a 2 1/2-inch-round biscuit cutter, cut the dough into biscuits. Gently reroll the scraps and cut out more biscuits. Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet and bake until light golden brown and firm to the touch, 12 to 14 minutes. Serve these fluffy biscuits warm or at room temperature.

Cranberry Orange Relish
This is my mom's recipe. She makes this cranberry sauce every year. It's tart and refreshing.

1 lb fresh cranberries
1 orange
3/4 cup sugar

Peel and seed orange, save the peel. Put cranberries, orange, orange peel, and sugar in a food processor and blend until finely chopped. Serve and enjoy!

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