At the first hint of chill in the air, my thoughts turn to Christmas. My mind and heart begin to fill with visions of sugar plums indeed. My weekly menu turns decidedly toward comfort food and I begin rummaging in my brain for homemade Christmas gift ideas for my loved ones. I begin hauling out first the autumn decorations and later the Christmas, decking my halls and every other available surface. I take delight in the season, the magic, wonder and glory of it all. This blog was born from that delight. Here you will find dinner ideas, crafts, decor, stories, memories, and music. Some ideas will be entirely mine, but I will also include anything cute I come across that I think you might like to see, credit given to the creator or source. Please leave me your ideas in the comments and any other feedback you'd like to give.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Dinner Fare

My sister is preparing to host Thanksgiving dinner for the family of her beloved. There's never any pressure in that, right? She is looking for yummy suitable dishes to serve up to the crew. All she requested was "yummy", but I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume she also would like no fuss, traditional, and tried and true. So I'm including recipes that I have used myself and been very pleased with. These are dishes that use harvest vegetables and put them in their best light. So fire up the printer or go grab your recipe cards because these are truly worth trying.

My favorite cookbook I own is the White Dog Cafe Cookbook. The White Dog Cafe itself is in Philadelphia, PA. Author credit goes to Judy Wicks and Kevin Von Klause. Buy it here.

Caraway-roasted Vegetables
1 Large white onion, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 lb red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
4 T olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp rubbed sage
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
6 oz button mushrooms, cleaned
8 oz Brussels sprouts
2 T chopped fresh sage leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 450 deg.
2. In a medium bowl, toss together the onion, potatoes, 2 T of the olive oil, 1 tsp each of the garlic and caraway seeds, and 1/2 tsp of the rubbed sage. Spread the vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through, about 25 minutes. Keep warm.
3. Meanwhile, using the same bowl, toss together the carrots, mushrooms, the remaining 2 T of the olive oil, the remaining 1 tsp each minced garlic and caraway seeds, and the remaining 1/2 tsp of rubbed sage. Spread the veggies in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until slightly golden and just tender, about 15 minutes. Keep warm.
4. While the veggies roast, bring 2 quarts of salted water to a boil. Trim the end off each Brussels sprout with a paring knife. Make two shallow incisions at the base of each, forming an X. Blanch the sprouts until just cooked through, about 4 minutes. To test the Brussels sprouts for doneness, remove 1 from the pot and cut it in half. If cooked through to the center, it's done. Drain and reserve.
5. Toss together the warm roasted vegetables and Brussels sprouts in a large bowl. Season with the chopped fresh sage, salt, and pepper. This dish tastes and looks best when served immediately. However, if necessary, let cool to room temp, cover, and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat in a warm oven before serving.

I'm telling you, this cookbook is plum full of savory delights. If you don't want to get it for yourself, buy it as a Christmas gift for your favorite cook. I got it as a wedding gift and it has seen a lot of use these 10 years.

The next one is from Cooking Light, also a great recipe source online or in publication.

Honey-Roasted Acorn Squash Rings
2 acorn squash (about 3 lbs)
2 T honey
4 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Cut 1/4 inch from stem and bottom of each squash and discard. Cut each squash in half crosswise. Discard the seeds and membrane. Cut each squash half crosswise into 2 (1-inch-thick) slices. Combine 2 T honey, 4 tsp olive oil, black pepper, and salt in a large bowl. Add squash and toss to coat. Place squash on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until tender. Serves 4.

I can't seem to find the recipe for the next one, but have no fear, you can do it without it. When making mashed potatoes, try mashing in some cooked cauliflower. It gives you an extra veggie, but also adds a wonderful earthy flavor to the spuds. I love this as a sneaky way to get cauliflower into my kids.

Here's a slightly less traditional spin on mushrooms that has become a Thanksgiving Dinner staple in our home. This is from the good ol' Better Homes and Gardens Prize-Winning Recipes.

Spicy Teriyaki Mushrooms
2 T sugar
2 T soy sauce
1 T white wine vinegar
1 T cooking oil
1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/8-1/4 tsp garlic powder
24 small mushroom (about 8 oz), halved
2 T sliced green onion

In a medium saucepan combine sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, oil, crushed red pepper, ginger, and garlic powder. Add mushrooms and green onion. Cook and stir over medium heat until heated through. Makes 4 servings.

Watch out, that one can get pretty spicy!

This last one I clipped from Parents Magazine some years ago.

Creamy Pumpkin Soup
4 T butter
1 large onion, finely chopped (though for my taste I prefer to back off a bit on the onion)
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 cans (14 1/2 oz each) reduced sodium chicken broth
1 C water
1 can (29 oz) solid-pack pumpkin
1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 tsp gr. ginger
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp gr. nutmeg
1 C heavy cream

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and carrots; cook five minutes, until softened. Add broth, water, pumpkin, apple, ginger, salt, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to med-low and simmer about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.
2. Using a handheld blender, puree soup in pot, or puree in batches in a standing blender. ( Soup may be prepared up to 2 days ahead to this point.) Whisk in cream. Reheat gently. Ladle into a soup tureen.

To make a pumpkin tureen, heat oven to 375. Cut top off a 5 to 6 pound pumpkin. Scrape out the seeds and some pulp. Rinse inside with cold water; sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Replace top and roast 45 minutes, until pumpkin is slightly softened .

Hopefully that will get you started- let me know if you want other ideas. I'm actually in the process of organizing my recipes. What a task! As I come across others that fit the bill I'll include them here.

Happy cooking!

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