Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Recipes

This is a Thanksgiving spread from probably 6 years ago at my parent's house.  I can see several of the dishes I still make and they are listed here.

So I decided to focus this week's post on some recipes for Thanksgiving.  The thing is, many of us have the same dishes we make each year and we look forward to that because we only have them once a year.  So maybe you just skip this week because you don't need any inspiration-- no problem, see ya next week.
Or, if you are hosting the holiday and need ideas, I hope something here sparks your interest.  Or maybe you need to bring a dish to wherever you are going to dinner; there's several here that will make you look like a rock star.  Some of the recipes are dishes that I've been making at the holidays for many years and so I wanted to share them here.
I also wanted to take a minute to say Happy Thanksgiving.  I know that I have plenty to be thankful for, this blog being one of the many blessings in my life.  Next week I will be up to my eyeballs baking pies and cheesecakes as I have quite a few orders to fill, so I'll be back with a new post in time for the first week of December.

Dry Brined Roast Turkey- Here’s a great guideline for using a dry brine method for roasted turkey from our friend Kate at Savour Fare.  You may find a dry brine far easier to manage than a wet brine.
Roast Turkey- Or there is also this roasting method from Martha, which I have not done myself, but I’ve eaten turkey made this way and it’s very good.

Deep Fried Turkey- I won’t lie, deep fried turkey is GOOD.  I love this method because it cooks the bird in just a few hours.  It’s delicious, it’s not greasy, it frees up the oven for your side dishes and did I mention it’s good?  This link is what I used to learn how to properly deep fry a turkey.
However, there has been a new trend in safer, indoor fryers for turkeys and they claim to use less oil, are safer and they are electric instead of propane powered.  Here is a popular one that comes in a couple sizes with some different features.  I’ve seen them sold in stores like Walmart, Costco and Home Depot.
Indoor Turkey Fryer

Spicy Sweet Potato Gratin- A different take on sweet potatoes instead of a brown sugar or marshmallow combination.  It’s creamy and a touch spicy.

Butternut Squash Baked Risotto- I love the idea of just baking the risotto in the oven and not having to fuss with it over the stove. 

Apple, Leek and Butternut Squash Gratin- This is not a creamy or overly cheesy gratin.  It’s actually rather light, which is a great side dish for the holiday with so many filling foods.  I made this and it's really good.  I think it's great for the holiday, but it's actually good anytime.  Would be perfect with a roasted chicken or even a pork tenderloin.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Maple Vinaigrette- I happen to love Brussels sprouts.  I have a recipe of my own that I make all the time and I've made it at the holidays too.  This one is sort of in the same vein pairing it with sweet and tangy flavors.  Trust me, Brussels sprouts really taste great like this.

Roquefort Pear Salad- If you want to serve a salad, try this one with great fall flavors like sweet pears and pecans. This is a great choice to bring to a dinner if you need to bring a dish.

Roasted Winter Squash with Cornbread Stuffing- This can be a great side dish to serve if you have vegetarians at the table.  It is lacking a protein, but it’s a delicious and filling dish. 

Acorn Squash with Quinoa and Hazelnuts- This is a delicious vegetarian main dish option and it’s also gluten free.  Acorn squash is just naturally attractive so it makes for a beautiful presentation on the plate.

Sauteed Kale with Tahini Sauce- I shared this last week, but wanted to list it here as a quick, easy and healthy option for a green side dish. 

Sweet Potato Spoon Bread- You can make this ahead of time and it can travel well.  Simply re-heat before serving.

Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing- I think of this as an easy, beginners stuffing recipe.  It’s not complicated to make and the ingredients are straightforward.  It also tastes really good.  I went many years not making the stuffing, it was my sister's job.  When I found myself having to make stuffing, this is the recipe I chose.

Microwave Baked Apples- This is really something you can make anytime, but I like it as an easy and healthy dessert option for the holiday.  And it’s the sort of thing you can have older kids help with. 

Cranberry Salad- This is very similar to an ambrosia salad but uses just cranberries, grapes and pecans.  I'm not sure how many years I've been making this salad.  At least 10 years, maybe longer.  Sometimes at both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake- Paula Deen, the Queen of Butter has a delicious (albeit totally fattening) cake that is easily adaptable to create different flavors.  The basic butter cake is great, but the pumpkin version is outstanding.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Meals for the Week of November 14, 2011

Sweet Potato Pie with Italian Meringue (recipe is below!)
I know I'm starting right off the bat with a photo of a sinful (but delicious!) pie, it happens to be made with sweet potato, so let's take a minute to talk about the foods that are in season in the fall.

Sweet Potato- Super rich in Vitamin A, good source of Vitamin C and Beta-Carotene.  And apparently with the inclusion of a bit of fat, like a few teaspoons of olive oil, helps increase the intake of the beta-carotene in the sweet potato.  Just oven bake or steam some, mash with the olive oil and season with cinnamon and nutmeg.  Simple and delicious!

Butternut Squash-  As with all winter squash, butternut squash is also rich in Vitamin A and beta-carotene and it's got a good amount of Vitamin C and potassium.  Another interesting thing to note is that there are some good anti-oxidants in winter squash as well as omega-3's.  It's not as high in omega-3's like nuts or fish, but it's a good low-fat source of omega-3's.

Kale- I actually see Kale year round, but I'm in California.  However, my CSA box delivers kale to me right now, so I consider that to be the more accurate season for it.  Kale is like the mother of all green vegetables.  It scores 1000 on the ANDI which is the highest score and means it's the most nutrient dense food.  It has antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients and anti-cancer nutrients.  In other words; Good Stuff.  Other greens like collard also score 1000, so eating these 4 to 5 times a week is ideal to get a healthy serving of all the great nutrients.

I've had a lot of recipes for all of these lately, so I wanted to just give a little nutritional information so you can have an idea of what these yummy foods can do for your health.

This week I included some more recipes you may want to consider for your holiday table.  I also tried to find some more kid-friendly and meatless recipes.

Meals for the Week of November 14, 2011

Burger Sliders- Fun for kids and inexpensive to make.  Use ground turkey instead of beef if you prefer.  Serve with sweet potato fries and a salad.

Baked Southwestern Tilapia- Simple and flavorful, ready in under 15 minutes.

Lemon Garlic Spaghetti- A simple and delicious meatless meal. 

Glazed Pork Chops- Pork can be very lean and the center cut pork chops are especially lean.  This recipe uses a method where you cook the chops hot and fast, remove them, make a sauce in the pan and then add the chops back in for a few more minutes.  It’s a cooking method you can apply in so many ways.  Fancy, but so easy! 

Quick Chicken Tacos- This comes together really quickly which makes it perfect for a weeknight.  You can either keep some cooked chicken on hand in the freezer (which I often do) or use this recipe next time you have a leftover roasted chicken.

Chicken Tortilla Soup- Very easy to make and also a good meal for making in advance.  If you’d prefer the soup to remain more like a broth and not thickened by tortillas, then don’t add the tortillas in the first step.  Just have tortilla chips to garnish it with.

Curried Cous Cous with Broccoli and Feta- A filling meatless entrée that is packed with fiber and good vitamins.  It can also be a side dish in a smaller portion and perfect to pack for lunch.  I suggest sautéing the onions in a little olive oil to sweeten them if you want to cut down on the strong raw onion flavor.

Butternut Macaroni Casserole- It’s mac and cheese with a fall twist.  But it’s actually a great meatless dish, and it’s not loaded with cream and cheese, it uses coconut milk instead.  Just add a side of green veggies or a salad.  I just shared this recipe in October, but it’s worth sharing again. 

A-Plus Alphabet Soup- A kid-friendly, inexpensive and healthy meal. 

Curried Squash & Chicken Soup- You can control the heat with adding a little of the red curry paste at a time, a little goes a long way.  I found a jar of paste made by Thai Kitchen in the Asian food section of the supermarket.   The recipe is written to serve 2, but you can easily just double it to serve more or to have leftovers for lunch.

Sauteed Kale with Tahini Sauce- Another delicious way to enjoy nutrient rich kale.  She even suggests this as a green veggie side dish for the holidays. 

Butternut Squash Gratin- Delicious for the holiday or any fall meal.  It comes together very easily. 

Pumpkin Frozen Yogurt- This is my own creation, a variation on a recipe I found and decided to try using higher-protein Greek Yogurt.  If you are a fan of All Things Pumpkin, you will enjoy this!

Sweet Potato Pie with Italian Meringue- This is from my sister’s blog.  If you make this for the holidays you will be a rock star.  It’s really good.  It’s different from sweet potato pie recipes that have pumpkin pie spice.  This is pure sweet potato with a hint of orange and topped with fancy marshmallow fluff.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Meals for the Week of November 7, 2011

Issues with lack of Internet waylaid me from posting at the end of last week with meals for the week of October 31st, my apologies for that.  But I come this week bearing gifts.  This week I hosted in my home a cooking session with women from my Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group.  The idea was that they could bring their kids and we could also cook.  So it was a play date and cooking date.  It was a high energy couple of hours but we made 3 different things for 5 families.   We made some recipes I have shared here;  baked rigatoni with sausage, butternut squash and kale, a meatless marina sauce and Parmesan Chicken nuggets which I have listed this week. 

Parmesan Chicken- we froze them unbaked so everyone could take them home to bake when they wanted.
The Parmesan Chicken bakes up so crispy and delicious!

Baked Rigatoni with Sausage, Butternut Squash and Kale

Afterward, I was thinking about how to facilitate more cooking dates like that and I also remembered that long ago I created some templates for weekly meal plans and labels for freezing meals.  So I wanted to share those with you this week and hope that they will come in handy for you.

Freezer labels- Ready to print on Avery 5164 (or equivalent) labels. 

Meal Planning Template- It's an Excel file that you can keep on your computer, fill out and print each week.  It includes breakfast, lunch and dinner which you may find helpful for creating your entire shopping list or helping with planning what to pack for lunch for work or school.

This week we continue with great fall foods using seasonal ingredients and some inexpensive and quick weeknight meals.  I also have two side dishes that you might be interested preparing for the holidays.

Meals for the Week of November 7, 2011

Butternut Squash or Pumpkin Chili- Totally perfect for fall. 

Taco Cupcakes- I love the idea of making mini servings of things in cupcake pans.  These are fun for kids or would be great for a party. 

Spaghetti Squash Marinara with Italian Sausage- Instead of pasta, use delicious spaghetti squash.  You can make the squash in advance and then re-heat and add your favorite pasta sauce.
Chicken Stuffed with Spinach, Feta and Pine Nuts- Very simple stuffed chicken.  Pine nuts can be pricey but this recipe calls for just a mere 2 tablespoons. If you

Parmesan Chicken- Homemade chicken nuggets breaded with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.  You could also serve them with marinara sauce and cheese.  I highly recommend taking the time to prep a large batch, spread them on a pan and freeze, once frozen they can be transferred to a freezer bag or container, then they can be ready to bake when you want.

Taco Mac- A macaroni casserole with taco seasoned meat and tomatoes.  Yum.

Apple and Cheddar Whole Wheat Quesadillas-This can certainly be a snack, but I consider quesadillas my go-to meal for a busy night.  Have a salad or tomato soup on the side and it’s a complete meal.

Turkey Meatloaf- A tasty and lower fat alternative to traditional beef meatloaf.

Easy Italian Pasta Bake- You can make this ahead to bake later, or if you have pre-cooked ground meat on hand you can use it in this.  It’s healthy with whole wheat pasta and use ground turkey instead of beef to make it even healthier.

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup- Not your usual chicken noodle soup.  Recipe suggests using precooked chicken to speed up the cooking which makes it quick for a week night meal.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos- A bunch of cilantro is so inexpensive and this dish is easy.  She also provides instructions for making it as a freezer meal.

Butternut Squash with Sage-  This is a classic flavor combination. You don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving to make this, give it a try and if you love it, then serve it again for the holiday.

Mashed Potatoes with Brown Butter, Goat Cheese and Sage- If you are open to  trying something new for Thanksgiving instead of basic mashed potatoes, you MUST try these.  THE BEST.  Seriously.  Do it.