Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Thanksgiving Appetizer

No, this post is not about appetizers but the post itself is a taste of the holiday to come (next week already!).

(Classic Hand Turkey proving my role as a traditionalist)

I love Thanksgiving but I pretty much hate Thanksgiving food. Hate is a strong word. Thanksgiving food is not my favorite part of the holiday season with a major exception in the form of my grandmother's pecan pie.

(Pecan Pie Picture from Food and Wine...I promise my grandma's pie looks even better)

I am, however, a big traditionalist and I do not want to eradicate all aspects of Thanksgiving thoroughfare (and, after all, you can walk it all off on Black Friday).

(A visual representation of Black Friday...or a soccer of those)

Here are my ideas for a Thanksgiving update, keeping all of the tradition but eliminating the heavy gravy/mashed potato/I should have worn expandable pants and need to fall asleep now feeling (well, you might still feel the latter part but you will be significantly more satisfied). 

Warning: These dishes are not meant to be consumed in tandem.

Food divided by the necessary flavors:

Butternut Squash (3 ways)

Butternut Squash Lasagne 
Recipe courtesy of Giada

Eat pasta & squash & cheese and look like Giada! Ok, not really, but this Italian take on the fall favorite will be delicious even if it may not make you look delicious. I made it at my 2010 Christmas party and there was nothing left at the end of the evening.

Parmesan Roasted Butternut Squash 
Recipe Courtesy of Gourmet Magazine

The roasting aspect at least appears to make it slightly healthier and the Parmesan aspect certainly makes it infinitely tastier. 

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Sugared Walnuts 
Recipe Courtesy of Cooking Light Magazine  

Still a side but with more layered fall flavors...

Turkey (3 ways)

Turkey Osso Bucco 
Recipe Courtesy of Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop

Allowing a change from the standard stuffed turkey, turkey osso bucco is still rich and decadent but with a simpler blend of flavors.

Turkey Chili 
Recipe Courtesy of Cooking Light

This turkey chili is incredibly light and with the addition of the lime and cilantro it is refreshing as well as comforting.

Turkey Bolognese 
Recipe Courtesy of Giada 

Full disclosure: this recipe is a personal favorite and as a bonus the ingredients are cheap and it is incredibly simple to execute (not to mention, it is DELECTABLE).

Cranberries (3 ways)

Oatmeal, Cranberry & Chocolate Chunk Cookies 
Recipe Courtesy of Giada

Cranberry sauce is my least favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal (except for MAYBE gravy). Dessert is my favorite part. Forgetting about the sauce and putting that cranberry flavor into a dessert instead? Brilliant!

Holiday Sticky Buns 
Recipe Courtesy of Ina Garten

...Or have those cranberries as a decadently sweet breakfast (after all, you have to WARM UP for dinner)  

Mixed Grain Pilaf with Cranberries and Pine nuts 
Recipe Courtesy of Williams-Sonoma

So you just HAVE to have cranberries with the main course? Put those cranberries in more of a supporting role with this simple Williams-Sonoma recipe (also check out that website's Cranberry Sorbet which I resisted putting on here since that would be 7 dessert-like things).


Is pretty good---if you want to splurge in an area that is not dessert, this food should be first in the running and perhaps (definitely) deserves its very own post.

Potatoes (3 ways)

Crispy Lemon Potatoes 
Recipe courtesy of Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop

For those of you who still harbor some skepticism when it comes to GP's cooking prowess, you will be happy to know she has the official seal of approval from Jeffrey Steingarten, Vogue's food writer. So cease your "she's too skinny to know anything about food" comments and try these potatoes with a refreshing citrus-y twist.

Sweet Potato Fries 
Recipe Courtesy of Giada

I don't love fries or sweet potatoes (am I allowed to admit that publicly?) but I love these sweet potato fries and I am certain you will as well! These fries were also a hit at the aforementioned holiday party. 

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Maple Cinnamon Sage Brown Butter 
Recipe Courtesy of Giada

So apparently I dream of being Italian but gnocchi is a pasta made from potatoes and this version includes the holiday-apropos sweet potato AND maple and cinnamon so this dish is basically Christmas on a plate (you're welcome).

Dessert (4 ways---the most essential part of the meal clearly gets an extra shout out)

Maple Pecan Pie 
Recipe Courtesy of Ina Garten

Not as amazing as my grandmother's pie (recipe to come as soon as she e-mails it to me/figures out e-mail), but Ina Garten will most likely not have to be banished from the Hamptons in shame. This pie is an incredibly delicious alternative to Irene O'Brien's original.

Peanut Butter Cookies 
Recipe Courtesy of Betty Crocker WITH a Variation (ADD SOME KISSES...CHOCOLATE THAT IS!)

These cookies are my favorite at the holidays (they are amazing as a side to pecan pie). Just make the Betty Crocker Peanut butter cookie recipe but instead of making the fork indentations, add the kisses on top as soon as they come out of the oven. The best result occurs if you do half the cookies with milk chocolate (for other people) and half the cookies with dark chocolate (for me). Also, it is VERY important to roll the peanut butter cookie dough balls in LIGHT brown sugar before you bake them because (a) dark brown sugar will cause the cookies to be too crispy and (b) if you are going to have dessert, do not skimp on the sugar.

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Recipe Courtesy of Kraft WITH a Variation

I think I said it all in the title except I created this variation as a gift to my little brother and that is why I am his favorite sister.

Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie
Recipe Courtesy of Cooking Light

Pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, ice cream and brandy means that, yes, Christmas has come early this year.

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