Tag Archives: thanksgiving sides

Pre-Thanksgiving Potluck

19 Nov

Today was an all-around great day.  I will say straight off I forgot to take pictures of the wonderful recipes below.  But, hey, I was a little overexcited tonight, because Zak proposed when I got home from school today. :)  I couldn’t be happier and was on cloud nine all day.  Then, I got to spend the evening with my wonderful friends eating some delicious food, drinking some beer and wine, talking, laughing (a hell of a lot!), and listening to some great music (new Girl Talk!).  It was so exciting to announce our engagement to my friends and get so much love and support from everybody.  I could not be happier about getting to spend my life with such a wonderful man.  Every day since I’ve met him has been so wonderful.  Equally importantly, I could not ask for better in-laws.  I can’t wait to have my first sister (in-law), and my future mother-in-law and father-in-law are so amazingly awesome.  I love them all to death and can’t wait to have his huge extended family as my own.

Annnnnyyyyyyyway …. if you’re looking for Thanksgiving recipes, below is a good start.  I won’t lie and say they aren’t time consuming – because they are – but they are not at all difficult.  It’s just a lot of slicing, layering, chopping, etc.  The good news is that much of this can be done beforehand.  I had everything in the fridge last night.  You could easily do the caramelized onions/mushrooms for the dip and grate the cheese for the gratin 2 days before.  Use your judgment.  Most of the ingredients in these recipes, with the exception of the sliced potatoes for the gratin (which, I won’t lie, takes awhile to assemble) can be done in advance.  At the very least, you can have everything chilling in the refrigerator and ready to go in the oven the evening before.

Really, though, despite the fact that these are not quick and easy recipes … you can taste the love.  These dishes were winners all around at our pot luck.  Like I said, this was a great day for me.  I got congrats for my engagement and praise for my cooking (and more than one comment about how it was obvious why he was marrying me!).

Hot Cheesy Mushroom Dip

I often save recipes for dips and appetizers from around the web but rarely get the chance to use them since we do not entertain very often.  I was really excited to try out this warm dip.  Caramelized onions, you say?  Mushrooms?  Cheese … lots of cheese?  Sign me up.

Adapted from Closet Cooking

Serves 4-8

2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

2 tbs. butter

1 medium onion, sliced

1 1/2 lbs. crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1/2 cup white wine

2 4 oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup mozzarella, grated

1/2 cup Parmesan, grated

1/4 cup Gouda, grated

Assortment of crackers/store bought crostini bread

In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil.  Add butter and melt.  Add onion and cook until lightly caramelized, roughly 20 minutes.  Add mushrooms and sauté until caramelized, roughly 20 minutes.  Add garlic and thyme and sauté until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.  Season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Add wine to deglaze pan, cooking until liquid has evaporated/been absorbed by mushrooms.

Preheat oven to 350º.

Add 1/2 of mushroom mixture to food processor and puree.  In large bowl, mix pureed and other mushrooms, cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, and cheeses.  Transfer to a baking dish.  Bake in preheated oven until bubbling and golden brown on top, about 20-40 minutes.

Serve with an assortment of crackers/crostini bread.

Potato and Onion Gratin

This is an enlarged version (sans-green onion) of the potato and onion gratin I made last week when our friend came over for the basketball game.

Serves 10

1 large white onion, thinly sliced

9 small potatoes, thinly sliced (use a mandolin or food processor slicer for best results)

9 tbs. all natural, whole wheat flour

6 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbs. unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups 1% milk

3 cups grated Gruyère cheese

3 cups grated very sharp cheddar cheese

1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375º.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.  Whisk in milk.

Meanwhile, spray casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Toss potatoes and onion in flour to coat.  Place one layer of potatoes, then onion in casserole dish.  Top with a few tablespoons of milk-butter mixture, including some garlic, 1/4 of each type of cheese.  Add another layer of potatoes and onions and repeat two more times.  Top with remaining cheese.

Bake, uncovered, about 1 hour.  If top is not browned or crisp, transfer to the broiler for 5-10 minutes.  Let stand 15-20 minutes before serving.

Giblet and Herb Dressing

This recipe is an amalgamation of all of the ways I’ve seen stuffing prepared by my family members over the years.  Normally, I would make a sausage stuffing, but we had a few Jewish gentlemen who keep kosher in the group, so I decided to make giblet stuffing instead (some pretty extensive Googling confirmed this was okay).

Serves 12

1 sack giblets from chicken

2 cups water

3/4 cup plus 2 tbs. butter, plus more for buttering casserole dish

1 3/4 cups diced celery

1 cup onion, chopped

1 cup carrot, chopped

1 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced

14 cups day old bread, chopped into 1/4″ to 1/2″ cubes (I used one loaf French bread and one loaf Italian white bread)

3 1/2 cups homemade chicken broth

1 tsp. dried crushed rosemary

3 tbs. fresh sage leaves, finely chopped

3 tbs. fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped

1 tsp. poultry seasoning

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

In a small sauce pan, add giblets and add water to cover (about two cups).  Season with kosher salt.  Simmer, covered, roughly 1 1/2-2 hours until tender.  Add liver and simmer another 20-30 minutes.  Reserving one cup cooking liquid, remove giblets and chop.

Preheat oven to 350º.

Heat butter over medium heat in a large stock pot. Add onion, celery, carrots, dried rosemary, fresh sage leaves, and fresh thyme leaves and sauté until vegetables are tender, roughly 8 minutes.  Add mushrooms and cook an additional 5-7 minutes until mushrooms have given off liquid and lightly caramelized.  Add broth and bring to a slow boil.

Remove stock pot from heat and stir in bread cubes, reserved giblets and their cooking liquid, and poultry seasoning.  Dressing should be moist but not sopping wet.  Transfer to large buttered casserole dish and cover tightly.  Bake in preheated oven roughly 45 minutes.  Remove cover and bake an additional 15 minutes until dressing is toasted.

Roast Chicken with Savory Sweet Potato Souffles

15 Nov

I’ve never made a soufflé before.  I’m really not a huge fan of measuring ingredients and it just always seemed like they were scary and intimidating and something not really in the realm of possibility for me.  However, I’ve gotten better at measuring things since I started this blog (so, you know, I could actually write a real recipe and replicate it later), and when I came across a recipe for a savory sweet potato soufflé I figured I had to give it a shot.  Doubly so because we got several really lovely sweet potatoes in our CSA basket and Zak isn’t the hugest fan.  I thought I might have to get creative, so the soufflé seemed like the perfect option.  I’m pleased to announce that these turned out light, airy, fluffy and absolutely yummy.  I will no longer be afraid of the soufflé.

Paired with a simple roast chicken (please read this post for full how-to on how to roast the perfect chicken), this was a really light and flavorful dinner.  I’m so happy I added the soufflé to my repertoire, because I can sense a lot of really great variations coming on (in the mean time, I need to get the proper attachment for my food processor to whisk eggs, because my wrist was hurting a little bit after beating the eggs to death by hand).  See the picture of the really beautiful and yummy roast chicken after the jump.

[Note: While soufflés will not stay puffed up for long and will not re-puff upon reheating, they are still perfectly good as leftovers.  Sure, they lose a little in elegance, but they still taste great and have a nice texture.]

Roast Chicken with Savory Sweet Potato Souffles

Roast Chicken:

1 whole young chicken, rinsed in cold water with any remaining pinfeathers, neck and giblets removed (save these for homemade chicken stock!) (5.5 lbs.)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning


2-3 cups water per pound of chicken (25 cups water)

1/2 cup kosher salt per pound of chicken (less if you will be brining for longer than one hour per pound) (2 1/2 cups kosher salt)

1/2 cup white, granulated sugar per pound of chicken (2 1/2 cups white, granulated sugar)

1 tbs. whole black peppercorns (about a dozen)

4 cloves garlic, crushed with flat of knife

1 lemons, quartered

1/2 small white onion

1 radish, quartered

3 stalks celery, cut into 2-3″ pieces

1 medium carrot, cut into 2-3″ pieces

1 tbs. crushed red pepper flakes

Handful of fresh chives

To begin, in a medium or large saucepan heat roughly half of the water necessary for the final brining solution over medium-high heat until it reaches a simmer.  A little at a time, add kosher salt and sugar while whisking until dissolved.  It may be necessary to add more water to the saucepan in order to dissolve all of the salt and sugar.  Once the salt and sugar are dissolved, transfer the water, plus any additional water according the measurements above, to a container large enough to hold the brining solution and chicken.  This can be done in a large ziplock bag, though I prefer to use a large stock pot

Add all other brine ingredients and allow brining solution to cool to room temperature, placing solution in refrigerator for 15-20 minutes if necessary.  Once the solution is room temperature or cool to the touch, add the chicken to the solution.  Place the chicken in the refrigerator and let soak in brining solution about one hour per pound (round up to the nearest hour).

Remove chicken from brining solution by straining through a colander.  Make sure you save all brining ingredients.  Dress the chicken with lemon, onions, garlic, radishes, celery, carrots, fresh chives, and peppercorns by shoving deep into the cavity.  Season liberally with crushed red pepper flakes pepper and poultry seasonings.  Allow the chicken to rest overnight, at least 18 hours.  This allows most of the moisture to evaporate from the skin of the chicken, which will result in a crispier skin (my favorite part!).

Preheat oven to 475°.

Remove chicken from refrigerator and place on a baking dish on top of a roasting rack.  Juice 1/2 lemon over the chicken, using a pastry brush to cover most of the exposed skin if necessary.  Place chicken in preheated oven on center rack.  Roast at 475° for 15 minutes or until skin is light golden brown.  After 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350°.  Roast chicken roughly 20 minutes per pound (rounding up to nearest pound), or until meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken’s thigh reads 185º.  If chicken becomes overly brown, tent with a piece of tinfoil.

When fully cooked, remove chicken from oven and cover with tinfoil.  Rest 15-20 minutes, which will allow juices to redistribute and result in a tender, juicy bird.

Savory Sweet Potato Soufflés:

Adapted from Martha Stewart.com

2 medium sweet potatoes, cleaned and poked with a fork

Freshly cracked black pepper

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tbs. butter, plus more to grease baking dishes

1/2 cup onion, finely chopped

1 small garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp. fresh thyme, minced finely

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 tbs. all natural, whole wheat flour

1/2 cup 1% milk

3/4 cup coarsely grated Gruyère cheese

3 large eggs, separated

Preheat oven to 400º.  Place sweet potatoes on a tinfoil lined baking sheet.  Bake sweet potatoes 30-60 minutes.  When done, potatoes will be easily pierced with a fork.  Let cool and remove skins.

Reduce oven heat to 375º.

Transfer insides of sweet potatoes to a food processor.  Season with kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and 1 tsp. garlic powder.  Butter three 1 1/4 cup cups/ramekins and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over  medium-low heat.  Add onion, garlic, and thyme.  Check seasonings and season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring often, until onion is softened and translucent, about 8 minutes.  Stir in flour and cook, while stirring, about 3 minutes.

Slowly whisk in milk.  Simmer, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup cheese and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Whisk in sweet-potato puree, then egg yolks, one at a time.

In a clean mixing bowl, beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form.  Whisk 1/4 of whites into cheese mixture.  Gently fold in the rest with a rubber spatula.

Place ramekins/cups on a rimmed baking sheet.  Pour mixture into ramekins/cups and sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake 15-20 minutes until puffed and golden brown.  Top with a small sprig of fresh thyme.

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