I’ll separate this into two posts, since Thanksgiving, as the Super Bowl of the foodie world, deserves more attention. I’ll talk sides first.
As a vegetarian, Thanksgiving is mostly about side dishes and dessert for me. If I’m hosting, I’ll usually make a veggie main course along with the turkey. A couple of years ago, I made an acorn squash stuffed with quinoa, wild mushrooms, and smoked mozzarella, and it was awesome. This year we went to our friends’ house for dinner, though, so I just brought ample sides to share. Don’t worry, I still walked away stuffed!
First, I made some simple roasted brussels sprouts. There’s really nothing quite like fresh brussels sprouts. If you hated them as a kid, give fresh ones a try! I just halve them (quarter any bigger ones) toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then roast them in a 400 oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until they’re nice and brown on the edges. Perfecto! So much easier than boiling or steaming them, too, since you don’t have to cut a million little “x”s in the stems. Also, the flavor is much better. Sometimes I’ll sauté them with a little butter and some chestnuts or toasted hazelnuts to finish them off, but I was short on time, so I just went rustic, and they were still great.
I also made a chipotle sweet potato gratin based on this recipe. It’s a dish I have tried a ton of variations on, and I can never seem to get it quite right. I think it’s great in theory, but in practice it usually turns out too soupy, or too greasy, or too spicy, or not spicy enough. It’s always something. Although I like the non-traditional-twist-on-a-traditional-side-dish thing it has going, I think I’ll revert to my mom’s sweet potatoes with honey and pecans next year and save myself the trouble.
The hubby contributed deviled eggs and sausage balls (both veggie and non-veggie) to the feast, so we had something to munch on before the real meal got underway. His tofu sausage balls are a surprisingly good substitute for the meaty ones my grandmother used to make.*
* Yep, it’s my family recipe, but the better half latched on to it and has pretty much made it his own. It’s basically Bisquick, sausage, cheddar cheese, and chopped jalapenos, mixed, formed into balls and then baked.
My favorite new recipe of the year, though, was the cranberry sauce. Cranberry sauce is so delightfully easy to make, and it even gets better if it sits in the fridge for a day, why would you ever go with the canned stuff? I’ve experimented with a few different kinds of cranberry sauce, but I think this one is a keeper.
It’s nicely spiced, has a hint of orange, but not too much, and is sweet but not cloying. Perfect! Nora loved it (although we did limit how much she had, since it is pretty sugar-y), and she also loved to wipe her icky hands on my sweater as she ate. So, any good ideas for getting cranberry stains out??
Spiced Cranberry Sauce
Based on this recipe from Gourmet
12-ounce bag of cranberries, rinsed and picked over
1/2 cup honey
3 to 4 Tbsp firmly packed brown sugar, or to taste
two 3-inch cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup water
In a saucepan combine the cranberries, the honey, the brown sugar, the cinnamon sticks, the cloves, the nutmeg, and the water and simmer the mixture, covered, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cranberries have burst and the mixture is thickened. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and let it cool. The sauce may be made 2 days in advance and kept covered and chilled. Serve at room temperature.