Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Wild Mushroom Wild Rice with Caramelized Onions

 

Wild Mushroom Wild Rice | Spoonwithme.com-19

Rice, gone wild!  Double wild!  Mushroom madness!  All this Thanksgiving recipe testing and eating has put me into a food-induced euphoria.  Wild two times in one title is two too many wilds for one recipe, young lady!  Bring your torches.  Ban.  This.  Site.  Hide your childrens’ eyes!  With all this fungus among-us, it’s gettin’ crazy up in here.

Wild Mushroom Wild Rice | Spoonwithme.com-25Wild Mushroom Wild Rice | Spoonwithme.com-48

I bought a gigantic bag of assorted dried local Colorado mushrooms at the farmers market this summer.  We’re talking two freezer bags worth.  There will not be a mushroom shortage for the foreseeable future in the Spoon With Me house, in case anybody was wondering. What does one do with so many dried mushrooms, you ask?  You know that mouth-coating savory depth that can be hard to achieve in plant-based recipes?  Think of them as a way to boost the umami factor, especially in vegetarian and vegan dishes.  I love to grind them into powder to add savoriness to sauces gravies, and soups.  In this recipe, I used the broth from rehydrating them as part of the cooking liquid for the rice. If you’re a full or part- time vegan or vegetarian, you need dried mushrooms in your arsenal if you want to up the ooooh mommy!

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Tangerine-Port Cranberry Sauce

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We all have our food quirks.  The Mister likes to figure out the best flavor combination on any given plate, then repeat that experience as many times as possible.  Salads are evenly tossed and big ingredients chopped up so that each bite has the optimized flavor.

TangerinePortCranberrySauce|Spoonwithme.com-19

I once ate dinner with a girl who had a phobia of her foods touching each other.  We were at an Asian restaurant.  Plain shrimp, plain vegetables, plain rice.  No sauce, not even soy.  Each part of the meal was eaten by itself, before moving on   I kind of wanted to put a carrot slice on her rice, just to see what would happen, but I figured that was a bit immature.  Phobias ain’t no joke.  I’m the mixing queen.  I like to see how many unique combinations of flavors I can put into each bite.

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Spiced Maple-Glazed Sweet Potatoes, Apples and Butternuts with Caramelized Pepitas

Spiced Glazed Butternuts|Spoonwithme.com-34

The way we’ve celebrated Thanksgiving throughout history has both changed and stayed the same.  What if, instead of the venison and freshly harvested vegetables the Native Americans and the pilgrims shared to celebrate the harvest, this happened:

Once upon a time, back on the first documented Thanksgiving in 1621, the pilgrims that had arrived on the Mayflower shared a feast with the local Native Americans.  

“Thank you for welcoming us to this bounteous land.  I offer unto you this can of cream of mushroom soup as a gesture of peace.  Please prepare it with your freshly harvested green beans and crispy fried onions.”

 “Why thank you, kind pilgrim.  Please, take this gift of congealed cranberries as a symbol of this shared celebration.  And as an extra special bonus offering, this bowl of mashed potatoes, from a tuber that will not actually make its way to ‘America’ until many years from now.”

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Maple-Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Bourbon-Glazed Pecans

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I’m a little behind the Thanksgiving game this year!  Actually, who am I kidding?  I’m always down to the wire on holiday blogging and menu planning.  Mom and I will be sharing the Thanksgiving preparations this year.  She’s a planner.  She keeps me on track.  Mom keeps asking me, Did you figure out what you’re making yet?  Do you know what you’re making yet?  How about the pumpkin pie? In my head, I think, Be cool mama, be cool…I got this.  In reality, when I’m at the grocery store in holiday madness mode the day before Thanksgiving, my mom will be peacefully baking apple pie accompanied by the crooning of Frank Sinatra.  She may be onto something…

Maple Whipped Sweet Potatoes|Spoonwithme-com

For all my fellow menu-procrastinators, a recipe that went over really well last year (and didn’t quite get around to posting in time, surprise, surprise).  It’s inspired by one of my favorite sweet potato casserole recipes shared with my mom and I by a friend of the family.  The problem with most Thanksgiving recipes is that if you are lactose-ally or glutonially challenged (yes, I made up those words), you miss out on the best dishes.

Maple Whipped Sweet Potatoes|Spoonwithme-com (1)

Not anymore!  If you are strategic and resourceful (which of course you are–all my readers are cunning and clever!), you’ll volunteer to bring the dishes that are traditionally dairy or gluten heavy, and you’ll wow everybody with the fact that yes, food can be stupid good, even without loads of milk, flour and sugar!

Maple Whipped Sweet Potatoes|Spoonwithme-com (9)

The sweet potato casserole I used to eat at our Thanksgiving table growing up was sugar-coma sweet with the help of syrupy condensed milk, and topped with a brown sugar walnut crumble topping.  So delicious.  Since I just can’t do it anymore, I’ve enjoyed re-vamping my favorite recipes into less processed, less sweet versions that still satisfy my warm cozy tradition craving.

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This version is made of velvety smooth sweet potatoes with just a hint of bourbon and spice, topped with crunchy cinnamon spiced bourbon and toasted pecans.  Its sweetness hints at dessert, doesn’t spoil it, and it goes perfectly with the cranberry sauce that will inevitably make its way over to the sweet potatoes on your plate.  Thanksgiving is not a holiday for the food separatists!

Maple Whipped Sweet Potatoes|Spoonwithme-com (7)

If you’re a procrastinator, here’s your recipe!  If you are a planner like my mom, tuck this one in the file for next year.  I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving, and enjoy some kitchen shenanigans!

 Maple-Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Bourbon-Glazed Pecans

Serves  10-12

For the sweet potatoes:

5 pounds yams or orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled

1 stick (1/2 cup) vegan butter such as Earth Balance (or use real butter)

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

3/4 cups real maple syrup

big pinch of kosher salt

2 tablespoons bourbon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

For the glazed pecans:

2 cups pecans

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 1/2 tablespoons bourbon

1/3 cup vegan butter

Cut the peeled sweet potatoes into 1 inch pieces and place in a large saucepan.  Fill with water to cover the potatoes by 1 inch, and bring to a boil over high heat.  Once it begins to boil, set the timer and boil for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft but not falling apart.  Drain, then mash with a potato masher or wire whisk in the bowl of a mixer.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, almond milk, maple syrup, salt, and bourbon.  Heat and stir until the butter melts.

Add the melted butter mixture to the potatoes in the mixing bowl.  Using the whisk attachment of an electric mixer, whip the potatoes at medium speed until completely smooth.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Toast the pecans in a nonstick frying pan over medium heat.  Once the pecans are fragrant and appear slightly darkened, remove them from the pan and chop.  Put them back in the pan over medium high heat.  Add the maple syrup, sugar, salt, and cinnamon.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar melts.  Once the sugar melts, add the bourbon, and let it the liquid cook off for about a minute.  Add the butter and stir to coat.

Spread the sweet potato mixture into an 11×8 inch casserole dish.  Spread the nut mixture evenly on top.  Bake at 350˚F for 20-30 minutes, until hot.

Note:  This recipe can be assembled and refrigerated the day before.  The cooking time may need to be increased by 5-10 minutes.

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Filed under Holiday Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegetarian and Vegan

Spiced Apple Croustades

Thanksgiving is a day where you can eat dessert during dinner (sweet potato pie, anyone?), and still eat bonus dessert after dinner is all over.  It’s a time to eat slowly, and together, with friends and family.  Is your time spent laughing and joking, as was par in my family, or participating in more “mature” grown-up conversation?  Growing up with my comedian of a brother, there really was no other option.  Either way, Thanksgiving is sacred time.  Not sacred in the traditional sense, but sacred as in upheld; a time when cell phones are off, no television commercials blaring in the background, and no reason to run off to the next errand.  A time for the face-to-face conversation with people who hopefully uplift you, or if not, at least people who help you grow.

Thanksgiving also marks the starting point to the holiday finish line.  It’s really the calm before the holiday storm, although it may not feel calm now. Ovens on full whack,  family members stuffed into small kitchens, dishes full of Thanksgiving feast components…  Soon enough, there will be concerts to hear, and parties to throw and attend, and gifts to buy…  And more gifts to buy (as I’ve been reminded by all the gurus of black friday advertising).  After the turkey is roasted, and all food is magically hot and ready to put on the table at the same time (ha!), you can let out a big breath and enjoy just being for a little while before the real craziness ensues.

Speaking of all the upcoming festivities,  now’s the time to put a few tricks up your sleeve. You’re going to need a few show-stoppers in your repertoire.  The kind that people ooh and ahh over, and think you spent hours on.  The kind you want to set on the table underneath a silk scarf, and reveal like a rabbit in a hat.

I first laid eyes on these fancy little croustades in the October issue of Bon Appétit. After a little bit of customization (the original recipe needed a few tweaks to turn out right), I was thrilled with the results.  With a medium amount of effort (ie: not this, but certainly not that)  They emerged from the oven in their own little packages, tops all crackly and crisp, filled with gooey spiced apple.  A dusting of powdered sugar put them over the top, and they tasted as good as they looked.  I served them with chinese five-spice coconut milk ice cream (that’s a whole other subject, for another time), and decided to field test them for you, eating one during breakfast time, snack time, and dessert time.  I’m happy to report with confidence that these croustades are equally suited for breakfast (think apple turnovers) as they are for dessert.

Happy cooking, eating, and conversation today, and remember to keep this little gem in your repertoire for when you need a fancy little bite to add to your upcoming festivities.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Apple Croustades

Loosely Adapted from Bon Apetit

Makes 12 Croustades

The apples mixture can be made and refrigerated a day in advance, so all that will be left to do is to layer the phyllo and assemble the croustades.  It’s hard to find dairy-free desserts at this time of the year, with everything filled with heavy cream and butter.  If you’re lucky enough to be a butter-eater, by all means enjoy, but for my dairy-free friends, the results are equally good with Earth Balance.  Oh, and do be sure to thaw your phyllo dough in the refrigerator overnight, as phyllo doesn’t take kindly to thawing in most other ways.

Filling

3 pounds apples, a mix of tart and sweet

1/4 cup unsalted butter or Earth Balance vegan butter, melted

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons of cornstarch mixed to a paste with 2 teaspoons water (optional)

Pastry and Assembly

12 13×18-inch sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed (from a 1-pound package)

1 stick butter or Earth Balance Butter, melted and cooled, plus more for pans, at room temperature

1/3 cup (approximately) sugar

All-purpose flour (for pan)

powdered sugar for dusting

Equipment

Standard muffin pan

Preparation

For the filling:

Peel half the apples.  Core and chop all of the apples into 1/2” pieces.

Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Add the apples, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla extract, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and kosher salt.  Stir to coat.  Reduce heat to medium and cover the pan.  Cook, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes, or until the apples are soft but not mushy.  If much liquid remains, add the cornstarch mixture and stir well.

Set aside to cool completely.  Filling can be made and refrigerated a day in advance.

Assembly:

Preheat oven to 375˚F.

Butter the muffin cups and dust with flour, tapping out excess.

Unroll the phyllo onto a work surface and cover with a damp kitchen towel (squeeze out as much moisture from the towel as you can).

Carefully transfer 1 sheet of phyllo to a clean work surface.  Using a pastry brush, brush the surface of the phyllo with a thin layer of butter, and sprinkle with a generous teaspoon of sugar.  Top with another sheet of phyllo, brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar.  Repeat 2 more times, for a total of four layers of phyllo.Cut the layered phyllo in half lengthwise, then cut both pieces in half crosswise, for a total of four pieces.  Set aside, covered with plastic wrap to prevent drying.

Repeat the process of layering and cutting two more times with the remaining phyllo, butter and sugar, for a total of 12 rectangles.

Arrange the phyllo into each muffin cup, gently pressing the dough down the sides.  Fill each cup with 1/4 cup apple filling.  Gather the edges of the phyllo and press toward the center to make a purse.

Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until golden brown on top, 27-35 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly.  Dust with powdered sugar.  To remove from pan, run a paring knife around the edge of each croustade, and lift them out of the muffin cups onto a serving plate.

Croustades can be returned to the muffin pan and re-warmed if needed.

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Slow Cooker Mulling Spiced Applesauce


Every Sunday, I get out of bed earlier than the mister (teacher schedules are hard to break, even on the weekend!) and pad across the hallway, in my slippers, into the kitchen.  I delight in these morning hours, using the time to read cookbooks, write, and experiment in the kitchen.  When I found a recipe for applesauce in one of the best slow cooker books I’ve come across thus far, I thought, now why didn’t I think of that?  Ever since then, like clockwork, I buy twelve apples on Saturday, and wake up Sunday to begin my new weekly ritual.

Step one:  I always daydream, if only briefly, about having an apple peeler–you know, one of those that winds the apple around a little metal loop, sending ribbons of peel into neat little piles on the cutting board.  I don’t have one, but the truth is, I like the process of peeling around the stem while turning each apple in my hand, and the satisfying chk chk of the peeler.  Being the band geek and music teacher that I am, I get a cheap thrill out of the rhythmic thwaps of multicolored apple pieces flying all over my butcher block all disorganized and random, some faced up, some down.

Now, if you’ve ever read a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, you know that they are obsessed with repetition and variation–trying every possibility, even the slightly ridiculous, to eventually arrive at “the” recipe.  For the past four weekends , I’ve been making like a CI test kitchen.  There have been Granny Smiths, Galas, Fujis and Honeycrisps, sprinkled with granulated sugar and raw sugar, cooked on high and on low, spiced with cinnamon only, and, most recently, (and deliciously might I add), mulling spices–both mixes of whole spices, and those in tea bags.

The process happens like this:  Peel, core, and cut your apples into big chunks.  Stick ‘em in the slow cooker.  Toss with sugar, turn on the slow cooker (seems obvious, one would think), and do something else for 6-8 hours. No use adding the spices until the apples collapse and give you some liquid to nestle them into.  Let the mulling spices steep for a while, then coax the apples into a sauce by smooshing and smoothing the apples against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon until you have your desired texture–I like mine with soft little chunks of apple remaining.  Add more sugar and ground cinnamon, and you’re good to go!  Ever so complicated, I know.

There are still infinite possibilities to be tried, but my favorite variation (so far) tastes just like the applesauce that grandma always used to bring to Thanksgiving in a big pot (hi grandma!), and tastes like a mug of mulled cider.  I like it warm, just out of the slow cooker, or when cold, atop my favorite potato-apple latkes.

I hereby pass my weekly ritual to you.  Happy fall, and happy Thanksgiving!

Mulling-Spiced Slow Cooker Applesauce

Makes 8 Servings (2 quarts)

Adapted from Art of the Slow Cooker by Andrew Schloss

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

4 Granny Smith apples

8 large tart-sweet apples, such as Gala, Fuji, Braeburn, or Honeycrisp

2 to 4 tablespoons sugar (I like to use raw sugar, but granulated works just as well)

1 tablespoon mulling spices, tied in cheesecloth or tea bag*

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste

Mix the vinegar and one gallon cold water in a large bowl. Peel the apples and place them in the vinegar water as soon as they are peeled.   Cut the apples in half lengthwise and scoop out the core with a melon baller.  Put the cut apples back into the vinegar water until needed.  When finished coring, remove the apples from the water (discarding the water), cut into 1-to 2- inch chunks.  Toss the apples in the slow cooker with 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Cover the cooker and cook the apples on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours, or until the apples are completely tender.  Stir the apples with a wooden spoon–they should immediately collapse and form a chunky sauce.  Nestle the mulling spice satchel in the applesauce, cover, and cook for an additional hour.  Remove the mulling spices, and smash and smoosh the apples against the inside of the pot until the sauce is your desired texture.  Add cinnamon and additional sugar to taste.

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Caramelized Onion Dip with Salt and Cracked Pepper Potato Chips

‘Tis the season of ugly sweater parties and open houses, online shopping, and mulled cider.  Weekend nights are hot commodities, and booking up fast.  Where there are holiday parties, there are sure to be appetizers–my favorite things to eat and cook.  I’m not a big fan of the kind of fancy schmancy parties where appetizers must be eaten daintily off of little plates.  I want people to flock around the table, napkins in hand, nibbling, conversing, and laughing between bites.

Campfires, puppies, and dip have one thing in common.  They bring people together.  Just think… Your eyes meet.  The corner of his lip curls into a smile.  You tuck your hair behind your ear.  Your hands brush, halfway between potato chip and dip.  It’s love at first bite.  Who needs mistletoe when you have caramelized onions?

I’ll admit to noshing on chips and dip mixed from little packets on occasion, but that’s another subject.  What I’m talking about here is what store-bought french onion dip secretly wishes it could be–complex, savory, salty and sweet.

Like the Grinch who tried to steal Christmas, the onions start out angry, but really, they’re just lonely.  Once they are given the special treatment (a little butter, some salt, sugar, and some slow attentive stirring), they mellow and sweeten, just like the Grinch’s heart.

Fold them into sour cream, along with fresh thyme, sauteed garlic, and some fresh onions for balance.  Serve with sea salt and cracked pepper potato chips, and you’ll have a dip with enough magnetic power to draw everyone into the smallest room of the house, which is where all the best parties happen anyways.

 

Caramelized Onion Dip

Serves 6-8

  • 2 pounds yellow onions, thinly sliced (reserve 1/3 cup raw onions)
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 16 ounces sour cream
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced onions, chopped (reserved from above)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme leaves

Caramelize the Onions (Process adapted from The Improvisational Cook, by Sally Schneider, and a guide from Real Simple you can find here):

Heat the butter in a large skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the onions, sprinkle with salt, and stir.  Cover and cook for about 12 minutes, or until the onions have released their liquid.

Increase the heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the liquid has evaporated and the onions turn a slight golden color.  Sprinkle with sugar, and continue to cook, stirring frequently until the onions are a deep golden brown, 10-25 minutes more. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool, then finely chop.

Saute the Garlic:

Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan over medium high heat.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly until just beginning to turn golden, about 2 minutes.  Remove the garlic from the heat immediately.

Make the Dip:

Stir together the chopped caramelized onions, raw onions, sauteed garlic, thyme, black pepper, worcestershire sauce, nutmeg, sour cream, and kosher salt to taste.  Using an immersion blender, or a food processor, puree about half of the dip.  Stir together once again.  Serve with vegetables or Salt and Cracked Pepper Potato Chips.

Salt and Cracked Pepper Potato Chips

  • 3 medium russet potatoes
  • canola oil for frying (enough to fill a dutch oven or medium saucepan to 2 inches)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Using a vegetable peeler or mandoline slicer, thinly slice the potatoes, skin and all.

Heat the oil in a dutch oven or medium saucepan until shimmering and hot, but not smoking.  Fry the potatoes in batches until golden around the edges and crispy.  Remove to a paper towel covered plate.  While still hot, sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

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