Monday, November 22, 2010

need some last minute thanksgiving ideas?

i spent today shopping for thanksgiving and had long conversations with other shoppers in whole foods and trader joe's. first, i was buying brussels sprouts and a women asked me how i was going to prepare them. apparently her husband's cousin loves brussels sprouts and specifically requested them for t-day. she had never prepared them before and was in a bit of a panic. i shared with her my easy & delicious recipe for roasted brussels sprouts with garlic & balsamic...slow roasted at high heat until the sprouts are caramelized, sweet and amazingly good. even brussels sprouts "haters" love them. i gave her my blog address, helped her select the most beautiful looking produce and sent her on her way. another customer was listening and asked if i made mashed potatoes. she confessed her version always tasted "gummy". i told her i make smashed potatoes with roasted garlic at thanksgiving...i am a texture person and like the bits of skin, chunky potatoes and garlic pieces in this preparation. she loved the idea and asked for the recipe. i happily obliged. (note, i normally do not chat up other shoppers...but... hey... they came to me!!)

driving home, it occurred to me that the emotion both of these women shared was panic. they were stressed, unhappy and not at all looking forward to cooking the thanksgiving meal. kinda sad don't you think? i think this totally misses the point of the holiday which is giving thanks for all that we have and sharing the day with the people that we love. otherwise, what is there to celebrate?

my advice is to do what makes you what makes you happy. cook easy dishes that celebrate the harvest. select the best quality, freshest, local, organic-if-you-can ingredients and don't muck them up with overly complicated preparations. learn to roast and make it your best friend in fall/winter. nothing is simpler than roasting the turkey, sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts. if you are not a baker...and don't want to all means buy your pie from your favorite bakery. better yet, ask a baker friend to provide dessert.

i love to cook...but my thanksgiving menu is easy-breezy because i want to relax and enjoy this day. i want to eat, watch football, take our annual thanksgiving walk throughout downtown napa and get a first peek at the holiday decorations....maybe take a nap?
for my menu this year, i am intrigued by a stuffing recipe i found in bon appetit...cornbread with andouille sausage, fennel & bell peppers. i think i will substitute italian sausage because it sounds really good with the fennel. my turkey recipe is also from bon appetit, but from a few years ago. and because i love to tinker with ideas, i am going to make my tried and true pumpkin pie recipe...but add a brown sugar-walnut topping that i saw in...yet again... bon appetit. i have included the recipes for all three of these ideas...but the links will take you to the exact bon appetit version. i will let you know after t-day how my "tweaks" turn out.

so here is my thanksgiving menu, with links to all the dishes i talked about in this post. if you are still searching for recipes, feel free to use any/all of them. every one is delicious. to all of you, a happy, healthy and delicious thanksgiving. (for the non-americans reading this post...try the dishes anyway, they are really good...and happy start of the holiday season!)

our 2010 thanksgiving menu
*roast turkey with herb rub and shiitake mushroom gravy
*cornbread stuffing with andouille, fennel & bell peppers
(bon appetit, nov 2010 page 113)
*smashed potatoes with roasted garlic
*roasted sweet potato fries (recipe follows)
roasted brussels sprouts with garlic & balsamic
*harvest chutney
*pumpkin pie with brown sugar-walnut topping

roasted sweet potato fries
4 large organic sweet potatoes, scrubbed and unpeeled
extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp aglio, olio, peperoncino (or 2 garlic cloves minced, 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 tsp italian parsley chopped
grey salt
freshly ground black pepper

preheat oven to 400 degrees. cut sweet potatoes into french fry thick or thin as you like. spread onto a rimmed baking sheet ensuring they are in a single layer. use two sheets if necessary. drizzle the olive oil over the potatoes, 4-5 passes of the bottle. using your hands, turn the fries in the oil ensuring all sides are coated. sprinkle the aglio (or seasonings), salt and pepper over the top of the fries. roast for 1 hour , or until fries are golden brown and a bit crunchy. (thicker cut fries may need a bit longer, check every 15 minutes after the first hour). serve immediately.

this is the last week of fall fest and the topic is "bounty to be grateful for" . what a perfect way to end the season. simply leave your favorite thanksgiving tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below, and then go visit the collaborators listed on the blog away to garden and do the same.

massive thanks to margaret roach and deb puchalla for coordinating fall fest 2010. as has been a blast. looking forward to next year

best and happy cooking! happy thanksgiving everyone!

diane padoven
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style™ "
do you like us? really like us? then please join our facebook fan page
Follow napafarmhouse on Twitter

to receive special offers only available to our preferred customers, please sign up for the mailing list on the right hand side of this post...

1 comment:

JoAnna said...

I am not a brussels sprouts fan, but your recipe makes me want to give them another try. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving.