Turkey Day Take-Alongs

Turkey Day Take-Alongs

I talk a lot (yes, I hear you) about hosting holiday dinners, especially Thanksgiving. But, I realize a lot of you guys are the “bringers”. You have offered to bring a dish, or asked by your hostess to bring a dish, and don’t want to come empty-handed to the party! It’s hard to bring the traditional sides, because these are steeped in custom. (Heaven help me if I offer hubby a dressing casserole that doesn’t include white raisins!)

I thought I would give you a couple of my untraditional side dishes that are easy to make in advance, bake at the last minute, and that travel well. Here ya go and here’s a visual preview of the wonderfully tasty mess you’ll make:

Stuffed Tomatoes: Cut plum tomatoes horizontally and gently squeeze out some of the seeds. Take a knife and slash a couple of slits into the core of the tomatoes. Place them (slashed side up) into a baking pan, coated with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with seasoned bread crumbs, and top with Gorgonzola cheese crumbles. Bake at 375° until the tomatoes are soft and the cheese is soft and melty, about 25 to 30 minutes. You can prepare these tomatoes the day before. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and roast before you are ready to leave. These are wonderful served at room temperature.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Sriracha Aioli, Fresh Mint and Chopped Peanuts: The most important part of any Brussels Sprouts recipe is to blanch them first. This produces a soft sprout that is moist and flavorful. That said, the best way I’ve found to blanch sprouts is in the microwave. Remove any tough leaves from the outside, cut in half and place into a microwave safe bowl. Add a little water, cover with plastic wrap and microwave for about 4 or 5 minutes. If you have a vegetable setting, you can use this to pre-cook your sprouts. Transfer the sprouts to a baking dish, coated with olive oil. Sprinkle with more olive oil, salt, pepper and grated Parmesan cheese. Bake at 400° until the Brussels are soft and the outer leaves are beginning to char, about 25 to 30 minutes. You can prepare the Brussels Sprouts the day before. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and roast before you are ready to leave. For the sauce, combine ½ cup mayonnaise with 2 minced garlic cloves and 1 to 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce. Place the “aioli” into a squeeze bottle, mince up some fresh mint leaves and chop some roasted peanuts. When the Brussels sprouts come out of the oven, drizzle the sauce over the top and sprinkle with fresh mint and chopped nuts. These too, are wonderful served at room temperature.

Roasted Zucchini with Olives, Capers Parmesan Cheese and Pine Nuts: I hope you are seeing a theme with these veggie dishes! Cut zucchini into 1 ½-inch rounds and place into a baking dish that has been coated with vegetable oil spray. Sprinkle with more olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the zucchini with pitted, chopped Kalamata olives, drained and rinsed capers, grated Parmesan cheese and pine nuts. Bake at 375°until the pine nuts begin to brown, and the zucchini is soft, about 25 to 30 minutes. Yup, these are great at room temperature also!!

And, finally here is an appy recipe that you can make in advance, assemble before you leave your house and place on the table when you get where you are going!

Pumpkin Hummus

With Home Made Pita wedges and Crudité

Serves a Crowd

30 Minute Cuisine

There’s nothing like a light and healthy appy at the beginning of a calorie laden meal. This hummus is light and airy and has just the right touch of fall pumpkinness to make everyone happy!

For Hummus:

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 cup pumpkin puree

¼ cup olive oil

4 cloves garlic, peeled

Juice of ½ medium lemon, about 1 tablespoon

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

For Pita Chips:

4 whole pita chips, cut into wedges (about 32 total)

4 tablespoons butter, melted

2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated, about ½ cup

For Crudité:

Celery sticks

Carrot sticks

Radishes, sliced

Petite green beans

Bell peppers, sliced into strips

Place the chickpeas, pumpkin puree, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, thyme and paprika into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to form a smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the pumpkin hummus into a bowl.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Place the pita wedges onto a baking sheet. Brush with butter and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake until the tops of the pitas are golden, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Serve the hummus with warm pita wedges and crudité.



Fuel up for the day ahead with this Thanksgiving breakfast idea

Fuel up for the day ahead with this Thanksgiving breakfast idea

If you are da one… da one who gets up at the crack of dawn on Thanksgiving morning to organize, roast, peel and set, then you are probably also the one that looks askance at the first peep to enter your kitchen that morning, asking “What’s for breakfast?”

Umm…Really? You’re probably up to your eyeballs in pie dough and giblets. Who thought about breakfast? Well, here’s a FUN, seasonal breakfast recipe that you can make a couple of days in advance, and lay out on the table for all the peeps, whenever they show up. It’s yummy, and light enough that they’ll probably come back into the kitchen at noon and ask, “What’s for lunch?”

Pumpkin Pie Spice Yogurt

With Pumpkin Granola and Berries

Serves 6 to 8

20 Minute Cuisine plus some Chilling

Nothing screams Fall like pumpkin. Just look at all the flavored coffees, smoothies, cakes and donut spreads… it goes on and on! So, why not pumpkin-up your favorite breakfast foods? Stir some pumpkin pie flavorings into your morning yogurt, and make your weekday breakfast just a little more pumkinfied! It’s yummy on Thanksgiving morning……..

For Yogurt:

1 (24-ounce) container Greek yogurt

½ cup half and half

1 teaspoon pumpkin spice

½ cup brown sugar

For Granola:

¼ cup honey

¼ cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 cups rolled oats

½ cup whole almonds

½ cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped

¼ cup roasted unsalted pumpkin seeds

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

For Berries:

1 pint blueberries

1 pint blackberries

1 pint raspberries

1 pint strawberries, stems removed, cut in half (or quarters if they’re large)

Stir together the yogurt, half and half and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl. Sprinkle the brown sugar over top. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and better if it’s overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Heat the honey, maple syrup, and butter in a saucepan until just combined but not boiling, about 4 to 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Toss together the oats, almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, and pumpkin pie spice in a large bowl.  Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients.  Quickly stir together, so that all the ingredients are well coated.  Spread out, in a single layer, onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  The granola should be crispy and golden.  After the granola has cooled on the baking sheet, you can place it into an airtight container and store for several days.

When you are ready to dig in, remove the yogurt from the fridge. The brown sugar will have formed a bit of a crust. This is what you want. Spoon berries into bowls, top with yogurt cream and sprinkle with granola. It’s pretty yummy!

Cook’s Tip

You can buy pumpkin-pie spice in the spice section in your grocery store. Or, you can make your own. You probably have all the spices in your pantry. Combine 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon with 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 1 teaspoon ground cloves and ½ teaspoon nutmeg. Whisk everything together and store in a small jar.