Friday, November 23, 2012

RECIPES: Thanksgiving 2012

This Thanksgiving, Zook and I went over to my Mom's house. As usual, I spent all morning cooking in preparation for it. Not eating meat, I'm always especially concerned that there won't be enough for me to eat. So I make a lot of side dishes. This year I took as my main course Quinoa Stuffed Portobello, along with Radicchio Apple Salad, Sweet-Roasted Rosemary Acorn Squash, Green Beans with Mushroom Sauce, and Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple Pecan Sauce for my sides. I also made Pumpkin Bread Pudding.

Quinoa Stuffed Portobello with Pine Nuts and Raisins


1 large Portobello mushroom per person
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste

For the stuffing:

Chopped fresh garlic, to taste
About 1/3 to 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa per mushroom cap
A handful of yellow and red grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered depending upon size
1 scallion (spring onion) per person, sliced
A sprinkle of raisins
A sprinkle of toasted pine nuts
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
Fresh chopped parsley, basil or mint


Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly oil the bottom of a baking or gratin dish.

Gently clean off the mushroom caps; slice off the stems and using a sharp teaspoon carefully scrape out the gills. Place the caps in the baking dish. Drizzle with a scant amount of olive oil and a touch of balsamic vinegar. Season with a little sea salt and pepper.

Pre-bake the mushrooms for about 15 minutes to soften a bit.

In a skillet, heat a little olive oil and toss in the garlic. Stir for a minute. Add in the cooked quinoa, tomatoes, scallions, raisins, pine nuts. Season to taste with sea salt and ground pepper. Stir to combine. Moisten with more olive oil, as needed. Gently heat through, briefly. Remove from heat. Add in the fresh chopped herbs.

Stuff each mushroom cap. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, till the mushroom cap is tender. Tent with foil to keep it moist.

You can also assemble these ahead of time, and refrigerate. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes or more, as needed.

Cook time: 1 hour

Yield: Serves 1 per person

My thoughts: I didn't realize until writing this post that I goofed this one up (that's what happens when you've got so much going on Thanksgiving morning!) I didn't cook the filling in a skillet, but simply mixed it up in a bowl. Perhaps that would have made a big difference. As it was, the mushroom was "okay". When I tasted the filling on it's own earlier in the day, I liked it. It was after stuffing it that I wasn't impressed. I think I would like the filling on it's own with a little fets, like a Mediterranean salad.

Radicchio-Apple Salad
from Makobi Scribe


    1/2 cup buttermilk
    1/3 Waldens mayonnaise
    4 ounces crumbled feta
    1/4 finely chopped red onion
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/8 teaspoon pepper
    8 cups of sliced radicchio (1 large head)
    3 Granny Smith apples,cored and thinly sliced
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


Combine the buttermilk and mayonnaise until smooth
Add the spices
Toss together radicchio, feta, apples, and lemon juice.
Toss the dressing with the radicchio mixture
Chill and serve.

My Thoughts: This was pretty good. Not fabulous, but a nice change of pace. If it doesn't sit too long, it can add some nice crunch to your meal. But you are likely to let it sit for awhile, and it softens up.

Sweet-Roasted Rosemary Acorn Squash Wedges
from Pioneer Woman


2 whole Acorn Squash, Cut Into 8 Wedges Each
4 dashes Olive Oil
Salt To Taste
1 stick Butter
1/2 cup Brown Sugar (lightly Packed)
2 Tablespoons Rosemary (minced)

Preparation Instructions

Place wedges in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt, then roast in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes.

Combine butter, brown sugar, salt, and rosemary in a bowl and mix into a paste.

Remove squash from oven and smear paste all over squash. Return to the oven for 30 minutes, until brown and caramelized.

Halfway through roasting, your paste will have become a sauce. Brush sauce over the top of the squash and then continue roasting until time is complete.

Serve in the baking dish, drizzling more sauce at the end. Yummy!

My Thoughts: I only did one squash. This was okay. The butter-sugar paste melted off, so it didn't caramelize on the wedges as I had hoped. And the rosemary flavor was a little strong. But it wasn't bad.

Green Beans in a Creamy Mushroom Sauce
adapted from Closet Cooking

2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, diced
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon thyme, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated
salt and pepper to taste
1 handful parsley, chopped
1 pound green beans, trimmed
The recipe called for steaming the green beans, but I began by blanching my green beans first. Bring water to a boil, and then toss in the beans and cook for about 5 mins. I then drained the beans, put them in a foil pan, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper, and roasted in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 4-6 minutes.

Add the garlic and thyme (I used dried thyme), and saute until fragrant, about a minute or two.
Add the mushrooms and saute until the start to caramelized and turn golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. (The recipe called for cremini and dried porcini mushrooms, but I chose to keep it simple.)

Add the cream and parmigiano reggiano, season with salt and pepper and simmer until it thickens, about 2-4 minutes. (The recipe called for you to add the rehydrated porcini along with the water they had soaked in, which would have possibly made the sauce a little thinner and more diluted. I didn't do that. Solid cream and parmesan.)

Remove the mushrooms from the heat and mix in the parsley. (I just sprinkled some parsley on top of the beans and sauce as it was served, to dress it up and give it some color.)

Serve the green beans covered in the mushroom sauce.

My Thoughts: Oh, this was so good! This is a definite keeper! High in fat and calories, so I wouldn't do it often, but it definitely adds a lot of flavor to an otherwise simple dish. I think I will use the leftover mushroom sauce to serve over a grilled portobello mushroom, like a steak and shroom sauce!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple-Pecan Sauce


2/3 cup roughly chopped pecans
4 sweet potatoes, cut into large dices
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Heat oven to 450 degrees F and arrange rack in the middle.

While oven heats, place pecans on a baking sheet to toast until they smell nutty and are slightly darker, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and toss to coat. Roast until golden brown and tender when pierced with a knife, about 40 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When it foams, stir in maple syrup and cayenne and let cook briefly, about 1 minute. Serve sweet potatoes with a drizzle of maple butter and a scattering of pecans.

My Thoughts: Very good! I made some changes that I think degraded the quality of the dish, and it was still very good! Next time I will try it strictly by-the-book, and see how much better it is!

So this wound up being my vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner (with the addition of the AuGratin Potatoes my mother made)...

Lucky me!

Then we finished off later with coffee and Pumpkin Bread Pudding.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding
from Southern Food on


8 ounces French bread, torn into small pieces, about 5 cups (I used Challah egg bread)
2 cups half-and-half, or half milk and half cream
3 large eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
1 cup dried cranberries (or you can use raisins or chopped pecans)
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
cinnamon sugar, optional


Butter an 11x7-inch baking dish. Heat oven to 350°.

In a bowl, cover the torn bread with the half-and-half; set aside.

In another bowl, combine eggs, sugars, pumpkin, cranberries, melted butter, spices, and vanilla; blend well. Pour pumpkin mixture over soaked bread and stir to blend.

Pour mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle top with cinnamon-sugar, if desired. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until set.

Serve with a vanilla dessert sauce or brown sugar sauce, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream.
Serves 8.

My Thoughts: Very good! I will definitely do this one again, but next time I may try pecans rather than cranberries. I used Challah bread rather than french bread, as I had just recently watched an episode of America's Test Kitchen where they tried to create the best bread pudding, and they found that bread gave them the best texture. I have to agree. It was almost custard-like. Serve it warm with whipped cream or a la mode. Delicious!

The day was enjoyable, and even my boy Zook got a little taste of some of the dishes (he even got a bite of Mom's turkey breast, which is very special, since he is normally a pescatarian like me and doesn't eat meat).

It was a good day, and I discovered some great new recipes to add to the recipe box. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!