Wednesday, November 21

Things I'm baking for Thanksgiving

This year I'm not hosting Thanksgiving, which always makes me a little sad. I enjoy the bustle of activity in my kitchen starting at least two days before the big feast.

That said, it is also nice to just sit back and relax... I can sip wine and watch football while kind hosts do all the heavy lifting. (That's something to be thankful for!)

So this year all I'm on the hook for is the contribution of a few side dishes.

I've decided to go with some tried-and true recipes, and to tackle one new dish.


Cranberries waiting to turn into delicious chutney
I like the rich Thanksgiving dishes as much as anyone else, but my Thanksgiving meal isn't complete without a heaping helping of homemade pear-and-cranberry chutney. (The tart-er, the better!)

My recipe is simple...
Pear and Cranberry Chutney
Rinse and pick through a 1-pound bag of cranberries, discarding any bad berries.
Dice 2 ripe pears
Add fruit and 1/4 cup of wine* to a medium-sized pot.
Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until cranberries start to pop. (If the chutney gets too dry, add another 1/4 cup of wine.)
Once the berries have all burst, add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar to the mixture.
Taste test, and adjust the seasoning by adding more sugar until you achieve the desired level of sweetness.
*Sweet white works best. Orange juice is a successful substitute.

Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts with pecans

Another dish I tested out last year, and plan to make again, is roasted brussels sprouts with pecans.

I like the brussels dish both with pecans and with pancetta.

I'm not sure which variation I'll make this year. That will be a game-day decision...

Pumpkin Cheesecake

You can keep your pies. My favorite Thanksgiving dessert is pumpkin-pecan cheesecake with a gingersnap crust.

While I don't fancy myself much of a baker (I'm more of a pinch-of-this, dash-of-that cook), cheesecake is surprisingly easy to make. Even I, who often feels completely inept when it comes to following precise measurements required for baking, can handle the recipe.

Pumpkin pecan cheesecake
As for the fancy-looking pattern, even that's easy. Mix all of the ingredients except the pumpkin. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the mixture, then mix the pumpkin in with the rest of the batter. Fill the crust with the pumpkin mixture, as directed. Pour the 1/2 cup of no-pumpkin mixture on top, and drag the tip of a knife through the filling to make the "swirls."

I could - quite literally - eat an entire cheesecake all by myself this weekend.

In fact...

Our hosts might wind up with store-bough pumpkin pie.

The cheesecake stays home.


In addition to the tried-and-true side dishes, this year I'm going to attempt to re-create a recipe I had while I was in Atlanta last month: Aunt Fannie's summer squash casserole.

I'm swapping panko for the saltines, but several variations on Aunt Fannie's recipe suggest that breadcrumbs are an acceptable substitute for the cracker crumbs.

With half a cup of butter, the squash casserole hardly counts as a healthy side dish, but that's why I'm Turkey Trotting before the meal... right?

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

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