Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving has to be one of my favorite holidays of the year as it is a time we reflect on our bounteous blessings God has given us! It’s a time for family gatherings and great food and is the passageway to the beautiful holiday season. Gordon B. Hinckley said, “Gratitude creates the most wonderful feeling. It can resolve disputes. It can strengthen friendships. And it can make us better men and women. Be grateful. Count your blessings and gifts and privileges and see just how long that list is.”
I have so much to be grateful for and I hope that you can “count your many blessings”, so to speak, as you gather your families and friends around you this holiday season!
Every Thanksgiving since the girls were young I would ask them to choose a side dish they loved and I would help them make it to share with the family for Thanksgiving dinner. Traditionally I make the turkey, stuffing, cranberry apricot chutney, and desserts, Mandi makes gourmet mashed potatoes, Hailey makes the decadent sweet potato casserole (although she swears every year NO ONE really likes them so why does she keep making them!?), and Lindsay loves green bean casserole or green beans of any kind. Allie loves the broccoli-cauliflower cheese mound and Abby makes the dinner rolls that may or may not make it to the dinner table since everyone snatches them up when they come out of the oven! This way we all contribute to the meal and the girls will have a dish that they perfect for the holidays. This also is great as the girls get older and as we gather together it becomes more of a “potluck” dinner and I’m not stuck doing all the work!
Traditionally we have “Dessert Night” held the night before Thanksgiving because we’re always too full to enjoy dessert after Thanksgiving Dinner. This has become a great family tradition! Lucy and I LOVE pumpkin anything so she helps me make pumpkin pie and other desserts like Pumpkin Cheesecake. (This deserves its own post-maybe next year!)
This year I tried a new appetizer that we absolutely loved: Cranberry Pomegranate Bruschetta inspired by a recipe I found online, but I made a few tweaks so it wasn’t spicy and had more of a citrus zing! It is beautiful in color and has the most amazing taste sensation when you pop one in your mouth. I’ve also shared a delicious pumpkin cream cheese spread, that is also a great appetizer, and our recipes for our signature green beans and sweet potato sides.
Cranberry Pomegranate Bruschetta
For the cranberry-pomegranate relish:
1 pound fresh or frozen cranberries
2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
zest from one orange (reserve a bit for garnish)
freshly squeezed orange juice from half an orange
1 tsp pomegranate balsamic vinegar (or you can substitute a white balsamic or any other “fruit based” balsamic
1 cup pomegranate arils or seeds (I found a four pack pomegranate arils at Costco ready to go!)
finely chopped fresh cilantro to garnish
For the crostini:
1 thin baguette (I found some at our local french bakery that was to die for!)
1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground pepper
8 ounces Philadelphia brand cream cheese or Boursin gourmet garlic and fine herb cheese spread
- Place the cranberries, ginger, sugar, honey , orange juice and pomegranate balsamic vinegar in the food processor. Pulse on and off until the cranberries are coarsely chopped.
- Add the cilantro and pulse a little more (you still want to see the cilantro)
- Transfer to a bowl and add pomegranate arils and orange zest and refrigerate.
- For the crostini preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 sheet pans with foil or parchment paper for easy clean up.
- Place the baguette slices on prepared pans. Brush lightly with oil. Sprinkle with salt and a grind of pepper.
- Bake for 14-16 minutes or until golden brown rotating pans halfway through the bake time.
- To assemble bruschetta, beat the cream cheese in a separate bowl until creamy. Spread a generous amount of the cream cheese or the Boursin cheese on the crostini and top with a scoop of the relish. Top with orange zest and cilantro! Enjoy!
Sauteed Green Beans with Roasted Red Peppers & Basil
2 tsp olive oil
1 med shallot
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp olive oil
1 pound fresh green beans, stem ends snapped off
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup water
1 tsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp fresh basil
1/3 cup roasted red peppers
1 Tbsp toasted almonds
1/2 cup freshly shaved parmesan cheese
Combine 2 tsp olive oil, 1 medium shallot minced, 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Heat oil shallot mixture in a non- stick pan over medium heat just until smoking. Add beans, salt, pepper: cook stirring occasionally for about 4-6 minutes. Add water, cover and cook until beans are bright green and still crisp (about 2 more minutes). Remove cover, increase to high heat and cook until the water evaporates. Add the roasted red peppers, basil, red wine vinegar and toasted almonds. Transfer beans to a serving bowl and top with parmesan cheese
Delicious Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread
1 8 oz Philadelphia brand cream cheese
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp vanilla
Beat all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to 24 hours. Serve on top of crackers, bagels, cranberry bread or ginger snap cookies.
Sweet Potatoes with Meringue and Streusel
Sweet Potato Puree:
8 cups cubed sweet potatoes (3 1/4 lbs)
1/2 cup half and half
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp maple flavorting
2 large eggs
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1/4 tsp cinnamon
4 large egg whites
2 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Place sweet potatoes in pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain potatoes and place in a large bowl. Add all remaining ingredients and beat with a mixer at high speed for 2 minutes or until smooth. Spoon into 13 x 9 baking dish coated with cooking spray.
3. Streusel- combine pecans, brown sugar, flour, butter, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over puree. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes and remove from oven, but leave oven on.
4. Meringue- place egg whites in a large bowl, beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar one tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peals form (about 4 minutes). Pipe meringue over streusel (using a plastic bag with a tip cut off). Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.