Last minute Thanksgiving favorites…

Well, I don’t know about you, but good ol’ Turkey day sure snuck up on me!  It’s not a stressful holiday for me, but it’s more of a final breathing point.  I try to remember to relax…breathe…enjoy.  After that, it’s all baskets & shred & bubble wrap…oh my!  I am hoping this year’s holiday orders are off the hook!  If you are interested, check out my Holiday Gift collection & let me know if I can help you this holiday season!

Okay, enough self promotion!  We typically spend the day at my brother & sister-in-law’s house, and I am usually charged with bringing one of my delicious Cheesecakes!  But that does leave me missing some of my favorites side dishes…and this year’s Thanksgiving recipe suggestions from friends & favorite sites, has left me drooling and thinking that for Christmas, I just might make a bunch of sides and skip the big main course!

So, if you haven’t made your final dish list yet, and are looking for a few suggestions, here you go!  Some of these, tried & true, are my favorite sides that would be great for Thanksgiving.  Others look amazing and will hopefully grace my Christmas table!

Potato Fennel Gratin~  probably my all-time favorite potato dish!  An Ina Garten recipe…aka The Barefoot Contessa.  Every time I make this, we clean the dish…no leftovers, so if that’s what you want for Turkey Day, don’t make this 🙂  She has lots of other great ideas on her website, so be sure to click on the link and check them out!

Zucchini Fritters~  another favorite recipe, this would be a great appetizer to tide everyone over while you finish off the big feast.  I originally found this recipe in a copy of my favorite food magazine, Saveur.  Taking a quick peek at their website I see lots of other delicious recipes for the big day!  Sauce isn’t needed for these, but if you wanted, you could whip up a quick Horseradish sauce or even a tomato Tarter sauce.  The picture above was a recipe I found on the Home to Homestead blog, written by the gorgeous Elizabeth Ries of Twin Cities Live, and has the added deliciousness of corn & fresh herbs!  She made a quick sour cream sauce that looks delish!

Baked Risotto with Grilled Asparagus~  wait, what?  Baked Risotto?  Yes, I know, it doesn’t make sense.  But I’ve tried it!  It’s very good, not as creamy as the traditional method of making Risotto (and great biceps at the same time!) but good nonetheless.  I found this recipe on the Williams-Sonoma website.  They have great recipes there!  Have you ever been to a store?  I LOVE that place!!  And now the hubby has a Professional Chef discount, so I can spend more!  Sorry, focus Shawn…. So if you are looking for an easy & delicious rice side dish that doesn’t involve alot of hassle or time, this is the dish for you!  And Asparagus, while know to grace the Easter or Spring table, can be just as good in the late fall!

Apple-Raisin Stuffing with Sausage~  my co-worker, Nikki, brought some of this in as her lunch one day after Thanksgiving last year.  It smelled so good I begged for a bite.  Her brilliant husband added Sausage (he used Jimmy Dean, but use whatever you like) which made this sweet, salty, savory & perfect!!!  Sometimes that Turkey table can get too full of salty side dishes, so adding this mixes it up a bit!  YUM!

Braised Kale & Chickpeas in Coconut Milk~  My sweet fellow food blogger friend Kate posted this dish on her website last December.  I was just falling in love with Coconut Milk at the time and also beginning my love affair with greens…KaleSwiss ChardCollards.  People, if you haven’t discovered these, you MUST!  They are SO good for you!  We grew Rainbow Chard this summer & along with how beautiful they were, they grew like crazy!!  When I made this dish the first time, I added Bacon (uh duh) but it’s not required, as without it, it’s just as good!  And I would encourage you to use curry paste.  You can get small jars of it in the ethnic section of most grocery stores.  I love Thai Kitchens- Green Curry Paste.  Give it a try!  Oh yeah, and while you are there, check out her recipe for Boursin Spinach Gratin – I’ve wanted to make that for a long time now & might make another great side dish!

Red Cabbage Braised in Cider & Beer~  I recently made this dish in one of my Beer for a Year posts and man, it’s amazing!  It will bring a gorgeous color to your table!  When I made it, I included the beer & bacon, but if you want, you can omit both and use apple cider, which I have done.  Either way, it will become a new favorite in your house and not just on Thanksgiving!

Deviled Mushrooms~  so I am not totally sure where I came across this recipe.  As a mushroom lover, it appealed to me for a few reasons; first, it seemed really easy!  It also looks delicious, with those plump mustard seeds and the silky sauce coating each mushroom.  I think this would be great on your table, at Thanksgiving and anytime!  I am linking you to the Amazon page where the cookbook this recipe is in, can be purchased.  But I did make a copy of the recipe and am attaching that as a PDF File for you to print off yourself!

So, that’s my list!  Of course I could go on & on…..and there’s always desserts I could share…maybe next year!  I do plan on doing a holiday baking list of some of my favorites, so stay tuned for that!

And as we join together this coming Thursday, I want you to know that I am truly thankful for you!  It’s been an amazing year and I feel so honored you have taken the time from your busy lives to read my blog posts!

Until next time, Happy Thanksgiving to you & yours!  ox Shawn

Beer for a Year, month nine…

Yikes, month nine already!

Well, here in Minnesota, we recently had a week or so of fall-like weather and it had me thinking of Oktoberfest…this months beer!  Summit Brewery describes this beer as “Brewed in the classic Märzen style with Northern Brewer hops from Germany. Rich, toffee malt flavors up front with a clean hop finish as crisp as the autumn air.”   It’s gorgeous color had me at first glance…much like the Minnesota landscape in October!  Read more about it here.

So, thinking of cooler temps (because we are again back in the heat here) I wanted to do something that would go good with sausages or pork…and because I had just picked up a whole head of purple cabbage from my CSA, I thought Beer Braised Red Cabbage would be perfect!  I found the original recipe here, but as I do with most recipes, I doctored it up to suit my needs.

Beer Braised Red Cabbage

1/2 head purple cabbage, thinly sliced

1/4 pound of bacon, diced & fried until almost crisp

2 tablespoons of butter

1 whole onion, (I used red), sliced thin

1 green apple, peeled, cored & thinly sliced

1 tablespoon of sugar (or honey & more if needed)

1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup of chicken stock

1 bottle (more or less) of Summit Oktoberfest beer

1 whole cinnamon stick

salt, pepper, (more bacon) dried fruits, etc!

So you’ll need to begin by slicing up the cabbage, as thin as you like it either by hand or in your food processor.  Slice the onion and apple as well.  Put a fairly large pan on medium heat and when warm, add the bacon.  Once the bacon has given off most of its fat, add the onion and continue cooking until the onions have started to caramelize and the bacon is almost crisp.  At this point, add the butter…yum!  Sorry, I get distracted by butter sometimes…and bacon…

At this point, you’ll then want to put in the cabbage and apple; Stir until fully coated in the butter etc.  Let this start to wilt down a bit and then add your chicken stock, vinegar, cinnamon stick and sugar.  Again, stir a bit to coat and let wilt for a couple of minutes.  The add your beer, turn the heat down and cover to simmer for 30 minutes (plus or minus depending on how you like the texture of your cabbage) stirring every so often and ensuring it’s not losing liquid and/or sticking to the bottom of the pan. About halfway thru this time, taste the cabbage to check for adequate sweetness & “done-ness”.  Both of which are very selective.  Adjust as necessary and feel free to add a bit of salt & pepper at this point as well.  Continue cooking until the cabbage is as tender as you’d like it.

This dish could be made more amazing by adding more bacon, more apples or other delicious fruit (figs, apricots, etc.) fresh herbs like Thyme and even some fall seasonings like clove, nutmeg. The picture above is with Mission Figs & Thyme (in addition to the above ingredients) that I actually cooked in my cast iron skillet on the grill the other day!  Provided you add enough liquid and really keep an eye on it, you could cook this under a small pork roast in the oven as well and the cabbage can absorb all those succulent meat juices while it cooks!  YUM!

So my friends, I hope you give this recipe a try, and find a nice place to cozy up, eat it outside, and enjoy the changing weather and beautiful landscape in your part of the country!

Until next time,

Shawn