Friday, November 26, 2010

Our Thanksgiving - some firsts this year!

This Thanksgiving was an interesting one for me.  This was the 4th Thanksgiving that we have spent here in Maryland, away from our families, and although I kind of liked having such a relaxed and laid back Thanksgiving those other three years, this year I found myself missing family & friends in Connecticut.  Growing up, Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays.  I can remember back to when I was very young - our family crammed into my grandmother's small kitchen on Standish Street in Hartford.  Wow - it was so LOUD in there.  But those were the best meals.  There were stories, laughter, and a feeling of comfort, always.  When our family grew too large for Mama's kitchen, we branched out to Aunt Nancy's house.  Those were some really fun and memorable Thanksgivings.  It seemed every year someone else had a baby and the family just grew and grew and grew.  In the past 15 years (longer, actually) since I have been with Josh, we would visit each of our families - sometimes having dinner at one and visiting the other...or, yes, having dinner at both families' gatherings.  I remember the first year I hosted and had Josh's family over.  It was a sad day because his grandfather had just passed away, but yet we all got together to remember Gramps and to be in the comfort of one another.  I was terrified that year.  I had never cooked a turkey before.  Everything out fantastic though.  I digress...

My point there was that every year, for as long as I could remember - until 2007, we spent every Thanksgiving surrounded my family, making memories while remembering years past.  This year, I missed that.  I missed sharing stories while my girls could run around and play with their cousins and make their own memories.

Even though I felt that pang of sadness and regret, I still spent all day in my kitchen preparing our Thanksgiving dinner.  This year, our meal was a little different than what I would normally make on Thanksgiving.  For starters, this is the first year I did not eat turkey.  Earlier this year I made a commitment (much to some people's surprise) to stop eating meat.  I was not sure if it would be difficult for me to smell the turkey, and see it (fully cooked).  I wasn't sure if I would want to have some after it came out of the oven.  But, as Josh carved it (first time ever for him, by the way), I found that I really didn't want it at all.  I thought about the reasons I made that commitment...and I felt very content with the extra dishes I made for myself.

Here's what I served:
*Turkey (stuffed with oranges & onions for flavor)
*Mashed Potatoes (the real deal - butter, garlic & cheese added)
*Stuffing (my version!)
*Southern Green Bean Casserole (so good, but not at all healthy, even with my lightened up ingredients)
*Mushroom Shepard's Pie (for me!)
*Sweet Potato Biscuits
*Gravy (turkey gravy for Josh and red wine reduction for me)
*Pecan Pie for Josh
*Chocolate, peanut butter, pumpkin Shakeology mini-pies for me

Just a few recipes to share...

Mushroom Shepard's Pie:
I winged it on this one.  Really, I just sauteed (in evoo) sliced white button, baby bella & shitaki mushrooms with sliced onions.  I added fresh chopped sage, thyme & rosemary to that.  I tossed that with a little bit of freshly grated Asiago cheese and added a layer to a small casserole dish.  I added a layer of mashed potatoes, then another layer of the mushrooms followed by a thin top layer of mashed potatoes.  Because the mashed potatoes were already cooked, I only had to heat this casserole through on 400 for a little while.

Sweet Potato Biscuits:
(made 7 biscuits)

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp raw sugar (I used Turbinado)
dash of cinnamon
1 whole banana, cold
1 whole sweet potato, mashed
also, I needed a splash of almond milk to get to the right consistency

Cook sweet potato and remove skin.  Mash and set aside.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment.  Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar & cinnamon together in food processor and pulse a few times to distribute.  Add banana and pulse/run food processor until a dough forms (about 45 seconds).  Put dough into a mixing bowl and add sweet potato.  Use hands to mix gently, then form into 7 biscuits.  Bake 5-10 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean - err on the shorter side, and put back in if need be.


Whole Wheat bread, toasted & cubed (10 slices)
1 cup (prepared) Trader Joe's Harvest Grains blend
7 chopped, dried apricots
diced celery, onions & mushrooms
poultry seasoning
garlic pepper
chopped almonds (about 20)
vegetable broth

I sauteed the onion, celery & mushrooms in evoo, then added it to a large mixing bowl with the cubed bread and grains mix.  I added the apricots & almonds and poultry seasoning (I didn't measure that).  I also added garlic pepper.  I added enough vegetable broth to get the stuffing to the right consistency and tossed it in the oven.

Having trouble with formatting - thanks for bearing with me!  :o)

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