Thanksgiving

Mashed Potatoes, Two Ways (dairy-free and dairy-loaded)

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In our nuclear family of 11, there are the pro-potato people and the no-potato people.

I am a top level pro-potato person.

And as you can see from the photos, so are two of my grand daughters, who helped me make some mashed potatoes for dinner a while ago.

The recipe we made was a butter-cream-cheese-sour-cream indulgence. (It could be a meal in itself!) But we’ve also made dairy-free versions. Pro-potato people like it all ways.

Are mashed potatoes on your menu for Thanksgiving? If so — or any other time — check out both recipes, dairy-loaded and dairy-free.

dairy-loaded Mashed Potatoes

  • 2 pounds boiling potatoes (such as Yukon Gold)

  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks

  • 4 tablespoons cream cheese, cut into chunks

  • 1/2 cup dairy sour cream

  • 1/4 cup warm milk, approximately

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Peel the potatoes and cut them into chunks. Cook them in lightly salted simmering water for about 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and return the potatoes to the pan. Cook briefly over low heat to evaporate the excess moisture. Mash the potatoes with a ricer or potato masher. Add the butter and cream cheese and mash them in thoroughly until the butter and cheese are completely blended in. Add the sour cream and blend in thoroughly. Mix in enough milk for desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 6 servings

 

DAIRY-FREE Mashed Potatoes

  • 5 medium all-purpose potatoes such as Yukon Gold

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1 small onion, chopped

  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 3 tablespoons chicken or vegetable stock

  • salt to taste

  • pinch or two of cayenne pepper

  • 3 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the potatoes, cut them into chunks and cook them in lightly salted water for about 15 minutes, or until they are fork tender. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until the vegetables are beginning to brown. Set aside. Drain the potatoes and mash them with a ricer or potato masher until the lumps have disappeared. Add the vegetables and olive oil and stir them in gently. Stir in the lemon juice, stock, salt and the cayenne pepper. Place the mixture in a baking dish. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the top is crispy and brown.

Makes 6 servings

Roasted Bell Pepper Soup

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I’ve lived most of my life in Connecticut and so I am used to cold winters, snow and all that comes with it. I don’t mind really. I actually love the change of seasons and think it makes life more interesting.

But it’s those first days of chill that take some getting used to as we transition from summer’s heat and the gradual change of temperature when autumn comes..

Those are soup days.

I recently made this Roasted Red Pepper soup. It’s exactly what’s needed when the weather turns.

Also makes a good first course for Thanksgiving dinner.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

  • 5-6 sweet red, orange and/or yellow bell peppers

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 small onion, chopped

  • 1 carrot, chopped

  • 1 stalk celery, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon freshly minced parsley plus more for garnish if desired

  • 1/3 cup raw white rice

  • 5 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock)

  • 1-1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

  • freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the broiler. Place the peppers under the broiler, about 4-6" away from the heat. Broil for 2-3 minutes, until the skin has blistered. Turn the peppers and repeat this process until the entire surface is blistered and lightly charred. Remove the peppers and place them in a paper bag. Let rest at least 10 minutes. Remove the peppers from the bag, peel off the skin and discard the stem and the seeds. Cut the peppers into pieces. 

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and parsley. Cook, stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Stir in the rice. Add the peppers and stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat and cook at a simmer for 25 minutes. Puree in a food processor or blender.

Makes 6 servings

Roasted Chick Pea and Carrot Salad

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This dish, which I have made many ways, with many variations over the years, is a nice post-Passover treat for those who don't eat chick peas or beans during the holiday.

It's also an easy dish to do and goes with just about everything and anything else you might be serving at any time during the year -- roasted chicken, grilled fish, steak.

It's a colorful, filling dish for a meatless Monday or vegetarian meal.

I'd use it (have used it) for Thanksgiving dinner.

All in all, a pretty useful recipe.

As I said, versatile too: use white beans instead of chick peas, wine vinegar instead of lemon juice. Add some red onion, thawed frozen peas. Like that.

 

Roasted Chick Pea and Carrot Salad

  • 2 cups cooked chick peas
  • 1 pound carrots, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3-4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or chives

Cook dried chickpeas according to package directions (or drain canned chick peas). Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the chick peas and carrots on a baking sheet. Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil over the vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and cumin and toss to coat the vegetables. Roast for about 15 minutes or until crispy and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool. Spoon the vegetables into a bowl. Pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the lemon juice. Toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley, toss and serve.

Makes 4-6 servings

Lentils with Roasted Squash and Dried Cranberries

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It’s all turkey talk when it comes to Thanksgiving.

But really – it’s the side dishes that everyone stresses about, right?

What to serve with the turkey.

Back in the day my Mom served the same menu every year: candied sweet potatoes (fabulous but with more sugar than I can even imagine using now!); baked cranberries (spiked with brandy); a green vegetable of some sort; her famous “filling” made with barley-shaped pasta, mushrooms, onions and celery.

I like to mix it up every year, although I stick to tradition too. So we always have some sort of sweet potato dish (sometimes – yes --- with marshmallow, sometimes not); the same baked cranberries my Mom made; lots of vegetables; and stuffing (the kids got tired of Nana’s “filling”).

We also have a vegetarian entrée, usually mujadarah or koshary. And I must be aware of allergies, so, no nuts in the stuffing, plus I try to make an additional vegetarian stuffing.

This year I am serving this lentil side dish also. It’s sort of like a salad but also like a casserole. And it can be made ahead. It’s a beautiful dish, filled with colorful, seasonal ingredients. It’s vegetarian. It’s a side-dish. It’s nut-free.

 

Lentils with Roasted Squash, Spinach and Cranberries

  • 2 cups diced winter squash (such as butternut)
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup green French lentils
  • 3 cups water, lightly salted
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2-3 tablespoons orange juice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the squash and shallot on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Pour one tablespoon of the olive oil over the vegetables, toss and bake for about 20 minutes, tossing the vegetables occasionally. Remove the vegetables from the oven and set aside. While the vegetables are roasting, place the lentils and water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring the liquid to a boil, turn the heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Drain the lentils and place them in a bowl. Stir in the vegetables, cranberries and parsley. Pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and toss the ingredients. Add orange juice, season to taste with salt and pepper and toss the ingredients. Add more orange juice if needed for moisture.

Makes 6 servings

Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Dried Cranberries

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Our Thanksgiving feast has all the usual stuff -- turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and so on.

Also -- Brussels sprouts. We are a Brussels sprouts-loving family.

This is this year's version, with cranberries and apples. I like the seasonal aspect of the dish and the ingredients add some color and glamor to the plate alongside pale slices of turkey, rich sweet-potato-orange and crusty-brown stuffing.

 

Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Dried Cranberries

  • 1 pound Brussels Sprouts
  • 2 tart apples
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon or orange peel
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash and trim the Brussels Sprouts and, if large, cut them in half. Place the vegetables on the baking sheet. Peel and core the apples, cut them into chunks and place on the baking sheet with the Brussels Sprouts. Pour the olive oil over the ingredients and toss to coat them. Sprinkle the brown sugar, shallot and lemon peel on top, toss the ingredients. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, tossing the ingredients once. Add the cranberries, mix them in and bake for another 5 minutes or until the Brussels Sprouts are tender.

Makes 4 servings

Cornbread Stuffing

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There will be more of us for Thanksgiving dinner this year. 

That means: more stuffing.

So, I can always make my Mom's barley-shape noodle "filling" or a sorghum-based version of that.

Maybe my Bread Stuffing with Figs and Hazelnuts or my well-loved chestnut-sausage stuffing?

But this year I'm thinking maybe I'll add a cornbread stuffing to the mix.

This one:

Cornbread Stuffing

 

  • 6 cups cornbread cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 10 ounces fresh mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • salt to taste
  • 2 large eggs (or use chicken or vegetable stock)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a casserole dish (about 2-quart). Cut the cornbread into 1/2-inch cubes and place them in a bowl. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion, mushrooms and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Add the parsley, thyme and salt to taste. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the vegetables to the cornbread and toss the ingredients. Beat the eggs and add them to the bowl. Mix and spoon the stuffing into the prepared pan. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the top is crispy.

Makes 8 servings

Carrot Spice and Honey Muffins

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I always make a few carrot dishes for Rosh Hashanah. It's tradition!

Most often it's soup, sometimes a side dish.

This year I baked carrot muffins. Big breakfast winner for everyone, especially the grandkids.

Freezable too, so you can have them on hand whenever you might have a need. Like Hallowe'en, Thanksgiving weekend.

 

Carrot Spice and Honey Muffins

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease 12 muffin tins. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, brown sugar, yogurt, honey, cooled butter and vanilla extract. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and stir gently just until blended. Fold in the carrots and raisins. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the muffins are golden brown. Let cool in the tins for 2-3 minutes, then remove the muffins to a rack to cool.

Makes 12  

 

 

 

How Many Ways Can You Make Mashed Potatoes

I'm thinking mashed potatoes at the moment. Probably because Thanksgiving is coming. But really I don't need a holiday to think about this dish. I could eat mashed potatoes any time. Any day.

My mother used to make them using what she called "all-purpose" potatoes (or "Eastern" or "Maine"). She'd cook the spuds and use an old fashioned potato masher to get them smooth, then mix in the most fabulous goodies: butter, cream cheese or sour cream (sometimes both), milk and plenty of salt and pepper.

Life is good when you can eat like that.

Years later I read that many professional cooks prefer russet potatoes for mashing. I tried it, but frankly, my Mom's version is much better. So I stuck with all-purpose until Yukon Golds came along. Those make good mashed potatoes too, with the right texture and lots of flavor.

Still, there are other considerations when making mashed potatoes, besides the actual potatoes.

For example, maybe you don't want to include dairy ingredients. No problem. I've made awesome dairy-free mashed potatoes

Maybe you like a crust? Here's a recipe for you.

Other ingredients? Sure. You can mix in roasted garlic or spice the spuds up with horseradish, and lots more of course.

One of our family favorites was when my Mom mixed cooked spinach into the mashed potatoes. She called that "creamed spinach" and that's what I thought creamed spinach actually was until I got to college and discovered there weren't supposed to be potatoes in it. 

In Ireland, justifiably famous for its potato recipes, there's a dish called Colcannon (variation, Kailkenny), which is basically mashed potatoes mixed with cooked cabbage or kale. I'd say it's similar to my Mom's "creamed spinach." And it's just as good. It's also more colorful and pleasing to the eye than plain old mashed potatoes.

Colcannon, Kailkenny -- a terrific dish, especially as a side dish for your Thanksgiving turkey, vegetarian Thanksgiving or on some other day to accompany roasted salmon.

Colcannon/Kailkenny

  • 1 medium bunch kale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 all-purpose or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 5 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup milk, approximately (dairy, soy or rice milk)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • freshly ground nutmeg

Wash the kale thoroughly, discarding any thick stems. Dry the leaves with paper towels or in a salad spinner. Chop the leaves coarsely. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook briefly. Add the kale and stir to coat the leaves with the oil in the pan. Pour in the stock, cover the pan and cook, lifting the cover to stir the ingredients occasionally, for 5-6 minutes or until the kale has wilted. Remove the cover and cook for another minute or until the liquid in the pan has evaporated.

Cook the potatoes in a saucepan in lightly salted water for 15-20 minutes or until they are fork tender. Drain the potatoes and mash them with a potato masher, fork or electric mixer or hand beater set on low speed. Add the butter or margarine in chunks and continue to mash until the mixture is free of lumps. Add the milk, salt, pepper and a few grindings of fresh nutmeg. Stir to distribute ingredients. Add more milk if you prefer a softer texture. Add the kale and stir it in.

Makes 6-8 servings

 

 

 

Apple-Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

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A few weeks ago I bought about 60 pounds of apples.

That's a lot of apples.

And even I can hardly believe that after making many pies, a few cakes, some baked apples, apple crisps and apple brown bettys, mounds of applesauce, a couple chicken-apple recipes, including a salad, all my apples are gone.

Oh no! 

I still have a pancake recipe to try! 

Hard to believe I'll have to buy another few pounds. 

But before I ran out of apples, I did get to try these Apple-Pumpkin Streusel Muffins which are gorgeous and delicious and such a welcome, seasonal treat (with cider or coffee or tea) for Hallowe'en or Thanksgiving or simply for breakfast or coffee break.

 

Apple-Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

Streusel:

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cut in smaller pieces, or coconut oil

 

Muffins:

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups chopped apples

To make the streusel: place the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in a bowl and mix to distribute the ingredients evenly. Add the butter and work into the dry ingredients with your fingers until the mixture looks crumbly. Set aside.

To make the muffins: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease 12 muffin tins. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt in a bowl and stir with a whisk until the ingredients are evenly distributed. In another bowl, combine the pumpkin, vegetable oil and eggs and blend thoroughly. Pour the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture and mix until combined. Stir in the apples. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins. Sprinkle the tops evenly with the streusel. Bake for about 20 minutes or until tops are browned and crispy and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. 

Makes 12

Sweet Potatoes with Orange and Allspice

Last week I posted a recipe for sweet potatoes with date honey. But I realize that date honey is not one of those stock items most people have in their pantry. I have a couple of jars of it because I use it for all sorts of recipes, but for those who don’t, and don’t want to buy any, here’s an alternative sweet potato dish that’s easy and make-ahead, also not overly sweet. Nice side dish for Thanksgiving or as part of a vegetarian meal.

Sweet Potatoes with Orange and Allspice

  • 4 large sweet potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, Earth Balance Buttery Spread or butter
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons grated fresh orange peel
  • 3-4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice (or substitute cinnamon or ground cloves)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (approximately)
  • Salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Scrub the potatoes, prick the skin with the tines of a fork and roast them for 50-60 minutes or until tender. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh into a bowl. Add the Earth Balance (or other), orange peel, sugar and allspice. Mix thoroughly to blend ingredients. Add some of the orange juice, using as much of it as necessary to mix the ingredients to the desired consistency. Season to taste with salt. Place in a casserole dish to reheat. Can be made completely ahead.

For marshmallow topping: reheat the casserole until completely heated through, cover with marshmallows and reheat for a few minutes to brown the top.

Makes 8 servings