What We Ate: The 1st night of Chanukah & Thanksgiving, 2013

How was everybody’s holiday? It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving 2013 is already over, and that we are already onto the second day of Chanukah! Where does time go???

I decided that since both of these meals took place within about 24 hours time, I will combine them into one post. Here we go:

1st night of Chanukah:

Chanukah

When planning what to have for dinner I knew that I wanted something easy (because, hello, it was going to be the night before Thanksgiving!), but I also wanted to do something fun. I vetoed latkes for the first night (I’m going to save the mess from frying for a night that’s not the night before Thanksgiving!). I decided to do finger foods that could be made earlier in the afternoon, and we’d eat it picnic-style on the living room floor in front of the menorah.

Spiced Sweet Potato Gelt with Orange Honey Sour Cream Dipping Sauce

The first thing I made, which is what gave me the idea of doing that type of dinner, are these Spiced Sweet Potato “Gelt” with Orange Honey Sour Cream Dipping Sauce. I loved how easy these were to make, and I way more of them than I should have!

Baked Zucchini Coins with Tomato Sauce

In keeping with the “gelt” theme, I also made these Baked Zucchini Coins with Tomato Sauce. These were a little more time-consuming to make, because of the triple dipping you need to do, but they were very worth it because they were delicious.

Onion, Mushroom & Goat Cheese Mini Frittatas

The last thing I made were these Onion, Mushroom, and Goat Cheese Mini Frittatas. They are made in muffin tins, making them a perfect size for picking up and eating, no forks necessary. The tomato sauce from the zucchini coins was also incredible with these.

I set it all out in a side table in the living room, and after we lit the menorah we filled up our plates, sat down, and watched the candles flickering.

Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving 2013

It was just the five of us again for Thanksgiving this year, so my goal was to have a variety of foods, but keep the prep simple and not have too many leftovers . I made several new recipes this year, many of which are from fellow bloggers. I think the meal I ended up with was perfect!

Pumpkin Glazed Turkey Legs

I knew I didn’t want to roast a whole turkey. Last year I made a roast turkey breast, but this year I decided to go with turkey legs. When I saw this recipe for Pumpkin Glazed Turkey Legs, full of wonderful fall flavors, I knew that it would be perfect. The glaze was wonderful! The only problem I had was that mine took a lot longer to cook, but that could be due to the size of the legs that I used. (You can see how many times I cut into them to check doneness—must get a meat thermometer!)

Bourbon-Vanilla Cranberry Sauce

Due to my insane love of vanilla, I added this Bourbon-Vanilla Cranberry Sauce to my menu the same day it was posted! So simple to make, and so delicious!

Spiced Sweet Potato Casserole

I wanted to make some sort of sweet potato dish, but I did not want anything that involved marshmallows! I went with this Spiced Sweet Potato Casserole, which I thought was wonderful.

Grandma's Saltine Stuffing/Dressing

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving to me if I didn’t make my grandma’s saltine stuffing (dressing). I know it probably sounds weird to most of you, but I love the stuff! This year, I couldn’t resist baking it in a cast iron skillet!

Roasted Cauliflower with Chickpeas, Mustard & Parsley

The final recipe for our main course was Roasted Cauliflower with Chickpeas, Mustard & Parsley from It’s All Good. This has become my favorite way of serving cauliflower. Try it, it’s outstanding! (Recipe below)

Amaretto Apple Crisp

For dessert I made this wonderful Amaretto Apple Crisp that I served warm with vanilla soy ice cream from Trader Joe’s. Why store-bought ice cream , when I so obviously love to make my own? Well, we keep kosher, which means no dairy at a meat meal. T.J.’s does non-dairy ice cream very well, so I don’t mind relying on the when I need to.

Thanksgiving 2013

And that’s that! Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend (and Chanukah, if you celebrate it)!

Thanksgiving 2013

I’m very obviously way more into the sides than the turkey! đŸ˜‰

Roasted Cauliflower with Chickpeas, Mustard, & Parsley

1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed & drained, and dried with a kitchen towel

1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets

Extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse Sea Salt

1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard

1 tablespoon seeded mustard (I use country-style Dijon)

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

1. Place a rack in the middle of your oven, and preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Combine the chickpeas and the cauliflower florets on a large sheet pan, and toss with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and a big pinch of salt. roast for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until everything is dark brown and the cauliflower is soft.

3. In a small measuring cup or bowl whisk together 1/4 cup of olive oil, the 2 mustards, the vinegar, a big pinch of salt, and a few big grinds of pepper. Pour over the still-warm chickpeas and cauliflower, add the parsley, and toss to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings

From It’s All Good, by Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turshen
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Triple-Berry Curd

Triple-Berry CurdTriple-Berry CurdTriple-Berry Curd

I served this on top of slices of angel food cake, but this would also be wonderful with pound cake, as a filling for a layer cake, on toast, on ice cream, or with just a plain old spoon.

Triple-Berry Curd

1 2/3 cup mixed fresh or thawed frozen berries (a mixture of blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon lemon juice

4 large egg yolks

1. Combine the berries, sugar, butter, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for 5 minutes. Blend with an immersion blender until smooth (or transfer to a blender or food processor, if you do not have an immersion blender). Place pan back over low heat for just a minute or two to heat it back up.

2. Lightly beat the egg yolks in a large bowl. Very slowly stream the hot berry mixture into the egg yolks, stirring constantly.

3. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and stir constantly over low heat for 2 minutes. Do not to allow the mixture to boil.

4. Transfer to a container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. It will thicken when cold.

Makes 2 cups

Tabbouleh Veggie Burgers

Tabbouleh Veggie Burgers

I got the idea for these burgers when I was making different bulger-based veggie burgers a few weeks ago. Bulger is traditionally used in tabbouleh, a lemony salad filled with lots of herbs. I knew that the flavors in tabbouleh would make a great summery veggie burger.

I served these for dinner over mixed greens drizzled with a garlicky tahini sauce, with a homemade pita on the side. I was originally planning on serving these in the pitas, but for some reason my pitas ended up pocketless. I’m not sure if it was the recipe or if it was an error I made (possibly rolling the dough too thin?). However, they were still delicious—so soft and fresh. You can find the recipe on one of my favorite baking blogs, A Pastry Affair.

Homemade Pitas

This recipe makes a lot of burgers, but the leftovers reheat wonderfully (I reheat them in the toaster oven). I ate the leftovers for lunch on leftovers pitas (I cut the pitas in half, making two half moons, and just used it as I would a bun), drizzled with sriracha. This was actually my favorite way of eating them!

Tabbouleh Veggie Burgers

Tabbouleh Veggie Burgers

If you do not like feta, or want these to be dairy-free, you can leave the feta out. Feel free to add more herbs, if you would like.

1 cup bulger

2 cups water

1 (28 oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

3 large eggs

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup chopped mint

2 scallions, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cup crumbled feta

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

Optional: Tahini Garlic Sauce, for serving (recipe below)

1. Place bulger and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

2. Puree the chickpeas and eggs together in a food processor until smooth.

3. In a large bowl, combine the cooked bulger, the chickpea mixture, parsley, mint, scallions, garlic, lemon juice, feta, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Divide into 8 large burgers.

4. Heat a large skillet (I used cast iron) over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom.

5. Add the burgers to the pan, 2 or 3 at a time. Cook until browned and crisp on the outside, about 6 minutes per side. Add more oil to the pan as needed between batches.

Makes 8 servings

Tahini Garlic Sauce:

I made half a recipe of this sauce, but if you make the whole thing the leftovers are great as a dip for pita, vegetables, and falafel.

2 to 3 cloves garlic, very finely minced

Salt

1 cup tahini

1/2 cup lemon juice (or more, to taste)

Water

In bowl whisk together the garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and tahini. Whisk in the lemon juice; the mixture will stiffen up. Whisk in water, a little at a time, until the sauce has the consistency of a runny yogurt (you may need to use up to 3/4 cup of water for this). Add additional salt and/or lemon juice to taste, if desired.

Makes 1 1/2 to 2 cups

*Tahini sauce adapted from Mediterranean Harvest, by Martha Rose Shulman

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Bruschetta with White Bean Puree

I’ve tried several white bean dips, and this one is by far my favorite. It’s really creamy and fresh tasting. I had to hold myself back from going back for thirds!

(I forgot to save the bean broth, so I just used water in the puree and it came out fine. Also, my beans were finished cooking after the first hour, so make sure to keep a close eye on them.)

Bruschetta with White Bean Puree
The Very Best of Recipes for Health, Martha Rose Shulman

This recipe will give you more white bean puree than you’ll need for the bruschetta. The savory, hummus-like mixture makes a great high-protein, high-fiber dip or spread, so you’ll be glad to have plenty left over. You can use canned white beans for this, though they won’t taste as good. Substitute milk for the bean broth and omit the garlic.

1 cup dried white beans, rinsed and picked over, soaked for 6 hours or overnight in 1 quart water
1 medium onion, halved
4 garlic cloves, divided
1 bay leaf
Salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Ground black pepper
4-8 slices country bread, preferably whole grain
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, rosemary, or parsley

Drain the beans and transfer to a large, heavy saucepan. Add the onion, 2 of the garlic cloves, the bay leaf, and 1 quart of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Add salt to taste and simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until the beans are thoroughly tender. Drain through a sieve set over a bowl. Set aside the cooking liquid. Discard the onion and bay leaf.

Mash 1 of the raw garlic cloves with 1/4 teaspoon salt with a mortar and pestle.

Place the beans and the mashed garlic in a food processor and puree. With the machine running, add 2 tablespoons of the bean broth, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and the lemon juice. Stop the machine, taste, and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper. Add more of the bean broth as needed for a creamier consistency. The mixture should have the same consistency as moist hummus.

Lightly toast the bread. Halve the remaining garlic clove and rub the toast, then brush with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Top with the white beans, sprinkle with the herbs, and serve.

4 servings (plus extra white bean puree)

362 Calories, 16 g protein, 49 g carbohydrates, 16 g fiber, 12 g fat, 2 g sat fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 177 mg sodium 

Goat Cheese Spread

I made this spread to have with the bread I made. It was SO GOOD – I highly recommend that you try it. If you want to keep it simpler, just make the goat cheese/cream cheese mixture. It was wonderful even without the pesto and sun-dried tomatoes.
(I was unable to take a picture until the day after I served it, so here it’s a little bit lopsided, but when I served it the loaf came out perfectly from the pan. It looked great in addition to tasting great!)
Goat Cheese Spread
Southern Living, September 2002
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
8 ounces goat cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons chopped fresh, or 1 1/4 teaspoons dried, oregano
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup basil pesto
1/2 cup dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped

Process first 5 ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Spread one-third of the cheese mixture onto the bottom of a plastic wrap-lined 8-x4-inch loaf pan. Top with pesto; spread one-third cheese mixture over pesto. Sprinkle with dried tomatoes; top with remaining cheese mixture. Cover and chill 8 hours. Invert spread onto a serving plate, discarding plastic wrap.

12 to 16 appetizer servings