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:


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 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! 😉

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

Thanksgiving 2012

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Mine was really nice. It was just the 5 of us this year so I kept it relatively simple (I have a hard time doing really simple!). No appetizers, no multiple courses. Just one main course and dessert.

I went with a Slow-Roasted Herbed Turkey Roast rather than a whole turkey. The flavor of the rub was really good, but the meat was a little dry. It was kind of disappointing, since I have made quite a few turkeys and turkey roasts before and none of them were ever dried out. Oh well. I just ate it with lots of cranberry chutney.

To go alongside the turkey, I made a Cranberry, Cherry, and Walnut Chutney. I made this several years ago and really liked it, so I decided to do it again. It was as good as I remember, and I have tons of leftovers (it makes a lot!).

I also made my grandmother’s recipe for stuffing. Okay, so technically it’s dressing, since it’s cooked in a baking dish and not inside the bird. But we always called it stuffing when I was growing up and the name’s kinda stuck. Unlike most stuffing/dressing recipes, this one is not based on bread cubes. It’s actually based on crushed saltine crackers, and I loooove the flavor it gives to the dish. It’s also pretty much the only thing I will use onion soup mix for. I made a nice big dish of this, and will be happily picking at the leftovers for days 🙂

While mashed potatoes are one of the usual sides for Thanksgiving, I decided to forgo them this year. For me, the only purpose they serve is as a vehicle for loads of gravy, and since I wasn’t making gravy this year I didn’t need them. Instead I made Duchess Potatoes. These were so good! And the kids really loved them, unlike mashed potatoes which they aren’t huge fans of. I also like that they could mostly be prepared ahead of time, and then buttered and baked while the turkey rests. I will definitely be making these again! (And sorry for the lousy picture. These were the one dish that wasn’t finished until after it got dark outside, so I had no natural light to photograph these in.)

My last side dish were these Green Beans with Caramelized Onions. I also made these a few years ago and I remember them being really good, so I decided to make them again this year. Somehow I managed to only buy half the amount of green beans that I needed, but that’s okay. While I love green beans, my favorite part of these are the onions anyhow. So I had mostly onions and a few green beans, my husband had equal parts green beans and onions, and the kids had only green beans and no onions. All was good 🙂

Since I had already made several pies this fall (including a pumpkin pie), I went untraditional with dessert and made these Tartlets with Pastry Cream and  Pomegranate Poached Pears (I used forelle pears, and placed one on each tartlet). It was a perfect end to an already great meal, and didn’t weigh us down like most pies do.

Now it’s time to stop procrastinating, and start cleaning up the mess in the kitchen. Fun.

Iberian Meat Loaf

This was a nice change from a standard meat loaf. However, it was just a little bit dry, so next time I would either use ground dark meat turkey or a very lean ground beef. I served it with Spanish rice.

Iberian Meat Loaf
Cooking Light, March 2006

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey breast
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce, divided
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup sliced pitted manzanilla (or green) olives
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 large egg whites
1 garlic clove, minced
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine turkey, 1/2 cup tomato sauce, and remaining ingredients except cooking spray in a large bowl.
Shape mixture into a 9 x 5-inch loaf on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Spread remaining 1/2 cup tomato sauce evenly over top of meat loaf. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a thermometer registers 165°. Let stand 10 minutes. Cut loaf into 12 slices.

6 servings