Wednesday, November 24, 2010

SideKicks: The End of Our Thanksgiving Preparations

OK, It's the Final Countdown!! (do da do dooo, do do do do doooo..)
The turkey is in your fridge (- wait, did the significant other forget to take it out of the freezer??? Better get that in the coolbox NOW unless you want Turkeysicles on Thanksgiving !). It's taking up so much space you have no room for milk. It sits unassumingly in its plastic and mesh wrapping, plastic pop-up protruding in one spot, a complicated-looking plastic bit-and-string package hanging on the side - what the hell is THAT for?- and at some point on Thursday, you have to dig your ginormous roasting pan form the cabinet and MOUNT the thing in it, then realize you have no idea HOW to cook a turkey because God only knows you thought hosting would be a good idea this year just to show up your perfect sister-in-law WHO ALWAYS MAKES THE DAMN THING LOOK LIKE MARTHA STEWART, AND YOUR MOM IS ON THE PHONE COMPLAINING ABOUT YOUR AUNT WHO IS REFUSING TO COME UNLESS CREAMED ONIONS ARE SERVED AND THE USELESS OTHER HALF IS ALREADY DRINKING AND WATCHING FOOTBALL....
.....and then you get the bird in the pan and this THING falls out of its ass - what is THAT? Are those ORGANS?!?....
...and then you have it in the oven finally, praying that the Butterball Hot line WON'T have a 1 hour call waiting this season....
....and you look at the counter, bloodied by turkey and strewn with stuffing crumbs, and a slow, sad realization comes over you.
     You drank all the white wine before noon. NO! That's not it.
   You realize that, int the midst of writing the Black Friday shopping lists, thawing the miserable turkey, placating your hubby, and trying to maintain a normal week until Thursday, you didn't plan on side dishes. Sure, Aunt Harps-On-Everything always brings her crappy green bean casserole with canned fried onions, and Uncle Cigar-Chomper is reliable for a gallon (or more) of bourbon. But what about the rest of the group? Will it come down to a free for all on the fried onions (or the bourbon?), a feeding frenzy on your precious turkey leftovers, or a fridge raid for jelled cranberry sauce (you didn't read my first T-day blog?)? NO! Defeat is not an option! Starvation is not imminent! There will not be rationing on liquor!
   Follow this simple guide: get out a pen and paper, write down these ingredients, and get to the store NOW. You will make beautiful side dishes to soothe everyone's Thanksgiving nerves, the stores will NOT be out of stock on any of these, and you will emerge looking like a Thanksgiving Superstar. Screw the sister-in-law. Thanksgiving is yours!

Carrot Souffle with Crunchy Streusel Topping
Kids love it, and it's healthier than sweet potato casserole with marshmallows!

7 c. chopped carrot
2/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. sour cream
3 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. melted butter
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
3 eggs

Streusel topping (optional)
1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
1/2 c. almond meal
1/2 c. walnuts
1/4 c. unsalted butter, melted
1/4 c. light brown sugar

 Cook carrots in boiling water 15 minutes until tender.
Add carrots and rest of ingredients into bowl of food processor; puree until smooth. Spoon into greased 2 qt. baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until puffed and set. If using streusel, scatter across top and return to oven for additional 10 minutes; otherwise just bake 40 minutes to begin with.

Maple-Glazed Parsnips

2 pounds parsnips, peeled and cut in 1 inch pieces
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 c. maple syrup
pinch kosher salt

Boil parsnips in water for 8 minutes. Drain. Add butter to hot pan over medium heat and melt. Add maple syrup, salt and drained parsnips. Bring to a boil and cook until all liquid is evaporated and parsnips are caramelizing, about 10 minutes. Serve hot.

EZ Homemade Stuffing

8 cups of your favorite crusty bread, in 1 inch cubes
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped Golden Delicious apple
1 c. chopped celery
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
5 sprigs thyme
3 tbsp. thinly sliced sage
1 to 2 cups chicken stock

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Have bread ready in a large bowl. In a large saute pan, melt butter over medium high heat. Add onion, apple, celery, salt, pepper, and thyme; cook until vegetables and apple are softening, about 15 minutes, stirring often. Stir into bread along with sage. Deglaze pan with 1 cup stock and add to bowl. stir to combine well, adding  up to 1 c. additional stock as needed to make bread just moist. Pour into a greased 2 quart baking dish. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until top is browned.

Broccoli Cheese Casserole with Mustard Bread Crumb Topping

4 cups fresh or frozen broccoli or cauliflower florets, or a mix
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. grainy dijon mustard
1 small shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 c. milk
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
2/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 c. Italian bread crumbs

Add broccoli into a greased 2 qt. baking dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tbsp. butter; add 1 tbsp. mustard, shallot, and garlic, and cook 2 minutes on medium high until fragrant. Add flour, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk to combine completely. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Turn heat to low, and stir in cheeses by handfuls, melting each addition before adding the next. Check seasoning, then pour over broccoli in dish. Melt 2 tbsp. butter and mix into bread crumbs with 1 tsp. mustard; spread over top of casserole. Bake 30-40 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly.

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