Garlic Thyme Potato Gratin

Garlic Thyme Potato Gratin

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I like to switch it up a little for Friendsgiving. Since I know most people will be having the usual dishes on Thanksgiving day. I don’t want people to get tired of turkey and mashed potatoes when Thanksgiving finally comes.

I made this dish for our recent Friendsgiving, which you may have seen on my Instastory last night. The casserole dish was completely empty by the end of the night! Question is, should I recreate it for Thanksgiving day this week?

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Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce

Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce

simple cranberry sauceYes, it’s that time again. Planning for the holidays. This year, I’m planning 3 Thanksgiving feasts: Friendsgiving, Workgiving, and Thanksgiving. Phew! I’m already tired thinking about it. Really though, I love cooking for others so it’s something that I look forward to every year.

Breaking up Thanksgiving into three smaller meals is really not too bad when you think about it (or maybe I’m trying to make myself feel better). Instead of making 1 giant feast, I will have enough space in my oven and cooktop for each mini meal, and I can also turn leftovers into a new dish for the next event. Last year, I reworked leftover turkey, gravy and stuffing into individual turkey pot pies for Friendsgiving.

Here’s a recipe for cranberry sauce. I grew up eating the sauce that came out of the can (still in a can-shaped mold). When I found out how easy it was to make cranberry sauce I never looked back.

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All it is is simmered down fresh or frozen cranberries with sugar! I like adding extras like orange juice/rind, ginger, herbs or spices. This recipe can be made a week in advance and stored in the fridge. Enjoy!

simple cranberry sauce

Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce

12oz of fresh cranberries
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water or orange juice
1 stick of cinnamon
1 Tbs cinnamon powder

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for 5-7 minutes until most of the cranberries have popped.  Stir occasionally.

You may want to add more sugar if the sauce is still too tart for your taste.

Last Minute Thanksgiving

I’ve been so busy lately with finishing up work before maternity leave and preparing for the baby’s arrival that I (almost) forgot that Thanksgiving was this week! If you are like me and have absolutely no time to make a full Thanksgiving meal take the Last Minute Thanksgiving approach.  I’ll show you how!

I made the meal pictured above for my coworkers in 1 hour. This was a meal for 6 and we still had plenty of leftovers.  You can shop for your items the day before or the morning of.

Buy ready-made items. Use the store to help you with this meal. Don’t stress yourself out! I bought 50% of the items pictured above and made the rest.

What to buy ready-made:
Buy the desserts, or better yet, ask your guests to bring a dessert. People are always willing to bring desserts because it’s the easiest thing they can grab from the grocery store and check out quickly.

Buy the protein ready-made. Those rotisserie chickens from the grocery are actually really good. They come whole and are the perfect size for a family of 4-6. Place in an oven safe dish and reheat in for 20 mins.

If you insist on cooking the protein, buy a chicken already butchered or just a turkey breast portion. When they are cut up, they cook much faster than a whole chicken. Season it simply with olive oil, s+p, and some herbs, then pop it into the oven first. It should cook at 425 degrees F in about an hour.

Buy semi-made items. Some boxed items help you skip several steps and do all the measuring for you. Some good items are stuffing, cornbread mix, and biscuits.

Add something special to make it your own. With the cornbread mix, I added jalapeños and cheddar. Cut up an apple and some sausages and mix it into the stuffing. Top the biscuits with any cheese you have in your fridge.

Don’t buy canned. Especially vegetables. This is something you should make fresh as it usually is less expensive and tastier.  Some veggies that are perfect for your spread and don’t take a long time to cook are Brussels sprouts, potatoes, or green beans and carrots. Buy them already washed and cut so all you have to do is season and cook in a pan with some olive oil, or if you still have oven space, roast until fork tender.

Buy your cranberries frozen or fresh. Here’s a recipe that is so simple you can literally leave it on the back burner until it’s ready.

Gravy is simply equal parts butter and flour, cooked. Then slowly whisk in some chicken broth to your desired consistency and season with s+p.

Cook on the stove top. If you are reheating the bird, baking the stuffing, and roasting some veggies you need to make something on the stove top. Something you have made before and can do with one hand tied behind your back. Some of my favorites to make on the stove are mashed potatoes, stove top mac and cheese (skipping the oven part), and any vegetable dish.

Overwhelmed? Don’t be. Here’s a sample menu and timeline so you can get an idea.
Sample menu:
serves 6
Rotisserie chicken
Mashed potatoes (1 lb. potatoes, 1 quart heavy cream, 1 stick butter, s+p)
Roasted Brussels sprouts (bagged already washed sprouts, s+p, evoo)
Jalapeño and cheddar cast iron cornbread (2 boxes of Jiffy cornbread mix, 2 jalapeños, 1 cup grated cheddar cheese, 2 eggs, 2/3 cup of milk)
Store bought pie

0:00 Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
0:01 Half fill a large pot with water for potatoes and bring to boil. Add 1 tsp of salt
0:05 Bring out all your items and arrange by dish for organization
0:10 Reheat chicken in the oven
0:11 Cut Brussels sprouts in half and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with s+p. Put in oven
0:18 Cut potatoes in quarters and drop in boiling water
0:25 Chop jalapenos and grate cheese
0:35 Take bird out of the oven to rest
0:35 Follow directions on cornbread box, add grated cheese
0:40 In a cast iron pan or skillet, melt butter and saute chopped jalapenos. Pour cornbread mixture into the pan and insert in the oven. Take out Brussels sprouts if fork tender
0:45 Drain potatoes. Return the potatoes to the pot and mash in butter, cream, and s+p to taste
0:55 Place the chicken on the table with the Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, and pie
1:00 Take cornbread out of the oven and place on table

That wasn’t so hard was it? Now that you know you can do Thanksgiving in 1 hour for 6 you’ll breeze through every other dinner.  Keep things simple, and although it’s Thanksgiving, don’t try to be too ambitious. You’d rather spend the time with your friends and family than over the stove anyway.  Happy Thanksgiving! Love, Christine

Pumpkin Yogurt Pie

I’m not much of a baker because I have a hard time following direction. Crazy right? I’m always trying to think of how I can improve a recipe or personalize it to fit my taste.  Last weekend I wanted to make a pumpkin pie and when I came across a recipe I substituted heavy cream with yogurt for a (semi) skinny pie.  Here’s what came out: a lighter filling with a slight tang from the yogurt.  It’s definitely a lighter approach to the calorie rich traditional pie, but who’s counting calories around the holidays anyway? If you are interested in this pie, read on!

Ingredients:
1 frozen pie crust (thawed)
nonfat whipped cream or cool whip to top

filling:
1 can 15 oz. of pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1 cup of nonfat yogurt
1 cup of packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat to oven to 350 degrees F. 

Roll out the pie crust and line in a pie dish.  Blind bake for 15 minutes to get a nice crust that’s not soggy.

While the crust is baking, mix all the filling ingredients together. When the crust has slightly goldened, take it out of the oven and pour through a strain, the filling into the crust. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean after being inserted into the middle of the pie.

Cool in the fridge for a few hours. Serve with whipped cream on top (nonfat whipped cream optional 😉

The Side Guide

Your Ultimate Thanksgiving Side Manual

Whenever I am making Thanksgiving dinner, I find it difficult to manage several casseroles and a big, giant turkey all taking up my oven real estate!  There’s only so many racks and so much space.  The more you are opening and closing the oven door – the longer it takes for that turkey to cook.  The more things that are in the oven – the longer it takes for the turkey to cook.  Changing temperatures for each side that goes in, as if it didn’t take long enough!  Just leave the turkey to do it’s thing in the oven, and make all the sides on the stovetop.  I’ve compiled a list of simple and easy sides to do up to a week before or on top of the stove to relieve the stress on your poor oven (and turkey).

Fig, Pomegranate and Haloumi Salad.  This is great because it takes no oven or stove top space whatsoever! Substitute the haloumi with any cured meat such as prosciutto or salami.  You can even make it early in the day, and just before serving, pour the vinagrette over it.
Sautéed Garlic and Herb Green Beans.  This recipe has fresh thyme, parsley, and lemon juice.  So much better than any casserole made from canned ingredients.
 
Crispy Fried Brussel Sprouts With Honey and Sriracha.  Individually frying brussel sprout leaves is a beautiful thing.  They come out so crispy! Drizzle a little honey-sriracha mixture over it and squeeze lime… speechless.

Creamy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese.  You didn’t think I was going all veggie this holiday did you?  I need carbs! Especially ones that are doused in gooey, creamy cheese.  Save time and skip the baking for this casserole.  I find it gooey-er that way anyway.  Want a crispy topping? Pan fry panko bread crumbs in a little butter until golden brown and sprinkle on top.

Butternut Squash Soup With Cheesy Croutons. This recipe is almost exactly how I make mine (that’s how I know it’s good!)  Adding a crunchy, cheesy crouton is genius.  I usually just dollop some sour cream and chopped herbs.  And instead of sugar I use honey.  This can also be made up to a week ahead and warmed up on the stove before serving.

Classic Cranberry Sauce.  What’s Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce?  This is the most simple and the best cranberry sauce.  Add the juice of a lemon and it far outweighs any crans in a can.  Make this up to a week ahead also.
There you have it! Feed My Sole’s Side Guide! What? Wondering where the stuffing and mashed potatoes are? Well…I was trying to cut down on my carbs but if you insist, here are a couple no-bake recipes that I recommend:
There you go! The-Ultimate-Feed-My-Sole-Thanksgiving-Side-Guide!  I hope everyone has a joyous and happy Thanksgiving.  I am thankful for every single day and all of you! Thank you for reading. Happy Eating!
Love,
Christine