A Thanksgiving Confession (with Two Recipe Suggestions)

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One week from today is Thanksgiving, and it’s time to tell you the truth: I’m not cooking dinner this year!

No, after cooking last year (see here) and the year before (see here) I’m giving myself a break this year, and enjoying time with my family instead. So there will be no frantic posting, no group therapy, no live video feeds from dinner at our house.

But fear not; the funny thing about Thanksgiving is that a good Thanksgiving menu is still a good Thanksgiving menu from one year to the next. Which means that the PDF file I made last year, with all the recipes and detailed instructions and a game plan for getting it done (starting on Sunday), could still work for you–click here to check that out.

Otherwise, I have two new recipes to offer that you might swap out for the recipes in that PDF. The first is the picture you see above; instead of the beet salad, serve Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese from The Barefoot Contessa’s latest book.

The recipe is simple. Preheat the oven to 375; get a bunch of pears (Anjou pears, ripe but firm) one for every two guests you’ll have. Cut the pears in half, scoop out the middle, cut a sliver off the back of the pear so it’ll sit flat in a baking dish. Toss the pears with lemon juice so they don’t turn brown. Arrange them, core side up, in a baking dish (or a few baking dishes, depending on how many pears you’re roasting.) Now mix together 3 oz. crumbled blue cheese (like Stilton), 1/4 cup dried cranberries, and 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts halves (using more of each in equal proportion for more pears; this recipe is for 3 pears) and stuff the pears with a ball of the mixture, just like you see in the picture above. Finally, mix together 1/2 cup apple cider, 3 Tbs port (I skipped the port, but if you have it, use it), and 1/3 cup light brown sugar–then pour over and around the pears. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until tender. Set aside and let come to room temperature.

Then just take a bunch of arugula, dress with lemon juice, olive oil, and some of the basting liquid from the pears. Mound on plates and place a pear on top; easy and beautiful. People will love it.

The other recipe suggestion I have is swapping out the Butternut Squash soup on that PDF, which came from a magazine, and going with the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe for Butternut Squash soup–which is available online here. I made a big batch of it recently for a dinner party and everyone went crazy for it; it’s super simple–just butternut squash, onions and apples, cooked with water and curry powder–but in its simplicity lies its genius. Tell me these pictures don’t make you hungry:

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So that’s my Thanksgiving confession, I hope you can forgive me for taking it easy this time around. I do promise, though, to try to answer any questions you have in the comments; additionally, if there’s an expert you’d like me to interview about Thanksgiving, or a chef who you have specific questions for, let me know; maybe I can get them to answer your questions on the blog. Meanwhile, not cooking means I have way more time to blog, so look for lots of bloggy entertainment Thanksgiving week. Good luck planning your menus!

19 comments

  1. I *was* looking forward to not really cooking this year, but as I looked into buying a pre-cooked turkey from Whole Foods, they said I’d still need to cook it for 2 hrs to finish it. So, f**k it, I’ll just cook the whole thing. Trying to decide between different recipes – roasting with bacon on top (bastes the breasts), roasting with breasts down (doggy style?), roasting/smoking on the grill (probably won’t do that – too afraid of running out of gas). Then there’s the cranberry sauce, the butternut squash & brie recipe, asparagus, cole slaw (from Ina Garten – great stuff, but it’ll probably just be for me since everyone else will be having mashed potatoes & stuffing). I’m going to get some stuff done this weekend, then hit it on Wednesday night. Get up and get the bird going early on Thursday so it’s done – it always seems to take longer than I think it will.

    Glad you’re going to take it easy. Spare a thought for us frantic few, will ya? :)

  2. I also love Ina Garten, but I am more fond of her roasted winter vegetable soup from the Barefoot Contessa Family…it is absolutely delicious and SO easy, adaptable and generally wonderful. Also since I like my squash soups to be more savory than sweet it fits me better. I like serving it with caramelize onions and parmesan.

  3. i bought the new barefoot book for my mom for her birthday, but since it came to me in the mail, i got to open it and try out some recipes before giving it to her =)

    i love her butternut squash soup, too, and was so glad to see it in the book again. i had to make some. i followed her recipe and didn’t cook the apples/squash with water. i roasted them (without onions because i didn’t have any) and then pureed them with some vegetable stock (veg-friendly). i added some onion salt to make up for my lack of and some lovely pumpkin pie spice along with the curry powder. i recommend that 2nd addition. it’s stelar.

    i’m making her roasted butternut squash salad with warm cider vinaigrette tomorrow night. i’m anticipating stellar results.

    the pears were my 3rd favorite, but my lactose-intolerance renders them inedible to me. hopefully my mom will try them and enjoy =)

    have a good thanksgiving!

  4. Roasted Pears and Blue Cheese – what could be more delicious than that?! Sounds wonderful. We always cook our Thanksgiving as a family so no one has to slave on their own. It turns into a big party, in fact, and is a lot of fun in between all the hoops and hollering and clinking of wine glasses. It’s one of my favorite days of the year.

  5. I love love love Ina Garten’s recipes. They’re pretty much foolproof and I’ve never been disappointed. And those pears sound fantastic!

    This year I’m trying her herb roasted turkey breast and her smashed sweet potatoes. It’s just me, but I’m making a Thanksgiving feast for one reason: the leftovers!

  6. I have made “heart healthy” Thanksgiving dinners, for my father-in-law; ordered the whole pre-cooke meal from the grocery store (don’t EVER do that – you get a ton of cranberry relish and you can’t “substitute” – actually I’ve done that twice and it wasn’t any better the second time, even with the Amish Family logo all over the box) and prepared the entire meal from scratch the rest of my years. I learned alot of the basics from my mother-in-law. Still make her butternut squash pie. It is a wonderful day and we love it. Happy to read you’re taking the year off, Adam…well, sort of. Our daughter has offered to cook this year. I’m loving the day already. And yes, the roasted vegetable soup is one of most satisfying things I’ve ever cooked. I took it to “food day” at work and it was a hit. Thanks for the reminder.

  7. I will be making Turkey, Mashed Potatoes,& Gravey, Sweet Potatoes,Amish Dressing,Dinner Rolls,Jello Salad,Squash Pie, Chocolate Cream Pie, & Amish Date Pudding.Happy Thanksgiving To All !!

  8. No apology needed, Adam! I think your menu plan extravaganza from last year more than makes up for this year’s non-menu planning. We’ll think of it as a gestation period for next year’s big meal! :)

  9. That soup sounds wonderful! I actually just made a great dish last night with butternut squash and it was the first time I’ve ever used it. Man is it hard to peel. Anyone have any suggestions to make it easier? Since it was my first time, I pretty much butchered it. But my butternut squash gratin with sage and bleu cheese still turned out pretty good. :)

  10. Barefoot Contessa, how I love you. I made this soup 2 weeks ago and it was absolutely fantastic – everyone in my dinner club loved it!

  11. Those pears sound incredibly delicious. And in response to your Twitter about WifeSwap — I hate the damn show, but I’ll pretend to be your wife! =)

  12. Jenn- Don’t you hate being lactose-intolerant. I feel like I’m missing out on so much!! It’s not fair!!

  13. Wow, that pear salad looks yummy! My situation is the opposite of yours – I’m cooking for the first time in several years. I will be envying you on Thursday.

    Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  14. I have to say that as I approach the third year of cooking everything but the turkey and cranberry sauce (I do potatoes white, potatoes sweet, stuffing, green veg, salad, and three pies) the magic of making the same. things. again. is wearing off a little. Maybe if we start with the butternut squash soup, which gives me an excuse to buy a cookbook I want anyway, it will make things a little zippier for me. The idea of a little curry powder in the midst of all of that cinnamon and butter gives me reason to live…..

  15. Hahaha, the butternut squash soup seemed really easy up until the end when you have to puree it or put it through a food mill!! Can you use a potato masher, and serve it “chunky style”?

  16. Just wanted to thank you for the pear salad idea. Served it for Thanksgiving and it was a huge hit!

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