Very Simple Thanksgiving

When I first started planning the Thanksgiving dinner menu, I had all the French-inspired dishes in mind, influenced by my recent trip to Paris. I thought, maybe a puff pastry appetizer to start, followed by cream cauliflower soup, then the vegetable tatin … Then, I watched the Biggest Loser special the night before and changed the entire menu to a more, healthy, guilt-free dishes.

The menu was very simple – maybe a little too simple – but I decided to make everything vegetable-based, and not overly prepared. I wanted the true flavors of ingredients come out naturally, with a little sprinkle of Fleur de Sel that I brought back from France.

Here’s the star of the night — turkey! I rubbed the bird with the mixture of garlic, sage, rosemary, oregano, salt, pepper, and olive oil. I think it was about 10 pounds so I cooked it for about three hours. When I checked the temperature, it said that it was at 170, the perfect temperature for poultry. It turned out that I could cook it a little longer because some parts were still pink-ish and I had to re-cook pieces in the oven!

I enjoyed the turkey with the homemade cranberry sauce I made by cooking down the berries with water, agave nectar, and lemon juice.

Grilled Vegetables: I marinated the onion and zucchini slices overnight in olive oil and grilled them. My entire apartment got really smoky and I had to turn on a fan for about an hour but it was well worth it!  I also severed some sauteed green beans but I guess I forgot to take a picture of it!

Stuffed Mushrooms: These little stuffed mushrooms were stuffed with traditional turkey stuffing of onion, celery, and bread crumbs (I used panko), and seasoned with red chili flakes for some heat.

Quinoa Salad: This is a very simple quinoa salad, with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper, with a little sprinkle of fresh parsley and lemon juice.

Glazed Carrots:  These carrots were cooked in a little bit of butter and agave nectar for subtle sweetness.

Tomato Salad: I made the tomato salad with cucumber, onion, and avocado cubes, dressed in olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Mashed Potatoes:  Instead of the traditional kind, I mashed yams and cooked them in milk.  No sugar or any other seasons were added and they came out delicious!

And last by not least, I made Bobby Flay’s pumpkin bread pudding with homemade ice cream for dessert.  His recipe calls for vanilla beans anglaise and spicy caramel apple sauce, but I substituted all that with David Lebovitz’s vanilla ice cream. This was the most time-consuming dish of the night because it required me to make the pumpkin bread (which, by the way, was delicious by itself), the pudding, and the ice cream separately but each component is fairly easy and the efforts are well worth it. I got the inspiration to make this when I watched the latest episode of Bobby Flay’s Throwdown when he went head-to-head with the lovely Ree Drummond, also known as The Pioneer Woman (her blog is amazing) on the Thanksgiving challenge and made this dessert.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family!

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