Thanksgiving

Baked Brie with Cranberry-Apricot Chutney

by Shawnda on November 13, 2012

in Appetizers,Brie,Christmas,Holiday Favorites,Thanksgiving

Baked Brie with Cranberry-Apricot Chutney

I grew up in a very small town where, by today’s standards, the “exotic” food choices weren’t exotic at all. There were many common foods that I never tried until into my mid-20s. Yet somehow in my early 20s I gained the “Martha Stewart” nickname among my girlfriends, despite being very much a connoisseur of Lean Cuisine and Duncan Hines.

What that really meant was I had a subscription to Martha Stewart Living, I kept my apartment clean, and I could make a mean chocolate chunk cookie and wrap a fancy sheet of puff pastry around a wheel of fancy cheese topped with a mound of caramelized onions. An appetizer that’s still one of my very, very favorite things to eat to this day.

At Thanksgiving and Christmas, those caramelized onions are replaced with a cranberry concoction. The appetizer comes together pretty quickly – place a few generous scoops of cranberry-apricot chutney over top, wrap in puff pastry, pinch the sides to seal, and bake. The end result is a melty, creamy cheese topped with a sweet & tangy sauce, all wrapped in a buttery, flakey crust. I haven’t done the math but I’m pretty sure it’s close to 2500 calories a bite.

A side note: Don’t shoot me… but if you have a lull before the holidays, set aside some time to make homemade puff pastry if you can swing it. We’re talking 20 minutes of hands-on + an hour rest. It’s pretty much just butter and flour but it’s ridiculously amazing. And a side-by-side taste-test with the box from the freezer section proves that it’s totally worth the effort. I made a batch last week, which yields the equivalent of 2 store-bought boxes (4 sheets total) and have 3 sheets left to get me through the holidays.

Baked Brie with Cranberry-Apricot Chutney

Tangy cranberry-apricot chutney tops a creamy wheel of brie wrapped with flakey, buttery puff pastry.

Ingredients

  • Baking spray or cooking oil
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 8 oz (~5.5-inch) wheel brie
  • 3/4 cup cranberry-apricot chutney
  • 1 egg

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Lightly spray a small baking dish with baking spray or cooking oil. I have a small 6-inch mini-casserole dish that works perfectly - otherwise, just select something that has a slight lip or sides in case your brie tries to make a run for it.
  3. Unfold the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it a couple of times each direction.
  4. Place the wheel of brie in the center of the dough and top the wheel with cranberry chutney.
  5. Fold the sides around the brie, pinching to seal (it may or may not cover the top) and trimming if necessary.
  6. Place the wrapped brie in the baking dish.
  7. Whisk egg with 1 Tbsp water and brush the dough.
  8. Bake for ~25 minutes, until golden brown.
  9. Let cool ~10 minutes and transfer to a dish.
  10. Serve warm or room temp with crunchy dippers like pita chips and toasted bread.

Notes

Yields: 6-8 servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 35 minutes

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Hasselback Sweet Potatoes with Maple-Cinnamon Butter and Bacon

Because I regularly volunteer for sweet potato duty, that traditional dish has evolved to be the revolving the door at Thanksgiving every year. My mom always makes a small dish of Candied Sweet Potatoes – you know the kind, sweet potatoes, brown sugar, a stick of butter, all buried under a bag of jumbo marshmallows.

And then I make something else for the marshmallow haters.

Maybe it’s twice-baked sweet potatoes sprinkled with a cinnamon-brown sugar streusel, or mashed sweet potatoes served alongside cinnamon honey butter, or the recipe that still remains my family’s favorite to this day – sweet potato wedges with bacon vinaigrette.

This year, I took the flavors (maple syrup, butter, bacon) from that family favorite and worked them into a lower maintenance recipe. Because the last thing I want to do on a busy holiday is fuss with flipping two baking sheets-worth of sweet potato wedges. And standing over a sizzling pan hanging out of a hot oven is the last thing I should be doing on a day when the first bottle of wine is opened before 11am.

Hasselback Sweet Potatoes with Maple-Cinnamon Butter and Bacon

We started with a plain Hasselback Sweet Potato, the prettiest way to serve a sweet potato by the way, and slathered it with a simple maple-cinnamon butter and then crumbled crispy bacon over top. The preparation is simple (recruit an inlaw to help with hasselbacking duty), the butter can be made days ahead of time, and… there’s bacon!

Some tips for hasselback-ing your potatoes:
– Look for potatoes that are similar in size and shape to ensure even cooking.
– Find each potato’s “flat side” and use that as the bottom – nothing will roll around on the baking sheet while you’re cutting or transferring to/from the oven.
– Use a sharp knife.
– Be prepared to need a couple of potatoes to hit that hasselback-ing groove.
– Don’t panic if you cut too far, a toothpick can easily rejoin an accidentally unjoined hasselback potato.

And just a note: the green garnish (a random green leaf from a bag of lettuce) in the photo was simply added to help my camera out and I pulled them off later :oops: My camera is remarkably unkind to photos of orange food with brown skin, topped with brownish-orange food and yellowish-orange butter. If I had had any green onions, I would have used those – and them left them there.

Hasselback Sweet Potatoes with Maple-Cinnamon Butter

Hasselback sweet potatoes served with a sweetened maple-cinnamon butter and crispy bacon are an impressive twist to traditional holiday sweet potato dishes,

Ingredients

  • For the maple-cinnamon butter:
  • 1 stick butter, very soft
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (more to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the potatoes:
  • 8 medium sweet potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 4 slices of bacon, cooked to a crisp.

Instructions

  1. To make the maple cinnamon butter, mash together very soft butter, cinnamon, maple syrup and a pinch of salt until uniform.
  2. Taste for cinnamonness and sweetness and add more to taste if desired.
  3. Lay a ~12-inch piece of plastic wrap on your work surface.
  4. Spoon the butter into a line about the length of a stick of butter, and wrap into cylinder.
  5. Pick up the butter and twist to seal the butter in the plastic wrap.
  6. Chill until firm (this can be done several days ahead).
  7. Using a sharp knife, cut 1/4-inch slits about 2/3 of the way through the potato.
  8. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  9. Bake for ~45 minutes, until tender all the way through (stick a fork near the bottom side, where there are no cuts to check for doneness).
  10. Serve warm, with slices of maple-cinnamon butter, and topped with crumbled bacon. Because there's so much food at the holidays, cutting them in half will probably still be a plenty big enough serving.

Notes

Yields: 8-16 servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 1 hour

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Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

In my family, Thanksgiving has 3 rules. And they all involve cheese:

1) There must be broccoli & rice casserole. I can bring roasted broccoli for a healthier broccoli dish. But it has to be served alongside of – not instead of – the casserole.

2) I must make the broccoli & rice casserole. Me. Shawnda. We spend every other Thanksgiving day with Jason’s family and every other Thanksgiving day, my little brother complains about how the casserole just isn’t the same. Even though it totally is. Except that one time my sister messed it up. I won’t embarrass her to the world… but her “fix” might have involved stirring in uncooked non-instant rice to firm things up about 27 seconds before it was time to eat. Crunchy casserole = no bueno casserole. And a whiny little brother.

3) Don’t mess with the broccoli & rice casserole recipe. The temptation, it’s great with this one. It’s loaded with not-real cheese, more butter than it needs, one of the maligned cream-of soups, and scandalously white rice. It’s not fancy but it’s tradition and it’s delicious and it’s a family (especially little brother) favorite.

So this year, I’m totally messing with the broccoli & rice casserole. It’s hard to disown a family member when you’re actually eating dinner at her house, right? Right?

And I’m not doing it to be a jerk. For serious. I’ve always wanted to make the dish a little more healthful – a task that at Thanksgiving, always feels like shooting a BB gun at a freight train. But after eating a bowl of it for dinner the other night, I have very little doubt that my little brother will be more than “just” fine with a less-processed version.

The texture of the quinoa is similar to rice. There’s still plenty of cheese. The top of the dish still gets those little crisped brown bites that he sneaks into the kitchen and steals before the rest of dinner is ready. There’s still plenty of that one bowl, creamy comfort food factor going on.

And more importantly, there’s plenty of real food going on.

Or I could be completely wrong and my little brother will be holding auditions for the role of new big sister before the first football is in the air on Thanksgiving.

Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

Rich, cheesy, and comforting, this less-processed version of broccoli and rice casserole uses quinoa and real cheese and is made without cream of mushroom soup. Make it a one-dish meal and add leftover shredded chicken!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa, uncooked
  • 2 crowns of broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups milk (I use 2%)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp spicy brown mustard (I use Creole)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cup leftover shredded chicken (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. In a medium sauce pan, cook the quinoa in water with a generous pinch of salt, according to package, directions and then set aside.
  3. In a large pot, add the broccoli and a couple of inches of water.
  4. Cover the pot, bring to a boil for 1-2 minutes, and then drain and rinse with cold water.
  5. Return the drained broccoli to the large pot and add the quinoa.
  6. In a saute pan over medium heat, melt the butter.
  7. Whisk in the flour, onion, garlic, mustard, cayenne, a generous pinch of salt and black pepper.
  8. Let cook 1-2 minutes and then slowly add the milk, whisking until the sauce is smooth.
  9. Let the sauce simmer, reducing the heat if necessary, about 5 minutes until thickened and bubbling.
  10. Remove from heat, whisk in the cheddar a handful at a time until completely melted.
  11. Salt and pepper to taste.
  12. Pour sauce over broccoli-quinoa mixture and toss to coat, mixing well.
  13. Transfer mixture to a casserole dish and bake 35-30 minutes, until the top is nicely browned.
  14. Serve warm.

Notes

Yields: 10-12 servings

Slightly adapted from Annie's Eats

Estimated time: 1 hour 15 minutes

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Salted Turkey with Citrus & Herbs

So remember how I declared the Sweet Tea Brine the greatest thing to happen to poultry since deep frying? Well, let’s talk about the pretty darn close runner-up: the “dry brined” turkey.

We got the idea for the salted turkey from Bridget’s blog. Her high praise for the technique last year is what put the recipe on our radar.

Taste is very much personal, but really, though. Had we not had the two chickens side by side and only given the salted turkey a test run, we’d very happily be serving the salted turkey at Thanksgiving this year. Instead, we’re going to serve it on Christmas Eve.

On top of that, you just can’t overlook how easy that turkey is to put together the day before, nor can you overlook how good it is. You mix salt, citrus zests, and a mound of fresh herbs in a bowl and then rub it all over the outside and inside of your turkey. Wrap it up, stick it in the fridge, and then… Yeah, that’s it. No “turkey bucket” or cooler required, you simply need a roasting pan and a meat thermometer.

We stuffed the bird with standard aromatics (citrus, herbs, and onion/garlic) that were leftover from the test, rubbed with olive oil and black pepper, and then stuck it in the oven. It doesn’t get a whole lot easier than that. So if you’re new to turkey duty, new to brining, weirded out by brining, or just not that into the logistics? The salted turkey could be your best friend.

And if you’re still looking to round out your Thanksgiving menu, which you probably are because you’re way more normal, check out our greatest hits from holidays past!

Salted Turkey with Citrus and Herbs

An alternative to brining a turkey (or chicken), rubbing it with salt, citrus zest, and fresh herbs.

Ingredients

  • For the salt rub:
  • 6 Tbsp kosher salt (or 4 Tbsp table salt)
  • Zest of a lemon
  • Zest of an orange
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh sage
  • 1 Tbsp thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 14-16lb turkey
  • For roasting:
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 2 whole, peeled garlic cloves
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1 small orange, quartered
  • Sprigs of fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage)
  • 2 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • Olive oil or softened butter
  • Black pepper

Instructions

  1. To make the salt rub, mix all ingredients in a bowl and rub half of the mixture over the outside of the turkey.
  2. Carefully work your fingers under the skin, beginning at the neck, to separate the breast meat and skin.
  3. Rub half of the remaining salt under the skin and sprinkle the reset inside the bird.
  4. Seal in a roasting bag and place in a pan. Refrigerate for 24-48 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 425.
  6. Rinse the turkey well (inside, out, and under skin) and pat dry.
  7. Stuff the turkey with the aromatics and tie the legs.
  8. Rub with softened butter or olive oil and sprinkle with black pepper.
  9. Place the turkey in a roasting pan with the broth.
  10. Roast for 45 minutes and then reduce heat to 325 and continue cooking until the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165-170F, up to 2 hours longer.
  11. Let the turkey rest, loosely tented with foil, for 30-45 minutes before carving.

Notes

Yields: 12-14 servings

Adapted from Bon Appetit and Cook's Illustrated, via The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Estimated time: 28 hours

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