I thought about hosting Thanksgiving at my house this year. It would force to get my china out of the storage in the attic where it has been since we moved in. Actually, that china has never been anywhere BUT storage. When we first got it, we were in a 1BR apartment, so we stored it in the basement. Then we were in a 1BR basement apartment at my parents house and the china was in storage elsewhere in said basement while we looked for a house. Then we bought a house and the china wound up in the attic, still the the storage boxes. I figured four years was long enough, we should take it out and use it- maybe even display a place setting in the china cabinet!
But then I thought about how much work it would be and decided to let my mom host Thanksgiving.
Still, I offered to contribute. There was a recipe I’ve been wanting to try that was perfect for Thanksgiving, and then my mom asked me to handle the vegetables. So it was settled. I made 4 dishes: a pie, spinach, carrots, and sweet potatoes.
Below are the recipes with notes on how they were.
Savory Sautéed Spinach with Garlic and Onions
The vegetable bouillon makes this very savory. Using baby spinach means it’s a lot less bitter.
2 bags of fresh baby spinach
2 medium yellow onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic (I use the jarred stuff)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1 cube vegetable bouillon
Caramelize the onions by cooking for a long time (I got impatient after 30min) in the olive oil. Add water if necessary to keep them from drying out or burning. Towards the end, I added a little sugar (to help with the caramelization- I was impatient) and the garlic.
When the onions are nice and brown, lower the heat and empty the two bags of baby spinach on top. Cover the pan and allow the spinach to wilt.
Once the spinach has wilted a little bit, break up the bouillon cube and sauté everything for a few minutes.
Honey Glazed Baby Carrots
I offered my husband honey-glazed or regular (brown sugar) glazed carrots, and he opted for honey glazed. If you want regular glazed, just substitute 1 tsp brown sugar for the honey below. This recipe makes tender sweet carrots.
1 bag baby carrots (1 lb)
1 Tbsp butter or substitute
Boil carrots until tender when you pierce with a fork.
Drain and return to pot.
Drizzle with honey (I used about 1tspn) and add butter.
On high heat, sauté while stirring frequently until butter is melted.
Sweet Potatoes Anna with Prunes
I saw this recipe in The New York Times last year and really wanted to make it. I finally attempted it for Thanksgiving.
Recipe can be found here.
In case you can’t tell and didn’t read the recipe, you bake it, then invert it onto a platter for serving. Below, when I refer to the top- I mean the top while it was baking, not after it was inverted for serving.
Ultimately it turned out well, but I had to improvise on the recipe. I followed the instructions (I am a scientist!), and after the indicated 40min cooking time, the potatoes on the top were very dried out and some were burned. Nothing was tender when I stuck a fork in to see if it was finished. I had to pick off the burned slices of potato, brush with more butter, and cover with tinfoil. I had to bake it for MUCH longer, like 20-30min additional, until the potatoes were tender. Covering with tinfoil helped keep the top from drying out and burning, but it also meant more moisture stayed in the dish, and the potatoes didn’t caramelize as well.
It got good reviews from my dinner companions, but it was a hassle that the recipe didn’t work. Several people said it was more like a pie (maybe because it’s served in wedges) or a dessert (port is a dessert wine). Also, I’m not a fan of wine, and I felt like all I could taste was the port I had soaked the prunes in. I’m not sure I’ll ever make this again, but if I do, I’ll make the following changes:
-cover with foil for the first 30min of cooking (so the potatoes cook), remove foil and let it get crisp (so they caramelize)
-soak the prunes in something else (maybe just water or apple juice?), or not at all. I used the individually wrapped prunes and they weren’t dry, so I’m not sure it was necessary to soak them at all.
Apple-Sour Cream Crumb Pie
I am not a fan of apple pie. I generally avoid apple desserts (apple pies, crisps, brown bettys, etc.). However, this pie I LOVE! I’m pretty certain it’s because of the crumb topping and the sour cream in the filling.
I found the recipe in Martha Stewart Living and ripped it out to save. You can find it online here.
I made it for Mac a few weeks ago (actually on the day that Sandy hit- thankfully we didn’t lose power until it was finished cooking, because it takes a long time!). We both loved it. So, I agreed to make it for Thanksgiving.
Recipe can be found here.
The only changes I made to this were that I purchased pre-made pie crusts. This may be a Martha Stewart recipe, but I’m no Martha! Also, I threw in one Granny Smith apple because my dad loves them and we were celebrating his birthday in addition to Thanksgiving. It calls for the apples to be in 1/4″ slices- I think most of mine were less than that, I cut them very thin. This meant they were easily able to mix with the sour cream filling, and I think made for a better pie. My dad did comment on how thin the slices were and how great that was- and he’s an apple pie fan, so I took it as a big compliment.
Major Tip: The crumb topping is full of butter and it WILL SPILL OVER while you cook it! The recipe says to put a pan on the rack below- this is a MUST unless you want your house full of smoke and your oven a hot mess. The pan must be rimmed- a cookie sheet or sheet of aluminum foil will not hold the liquid butter that spills over. Also, once this is out of the oven and cooled, you will have to clean off the outside of the pie plate because it will be crusted with sugar. You will also have to clean your oven rack, since some stuff will get on it as it drips down. I don’t recommend putting the pie plate in the larger pan on the same rack, because that would make the pie plate a really huge mess with all the crumb topping melted around it. It’s easier to just clean the little bit that drips onto the rack.
I am really happy with how this pie turned out. It’s like something you would pay for at a bakery and think you could never replicate at home. This is something I will make again and again. Definitely a family favorite.
Any great recipes you made for Thanksgiving?