If I had to score our Thanksgiving dinner this year I'd give it a solid B+. There were a few things that could have been better, but I feel like we're getting much closer to a solid t-day lineup. Here's the menu:
- Appetizers: Bonnie's Cheese Ball (see below for recipe) & Beecher's Cheddar with crackers
- Mashed potatoes
- Creamed Spinach
- Luby's Cornbread Dressing
- Cranberry Sauce
- Parker House Rolls
- Turkey (cooked in the Big Easy again)
- Dessert: Kentucky Pecan and Spirited Pumpkin pies from Random Order Coffeehouse
Bonnie's Cheese Ball...
I don't know if this is the real name of the recipe but we got it from my mom's friend Bonnie and that's what we've always called it. It's so simple, yet so delicious. I love any and all cheese, but this cheese in particular works really well as a Thanksgiving dinner warm-up act.
Basically all you do is mix together green pepper, onion, pineapple, and cream cheese then roll it in chopped pecans. Easy peasy!
Here's the recipe:
- 2 8 oz packages of cream cheese
- 8 ¼ oz can of crushed pineapple (drained really well, using paper towels or a potato ricer - this step is very important or the cheese will be watery)
- ¼ cup chopped green pepper (chopped small)
- 2 tablespoons chopped onion
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Chopped pecans
- Bring cream cheese to room temperature.
- Add all ingredients.
- Roll in chopped pecans.
Makes one big or two small balls. Can be made up to 2 days in advance of serving. Also freezes well.
The mashed potatoes were kinda m'eh, so I won't bother writing about them. We'll try again next year with those. Onto the creamed spinach...
I've never been a big green bean casserole or brussel sprout fan, so I set out this year to find a good alternate green. I hadn't really thought of spinach as an option, but we had creamed spinach during our amazing dinner at Lahaina Grill in Maui, and when I saw it listed under the Thanksgiving sides on Food Network I was sold. The only thing I'd change about this recipe for next year is to use half of the red pepper flakes. I like heat, but it overpowered the dish and left a pretty strong after burn. Other than that, though, the dish was super tasty and I definitely plan to make it again next year.
Luby's Cornbread Dressing...
My friend Sarah is going to be disappointed to read this, but I wasn't crazy about this stuffing. I prefer my stuffing to be more bread-like, with visible chunks of moist bread, and this was more like a casserole or egg bake (you add eggs to mixture before you pop it in the oven.)
Maybe I just didn't make it right, I don't know. The flavor was really good, I just wasn't crazy about the texture. I think for next year I'll go back to the last year's stuffing, Tyler Florence's Carmelized Onion and Cornbread Stuffing.
I grew up eating canned cranberry sauce, so I wasn't quite sure what would be involved in making the real stuff from scratch. Thankfully it was super easy. The orange zest overpowered the cranberry flavor a bit more than I would have liked, so next year I'll probably reduce it to half an orange.
Parker House Rolls...
I loooove me some Flaky Grands, but when I saw this recipe in Food Network magazine for pull-apart dinner rolls from scratch I had to try them.
Oh man were these good. They were so tasty and filling... like a little meal all by themselves. The recipe made at least double the rolls we actually needed, so if you're not cooking for a lot of people I recommend halving the recipe.
Jared added a twist to his Simon & Garfunkel butter this year... bacon. That's right - parsely, sage, rosemary, thyme, and bacon. Yum!
After the butter was shoved under the skin, Jared popped it in the Big Easy for about an hour and a half... and voila!
Random Order Coffeehouse pies...
I know what you're thinking... store bought pies? I have a blog about all things DIY and I went and bought pies instead of making them myself. But I firmly believe that every good DIYer needs to know when to admit that something is over their head. I don't know what it is about pie... I've made pies in the past and never been wowed. Maybe it's the crust, maybe I'm just not patient enough. I don't know. But I do know that Random Order here in Portland makes a heck of a good pie. In addition to ordering these bad boys for Thanksgiving day, we also stopped by earlier in the week to pick up a few pieces of their Oregon Cherry pie and man oh man... these people know their way around a pie. If you're ever in Portland I highly recommend stopping by and getting a piece. Of anything. I don't think they make a bad pie.
Anyway, where was I? Oh right, thanksgiving pies. Here you go...
I had never actually had Pecan Pie before this Thanksgiving... crazy, huh? Well I am a convert. Holy moly was this pie good.
So there you have it. Thanksgiving 2010. I'm full all over again.