A little bit sweet, a little bit savory, a little bit herby and cheesy - this yummy dish looks gorgeous and tastes amazing, plus it is low carb! Both the husband and I loved it, which is sometimes difficult to achieve. So I call this one a winner!
Start by roasting some squash halves (keep in mind that the full recipe uses 2 whole squashes, even though I only show 1).
Meanwhile, make the filling by sauteing onion, celery, garlic, and herbs; browning crumbled sausage; and then adding apple.
Are you looking for a new side for your Thanksgiving dinner? Maybe something a little more grownup and sophisticated? This gratin with sweet potato, chard, Gruyere, fresh herbs, and lots of garlic may be perfect for you. You could certainly make it for a non-holiday dinner as well, though it does take quite a bit of time with pre-cooking, layering, and baking. Luckily, I was with my dear friend Melissa (Smells Like Brownies), who helped with the prep-work.
Start with a big sweet potato (or two smaller ones) and a whole lot of chard (seriously - a lot)
Peel the sweet potato and slice thinly, then set aside.
Remove the stems from the chard, chop, and place in a big pot with some onion that has been sauteing in butter. Look at those colors! Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg; and cook until soft.
Looking for yet another side to go with your Bacon Bourbon Sweet Potatoes? Check out this pork loin glazed with Dijon mustard, apple butter, and cider and roasted over veggies and sage. It's moist, tender, savory, sweet, and easy to make - plus it's pretty healthy!
I came up with this dish because I needed a protein to go with leftover sweet potatoes, and because I wanted to try out the recipe for the apple butter glaze. We are members of the Frog's Leap wine club, and they sent us a little jar of apple butter along with our last shipment of wine. They also included a recipe for a savory glaze using the apple butter, Dijon mustard, apple cider, shallot, and garlic - it sounded great!
Start by placing a few carrots and an onion in a roasting pan, top with a few sprigs of sage, then pour in a little bit of apple cider (to keep the meat from drying out). Season the pork loin with salt and pepper, and set it on the vegetables and roast it on high heat for 15 minutes.
Then take it out, spread the glaze over the top, and return it to the oven at a lower temp for 45 minutes. And that's it! Rest and slice and you're ready to serve. This is a great dish for fall with flavors that pair with lots of seasonal side dishes. Enjoy!
I know this photo is not great - it gets too dark for photos at 5 now, and I'm not profesh enough to make dinner in the middle of the day or make multiples of a dish for photo purposes, sorry! But did you read that title description? DID YOU? Bourbon. Bacon. Sweet Potatoes. Brown Butter. Sage. Need I say more to convince you to try this?
I haven't actually cooked with Bourbon a whole lot before, and now I am loving it. It lends such rich, smoky, and sweet flavors to a dish - which go perfectly with bacon, by the way. I mean, duh! And the nutty brown butter and crispy, buttery fried sage? Just awesome. And super healthy sweet potatoes make up for all that fat and booze, right? Maybe? Just a little? Plus - since sweet potatoes are more fibrous than starchy, you can whip them into fluffy perfection without worrying about them becoming gummy like regular potatoes.
This would make a perfect Thanksgiving side, and if I were a better blogger I would have told you about them BEFORE the holiday. But they also go really well with pork or chicken, and I have a recipe coming up for each that would be perfect, so I promise to make it up to you.
Bourbon Bacon Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Brown Butter and Sage
adapted from How Sweet Eats
4 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
15-20 sage leaves
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup milk
2 tbsp bourbon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Add the potato chunks to a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring the potatoes to a boil and cook until they are fork tender, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the chopped bacon. Cook the bacon until it is crispy and all of the fat has been cooked out.
Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and place it on a paper towel to drain. To the same skillet, add the butter to the bacon fat and heat it over medium heat. When it has melted and starts to foam, add the sage leaves. Cook until crispy - 1 to 2 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain. By this time, the butter should have browned (it will smell nutty) - remove from heat and reserve.
Drain the potatoes thoroughly and add them back to the pot. Mash them with a fork or potato masher, then use a whisk or electric hand mixer to whip them. Once whipped, add in the milk, the bourbon, and the brown butter bacon fat mixture. Whip the potatoes again until everything is combined. Taste the potatoes and add the salt and pepper, seasoning more or less if desired.
Spread the potatoes into a dish and top them with the crispy bacon. Crumble the sage on top.
Alternatively (if you are not serving immediately), you can bake them for 25 to 30 minutes at 325 deg F, then remove them from the oven and crumble the sage over top. If you are doing this method, it is best to only cook the bacon 3/4 of the way and let it finish crisping in the oven.
You know, I tried to be good and blog about Thanksgiving stuff before the holiday so that it might actually be useful to somebody. I even made a few dishes in advance, but I didn't post about them in time. Oh well! Prepare for a lot of Thanksgiving type posts!
Anyway, we don't have any family where we live so we normally travel for Thanksgiving. But this year we decided to switch it up and travel for Christmas, so we were on our own for Turkey Day. We had originally planned to stay at the Inn at Little Washington (!!!), but Jasper got sick and we had to cancel. So then I had to figure out what to make at the last minute for 2 people - initiate panic mode. But I got my menu together on Monday, went to the grocery store on Tuesday (which was surprisingly not that crazy), and prepped on Wednesday.
I tried to cut it down to just the basics - turkey (breast only), stuffing (half recipe), mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce (bought), and rolls (bought). It was still way too much food for 2 people so there are lots of leftover sandwiches in my future.
First up, the star - turkey. There was no way I was going to roast a whole turkey for 2 people, so I bought a whole breast on the bone. I definitely could have gone with a half breast, but now we have lots of sandwich meat! And guys, I don't want to brag or anything, but I am SO GOOD at turkey. Brined, air dried, stuffed with sage butter, rubbed with avocado oil, and started at a high temp - this baby was PERFECT. It was juicy and tender with crispy skin and super crazy flavorful. Love it. It's also really easy to carve - you just cut along the breast bone until the meat is released, then turn it on its side and slice.
Pot roast is a pretty standard American meal. Many folks have their own recipes that they love. But just in case you don't, here's mine! An herb crusted beef roast goes into a pot with potatoes, veggies, red wine, and beef stock until it is super tender - yum.
First step - rub that beef. Combine kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning to make a rub. Sprinkle over and press into the meat.
The you are going to brown those veggies and sear that beef. Heat olive oil in a heavy dutch oven until very hot. Then add an onion and carrots and cook until really browned. Remove the veggies temporarily, add more oil, and sear the beef on all sides. Then take that out, too, because you need to deglaze.
Here's a quick little semi-homemade cold weather meal, perfect for weeknights. I took some store-bought fresh spinach fettuccine and thick sliced roasted turkey from the deli counter, and tossed them with a homemade pumpkin goat cheese alfredo. It's interesting enough to not be boring, but it's easy enough to not cause a headache.
The homemade part is the decadent sauce, which involves butter, garlic, cream, pumpkin, goat cheese, sage, and pumpkin pie spice. I wanted to do something a little different, which is why I went with turkey, but chicken would work just as well. And I like how the spinach pasta brought a little color to the table.
Pumpkin Goat Cheese Alfredo
adapted from Closet Kitchen
8 oz pasta of choice (I used fresh spinach fettuccine from the refrigerated section), cooked
8 oz cooked turkey or chicken, diced or shredded
1 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
4 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
1 tbsp sage, sliced thinly (or dried)
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add the cream, pumpkin puree, goat cheese, Parmesan, sage, and pumpkin pie spice and simmer until the cheese has melted.
Add in the poultry and allow to warm through. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
Toss with pasta and serve immediately.
Oh my gosh, you guys. This might be my favorite butternut squash pasta since the life-saving mac and cheese.
Sheets of homemade pasta filled with roasted butternut squash, apple, onion, sausage, and three cheeses; topped with a creamy sage bechamel. It's totally swoon worthy.
The filling is a little complicated, but totally worth it. While your butternut squash is roasting in the oven, mix up and brown your sausage mixture. Did I mention that you are creating your own sausage, so you can adjust the spices to your liking? And you can be sure that there are no weird preservatives or sugar? Awesome. Anyway, next you saute some onions, garlic, and apple. Plus a little white wine - aww, yeah.
Oh my gosh this filling. It's insane. You may want to make extra to use in other ways. I'll talk about that later.
Merry Christmas, y'all! We went on a bit of a crazy roadtrip (which I will tell you about later, because there are restaurants involved) and didn't get back til late on the 22nd, which left us in a bit of a scramble to get ready for Christmas. We managed to get some outdoor decorations up (check out the wreath I made!), but no tree or anything indoors.
We also spent all our holiday money on travel, so no presents this year. But we did have a nice Christmas dinner (I mean, come on - how could I not, right?). Honey Baked Ham (going store bought on the main let me focus on sides); Spinach and Gruyere Strata; Sweet Potato Gratin with Caramelized Onions; and Bacon Popovers.
And a Cranberry Raisin Tart with orange zest and spices for dessert.
Oh yeah, and breakfast! Can't forget Christmas morning sweets! I made these Cranberry Orange Rolls by Smitten Kitchen - yum!
I feel like I constantly need some form of cheesy winter squash pasta on hand at all times. It's kind of a problem. I saw a recipe for shells with pumpkin and ricotta that sounded good, but the comments all said it came out dry and bland. So instead of using that recipe, I decided to make a pumpkin version of my Spring Shells and Cheese.
So instead of ricotta, I made a bechamel with sage, pumpkin, Gruyere, and Parmesan. Then I added in some sauteed spinach and shallots, for health and color.
Because adding spinach totally makes up for all the cheese and pasta, right? I mean, I did use whole wheat shells...
Anyway, I added in some pecans for crunch. Nuts are healthy, too, right?