My friends, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, as I know we surely did. I just wanted to share several recipes I made at Thanksgiving time and I'm grouping them in one post, as I prepared these for Ole Sweetie Pi's sweet and lovelyl daughter, Liz.
For the first time, Ole Sweetie-Pi's youngest daughter, Liz (aka Lizard, an unpleasant nickname for this most charming young woman) shared the meal with us. We were just so delighted and excited to have her and were literally giddy with pleasure (picture a 60+ male being giddy, grins, but I swear Ole Sweetie-Pi was!). Much to do, much ado, as the beloved Liz is allergic to animals (can you say we have five cats and cat fur hidden in every imaginable nook and cranny in the house and you can see the fur fall from their little bodies as they brush past you, grrrr!) as well as multiple food allergies. The poor darling, I don' t know how she manages so well. I'd have a quivering bottom lip and feel quite put upon.
It's a whole new world when one has to be gluten free, soy free, egg free, corn free, dairy free, no fresh apples, plums, almonds, peanuts, white potatoes, beef, and I forget what all else, but the list does go on for a bit. Thank heavens she can at least have turkey and sweet potatoes, I thought! And the menu for her was built from there.
For a little snack, as dinner seemed to be running late, I had made some cashew butter. I went online and found an Emeril recipe, and served this delicious butter on rice crackers (purchased at a health food store). If you like the taste of peanut butter you'd probably like this as the flavors are similar. It's easy to make and so much less expensive than buying it. And Liz tells me it was better than anything she's ever purchased.
You can double click on any of the pictures to enlarge them.
(pictured lower right)
2 cups unsalted, roasted cashews
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar, optional (I used honey and kept adding it until I found a balance I liked)
In a food processor or blender, combine the nuts, 2 tablespoons of the oil, the salt, and the sugar, if desired. Process on high speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula and process to desired smoothness. Taste for sweetness and seasoning, adjusting to personal taste. Transfer to a bowl to use as a dip, spread, or in other recipes, or place in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
My Notes: I used my blender, and either my blender is old and not very powerful or I should have roughly chopped up the cashews first to make them easier to blend. I definitely needed more oil to make a smooth butter, but can't tell you how much more I added. I just eyeballed it, frequently stopping to scrap it down, adding drops at a time and continued to blend it until it looked right. Oil does rise to the top after it sits a bit; it just has to be stirred back in before using it.No white potatoes for Liz but she can have rice. I made my favorite rice recipe, adapted from Recipezaar. I didn't take a picture (too much going on, tripping over beleaguered and pitiful cats and constantly "dirty" hands and didn't want to goop up my camera) but the only changes for this recipe was I added a good half teaspoon of ground cumin and a finely diced shallot, and omitted the butter. Liz and I loved it; you may recall that Ole Sweetie-Pi has the rice-lice association (pulling a big frown here).
Vegetables weren't really an issue, just nothing creamed or with cheese, of course. I did make my favorite Thanksgiving onions which I will post another time because they deserve to be spotlighted.
Dessert presented its own challenges. I made the traditional apple and pumpkin pies for me and Ole Sweetie-Pi, loaded up with all the bad stuff of course, but boy they were good. But for Liz? Do you know how hard it is to find something that sounds delicious but doesn't have gluten, dairy, soy or egg in it? I spent hours looking on the Internet, and finally adapted this recipe.
Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free Pumpkin Custard (pictured on the left hand side)
1½ cups of rice milk
4 tablespoons tapioca (next time I'll grind it fine)
1/2 teaspoon xantham gum
1½ cups of solid-pack canned pumpkin or cooked pumpkin
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, whisk together the rice milk, tapioca, and xanthum gum until smooth and then the remaining ingredients, stirring well to combine. I used an 8 x ll inch baking dish and baked the custard for about 45 minutes. The custard never became what I would call "firm" but I don't think it should be; after all it is a custard and should have some jiggle to it. Cool before scooping out and serving.
I took a spoonful of this and this really tasted pretty good. Liz said she really liked it. The texture is a little different because of the use of xanthum gum and the tapioca (and I definitely should have finely ground the tapioca as it left little "pebbles" in the custard, grins) but it did set up nicely. The rice milk does not have a big flavor, so the flavor of the spices showcased nicely. Now if we could only find a dairy free, soy free whipped topping, it would be perfect!
Lastly, for lunch on Friday, because I had to work, I wanted to slow cooker something for Liz, so she could have something warm and wonderful. She mentioned that she loves spicy foods and has a great fondness for chilis. Well, as luck would have it I found a delicious butternut chili recipe that all of us enjoyed (even Ole Sweetie-Pi who swears he doesn't like vegetables!). Will wonders never cease? I arose at 3:30 a.m., chopped up some vegetables, opened some cans, and set it in the slow cooker. At 6:30 I came downstairs (I am lucky enough to work full time from home) to turn the slow cooker on, and viola, lunch was in the works.
Butternut Chili(pictured upper right)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon each cumin, chili powder and ginger
1 medium red or sweet onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, diced
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, diced
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
3 cups vegetable broth
1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes
1/4 cup diced, canned jalapeno peppers, drained
2 14-oz. cans black beans, rinsed, drained
1 14-oz. can white Northern beans, rinsed, drained
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
Drizzle the olive oil in the bottom of the cooker; add the garlic and spices and stir to combine.
Add the remaining ingredients. Gently stir with a wooden spoon so that you don't mush up the beans. Cover and cook on low for five to six hours.
I took out a chunk of squash and pierced it for tenderness with the point of a sharp knife. Once the knife easily pierced the squash, the chili was done.
I served this without lime, but I think a nice splash of lime at the end would have been a perfect addition and was probably the flavor that I felt was lacking in an otherwise healthful and flavorful chili. A dollop of sour cream would have been excellent as well (sorry Liz!).
Sweetie-pi with his youngest daughter, Liz. What a pair!