Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving with Liz

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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.

Cashew Butter
(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!

Cashew Butter on Foodista


  1. Thats wonderful Katy ! I was anxiously awaiting your thanksgiving post... I am so happy you had a special time. I am so intrigued by the cashew butter katy...but also the pumpkin custard sounds deliciously crave busting..! It was also lovely to see your family...Thank you so much for sharing !

  2. Oh yes...I wanted to be one of the first (kept checking in here) to see how your Thanksgiving went. What a busy lady you were...and what a feast your prepared! Wonderful items that I am sure Liz loved! Great photos...and love the family photo...but girl...where are you?! I am going to go back now and look over those recipes...well done my friend! And a Happy Belated Thanksgiving for go go and get some rest already! Grin!

  3. Truly a labor of love. Liz is a lucky young lady to be so well cared for.

  4. You did a fabulous job...this sounds really wonderful! Cashew butter...heaven. What an adorable photo :)

  5. All of them looks delish...would lov to try cashew butter and pumpkin custard,sounds yummm

  6. What a wonderful family you have! Sounds like a nice Thanksgiving!

  7. Liz is a doll... I have the same issue with children scattered. I rarely get them to visit, but always a treat!

    Such complications...not sure if I could ever get teh cat hair out of everything. We do keep a guest room free as possible of fur, but the rest of the house is free range

    Love the cashew butter, and I am sure Liz appreciates your efforts to cook for her!

    well done post

  8. Cashew butter sounds great.....

  9. What a busy girl you were, Katy, finding new recipes and then making them too! Each dish is so interesting and delicious looking; I'm sure Liz and Sweetie Pie loved each bite. I'm intriged by the chili and the pumpkin custard.
    So glad that you all had such a wonderful day!

  10. So sweet of you to cook such a delicious feast. It sounds heavenly. Cashew butter alone, MMMM. Gorgeous photo of father/daughter.

  11. Well if that isn't love, Katy..Liz is fortunate to have you in her life.
    Great recipes..I made a meal for someone with a lot of allergies and sure was thankful that I have none! It sure takes a lot of reading of the labels!
    Thanks for sharing the picture of Liz and your hubby but I too wondered where you were..

  12. Now, I remember her name. Liz. Iwill be better and remember it. She is fortunate to have you. I still can't get over how much you did for her. You do realize, not everyone is so good. I always said that you are a special lady.

    I love the recipes you selected. They are not only safe but delicious sounding. Everyone has voted for the cashew butter and so do I. That is one of the treats in life that I have never had. Now, I have the recipe so.......

  13. That would have been tough...lots of allergies to work around...but you did a wonderful job! Everything looks delicious and I'm glad that your Thanksgiving dinner was a success.

  14. Sweet and wonderful recipes Katy. All are delicious and intiguing. Thanks for you to adapting.

  15. Katy, that sounds a great dinner party! Good food, good friends, and now we have some great recipes here! I gotta take a close look at the cashew butter! Very intriguing!

  16. I'm so lgad that you all had such a wonderful Thanksgiving! I love the photo you posted..your husband looks like such a great guy and Liz is so pretty! What a terrific looking family you have:)

  17. Wow! It seems you had a great time with ur family, all preparations look great, i liked ur cashewnut butter in particular.

  18. Thank you for all the nice compliments and comments! You all are THE BEST! I appreciate each and every one of you.

    About my not posting a picture of me, there are two reasons:

    1. Someone has to hold the camera and I'm pretty much the only someone who knows how to operate my camera, and considering how zealously I safeguard it, I'm not inclined to share it!

    2. I look like a troll in pictures, which is more likely the reason you do not see any pictures of me. Really, this blog has to have some standards, grins.

  19. What wonderful pictures! I really like the father & daughter one. Thanks for sharing pics of your lovely day!

  20. I can't imagine having to live with so many food allergies. You did a great job of cooking around them!

    That pumpkin custard sounds amazing. At least she can eat sweet potatoes! I would probably collapse if I couldn't.

    Thanks for the cashew butter recipe! Sounds delicious. I need to add a new nut butter to my repertoire.

  21. Hi katy: Next time can you invite me when you're going to prepare these?
    I am sure I can eat a lot..haha...

  22. That was a wonderful Thanksgiving post...Katy...about the fresh turmeric you talked about in our not to0 hard to find..If you have any indian grocery store in your area...try looking for it..they usually keep near all the root vegetables...also they have groceries cheaper there as compare to American grocery store..happy searching...:))

  23. oh what a cute picture, these two make such a sweet pair. that poor baby, i can't imagine having so many allergies! it sounds like you were the perfect hostess and still had some wonderful dishes for her! glad to hear that your thanksgiving was such a good one!

  24. Sounds like you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Katy. Love all the recipes you posted. They all sound different but wonderul! Nice to see pictures of your family too! It's great when you can put a face to a name! LOL!

  25. Lucky for Liz to have such a caring and talented cook making her Thanksgiving meal. I can't imagine how difficult it must be for her to find foods she enjoys and is able to eat. Your recipes all sound delicious, but that butternut chili is going to the top of my "to do" list.
    Great photo of Ole Sweetie-Pi and Liz.

  26. Liz might be interested in the food allergy restaurant reviews at I have a 23 year old son with multiple food allergies so decided to share our experiences. There's also a feature where other readers have contributed restaurant stories to share.

  27. I'm definitely going to have to try your butternut chili. All the food looks really good. I found an old "joy of cooking" cookbook from 1962 at a yard sale. I just love to read the advice the author gives to the newly married women.

    You are an awesome cook. Can't wait to read more of your blog.

  28. What a very good looking couple! Your attention to detail for the menu is the mark of a caring person and a great cook.

  29. He does look very pleased. Your chili sounds incredibly delicious.

  30. Wow...she looks adorable....cashew butter sounds very yum....

  31. You did a fantastic job cooking such a wonderful feast with all of the allergies.

    This looks like a Thanksgiving with wonderful memories!

  32. Mmmm, I love cashews, I'm gonna have to try that butter!

  33. I loved the story and then at the end I see a photo of Liz. What a great ending.
    Your menu was fabulous and you were very creative with the parameters that you had been provided. I like the cashew butter and I think the butternut chili would be really good too. Very nice!

  34. Great post. I have a few of those green dishes like you have. I grab depression glass whenever I see it.

  35. Food allergies sure do complicate things!

    Glad you had a nice Thanksgiving. The cashew butter looks delicious and I love the green antique serving bowl. It's gorgeous!

  36. You did a fantastic job, Katy! Kudos on making such a lovely Thanksgiving feast for Liz. I'm sure she appreciated the time and effort you took to find recipes that suit her needs.

    One of my Twins was allergic to many foods as a baby. It's very scary and can be difficult to cope with especially when it's life threating. Thankfully by the wonderful age of six he outgrew all of them!

  37. Once again Katy this is an awesome blog post. I especially love the picture of Ole Sweetie-Pi and his daughter Liz. It sounds like you guys had a wonderful Thanksgiving!! If you tell me you are done with your holiday shopping I don't know what I am going to do!! Have a great day....

  38. Very sweet Katy. That was very nice to go all out and search for food that was fitting. Looks like you did and amazing job!

    I am drooling over that cashew butter!


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