Thanksgiving Recipes Round-Up 2017!

A pumpkin tart covered in meringue cones
Bourbon Pumpkin-Mousse Pie with Candied Pecans
Bourbon Pumpkin-Mousse Pie with Candied Pecans

When I was growing up, an “annual” was a comic-strip-based holiday gift that kept you chuckling for about a day and a half before being stuffed into a cupboard and forgotten about. I like to think our annual Thanksgiving roundup follows that tradition. 

This accurately describes our run-up to Thanksgiving this year:

September: – *glances at calendar* – “OK, plenty of time to plan our T-day, we’ll take it nice and slow this year, no need to stress” – * yawns, takes sip of tea, looks back down at calendar* – “HOLY CRAP IT’S NOVEMBER 14th AND WE’VE DONE NOTHING WE’RE SCREWED, BURN IT DOWN, BURN IT ALL DOWN”

Seriously. Our work schedules (our real work, you know, not this culinary frippery) became uncommonly strange and busy, and what with one thing and another and yet a third thing, and then the first two things again because they didn’t get done properly the first time, we didn’t stick with our disciplined scheme from previous years where we make stock exactly two weeks in advance and proceed from there armed with post-its and string and pins for the crazy wall and it all somehow comes together on the day. This year our minds were elsewhere and now November 23rd is coming up and we have to scramble.

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Phyllo Pot Pie with Creamy Chicken, Caramelized Onions and Swiss Chard

Phyllo Pot Pie with Creamy Chicken, Caramelized Onions and Swiss Chard Tender chicken, caramelized onions and Swiss chard in a creamy garlic sauce, topped with a blanket of buttery, flaky, ultra-crisp phyllo dough. This is comfort food pretty enough for the fanciest dinner party, but tasty enough for a relaxed family meal. 

(Note: This would also be a great way to use up leftover Thanksgiving or holiday turkey. Chop or shred the cooked leftovers and fold into the sauce and vegetables before adding the pastry top.)

I think it was probably about 12 years ago that my mom bought us our first piece of really good cookware, a 5-quart Le Creuset dutch oven. At that point, we were still using a cheap, thin-gauge pan set I had bought in college, which burned pretty much anything that got near it, even if the oven wasn’t on. Being the weirdo that I am, I even remember the first thing I made in it, Duck Leg Ragu. I remember it, not because it was particularly amazing, but because while I was cooking it, something miraculous happened … The bottom of the pan didn’t scorch before the duck had browned. There wasn’t a blackened ring of sauce in the exact same shape as the burner. It was a red-sauce miracle!  That’s when I realized that investing in a few items of really special, well-made cookware was much better than having a crappy set of pans in every size. Since then, our special collection has slowly grown, and I love each piece. We cook a lot (I know you’re shocked) and I use these skillets, fry pans, and grill pans almost daily. The great thing is, well-made cookware lasts for generations so if you have kids, tell them whoever helps in the kitchen inherits the good stuff.

Phyllo Pot Pie with Creamy Chicken, Caramelized Onions and Swiss Chard
Super crispy phyllo tops a comforting, creamy chicken stew.

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Smothered Pork Chops with Cipollini Onions and Grapes

Smothered Thin-cut Pork Chops with Cippolini Onions and Grapes
Smothered Pork Chops with Cipollini Onions and Grapes

Tender, thin-cut pork chops smothered in a rich, savory sauce, with sweet cipollini onions and grapes. This is a dinner party-worthy dish quick enough to whip up after work. 

Is it just me or has 2016 been a beast? Maybe it’s only pre-election madness but lately everything seems just a wee bit more stressful than usual. I look around and all signs seem to point to YEP, TIME TO PANIC. Not that I’m turning into a crazy survivalist or anything (surreptitiously steps in front of industrial-sized case of organic ketchup). What? That was on sale at Costco.

Now that I think about it, if the apocalypse really is coming I want to have lots of condiments on hand to mask the flavor of boiled weeds and roadkill. I’d probably be the Walking Dead zombie that sprinkles fancy salt and a splash of vinegar on my victims before I chew their faces off. There’s really no excuse for bland brains, m’right?

Okay, I seem to have strayed raaaaather far off topic. What I mean to say is, even during stressful times, nay, especially during stressful times, it’s important to take an hour out every once in a while and make a nice dinner.

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