An Early Thanksgiving Dinner

I celebrated Thanksgiving a little early this year.  Not with family, as that will be next week, but with friends!  On Wednesday, my roommates and I had “Roomie Thanksgiving.”  The four of us are rarely ever home at the same time, so it was nice to have a sit down dinner all together for once.

We each contributed something to the cooking, and tried to make our selections as healthy as possible!

First up?  Drinks!

Pomegranate Sangria

As the designated apartment bartender, Miss Slesh whipped up some delicious pomegranate sangria for us to try.  I had a glass two glasses with dinner.  For the recipe and more details on this fruity cocktail, you should check out her blog post!  She’s Cait @ A Twist and a Shake.  I just can’t bring myself to call her Cait all the time (Who’s Cait?!).  But Slesh & Cait @ A Twist and a Shake are one in the same!

Next?  The meat!

“What do you mean you don’t eat no meat?!”  –My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Turkey Tenderloin

This was much easier than making a huge turkey in the middle of our busy week!  Trina just popped this baby in the stove and spiced it up a bit with sage, thyme, rosemary, pepper and garlic powder.  Great flavor!

The loins were very moist and tender.
(Sorry, couldn’t help myself).

Look at this slicing action, disabled hand and all!  Go Trina!

Now for the sides!  We made a lot.

Butternut Squash with Goat Cheese, Sage, and Toasted Pecans

Remember this recipe!?  Super delicious.  Combining all these flavors is like magic in your mouth.  I made this for the first time in October with Tim and wanted my roommates to experience the amazingness too, so this was one of my contributions.  Note – I decided to opt out of the balsamic reduction part of the recipe completely, and it was still just as good!  I think that replacing that reduction with a little bit of low-fat balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing would be just fine if you still wanted the flavor.

No Crust Spinach Quiche

Thank you to Mimi (Bridget’s grandmother) for this recipe!  I knew this one just HAD to be good since Mimi makes it.

Ingredients

  • 2 packages of frozen spinach (either two 10 oz or two  16 oz)
  • One small yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 package of sliced white mushrooms
  • 3 eggs
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions

  1. Saute the onions in a pan until they are clear
  2. Microwave the spinach for about 6 minutes
  3. Make sure to remove all excess water from the spinach
  4. Crack the 3 eggs in a separate bowl and whisk them together
  5. Mix ALL of the ingredients together – except for the salt and pepper
  6. Add the salt and pepper to the mix (not too much, but enough to taste)
  7. Pour the mix into a casserole dish
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes

Do-It-Yourself Green Beans

This recipe is extremely easy, and I’m super psyched for a new quick green bean recipe.  Usually I just make my Greek Style Green Beans, but now that Bridget has introduced me to these I’ll be having them more often!

Ingredients

  • 2 packages of green beans (Bridget used the microwaveable packaged ones, this could also be done with fresh!)
  • 1 package mushrooms
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Directions

  1. In a large pan, pour in some EVOO – about enough to drizzle the whole pan.  Don’t put too much in the pan, remember we are trying to be healthy!  If you don’t want to use EVOO, spraying Pam on the pan will do just fine!
  2. At a medium heat on your burner, add the mushrooms for about two minutes.
  3. Microwave your green beans for 2.5 minutes.  The package calls for 4 minutes but 2.5 will be perfect!
  4. Add the green beans to the pan.
  5. Sprinkle pepper and garlic powder over the mushrooms and green beans.  Use as much (or as little) as you want.
  6. Cover the pan for about 3 minutes
  7. Cook the green beans until they are to your liking (Bridge suggests taking them off the burner between the 5-7 minute mark).

Mashed Cauliflower

Otherwise known as the healthier version of mashed potatoes.  There isn’t really any specific recipe to follow for these – Slesh just steamed them in chicken broth until she could mash em all up.  She put them in a food processor, but you definitely don’t have to.  Also in this mix?  Some butter and shredded cheddar, and I’ve also heard of some adding some garlic powder or minced garlic for extra flavoring.  This is great for a lower carb option, and cauliflower is high in nutrients!

Stuffing & Gravy

Probably the least healthy option on our food menu?  Stuffing right out of the box.  But Slesh made it healthier by adding chopped celery and some Craisins.  Right?!  And we topped it with gravy.  ORGANIC gravy.  Obviously healthier.


Healthy No Bake Pumpkin Pie

None of us wanted to spend too much time or calories on a big dessert the week before Thanksgiving, so I opted for a healthy pumpkin pie recipe that I found on one of my favorite healthy living blogs, Run Eat Repeat.  Will you believe me if all this pie takes is mixing a cup of plain Greek yogurt, a cup of pumpkin, 1 box of fat-free/sugar-free butterscotch pudding mix, and a little pumpkin pie spice?  And then pouring the mixture into a store-bought crust?  Well, it’s for real.  You don’t even need to bake it – just goes right into the fridge.  Perfect for those days you need something sweet but are short on time!  Thank you, Monica, for the inspiration!

The Whole Spread

My Only First Plate

We had a lot of laughs, picked names for our roommate Secret Santa, and planned a fun Christmasy night to have with the boyfriends in mid-December.  Looking forward to it!

Be Thankful Challenge?  I’m thankful for fun friends / roommates.

Question(s) of the Day:  Do you have more than one Thanksgiving dinner?  Have you ever had a “friends” or “roommates” Thanksgiving?  Think you’ll try any of these recipes next week?  What’s your favorite way to make a traditional Thanksgiving dish a little healthier?

Happy Friday!  Make sure to tune in Monday morning for my next REALLY exciting giveaway!

Butternut Squash with Goat Cheese, Sage, and Toasted Pecans

Morning!

Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend so far.

Before I head out for a family filled Saturday, I’d like to share yesterday’s meals with you guys.

Breakfast

I tried to get fancy with my pumpkin oatmeal.  Instead of using instant, I used real oats and cooked on the stove with skim milk, one sliced up banana, cinnamon, ground cloves, and nutmeg.  And pumpkin of course.  But I accidentally put way too much nutmeg in and it really ruined it for me.  It was just too much flavor.  Next time I’ll stick with the one I made last time.  Or just use the nutmeg sparingly.  Either way.

Lunch

…was for two!  Tim and I were both able to work from home on the same day, which hasn’t happened in quite some time.  I whipped up another batch of the chicken salad I posted about yesterday.  This time I added in the apple slices since I forgot about them last night.  We had it with the Trader Joe’s Organic Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup (served with Kashi TLC 7 grain crackers) that I bought on Monday during my grocery run.  This was a very filling lunch.

Dinner

Remember a couple weekends ago when Tim & I went to the Boston Local Food Festival?  Well, while we were there we watched a butchering demonstration (presented by Michael Ehlenfeldt of Stone Hearth Pizza Co) and learned how to cut up a whole chicken.  Tim has been talking about this nonstop ever since, so we decided last night would be the night he attempted to cut one up himself.

Success!

After he cut it up, he put the chicken in a bowl with lemon juice, pepper, sage, and cilantro.  We let this sit for about 20 minutes and then tossed it on the grill.

What’s nice about buying a whole chicken is that for $15, we got:

  • 2 chicken thighs — grilled + eaten last night
  • 2 chicken breasts — grilled last night + saved for leftovers
  • 2 chicken wings — frozen last night for a future meal
  • Chicken soup from the rest of the meat — made with broth last night while the thighs were grilling, will refrigerate and add veggies for a meal next week

Pretty good, huh?  I think 4 meals + 2 wings + multiple soup servings = pretty damn good for $15.

For a side, we wanted to try another butternut squash recipe since we loved the one we made a couple weeks ago so much.  This particular recipe was for butternut squash with goat cheese, sage, and toasted pecans.  I found it in Self Magazine as part of their Eat Like Me blog.

Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goats cheese
  • 1/4 cup pecan halves, toasted
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped –> We left this out too, since it was just going to be for garnish
  • 2 tsp. orange zest –> We didn’t have this, so we left it out

Directions

For the toasted pecans:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
  2. Spread pecan halves into a single layer on a baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes or until fragrant
  3. Remove from heat/oven.  Let cool.  Roughly chop.  Set aside.

For the squash:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Meanwhile peel the skin off the squash and cut in half long ways.  Scoop out the seeds and discard.  Cut ends off squash and then chop into equal size pieces (about 1 in. cubes).
  3. Transfer squash cubes into a large bowl and toss with the 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  4. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil spray, spread squash into a single layer onto the tray.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the chopped sage evenly over the squash.
  5. Roast squash in the oven for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes is up, take the squash out of the oven and flip over.  Turn oven up to 350 degrees.  Return squash to oven and continue roasting for another 20-30 minutes or until tender, but not mushy.
  6. Meanwhile, pour balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Then turn down heat and let simmer until it thickens and reduces by half.  Then add 1 tbsp brown sugar and stir until it dissolves.  Continue to simmer until it becomes like syrup.
  7. After removing squash from the oven, put onto serving dish and sprinkle with the goat cheese, chopped toasted pecans, and orange zest.  Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar reduction (you will not use all of it).  Garnish with basil.

A couple lessons learned:

  • I hate peeling the butternut squash.  It takes forever, I find it really difficult for some reason, and I get cranky while doing it.  Next time I’ll buy it pre-peeled I think.
  • Start the balsamic reduction earlier than you think you need to!  We ended up waiting forever for it to be ready, and it still wasn’t fully ready when we served it.  I think if I were to do this again, I’d save the time and just drizzle some balsamic vinaigrette dressing over the squash instead.
  • The pecans definitely add a nice crunch to the side dish, but next time I will chop them up for even smaller pieces as part of the mix.  I thought the pecan halves were just a little too big.  If you aren’t a big nut fan, these could definitely be omitted altogether.
  • Goat cheese + perfectly timed butternut squash = to die for!

If you are looking for a fall plate full of flavor, this is your answer.  We will definitely be making this one again.

Question of the Day:  What’s your favorite way to cook butternut squash?

I’m off to my little cousin’s baseball game, my aunt’s birthday get together, and then Tim’s sister’s graduation dinner.  Told you I had a family packed day!