Tuesday, October 4, 2011

giving much thanks

Thanksgiving is my most favourite holiday! I love being with family, I love all the delicious food fresh and in season, I love getting together with everyone you care most about and sharing in a glorious feast, but mostly I love reflecting on the year and giving thanks for all the wonderful blessings we have been given. This year is especially exciting! It will be the first time in a long time that both my sisters (and their husbands/ families) will be here and all of us will be able to celebrate together. Also, my Uncle from California is coming down with one of his sons, so it will be so great to have them (along with all the regulars) for Sunday dinner. I really wish Jeff's family could be here- it seems like so long since we have all been together, but hopefully we can skype and look forward to visits soon!

In anticipation of the big day, I have been plotting and planning what I will make to contribute to the feast. I thought I might share a few ideas and recipes in case anyone out there is currently still searching for the final addition to their big meal or perhaps just to have a recipe to add to the pile and try one cool fall evening!

Roasted rainbow carrots- this year I got some amazing heirloom carrot seeds from one of my favourite etsy shops, Cubits. We didn't have a tonne of success in our shady, late planted, north-facing, chilly yard (as you can see from the below picture) but it was SO much fun watching them grow and Finn had such a good time helping me harvest our little bounty. Needless to say, we wont be using carrots from our garden for this years dinner, but luckily, my most favourite little organic market, Sunnyside Natural Market, has the most incredible rainbow carrots from Blue Mountain Bio-Dynamic farm just outside the city. Fall is the most amazing season for beautiful fruit and vegetables and every year I count down the days until rainbow carrots start to show up at the farmers markets and on shop shelves. Chop them (if you would like- sometimes i leave them whole) roast them long and slow with a little olive oil,  fresh herbs (maybe garlic if you feel like it) and a pinch of salt and pepper and you have the most beautiful and delicious plate of carrots!  I promise all guests around the dinner table will be beyond impressed! (if you want to get a little wild, throw a little butter, brown sugar and herbamare in there- fantastic!)
my hand is under them to give you an idea of how teeny tiny they are! beautiful none the less!
a beautiful rainbow of organic carrots from Cubits!

Candied Sweet Potatoes - This is probably one thing most people know how to make, but they are my absolute favourite and I wanted to share an easy and beautiful recipe in case this is something that hasn't been a huge hit in your house over the years.

4 pounds sweet potatoes (or yams), peeled and cubed (or sliced)
1 1/4 cups butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1- 1.5 cups marshmallows (I usually use these amazing homemade vanilla bean marshmallows from a local market- any will work, but you want to chop them into smaller pieces if they are full sized. perhaps this year i will try my hand at making my own?)
ground cinnamon to taste
ground nutmeg to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and boil until slightly underdone, about 15 minutes. Drain and cool.
3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook, stirring occasionally, until nice and melted.
4. Stir potatoes into sauce. Transfer to prepared dish.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cover top evenly with marshmallows. Return to oven and bake until marshmallows are golden brown.

(hmmm- who would have thought! covering sweet potatoes in brown sugar, butter and marshmallows makes them extra delicious??!!)

I am also going to be making Maple Glazed Brussel Sprouts, Martha Stewart's Pumpkin Pie and a double layer pumpkin cheesecake recipe my friend Stacey shared with me.

Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 graham cracker crust (I really love THIS recipe as their is no added sugar)
3/4 cups pumpkin pie filling (add a pinch of cinnamon and ground cloves if you like, or make your own pie filling and season with whatever spices you see fit)
whipping cream

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
2. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Blend in eggs one at a time. Remove 1.5 cups of batter and spread into bottom of crust; set aside.
3. Add pumpkin pie mix, to the remaining batter and stir gently until well blended. Carefully spread over the first layer of cheese and fill the rest of the pan.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 55 minutes, or until center is almost set. Turn the oven off and allow to cool in the oven without opening the door. Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
5. Cover with whipping cream before serving and ENJOY!

*I use a springform cheesecake pan, but Stacey uses a regular pie plate- whatever you prefer will work just great! I also sometimes add some cinnamon or nutmeg to the whipping cream for a little extra excitement!

Lastly, I was inspired by a helpful bow-tie post on one of my favourite blogs, goat notes. Finn and I are going for a little walk over to the fabric store today to find some fun vintage inspired fabric to make matching bow-ties for him and Papa (and one for his bff, Theo too). I'm really excited to see how these turn out! Stay tuned!

Happy (almost) (Canadian) Thanksgiving, everybody!! xo