Let’s Talk Turkey, Part 2

T-minus two days ’til Thanksgiving. Are you gettin’ ready?! You can see our menu for our Mostly Dino-Chow Thanksgiving™ right here.

I’m sharing the  recipes  for our Mostly Dino-Chow Thanksgiving™ in two batches. In the interests of full disclosure, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

1. Several of these recipes are *Special-Occasion Only, which means they include ingredients I consider verboten for everyday eating, things like honey, sugar, lots of dried fruit, a high proportion of nuts. These things are flavorful and natural, but are not part of everyday meals for me. On special occasions, they are tasty and significantly better than commercially-produced poison posing as treats.

2. When a recipe isn’t my own, I’ve included where it originated and whether or not I’ve made it before. Some of these are totally new to me, so I have no photos to share. When I’ve adapted someone else’s recipe, I haven’t copied it as-is – you know I need to play around with them at least a little bit!

3. As I make these dishes on Wednesday and Thursday, I’ll update this post with the photos – just in case we’re both cooking at the same time! (Wouldn’t that be fun?! We’d be virtual kitchen buddies!)

Green Beans with Olive Oil & Garlic
This recipe is mine, but it’s a stretch to call it a recipe; it’s more of an assembly project. Anyway, this is what I’m making but to give it a Thanksgiving flair, you should use 1-2 teaspoons dried sage or dried thyme instead of the fresh mint leaves. So easy! Recipe here.

Crudite with Herbed Olive Oil
NOTE: This oil blend is also a delicious sauce for drizzling over grilled meat or mixing into canned tuna for a quick meal.

Assorted raw veggies. We’re having baby carrots, red pepper strips, cucumber moons, butter lettuce leaves, green scallion batons

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 medium cloves garlic, crushed
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, trimmed of thick stems
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves, crushed

1. Whisk the vinegar, garlic, cayenne, and sea salt together in a small bowl. Sniff appreciately.

2. Chop the herbs very finely. It’s best if you chiffonade the basil; instructions on chiffonade here.

3. Gradually whisk in the oil, then stir in the fresh chopped herbs.

4. Serve the oil at room temperature with chilled fresh raw veggies.

Cranberry Waldorf Salad (*Special-Occasion Only)
Moxy-Boss and Dallas over at Whole9 Life included my recipe for Cranberry Waldorf Salad in their Thanksgiving recipe round-up. You can find the recipe right here:

My mom has been making this Cranberry Waldorf Salad – cranberries, apples, grapes, pecans, and Cool-Whip – for as long as I can remember. We think she got the recipe from her much-adored sister and my favorite aunt, my glamorous, eccentric Aunt Polly.

The original called for 1/2 cup white sugar, a bag of miniature marshmallows, and a whole container of Cool-Whip! Since we’re hosting a Mostly Dino-Chow Thanksgiving™ this year, I thought this favorite recipe was off the menu. I was wrong! I replaced the Cool-Whip with coconut milk, made dried apricots stand in for the white sugar, and eliminated the marshmallows all-together. (I never liked them much anyway.)

With all the fresh fruit AND dried apricots, this is definitely a once-a-year special treat. Between us friends, when I did the test recipe, I found myself wandering back to the fridge to make sure it tasted as good as I remembered. It does! I’m thrilled that this taste of tradition can be on our table this year, without worrying that I’ll hurt myself by indulging.

If you follow the instructions for the whipped cream as written in the recipe, you will be delighted. Delighted!

Don’t forget to save some whole nuts and berries so you can make it pretty!

Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake With Maple-Vanilla Frosting (*Special-Occasion Only)
The cake recipe was mentioned on Food Renegade and originally posted on Health-Bent. What you see below is NOT the Health-Bent recipe, so if something is wonky, place the blame on me. I made a few adaptions to the original by using my imagination and my mad kitchen skillz: I reduced the sweeteners in the cake and the frosting, and added more spicing to the cake. Note also: I haven’t made this yet, and I’m breaking one of my rules by sharing before kitchen-testing. But I feel confident it will be spicy and moist and decadent without hurting anybody. Update: I just made the cake and revised the recipe. Proceed with confidence!

1 c pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1 c maple almond butter
1/4 c honey
2 eggs
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1/3 c coconut butter
1/2 c coconut oil
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Make the cake. In a medium sized bowl, combine all the cake ingredients and mix thoroughly to combine. Pour into an 8×8 oven safe baking dish. Bake until completely cooked through, about 30 minutes.

3. Make the frosting. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and beat until fluffy.

5. Some assembly required. Allow the cake to cool completely. Completely. For real. When you’re sure it’s cooler than Mr. Mike Ness in Red Square in January, you may cut it into 9 or 16 squares. Spread frosting onto each square and set aside. Do not snarf your cake yet – save it for Thanksgiving dinner!

6. When all squares are frosted, cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. I think it tastes best served chilled. The cake takes on the texture of a cake bar, and the frosting tastes and feels like bakery icing. However, you might like it at room temperature or even warmed a bit. Experiment! You can’t really go wrong, it is cake, after all.

Still to come
I’ll share recipes for the following soon…
Roast duck with sausage and apple stuffing
Braised red cabbage with chestnuts
Oven-fried sweet potato fries with thyme

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7 Responses to “Let’s Talk Turkey, Part 2”

  1. Anonymous says:

    you are a God-send!! Thank you so much. can't wait to try them!!!!

  2. MelG says:

    I tried the pumpkin cake over the weekend and came up with pretty much the same changes. I left out the honey and added some apple juice (no added sugar). For the frosting, unless you like it REALLY sweet, maybe add the honey during frequent taste tests. I made mine without and it probably only needs a touch to satisfy even the biggest sugar monsters. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Mel G! Thanks for the tips. I'm going to take your advice and update the recipe when I'm done.

  4. BarbeyGirl says:

    Hmm, that pumpkin cake might be just what I was looking for.

    I've never seen (or even heard of) maple almond butter, but I imagine regular almond butter plus some extra tweaks on the spices would work.


  5. MelG says:

    Forgot to mention, I made several batches and my taste testers agreed that cashew butter let more pumpkin flavor come through. Of course, they liked the almond butter version too, just more of an almond pumpkin. Can't wait for your updates!

  6. Christie says:

    Hey Mel – I made the Cranberry Waldorf Salad for Christmas, and it was a HUGE hit! I definitely ate my fair share, but also took it over to a friends house for Christmas Dinner, and everyone liked it – and NO ONE knew it was a "healthy" version – that's the best part . . I was smuggly sitting back going "AHA – Gotcha!" :)

  7. Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hey, Christie! Glad you were able to trick everyone. Fun, right?! How crazy is the coconut whipped cream? I LOVE it. In fact… maybe I'll make some for New Year's Eve. Berries + cream = yummo.

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