Pretty Ugly Food

Thanksgiving was full of beautiful food, flowers, and family. Other than my no-knead sweet potato rolls, this year Mom requested a signature cocktail. I think we really delivered using items she already had on hand.

The Thanksgiving Mimosa

The Thanksgiving Mimosa

The Thanksgiving Mimosa is champagne, pomegranate juice, and frozen cranberries. It couldn’t be easier, but feels super festive. You could make it with sparkling cider, or these cute cranberry skewers from Style Me Pretty.

Thanksgiving 2014

Sweet potato rolls. Acorn squash with pinto beans and chorizo.

These sweet potato dinner rolls are probably my family’s favorite thing I make all year. They are snapped up so fast that in almost 5 years of dating, E had never had one until this weekend. (I made him take the first one.) The recipe was first posted on The Kitchn back in 2008. They’re super easy to make, but do require a bit of time to rise.

The other recipe I brought to dinner a little something new. Did you know there’s a brand of chipotle peppers with adobo sauce that comes in a resealable jar now? I’m so happy. Normally I plan out a bunch of recipes before opening a chipotle can and still can’t work through it all before the peppers turn weird.  I first made this combo to celebrate my new jarred chipotle: Williams-Sonoma Roasted Acorn Squash with Chipotle and Food & Wine Spiced Pinto Beans with Chorizo using chipotle in adobo sauce instead of powder and skipping the pork rind garnish. Both recipes are great alone and they’re even better together. I’ve made is as stuffed squash with rice, as a casserole, and as this version that can be easily pulled apart by any picky eaters. We could also have kept squash separate if we have vegetarians present. This is by far the prettiest version.

And now for the ugly:

Pear Dutch Baby

I thought this was supposed to get crispy?

As my sister said, “That is Martha Stewart level“.

After spending a few days at my parents’ house, we returned to some over ripe pears and I thought I’d try my hand at a Dutch Baby. What better way to use up the remaining flour? I mostly followed the Bon Appetit recipe, adding a little bit of ground ginger and waaaay too much brown sugar on the pears. Cooking the pears and brown sugar made a syrup that the batter cooked in and it couldn’t crisp up like it was supposed to. Luckily it was still delicious, especially for breakfast with some maple sausage. That said, don’t fail like me. Go easy on the brown sugar.

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Mardi Gras Jambalaya

You would think that I would have this jambalaya down pat after five years of making it for the Mardi Gras dinner. Yet every year, without fail, I forget and go searching for it online again. It’s this one by Robin Miller for Food Network.

Slow Cooker Jambalaya

Beyond it being delicious, the key part of bringing this recipe back year after year is that it requires nearly no effort. It’s easy to keep a crock pot running while hustling around the kitchen, or while going off to work for the afternoon. Darn the US for not having Mardi Gras as a national holiday! Don’t they know I’d rather be baking?

Pre-planning on Monday night.

I chopped everything up on Monday night to make Tuesday morning a breeze. The onion can flavor everything too early, so it spent the night in a separate container. The chicken andouille went in with the celery and bell pepper. Normally I prefer to use a great andouille sausage, but it is strangely difficult to find in my area.

This is how I learn new things.

Tuesday morning I woke up a bit early to throw everything (except the shrimp!) into the crock pot only to discover that we didn’t have Cajun seasoning. Luckily, we have everything that goes in to it! This mix from All Recipes used the exact seasoning that I use most of the time. I threw the Cajun seasoning all together in to an empty salsa jar. We’ll be using it again soon.

Homemade spice blend & a crock pot ready to go.

The recipe calls for cubes chicken breast. This year we tried it with chicken thighs. The bone-in & skin-on variety adds a lot of flavor, and the dark meat stews so well.

All mixed together.

Set it and forget it! Except I couldn’t forget it. The crock pot is my mom’s and I only borrow it once a year. I’m still never convinced that it’s not going to burn or boil over…

I need one of my own.

Nothing bad happened! This little lovely thing kept it all warm until I came back from work. The shrimp were already peeled, deveined, and ready  to warm up in the jambalaya. We made the rice on the stove before mixing it in. E helped me transfer it all to a large bowl with a more reliable lid, and off we went!

Party time!

I forgot to take any food photos until everything was winding down and some folks had left. Here’s what was left of our spread:

So much food & drink.

Every free surface was covered with tasty things. The punch in the bowl is a hurricane.  It is dangerous, and an excellent vehicle for maraschino cherries!

...we may have made too much food.

The late food was banished to it’s own table. Todd made the red beans and rice, and Steph’s bourbon bread pudding is deliciously potent. PS, I want that blue pyrex.

Oh, William.

Even William was worn out by all the action. Happy Ash Wednesday, everyone. Good luck with lent if you’re giving something up!