Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend Magic :-D

I am thankful. Are you thankful?

I don't think we stop to THINK about all our blessings often enough. I know I am as much a culprit in this accusation as anyone. But you know what? I am SO.BLESSED.

This Thanksgiving weekend was phenomenal. I spent it with my wonderful family and two of my very dearest friends who came up from my alma mater. It was a few days just so relaxed and full of love, joy, and happiness...I can't even describe it. To have people who care about me so deeply and truly is a rare thing, I know - and I cannot thank God enough for it! It was so wonderful to be so comfortable in that love, and just live life and LOVE it! We have health, jobs, food, a roof over our heads, amazing family and friends....I really could NOT ask for more and I have no business ever worrying about anything! God is so good to me.

I also had lots of time to COOK! So, be excited - I have tonssss of recipes to update you on! And I took picturesss!!! So here goes!

The day before Thanksgiving, after my friends got in, we had a Sisters Dinner - my 2 friends are sisters, and my 2 sisters were the only ones home. So, I decided to make chicken. I adapted it from a recipe I found online, but it really ended up being my own concoction I changed it so much, and it turned out DELISH!!!

Orange Lemon Agave Chicken:

  • 4 organic chicken breasts
  • agave nectar (I ended up using probably about 1/4-1/3 cup)
  • olive oil (enough to keep chicken moist...don't really know exactly how much I used ;-)
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • dash cumin
  • dash chile powder
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 candy orange (or just a small orange)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Remove chicken from packaging, rinse, and place in glass pan, skin side up
  3. Drizzle olive oil and agave over breasts
  4. Mince garlic and put on chicken
  5. Sprinkle with cumin, chile powder, and salt; rub toppings around and into chicken
  6. Wash lemon and orange and cut into slices; squeeze juice over chicken, then arrange the slices all over the chicken
  7. Sprinkle chopped green onions on top
  8. Add cranberries so everything is sitting right on top of the chicken
  9. Cook for about 30 mins, and check to see if it's cooked all the way through

The next day for Thanksgiving, I made even MORE deliciousness.
First, I made the cranberry bars from Elana's Pantry, which were amazing again! They were definitely a big hit, and I saved some of the filling as cranberry sauce so I didn't have to use the sugary canned stuff- it was delish!

I also made the Pear Pomegranate Salad with Orange Vinaigrette from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen (another one of my faves!). I would recommend making the dressing at least the day before - it's much much after it's been sitting a while!

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated orange peel
pinch cinnamon
(I added more orange juice and some agave too, as I found the original dressing a bit too bitter and vinegary for my taste - this helped a lot)

8 cups mixed organic greens
1 ripe, firm pear, cored and sliced thin
1 cup pecans, toasted*
1 cup pomegranate seeds (arils)

To make the dressing, place all ingredients into a glass jar (old almond butter jars work well), and shake well.

Toss all salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour dressing over and toss again. Serve immediately.

*To toast the pecans: We like to use the small Native pecans - place them in a glass baking dish and toast in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. This brings out their yummy nutty flavor and increases the crunchiness. Watch them carefully, you don't want them to brown too much or burn, just be lightly

My sister made an edible chocolate peanut butter pie that was INCREDIBLE too. I don't know exactly how she made it, but I do know she made the crust out of crushed Corn Flakes and melted Earth Balance, and pressed it into the pie pan. The filling was chocolate tofu, coconut milk, and peanut butter. OH SO GOOD!!

The next day, I made a Butternut Squash Tart from Simply Sugar and Gluten Free as an edible alternative to the sugar-ridden pumpkin pie my brother had made, and let me say, it turned out AMAZING!!! Everyone REALLY loved it!

Butternut Squash Tart *slightly revised*
serves 8 – 12

Crust (my own concoction because I didn't want to make the flaky gluten free crust she called for):

  • 1.5 cups raw pecans
  • 7 pitted dates
  • pulse these in vitamix or food processor until COARSELY ground
  • add 1/3 cup melted Earth Balance and 1/4 tsp salt
  • mix well
  • press into bottom of tart pan and up sides to create crust

1 (3 pound) butternut squash
1/3 cup agave
3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese at room temperature
3 eggs
1 teaspoon good quality cinnamon

Place a rack in the middle of your oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Peel butternut squash, remove seeds, and chop into one inch cubes. Place in a large sauce pan, fill half way full with water, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until squash is fork tender. Drain squash in a colander set in the sink. Let squash cool slightly.

Place squash in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process squash until it’s a smooth puree. Add agave, mascarpone, eggs, and cinnamon. Process until smooth. You’ll have about 5 ½ cups of puree.

Transfer the butternut squash puree mixture into the tart pan. Fill as full as possible without having it overflow. Place in the oven on the sheet pan and bake for 22 minutes. Rotate the tart 180 degrees and bake for another 23 minutes or until the squash filling is set. You can tell by wiggling the sheet pan slightly – if the middle doesn’t wiggle it’s done.

Let cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

As you can see, my Thanksgiving was FULL of wonderful food, family, and friends, and I couldn't be happier :-D It was even BETTER that I was able to make all these delicious, healthy alternative to normal foods. And you know what? Even our guests LOVED the stuff I made - they said it tasted completely normal, or often even better than normal, sugary, processed stuff! Just goes to show ya - you don't need to eat death to eat delicious :-)

God bless everyone, and remember to be thankful ALWAYS - it will keep your priorities straight and your outlook on life positive.

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