Thursday, November 19, 2009

I am Thankful for Food

I always have good intentions of getting through the holidays indulging only moderately. Then I end up baking for this and that, attending a few parties, and 40,000 calories later I find myself teetering over the high end of my "tolerable holiday weight gain." And it's not even Thanksgiving yet. I need to reevaluate my self-control and set some rules.

But that's why we have January.

So down to business. . .

I wanted to share a few of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes with you this week -- a quick and light breakfast, an amazing stuffing recipe, and a cheesecake that will turn you into a puddle on the floor.

Next week I'll show you some things to do with your Thanksgiving leftovers! Trust me, you'll want to save some. (Psst. . . don't throw the away the turkey bones!)

First off, something quick and light for breakfast so you have time to slave away all day for the big feast later on. I ADORE this oatmeal. I make it quite often and my whole family loves it. It tastes like a tender oatmeal cookie on top of fruit & yogurt.

Amish Baked Oatmeal

From Taste of Home

1 1/2 c. oats (quick-cooking and old fashioned both work)
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. butter
1 egg
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine and pour into a greased 9x13 baking dish. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Immediately put into bowls and top with fruit, milk, yogurt, or whatever you want. Serves about 3-4.

Nat's Notes:
1. I usually double this to feed 4-5 people.

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My favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner is definitely the STUFFING. I was shocked a couple of years ago when I found out no one was making stuffing for Thanksgiving dinner at my in-laws house. I guess they're not stuffing people. I'm not a cranberry sauce person, so to each their own, I guess. SO, I decided to bring my own pan of stuffing (secretly hoping I'd get to eat the whole thing myself).

I tried out a recipe I found by David Lieberman on the Food Network site. I'd recently moved to the Bay Area, sourdough capital of the world, and thought this would be perfect. Oh, it was. I particularly liked the rustic, chunky texture from the crouton-sized pieces of bread. There are a lot of "trendy" stuffing recipes floating around with dried fruit, nuts, bacon, and even jalapenos, but this one is more classic. Like StoveTop classic, but without the MSG, hydrogenated oil and high-fructose corn syrup. (Last I checked it has all three. I'm not joking.)

Even the non-stuffing people liked it. Sadly, I had no leftovers.

Sourdough Bread Stuffing
from David Lieberman, Food Network

1 pound loaf sourdough bread
8 tablespoons butter
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced 1/2-inch thick in both directions
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 to 4 stalks celery with leaves, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
About 10 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped from the stems
10 to 12 fresh sage leaves, chopped
3 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 2-quart baking dish and set aside. 
Cut or tear the bread into 1-inch cubes and spread it evenly on 2 baking sheets. Toast the bread in the oven until completely dry and beginning to crisp and brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and a few pinches of salt and saute, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add celery, onion, 2 tablespoons butter, and thyme. Once the butter has melted, cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Add sage and remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Add chicken broth to skillet and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 

Transfer toasted bread cubes to a large bowl. Pour the chicken broth mixture over the bread cubes and toss to combine until the bread cubes absorb the liquid. Pour the mixture into the greased baking dish, and sprinkle with parsley. Bake until heated through and the top is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Remove the stuffing from the oven and allow to cool about 15 minutes before serving.

Makes about 8 servings.

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I don't think the taste of this cheesecake differs radically from a regular pumpkin cheesecake except the pumpkin flavor is maybe more subdued by the creaminess from the white chocolate. None of that matters, though because it's delicious. It has a gingersnap crust and it's finished off with cinnamon-toasted almonds. (My kitchen smelled like the nut kiosks at the mall during Christmas.)

White Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake
adapted from Taste of Home Magazine Oct/Nov 07

1 1/2 c crushed gingersnap cookies
1/4 c butter, melted
3 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 c sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
5 oz white baking chocolate, melted and cooled
3/4 c pumpkin puree
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Almond topping:
1/2 c chopped almonds
2 T butter, melted
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine gingersnap crumbs and butter. Press into the bottom of a greased 9-inch springform pan; set aside. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently. Add eggs, one at a time, blending between each addition. Add vanilla; beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in melted and cooled white chocolate.

Combine pumpkin and spices; gently fold into cream cheese mixture. Pour over crust. Cover the bottom half of the pan with a piece of aluminum foil and place pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour about a quart of hot water onto the baking sheet.

Bake at for 55-60 minutes or until center is almost set. Turn off the oven and allow cheesecake to cool to the point when you can take it out without oven mitts. Then allow to cool on the countertop until room temperature. Chill for at least 4-6 hours or overnight (better).

Before serving, combine topping ingredients; spread in a shallow baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 or until golden brown, stirring twice. Cool. (I did this in my toaster oven.)

Remove sides of springform pan; sprinkle topping over cheesecake. Refrigerate leftovers. Serves 12.

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  1. Oh drool! I have a serious love of all things cheesecake :) YUM

  2. I'm not a stuffing fan, but I want to try this one out. And the cheesecake sounds heavenly!

  3. I need a bib here....droooooolll. I want that cheesecake and I want it NOW!


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