Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

My Butternut Squash Bisque, which I revisited for lunch the other day.

My family’s Thanksgiving is very traditional – we pretty much eat the same thing every year. For the past few years, I have been doing one “different” side dish to mix things up a little bit. If you’re looking to do the same, here is a list of my favorite recipes that would be a lovely addition to your Thanksgiving Table.

Rustic Herb Stuffing

P.S. If you cook something off Sweet Life Laur on Thanksgiving or any other time, I would LOVE to see photos! You can upload them to my Facebook Page, or email them to sweetlifelaur (at) gmail (dot) com.

Happy Thanksgiving preparation week!

Seared Tuna Sashimi with Wasabi Vinaigrette

 

I hated, hated wasabi for years. When it accidently touched my sushi it would be a disappointment. When chefs felt the need to use it as a Frites dip I saw it as a waste. The taste of it ruined my life (dramatic? me?) until a sneaky sushi chef in San Diego hid fresh wasabi in my halibut sushi. It was life-changing! Such pure flavor, such a sinus-clearing heat! I finally saw the appeal of that wasabi business – people were just trying to make due when they couldn’t get the best (fresh wasabi, I have later discovered, is the best). And it turns out, there are actually some decent wasabi pastes out there, not that I care anymore because I love it all.

This little salad/appetizer embodies my declaration of love for wasabi. It is the fabulous Eric Ripert’s recipe, from the beautiful Avec Eric book, and I am officially adding it to my mental list of absolute favorite recipes.

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Cottage Cheese Muffins with Sundried Tomato and Basil

I made a major discovery. Instead of your typical coffee shop muffin (super-sweet calorie bomb), these “muffins” are more like a hand-held souffle. They are delightfully savory, with cottage cheese, parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil. They made a fantastic lunch (I’ll take two, please) as well as the easiest grab-and-go breakfast ever. Even better than their taste is the fact that they have less than 125 calories each. It’s actually kind of unbelievable.

These muffins come from the amazing Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks. As I have mentioned, my best friend of the same name (Hi, Heidi!) introduced me to Ms. Swanson’s work a couple years ago and I always do a quick search on her blog whenever I am looking for a healthy meal. I am beyond thrilled to be sharing these with you, and I hope you make them as soon as you can. This is one that just shouldn’t wait.

p.s. how do you like my makeshift muffin wrappers? I never remember to buy them at the store, but parchment paper made a great (and probably cheaper) alternative!

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Grilled Crostini with Fresh Chèvre, Tomatoes, and Basil

I hear that Labor Day is unofficially the end of summer. Technically, we still have 16 more days until Fall, so let’s stay positive here. I don’t think anyone has told my tomato plants a thing about this because they are turning out beautiful, ripe tomatoes like crazy! (I’m not complaining, I’m thrilled!). If you’re lucky like me, you are probably trying to find a way to use up all your end-of-summer tomatoes.

These crostini has been one of my favorite picnic recipes this summer. They are easy and pretty quick, but still tasty enough to seem like a treat, especially if you are using home grown or farmer’s market tomatoes. The smokey grill flavor makes the crostini extra-special, so I would recommend grilling if you can – but I did include the how-to for preparing the crostini in the oven.

Now go enjoy the last of the summer produce and weather!

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Stuffed Heirloom with Fresh Mozzarella

I love the New York Times. When I was a student at Drew, it was delivered to the dorms (for free!) on weekdays. My favorite Sociology professor used to bring in copies of pertinent articles all the time (his kids read the Opinion section every day…which I am still in awe of). These days, Tim and I have a Sunday subscription, and of course I follow a few of the departments on Twitter.

It may not come as a surprise that my favorite links usually come from @nytimesdining and its unofficial counterpart, @nytimesfood. The Times’s Mark Bittman recently did a wonderful feature on Heirloom tomatoes for the Magazine, and the interactive page with the recipes has been up in my Chrome tabs since. This was the first recipe I made from the selection, and I am eyeing that Salsa Borracha for my next one (salsa with tequila in it? yes please).

This stuffed, baked heirloom has an incredible amount of flavor – I was pleasantly surprised. It bakes up beautifully golden and the heat deepens the flavor and color of the heirloom. Definitely give this a try before summer is over!

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Ahi Tuna Tartare

I always think of avocado as one of my top summer foods. On wheat bread with goat cheese and tomato, alongside a quesadilla, on toast, or smashed with a fork into guacamole, avocados at their prime are just the best!

I have been obsessed with the combination of avocado, orange, and raw fish (this recipe may have started it). Usually, we keep the fish plain, with microgreens, avocado, maybe citrus, and a simple dressing, but I decided to take a stab at a tartare with this recipe. Now I’m not 100% sure if this technically counts as a tartare – it might have poke leanings (feel free to enlighten me!), but whatever it is, this Asian-inspired dish is the perfect appetizer for a warm summer evening!

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Rosemary Cous Cous with a Poached Egg

This certainly felt like a fancy breakfast! Runny egg yolk, fluffy cous cous – very decadent. The best part is, it took less than ten minutes to make, start to finish!

Poached eggs are the best breakfast. They seem so decadent and special, but once you get the hang of them it is quick and easy. The other plus about eating an egg is that they have good fats, only 70 calories, and paired with the right type of carbs they fill you up for hours.

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Oyster Bake!

I’m going to start by saying this was all Tim’s doing – I take no credit! It was Oscar Sunday, he wanted to make something special and decided on oysters – so off to Pier 46 we went.  Eric was there and he told us just what to do – as always – and even hooked us up with some garlic butter (Thanks, Eric!).

For the first 22 or so years of my life, I refused to try oysters, which is funny because my dad is the biggest fan of raw oysters. We spent every summer growing up in our summer house, which is literally on Malpeque Bay…yes, that Malpeque…and I had never even tried one! Since I met Tim, we’ve been working on expanding my palate and I’m slowly acquiring the taste/texture of raw oysters. These baked ones were much more manageable and even…dare I say it?…enjoyable!

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Bacon-Wrapped Jalepenos

If I had my food blogger A-game on, I would have made these prior to the Super Bowl so that you could have planned ahead to make them for Super Bowl. Instead, I decided to make them a few hours before game time, and now I’m posting them a week later. Oh well!

The good news is that these “non-poppers” are not just for the Super Bowl, and you can make them for any or gathering and they will be a hit! (…as long as your guests like bacon-wrapped cream cheese jalepeno deliciousness, which, uh, most do!).

Side note: I made a couple of these vegetarian for myself by simply filling the jalepenos with cream cheese and not wrapping it in bacon, and they were just perfect for me!

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Potato-Leek Soup

Living in wine country is pretty amazing, and working in wine country is even better. I get to help brides plan their weddings, coordinate big fancy dinners, and even host fashion shows! On December 11, Central Coast Fashion Week is coming to JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery! It is going to be spectacular. I spent yesterday in the barrel chai (aka cave) with the talent of three models, a producer, a photographer, a videographer, and a hair and makeup artist. Models in tutu’s among the barrels? Yes please! Be sure to watch their website and Facebook page for the photos.

sweet life laur

There is nothing like nine hours with teeny models to remind you that due to consuming an excess of fine wine and cheese more often than not, you maybe have a few pounds to lose. And that maybe you should ditch the croissants for a healthy and delicious soup…like this one.

This is the second time this year that I’ve posted a Potato-Leek Soup recipe (find the first here), but this one is so good I must share. I recently read through many, many pages of David Lebovitz’ blog about living and cooking in Paris, as another thing working at JUSTIN has done for me is make me realize that I am dying to learn French. So that’s that…enjoy!

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