Friday, November 25, 2022

A Crowd-Sourced Thanksgiving Meal

To all who celebrated Thanksgiving this week, I hope it was a good one! My sister and nephew were visiting for the week and we had a wonderful holiday together. Thanksgiving is a feasting holiday, a cook's holiday, and I enjoy planning my menu weeks in advance. This year, time slipped through right my fingers. A week spent in Seattle for work, assorted minor respiratory illnesses going through the family, some volunteer commitments on Saturdays...all of that left me blinking last weekend, wondering how Thanksgiving could already be around the corner. 

Pumpkin pie!

I decided to crowdsource the menu this year, and went around asking each family member what one or two things they would love to eat at Thanksgiving. These were the responses- 

Husband: Mushroom Wellington

Daughter: Mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy and cranberry sauce

Son: Mac and cheese

Nephew: Pumpkin pie

Sister: Apple cobbler

Me: Turkey-less roast from Trader Joe's, because we get that each year, and some vegetables to round out the meal

Portobello Mushroom Wellington

And just like that, we had our menu-

  • Two main dishes
  • Three sides
    • Mac and cheese, a stovetop version
    • Mashed potatoes
    • Roasted green beans and Brussels sprouts
  • Two must-haves
    • Cranberry orange sauce 
    • Mushroom gravy
  • Two desserts
  • Two drinks
    • Apple cider (spiked with rum for the adults)
    • Coke (requested by the kids, a rare treat)

I went for a grocery shopping run on Tuesday and made sure we had all ingredients on hand. I made cranberry sauce on Tuesday. On Wednesday, my sister made the pie crust and I made mashed potatoes. We spent Thursday morning cooking at a leisurely pace. My sister made both the desserts. 

Apple cobbler- tastes like pie,
but so much simpler to make

Everyone was eager to dig into the food so we ate our Thanksgiving meal as a late lunch at 1:30 PM. This turned out to be a great idea because we were all done with cooking and could spend the rest of the day relaxing. My sister and I took the dog for a long walk and then did some sewing. V took the three kids to a movie- Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile- which they all thought was kinda strange and not their favorite. Then we had coffee and dessert and more Thanksgiving food later in the day. 

The rest of the week leading up to Thanksgiving was a lot of fun too. We watched movies- like Enola Holmes 2- and played our favorite board game, Codenames, and a memory game with the 6 year old. There was playground time and quite a bit of eating out. My sister and I assembled two jigsaw puzzles while listening to our favorite music. 

A quick seasonal decoration, made by wrapping
fabric around bath tissue rolls!

We sewed some mini stockings
as gift card holders for teachers

What did you make for Thanksgiving this year?

Monday, November 07, 2022

A Very Good Veggie Chili

Two weeks ago, in a cooking funk, and with the temperature dipping down quite suddenly, I turned to my Pinterest "Soup" folder and found a link to the boldly named Best Vegetarian Chili in the World. I was headed to the store and picked up some celery, a green bell pepper and a bag of frozen veggie crumbles. Everything else came from my pantry and I modified the recipe a little. I don't know about the best chili and all that, but it was a wonderful, hearty chili that made a BIG POT (we love leftovers around here). aIf that's good enough for you, read on for my version of the recipe. 

I realized that I don't have a go-to chili recipe. Maybe this is it! It required a bunch of cans but that's not necessarily a bad thing. There is this white bean chili recipe that I haven't made in a while- that will be something to put on the menu soon.

A Very Good Veggie Chili

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in 1 chopped onion, and season with bay leaves, cumin, oregano, and salt
  2. Cook and stir until onion is tender, then mix in a bunch of chopped veg: 2 stalks celery, 1 green bell peppers, jalapeno peppers (I actually added 1 habanero pepper grown by a friend), 4-5 cloves garlic
  3. When vegetables are heated through, mix in the vegetarian burger crumbles. 
  4. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer 5 minutes.
  5. Mix 1 can crushed tomatoes and 1 can tomatoes with chilies into the pot. Season chili with chili powder and pepper. 
  6. Stir in 1 can rinsed garbanzo beans (chickpeas), and 1 can rinsed black beans. Add some water if needed. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 30 minutes. Stir in some canned/frozen corn, and continue cooking for a few more minutes.

How to serve: I love eating chili just as a stew, topped with some minced raw onions and cilantro, and crushed tortilla chips. Maybe some sour cream and shredded cheese. But it is lovely alongside a simple quesadilla. If you have more time and motivation, make a pan of cornbread. Or serve it over brown or white rice. Possibilities! 

I'd like to flavor this recipe with ginger, garlic, garam masala and see how it works as an Indian-fusion chili. I'll report back! 

Do you have a favorite chili recipe? What are your favorite winter recipes?