Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving Prep...and Cranberry, Pear and Ginger Chutney

After much deliberation (understatement of the century) I have finally decided on our Thanksgiving menu. I have pored through cooking Light, Eating Well magazines, Nigella Feast, Baked (both books) to name but a few. As you'll remember,  I'm Irish so I don't feel so tied to the usual traditions. Therein lies the problem; apart from turkey, I feel we can go in any direction with the food. My only fixed point is for the vegetables to be seasonal. So this morning, off we went to the Farmers Market to scoop up whatever looked best. I'm home with a purple cauliflower, butternut squash, brussels sprouts, parsnips, sweet potatoes, pears and apples. That helped me finalize the menu.

Here goes:

Thanksgiving menu


Pumpkin cheddar muffins


Green goddess dip
Artichoke dip
Trader Joe's Store bought appetizers (my one concession)

The Main Deal

Maple Cider Brined Turkey
Cranberry Pear and Ginger Chutney
Cornbread stuffing
Purple Cauliflower sauteed in olive oil and garlic
Parsnip Gratin
Pureed Sweet Potato with smoked paprika


Chocolate Brownie Pie
Pumpkin Ice Cream
Rustic Apple Pie

Random snack (who doesn't need one of those tucked in the cupboard?)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf

What did I miss? The cocktail of course, but that can wait for a couple of days to be finalized.

Last year I noisily proclaimed I was going to take shortcuts via Trader Joe's ready made choices. People who know me might find that ironic; even on a busy week night, it pains me to put a store bought meal in front of my family; so why Thanksgiving of all times?!

The truth is the greatest holiday excitement of my year is Christmas. I have incredibly happy memories of Christmas as a child. Unsurprisingly, most of the fun for me was food, not gift related. I love to recreate some of that for my children but a couple of years ago, after going all out for both holidays, I really did not enjoy my Christmas dinner.

Time to rethink the plan;  I decided to take a very simple approach to Thanksgiving going forward. It worked out for us last year; I used Trader Joe's Cranberry Sauce, Stuffing, Pumpkin pie and appetizers. It made for a very relaxing Thanksgiving Day. However this year I just can't bring myself to go the store bought route. So, make ahead is my strategy this year, plus I have assigned an appetizer to my husbands cousin who will be coming with her friend.

Today I made the Cornbread for the stuffing and the Cranberry Chutney. Tomorrow the Pumpkin Ice Cream is on my radar. The Pumpkin Chocolate Loaf is already made and in the Freezer. The plan is coming together! I'll share as much as I can.

Cranberry Pear and Ginger Chutney
based on a Epicurious recipe


2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup grated fresh ginger (peeled first, I freeze mine in a ziplock bag and find it so much easier to grate when frozen)
2 1/2 lemon zest (finely grated)
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 12 oz bag fresh cranberries, washed and picked through
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large firm pears, peeled cored and chopped into small pieces


  1. Combine the vinegar, onions, ginger, lemon zest, cinnamon stick, pepper flakes and cloves in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil
  2. Simmer for about 10 minutes to reduce by about half
  3. Add the cranberries, sugar and pears and stir until the sugar dissolves
  4. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes or until the pear is tender and the flavors have combined.
  5. Store in the fridge for 3 days, or freeze until needed and thaw at room temperature.
This would be a great idea to can but that's not in my skill set...yet, so I always freeze. It works out just fine. I always make extra so we can have it at both holidays (when I'm not get TJ's help) and we like it with crackers and cheese also...


1 comment:

  1. Nice one.
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