Friday, November 27, 2015

On the Homefront: Southwestern Thanksgiving Table

Pilgrim the Dalmatian is back this year to experience a
Southwestern Thanksgiving feast!

I have been wanting to do a Southwestern Thanksgiving for a while now, but circumstances kept getting in the way until this year.  My husband and I hope to retire to New Mexico one of these days. Since he has finally started seriously considering retirement, I thought it would be a good time to try out some holiday recipes appropriate for the region.  My inspirations for the table were the turquoise blue place mats and dessert plates with a teal border that I found at HomeGoods this year.  I also found some beautiful turquoise goblets and napkin rings on Amazon.  In addition to turquoise, I set my table with pumpkin orange, white, and brown accents.

Dark brown wooden bead place mat; turquoise round woven place mat; white dinner plate (Tivoli by Studio Nova); Fiori Teal dessert plate by Ciroa; pumpkin orange leaf mug for soup (from Walmart a few years ago); white-handled flatware; pumpkin embroidered napkin (from Pottery Barn); turquoise beaded napkin ring (from Amazon); turquoise Artland Iris Goblet (from Amazon); etched horses water glass (Gallop Tumbler Set from Back in the Saddle).

A pumpkin-shaped candleholder surrounded by turquoise glass beads
makes a colorfully glowing centerpiece.

At the head of the table, a metal candleholder with a leaf-punched
design sits inside an oak leaf wreath.  White turkey salt and pepper
shakers from Sur la Table front the arrangement (the light was too
bright to prevent a bit of overexposure here).

Cute little fox plates from Walmart hold blue candles on either side
of the oak leaf wreath.

The Tom Turkey Table Runner is embroidered with a turkey and a
pumpkin at each end.

A closer look at the embroidered napkin and beaded napkin ring.

White turkey serving bowl and gravy boat from Sur la Table
a couple of years ago.

All of the recipes I made were either new to me or familiar ones that have been given a Southwestern update.  It was just the two of us for Thanksgiving this year; otherwise I would never have attempted all new recipes for the holidays!  Luckily everything turned out well, and we enjoyed our brand new Thanksgiving flavor experience.

Southwestern Thanksgiving Menu:

Creamy Green Chili Soup
Chili-Rubbed Roast Turkey Breast/Pan Gravy
Chorizo and Cornbread Dressing
Chipotle Cranberry Sauce
Southwest Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Southwest Vegetable Sauté
Pumpkin Pie with Pine Nut Streusel/Whipped Cream

1 C. diced onion
1 C. diced celery
1 T. minced garlic
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
2 C. chicken stock (I used unsalted)
2 C. low-fat milk
1/2 tsp. chili powder (I used ancho)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 can (7 oz.) diced mild green chilies
crumbled queso fresco and roasted, salted pepitas for garnish

Sauté the onions and celery in the butter until soft.  Add the garlic and cook one minute longer.  Remove from the heat and stir in the flour.

Heat the stock, milk, and chili powder in a large saucepan over medium heat until just boiling.  Add the onion mixture and stir until the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.  Blend with an immersion blender until smooth.  Stir in the chilies and heat for one minute.

Ladle the soup into serving bowls and garnish with queso fresco and pepitas.  Serves 4.

Chili-Rubbed Roast Turkey Breast

2 T. brown sugar
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 T. canola oil
5-6 lb. whole turkey breast

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a small bowl.  Add the oil and stir to blend.  Place the turkey breast on a rack in a roasting pan.  Pat the surface dry with paper towels.  Apply the chili rub with your fingers, spreading to coat completely as evenly as possible.  Roast at 325 degrees for 2-3 hours, covering with foil if the skin browns too quickly.  Remove from the oven, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for about 30 minutes before slicing.  Serves 8.

Note: The spice rub ingredients came from this recipe for a grilled turkey breast.

4 C. coarsely crumbled cornbread
1 lb. fresh Mexican chorizo sausage
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 medium carrot, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
3/4 C. chicken stock

Place the crumbled cornbread on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the cornbread is dry.  Allow to cool.

Cook the chorizo in a large skillet over medium heat, breaking it up and stirring it occasionally with a spoon, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic if using and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are browned, about 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and add the cornbread, stirring until the pan juices are absorbed by the bread.  Stir in the stock, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dressing is moist but not wet.

Place the stuffing into a small buttered casserole dish. Spread evenly and add a bit more stock now if the dressing still looks dry.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until heated through.  Serves 6-8.

Notes: I used pumpkin cornbread made from a Trader Joe's mix (makes one 8-inch square pan, and I used half of that for the dressing).  I accidentally left out the garlic and it did not seem to matter, so omit it if you prefer.  The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro, but my husband dislikes this herb so I left it out and the dressing tasted fine.

1 T. adobo sauce from canned chipotles
1/2 canned chipotle chili, seeded and minced
1 bag (12 oz.) fresh cranberries
1/4 C. brandy
1/2 C. brown sugar
juice of one lime (about 1/4 C.)
1 C. water
1/2 C. chopped pecans

Combine all ingredients except the pecans in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes, until the berries pop and the juice begins to thicken.  Remove from the heat and stir in the nuts.  Cool to room temperature.  Place in a covered container and chill until ready to serve.  Makes about 4 cups.

Notes:  The chipotle was very spicy, so adjust or even omit the chili (use only the sauce) depending upon your heat tolerance level.  If you like a sweeter sauce, increase the sugar to as much as 1 cup.

2 bags (1.5 lbs. each) microwaveable sweet potatoes
1/2 C. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 C. sour cream
1 can (4 oz.) diced mild green chilies
1/2 tsp. salt

Microwave the sweet potatoes according to package directions and set aside (still unopened).  Place the butter in a large heat-safe bowl.  When barely cool enough to handle, peel the sweet potatoes and add to the bowl with the butter.  Stir with a fork, mashing the potatoes with the butter until the butter is completely melted, the potatoes are well mashed, and both ingredients are thoroughly blended.  Stir in the sour cream until smooth.  Stir in the chilies.  Add salt to taste and serve.  Serves 8-10.

2 small zucchinis, halved and sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 T. olive oil
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 C. shredded Cheddar or Cheddar blend cheese

In a large sauté pan, cook the zucchini, bell pepper, and onion in the olive oil until softened, stirring often, about 5-7 minutes.  Stir in the chili powder, oregano, and salt until well blended.  Stir in the corn.  Add the shredded cheese and stir until melted.  Taste for flavor and add more salt and/or cheese as needed.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.  Serves 6.

Note: My zucchinis were rather large, so I increased the chili powder and oregano to 1 tsp. each, and added about 3/4 C. cheese (as usual, I used a Cheddar-mozzarella blend).

Pumpkin Pie with Pine Nut Streusel

I used the traditional Libby's Pumpkin Pie recipe, but replaced 1/4 cup of the sugar with 1/4 cup of molasses; used 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice instead of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; and decreased the salt to 1/4 tsp.  For the streusel topping, I used the ingredients from this recipe:

1/2 C. pine nuts, toasted*
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 C. flour
1/3 C. brown sugar
3 T. butter, cut into small pieces

Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl.  Using your fingers, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until all of the flour is moistened.  About 10-15 minutes before your pie is done baking, remove it from the oven and press the streusel topping all over the top of the pie, making sure that it adheres to the filling.  Return the pie to the oven and finish baking.

*To toast pine nuts, place them in a heavy dry skillet and cook over medium heat until the nuts begin to turn brown, which should only take a few minutes.  Pine nuts burn easily, so watch them closely!

(Unfortunately I did not have time to photograph the food, but all of it looked appetizingly lovely.  At Thanksgiving, I am chief cook and bottle washer, especially when it is just the two of us, and it literally takes from morning until night to finish.  My husband has tried to help, but after a rather disastrous Thanksgiving a few years ago when dishes were broken, pots were dented, and the mashed potatoes ended up on the floor, his preparation participation has been restricted to opening and pouring the wine, filling the water glasses, and carving the turkey.  Believe me, we all have a much less stressful holiday this way!)

Candy on the table may be rather superfluous for Thanksgiving, but I could not resist the Pumpkin Paws (chocolate-pumpkin-caramel-almond clusters) from Williams-Sonoma, mostly because of the adorable tin!

Although most of the serving dishes were on the table, I put the big beautiful pumpkin-shaped soup tureen on the credenza, with two more fox plates on either side to hold the soup garnishes (I bought the tureen so long ago I don't even remember where I got it):

Today I got to rest up from all of yesterday's cooking activities (and write up this post) before starting my Christmas fruitcake baking this weekend.  I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Oh, I almost forgot two little Thanksgiving observations:

1) our favorite after-the-feast turkey sandwich is a big onion bun spread with mayonnaise and loaded with turkey, cranberry sauce, and soft Bibb lettuce (not a fan of stuffing on a sandwich, although I know many people are);

2) the absolute worst Thanksgiving food idea has to be the pumpkin pie-spiced potato chips I bought at a local grocery store.  I can honestly say that this is the most awful combination I have tasted in a very long time.  Chocolate-covered chips may be tasty (although I have never had one), but sugar and spice on a potato chip is a total fail!  Don't waste your money, people (I'm still kicking myself for succumbing).  You have been warned!

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