A lot of times the things I do confuse people. Why run a marathon when the longest distance you've ever run is a 5K? Why not start with a half-marathon? Why do a half ironman, when the longest distance you've done is a sprint triathlon? Why not build up with a quarter ironman before the half? In my head it makes perfect sence, to most other people it does not. One of the many reasons my husband is perfect for me...he understands...he get's me. :)
This was our first Thanksgiving together as a married couple. This was also my very first Thanksgiving to cook the whole meal. I couldn't have been more excited. We drove to Dimmitt, TX after work on Wednesday, arriving around 1 am on Thanksgiving to spend the holiday with Raymonds parents. As soon as we arrived I grabbed what I needed and headed straight for the kitchen to get the turkey in a brine and cut up the bread for the stuffing while my husband unloaded the car. I should have taken a picture of this. Even though I put forth my best effort every time, I'm not really known for packing light. When I am traveling, and especially when I'm cooking somewhere I pretty much bring anything I can think of that I could ever need. But honey, I have to bring this, it would be a shame if I didn't have my zester...you get the picture. We got to bed around 1:30 that morning to get some rest before the major cooking would begin later that morning.
Now, this being my first thanksgiving to cook you'd think I would pick a couple of solid dishes that I knew and was sure of the results. Nope, not for me. As I reviewed the menu the week before I realized that I had only one item out of eleven on my list that I have made before. What can I say, I like the adventure. Raymond's parents totally asked us what kind of pizza we liked btw...I think they were brainstorming a back-up plan.
In the end I had no big disasters in the kitchen that morning, a BIG thanks to my husband who played sous chef for me, and I was happy with ten out of eleven of the dishes. I had asked my aunt for her amazing stuffing recipe the week before only to decide not to use it at the last minute because I wanted to make a super healthy Thanksgiving dinner from complete scratch. Her stuffing recipe wasn't what I would consider "healthy". I really should have used her stuffing recipe. On the menu, prepare yourself for lots of pictures, was:
Mustard Crusted Turkey Breasts
Sweet Potato Knots
Butternut Squash Gratin
Sweet Potato Salad
Broccoli Quinoa Casserole
Caramel Apple Cheesecake for Dessert
Excluding the cheesecake, because I very much believe that desserts don't count on holidays and birthdays, I used a total of seven tablespoons of butter, one canned product, 2 tbs mayonaise, and 1/2 cup of milk. I consider this a success. While my absolute favorites were probably the butternut squash gratin, and the spinach bake, the boys both enjoyed this sweet potato salad. I was also thrilled with the salad because while sweet potato casserole is just not my thing, I still wanted to include them on the Thanksgiving table. Below is the recipe I used for the salad.
4 lbs sweet potatoes
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/4 cup light greek yogurt
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 1/2 tsp coarse-ground mustard
1 tsp brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 pecans, roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees-F.
Cut sweet potatoes into 3/4 inch cubes and spread out on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake sweet potatoes in the oven for about 30-35 minutes. You want your potatoes to be baked, but firm enough to hold up on their own when mixing. Let potatoes cool.
Add the chopped pecans to the oven and bake for about 7-13 minutes, watching carefully and shaking occasionally. They are done when golden and fragrant.
In a large bowl whisk the mayonaise, curry powder, mustard, brown sugar, and garlic. Add the cooked sweet potatoes, green onions, cranberries, pecans, and mix.
This recipe makes a lot of salad. I halved this recipe for our Thanksgiving dinner and we still had leftovers.
Just for fun I thought I'd also include a pic of the Cinnamon Rolls we had the mornings after. These were not a part of the healthy holiday menu. You have to allow for a few indulgences during the holidays. :)
Recipe adapted from Homesick Texan