I am thankful.
I am thankful for my family.
I am thankful for my husband – for his unconditional love, for his strength and his humility, his integrity and his humor, his honesty and his quirkiness. I am thankful for sushi on Friday nights, for long drives on Sunday morning and for plans made about our future together. I am thankful for walks in the woods with our dog, thankful for the beautiful house that we live in, and the time we get to be husband and wife. I am thankful for his support in everything that I do, and I am so thankful that I get to spend the rest of my life with the best man I know.
I am thankful for my mom. I am thankful for her selflessness, her continuous support of her children, and for the magic that she brought to our childhood (and adult lives too!).I am thankful for growing up in a house full of music and laughter and candle-lit after school snacks. I am thankful for the memories we have as children – of trips to the library on rainy days, of tea parties in our kitchen, of surprise adventures to Martha's Vineyard and days spent on the beach. I am thankful for laughing so hard over a glass of wine that tears run down your face, I am thankful for mother-daughter lunches and middle of the day phone conversations. I am thankful to have someone so strong and good to have as a role model, to learn from and to hopefully someday emulate.
I am thankful for my dad. I am thankful to have grown up with such an active role model in our lives. I am thankful for a dad that has always worked so hard to be a provider as well as a father. I am thankful for freezing days spent on chairlifts with numb fingers unwrapping Kit-Kat bars, for a dad that always takes his own gloves off to put your little hands in his giant warm gloves while he blows hot breath in to yours. I am thankful for a dad that taught us the value of hard work, of never having a minute to sit still – unless its to read you a bedtime story or sing you one more round of Sweet Baby James. I am thankful for a dad that loves my mom, no matter how many silly fights they get in to, or how many years it has been since they first met on the campus of UMass. I am thankful for a dad that has become the worlds best Papa, never slowing down – always having time for one more round of horsey or cowboys or rasseling. I am thankful for a dad that has always shown me what hard work and true love looks like.
I am thankful for my sisters. I am so thankful for two crazy little sisters that have been more like best friends. I am thankful for matching Christmas outfits and Barbie clothes all over the house. I am thankful for Hanson posters and Titanic posters and Aerosmith posters. I am thankful for bike rides to the fish market at the end of our street for quahogs and a ton of candy. I am thankful for tree house meetings and pretend restaurants, for Christmas concerts that were put on in the living room and for cookie decorating competitions. I am thankful for lunches with mimosas and weddings and bachelorette parties. I am thankful for the unbreakable bond that sisters have, and I am thankful “for the village” that we will create as mothers and wives and sisters.
I am thankful for my brother. I am beyond thankful to be a big sister to the worlds best brother. I am thankful for the Tonka trucks amidst the sea of Barbies. I am thankful for the legos that were all over the floors, for the muddy boots and the little boy socks that always seemed to find their way in to my pink laundry. I am thankful for football games and ski races, for that little boy that completed the family of girls. I am thankful for the best hugs in the world, for a smile that can light up any room, for the sensitive and emotionally connected man that he has become. I am thankful for dances at weddings, for always having the most handsome date, for beers shared at ski houses and for long conversations about girls. I am thankful for the years as adults together, because I feel like I missed a lot of the years at home. Eight years is a big age difference – but I am so thankful that it has never made a difference in our relationship as brother and sister.
This Thanksgiving, with everything scary and depressing that is going on in our world, I am spending time thinking about the blessings we have been given. No matter what happens in this world, no matter what happens in the future, I can - and will - always be thankful for the blessings that God has bestowed upon me and my family. I count them every day. Trying to spend a little time to think on the things that we are thankful for certainly makes the world seem a bit brighter.
I created this menu for a Thanksgiving for two, because this year I wont be seeing my immediate family for Thanksgiving. This menu is one that Phil and I will share, quietly and in thanks. It is inspired by recipes out of a little book I found at the library, one that celebrates the old culinary traditions of New England – something that always inspires me. It is designed for two people, but you could easily increase the amount by making a turkey instead of the Cornish hens that I made, and just increase the ratios of the sides. Most of the sides make enough for six people, we just enjoy having left overs!
You can also find another menu made for two over at my dear friend Betty's blog, Le Jus d'Orange. Her menu looks delicious, and she is having a fun Finex cast iron give away over there too! Go check it out!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
roasted maple glazed cornish hens with sweet sausage, sour cherry and pistachio brioche stuffing
hubbard squash brown sugar souffle
grand marnier and candied mandarin rind cranberry sauce
herbed goats milk whipped mashed potatoes and bonne bouche
rosemary crusted maple pecan tarts
• Roasted Maple Glazed Cornish Hens with sweet Sausage, Dried Sour Cherrie and Pistachio Brioche Stuffing •
for the stuffing
makes about 4 cups
• ½ lb sweet sausage, or any sausage to your liking
• 1 loaf brioche bread, dried and cut in to cubes
• ½ cup dried sour cherries
• ¼ cup finely chopped pistachios
• 1 tablespoon thyme
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ½ cup chicken broth or stock
In a skillet over medium high heat, brown the sausage - continuously breaking it apart with a spatula until the sausage is in small pieces. Once the sausage is cooked through and browned, remove from the heat and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the brioche, cherries, pistachios, thyme, salt and the sausage. Mix with a wooden spoon to combine all ingredients.
Pour the chicken broth over the bread mixture and stir to incorporate completely.
Stuff your birds with as much stuffing as it will take, and put the rest of the stuffing in to a baking dish and bake at the same temperature as your bird. Check in on it periodically and stir occasionally. Remove from the oven when the stuffing is slightly browned, yet still moist in the center. If you are not cooking your stuffing at the same time as your bird (or if you do not have enough room in your oven) cook the stuffing at 375F for about 30 minutes.
for the hens
makes two birds
• two Cornish hens, cleaned and dried
• 4 tablespoons butter, melted
• 4 tablespoons maple syrup
• 2 tablespoons coarse salt (1 tablespoon per hen)
• 2 tablespoons thyme and rosemary, chopped finely (1 tablespoon per hen)
Preheat the oven to 450F
Once the hens are cleaned and rinsed and patted dry with a clean kitchen towel, place them in a baking dish that is at least 3 inches deep.
Fill the birds cavity with the stuffing mixture. Tie the hens legs together with some kitchen twine so the stuffing doesn't all fall out.
Brush the hens with the melted butter, and then the maple syrup. Sprinkle the salt, pepper and herbs over the hens and bake for about an hour, or until the juices run clear.
• Hubbard Squash Brown Sugar Souffle •
adapted from The New England Butt'ry Shelf Cookbook by Mary Mason Campbell
makes about six servings
• one small Hubbard squash (or any other squash of your liking – would work perfectly with butternut or acorn)
• 3 tablespoons melted butter
• ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon ground ginger
• ½ teaspoon ground clove
• 2 egg yolks
• 2 egg whites whipped in to stiff peaks
Preheat oven to 350F.
cut the squash in half and remove the seeds and stringy bits (the guts...). Peel the squash. Chop the squash in to one inch cubes and set aside.
Place a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Once the water is at a rolling boil, carefully put the squash in the boiling water. Cook the squash until it is easily pierced with a fork.
Strain the squash and put back in to the empty pot and mash until smooth. Add the melted butter, the brown sugar, the spices, the salt and the egg yolks. Stir until all are combined.
Fold in the whipped egg whites. Pour into two butter ramekins or one larger souffle dish. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the squash has puffed up a bit and the top has browned. It wont puff as much as a typical souffle would, but it just gives it a light and airy texture.
Note: this definitely made more than two servings. I think this could easily be done in four to six ramekins, but would also do nicely in a larger baking dish.
• Herbed Goats Milk Mashed Potatoes with Bonne Bouche •
makes about 4 cups
• one small bag of fingerling potatoes (that is what I used – but I am sure any potatoes would do just fine)
• 4 tablespoons butter
• 1 cup goats milk
• 1 tablespoon salt
• 2 tablespoons chopped thyme and rosemary
• 1 package of bonne bouch from Vermont Creamery, chopped into small pieces (one package has two small disks of cheese – use both!)
Boil the potatoes with their skins on until soft and easily pierced with a fork. Drain them and return them to their pot.
Mash the potatoes a bit until they are all broken up, then add the butter. Cream the butter with the potatoes and add in the milk a little bit at a time.
Using an immersion blender (or a hand held mixer will do just as well), whip the potatoes, milk, salt and cheese together until smooth and creamy.
Once the cheese is incorporated (you may still have little pieces of cheese throughout the potatoes – that is totally fine. I actually prefer it), mix in the herbs and stir to incorporate fully.
Transfer the potatoes in to a serving dish, and keep warm in the oven until your other foods are ready.
• Grand Marnier and Candied Mandarin Rind Cranberry Sauce •
for the candied mandarin rinds
makes about ¼ cup
• peel of one mandarin orange (or any other small orange or clementine) chopped in to small pieces
• 1 cup sugar
• ½ cup water
Put all ingredients into a small pot over medium high heat.
Bring the mixture to a boil, and let reduce until you have a thick syrup.
Remove from the heat and using a slotted spoon, remove the rind from the rest of the syrup.
Set the rind aside, and either discard the rest of the syrup, or save for later use – its really great for cocktails!
For the sauce
makes about 2 cups
• 3 cups cranberries
• ¼ cup Grand Marnier
• 1 cup sugar
• candied mandarin rind
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the cranberries and the sugar. Heat over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until all of the cranberries have burst and a lot of juice has been released.
Add the Grand Marnier, the candied mandarin rind, the cinnamon and the cloves. Stir to incorporate all ingredients and let reduce at a simmer until the sauce has thickened and the flavors have been well blended.
Remove the cranberry sauce from the heat once it has thickened and transfer in to a serving dish. Serve at room temperature, slightly warm or chilled.
• Pecan Pie Tart with Rosemary Crust •
makes 8 tartlets
for the crust
adapted from Ina Garten
• 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing, at room temperature
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
• 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
• Pinch salt
Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
Add in the vanilla and the chopped rosemary.
Pour in the flour and salt and mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together.
Dump the dough onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk.
Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until ¼ inch thick, then using a biscuit cutter, cut out eight circles. Press each circle into the bottom of each tart tin. Using the scraps, press the extra dough along the edges of the tart tin so you have a smooth edge. Pierce the bottoms of the tarts with a fork, and place in the freezer to chill while you make the filling.
For the filling
• 3 large eggs
• 1/2 cup packed dark muscovado sugar
• 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
• 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
• 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, mix the eggs and sugar until smooth.
Add the maple syrup, dark corn syrup, melted butter and salt. Stir to combine. Add the pecans. Stir again.
Take the tart shells out of the freezer and spoon the filling in to each shell. Fill until they look full, but not overflowing and not too little. They don’t rise much, so keep that in mind.
Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling has set.
Cool on a wire rack, and carefully remove the tarts from their pans once they are cool enough to handle. Serve with some Bourbon whipped cream or some custardy ice cream, a cup of coffee or perhaps a sip of grand marnier.
listening to: Home for the Holidays by the Carpenters