Monday, November 27, 2017

Thanksgiving Recipes 2017

Thanksgiving is always my favorite holiday of the year of course since it is centered around food and family. My in-laws came in town for a week, so we had plenty of meals together including the main event on Thursday. 

Leading up to that week, my work had a potluck and I brought this cute veggie tray! So happy with how it turned out. We decided he looked more like an Angry Bird though haha!

My friend Amanda also hosted a Friendsgiving the weekend before and I made a baked brie. I’ve done this recipe several times before, but I tried a new version this time with toasted pecans and Trader Joe’s apple jam. You can use whatever type of nut and jam combination you like (here’s the recipe from awhile back on my blog…)

Tuesday night before Thanksgiving we had both sets of parents over and tried out a recipe I’d never made before – Baked Four Cheese Butternut Squash Rigatoni. I’ve recently become obsessed with the food blog Half Baked Harvest. Everything I’ve tried from that website is incredible (actually 2 of my recipes this year were from her!) Since I was cooking this after work and didn’t have much time, I used Trader Joe’s canned butternut squash puree rather than cooking a squash and scooping out the insides myself.

Thanksgiving dinner was at my Grandma Pat & Grandpa Craig’s house this year. They just moved into a new place which has a huge kitchen so it’s perfect for entertaining. We ended up with 19 people this year and more food than I think we’ve ever had any other Thanksgiving yet. My contributions were Maple Roasted Carrots in Hummus Sauce with Pomegranates and Pistachios as well as a Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries and Nuts.  

Then on Friday, we had some friends and their parents over. I made my go-to easy Pesto Crockpot Chicken, but then tried another Half Baked Harvest recipe – Brown Sugar and Pineapple Acorn Squash with Spiced Brown Butter. I think this is now my favorite way to make squash – it’s almost like dessert.

I’d say all the new recipes this week were a success and I’ll definitely use them again!  What were your favorite dishes this Thanksgiving? Send recipes you love my way because I’m always looking for new ones!

Baked Four Cheese Butternut Squash Rigatoni (adapted from Half Baked Harvest)

  • 1 can butternut squash puree (found at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 head garlic, outer skins removed
  • 2 T olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 t dried oregano
  • 2 t dried thyme
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • ½ cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded asiago cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • Turkey pepperoni (recipe called for 8-10 but we used way more!)  


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Chop the top 1/3 of the garlic off to reveal the cloves. Place in a muffin tin and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake 20-30 minutes or until the garlic is soft enough to squeeze out of the skin. Turn the oven to 450 degrees.

3. Boil pasta in a large pot until al dente. Reserve 1-1/2 cups of the water before draining.

4. Add the butternut squash, roasted garlic, and reserved pasta water, milk, oregano, and thyme to a blender. Season with salt & pepper and pulse until smooth. Add the ricotta and pulse until just combined.

5. Pour the butternut squash over the pasta and set the pot over medium heat. Add the spinach, sundried tomatoes, and ¼ cup of oil from the sun-dried tomato jar. Toss to combine. Cook until the spinach is wilted and the sauce is hot, about 5 minutes.

6. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan and asiago cheeses. Spread the pasta in an even layer in a 9x13 baking dish and top with mozzarella and pepperoni. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and gooey.

Maple Roasted Carrots with Hummus Drizzle, Pomegranates & Pistachios (adapted from Closet Cooking)

  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled (I used Trader Joe’s multicolored kind)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 2 T garlic hummus (or regular hummus and add grated garlic)
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 T parsley (I used the Gourmet Garden parsley paste that comes in a tube - it keeps way longer and tastes fresher than dried parsley) 
  • 2 T pomegranate arils (click here if you need instructions on how to remove the arils yourself)
  • 2 T pistachios, chopped


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Toss the carrots in a mixture of 1 T olive oil and 1 T maple syrup. Arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Rub each carrot with a bit of parsley, then roast until tender, about 20-30 minutes, turning once in the middle.

3. Mix together the hummus, 1 T olive oil, and lemon juice until it creates a thin drizzle.

4. Serve the carrots topped with the hummus, pomegranates & pistachios.

Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries and Nuts (adapted from The View from Great Island)

  • 1 cup wild rice (we used Trader Joe’s Basmati & Wild Rice Medley which already has some seasonings)
  • ¼ cup pecans
  • ¼ cup cashews
  • ¼ cup pistachios
  • ¼ small red onion
  • Sevral small inner stalks of celery with leaves
  • 3 green onions
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 T balsamic
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 t whole grain mustard
  • 1 t honey
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


1. Cook the rice according to the package.

2. While the rice is cooking, chop the pecans and cashews into pieces and put them on a baking sheet in a 375 degree oven until just toasted (keep an eye on them so they don’t burn!)

3. When the rice is finished, add the nuts, red onion, celery, green onion, and cranberries.

4. Combine the olive oil, balsamic, lemon juice, mustard, honey, salt and pepper in a jar with a lid. Shake vigorously. Toss the salad with half the dressing and refrigerate until chilled.

5. When ready to serve, toss with the remaining dressing.

Brown Sugar and Pineapple Roasted Acorn Squash with Spiced Brown Butter (adapted from Half Baked Harvest)

  • 2 large or 3 small acorn squash, cut into wedges, seeds removed and reserved
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1 – 8.5 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 6 T butter plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1-1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 t chili powder
  • ½ t pepper
  • Dash of red pepper
  • Arils from 1 pomegranate


1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 pan with softened butter.

2. Line squash wedges on a prepared pan. Evenly sprinkle them with brown sugar, salt and pepper. Spoon the crushed pineapple over the wedges.

3. Place butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until it melts, foams, froths, and begins to brown along the bottom. Remove from the heat and whisk the browned bits of butter off the bottom of the pan, adding in cinnamon, chili powder, and pepper.

4. Pour the butter over the squash, then cover with foil and place in the oven.

5. Roast for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and roast for another 30 minutes until the squash is tender and caramelized.

6. While the squash roasts, clean and dry the seeds. Season them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper and toss to coat. Toast the seeds in the oven until golden brown.

7. Sprinkle your squash with pomegranate arils and squash seeds.