Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Delicata Squash, & Cranberries

roasted squash, Brussels and cranberriesThanksgiving may be over, but the holiday season is officially in full swing. Although, I’ll be honest, it doesn’t totally feel like it yet. Anyone else feeling that way?

Anyway, with the holiday season here, there will be plenty more dinners, parties, and get togethers, and I’m willing to bet you’re going to need side dish recipes to share. This festive, healthy, and colorful bounty is perfect. And, not only is it visually pleasing, it’s delicious too. I especially love the pop of color and burst of tart flavor from the cranberries. Also, you may notice that the Brussels sprouts are purple (or would it be red?). I had never seen this variety before and couldn’t resist the beautiful color. If you can’t find the purple ones, green work just fine and taste the same.

Meanwhile, I hope all of you had a lovely Thanksgiving last week, and enjoyed time with family and friends.

Cheers and enjoy!

roasted vegetables with cranberries

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced in half
  • 1 medium delicata squash, sliced in half lengthwise, seeded, and cut into half moons
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 Tbsp avocado oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place Brussels sprouts, cranberries, squash, and shallot on a large baking sheet (line with parchment, if desired) and drizzle with the avocado oil. Sprinkle the thyme, sage, sea salt, and black pepper on top. Toss to combine and spread out in an even layer.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until Brussels sprouts are crispy and browned. If desired, give a gentle stir halfway through cooking time.
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Cider Spiced Cranberries

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So, I know this isn’t a simple dinner recipe like I normally post on Fridays, but the recipe I tested out flat out failed, so I figured I’d share this holiday-inspired side dish instead. It could easily be part of a simple supper Friday meal — just pair it with veggies of choice and protein (I recommend poultry or pork with the cranberries). How about baked skin-on chicken breasts or thighs, broccoli with grass-fed butter (or maybe roasted Brussel sprouts) and these cranberries? Delicious and easy.

Anyway, I always enjoy having cranberries with my holiday meal and usually make a variation of my mom’s recipe, which you can view here. This year, I decided to try out a new recipe using whole cider spices, apple and dried currants. It made the house smell warm and cozy, and made me want to cuddle up on the sofa with a blanket and Christmas movie. Of course, that’s not what happened, but it’s a nice idea, right? Anyway, the cranberries turned out perfectly and just how I envisioned — tart, a little sweet, warm-spiced and chunky. Eat ’em hot, cold, on turkey, mixed into yogurt or even on their own, these cranberries are delightful and become even more flavorful after chilling. I hope this recipe makes an appearance on your holiday table.

Cheers and happy Friday!

Ingredients:

  • 13.5 oz pure orange juice (I used a small 13.5 oz bottle of Simply Orange)
  • 1/4 cup bulk cider spice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey (use up to 2 Tbsp more if you want it sweeter)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 quart fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dried currants
  • 1 medium pippin apple or granny smith, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp grass-fed butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional

Directions:

  1. Combine orange juice and cider spices in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Then, strain mixture and return the juice reduction back to the pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the water, raw honey and ground cinnamon, and stir until dissolved. Then, add the cranberries, dried currants and chopped apple. Stir and bring to a simmer.
  3. Cook fruit mixture for about 7 minutes or until most of the cranberries have popped. Once done, remove from heat to cool and stir in the butter and chopped pecans, if using.
  4. Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight, before serving.

Thanksgiving 2012 Recap

My first turkey! Pardon the nasty flash.

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving and my very first turkey turned out fantastic! I kid you not when I say it was the best I ever tasted. Honestly, I didn’t know turkey could taste that good. Growing up, I always slathered it in gravy or cranberries because it tended to be so bland and tasteless. This turkey needed nothing and was so moist and flavorful. I brined it for over 24 hours, then rubbed homemade herb butter (grass-fed butter blended with fresh sage & thyme) all over the outside and under the skin. I stuffed the cavity with a quartered onion, leftover fresh herbs and one lemon (cut in half). The skin came out brown and crispy, just the way I like it (I can’t stand flabby skin — that’s when I won’t eat it) and I could taste flavors of the wine (from the brine) on the meat and skin. This will now be my go-to recipe for turkey! The rest of our meal consisted of roasted brussel spouts tossed with bacon and dried cranberries (apple juice sweetened), fresh green beans with sautéed shallots and chantrelle mushrooms (this tasted just like green bean casserole, but better!), my mom’s spiced cranberry relish, mashed buttercup squash, homemade neck/gizzard gravy, and almond flour biscuits (though neither of us ate one with dinner). For dessert, crustless pumpkin pie with 24-hour half-and-half yogurt as our (thick) whipped topping.

In the morning, before all the eating happened, Jesse went to Jiu-Jitsu and I got a workout in at Recreate. It was a fun Thanksgiving workout with 45+ others. A good time was had by all. After we got home (Jesse was there too because he helped coach class), I made us homemade almond flour biscuits with bacon, sunny-side up eggs and avocado. Then after eating, we Skyped with my parents back in Michigan and later, I got to Skype with my grandparents. Yay for technology! Anyway, here’s a photo recap of our Thanksgiving.

All slathered with herb butter and stuffed with herbs and aromatics.
I sautéed carrots, onion and celery in some ghee with sea salt and pepper, and then added it to my slow cooker with bone broth (enough to cover everything), a bay leaf, and the neck and gizzard from my turkey. 6 hours later, I had the base for a gravy. I took the meat off the vertebrae and chopped up the gizzard. Everything went into the blender with some pan drippings. Minutes later, it turned into a fantastic, flavorful and nutrient-dense gravy.
In the slow cooker, ready to simmer for the next six hours.
The pumpkin pie!
In the afternoon, we roasted some chestnuts to nibble on (and pair with our mead — honey wine). Here, Jesse is peeling the cooled chestnuts. They’re so tasty and look like little brains!
Checking the turkey. Nope, it wasn’t done. Back into the oven it went.
I gave Dutch a new box to play in (compliments of my mom for the goodies she sent me from her Austria trip). He loved tearing up the tissue paper inside and enjoyed napping in here all day long. Mila, our Siamese cat, doesn’t care about boxes, so Dutch gets to have it all to himself.
Jesse slicing the turkey. He got too hot because of all the heat coming from the kitchen, which is why he is shirtless.
Our spread.
Jesse getting impatient while I snapped photos. He was still hot, so ate dinner shirtless.
My plate. There ended up being a lot more gravy involved than what you see here. It’s so good that I kept ladling it on!
Dessert, homemade pumpkin pie with 24-hour half-and-half yogurt.

Spiced Cranberry Relish

spiced cranberry relish 2This has forever been my favorite cranberry recipe and it’s all thanks to my mom. I don’t know how many years ago she first made this recipe, but prior to it, I never really cared for cranberries. I wanted to like them and always scooped some on my plate because they looked pretty and fruity, but would soon be disappointed. I’d probably like a more standard cranberry recipe now, but back then, it was too tart for my taste buds. This one is by no means overly sweet, but the orange juice and spices add a nice variety to the sauce. I love the dried cherries too, especially because they plump up during the cooking process. I can’t wait to eat these cranberries on top of the local, pasture-raised turkey I’ll be cooking … my first time cooking a whole turkey!

This has been modified slightly from my mom’s original recipe, but only in terms of the sugar. It actually calls for much more sugar than I put in (2/3 cup) and also in the form of white sugar. I used raw honey to sweeten it and cut the amount down by quite a bit because I don’t like things as sweet. Plus, I always opt for as little sweetener as possible (granted, you’d use less when opting for liquid sweetener over dry anyway since it’s more concentrated). There’s added sweetness from the orange juice and cherries (if using) too, so it really doesn’t need anymore sweet.

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz fresh cranberries, rinsed
  • 3/4 cup 100% pure orange juice
  • 2-3 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch of cloves
  • 1/2 cup dried unsweetened cherries, optional
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine juice, honey and spices. Cook, stirring frequently, until honey is dissolved.
  2. Add cranberries and dried cherries, if using, and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer 3-5 minutes, or until cranberries pop. Remove from heat and stir in nuts. Chill for several hours before serving.