The holiday season is officially here! The list of everything I’m thankful for this year is overwhelming. My family is moving back to Chicago from Arizona to be closer to me, I am the recent adoptive mother to the cutest little puppy in the whole world (unbiased opinion), and am so blessed to have a great job, a wonderful boyfriend and amazing friendships. What are you thankful for this year?
I’m heading over to my grandma’s today for the official feast and traditional watching of football. This year it’s the Chicago Bear’s game against the Packer’s so in a house full of die-hard Bears fans, it should be interesting.
I did a preview of the traditional Thanksgiving meal on Sunday modifying all of the foods to be gluten, soy, dairy, egg and wheat-free. I didn’t use specific recipes for each, but was inspired to make similar recipes my family makes every year. In my last post, I talked about my grandma’s stuffing (made of white bread and Mexican rice), but this stuffing recipe was modeled after my mom’s. She makes her own french style bread to make the cubes for it and it takes so much time and effort to put together. The result is glorious though and all the hard work is worth it!
My timeline was a little bit different. I had a friend visiting from Los Angeles over the weekend so Sunday was my only day to cook. I had never attempted making a meal this big before, so it was either going to be great or disastrous. Fortunately, my boyfriend was willing to try the results either way.
I shouldn’t be so surprised, but everything was delicious! The amount of time it takes to make was such a rude awakening! I learned a few key things though:
- Never attempt mashed potatoes in the food processor. The result is glue and it’s okay to want to cry afterward
- Gravy with almond milk doesn’t quite taste the same but it’s still pretty decent
- The turkey is going to take a lot longer than expected if you keep opening up the oven to check on it
- It’s okay to eat everything out of order and dip into the sides early
I chose a 7lb Jennie-O turkey breast since it was just for me and my boyfriend and I wanted a lot of leftovers. Jennie-O provided me with coupons for the turkey, but all cooking was on me! I made an herb rub using olive oil, rosemary, thyme, sage and bay leaves. I brushed this all over and stuffed the bird with an apple sliced in half, half an onion (leftover from my stuffing recipe), garlic cloves, and a lemon sliced in half. I wanted to give the turkey as much flavor as possible without drying out.
I let this cook for roughly 4 hours until it was golden-brown and cooked all the way through. For the first hour and a half, I covered the turkey in aluminum foil so it wouldn’t burn or dry out.
Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce
Using a bag of fresh cranberries, I washed them and poured them into a small pot and began heating at medium heat. I poured in a cup of water and poured 1/4 of a cup of organic blue agave in with it. I brought it to a boil and let it simmer. The overall result was amazing! Just the right amount of sour bite and a little bit of sweetness. If you need a little more sweetness, just add some more agave. A little amount goes a long way!
Paleo-Friendly Sweet Potatoes
Coconut oil is a paleo-follower’s best friend! While the entire meal wasn’t totally paleo (I’m pretty sure stuffing doesn’t fit the program), these sweet potatoes were my favorite thing! I’m definitely going to make them on a regular basis, holiday or not! I used white sweet potatoes for no real reason (they taste exactly the same as the orange ones) and chopped into medium cubes. I used a pan on the stove to fry in the coconut oil so they would get crispy like hash browns. I will probably bake them next time since they would cook just as well in the oven. I shelled and chopped up a 1/2 cup of unsalted pistachios (provided by Wonderful Pistachios) and garnished with fresh pomegranate seeds. The end result was a gorgeous and refreshing take on the usual butter/marshmallow mess! The coconut oil added a sweet flavor and the crisp pomegranate seeds and pistachios made a pleasant crunch. So good!
Gluten-Free Mexican Stuffing
I tried to combine the best of both worlds with this stuffing recipe adapting my mom’s and my grandma’s into one. I’m going to add some red pepper flakes next time (as with everything) it needed a little extra kick.
I removed the casing on 4 spicy Italian sausages and combined with 1/2 a package of Jennie-O turkey sausage. This made it a little bit lighter and added a sweet flavor to balance out the spice. I pan cooked this in olive oil, drained the grease and set aside.
In a medium bowl, I chopped 1/2 an onion, 5 stalks of celery and garlic. I pan fried using the same pan I cooked the sausage in. After it was lightly seared, I added to the bowl of sausage and set aside.
On a baking sheet, I spread out 1/2 a package of chopped gluten-free corn tortillas. I tossed in olive oil and baked in the oven for roughly 20 minutes until golden brown. When they were cool, I tossed together into the bowl with the vegetables and sausage mix, mixing in 1 tsp Italian seasoning, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp of the rosemary, thyme, sage and bay leaves mixture I used for the turkey. I poured 2 cups of chicken broth into the mixture so it would cover the majority of the tortillas leaving a few on top to get crispy. I baked at 350 degrees in the oven for 30 minutes and couldn’t resist as soon as it came out. So so so good!
Now I won’t share the mess that was the mashed potatoes, but lessons learned for next time! I had used almond milk and olive oil and salt. Incredibly easy, but I know now to get a hand mixer.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!