Herb Butter

Herb Butter

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you are enjoying (or soon will be) time with family and friends this Thanksgiving! For my part, we are in California with my husband’s extended family—and 35 people will be sitting down to share dinner this evening!

As you may imagine, I’ve been a little bit caught up in the frenzy of activity surrounding me. But yesterday I thought of you (in between baking 7 pies. Yes. SEVEN) and I made you some herb butter!

Fancy herb butter seems like the perfect way to add a little pizzazz to Thanksgiving (or Christmas, for that matter). It takes about 5 minutes to make, and it just adds a special touch to rolls and mashed potatoes. I especially recommend whipping up some herb butter if you are…erm, let’s call it “accepting grocery store help to get the meal on the table” (a.k.a., purchasing ready-to-serve bread, or making flaked mashed potatoes). I won’t judge you. Getting an enormous meal on the table is a huge feat, no matter how you accomplish it!

I’m just saying that herb butter will make everything on your table delightful, whether made from scratch or not.

And the best part about herb butter is that you can pull it off at the last minute! This version uses herbs that are commonly packaged together as “poultry herbs,” so you probably already have them in your house!

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Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped Potatoes

So I have dreams of hosting Thanksgiving dinner at my house.

I love the idea of making the big meal, setting a long table, and decorating the house with festive and funky Fall items.

Except there are a few problems with this (excluding the biggest problem, which is naturally finding the space for my huge family to all sit and eat at the same time…): 1) I am a vegetarian so…turkey?…and 2) I don’t really like Thanksgiving food.

But that’s why I love imagining new ways to offer the traditional foods!

At my house growing up, we always had mashed potatoes and candied yams at Thanksgiving. If you’ve spent much time with me, you know I am rather anti-potato. I won’t get into it, except to say that if you still think potatoes count as your daily vegetables, then I think you have been deluded.

The holiday season seems like as good a time as any to put aside my potato grudge and make something delicious. Let’s view it as a splurge on the plate. I know you are not going to go through an entire Thanksgiving dinner without potatoes, so why not jazz up the boring old mashed variety and turn your potatoes into silky, creamy slices, layered high and topped with a golden, cheesy crust? Yum.

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Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Shallots

Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Shallots

You guys! Can you believe Thanksgiving is only a week away?

And I’ve been whiling away the last week with meals I’ve thrown together from random things in the fridge, rather than setting out purposefully to share some delicious Thanksgiving ideas with you. Oops. Sorry!

So. I have a question.

What is the one side dish that makes your Thanksgiving table complete?

I am not sure I have a true answer to this question. Honestly, the only thing I need to have a happy Thanksgiving is pecan pie. But as I have grown up and my tastebuds have grown up with me, I have learned that brussels sprouts are basically the most delicious fall vegetables on Earth.

I am basically going to insist that you make these. Set aside your casseroles and roasted root veggies. Brussels sprouts are the showstopping side dish this Thanksgiving!

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Black Bean Brownies

Black Bean Brownies

This month for the Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned the blog Jenny’s Cookbook.

Boy did I have a hard time deciding what to make. Given the chilly weather, I was leaning toward one of her many delicious-looking (vegetarian!) soups, but when my eyes lit on the name Black Bean Brownies, I knew I was set.

You may have noticed that I named my blog after brownies. I really, really like them. And yet, if you scroll through the archives or recipe index, brownies and desserts in general aren’t featured as prominently as you may expect. Maybe one reason for this oddity is that, um…I often don’t let my brownie batter turn into brownies. Oops. And sometimes I am too eager to taste to bother with the labor of love known as food photography.

But also, I am pretty particular about brownies. They have to be spectacular if I am going to share them with you.

I like all kinds of brownies, really, but I have a special place in my heart for more creative recipes. Like a brownie that replaces all the flour with black beans, thus rendering it gluten free! In fact, I spent a few weeks last year testing a recipe for black bean brownies that honestly never came out right. It was vegan and gluten free, which I applaud…but unfortunately it had no structure or flavor. Not cool.

This recipe, however, is amazing. It’s not vegan, but it is dairy free (if you monitor your add-ins), which means I can make brownies for my mom again! The flavor is spot on, a blend of rich chocolate, coffee, and vanilla. While the texture is somewhat different from a typical brownie, I would never guess there were beans in these brownies if I hadn’t made them with my own two hands!

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Mini Kale Soufflés

Mini Kale Souffles

Sometimes I get silly ideas.

Like…let’s take this extra bag of kale greens I bought and turn it into soufflé. Easy peasy.

I had never actually made soufflé before. Like any sensible person, I had a deep and abiding fear of soufflé. But then I figured that savory soufflé would be easier than the dreaded chocolate…maybe more forgiving somehow? Kind of like making a really fancy omelet? Plus, I don’t have an actual soufflé dish, so I was going to be making individual-size ramekins. Also seems easier, right?

As it turns out, although these soufflés made roughly half the dishes in my kitchen dirty, they were not at all traumatizing to make! In fact, I would totally do it again, because not only did my kale-hating husband enjoy these (thank you, Gruyère and eggs), but my 1-year-old ate almost an entire soufflé by himself (he may or may not have shrieked and begged for more after finishing the last bite)! Success.

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