Thursday, November 27, 2014

an allergen-friendly thanksgiving

Most of you probably know that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It's always been a day full of tradition for our family, from the parade to the decorations to the food. Since moving so far away, we have developed some of our own traditions while trying to keep up with the old. Having to go gluten (and corn) free has spurred even more change, especially when it comes to the cooking and who we spend our day with.

Last year, we decided to bypass a traditional Thanksgiving, and we spent the day at Tokyo Disney (where we were lucky enough to find turkey legs at the park). This year, we were ready to tackle Thanksgiving cooking again, knowing that because of the corn issues, I would have to spend more time revamping almost every dish to fit those needs. Even the dishes from our first gluten free Thanksgiving had to be analyzed and changed again. I think we ended up with some great eats though, and this blog is just as much to save the recipes as it is to share with anyone else who is interested!

The turkey: I had to get a special turkey this year, since the turkey we got from the commissary a while back made me sick. I found a great vendor who imports specialty meats from different countries, and I was able to score a French turkey that looked to be organic and free range. It was only a four pound bird, so it only needed to be cooked for a short amount of time.

The stuffing: I used a variation of my mom's old recipe, with ingredients that were safe for me. I cubed and dried a loaf and a half of homemade bread that had been made a few days earlier. Three slices of that bread were separated while drying to make the breadcrumbs for the green bean casserole. The recipe also calls for Italian sausage, but I have not been able to find one that is safe for me to consume. I did, however, test Jones Dairy Farm breakfast sausage ahead of time, and since I didn't react, I cooked a few packages of that to add in place of the Italian variety.

- one bag of carrots, peeled and chopped
- one bag of celery, rinsed and diced
- 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- one yellow onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon of oil (I used avocado)
- 1-1.5 loaves of bread, cubed and dried
- 1 pound sausage, cooked and chopped
- 1 handful of walnut, chopped (optional)
- Spices to taste: salt, pepper, marjoram, rosemary, thyme
- 1 box of chicken broth (though you may not use all of it)

Preheat the oven to 350°. Chop, dice, mince (etc) the carrots, celery, garlic, and onion. Heat the oil and saute the chopped mixture over medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Add spices and half the box of chicken stock and cook for 3-5 more minutes. Spread the bread pieces in a 9x13 casserole dish and pour the saute mixture over it. Turn over gently (and add more chicken broth) until the bread is moist. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.

Green Bean Casserole: I searched and searched for recipes, and couldn't find one that I liked, so I kind of made this up as I went.

- 1 pound fresh green beans, rinsed with the ends sliced off
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons of butter (I use ghee butter)
- 2 cups cheddar cheese 

Steps: Preheat the oven to 350°.

Green Beans: Rinse and slice the ends. Place in a pot of boiling, salted water and boil for approximately 10 minutes. Rinse with cold water to halt the cooking.

Topping: Melt butter in a skillet and add the onion. Cook for 3-5 minutes and then add the breadcrumbs.

The finishing touch: Mix the green beans and the cream of mushroom soup in a glass 8x8 casserole dish. Add the topping mixture, cover with cheddar, and bake for 30 minutes.

The mashed potatoes: I found a few websites touting recipes for crock pot potatoes, so I decided to try it out. I wasn't sure I liked what I found online, so again, I kind of made it up as I went along.

- 1 bag of potatoes (between 8-10 potatoes)
- 3 cups chicken broth
- butter (I use ghee butter)
- spices to taste: garlic powder, onion powder, rosemary, marjoram, salt, pepper, dill or chives
- milk (I use coconut milk)

Rinse, peel, and cube potatoes. Place in the crock pot with 3-4 cups of chicken broth. Add spices, and if using non-dairy milk, add 1 cup now (if using real milk, add this later). Set the crock pot for six hours on low (or 4 hours on high). An hour before dinner is ready, use a vegetable masher to smash the potatoes down a bit and check the liquids. A few minutes before dinner is served, use the vegetable masher to smash them fully and ensure there are no lumps. At this point, you can add optional ingredients, like greek yogurt, sour cream, additional butter, dill, chives, or whatever else you like on mashed potatoes, and then scoop the potatoes out and serve!

Cranberry Sauce: I was never a fan of real cranberry sauce when I was younger, I only liked the canned stuff. It took years to find a way of making cranberry sauce that I actually enjoyed eating. Bonus, it's fun to make, because the exploding cranberries are entertaining to watch!

- 16-20 oz fresh cranberries
- zest and juice of one orange
- 1-2 cups additional orange juice (I make my own)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 cup maple syrup (or other sweetener of your choice)

Add all ingredients to a covered sauce pan over medium and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the cranberries have burst and the sauce thickens. Remove from heat, dispose of the cinnamon stick, and use a vegetable masher to crush any un-popped cranberries. Cool on the counter for at least 15 minutes before serving.

**Optional steps: Put in the fridge for an hour and serve cooled. Also, if you prefer a smooth texture, you can blend the sauce for a few minutes once it's cooled.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Pudding Parfaits: These are a great substitute for pumpkin pies, and don't require any baking! This recipe can make 4 smaller parfaits or 2 large ones. We made 4 and they were the perfect size.

- 2/3 cup pumpkin puree (I use the Farmer's Market brand) - make sure this is NOT pumpkin pie filling!
- 1 cup coconut milk, divided in half
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup, divided in half
- cinnamon powder
- pumpkin pie spice (recipe here)
- 1 ripe banana
- 1/3 cup raw cacao powder (I use Navitas Naturals...or you can use cocoa powder if you prefer it)
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life)
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil 
- graham crackers (optional)


Pumpkin layer: Place the pumpkin puree, 1/2 cup coconut milk, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice in a bowl. Mix together with a whisk or fork until smooth and then distribute equally into your glasses. **Optional: Crush graham crackers to place in the bottom as a "pie crust" for your pudding.

Chocolate layer: Add chocolate chips and coconut oil to a microwavable bowl. Microwave for 45 seconds, stir, and microwave for another 45 seconds until smooth. Set aside. Place the banana in a mixing bowl and mash with fork or spoon. Add 1/2 cup coconut milk, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, cacao powder, and one teaspoon cinnamon powder. Mix it until smooth, add the chocolate chip/coconut oil blend, and continue to mix until smooth. Equally distribute to the glasses on top of the pumpkin layer. Top with a dash of cinnamon and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. The longer you refrigerate, the better these will taste!

I hope that if you are planning a Thanksgiving meal, that one or more of these recipes might come in handy for you!

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