Let’s Have a Thanksgiving Rehash!

In my bio, I mention how much of a foodie I am. So it seems appropriate that I share with you my Thanksgiving hits this year. Why mention the misses since that’ll only make me relive them, and it was so disappointing in the first place. *eye-roll*

First is a recipe I’ve been working with for a few years now. Last year, when I told my mom I was making Drunken Cranberries for Christmas, she laughed. And then she tasted them. Now, I’m having the last laugh because she called me up this year to tell me she was making them for Thanksgiving. HA!

The funniest part was to hear my mother say “Drunken Cranberries.” It still gives me a giggle to think about it.

It is exactly how it sounds, too. Cranberries cooked in alcohol. I don’t remember how, exactly, I came up with this recipe. And it’s really more of a guideline than anything written in stone since the recipe is open for variation.

I believe I saw a cranberry sauce recipe that called for bourbon, or something. When I opened my fridge, though, all I had on hand was an old (and I do mean many years old) leftover bottle of mango flavored tequila. Since I don’t drink (like that) at home, I thought the fruity flavor would go well with cranberries. So I tried it and kept trying different variations of it until this year. Let’s just say, I’ll never cook cranberries any other way again. And neither should you once you start. Which you should!

Here’s the recipe for…

“Dina’s Drunken Cranberries”

12 oz bag of cranberries (organic if you can get ’em)

1/2 cup of sugar

zest of 1 orange (organic)

Fresh squeezed juice of that same orange

1 cup alcohol of choice (Red wine, spiced rum, sherry, port, bourbon, flavored alcohol like vodka, tequila, etc. or combine a couple)

1 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

**You can add fresh fruit if you like, as well. This year, I cut up a pear into pieces and added it to mine. It was fabulous!

Directions:

Put all the ingredients in a medium-sized pot and set the stove to medium high. Once it starts to boil, turn the temperature down to medium-low or low and simmer for about 20 minutes.

**Watch it carefully as the mixture can bubble over and make a bloody looking mess on your stove top. This is why I like to err on the side of a more medium-sized pot, but still keep close watch and when it bubbles up, just lift the lid.

You almost can’t screw this up. Some recipes say to boil the sugar and liquid first and then add the cranberries, but I have thrown all the ingredients in at the same time, and it turns out great. It’s also better if you make it the day before you serve it because, then, the flavors have a chance to meld and deepen. SO good!!

The other recipe I want to share with you is Brown Butter Mashed Sweet Potatoes. I’m trying to think of a way to shorten the name, but can’t. Sounds simple, and it is, but boy is it addictive.

I had never made it before – never even heard of it before – but discovered the side dish at an Italian restaurant my mom took me to for my birthday a couple of months ago. For several minutes I sat in the booth and contemplated making a fool of myself by licking the plate in the semi-crowded restaurant. Luckily, common sense ruled out. And the wry looks from my mom and sister might have had something to do with my decision.

Anyway…brown butter. What can I say? Uh, it’s crack. Plain and simple. If you don’t try this recipe, you’re a fool. Or you just don’t like sweet potatoes, and in that case, I think there’s something wrong with you. *snicker*

Here’s the recipe for…

“Dina’s Brown Butter Mashed Sweet Potatoes”

5 lbs sweet potatoes

1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground ginger (the spice, not fresh)

1/2 – 1 cup lite coconut milk (or regular milk, or half-n-half, or skim milk, or almond milk…you get my meaning)

3 – 5 tablespoons of brown butter (*recipe below)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Wash and dry the sweet potatoes then pierce them each with a fork several times. Rub olive oil (or butter) over them and place them in a foil-lined pan and then into the oven. Roast them for at least an hour, turning them over at the 30-minute mark. They’re done when you squeeze them (with an oven mitt on!) and they feel soft/mushy to the touch.

(*Brown  butter recipe) While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the brown butter. Heat up a small non-stick skillet on medium to medium-high temperature and place 5 tablespoons of butter inside. Once the butter has melted, turn the heat down to medium-low and watch carefully as it cooks, stirring occasionally. It takes about 5 minutes for it to begin to brown. You’ll smell a nutty flavor when it’s happening. When the color reaches a light caramel hue, take the pan completely off the heat. Make sure not to let it burn!

When the potatoes are ready, take them out and let them cool enough to handle. Scoop the flesh out of the skins and into a heat-resistant bowl. Add all the spices at once, and add the milk gradually. You can mix them with a mixer, puree them with a hand-held emulsifier, or smash ’em with a spoon. Add 3 tablespoons of browned butter to start and mix it in. Taste. If you need more butter for flavor and milk for creamier consistency, add it in gradually until you’ve reached nirvana with taste and texture.

**You can absolutely roast the sweet potatoes a day ahead and then heat them up in a pot before you add the other ingredients. I did that, making sure to scoop the flesh out of the potatoes and store them in an air-tight container overnight. They’re easier to remove from the skins that way.

That’s it! Notice I didn’t add sugar. It doesn’t need it! I promise. If you want, you can even add a little vanilla extract, but the brown butter rounds out the flavor for you. It’s shut-your-mouth good. And then open-your-mouth-and-shovel-it-in delicious.

I’d love to hear from you!! Let me know in the comments below what your winning holiday recipes are because Christmakwanzakah is just around the corner. We get to do it all over again. And maybe this time I’ll do better with the turkey. Oops…I said I wasn’t going to mention that. Well, you all can help me out and tell me how to make it better. Please…!

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