Full of Thanks


Things I’m thankful for (in no particular order):

1. My kitten
2. German Shepherds
3. My family
4. My husband
5. Forgiveness
6. Good wine

The hardest time to live abroad is over the holidays, especially a year when your birthday and Thanksgiving finally fall on the same day. This was our second Thanksgiving without family or turkeys (the latter are about as common in Japan as English speakers. Ok, not really. Even rarer). But regardless, we’re still very thankful for each other and our small Thanksgiving feast sans the bird. Actually, we had part of a bird. We roasted some chicken breasts with lemon slices, garlic, and thyme under the skin. They turned out really moist and delicious, but there are no pictures to do them justice because our silly Japanese-style oven/microwave thing didn’t crisp up the skin to our liking! So sorry! Anyway, these are some of the highlights from our Thanksgiving sides and dessert:

Mixed Greens, Apples & Candied Pecans with Red Wine Vinaigrette:


I made a mistake and included celery in this recipe (I had a leftover stalk from the stuffing), and it turns out Dustin doesn’t like raw celery. Only in soup. Oops. So he had to pick his out. We’ve only been married 2 years. Give me a break.

1 Fuji apple peeled and sliced
1 stalk of celery, sliced
2 big handfuls of mixed greens
candied pecans (or nut of your choice)
1/2 shallot, chopped
olive oil & red wine vinegar
salt & pepper

  • Combine the olive oil and vinegar to taste in a small bowl (I like my salad’s fairly vinegary). Season with salt & pepper.
  • Stir in the shallot, celery and apple slices. Toss with greens, and throw in a handful of broken glazed pecans before serving.

Creamed Onions with Thyme & Sage:


We saw this in Food & Wine and wanted to try it. My mom always uses pearl onions in this dish, but the regular onions tasted great and were easier to find in Japan. The recipe serves 12, so we quartered the recipe below (Although he did the math. Fractions have never been my friends).

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large onions (about 2 pounds), cut into 1-inch dice
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped sage
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper (we used black)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Salt

  • In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 30 minutes.
  • Add the thyme, sage, nutmeg and white pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  • Add the cream and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  • Season with salt, transfer to a bowl and serve. (The onions can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat gently).

Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting:

(From Ashley of Delish. You can find the original mouth-watering recipe here)

For the Cake:

4 eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
2 cups pumpkin
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

For the Icing:

8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs, sugar, oil, apple sauce and pumpkin until light and fluffy.
  • In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth. Spread the batter into a greased 13×10″ baking pan.
  • Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.
  • To make the icing: Using an electric mixer in a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and mix at low speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla and mix again. Spread on cooled cake.

This cake was the perfect ending to a day of cooking and eating. Since September I’d been saving one lone can of pumpkin that I found at the import store, and was waiting for just the perfect recipe inspiration to come along. A few days ahead of time, I made my own apple sauce for the cake. This was a great recipe from Allrecipes.com that made lots of leftovers.

Apple Sauce:


4 apples – peeled, cored and chopped
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • In a saucepan, combine apples, water, sugar, and cinnamon. Cover, and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until apples are soft. Allow to cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher.
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