Beckett is Four + Recipes

Another successful birthday party for my littlest dude.  This one was last minute and harried and sort of scrapped together without too much thought.  I asked Beckett what he wanted for his birthday party?  And, matter of factly, he replied, "I want Thanksgiving."  Like, I should have known.  I think the older he gets the more he will resent that his birthday is in the middle of such a busy part of the year.  But, at this age he just wants more of the cozy craziness that is the holidays.  It was a cute request.  How could I deny him?  (See: pictures below.)

To make the "runner" I just unrolled some white craft paper  and cut it on the diagonal on the ends.  To make the dots, I just dipped my thumb in some yellow paint and went to town.  Cute, easy and cheap!
So, on the weekend after Thanksgiving, I had everyone over to my house for...Thanksgiving.  My mother thought I was crazy.  She was all, "nobody is going to want turkey and stuffing all over again."  But, Beckett and I deemed her a traditionalist and moved on with our plan to host the greatest Thanksgiving Number Two Ever.  And so it was.

I sent out an email telling people where and when to be at my house.  (An email?  Not even an evite?  On Reed's first birthday I hand-placed single sequins in the shape of a huge number one on bright pink card stock.  It took hours.  Now, I just send emails?  I can't decide if this is a slow move towards sanity or just complete laziness and slackerdom.)  

Jason smoked a turkey and I made 1,700 sides.  I justified this to my sister after she spent exactly 27 minutes trying to talk me back from the brink of complete CRAY.  "I just feel like every vegetable deserves a spot on the Thanksgiving table, Jess.  I can't just leave one out.  It would be cruel." I pleaded.  Did I mention CRAY?

It was small.  Only our family and neighbors plus a few of our best friends.  Now that I've matured a bit, I realize that it is completely unnecessary to have everyone you know over for your child's birthday.  Most of them don't want to be there anyway.  Invite the ones that do.

He finds a goofy way to do everything.  Even eating a biscuit.

We finished it off with a few gifts and the best chocolate cake in the world.  Seriously people, I have perfected this chocolate cake thing.  And I don't even eat it.

Chocolate cake and chocolate coins.  A must, in Beckett's opinion.

He was more interested in the coins than blowing out his candles.

So, I learned once again, that the more simple and low-stress an event is, the more fun it is!  Yes, there was too much food, but no matter, Beckett was only there for the chocolate coins...

Below are my favorite recipes from the day.  These will most certainly be making an appearance on our Thanksgiving Birthday table next year.  I went against the grain and didn't test these recipes (besides the fennel salad, I make that all the time) before the Big Day.  In a stroke of luck, they all worked out.  It was a good day, indeed.

Curried Coconut Sweet Potato Casserole - not for the traditionalist, but so tasty.  

3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon curry powder*
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon cumin
a pinch of cayenne
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup chopped and toasted pistachios
1/2 cup toasted shredded coconut
a scant 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Boil your chunks of sweet potatoes until very tender.  Drain them completely and let cool, then mash well into a bowl.  Add the eggs, milk, spices and lime juice and stir until uniform.  Dump the mixture into a casserole and flatten the top with the back of your spoon.  Evenly sprinkle the pistachios and coconut over the top of the sweet potatoes and drizzle with melted coconut oil.

Cook for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.

*This amount of spice will give the potatoes a subtle warmness, if you like real spiciness - up the amounts.

Roasted Brussel Sprout Shreds - These are great warm, room temperature, or cold.  They make a fantastic sandwich addition the next day.  And, I think because of the fine texture, even people who think they don't like brussel sprouts like these.  That's saying something!

3 pounds brussel sprouts, shredded
2 + tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
juice of one juicy lemon
3/4 cup cranberries
3/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

Most grocery stores offer pre-shredded brussel sprouts, which is fine and certainly, more convenient.  I like to shred my own because I'm a control freak in the food processor.  Either way works.

Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  

Put the shredded sprouts into a giant bowl.  Add olive oil and salt and pepper.  Mix with clean hands until everything is glisten-y.  You don't want excess oil or saturated sprouts (they will end up limp and soggy), you just want everything to have a sheen of olive oil.  Add more until you get those results.

Spread the sprouts out onto your prepared baking sheets in even layers.  Put both baking sheets in the oven and let them roast for 7 minutes.  At this point, rotate the sheets and toss the sprouts.  Then, back in the oven for a final 7 minutes.  You want some crispy brown strands.

Take the brussel sprouts out of the oven and put them in your serving bowl.  Adjust the seasoning.  Drizzle with lemon juice and toss.  Top with cranberries and pecans and an extra light drizzle of good olive oil.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

The next day, I whole heartedly recommend eating these sprouts, warm,  on a whole wheat tortilla with a mashed up avocado and extra salt and pepper.  I was so sad when we ran out.

Shaved Asian Pear and Fennel Salad - from this book which has provided me with some of our favorite standards.  If you don't have it, I can't recommend it enough.  These amounts are for four people as a first course.  Double it if you're making it for a crowd.

1 fennel bulb, trimmed 
1 asian pear
2 ounces shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, just buy a block and use as much as you need and save the rest       for topping pasta or whatever
the juice from about 2 lemons, you may need more or less
good tasting extra virgin olive oil
Maldon salt or other crunchy sea salt
frech black pepper

special equipment: mandolin - though you can make this salad with a sharp knife, i=a mandolin makes it easier.

Prep your ingredients.  Trim away all the brown and bruised spots on the outer shell of the fennel.  Tear away any outside layers that look like they wouldn't be crisp.  Slice the bulb in half from root to stem.  Holding the root side, slice half moon shapes of fennel on your mandolin.  Repeat with the other half and set aside.

Slice your pear in half from root to stem and take out the stem and core.  Slice both halves on the mandolin, resulting in little half moons or crescent shapes.

Now, layer.  I serve this on a larger flat platter for presentation's sake.  First put a layer of fennel and drizzle lightly with olive oil.  Then a layer of pear and about 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt and some shavings of cheese.  Repeat layers.  Fennel, oil, pear, salt, and cheese until you are out of ingredients.  Finish with a healthy drizzle of olive oil, some cheese and a few cracks of black pepper.

After one or two times of making this, you'll get the hang of how much oil and juice and cheese to use. It just takes some repetition.  Although, even the first time I made it, my mind was blown.  I regret that this salad loses all of its awesomeness if stored overnight.  It gets limp and pretty gross.  So, eat it all up!

1 comment:

  1. Okay. Okay. I want a do-over for Thanksgiving now. THANK YOU!

    Also? Beckett is seriously beautiful. Such a gorgeous kid, Whitney!