So…before you say anything, obviously I know that Canadian Thanksgiving has come and gone. BUT unless you’ve all somehow missed all of the Black Friday promotions everywhere (a.k.a you live under a heavy rock because even I’ve come across them and I’m routinely found under a barbell), American Thanksgiving weekend is happening right now. I bet you can guess what this means…Thanksgiving 2.0 for me!!!!
Celebrating two Thanksgivings every year never occurred to me until I lived in Boston for two years. Thinking back, it’s odd that it never did because if you guys have been around my blog at all, you’ll know that Thanksgiving is my second favourite holiday of the year (after Christmas, of course).
The first Thanksgiving I had in Boston was with my now good friend Ashley. I had only been in Boston for 3 months or so, and being the uber introvert that I am, hadn’t really made any friends yet. (My program only had 15 people in it, and it still took me 6 months to really feel like I had some friends. Anti-social much?)
Again, unless you guys have lived under a rock (possibly at the bottom of the Grand Canyon) for your entire lives, you would know that Thanksgiving is kinda a big thing in the US. (It probably actually IS the second largest celebration in the US after Christmas). So there I was, a 4-day weekend ahead of me and no reason to go home. Ashley wasn’t going home that year for Thanksgiving either and she loves to cook and entertain so she invited those who were staying in Boston over for dinner. It took everything I had to get out of my shell and agree to go, but I’ve been so happy I did ever since.
That was the single day that I could say that we became friends (we had legit maybe exchanged ‘Hello’s’ a couple of times in the three months preceding Thanksgiving). It was the day where I learned she liked talking politics as much as I do, but knew WAY more about American history, government, and politics than I did so I learned so much in the span of several hours (and in the years since).
It was the day that I learned that she loved Pride and Prejudice as much as I did (the book and the A&E production with Colin Firth. Not the rubbish Kiera Knightly version from 2005. Sorry Kiera. You were excellent in A Dangerous Method, and The Imitation Game though. And of course Love Actually).
It was also the day that I learned that Ashley loved Disney movies almost as much as myself. (Belle, and Nemo, and ALL the Minions! Whoop whoop!)
Finally, it was the day that I learned Ashley had never read Harry Potter, only watched the *cough cough* (rubbish) movies… That was almost a deal breaker for me. Then I tasted her traditional Thanksgiving dinner…OFFICIALLY friends after that.
Ashley’s traditional Thanksgiving includes brined turkey (which I had never had before and LOVED), sweet potato souffle with ALL the pecans, butter, and brown sugar your pancreas can handle (not kidding), and broccoli casserole. I think I brought my mum’s poached pear and custard tart for dessert, but I can’t remember. And it doesn’t matter because the broccoli casserole was stole the show!!! I’m pretty sure I ate half of the casserole. Thank god there were only 4 or 5 of us and the others were too slow to get seconds. Suckers.
After I had eaten about 4 or 5 helpings, I asked Ashley what was in the casserole and whether I could have the recipe. It’s a good thing I asked after I ate so much because that moment became a life lesson for me. It showed me just how prejudiced I was from my mother’s cooking (no offense Mama). The casserole is quintessential American cooking; which pretty much means that apart from the relatively tiny amount of broccoli in it, it was 60% Velveeta, and of course held together with Cream of Mushroom soup and a generous helping of bread crumbs (and I think butter…). For some of you, it may sound disgusting (for others it may sound as fantastic as it tasted). I’m telling you, it was PURE magic.
I can still remember when Ashley told me the ingredients and thinking, “Oh sweet Jesus. What have I done?” before a well-rehearsed GIF played through my mind; a GIF featuring my Mum’s classic squidgy face that she makes when contemplating eating processed foods.
I was a Velveeta virgin before that night. My Dad always told us that Velveeta/Kraft singles were one ingredient away from the plastic packaging they came in, so I had never had it as a kid. Hell, I almost never had Kraft Dinner as a kid! Dad refused to buy it for us, but then Mum started to feel guilty that my brother and I would use ALL of our allowance every weekend to buy ourselves Kraft Dinner and some 5¢ candies for our Saturday lunches. In fact she felt so guilty that she made Dad buy us the KD. So we just bought EVEN MORE 5¢ candies. LOL
Anyway, clearly since I had already eaten half the broccoli casserole, it wasn’t disgusting, and ever since I’ve used that memory as the reason I’ll taste anything once and then judge. Nowadays, I don’t get to be as accepting since I have to consider whether I’ll have to take Benadryl after tasting whatever it is that people are offering me. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’ll WANT to taste whatever someone is serving me before (likely having to) politely say no.
Ever since that year, Ashley and I have tried to do American Thanksgiving together. There were a few years where I was in Canadia and she was in the US so only she got to do American Thanksgiving. But since she moved up to TO a few years ago (she’s currently busting her ass in grad school getting her PhD in Forensic Anthropology), we’ve done it almost every year. This year, we’re both too bogged down in work to do it, so the other part of this post is a tribute to the Thanksgiving we should be having together, but can’t. Le tear.
Now, unfortunately, there is no culinary-leper-friendly equivalent for Velveeta so this post is NOT an adapted version of that Broccoli Casserole (no matter how much I wish it was). What it -IS- is an idea for a quick and tasty way to use up your leftover turkey (and cranberry sauce) after Thanksgiving (with an option for us Canadians, or any one really, to make it all-year round). Alors…drumroll please…
I present you with…my Paleo-ish Thanksgiving Bowl!!! It features a buttercup squash puree with walnuts, sage, and ‘butter’ (coconut oil), topped with caramelized onions, leftover turkey (or chicken made just for the occasion), and my Paleo-ish Sour Cran-cherry Sauce (or whatever cranberry sauce you have in your fridge itching to be consumed). Le freakin’ yum folks! I’ve been eating this on end for a couple of weeks now.
Paleo-ish Thanksgiving Bowl
Perfect for any time of the year, but an especially good use of leftover Thanksgiving turkey, this Paleo-ish Thanksgiving Bowl combines ALL the best flavours of fall and the Holiday Season!
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 60 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour, 20 mins
- Yield: 8 servings
| Caramelized Onion Things |
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- 2 tbsp Nutiva Butter Coconut Oil (or Coconut Oil)
- 1-1/2 pounds Cooking onions, halved and sliced
| Buttercup Squash Purée Things |
- 1 medium Buttercup/Kabocha Squash
- 3/4 cup Walnuts
- 3 tbsp Nutiva Butter Coconut Oil (or Coconut Oil)
- 1 cup full fat Coconut milk
- 1 1/2 tsp coarse Sea salt
- 1 tsp rubbed Sage
- Pepper, to taste
- Optional: 1 tbsp Brown sugar
- Garnish: Paleo-ish Sour Cran-cherry Sauce or your favourite Cranberry Sauce
- Protein Option: Leftover Turkey or Chicken OR Roasted Chicken Thighs (i.e. 2 pounds chicken thighs, olive oil and salt and pepper).
| Caramelized Onions |
- Melt the olive oil and Nutiva Butter Coconut Oil in a large frying pan (cast iron, if you have one) over medium heat.
- Add the onions and coat with oil. Reduce heat to medium-low.
- Cook onions, stirring every couple of minutes, until they’re a deep golden colour. Depending on how dark/caramelized you like your onions, this could take up to 45 mins or so.
- Once cooked, remove pan from heat and set aside.
| Buttercup Squash Purée |
- While you’re cooking your onions, preheat oven to 425°F.
- Cut Buttercup squash in half (around the equator) and scoop out all of the seeds.
- Lightly oil a baking sheet (or brush oil on the edges of the squash) and place face down on the baking pan.
- Roast squash until tender, around an hour.
- At the same time, measure out your walnuts and distribute them evenly on another baking sheet.
- Toast walnuts in the oven with the squash for 5 minutes.
- While the walnuts are toasting AND you’re going the Roasted Chicken Thigh route, evenly distribute your chicken thighs on another baking sheet with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Once the walnuts are toasted, take them out and set them aside to cool. Put the baking sheet with the chicken in the oven and cook until fully cooked; about 15-20 minutes.
- As the chicken and squash are cooked, removed them from the oven and allow them to cool.
- Once the squash has cooled enough to handle, scoop it out into a mixing bowl.
- Add the walnuts, butter coconut oil, coconut milk, sea salt, and sage to the mixing bowl and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. Alternatively, put all of the ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.
- Add pepper to taste. You can also add the brown sugar at this point if you would like the puree to be a bit sweeter.
- If you’re adding a protein option, chop the turkey/chicken into smaller pieces.
| Putting it all together… |
- Serve the puree warm and top the chopped turkey/chicken and caramelized onions on top, as well as some Cranberry sauce on the side!
Inspired by Eva Kosmas Flores’ Recipe: https://adventuresincooking.com/sweet-potato-pecan-puree/
- If you don’t have leftover turkey or chicken ready-made in your fridge, I’ve eaten this with deli turkey on top and it tastes pretty damn good too. It’s just not as elegant…But whatever. Delicious is delicious.
| Substitution Notes |
- For those of you dairy-vores, feel free to substitute the butter coconut oil for butter and the coconut milk for homogenized milk.
And…that is about that for this post folks! I hope you guys have an amazing week! Am working on implementing a couple of new things for the blog, including an email subscription option! (I know, I know. A little behind the times I am). But by subscribing to my blog’s email list, you’ll get advance notice whenever I post a new recipe! Win right?
Ok. NOW that is that for this post. Per usual, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, leave them below in the comments section, or feel free to email me! I would love to hear from you!
Ciao for now!