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’Tis the season to accommodate different diets

Pear Cranberry Crisp.
Submitted by Jeff Kane |

When I shopped for Thanksgiving menu ideas the other day, I passed store windows filled with Christmas decorations.

I’m no bah-humbugger, but the last things I need when fired up about cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie are twinkling colored lights and silvery tinsel reminding me that I haven’t bought even one meager stocking filler.

Is time moving more quickly or are holiday decorations showing up earlier? Displays of fan-tailed paper turkeys in August, red Valentine hearts in June: maybe I’ll sponsor an Easter egg roll on New Year’s day.



I could continue to fruitlessly obsess about my life speeding along, but I’d rather chew over what I’m serving for Thanksgiving dinner. Vegetarians, gluten-free die-hards, lactose intolerants, the just plain picky: I’m plum tired just contemplating the various food fetishers gathered around my table. I could proclaim an apple juice fast this year but imagine there’d be someone on a new zero-liquid diet. I envy families who can still put turkey, wheat-bread stuffing and marshmallow-strewn sweet potatoes on the table.

This year, my husband Jeff’s birthday is the day after Thanksgiving. With all the various diet trends to entice him, I’m thankful Jeff still hungers for his usual spaghetti and meatballs celebration feast.




When I cook, I forget to bellyache about holidays, and hope you’ll also find it relaxing to try these new recipes.

Glazed Pumpkin Muffins

1 dozen

What could be more appropriate than November pumpkin muffins?

1/4 cup softened butter

1/2 packed cup brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup plain yogurt

1/3 cup pureed fresh or canned pumpkin

1 cup white flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Glaze

Whisk together:

1/2 packed cup brown sugar

1/4 cup apple juice

It’s okay that the glaze looks a bit grainy.

Beat the butter, sugar, egg, yogurt and pumpkin with an electric mixer until well combined. Then add the flour, cinnamon, and baking powder, and mix well.

Evenly divide the batter into a buttered muffin tin, and bake for 18 minutes at 375 degrees until the top springs back when touched. For even baking, I change their back-to-front position in the oven at half-time.

Take the muffins out of the oven, and while they’re still hot, spoon glaze over each. Before serving, let them sit in the tin for a few minutes, so they soak up the glaze.

Kale Caesar!

4-6 servings

Yearning for a different green salad? This classy one’s definitely fit for both an emperor and your holiday table.

1 cup croutons, about 2 bread slices (make-your-own directions follow)

2 tablespoons olive oil

8 ounces of kale

1 tablespoon capers

1/3 cup grated Parmesan

Dressing

Whisk together:

8 anchovies, finely chopped (the anchovy-challenged may omit these)

2 garlic cloves, pressed

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Gluten-free comrades rejoice! With this make-your-own recipe, you’ll never again suffer crouton-less salads.

Crouton directions:

Cut your favorite gluten-free bread in small cubes, and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 325 degrees until the pieces are firm, but not hard. Let them cool.

Remove the hard center stem of the kale, chop up the leaves, and crumple it by hand so it softens.

Add the dressing and toss. Lastly, mix in the croutons and serve.

Potato-Bean Soup

4-6 Servings

Eating soup is one of my favorite cold weather sports!

1 onion, sliced in thin strips

2 good-size potatoes, sliced in thin half-moons

2 stalks celery, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes with juice

1/4 teaspoon saffron

1/4 cup minced parsley

1 15-ounce can Navy beans and their liquid

6 cups veggie broth

In a soup pot, sauté the onions, potatoes and celery in the olive oil for 10 minutes.

Then, add the remaining ingredients and simmer covered until the potatoes are tender.

Serve immediately, preferably with Glazed Pumpkin Muffins!

Pear and Cranberry Crisp

4-6 servings

For brunch or dessert, this crisp definitely belongs in the “Comfort food,” column.

1 1/2 pounds of firm but ripe pears

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup white flour

1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds

1/3 packed cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Chop the pears in bite-size pieces, and mix them with the cranberries and 1/2 cup sugar.

Spread this on the bottom of a buttered 8-inch glass pan. Blend together the flour, almonds, 1/3 cup sugar, butter and cinnamon until well combined. Sprinkle this on top of the pears and cranberries.

Bake in a 375-degree oven for 45 minutes until the juice bubbles and the top is golden.

Ronnie Paul is a freelance writer in Nevada City.


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