Sunday, November 23, 2014

Saturday, November 15, 2014


The picture above says it all and can be interpreted in so many ways.  Running to get that last piece of pumpkin pie, the joy of escaping the crazy family gathering, skipping because the bourbon cocktails were amazing, or simply friends truly enjoying the fact that they are family.  

Eleven years ago when I moved to Los Angeles I knew that my new found friends would be very important to me, however I could have never dreamed to what an amazing family they would become.  We have seen each other through new jobs, dance till your feet hurt-yes you will have a hangover-wedding, adventures in parenting, bad relationships, coping with the in-laws and celebrating all the little things in between with really good bourbon.  Being thankful for my friends is an understatement and my dear friend Courtney from Creative Ever After is no exception.

I was fortunate enough to collaborate with her as we created our tablescape for what could be a pretty fantastic "friendsgiving."  Courtney is pretty much Martha Stewart in my book when it comes to her DIY crafts.  These DIY Succulent Pumpkin Centerpieces are the most perfect touch to anyone's Thanksgiving decor.  They are simple, elegant and easy to make.  And how cute is the delicata squash one!!

The "Give Thanks" place cards are so super cute and I love the special touch of the back side where you can write what you are thankful for.  I admit I don't often like to share my feelings out loud.  So going around the table and saying what we are thankful for is just short of a nightmare for me.  However, I really love the idea of writing them down and placing them so everyone else can read.  

Now about that soup.  Kabocha squash, also known as Japanese pumpkin, is sweeter than a sugar pie pumpkin and a bit less than a sweet potato.  Roasted with some garlic and leeks it ends up being a wonderful pair to the salty spicy crispy chorizo.  The coconut milk gives the soup a warm creamy taste keeping it lighter opposed to using heavy cream.  A small bowl of this soup to start your Thanksgiving meal will get everyone at the table ready for a feast full of fall flavors.

Courtney and I enjoyed the soup and wine after we finished shooting pictures for the post admiring the table and talked about how someday we would host a Thanksgiving like this.  I always wanted to have the kind of Thanksgiving where I serve courses; appetizers and wine, soup, salad, entrees with all the fixings, more wine and then pie.  I love the idea of really making it an event and enjoying each course separately, but for now Courtney and I can dream.  Maybe the next Friendsgiving.

Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup with Crispy Chorizo


2 Kabocha squashs
2 heads garlic
3 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped
4-1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
4 chorizo links, casing removed
1-1/2 cups coconut milk
4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Carefully cut the squashes in half.  Remove the seeds and stringy flesh and discard.  Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the pumpkin and rub into the flesh and skin.  Place the squash onto a large foil lined rimmed baking sheet flesh side down.  Bake in the oven for 55-60 minutes, until the squash is tender enough for a fork to go through.

Remove the flaky skin of the garlic heads.  Cut off the tops and discard.  Place the garlic heads on a piece of foil and drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil.  Wrap the foil around the garlic and place in the oven with the squash when the squash has 30 minutes remaining.  Roast for 30 minutes.  Remove the squash and garlic from the oven and allow to cool enough to handle.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the chorizo until browned and crispy.  Use a fork or spatula to break the links into small pieces.  Cover and set aside.

In a large pot or dutch oven melt the butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the leeks and cook for about 5-7 minutes, until they color and are tender.  Scoop 4 cups of the roasted squash out of the skin and add to the leeks.  Remove the roasted garlic from the skins and add to the squash mixture.  Stir to combine.  Add 2 cups of the chicken or vegetable broth.  Stir to combine.  Bring the soup to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.  Using and immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth.  You can also puree the soup in a food processor in batches and return to the pot.  Add the remaining broth.  Stir to combine and simmer for 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in 1 cup coconut milk.

Ladle in desired amount of the soup into each bowl and top with the crispy chorizo.  Use the remaining coconut milk to garnish the soup.  Makes 8-10 servings.  

Note: If you like your chorizo extra crispy you can place the chorizo on a foil lined baking sheet and place under the broiler for a few minutes.  

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Super Green Salad

I've been making this salad for a while now and after many request I'm finally getting around to posting it.  It's made appearances at a bridal shower, birthday parties, dinner parties and most recently it was on the menu for my cooking day with a few of my dance kids.  This salad is always a hit and has been officially approved by a few anti-vegetable picky eaters!  I think it's the blueberries and sweet maple syrup that throw everyone off.  Suddenly they forget they are eating healthy and instantly enjoying this fresh hearty salad.  

This Thanksgiving my super green salad, as my dance girls were calling it, will be making it's way to the dinner table.  I'm hoping that it will help cancel out the over load of carbs and sweets I will be enjoying that day.  Also as an added bonus, all off the veggies and the dressing can be prepped and made the night before leaving you more time to get to those super indulgent side dishes and of course, a glass of wine or two!

Let the holiday season begin! 

Almond Blueberry Super Green Salad with Maple Dijon Dressing

1-1/2 cups Dino kale, chopped
1 cup red cabbage, chopped (you can substitute green cabbage)
1 cup Brussels sprouts, shredded
1 -1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sliced raw almonds
1/2 cup shredded Manchego cheese
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon whole grain Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

In a medium bowl combine the lemon juice, maple syrup, olive oil and Dijon mustard.  Whisk to combine.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper and set aside.  You can also combine the ingredients in an airtight jar and shake to combine.

In a large salad bowl place the kale.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the kale and massage the kale for about 1 minute.  Add the red cabbage and Brussels sprouts and toss to combine.  Add the blueberries, sliced almonds, and Manchego cheese.  Gently toss to combine.  Pour desired amount of dressing over the salad and toss.  Makes 4 servings.