Recipe Ideas for Your Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving looming, I thought I would help you all out with a list of some easy sides that you can make for next week's festivities. Whether you are having a crowd at your house or want to make something to bring over, these all are delicious and a great dish to accompany your bird. 

For help on an entire menu that is very easy and you avoid having to make the whole bird, check out last year's post, Thanksgiving for Novices

I hope this is helpful and that you have a fantastic holiday! 



Chicken & Quinoa Casserole

I have started to really like the whole casserole concept. Anything that can come piping hot out of the oven, be considered a complete meal and be delicious really has a lot going for it. Before I was sold on casseroles, I imagined them all to be dated versions of what grandma used to make and not in a good way. I am relishing in the loveliness of left overs and casseroles can be made and eaten over several days. So if they are really delicious, I love how there is something great waiting for me each day for lunch with minimal effort. This recipe broke another stereotype of mine, that anything off a box or container could not possibly be very good. Wrong again. This super healthful and flavorful recipe was first spotted on the side of my chicken stock carton. It is adapted from Prevention magazine and I highly recommend it. It tastes a lot like Thanksgiving, but without the guilt. Which we will save for actual Thanksgiving.

Chicken & Quinoa Casserole 
serves 8

1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 cremini (or white) mushrooms, thinly sliced
2/3 cup cup acorn squash, large dice (about one small squash)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lb ground chicken or turkey
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups quinoa (look by the grains or pasta in your market)
2 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup parsley, chopped
1 1/2 cup reduced fat Monterrey jack cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a skillet, saute onion in olive oil on medium high heat for 5 minutes or until translucent.

Add mushrooms, squash and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add chicken, breaking into small pieced as it browns, about 5 minutes.

Add poultry seasoning, salt, pepper, stock and quinoa and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer ten minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley and 1 cup of the cheese. Transfer ingredients from pan into 9 x 9 casserole dish or baking pan. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of casserole and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Serve warm.



Chicken Tortilla Soup

I am super into one pot meals right now. Call it a crush, it is easy, makes extra for leftovers and always makes a satisfying meal at the end of the day. This recipe is a combination of a few that I have read and is easy to make your own from what you have in your fridge. The rich broth that is thickened with cheese is great spiked with spicy jalapenos and your favorite hot sauce. I use either a rotisserie chicken or roast a couple of chicken breasts in the oven (350 degrees, olive oil, salt, pepper, bake until cooked through, about 30 minutes) because I like the flavor. It is also a great way to use extra chicken you might have leftover from another meal. Although this makes a lot, it is addicting. So don't expect quite as much leftover as you may think.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Forks & Amusement 2011
serves 6

3 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder (chipotle if you have it)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or hot sauce)
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
4 jalapenos, deseeded and minced
1 bell pepper, diced (I like red or yellow, but use what you like)
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups frozen corn
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 cooked, skinless chicken breasts, diced
8 oz. cotija cheese, crumbled (sub Parmesan or more pepper jack if not available)
8 oz. pepper jack cheese, shredded and divided
1 cup cilantro, chopped
tortilla chips, crumbled

In a large dutch oven or pot, add the stock, spices, tomatoes, jalapenos, bell pepper, onion and garlic. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Salt and pepper to taste, simmer about 30 minutes until tomatoes begin to break down.

Add black beans, corn, tomato paste and chicken and stir to incorporate. Add cotija cheese and half the pepper jack and stir to melt. Cook about 20 more minutes until soup has thickened.

Add half the cilantro and taste for seasoning. Adjust if needed. Serve in bowls topped with more pepper jack, cilantro and tortilla chips.

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