This is for all the last minute Thanksgivingers out there. You know who you are. The ones that are just barely planning things out. Maybe even the ones who haven’t thought about it at all, not for a second. This post is a last minute salvation to all those people out there that are experiencing a cry for help. HELP. I’m here to help, don’t worry. I can’t make your turkey for you (although I wish I could), but how’s about another side dish idea? Those always come in handy, right? Just yesterday I gave you a Sausage and Mushroom Wild Rice post that will be perfect right there on your dinner table next to your turkey. This potato dish is a nice alternative to mashed potatoes or even served with mashed potatoes. Why choose either/or when you can have both?! I’m totally okay with the idea of eating potatoes on top of potatoes because if you recall, I have an undying love for this vegetable. This side dish will go great with the rice and turkey you already have planned out for the big gathering. And if you haven’t bought your turkey yet, well then at least you’ll have rice and potatoes on the table. I wouldn’t mind that. Sounds like a perfect meal to me.
Sometimes you just need a simple recipe to keep up your sleeve for all those days when you find yourself in a cooking rut or bind. A quick and easy dish that will wow someone’s face off. Like ka-POW, there goes your face. It was just wow’d off. We all need recipes like that because life happens, even when we don’t want it to, and you don’t know what to do about it when it does. Perhaps you’ll get unexpected guests over for dinner one night (RUDE), or maybe you just need to whip up something in a hurry because you have a million other things to do and the last thing you want to do is slave away in the hot kitchen. Well, make this gratin and you’ll be good to go. Start incorporating it into your cooking repertoire because I can guarentee you that you’ll fall in love with it. You’ll be amazed on how fast and easy it is to put together, yet it’s packed with so much flavor. Make a quick sandwich and serve this alongside it. Grill up a piece of fish and eat it with a large helping, or two, of this awesome dish. I won’t tell anyone, I mean after all, what are friends for? This year, not that much different from every year really, I’m most thankful for potatoes. For being so incredibly delicious and easy to to cook with. This Thanksgiving, it’s all about you. Now let’s get cooking.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Like in a few short days, around the corner. I’m sure that’s the last thing you want to hear right now because you’re probably panicking and worrying about everything turing out perfect and you feel like you might cry at any moment because it’s just too overwhelming. Or maybe you’re pulling out all of your hair because you still haven’t done the grocery shopping, and you don’t even know what you’re going to make yet, and you’re having a bunch of people over for dinner, and you just don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into, and you feel like the world is ending. No? Maybe, I’m just projecting here. I’m still refusing to believe Thanksgiving is here. To me, this Thursday is just like any other day. The year just, whoosh, flew by. Although I do have to admit my stomach is starting to get really excited because I can’t wait to stuff my face with copious amounts of turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes and dinner rolls and this here rice recipe I’m about to share with you. Oh and let’s not forget about all the pumpkin pie I plan on eating. Yeah you read that right, it’s just a carb fest. A carb-a-thon. I’m pretty sure that when the first Thanksgiving took place, it was their full intention, for this holiday to be nothing but carbohydrates. Carb party. One way ticket to Carb Town. I’m not mad at that though. Yeah, yeah, I’ll eat a few veggies here and there (for my mom’s sake). More like I’ll put some on my plate and when no one is looking just feed it to the dog. I’m totally kidding, I don’t even have a dog, but if I did you better believe he’d love vegetables. I’ll just hide the veggies somewhere else. Like under my placemat or onto my sister’s plate. She’ll give me her turkey and I’ll give her my veggies. It’s a win-win when someone you know doesn’t eat meat. If you don’t have a vegetarian friend, you’re missing out on all the wonderful eating opportunities that comes with it. Go out and find a vegetarian right away.
Thanksgiving, in all seriousness, happens to be my favorite holiday because it’s a holiday centered around food. What can be so wrong about that? It’s also a holiday (like most, I’m sure) centered around family and friends and loved ones. I added the “loved ones” to that line just in case you don’t love certain family members or friends and you just can’t stand their faces or something. See? I’m looking out for you. I’ve got you covered. I’ve also got you covered in the recipe department. If you’re tired of the same boring dishes year after year, around the Thanksgiving table, or if your family refuses to eat another green bean casserole or mashed potatoes (don’t include them in the loved ones category because they’re crazy) well, then you can switch things up this year by trying out this wild rice dish. I think that it compliments all the traditional turkey day flavors perfectly. But maybe I’m just biased because I made this and it’s the new post and I’m trying to sell it to you like a used car. That could be true. But do you really want to take that chance? This could be your new favorite Thanksgiving side dish for all you know. This could be the deciding factor for your boyfriend or girlfriend to propose to you (probably not, but I’m really trying here). I don’t think you should take the risk of not making it this year. That’s it. It’s settled. It has been decided—I’ve decided for you, trust me. You’re going to make this dish in just a short few days. No no, no need to thank me. It’s my job to make these types of decisions for you. All I ask is that you dedicate your Thanksgiving meal to me. Right before eating, just stand up and say, “I want to take a moment to dedicate this meal to the man who made it possible. The man who created this wonderful wild rice dish you’re all about to enjoy. The man who changed my life. Jonathan Melendez.” That’s not asking for much right? I think it’s pretty reasonable. But enough about me, sheesh, you all sure know how to talk my ear off. Let’s get cooking. Thanksgiving is around the corner. Like in a few short days, around the corner. We’ve been here once before…
I’m going to be completely honest with you all right here, right now. I feel like you need to hear my confession. I’m currently knee deep in denial friends and I can’t help it. It’s not even the good kind of denial, it’s the bad kind. I actually don’t know if there’s a good kind of denial but I feel like there might be, and if this was the good kind I’d sure know about it. So I’ll reiterate, it’s not the good kind. I refuse to believe or even acknowledge that it’s mid-November already. I don’t want to even think about saying it out loud because I feel like if I do, then that’ll make it real. It’ll put it out there and I’m not ready for that kind of permanence. Seriously though, where has the time gone? Where is it heading so fast? Hey time, slow down a bit yeah? Why are you in such a hurry? You’re moving way too fast for my taste. I feel like it was Thanksgiving and Christmas 2012, just yesterday. I keep asking everyone I encounter—from the cashier at the grocery store, to the mailman, even the dog on the street—”Can you believe it’s almost the end of the year already?!” They responded to me just as shocked as I was, except of course for the dog. He just looked at me and tilted his head to the side. Probably thought I was a piece of bacon or something. The sense of time lost on him no doubt. Memo to myself, I need to think more like a dog and lose my sense of time. Added to my to-do list.
The thought that Thanksgiving is just around the corner is giving me anxiety and it’s starting to sink in. It’s creeping up fast and I have not yet begun to prepare myself for this gigantic holiday. Don’t get me wrong, physically I’m prepared. I’m always ready to eat large amounts of delicious turkey and sides and pie until I can’t move anymore and all I want to do is take a nap or eat some more. (Whichever comes first.) If I could, I’d do that everyday of my life. I’m totally kidding (but not really). Thanksgiving happens to be my favorite holiday—just in case you didn’t already know that—second of course to the 4th of July. But we’ll save that conversation for another time. This isn’t a 4th of July post. So at the moment Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. That’s all you need to know. Someone might need to slap me a couple of times to shake me out of this trance though. My mind still thinks it’s summer, and I have the unusually warm weather here in LA to thank for this. It’s mid-November, it shouldn’t be this hot! Get it together California, you’re killing me!
As my mind tries desperately to get into the right mindset for the upcoming holidays, I decided to let this post give me the inspiration and boost I’ve been looking for in order to prepare myself for all the cooking and eating (and eating) that’s sure to come soon. I figured that if I used ingredients typically found around the Thanksgiving table, I’d be able to get inspired and get my act together. So I bring to you this Brussels Sprouts and Apple Quiche. I think it screams Thanksgiving without beating you over the head with it. It’s more like “Oh hey, morning after Thanksgiving meal! You look mighty tasty,” instead of, “Oh wow this is like Thanksgiving exploded all over the place,” and that’s something I can totally get behind. I don’t know if this post really helped or not. Just continue to lie to me. Let me be in denial for a few more days. I’ll deal with it next week, but for now I’m going to eat this quiche and pretend that it’s not, absolutely not, mid-November and I think you should do the same. We’re all better off this way.
I’ve often wondered what my life would be like as a vegetarian. Would I be the best vegetarian out there? In case you were wondering, I’d be the worst vegetarian. On the planet. Would I have more energy and be healthier? Maybe. I could always use more energy to continue on my quest to take over the world. (I’m only partially kidding about that). I’d definitely be doing my part for the animals. I wouldn’t be terrified anymore that one of them was going to kill me in my sleep. (Not really a fear of mine). Because I’ve eaten meat my entire life, I’m assuming it would be very difficult for me to just become a vegetarian all of a sudden, out of the blue. I’ve grown up on it and I can’t picture myself giving up red meat, chicken and pork forever. Permanently, never again? No way. Don’t even get me started on seafood. I don’t think I could survive life without fish tacos. I’m from California, they’re a staple in my diet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I eat red meat every single day of my life. What am I, a T-Rex? I wish. I think it would be a problem if I did chomp my teeth into a steak everyday, but every once in a while I do crave red meat. I gotta have it. To be more specific, I crave a really good beef burger with a homemade bun and thin and crispy fries every now and then. I’m probably the only person who suffers from such cravings, right? Have to be. Obviously I wouldn’t be able to eat good ol’ beef burgers if I were a vegetarian, and that makes me really sad. That’s my number one hesitation with becoming a vegetarian. A life without burgers or a nice piece of steak is a sad life for me. In all honesty, most often, I end up eating chicken on a day to day basis. To the point where a good friend of mine refuses to come over for dinner anymore because she claims I’m always forcing chicken down her throat whenever she visits me. “If I eat anymore chicken, I’m going to fly the F out of here.” Total lie by the way. It’s like 95% chicken and 5% other stuff when she comes over, not all the time as she likes to claim. She’s an exaggerator. Now though, I do it on purpose and tell her we’re having something else and then I get her into my house and serve her chicken with a maniacal laugh. She totally likes it.
I know I’d never survive as a vegetarian. I’ll be honest and straight forward with that confession, right off the bat. I love all food way too much for that kind of commitment, but every now and then—a few nights a month because that’s all my body will allow—I like to make a vegetarian meal. It’s nice to get more vegetables into my system, because let’s face it sometimes I really forget to eat veggies (sorry mamma), and it’s the perfect excuse to get out of my comfort zone in the kitchen as well. It forces me to think outside of the box. It also allows me to diversify this tiny blog of mine with dishes that you guys would actually like to try out. It wouldn’t be fair to you if all I gave you were the same meat, chicken and pork filled recipes that were heavy and super rich. Really, I’m just sneakily expanding my net and trying to coerce more people (The Vegetarians) to follow my blog. World domination remember?
So this one is for all the vegetarians out there. Even the semi-vegetarians that say they’re vegetarians but have a soft spot for bacon every now and then when no one is looking. Yeah, you know who you are. I think vegetarian food gets a bad reputation. Mostly because people spread nasty rumors about it being bland and boring. And by people I mean me. I was spreading those rumors, but in my defense, that was before I grasped a good understanding for vegetarian meals. One day while I was eating potato chips disguised in a rice cake bag, I had an epiphany. “Jon, you’re about to have an epiphany,” I told myself. “Vegetarian food doesn’t have to be boring and bland. It can be flavorful and tasty and hearty. Why, you don’t need meat in your life at all!” Then I slapped myself in the face and threw my drink in the air because that was crazy talk talkin’. Of course I need meat. But the first part of that epiphany was totally true. So I decided to come up with some filling veggie-centric recipes that would satisfy the vegetarians in my life, and at the same time fit the bill for those carnivorous animals like myself. So I bring to you, drumroll please, ba da ra rummmmm, VEGETABLE POT PIE!! Wait, I’m not giving it any justice. I present to you, ROASTED AUTUMN VEGETABLE POT PIE. You can thank me now. And by thanking I mean, you can now name your next child after me, if you have one. If you don’t, then you can change the name of the one you already have. You laugh now but when you actually taste this dish, don’t be surprised when you start calling your child Jonathan. Just a fair warning.
I’m going to paint you a picture here, so let’s visualize together. I want you to pretend for a second that this post has no butter or sugar in it. Take those two ingredients away, and we’re left with nothing but fruit. Healthy, unadulterated fruit. Well, if we’re getting technical, we’d also be left with flour, salt, a few almonds and some ice water, but that’s neither here nor there. That’s if we’re getting technical, which we’re not. So we’re just left with fruit. Delicious, guilt-free fruit. That isn’t so bad right? The point is that this is a healthy post. Or as healthy as it’ll get around this here parts. This isn’t a rich dessert by any means. It’s not too sweet, heavy or decadent, which is the kind of desserts my mamma loves. She tells me all the time, “Jon I really like this. It’s not super sweet, heavy or decadent, which you know I love.” Yeah I know that (because she tells me all the time) and because I don’t really like sweet desserts myself. She must get that from me. She also tells me, every time she eats anything I make, “This is why you’re my favorite son!” I have to remind her that I’m her only son, so it totally doesn’t count. I guess what I’m getting at is that you should take advantage of this sort of healthy-ish dessert while you can. They don’t come by too often but when they do, they look something like this. And if they don’t, they should.
Now I’m no fool. I’m not saying that this recipe is so healthy it will cleanse you and make you lose weight. No dessert has that sort of magical power, or else I don’t think it would be considered a dessert at that point. Don’t go around telling people that Jonathan created a healthy weight-loss dessert. Although how cool would that be? Don’t get me wrong, this is still a treat because of the butter and sugar and flour all up in it. But when you look at it in perspective to other things in life, like cookies and cakes and doughnuts and ice cream. Well this here galette is a diet drink compared to all that. So I reiterate my statement from earlier, this is a healthy dessert. I strongly believe that everything should be eaten in moderation. We should be able to eat what we want, when we want. Granted, just as long as we can control ourselves. It shouldn’t matter whether something is too rich or decadent. Don’t go into it asking, how many calories is in this? Go into it with the mindset that that you’ll enjoy just one or two small pieces and not feel guilty about it. Life is worth enjoying every now and then with a few guilty treats. When you deprive yourself from something, that’s when you want to eat it all and all at once. So if you have a small sliver of something rich and decadent that you love every now and then, you’ll learn how to have self-control because you won’t want as often. Food is too good to have a bad relationship with. We already overthink and worry too much about so many other parts of our life, like dating. Food shouldn’t be an added stress to your life on top of everything else. So that’s my two cents on the entire matter. I know you were just dying to read about it. I’ll get off my soapbox now. Arms raised in the air; union union UNION! Oh wrong demonstration.
The other day I was sitting around thinking to myself, “Self, you really need to have more fruit desserts on your blog. I’m sure people would enjoy it. Give them some variety.” So I decided to listen to myself. I’m very smart, what can I say? I took a step back from all the chocolate and peanut butter and frosting and cookies and cake, as of late, and came up with this not-too-sweet-not-too-rich-not-too-decadent dessert. Did you know that’s my mamma’s favorite kind?