Thanksgiving gives us a chance to share a meal and come together in gratitude, but why not bring that practice to every day?
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year, but as you might imagine, Thanksgiving looks a bit different for a professional chef. This year, I’m cooking for a family of about 10 and we’ve developed a menu that sticks close to tradition with a turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy with cranberry relish. Still, I can’t help but toss in a few non-traditional “twists.” I’m preparing a savory sweet potato dish, and instead of the traditional pies, I’m making an ice cream pumpkin pie, as well as chocolate glazed cheesecake, caramel apple pie, and a cranberry honey baklava. I’ll spend one day baking and the second day cooking. There’s no doubt the Thanksgiving tradition of enjoying plenty of leftovers in the following days will be surely enjoyed by this family.
Despite my working every year on Thanksgiving, I still find time to come to the table with my family and friends, even if it’s a bit later than usual. This year, there will be around 10-12 of us, and our Thanksgiving meals are anything but traditional. I have to confess that I’m not accustomed to eating many of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes, so I’ll be making a Moroccan chicken dish I call Ultimate Chicken and acorn squash (see below for the recipe) The rest of the meal will be a surprise as our guests will be bringing their favorite foods.
Thanksgiving gives us a chance to come together at the table and enjoy a meal. It’s a time to step back and consider the people and the things we’re most grateful for, but I’ve often wondered, why so many wait until this one day a year to practice gratitude? With that in mind, I adopted a habit every morning of making a quick list of the people and things I’m most grateful to have in my life. It’s a simple practice, but it’s been amazing how that slight shift in focus each day, brings a new appreciation for life. I have discovered that what I focus on multiplies.
No matter what your tradition may be for Thanksgiving, I do hope you’ll consider a gratitude practice of your own on this day and every day.
Roasted Acorn Squash with Black Beans
1 TB Olive Oil
2 Medium Acorn Squash (cut in half)
4 oz. Julienne Sun Dried Tomatoes in oil
2 TB chopped fresh Cilantro
1 Ts Hot Sauce
1/2 Cup cooked black beans
1 Ts Cumin
1/2 Ts Salt
1/4 Ts Black Pepper
4 oz. French Feta Cheese (crumbled)
1. Preheat oven to 400°
2. Cut squash in half, remove the seeds with a tablespoon, then divide olive oil and add to each squash. Salt and Pepper to taste.
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and add the squash. Cover lightly with foil.
4. Place the squash in oven and roast for approx. 45-50 minutes or until soft. Then remove from oven and let cool.
5. Create the filling. In a medium bowl, stir together the sun-dried tomatoes, cilantro, hot sauce, black beans, cumin, salt, pepper and Feta cheese.
6. Divide the filling in half and place in squash.
7. Serve at room temperature or warm in 250° oven for 10 minutes.