Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mission: Thanksgiving

Since June, my husband and I have been following the principles of the South Beach Diet, and between the two of us we've lost nearly 100 pounds. Seems like we've got a good thing going with the diet, but now come the temptations of the holiday season. My mission: indulge in traditional flavors of the season, but omit starchy foods, such as white rice, white potatoes, and corn, white flour, and sugar.
Turkey is still on the menu (for hubby at least, I don't eat it), but stuffing and mashed potatoes are out. What's in, you say?

 Mashed Fauxtatoes
1 head cauliflower
3 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon celery salt

Cut the cauliflower into florets. Peel the garlic cloves. Combine in a medium saucepan and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until cauliflower and garlic are soft when pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes. Drain cauliflower. Transfer to a food processor and blend until chopped into pieces the size of rice. If you don't have a food processor, you can also transfer your drained cauliflower back to the pot and use a potato masher to break it up. If you like chunky mashed fauxtatoes, stir in the milk, butter, and celery salt by hand with a spoon. If you like smoother spuds, spin in the food processor or a blender until pureed. If your cauliflower isn't warm enough at this point, you can return it to the pan over low heat for a few minutes until piping hot.
This recipe tastes remarkably like mashed potatoes to me, but the texture is less starchy. Enjoy it solo as a side for Thanksgiving, and try it again later as a topper in place of potatoes on your favorite shepard's pie recipe. Yum!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Spinach Casserole
1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 packages frozen spinach, thawed
1 large onion, chopped
3 cups milk
4 tablespoons whole wheat flour
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, divided
Mrs. Dash or other mixed seasoning and salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl toss the squash with olive oil. Season to taste, I like to use Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy and a little salt. Spread the squash on a baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the squash is soft and slightly brown on the edges. Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a medium saucepan, saute the onion over medium heat in the butter until softened. Add the flour and stir to combine. Let cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the milk gradually, whisking to avoid lumps. Let the mixture come to just below a boil, stirring often. Remove from the heat and add 3/4 cup of the parmesan cheese, putting in a handful of cheese at a time and stirring until it melts before adding more. Put the sauce aside while you drain the spinach in a colander. Squeeze to remove as much moisture as you can from the spinach. When the squash is ready, remove it from the oven and allow to cool until you can handle it. Layer the ingredients in a 2.5 quart casserole dish, starting with a layer of squash, then a layer of spinach, then a layer of sauce. Repeat layers, then top with reserved 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Bake the casserole, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
This recipe can be a side dish, or for non-turkey eaters like myself, the main dish.

Add a few other sides, perhaps peas and pearl onions, or green bean casserole, and my friends you have Thanksgiving. But wait, you say, what about dessert? Or a  festive drink? Never fear, join us next time for
Mission: Thanksgiving II, Just Desserts.


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