Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone! As a special treat and my way of saying THANKS to all of our Menu Therapy subscribers and readers, please enjoy this 10-course Thanksgiving Dinner for 8. Use the whole menu or pick and choose what sounds good to you. Either way, have an absolutely DELICIOUS and BLESSED Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving First Course- Roasted Squash Soup

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I absolutely love when my friends send me recipes to try! Not only am I always ready to try something new in the kitchen, it makes me feel good to know that someone was thinking of me while they ate a yummy meal. Love it! I was thrilled the other night when my super sweet friend, Hamta, texted me a link to a squash soup recipe she tried and loved. Hamta and her husband, Alex, are a part of our Life Group at church and are one of the sweetest and most genuine couples I know. They are Menu Therapy subscribers and love to get in the kitchen and cook yummy food. Alex actually surprised us all with his stellar cooking skills on a trip to Lake Tahoe last winter. Such a fun couple!

The best part of trying recipes from friends is when they turn out to be a complete home run. This Roasted Squash Soup is just that- out of the park! Hanna suggested swapping the butternut squash out for Kabocha Squash. If you’ve never tried it before, like I had not, don’t be scared. It’s fantastic! I actually rarely like dishes prepared using butternut squash. I’m not sure why- I really want to like it, but something about it always leaves me feeling “meh.” Not so with the kabocha! This “Japanese pumpkin” can be found in any grocery store.  Look for the squash with dark green skin and white to light green stripes, shaped like a small pumpkin.

Photo credit from chow.com

I wanted to share this recipe with you now because I think it would make the PERFECT first course for your Thanksgiving Dinner. It’s sweet, nutty and is in no way overpowering, and it definitely won’t fill you up too much to enjoy the rest of your dinner. To go the extra mile on presentation, reserve and clean up a few of the seeds while you’re prepping the kabocha.  Then, once you remove the squash from the oven, toss the seeds on the same buttery sheet pan with salt, pepper and a sprinkle of cinnamon, lower the heat to 325 and roast for approximately 30 minutes while the soup cooks. Top each bowl of soup with a few seeds and a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Ingredients:

3 – 3.5 lbs. kabocha squash, seeded and quartered
Unsalted butter, melted, for brushing
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1 garlic clove, minced
small shallot, minced
3 cups chicken stock
1/8 cup honey, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, or to taste
toasted squash seeds, for garnish (see blog)

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place the quartered squash onto a half sheet pan, brush the flesh of the squash with a little butter and season with 1 tablespoon of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 30 to 35 minutes or until the flesh is soft and tender.
  3. In a 6 quart pot heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and shallot and sauté 2 minutes, careful not to burn. Scoop the flesh from the skin of the squash and add to the pot. Add the broth, honey and ginger.
  4. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Using an immersion or stand blender, puree the mixture until smooth*. Stir in the heavy cream and return to a low simmer. Season with the remaining salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.

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Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars

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If you’re looking for something to do with that batch of salted caramel you made with me last week, I have a recipe for you! We are right at the peak of apple season…the perfect time to pick some apples and turn them into pies, bars, butters, and jams. Apple nirvana! Combine apple season with the fact that salted caramel and apples go together like peanut butter and jelly, and you will soon agree that these Salted Caramel Apple Pie Bars are the perfect way to kick off November. I snagged this gem of a recipe from my favorite website for all things sweet, Sally’s Baking Addiction, and made them for our Life Group last week. They were a huge hit! I suggest serving them warm and smothered with nothing but caramel, but my mom would argue that they’re best served up with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Either way, these bars are sure to become a fall staple in your house. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Shortbread Crust

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

Apple Filling

1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and thinly sliced (1/4 inch thick)
1 large Honey Crisp apple, peeled and thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Streusel

1/2 cup (40g) old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup (70g) light or dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (30g) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
Salted Caramel recipe from below

  1. Preheat the oven to 300F degrees. Line an 8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. Set aside.
  2. Make the crust: Stir the melted butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the flour and stir until everything is combined. Press the mixture evenly into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes while you prepare the filling and streusel.
  3. Make the apple filling: Combine the sliced apples, flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a large bowl until all of the apples are evenly coated. Set aside.
  4. Make the streusel: Whisk the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour together in a medium bowl. Cut in the chilled butter with a pastry blender or two knives (or even with your hands) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.
  5. Remove the crust from the oven, and turn the oven up to 350F degrees. Evenly layer the apples on top of the warm crust. Press them together tightly and press down to fit in pan. Sprinkle the apple layer with streusel and bake for 30–35 minutes or until the streusel is golden brown.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes at room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Lift the foil out of the pan using the overhang on the sides and cut into bars. Once cut, pour salted caramel sauce on top. Enjoy!