I don't know about you, but I've had my fill of stuffing, gravy, and pumpkin pie, so now I'm in the mood for something a little spicier and a little healthier. This Thai-influenced pasta dish is quick and easy for a weeknight meal. If your sauce thickens too much, it's fine to thin it down with a little water. Definitely try to avoid peanut butter whose ingredients are anything more than peanuts and salt. You can grind your own peanut butter at quite a few health food stores around town, and even the Crest by my house has a bulk section with freshly ground peanut butter. Otherwise, Smuckers Natural or something similar is a good choice. This dish would be just as tasty with cooked chicken instead of tofu, if that's your preference.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6
1 cup natural (unprocessed) peanut butter
1 15-oz. can coconut milk
1.5 tablespoons cider vinegar or unseasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon salt (possibly more to taste, depending on whether the peanut butter is salty)
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
2 tablespoons light honey or sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
1 container extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 pound cooked noodles (I like buckwheat noodles or quinoa pasta)
1 head of broccoli, chopped (cook this with the noodles, throw it in the boiling water the last 3-4 minutes the pasta cooks)
2 tablespoons lightly toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Minced peanuts, fresh cilantro, cucumbers, and scallions for the top (optional)
Sriracha sauce (also optional)
1. Place the peanut butter in a skillet on very low heat and whisk in about half the coconut milk, very gently and slowly as not to splash. Add the remaining coconut milk and mix until smooth.
2. Add vinegar, salt, garlic, honey or sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and crushed red pepper flakes to taste, if desired. Stir slowly until well combined. Add tofu and heat until warm.
3. Pour the sauce over the cooked noodles and broccoli. Mix gently with a fork until all the noodles are coated. Be careful not to tear up the tofu!
4. Serve topped with Sriracha, cucumber strips, minced scallions, sesame seeds, minced peanuts, and/or minced cilantro.
Oddly, both of my parents were born on Thanksgiving, but on different days in different years so they don’t share the same birthday. This year, my mom’s birthday falls on Thanksgiving Day, and I’m always looking for something special to make her above and beyond the traditional fare. As a Thanksgiving baby, she’s partial to pumpkin desserts, but pumpkin pie seems so boring for a special birthday celebration. I’ve made the typical pumpkin crunch cake in previous years, as well as a pumpkin pie with a tasty cinnamon-walnut topping … but this year I wanted to make something that would stand out, and this pumpkin bread pudding fits the bill.
20 minutes prep time; 30 minutes-2 hours sitting time; 1 hour cooking time.
• ½ cup pecans (walnuts would substitute nicely, I bet)
• ¼ cup brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 2 teaspoons flour
• ½ teaspoon cinnamon
• ½ of a 15-oz. can of pumpkin (feed the rest of the can to your dog, if you have one. pumpkin’s good for them)
• 3 eggs
• 1 cup milk
• ½ cup heavy cream
• ½ cup brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon bourbon or vanilla
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon (if you haven’t tried Penzey’s cinnamon, order some! you’ll never go back to the grocery store stuff)
• ½ teaspoon nutmeg
• ½ loaf of plain Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (I got my bread at Crest)
• ½ stick of butter (4 tablespoons)
• ¼ cup brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons bourbon
• ¼ cup heavy cream
1. For the nut topping, put the pecans, sugar, butter, flour, and cinnamon in a small food processor and pulse until it’s chopped and well blended. Set aside.
2. Whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, milk, cream, sugar, bourbon, cinnamon, and nutmeg until it’s blended well. It will look pretty similar to pumpkin pie filling at this point.
3. Put the bread cubes in a large mixing bowl and pour the pumpkin mixture on top. Stir with a large wooden spoon until the bread is coated. Cover and let the bread absorb the pumpkin mixture for 30 minutes up to 2 hours. (I went shopping at this point, then threw it in the oven when I got home.)
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees for about 15-20 minutes before you’re ready to put it in the oven.
5. Use a rubber spatula to scoop the mixture into a round baking dish that has a lid (I used a Pyrex casserole dish) and press it down into the dish. Top with the nut mixture. Cover the dish with its lid.
6. Place the round baking dish into a rectangular roasting pan, cake pan, or some other large, tall-sided pan and put them both in the oven. Add enough hot water to the rectangular baking dish, so that it comes up about halfway on the round baking dish.
7. Bake covered for 45 minutes, then remove the lid and bake an additional 15-20 minutes.
8. In the meantime, make the bourbon cream sauce. I’d always recommend Maker’s Mark, but any bourbon will do. On low heat, melt the butter and stir in the sugar. Stir constantly for 2-3 minutes. Add the bourbon and cream, then immediately remove from the heat. Stir another 30 seconds longer. Pour over the pudding once it comes out of the oven.
9. Please be extremely careful when removing both of the pans from the oven – it can be kinda tricky with all that hot water. Once it’s out, check the middle with a knife and make sure it’s hot in the center. If it needs a little more time, just put it back in the oven for a few minutes without the water bath.
10. Have a happy Thanksgiving!
This has been a tradition in my family for the last 20 years, ever since my mom clipped the recipe out of the newspaper in a feature about Southwestern-Style Thanksgiving. My sister still loves the weird can-shaped gelatinous stuff, but none of that for me! And this cranberry sauce is awesome on leftover turkey sandwiches, as well as on English muffins with butter for breakfast*.
You may want to adjust the amount of sugar to your liking. It partly depends on the tartness of the batch of cranberries, and part is just personal taste. I like mine spicier than I do sweet, and I use more chipotles than the recipe calls for. And if you have leftover peppers from my Chipotle Tortellini recipe, this cranberry sauce is the perfect use for them!
15-20 minutes cooking time; 15 minutes cooling time.
Servings: As a condiment, it should serve at least 16. A little spoonful is enough for big flavor.
• 1 small can of chipotles in adobo sauce (but only use 1 or 2 peppers!)
• 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from the can of chipotles (you may have to take all the peppers out of the
can to get the sauce)
• 1 bag of fresh cranberries, rinsed
• ¼ cup of brandy or bourbon
• ¼ cup brown sugar (or more to taste – you can always add more sugar as it cools)
• ¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
• 1 cup water
1. Combine 1-2 chipotle peppers, 1 tablespoon of adobo sauce, cranberries, bourbon/brandy, sugar,
lemon juice, and water in a medium saucepan.
2. Bring to a simmer over low-medium heat, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. The
cranberries will start to pop and open up once they are heated thoroughly.
3. Turn off and cover; let the sauce sit for 15 minutes to cool down and thicken up.
4. Taste to see if you want more sugar. Stir in additional sugar one tablespoon at a time.
5. Remove the peppers before processing/serving (optional).
6. Put the sauce in your food processor and pulse until the desired consistency (smooth or course,
depending on your preference). I usually just mash it a little in the pan with a fork instead, but I like
mine with large cranberries chunks. I also leave the peppers in, but I like mine really spicy!
7. Chill in the refrigerator, then serve with Thanksgiving dinner. You can make this sauce well ahead of
time. I think it tastes better the next day when the smoky chipotle flavor really comes through and it
picks up heat.
*After Thanksgiving, mix any leftover sauce with one stick of softened butter for a delicious chipotle-cranberry butter. Spread it on toasted English muffins, cornbread, or dinner rolls. Or mix it with cream cheese and put it on bagels.