The first time I joined my husband Ted's family for a Canadian Thanksgiving meal, we were invited to celebrate with a group of friends at a camp in southern Ontario. The hosts assigned each family some potluck dishes to bring, and one of our assignments was carrots and celery sticks. When we arrived and added our contribution to the long buffet table, I noticed that our little plate of celery sticks was the only speck of green in a sea of brown: turkey, potatoes, gravy, parsnips, onions. If your Thanksgiving menu is looking a bit on the brown side, add this fennel, avocado and grapefruit salad to the mix. Raw fennel, thinly sliced and "marinated" in a mustardy vinaigrette, mellows to a very mildly anise flavor that pairs brilliantly with the tangy grapefruit and creamy avocado. Unexpected, and sure to be a hit.
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Every holiday table needs something small, sweet, orange, and full of carbs. These squash walnut wheat muffins fit the bill. Made with healthy white whole wheat flour and canned squash purée (which could also be pumpkin purée, if that's what you have in the cupboard), these little muffins satisfy the sweet tooth, and the carb tooth (if there is such a thing). And on a table filled with dishes served family-style, it's nice to have something just the right size for one person. Muffins generally don't overnight well, but I like to save a few for breakfast the next morning, when a quick zap in the microwave brings them back to life.
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My cranberry sauce failures -- undercooked, overjelled -- are the stuff of legend in my family. I admit that the molded cranberry sauce I watched slide down the sink drain as I inverted it onto a platter shook my confidence for a while, but it didn't defeat me. I've tried many versions of cranberry over the years, including spicy dried cranberry and pear chutney, my personal favorite. With several Type 1 diabetics in the family, I wanted to create a sugar-free cranberry sauce they could enjoy, and this one was a hit on our holiday table last Thanksgiving. Prepared in the slow cooker, with just a few ingredients (and no blurping splatters all over the stove), it's so good that nobody will believe it's also sugar-free. Make this several days ahead and store in the refrigerator; let it come to room temperature before you serve.
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Lately I've been having a lot of fun adapting stove top recipes for my slow cooker. This time, I've done just the opposite, tweaking a slow cooker recipe for stove top cooking. I adore the flavor profiles of Caribbean cuisine, yet I haven't often shared recipes from that part of the world. I intend to remedy that situation immediately, starting with this chicken curry with butternut squash and red bell pepper. Allspice and ginger, two of the signature seasonings of Caribbean cooking, have a prominent role here, and coconut milk holds it all together. The curry is mildly spicy, so adjust to your own taste by adding or cutting back on the hot pepper.
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