Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I know I’m a day late wishing you a happy Thanksgiving, but I was a little busy yesterday, and I didn’t even host dinner!  I’m sure I’ve told you that my dad’s wife Lynn loves to host Thanksgiving, and I’m am happy to let her.  I do have my tasks though.  This year I made a spiced cranberry sauce from, these mashed potatoes, green beans with shallots and lemon and Artichoke-Fontina dip.

I usually have a dinner party in the fall, so I like to set a fall table.  This year, I used my burlap table runner (who knew how versatile a burlap runner would be?) and topped it with a square of brown floral fabric I found in the clearance bin at the fabric store.  I just squared it up and turned under the edges.   I added the straw pumpkin and flower arrangement in a copper container Lynn gave me a couple of years ago, and I added a couple of ceramic pumpkins I bought at Marshalls.  I also added some pumpkins I bought at a blown glass pumpkin patch I attended this year.
I had never attended a glass pumpkin patch before, and I was amazed at all the beautiful pumpkins available.  The pumpkins are so beautiful, especially with the sun glinting off of them!  If you are near Palo Alto the first weekend in October, be sure to check out the blown glass pumpkin sale.

Last week, I was having a discussion with a friend at work, and she said that Thanksgiving wasn’t a time to try new recipes.  She thinks that Thanksgiving is a time to embrace traditional recipes, and she was going to make dishes her mother had made.  Thanksgiving is obviously a time for tradition, otherwise why would so many people be eating the same meal on the same day?  But, I think there are ways of changing up the Thanksgiving meal without changing the traditions of the meal.  My mother never liked the holidays, so I don’t have many memories of traditional Thanksgiving dinners (my memories are more likely to be of the bad Thanksgiving dinners we had, like the one we had at the Queen Mary.  Blech!)    

Lynn usually tries a new recipe or two for Thanksgiving, but they never veer far from tradition, and they are always delicious.  This year, when Lynn asked me to make the traditional cheeseball, I asked if she would mind if I made something a little lighter.  She had no objections, so I decided to make Artichoke-Fontina dip to serve with vegetables.  I’ve made artichoke dip before, and I was a little worried this dip would be more of the same.  I shouldn’t have worried. 

This dip is a different artichoke dip.  The fontina cheese, garlic and capers give this artichoke dip a complex flavor not found in a traditional artichoke dip, and the parsley adds a freshness that is also missing.  We gobbled the dip up with vegetables, but my family liked the dip with crackers better.  Serve it with both veggies and crackers so your guests can decide how healthy they want to be.

Artichoke-Fontina Dip
Adapted from Holiday magazine (from Redbook)
2 14 oz. artichoke hearts, drained
8 oz. fontina cheese, cubed
4 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Tablespoons capers
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
Preheat the over to 350°F.  In the bowl of a food processor, pulse artichokes, garlic, capers and parsley three to four times.  Add the cheeses and the hot pepper sauce and pulse until completely combined.  Spread the mixture into a oven safe dish and bake for 25 minutes, or until starting to bubble and lightly browned on top.  Serve warm with crackers or cut-up vegetables.

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