WanderFood Wednesday: Simple Thanksgiving Side Dishes

by Samantha Scott
( October 28th, 2014 )

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and anything that helps make the day easier is alright in my book! It is one of my favorite holidays, but it can be stressful, so here are some super simple Thanksgiving side dishes guaranteed to please.

Brussels Sprouts and Garlic

Brussels Sprouts are one of my favorite things to make and they are so versatile. This is one of my favorite ways to make them, it really lets their flavor shine, and I love how their bright green color adds to the festive browns and golds of the season. Plus the addition of garlic makes this not only delicious but super healthy!

Brussels Sprouts and Garlic

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F. Wash sprouts and peel away loose leaves. Halve and spread in one layer on a shallow baking pan. Intersperse with 8-10 cloves of garlic. Drizzle generously with olive oil (1/4 to 1/2 a cup) and kosher salt.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roast in oven for 20 to 30 minutes.

Roasted Butternut Squash

For a sweeter yet delightfully nutty, earthy counterpoint to the strong savory taste of the Brussels, this butternut squash recipe is perfect.

Quartered Butternut Squash

What I like about this recipe, adapted from Inspired Taste is that you really can adapt it according to taste. And I love that it uses olive oil which I think helps it stay enough in the savory camp so as not to be like a dessert. Which is ironic because I first tired making this thinking it would be a good dessert. Spoiler alert: it’s not.

For more manageable cutting and peeling I used the tips highlighted at the bottom of the Inspired Taste blog post.

Butternut Squash, peeled

Cut the squash into quarters. These sqush are very hard, so be sure you have a sharp, strong knife, and be very careful when cutting. I found a steady shimmying motion worked much better than trying to just cut straight down.

Remove guts and seeds with a spoon and peel. Surprisingly a standard vegetable peeler worked just fine.

Roasted Butternut Squash mix

Cut into 1 inch cubes and add brown sugar, olive oil, cinnamon, salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper. It was the touch of cayenne that really drew my attention to this recipe. I love when a spice like that is added, it makes the taste much more interesting and cuts the sweetness. And it’s a great conversation piece for those awkward Thanksgiving dinner conversation pauses…

Roasted Butternut Squash

Roast in a 425 degree F oven for 40-45 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

What are some of your favorite simple Thanksgiving side dishes?

Eat Well, Travel Well ~ Samantha

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WanderFood Wednesday: Spooktacular Halloween Treats

by Samantha Scott
( October 21st, 2014 )

Lychee Eyeball Martini

It’s that time of year! Ghouls and goblins are about and they need to eat. With a few tricks in the kitchen it’s easy to craft fun and creepy Halloween treats! Here’s some great ideas to get you started. What are some of your favorites?

Lady Fingers

For the classy cannibal, serve up some dainty lady fingers. These are a simple sugar cookie, and blanched almonds with red food coloring for the nails. You can find a recipe here. And I love this clever fry fake-out display!

Lady Fingers

Mummy Hot Dogs

This easy treat is great for kids! And it’s a classic. I remember many a Halloween party at school where these were an essential part of the menu. They’re tasty and being able to serve with blood red ketchup makes this a win-win! Perfect for dinner before heading out trick-or-treating.

Day of the Dead Inspired Cookies

Use up that leftover food coloring and have fun decorating sugar cookies in the festive style of Day of the Dead skulls. Not exactly a scary item, but super fun and colorful!

Day of the Dead Cookies

Lychee Eyeball Martini, pictured above

For the adult Halloween party, serve up a creepy eyeball Martini. Several Halloween recipes with eyeballs use Lychee’s, so it’s also a nice trick to have up your sleeve! The Martini recipe can be found here and here’s a great video tutorial for how to make the eyeballs.

Share some of your favorite spooktacular Halloween treats in the comment section!

Eat Well, Travel Well ~ Samantha

Photo Credits

Lychee Eyeball Martini: Shanna Schad via Flickr

Day of the Dead Cookies: nicole danielson via Flickr 

Finger Cookies: kinwart via Flickr

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WanderFood Wednesday: Harvest Festivals Around the World

by Samantha Scott
( October 14th, 2014 )

Apple Orchard

It’s Harvest time! Around the world this is an important, often sacred time, signifying prosperity and providing the means to get through a cold winter. Here are a few harvest festivals around the world:

Moon Festival: China

Moon Cakes

Anyone familiar with the novel “The Joy Luck Club” will recognize this. One of my favorite vignettes from that book features this festival, and in fact it was turned into a separate children’s book which I adored as a kid. The Moon Festival is a time for families to gather together and takes place in mid August. It’s especially known for traditional “moon cakes” which feature prominently in the story from “The Joy Luck Club.”

Pongal: India

Pongal Festival

Pongal is an Indian rice dish, served during the festival time of the same name. Symbolizing new opportunities and abundance from the land, this festival spans over four days and involves big gatherings and the honoring of cattle, sun, rain and family.

Yam Festival: West Africa

Yam Festival

A public holiday in Ghana and Nigeria, during this festival yams are offered to the gods as the end of the rainy season is marked. The festival is also known as “Homowow” meaning “To Hoot at Hunger.” It is a celebration hoping for a bountiful harvest with parades, music, dancing and singing.

Thanksgiving: North America

Thanksgiving Turkey

In North America, harvest time culminates in the celebration of Thanksgiving. Turkey is typically served in the United States, a symbol of the first Thanksgiving which occurred in 1621. Other typical Thanksgiving fare includes stuffing, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie.

Have you attended any of these harvest festivals around the world? What did you think?

Eat Well, Travel Well ~ Samantha

Photo Credits
Apple Orchard: Jeff Kubina via Flickr
Moon Cakes: Karen via Flickr
Pongal: Byghan via Flickr
Yam Festival: OneVillage Initiative via Flickr
Thanksgiving Turkey: Tim Sackton via Flickr

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