Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner

This post is in response to some questions people have been asking me recently. My closest friends know that I cook… a lot. But what even surprises them most is how much of what I make comes from my head. I never went to culinary school, but I payed close attention to my parents cooking my whole life. And I was always the girl that asked questions.

I guess what I am trying to say is, these recipes come from me. Or my family. Unless otherwise noted, like my most recent Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good. That was a variation of a recipe from Epicurious. But this goes without saying, that even with inspiration, I always “doctor” what I do. And even without culinary school, I have a great understanding of baking and cooking basics. Hopefully this comes as some inspiration to those of you who want to cook. You can always be self taught and learn from observation.In fact, I find that to be an even better way; once you have the fundamentals, your creative genius really is endless.

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The Blue Dog Beer Tavern

For all the amazing places I have written about, I can’t believe I haven’t written anything on the Blue Dog Beer Tavern. For one, its 2 blocks from my house. And for how amazing it is, I am lucky to have this within walking distance. If you are in the LA area, more specifically Sherman Oaks, this is a place you have to go to.   

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Butternut Squash and Barbeque Charred Chicken Lasagna

Trying to deny that fall is here when you still wish it were summer? You know I am. Which is why this recipe is a great meld of the two seasons. Introducing my Barbeque Charred Chicken and Butternut Squash marriage in this delicious lasagna. Perfect cold evening yummy-ness.

This recipe may sound odd but let me tell you why it works. Think about how most of the time, when you get a butternut squash ravioli for example, it is partnered with burnt butter. Why? Because the smokiness and the fat of the butter balances out the sweet of the squash. So how was I inspired? I went to my boss’s annual BBQ this past weekend and walked away with 3 large pieces of long time barbecued chicken, and started thinking about what I was going to do with my leftovers. 

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 (1 1/2 to 2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons salted butter
5 tablespoons flour
4 cups whole milk

2 cups shredded, barbecue (wood) smoked chicken (this is not chicken with BBQ sauce on it)
2 teaspoons nutmeg

1 box no-boil lasagna noodles
2 1/2 cups shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan

Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the squash and toss to coat with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour water into the skillet, about half way up the squash, cover and simmer over medium heat until the squash is tender. Stir occasionally for about 20 minutes. You should be able to split a squash in 2 with a spoon when it is done. Cool slightly and then transfer the squash to a food processor or blender. Puree thoroughly… you don’t want lumps in this recipe. Season the squash puree, to taste, with more salt and pepper.

Curried Pumpkin Seeds, etc

I did a similar post to this one last year. My recipe is good, but this recipe from is REALLY good. Why? Because it is spicy and also adds this citrus flavor that is just so delicious. This was another recipe sent to me by my amazing friend Shira who obviously knows what I like. So this year, instead of making the same old boring pumpkin seed snack, try this! You will thank me.

This recipe was followed exactly except for one thing, the lime juice. I did not have any on hand, so I used lemon juice.
Curried Pumpkin Seeds
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
12 ounces hulled pumpkin seeds (about 2 1/2 cups)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line large rimmed baking sheet with parchment; spray with nonstick spray. Whisk egg white, lime juice, and oil in large bowl.

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Pumpkin Carving Party continued…

The party was a success! And I am glad I did it. I feel like if you are going to do something fun by yourself, like carve pumpkins, why not extend the good cheer to your friends and all come together to share food and ideas. Because of course there has to be food. Delicious food.

Halloween themed wines: World Market and Trader Joes

My contribution this year was my Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good.It was unbelievable. I suggest you try it. I also made Pumpkin Bread and various pumpkin seeds. It was just a pumpkin filled day. Our spread included some cheeses, breads, chips, dips, wines, and beer. These all seem to equal the perfect Pumpkin Carving fuel.

Here is a recap of the night. Enjoy!

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The Weekend Wrap Up

Fall Festivals are here! Pumpkin Carving! Puppy Costumes! I love Halloween!
Veronica and I outside Hotel Erwin

The weekend was full of amazing food and holiday activities. Friday I spent some MUCH needed time with my best friend, Veronica. The plan for the night revolved around food (of course) as we both hadn’t tried the burger with bacon caramel at the bar her boyfriend worked at. That is right… bacon caramel. Here are the details…

The Barlo Burger. Found here at the Barlo Bar in Hotel Erwin in Venice Beach. It was delicious. I am talking about perfect bun, smokey meat, and this sweet bacony ending taste. UGH so good. My only regret was that Veronica and I split one burger… it wasn’t enough goodness.

The Barlo Burger with tomato marmalade, bacon caramel, and herbed chevre from the Drake Family Farm.

Saturday Jacob and I had a lovely date at the Nethercutt Museum. If you live in the LA area, this place is really a time warp. I saw the coolest player pianos and player violins, that were so advanced you couldn’t believe they were made in the 1800’s. How about the 3rd largest pipe organ in the world that takes up 11 rooms! Also, if you are into old classic cars, I am talking 1920’s and such, you will LOVE this museum. I saw vehicles I have never seen before in my entire life. Such a cool experience.

Sunday was the annual Sherman Oaks fall festival. I decided this would be the perfect time to show Brody off in his lizard costume. He was not only the only dog dressed up, he also stole the hearts of hundreds, posing for numerous photos. What a ham.

Brody is a little too long for his costume, since he is a Hound of sorts. The best part about it was that it looked like a lizard stuffed animal was attacking his head. So awkward and so adorable. The end of the evening was spent at my Pumpkin Carving fiesta. I took way too many photos, and have too many amazing pumpkin carvings to share. Because of all of this, you can see details here in this post.

Happy Halloween! Share any ideas and details you have coming up for your Holidays :)