November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving for One (or Two): Butternut Squash Soup and Sausage and Leek Stuffing

I spent Thanksgiving alone this year.  It sounds scary but I'm not trying to make you feel bad for me.  I was ok with it.  Sure, I made a few people who tried to make small talk with me by asking, "what are you doing for Thanksgiving?" a bit uncomfortable but, really, spending Thanksgiving by myself was kind of nice.

No family stress.  No people you haven't seen in a few years asking, "So, now that you've graduated from college, what are you going to do?" or perhaps more acurately, "You graduated?!?"  It was refreshing to be able to cook whatever I wanted, eat whenever I wanted, and not have to worry about what other people might like.  Yes, I love to cook for other people and eat with other people but something that not many people realize is that being alone can also be just as enjoyable.  And I don't feel like I missed out on food either, probably because I spent awhile planning my own Thanksgiving menu.  Here's what I ate:

Butternut Squash Soup with Sage
Italian Sausage and Leek Stuffing
Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Cranberry Sauce with Star Anise
Simple Apple Tart

The only problem with cooking and eating by myself was that I found it hard to keep from picking at everything (mostly the yummy stuffing) while I was cooking.  Needless to say, I ended up a bit too full when I was finished but isn't that what Thanksgiving's all about?

Butternut Squash Soup with Sage

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped
1 small onion or half a large onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 teaspoons olive oil
5- 6 sage leaves
4 cups chicken broth
1/8- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (you can also use a pre-shredded Italian cheese blend, which is what I did because I didn't have any Parmesan)
2 tablespoons half and half
1- 2 teaspoons cornstarch or 1 tablespoon flour, optional
salt, to taste

Saute the squash, onion, celery, carrots, and garlic together in olive oil in a large pot.  Once the vegetables have softened slightly and the onions are translucent, add half the chicken broth and sage leaves and boil over medium heat until the squash is soft. 

Next, add the soup and the rest of the chicken broth to your blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Pour the blended soup back into your pot over medium heat and stir in the cheese, half and half, and cornstarch if you're using it.  (Note: I find it works best to put the cornstarch, or flour, in a small dish and stir in a few tablespoons of soup and then add it to the pot.  This prevents lumps).  Add salt to taste and serve.

Sausage and Leek Stuffing

1/2 lb bulk sweet Italian sausage
1 stalk (?) leeks, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 carrots, diced
3-4 cups country bread, cubed
1 egg
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tablespoon butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spread bread cubes out in a singe layer in a large baking dish and bake until pale golden, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Brown the sausage in a medium saute pan over med/high heat breaking up with a spoon as it cooks.  Once the sausage is cooked through, transfer it to a bowl with a slotted spoon leaving the drippings behind.  Add the leeks, celery, and carrots to the saute pan with the sausage grease and cook until just softened.

Mix together the sausage, vegetable mixture, and bread cubes and transfer to a 6x6 baking dish or small casserole dish (alternatively, if you'd like a thinner layer, you can use an 8x8 brownie pan). 

In a seperate bowl, mix together the egg, chicken broth, and milk.  Pour the liquid mixture over the stuffing and break up the butter in small piece over the top.  Place in the oven and cook for about 45 minutes.

1 comment:

pvtalley said...

You made all that just for yourself? WOW! Did it take a long time? And where are the pictures of the apple tart?