Friday, November 16, 2012


Good lord. I'm supposed to be talking about this right now: 

But this is what I'm eating right now: 

I know, it's only 11:07 am, but God Almighty am I HUNG-OVER. Man, was last night fun though! It was the Paskin's Annual Thanksgiving Dinner, which they host one week before Turkey Day each year. 

They provide the turkey and everyone brings a side dish (sweet or savory). Unfortunately, I found a bottle of bourbon at some point, hence the greasy cheeseburger and fries. I'm just grateful I stuffed myself with a ridiculous amount of delicious food in the process or I'd really be hatin' it today. 

To add some color, last year there were 48 pounds of turkey, 42 pounds of ham and 67 side dishes and desserts. If you leave hungry, it's your own fault. It's one party that I am very grateful to make the invite list! Not only is it super fun—and filling, it kind off kicks off the holiday season. 

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It's the most food-centric of holidays, so of course I love that, but what I love more is celebrating the many things in my life I'm grateful for. I know it sounds like a bunch of crap, but it's true: I love my family! I do actually count them as a blessing in my life. And friends are the family you choose, so having a Thanksgiving celebration with that particular family is really special to me. So, Mike and Sarah, I have two things to say to you: 
1) "Thank you for hosting such a wonderful event!" and
2) "I'm sorry I drank all your Maker's Mark and wouldn't leave your house until like 1:40 AM."

While I love the traditional dishes of Thanksgiving (stuffing or mashed potatoes, anyone?), I thought I'd mix things up a little this year and bring something atypical. I'm glad I did because this dish was awesome and a fabulous compliment to turkey. 

The red quinoa and toasted walnuts give this dish a wonderfully nutty, earthy quality, while the roasted carrots and dried cranberries add the perfect sweetness. The mix of spices lends an exotic note to it—and make me want to get on a plane and jet off to Morocco. I would highly recommend you make this for your own Thanksgiving celebration next week, but if it's not quite traditional enough to make the cut, then by all means make it the next day to enjoy with your leftovers. 

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. May you have much to be thankful for this year! 

Roasted Carrot and Red Quinoa Salad
from Food & Wine

2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 bunches of baby carrots (about 1 1/2 lbs)
Freshly ground black pepper
7 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup red quinoa
2 cups water
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
5 oz mixed salad greens
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk the paprika with the turmeric, cumin, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne, cardamom and 1 tsp each of salt and pepper. In a medium bowl, toss the carrots with the onion and 2 Tbsp of the oil. Add 1 Tbsp of the spice mix and toss to coat. Spread the vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring once or twice, until tender. 
2. Meanwhile, spread the walnuts in a pie plate and bake for about 7 minutes at 400 degrees until golden. Let cool, then coarsely chop. 
3. In medium saucepan, combine the quinoa with 2 tsp of the spice mix and the water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 17 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a ford and let cool slightly. 
4. In a large bowl, whisk 2 Tbsp of the oil with 1 Tbsp of the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Add the salad greens and toss to coat. Spread the greens on a large platter. In the same bowl, whisk the remaining 3 Tbsp of oil with the remaining 1 Tbsp of lemon juice and the zest, mustard and and 1 tsp of the spice mix; season with salt. Add the quinoa, walnuts, cranberries, parsley and roasted vegetables and toss well. Spoon the quinoa salad on the greens and serve.  

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