It’s my absolute favorite time of the year!! I went on a walk yesterday and the leaves are finally turning colors which makes me so happy. Living in Texas we don’t get to enjoy the fall weather except for about 2-3 weeks out of the year so when it gets nice out you must get outside. That’s why it’s the perfect time of year for our annual FRIENDSGIVING!
I started hosting Friendsgiving back in 2011 which is crazy it’s been 9 years now… Most years I would be hosting, but I am moving in a couple of weeks so that definitely wasn’t happening. Plus, it’s way more fun to host it in someone’s backyard like we did last year. Hopefully next year I’ll have a backyard and can host again!
Cooking is one of my favorite things to do… If you follow me on Instagram, I’m always sharing food pictures or new restaurants. And when I travel I also always plan my itinerary around the best food spots in the city. So, it’s no surprise I love Friendsgiving because it’s alllllll about food!
I am known in my friend group for making the mac n’ cheese. I’ve tried several recipes, but I think my favorite is still the Instant Happiness Mac n’ Cheese which uses four cheeses. The name literally says it all… How could you not like it?! I’ve also tried a few other recipes like Pumpkin Mac n’ Cheese. Yep, that’s right…pumpkin. Sounds weird, but OMG it’s so good. Last year, I used the same recipe but made mac n’ cheese bites which I think is way more convenient for a Friendsgiving.
This year is a little extra special because I’ve been keeping a secret… Like I mentioned above, I really love food and cooking (and wine duh). I think the reason I love it so much is because it brings people together and it’s always a fun time. So what’s my secret??
I’m launching a recipe sharing app!! My friends and I came up with the idea earlier this year when we were on a girls trip. Since we all love to cook, we were sharing our recipes from the trip with each other via our group message. However, we were discussing how difficult it is when we want to make one of the recipes and have to scroll back through so many text messages. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if there was an app where I could create a group with my friends and we could all share our recipes with each other in the app??
That’s how Saunté was born.
THANKSGIVING RECIPE IDEAS
Mac n’ Cheese
TURKEY LEG RECIPE
6 turkey legs; thawed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Let butter come to room temperature. Use 1 tbs and rub butter all over turkey legs. Finely chop thyme and rosemary. Sprinkle salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary onto turkey legs. Heat cast iron skillet on high. Turn heat down to medium, and add 2 tbs butter. Place 2 turkey legs into cast iron skillet and sear on each side 2-3 min. Repeat until finished.
Quarter onion and lemon then place in bottom of large crock pot. Place turkey legs on top of onion and lemon. Cook on high 2-3 hours or low 4-6 hours.
PUMPKIN MAC N CHEESE
2 cups dried elbow macaroni (8 ounces)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
4 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded (1 cup)
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
1 tablespoon snipped fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf sage, crushed
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sage leaves (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook pasta in a large pot following package directions. Drain cooked pasta, then return to pot.
- For cheese sauce, in a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Add whipping cream and milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly. Stir in cheese, pumpkin, and sage until cheese is melted. Stir cheese sauce into pasta to coat. Transfer macaroni and cheese to an un-greased 2-quart rectangular baking dish.
- In a small bowl combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, walnuts, and oil; sprinkle over pasta. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until bubbly and top is golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. If desired, sprinkle with sage leaves.
INSTANT HAPPINESS MAC N CHEESE
1 pound large elbow macaroni
1/2 cup panko
1 cup grated parmesan
1 cup grated fontina cheese
1 cup grated gruyere cheese
1 cup grated sharp cheddar
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Boil water for macaroni, and cook pasta to al dente. While pasta is cooking start the cheese sauce.
In a large pot, add 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Melt butter, and add 2 tablespoons flour. Whisk continually for 1 minute. Add 1 cup milk and bring to boil; keep whisking! Reduce heat to low-medium. Slowly stir in fontina, gruyere, sharp cheddar, and 1/2 cup of parmesan. Add salt and pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon). Before draining pasta water, add 2 tablespoons of reserved pasta water to the cheese sauce. Drain pasta, and add to cheese sauce pot.
In a 9×13 casserole dish, use 1 tablespoon of room temperature butter to coat the dish. Dump macaroni and cheese into casserole dish.
To make the topping, in a small bowl melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Mix in 1/2 cup parmesan and panko. Sprinkle on top of macaroni. Bake for 15 min.
SWEET POTATO BITES
4 sweet potatoes scrubbed but not peeled
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 bag large marshmallows
1/2 cup pecan halves
pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Cut sweet potatoes 1/3 inches thick
- Spray cooking sheet with cooking spray
- Place sweet potatoes on cooking sheet and sprinkle with salt
- Bake sweet potatoes 20 minutes (flip after 10 min)
- Melt butter in microwave safe bowl
- Mix butter with brown sugar and cinnamon
- Drizzle brown sugar mixture over sweet potatoes
- Top each sweet potato round with 1 marshmallow
- Broil until puffed and toasted
- Place 1 pecan half on each sweet potato
APPLE AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH CROSTINI’S
1 cup Apples
2 cups Butternut squash
1/4 tsp allspice
2 tbsp Balsamic glaze
1/2 tsp Cinnamon, ground
1/4 tsp Cloves, ground
1/4 tsp Nutmeg, ground
6 tbsp Olive oil
8 slices French bread
1 cup cream cheese
Preheat the oven to 425° F.
Toss the butternut squash and apples with 2 tbsp olive oil, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Place in an even layer on a baking sheet and into the oven for 15 minutes. Slice bread and coat with light layer of olive oil. Remove butternut squash and apples from oven. Broil bread for 2-3 min. Remove the bread from the oven and spread with the cream cheese, then the roasted squash and apple mix. Drizzle with the balsamic glaze.
SKILLET GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE
1 pound haricots verts (French green beans)
2 (1-oz.) slices whole-wheat bread
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh garlic
1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese (about 6 Tbsp.), grated and divided
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
4 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Preheat broiler to high.
- Cook beans in a large saucepan filled with boiling water 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Plunge beans into ice water; drain well.
- Place bread in a food processor; pulse until coarse crumbs form. Stir in parsley, 1 tablespoon oil, garlic, and 2 tablespoons cheese.
- Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium. Add onion and mushrooms; sauté 8 minutes. Stir in flour; cook 1 minute. Stir in stock, milk, and sherry. Bring to a simmer; cook 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat; stir in remaining 4 tablespoons cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add beans to pan; toss to coat. Sprinkle evenly with breadcrumb mixture. Broil 2 minutes.
CRANBERRY APPLE CIDER OLD FASHIONED
Apple Cider concentrate
1 cup whole cranberries
1 orange sliced
1 cinnamon stick
Dash of bitters
1 shot whiskey
Heat apple cider, cranberries, and orange over low heat (simmer) for a few hours or however long you’d like. It makes the room smell amazing! Pour 1 shot whiskey into the glass. Pour apple cider into the glass. Splash of bitters. Rim the glass with maple syrup and sugar. Then garnish with a burnt cinnamon stick.
And that’s a wrap! Another fun and festive Friendsgiving with some of the best ladies I know… Seriously, I am SO THANKFUL that we have such a close group of blogger friends. It’s hard not to have “co-workers” you can complain to and talk things out with so that’s what these girls are to me. Without the encouragement and support we give each other I’m sure many of us might have given up a long time ago… But look where we are now!
photos: The Retro Penguin