Thanksgiving in … February?

Is there anything better than your sweet, lovely, amazing kindergartner making friends with another sweet, lovely, amazing kindergartner? It’s what we all want, right? And yet … there is something even better. When a kindergarten friend has an equally sweet, lovely, amazing family, and especially when that family loves food.

Even it was the first time we had these particular friends over for dinner, I tried some new things, hoping they wouldn’t mind. Thanksgiving food feels homey and traditional, but I don’t like fooling with tradition on the actual holiday. Who wants to ruin someone’s favorite part of the meal on the holiday that’s All About the Meal? And so, I like to make a non-Thanksgiving turkey dinner every once in a while, so I can try out some new things without shaking up the real deal in November. Our guests were good sports about the new recipes, even when the turkey took a bit longer in the oven than I had expected.

And why not February? We’re already sick of (extremely) cold weather, but we’re still staring down at least another few months of it. Thanksgiving reminds me of the beginning of winter, when we’re looking forward to hunkering down near the fire. And yet, it was more than two months ago, so the taste of leftovers has stopped lingering in our mouths.

And so, we mix the new with the old!

First, some cheese, nuts, and fruit:

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That’s dried apricots, salted roasted almonds, gruyere, Danish blue cheese, sliced honeycrisp apples, fig jam, brie with honey, and some good old fashioned Ritz crackers. I microwaved the brie and honey until it was gooey and warm. Ordinarily, I do that in the oven, but the oven was full, and the microwave worked like a charm. This kept everyone happy while the turkey continued to cook. The kids were happily playing together, so it was a great time to warm up and catch up before digging into the main event.

I made the turkey with truffle butter (from How Easy is That?), with a turkey breast. If you make a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey with this recipe, make sure that you buy one with the bones in and the skin on. The truffle butter is rubbed onto the meat of the turkey, under the skin.

It was amazing.

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While the truffle butter wasn’t overwhelming, it kept the turkey from drying out, and the meat subtly absorbed the taste of the truffles. There was just enough flavor that traveled onto my plate that even my green beans tasted a little truffley, which is to say, delightful.

Next, mushroom and leek bread pudding (from Foolproof). I assembled this the day before, and baked it at the same time as the turkey. It was definitely easier that way, and I think the flavors really had time to bond during their time together in the fridge. This is full of awesomeness: pancetta, leeks, mushrooms, gruyere, and rustic country bread. This is full of things that I despised as a child and now adore.

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Some steamed green beans and rolls (courtesy of Rhodes) rounded out the meal.

Our friends brought some amazing wine, and some stories to go with it.

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I know nothing of wine, but I love food and drink with a good story to go with it, and our guests had some wonderful insider information on this wine and the region in France where it’s produced. I love that they shared it, and those stories, with us.

Last but not least, the pecan pie! We all agreed that it was different than a traditional pecan pie, and not just because of my rogue walnuts. It was the orange zest! It made it so interesting, and enough different from the pecan pie that we all know and love, to make it seem like a completely different dessert. It was really good, especially with homemade whipped cream.

So, we are thankful for friends, food, and wine, for a warm home to enjoy them all, and for a weekend to enjoy the leftovers!

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Filed under Appetizers, Dessert, dinner, Side dishes and Vegetables

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