A “First Advent” feast with family and friends lights the way to Christmas

Since last Wednesday, the kitchen in our house has been a very busy place as we prepared to welcome 12 good friends for Thanksgiving and 12 family and more friends for a “First Advent” feast on Saturday night.

On Thanksgiving, we experienced what henceforth shall be known as a “heritage feast” — a Thanksgiving potluck — with friends bringing treasured recipes to share. On the table, along with a very tasty organic turkey from our oven,  was one of our family  treasures, celery stuffed with cream cheese and olives. Friends brought amazing examples of their own Thanksgiving culinary traditions: a wonderful mashed root vegetable savory which is believed to have originated in Rhode Island and a terrific macaroni and cheese are but two of the examples.

Saturday, we set the table with a heart healthy variation on Mom’s wonderful spaghetti sauce featuring sweet turkey sausage and ground turkey a top pools of al dente linguini. And, after dinner, we gathered around the big coffee table to light the first candle of Advent, said our  prayers and then savored that puffy apple pancake I blogged about last Friday.

Heart Smart Spaghetti Sauce

Ingredients: 1 can (29 oz.) Italian style tomatoes (canned Jersey’s are available now in most supermarkets), 2 cans (equal to 20 oz.) tomato sauce; 3 cloves crushed garlic; 1 large, sweet onion, chopped; 1 tsp. dried oregano; one tsp. fennel seeds; 1 tsp. sugar( optional) 1 tablespoon canola oil; one large can salt free mushrooms, 1 pound ground turkey; 1 pound sweet (or hot) turkey sausage; 2 packages healthy pasta — whole wheat or low glycemic spaghetti or linguini.

Directions: in a large skillet, saute the oil, onions, garlic and fennel until golden, then add the sausage and brown. When the sausage is brown, remove from skillet and brown the chopped meat. Drain off the excess liquid and add the mixture to tomatoes in a large pot and simmer for an hour and a half.

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, drain and toss with sauce in a large, pasta bowl.

Pasta aside, since root vegetables are the freshest of the fresh at the farmer’s markets right now, you might enjoy trying Hannah’s Mashed Root Vegetables as a wonderful taste for any seasonal plate. You’ll find that with a little flour or plain mashed potatoes added the next day, the left overs make wonderful pan fried pancakes.

Hannah’s Mashed Root Vegetables

Ingredients: 3 pounds of assorted root vegetables such as parsnips, turnips and carrots, coarsely chopped; 1 teaspoon sea salt; 2 cups light cream; 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter;  1/4 cup fresh thyme; 1/4 cup rosemary sprigs


Place all the vegetables in a large pot, fill with cool water to cover and season with the teaspoon of salt. Bring to boil over medium heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables are very tender. While the vegetables are cooking, combine the light cream, butter and herbs in a pot and heat over low flame to melt the butter. Do not allow the cream mixture to boil. Shut off the heat, cover and let steep until needed. When ready to use, remove the herb stems.

Drain the vegetables and put them into a large mixing bowl. Mash with a potato masher. Stir in the warm cream mixture slowly and mix until the vegetables are the consistency of mashed potatoes. Garnish with chopped chives if you wish.


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