To me food is like music, it fills your soul, makes you feel loved, brings people together and dances around your palate. In my family, we cook from the heart. We know a good cookie can turn your frown around. A warm home cooked meal makes you feel loved. And sharing those moments are the connections that we think of when life feels like a lot.
I don’t dabble in savory much here on my website because baking sweets is my happy place. But I wrote this recipe for Montana Women Magazine and needed to share!
I come from a big loud greek family. We always had at least 1 extra person at dinner, you never left to my YiaYia’s house (greek for grandma) hungry or without a cake in your hands and you knew you could always be fed far beyond your hunger level.
Growing up around family made leaving for college and post-graduate life hard. Suddenly Sunday’s were sleepy and consisted of a salad in my college apartment and thinking of those loud Sunday dinners that lasted way past the point of bedtime for school on Monday.
When my husband and I got married and moved from Bozeman, Montana to Florida, we became even farther away from both of our families. We were in a big kid house, with just the two of us and our dog. November 11th, we got the keys to our house and moved into an empty house with a few boxes and duffle bags of what were “ours” from our wedding and before. Mostly, clothes, silverware, pots and pans and my husbands Air Force uniforms. With my husband at training all day, I took to the new house with fury to make it feel like home. Moose, my 9lb rescue pup at my ankles going from room to room to add little to no decor, since we had only what fit in my Subaru to move to Florida with us, I tried to make a house a home. I started to realize that the biggest thing we were missing was that warm smell of orange, sage, cranberry and olive oil that made November the most savory month of the year.
On November 15th I had successfully invited every person in Drew’s Air Force class over for Thanksgiving dinner, although we had no table and no chairs. I knew that was next on the list! We had only a handful of friends who weren’t going home for the holiday and that was all I needed to show Drew and our friends some much needed family love during this time of year.
I am a deep planner. I had the desire to emulate my mom’s menu for Thanksgiving this year. Our first Thanksgiving as a married couple, in a big kid house, with our friends, all very very far from home. I started to plan out my menu, and then called my mom. She walked me through the recipes that she had made up years prior while prepping meals for our big fat Greek family.
Our menu every year consists of:
- Cranberry Roasted Brussel Sprouts
- Pumpkin & Sage Muffins
- Orange Cranberry Sauce
- Green Salad with seasonal delicata squash, sunflower seeds, and more fixins!
- Garlic Mashed potatoes
- Apple + Pumpkin Pie
I made my menu off of my mom’s and headed to the Air Force base grocery store. I filled an entire cart with all my goodies and ran home to prep-out the meal so Thanksgiving day could be spent walking to the beach, and eating at least 3 cinnamon rolls each! Cinnamon rolls, that is a tradition that Drew and I started when we lived in Florida. At least once a month I would make homemade gluten-free & vegan cinnamon rolls for him and his class. I would prep them the night before, and wake up 15 minutes before him to bake them off so they were warm for his friends at school. Those little moments are why I love food so much.
Furiously, I peeled potatoes, sliced brussel sprouts, prepped veggies for the salad, and tossed muffins into the oven, with Moose staring at me like I was a crazy woman. I face-timed my mom to make sure I had the right ratio of brussel sprouts to cranberries on the baking sheet. She was also prepping our her vegetables for the holiday. I had a moment where the whole world stood still and I felt like I was back in her warm kitchen slicing brussel sprouts with her. That’s what is so amazing about family. Although we were 2,000 miles apart, we were both performing the same tasks to make our families feel loved through a special meal. Recipes that have been passed down from generation and generation stand the test of time and link us back to times of love and laughter.
That Thanksgiving, I had prepared enough food to feed 20 people and we ended up having just 3 of us, and 3 dogs for our holiday dinner. The wine was flowing, we were laughing and the dogs were sleeping off their ½ pound of turkey dinner.
sweet, roasty and delicious for Thanksgiving or any other occasion!
5 cups of cut & washed brussel sprouts
2 cups of washed whole cranberries
2 tbsp of olive oil (enough to coat the veggies)
5 sprigs of fresh sage
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with tin foil
Rinse your brussel sprouts and peel the outer few leaves off to ensure they are bug free
Slice the end off and slice 2-3 cuts widthwise down the sprout so each slice has a flat side
Rinse your cranberries and add to the bowl of sliced brussel sprouts
Roughly chop your sage to allow aromatics to shine through
Add olive, sage, salt and pepper to your bowl of cranberries and brussel sprouts, using your hands or tongs toss gently to allow the oil, salt and pepper to coat your veggies
Place vegetables on a baking sheet and place in the oven to roast for 20-25 minutes until golden brown with crunchy edges
Serve warm and enjoy!
My heritage, my family and my connection with food makes me who I am. Those moments in the kitchen that may look like a disaster are why moms, grandmas and great-grandma’s always want you around. Feeling the love of your family in each bite holds a special place in my heart with food. As silly as it may sound, the recipes that were my YiaYia’s and my moms are the most special recipes in my collection. When I cook them for my friends and husband, I feel their connection to that moment as well.
Take a breathe, hug your loved ones and say thank you to the traditions and special moments. Those are what you look back and and tie you together many miles apart.