By Ashton Keefe

Published on November 25, 2015

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Photography by Ashton Keefe

Photography & recipes by Ashton Keefe

Girlsgiving is the new Friendsgiving. Gather your ladies and celebrate with elegant and delicious bites, perfect for all your female friends.

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Photography by Ashton Keefe
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Photography by Ashton Keefe

Toasted Barley Salad with Mushrooms and Crispy Kale

SERVES 6 TO 8

This is the Thanksgiving side you take to your future mother-in-law. Super simple, doubly impressive and holds up for days. P.S. It’s perfect for post-holiday healthy (not sad) desk lunches.

1 bunch curly kale, de-stemmed and torn into large pieces

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

3 cups dried barley

1 shallot, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lemon, juiced

2 lb. assorted mushrooms, such as cremini or shiitake, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 425° F. Place kale on a sheet tray and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook for 10 Р12 minutes, until kale is crispy and dry. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot and toast barley for 2 – 3 minutes until slightly fragrant. Cover barley with water and bring to a simmer. Salt the water generously and cook until al dente, about 20 minutes.

While barley is cooking combine shallot, lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Whisk in 1/2 cup olive oil and toss with cooked barley, while warm. Add kale.

In a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sear 1/4 of the mushrooms and season with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Repeat three more times, using 1 tablespoon and 1/8 teaspoon of salt with each batch. Add mushrooms to barley and toss to incorporate all ingredients. Serve warm, room temperature or cold.

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“Leftovers” Toasts

MAKES 12

This combination of day-of and day-after is perfect for entertaining. If you’re someone who likes the leftovers (ahem…) more than the actual feast – it’s perfect.

12 slices bread, butter and toasted

1 cup cherry cranberry sauce, see below (or regular cranberry sauce)

6 slices cooked bacon

1 cup arugula

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 roasted squash, cut into bite size pieces

Zest of 1 lemon

1 sprig fresh thyme

Extra virgin olive oil, for serving.

Spread cranberry sauce or ricotta cheese on each toast. Top cranberry sauce with 1 slice bacon and arugula. Top ricotta cheese with squash, lemon zest and thyme. Drizzle all with olive oil.

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Turkey Roulade with Boozy Dates

MAKES 12

For ladies watching their waists and wallets, roasting a whole turkey breast is the way to go. Simply have your butcher “butterfly” the boob and fill with whatever you have on hand. Better yet, it cooks in an hour.

1 cup chopped pitted dates

1/2 cup cherry liqueur or brandy

1 egg

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1 cup low sodium chicken stock

1 onion, diced

1 apple, diced

1 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 turkey breast, deboned and butterflied

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Add chopped dates to a small bowl. Gently heat liqueur to a simmer and pour over dates, allowing them to reconstitute for 5 minutes. Pour off excess liquid.

In a large bowl add egg and whisky gently, add breadcrumbs and stock, mixing until wet crumb-like mixture. Add dates, onion, apple and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Lay bird flat and season evenly with remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Stuff the inside cavity (not skin side) with “stuffing” and roll up. Tie with string and place in a roasting pan or in an oven-safe pan. Get fancy (if you please) and place over a bed of potatoes, carrots, celery or autumn fruit.

Roast for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 155° F. Tent and allow the temperature to rise to 165° F. Slice and serve.

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Cherry Cranberry Sauce

MAKES 2 CUPS

Like your favorite friend, tart and sweet at the same time. It’ll be your new favorite sauce… that also doubles perfectly for a day-after sandwich spread.

1 bag frozen cranberries

1 bag frozen sweet cherries

2 clementines, juiced

2 tablespoons sugar

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and simmer over low heat until most of the liquid is absorbed and cranberries have popped.

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Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts and Pomegranate Seeds

SERVES 4- 6

What girl doesn’t love Brussels sprouts? If you know one, invite her over to try this.

2 lb. Brussels sprouts

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

Juice 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 425° F. Halve half the sprouts and place on a large baking sheet. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt and roast for 10 Р15, or until slightly charred and al dente. If needed, use the broiler.

Thinly slice the remaining sprouts and place in a large bowl. Like you would kale, “massage” the sprouts with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add hazelnuts, pomegranate seeds and roasted sprouts to the bowl. Toss to combine with lemon juice and remaining tablespoons olive oil.

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Warm White Chocolate and Frozen Berries

SERVES 6

Pie can get boring. There, I said it. Instead make your holiday spread a little festive… and interactive.

4 cups assorted frozen berries

3 cups white chocolate chips

1 cup heavy cream

Place frozen berries in a large bowl. Melt chocolate and pour over berries. The chocolate will harden, creating the “interactive” part.

Whip cream to soft peaks and top berries and chocolate. Give each lady a spoon and have them “break away” pieces of chocolate, berries and cream.