Awe Thanksgiving…..football, food, drinks, family, friends and the biggest food baby you will ever conceive. Every year my husband, kids and I go to my in-laws home where we get to hang out with his lovely sisters, their significant others, where we get to watch the cousins play, eat amazing food and relax. It is a wonderful time, just what Thanksgivings are all about. If you were to look through the window you may see my husband and his Dad playing cards, the cousins running around, my mother-in-law in the kitchen and my sisters and I surrounding her munching on anything we can get our hands on. My mother-in-law makes a mean turkey. Always tender and moist. With all of the amazing side dishes. Everything is beyond delicious.
But of course there was that one year I had Thanksgiving at our home. Not too many years ago. It was the worst Thanksgiving dinner ever. Disaster and failure after disaster and failure. For starters I brined the turkey in a wonderful brine. But then I forgot that a brined turkey (or any meat for that matter) cooks faster than if it weren’t brined. So the turkey was over cooked. Enter the second amateur mistake, I was dying to make oyster stuffing! But I could only afford canned oysters and still decided to make it. Gross. Then….as if all the fates were unaligned I tried to thicken the turkey drippings to make a gravy and I had mistakingly put powdered sugar in the cornstarch container. Fail. Flat on my face fail. But what made it all the better was that I was surrounded by family who loved me enough and were kind enough to say that it was a delicious dinner. I knew they were lying through their teeth but I received their generosity and enjoyed the rest of the weekend. Thankful for my husband’s family, who is my family. The fire was going, the cousins were playing, football was on and we were all together.
Unfortunately for the first time, well….ever we are celebrating Thanksgiving with just the four of us. Logistics took its toll and we are staying home for Thanksgiving. Even though we are totally and completely sad to miss our family, I all of a sudden got excited at the notion that I get to make Thanksgiving dinner not only in my pajamas but I get to redeem myself! I get to do what I love to do the most (besides being a mom and wife) which is to organize a grand meal and then cook and bake all day long. I started rummaging through my bazillion recipes wondering what fantastic, gourmet Thanksgiving recipes I was going to make and then it dawned on me. I want basics. Back to basics. I don’t want gourmet I want traditional recipes. And so that is what I’m doing.
**Please note I have changed my menu. I realized that I had made this menu prior to my reading Bon Appetit’s Thanksgiving issue as it was hidden under several newspapers. So I have changed my turkey and stuffing ideas. Here is my update menu:
I have decided to do the traditional Herb-Roasted Turkey out of the recent Bon Appetit Magazine issue. I love the simplicity of it as well as all the fresh herbs that will accompany this bird. This recipe also works best for my situation since it is for a smaller bird. I’m sure that most people will be having a larger crowd than I so you would need to find a different recipe that pertains to larger birds. I found organic turkeys at Costco for $2.99 a pound, which for me, seems really good and do-able. It is too late now but if you have a Natural Grocers near you, you can pre-order your turkeys there for an amazing price ($5 deposit). They have a wide variety of different kinds of turkeys ranging from organic to all natural. I feel that for me, as I dropped the ball with Natural Grocers, Costco was my best bet. I got a 13 pound organic, in brine turkey. So my brining is already done for me. Although I do love to make a good brine, I feel this will alleviate some stress that accompanies bringing. Such as finding a container large enough to fit the turkey as well as my refrigerator. Remember to defrost your turkey in the refrigerator several days before roasting. Defrosting it on the counter will assure that the outside of the turkey will rot before the inside is defrosted. Here is the turkey recipe I will be using:
I wanted to the basic, mashed sweet potatoes with the miniature marshmallows on top. I didn’t want nuts or candied anything. Just wanted a creamy potato consistency coupled with a sweet marshmallow topping. I found this recipe on allrecipes.com. I had a hard time finding a recipe that was not gourmet. I knew I could probably come up with a recipe on my own but felt it was “safer” to follow a recipe. I always use fresh as opposed to canned. A rather large change I’m going to make is that I want to use yams as opposed to sweet potatoes. We’re going to have mashed potatoes anyways, no need for two potato dishes. The only difference I see is that they I will not boil them, I will roast them and make this dish the day prior as I will need the oven for the turkey on Thanksgiving. Here is the basic recipe I will be using:
This is basic, traditiona, nothing fancy such as the theme of our Thanksgiving this year. I do not follow a recipe but I’ll tell you what I do. I buy organic russet potatoes. Peel and cube 4 large potatoes. Boil until they slip off of an insert fork. Drain, then add to a bowl with (I never measure so I hope I am being precise) about 1/4 butter and 1/2 cup sour cream. Beat with beaters or use a potato masher until smooth, no chunks. Salt and pepper to taste.
This is another recipe I just eyeball. I will be hopeful that there will be enough drippings from the turkey to work with. If not, I will have some organic turkey stock on hand. I will empty the roasting pan, after the turkey is removed to set, into a fat separator and wait until all of the fat has separated. Once it has separated I like to use the fat on the top to make my roux as opposed to butter. More amazing taste. Take about 1/4 cup of turkey fat (substitute in butter to make up if there is any difference) and heat in a small saucepan. Add about 1/3 cup of flour, make a roux and then add the turkey drippings, stir until blended. If there is not enough turkey drippings I will use some stock and make it to the consistency that I desire.
If you would like to follow a recipe I loved this one (even though I do not use the porcini mushrooms, porcini powder nor the Madeira). But it is good!
Aiden, frothing at the mouth. Me: one more picture honey and then we can eat! Oh the perils of blogging.
Sauteed Green Beans
We’ve got to have something green, right? I absolutely loathe the traditional green bean casserole made with the can of condensed mushroom soup and those awful crunchy onions. I thought that since the oven will be in over-use mode it may be a good idea to make something on the stove top. I’ll just heat a teaspoon of organic garlic olive oil (compliments of Trader Joes) and add about a pound of trimmed and halved green beans. Cook until al dente. I like them when they have a slight crunch. Salt and pepper to taste. It will be nice to keep something simple…
I’m not sure where this recipe originated from but it is my favorite side dish of the day! It is so refreshing!! I love to smear this all over my turkey and rolls. And the next day, holy smokes, it absolutely makes the turkey sandwiches. Can’t have a sandwich without some of this relish. And it is so super simple. In a food processor add a bag of cranberries, 1 orange (peel only half of it) cut into quarters and 1 cup of sugar. Process until a nice relish consistency. Refrigerate until use.
Butter Rolls: Makin’ it Easy
I am going to make this easy, I am going to buy the bag of frozen dinner rolls. You just put them into a greased glass baking dish and defrost all day. Bake when the turkey comes out of the oven. Easy and they are really, very good.
I have decided to make the “Simple is Best” Dressing out of my Bon Appetit magazine. I purchased a loaf of premium Italian bread. I will open up the bread the day before to let it become a bit stale. I will then follow this recipe:
I have always used the Libby’s pumpkin pie recipe. Always. I never use their canned pumpkin but I love the recipe. Always comes out to perfection. I have recently roasted and pureed our pumpkins from Halloween and have frozen the pumpkin in 2 cup increments. I look forward to using that pumpkin. Here is the yummy recipe:
As for the pie crust I love the Martha Stewart pie crust. I posted that recipe under the Mini Pies vs. The Blues post. Check it out.
Chocolate Cream Pie
I know, 2 pies for 1 family!? We need something chocolat-y though, right!? I found this recipe in my Eating Well Magazine this month. I love chocolate cream pie, so as long as it has the Oreo crust as opposed to a pastry crust. This recipe uses chocolate wafers for the crust and I may just use Oreos. We’ll see how I rebellious I feel that day. Here is the yummy recipe:
I know, like we need this. Actually, we do. We will be eating early, but later than lunch and I will not be preparing a lunch so we need something to snack on. Plus I want to make sure my husband is happy in front of football, hopefully entertaining the kids as I cook, and food always makes him happy. I am going to make Jamie Gwen’s Hot Clam Dip and an easy baked brie with bread. Both I can easily bake right in the toaster oven.
Here is the recipe for the clam dip. I change nothing it is so good! Although, since we drain the clam juice, I freeze that and use it in a seafood stock when I make a chowder or something. No need to waste precious clam juice! I serve this heavenly dip with a sour dough round that you have people just pull off bits to dip in. Very casual.
For the brie, you get a tube of refrigerated dinner french bread loaf and wrap it around the brie wheel, pinching it at the ends so it sticks together and makes a lovely boarder around the brie. Bake as directed on the dinner roll tube. I don’t like to add nuts and jelly to this as others like to. I like it simply bread and cheese. But you can dress this up any way you want. I know that the fig jam and walnuts is a popular hit.
So there you have it! Our Thanksgiving is going to be intimate, comfortable and cozy. I picture the fireplace going, football on the TV, kids playing and me cooking. My life is blessed beyond measure. Happy cooking, baking and Thanksgiving!