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Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

…is quite an ordeal, and we experienced our own first turkey-roasting this weekend.  We decided it would probably be a good idea to go ahead and have a faux thanksgiving dinner while it is just the two of us, so we could figure out the process with slightly less stress.  We stretched the meal over a couple of days to make plenty of sides, and our full menu included the turkey (of course), gravy, bacon green beans, rice and mushroom stuffing, scalloped potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.   I am not going to lie to you.  If you have never roasted a turkey, it is not as easy as your mother (who has most likely been doing this for years) makes it look.  However.  This recipe for lemony roasted turkey from Rachael Ray is probably as easy as it gets, with absolutely incredible results!!

For Rachael’s amazing turkey you need:

  • 1 14-16 lb. turkey, rinsed/patted dry–save the giblets and neck to make stock
  • 4 tbsp. butter, at room temp.
  • 1 lemon, zested and halved
  • 2 onions, roots chopped off and halved with skin on
  • 2 tsp. thyme
  • salt and pepper

Here is where the fun begins…as turkey newbies, we fell into the typical trap of not allowing enough time for our very frozen bird to thaw.  Give it at least three days in the fridge!  We had to push our feast back a week, but it ended up working out.  On roasting day, cut off the first two joints of the wing, but leave the drumettes attached.  Keep the wings for your stock.  Let your turkey come up to room temperature in its roasting pan for about 2 hours.

When time gets close, aka 20 minutes out, start heating your oven to 400 with the bottom rack in the lowest position.  Meanwhile, mash together the butter and lemon zest.  Proceed to smear it all over your bird (we are talking Anne Burrell love-your-meat style), then squeeze all of the lemon juice over it.  Stuff 2 onion halves and the sliced lemon in the cavity, and the other 2 onion halves in the pan.  Sprinkle on the thyme and salt/pepper to taste.  Tie the legs of the turkey together, and pop the pan in the oven for an hour.

When the first hour is up, rotate the pan a half-turn, lower the heat to 350, and roast for another hour.  Then, after the second hour has passed, baste the turkey with the juices in the pan.  Continue to roast the turkey for another half hour or so, basting often, until a meat thermometer stuck into the inner thigh registers 150-155.  Once you reach the golden temperature, use tongs to pour any juices from the turkey cavity into the pan, and save all the drippings for some great gravy.  Let the bird rest at least 30 minutes before carving, and get to work on said gravy.

Well, before you make the gravy and while the turkey is a-roasting, make you own super-easy turkey stock.  Simply save the neck, wings, and giblets (not the liver), and toss them into a big pan along with a a quartered onion (skin on), one chopped celery rib, some parsley and thyme, 1/2 tsp. coarse salt,  1/4 tsp. whole black peppercorns, and 2 1/2 quarts water.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, then knock the heat back to low, partially cover (pretty sure we forgot this step…), and simmer gently for 2 1/2 hours.  Strain off any solids and your stock is ready to go.

For the lemon cream gravy you need:

  • 2 1/2 cups pan drippings (if you don’t have enough, add some chicken stock)
  • zest of one lemon (use a vegetable peeler to peel into strips)
  • 4 cups of your homemade stock (or 2 cups chicken broth + 2 cups water)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. thyme
  • salt and pepper

I won’t lie: Schatzi made the gravy.  And it is so fantastic–it’s one of those things you will want to swim in…anyway.  Remember those onion halves from the roasting pan?  Chuck their skins and pour all of the drippings and solids from the roasting pan into a measuring cup.  Let the liquid settle (you can toss in some ice cubes to speed up the process), then skim off/discard any fat.  Return your 2 1/2 cups of drippings and solids and the lemon strips (+premade  stock if you need) to the roasting pan.

Put the flour in a bowl and gradually stir in 1 cup stock.  Slowly mix in 1/2 cup more stock.  Then, place the roasting pan over two burners on the stove over medium-high (Rachael, you are a genius.  Thanks for sparing me an extra dirty pan!).  Bring the drippings to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits as you go, then whisk in the flour paste mixture and return to a simmer while whisking constantly.  Slowly whisk in the remaining 2 1/2 cups of stock and bring to a boil, still whisking constantly, until the gravy is nice and thickened.  Season with salt and pepper, then whisk in the cream and thyme.  Discard the lemon zest strips, and the gravy is complete!

The remaining sides will follow…but wow.  This turkey was incredible.  Juicy, and so full of flavor.  Don’t even get me started on that gravy!!!

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…are perfect days to spend playing in the kitchen!  The weather was pretty terrible last Thursday, and our roads remained untouched most of the day, so Schatzi and I stayed curled up inside and decided to be productive by making a soup to help clean some clearance out of the fridge.  Our end product, which turned out to be delicious, was the result of throwing a bunch of Thanksgiving leftovers in a pot with some orzo.  We had the intention of making turkey soup, but ended up with delicious risotto instead!

For Thanksgiving clearance risotto you need:

  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 package of orzo
  • 2 cups leftover turkey, chopped
  • leftover gravy (our recipe is a few posts back; I’d say use about 3/4-1 cup)
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bottle of beer
  • salt and pepper

Start by melting the butter in a Dutch oven or large soup pot.  Add the orzo and toast for a couple of minutes, until slightly golden.  Then, add the shallot and celery and continue to cook for 3-5 minutes, until a bit tender.

Next, add about a cup of stock, the turkey, gravy, and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir until the liquid is absorbed, then pour in the beer.  Cook this mixture until the new liquid is also gone, then slowly continue adding stock while constantly stirring.  We realized about halfway through our cooking process that we didn’t actually have enough liquid for a soup, so by continuing to add what liquids we did have slowly and in small amounts, we ended up with a perfect risotto!  True risotto is made by toasting the rice in butter, then slowly adding ladlefuls of liquid, stirring until it is all absorbed.  What a pleasant surprise for us!  When the liquid stops being quickly absorbed as you add it and the rice is not crunchy when you test it, your Thanksgiving risotto is ready to eat.

Serve up a bowl of risotto seasoned with a bit more salt and pepper to taste.

It never ceases to amaze me what delicious things you can make by clearing out the fridge!  This is a delicious meal that I know we will enjoy each year in the aftermath of Thanksgiving!

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…are a Thanksgiving staple, according to most people.  In fact, Bobby Flay lost his Thanksgiving Throwdown simply because he didn’t make mashed potatoes!  Well, when we had our own after-Thanksgiving/leftover celebration, we made sure not to skimp on the taters and gravy–they are just too good to go without!

For Food Network Magazine’s perfect mashed potatoes you need:

  • 2 lbs. russet potatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup whole milk, warmed
  • Pepper

Put the potatoes, skins on, in a large pot with just enough cold water to cover.  Salt the water and bring the potatoes to a simmer.  Continue to cook them, uncovered, for 45 minutes (until they are fork-tender).  Drain the potatoes and use a dishcloth or paper towel to rub off the skins.  Add the butter and warmed milk to the potatoes and smash them with a potato masher or fork.  Finish by seasoning with salt and pepper.

For Thanksgiving this year, Schatzi’s sister Megan made a delicious vegetarian gravy that we definitely wanted with our leftovers!  I’m not sure if this is exactly what she found, but it is pretty darn close and is delicious.  You need:

  • 3/4 cup white mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp poultry seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large skillet and saute the onions and mushrooms just for a minute over high heat.

Knock the heat back to medium and pour in the broth and soy sauce.  Slowly whisk in the flour until it is dissolved.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and turn the heat to low.  Then, add the poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper, and continue simmering the mixture for 8-10 minutes until it has thickened, stirring often.

Serve a plate of potatoes topped with rich gravy.

I am so glad Megan introduced us to this gravy–it is absolutely delicious!  And, you really can’t go wrong with these mashed potatoes.  When combined, the gravy and potatoes are absolutely unbeatable!

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…are delicious, but generally require quite the amount of work to make.  We wanted some bread to eat with our turkey leftovers, and luckily, Paula Deen has a fabulous recipe for easy yeast rolls.

For these super-simple rolls you need:

  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm water (98 to 105 degrees F)
  • 2 1/2 cups plus 1/2 to 1 cup prepared biscuit mix
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Heat the oven to 400.  Be prepared to watch the rolls, as mine did burn on the bottom.  If you have great pans, it shouldn’t be a problem.  I might also try adding a piece of parchment to the baking sheet to see if it helps.  Anyway, dissolve the packet of yeast in the warm water.  Pour 2 1/2 cups of the biscuit mix in a bowl and add the sugar.  Vigorously stir in the yeast.

Sprinkle the dough with 1/2 to 1 cup of the remaining biscuit mix and knead well, 15 to 20 times.  Shape the dough into balls and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.  Cover the sheet with a damp towel, put it in a warm place (the laundry room while laundry is running is a great place), and let the dough rise for at least an hour.

When the dough has risen, brush it with the melted butter and place in the hot oven for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.

When the rolls come out of the oven, brush them again with melted butter.

Burnt bottoms aside, these rolls are delicious and are sure to be the perfect complement to whatever meal you desire!  We had them with our Thanksgiving dinner, alongside soup and chili, and smothered with honey as a late-night snack.  They are delicious with anything, at any time!  And, as far as bread goes, these are as easy as it gets.

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…are one of my favorite vegetables to cook with.  They are just so delicious!  For Thanksgiving a few weeks ago, we made Ellie Krieger’s sweet potato-pecan casserole, and I could honestly eat this stuff every day!

For Ellie’s sweet potatoes you need:

  • Cooking spray
  • 3 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans

Heat the oven to 350 and start boiling some water for the potatoes.  Salt it and cook the potatoes for about 10 minutes, or until they are fork-tender.  Then, just mash in the honey, egg, sugar, and spices, using 1/2 tsp. cinnamon.  You can use a potato masher like we did, or, if you would like a smoother texture, whip the potatoes with a hand mixer.

In a separate bowl, mix the pecans with the brown sugar and the other 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon.

Pour the potatoes into a greased 9×13 and top with the pecans.  Bake the casserole for 40-45 minutes, until it is nice and brown around the edges, then serve a scoop with your favorite Thanksgiving fixings.


This is a great casserole, and with 160 calories a serving, it is one Thanksgiving side dish you don’t have to feel bad about eating!  But, these sweet potatoes are so good, we will be fixing them throughout the Fall and Winter months–no holiday occasion necessary!

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…is abundant this time of year, and our house is no exception.  We made Paula Deen’s cranberry salad earlier this week with a few tweaks and it was incredibly tasty!

For Paula’s salad you need:

  • 4-ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 3-ounce package black cherry gelatin
  • 6 ounces dried cranberries, rinsed (we used fresh cranberries)
  • 1 cup broken pecans
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Start by draining the pineapple and pouring the juice in a small saucepan.  Add 1/2 cup of hot water and bring the mixture to a boil.  Meanwhile, dissolve the gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water.  Add it to the boiling liquids and let the mixture cool and begin to set.

Chop the cranberries in a food processor, then add them to the cooled gelatin mixture.  Stir in the pecans and sugar.  Pour the mixture into a small baking dish or mold and refrigerate until the salad is completely set.

When the salad has chilled, cut into squares and serve it up!

This is a delicious cranberry salad!  Using real cranberries adds a nice tart punch, so it isn’t too sweet, as cranberry salad can often be.  Give it a try for Thanksgiving this week!

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…is one of our favorite foods, and my family has, without a doubt, the best recipe for mac and cheese available on this planet.  We make it in the crock-pot with plenty of cheese and milk and it is about as close to culinary perfection as you can get.

For our family’s crock-pot macaroni and cheese you need:

  • 1 & 3/4 cup macaroni, cooked/drained
  • 12 oz. evaporated milk
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3 cups cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste

To start, combine the milk, eggs, and butter and season with salt and pepper.

Stir in the macaroni and 2 cups of cheese.

Pour the mixture in the crock-pot and top with the rest of the cheese.  Cover the crock-pot and cook on low for 3 hours.  Enjoy!!

Anyone who has eaten a meal with my extended family and had this mac and cheese will tell you it is the best Earth has to offer, hands down!  And, it couldn’t be easier to throw together.  Try it for Thanksgiving this year–it is sure to be a hit!!

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