Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thanksgiving is just around the corner!!

So, although I'm sure many of you own your own calendar and know full well what time of year it is, I just had to write a quick shout out to my favorite holiday of the year: THANKSGIVING!!!
I really think is should be mulitiple times a year. I mean, turkeys aren't seasonal, and they are usually frozen anyway, so, why not stock up and have them a few times a year!? I've pretty much decided that we need a deep freezer for the garage so I can buy them now when they are on sale, and feast on them every couple months. And the same goes for pumpkin pie. Who said you could only eat them in the fall when they are easily canned and frozen for months and months! 
Anyway, needless to say, I am super excited to put on my Thanksgiving feast. It's quite a spread. I make everything from scratch (minus the turkey, I do buy that) from my pear/sausage stuffing (which I guess isn't entirely from scratch either since I start with a box of stuffing...), apple-basil-cranberry sauce, red wine gravy, etc. SOOOOO YUMMY!!!
Here are a few of my favorite recipes. This next time around I'm going to have to take some better pictures for my collection.

  • 1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup apple cider, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped

Yields: 6 to 8 servings

  • Place a medium pot over medium heat with the cranberries, orange juice, apple cider (hold back about 2 tablespoons), sugar, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper. 
  • Bring liquid up to a bubble then reduce the heat to medium and cook until the cranberries start to break apart and the mixture becomes saucy, about 5 minutes. 
  • In a small bowl, stir together cornstarch and reserved apple cider, and stir the mixture into the simmering cranberries. Add the apples and cook until tender, and the mixture thickens, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the basil and let cool to room temperature. Serve at room temperature. 

  • 1 16-ounce box traditional stuffing mix
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 8 ounces spicy sausage (2 links)
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 3 sprigs thyme, stems removed and leaves finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs sage, stems removed and leaves finely chopped
  • Giblets and neck from the innards of 1 turkey, left whole
  • 1 Vidalia (sweet) onion, finely chopped
  • 3 stalks celery (about 1 cup), finely chopped
  • 8 ounces mushrooms (cremini or white button), sliced
  • 2 pears, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 cups liquid (equal mix of wine, beer and vegetable stock)

Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Empty the stuffing mix into a large mixing bowl and reserve. 
  • Place a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat with the EVOO, about three turns of the pan. Add the sausage, turning occasionally, and cook about 4 minutes per side. Remove the sausage from the pan, allow to cool slightly, then roughly chop it up and reserve. 
  • As soon as the sausage is removed from the pan, add and melt the butter. Add the onion, celery, mushrooms and pears to the pan and allow them to cook 5 minutes, until they start to get tender. Add the herbs, cook a minute or two, then add the liquids, turkey giblets and neck and simmer 5 minutes or so. 
  • Remove the turkey giblets and neck from the pan and stir the chopped sausage into the veggies and pears. Pour everything in the pan into the bowl with the stuffing mix, tossing everything lightly to combine it all. Stuff the turkey with the prepared stuffing and roast. 

My family's SECRET turkey recipe. Haha, alright, not so secret, but it's so amazing, it should be. ;)

Turkey directions
1. Defrost turkey in fridge for 3-4 days.
2. De-feather turkey and take out packet/giblets
3. Take FLUFFY stuffing, stuff turkey, both ends, use a spoon. Don’t cram it in there, just drop it in, otherwise it won't cook all the way 
4. Use stuffing pins to close up the bird (3-4) on top and bottom. Needle and a thick string works well too.
5. Place Turkey breast down on a roasting pan. 
6. Bake at 300 degree for 1 hour to kill off any bacteria
7. Turn heat down to 170 degrees overnight (or whatever the lowest setting is on your oven)
8. Turn oven up to 200 degrees after you wake up (you want the turkey temperature up to 190)
9. Put the thermometer right above the leg not touching bone to help you monitor the temperature.
10. 1 hour before you want to take the bird out, turn it breast side up, turn oven up to brown skin (and in my experience, to bring it up to 
        the correct temperature)
11. Place turkey on cutting board and let rest for up to 30 minutes so the juices don't run out when you carve it.
12. Make the red wine gravy in the roasting pan. And serve!

  • Pan drippings, plus butter as needed to make 4 tablespoons fat
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 3 cups broth (turkey, beef or chicken)

Yields: Approximately 4 cups

  • Pour off all but 4 tablespoons fat from pan drippings. (If you don't have 4 tablespoons fat in the pan drippings, add butter to compensate.) Place the roasting pan over medium heat and sauté onion and garlic until tender, 5-6 minutes. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. 
  • Add flour and completely mix all ingredients. Cook the flour with the vegetables for about 1 minute. Add wine and scrape up all the bits stuck to the bottom of the roasting pan with a wooden spoon. Whisk in the broth and simmer until thickened, 2-3 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper, as needed. Serve warm. 
  • Note: Depending on the flavor you want for your gravy, you can add in any of the following ingredients to shake things up - orange juice, pomegranate juice, tarragon, rosemary, thyme, horseradish, white wine, apple cider, red bell peppers or mushrooms. 


And last but not least, my dessert!!!

Mile-High Pumpkin-Caramel Pie

  • 24 Squares chocolate graham crackers, crushed (1 ½ cups)
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 LG egg white, plus 3 whole eggs
  • 2 ¾ cups heavy cream
  • 1 15-oz can pure pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 28 caramel candies
  • 1 oz bittersweet chocolate for grating
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, stir the graham cracker crumbs and butter until combined. Press the mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of the 9-inch pie pan; freeze until set, about 15 minutes. In a small bowl, beat the egg white with a fork and lightly brush on the pie shell. Bake for 10 minutes; let cool.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the 3 whole eggs, 1 cup cream, the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt until just combined. Pour into the pie shell and bake until just set, 40-45 minutes. Let cool slightly, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours, refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  • In a bowl, microwave the caramels with ½ cup cream at high power until melted, about 1 ½ minutes. Stir until smooth, then let cool to room temperature.
  • Using an electric mixer, whip the remaining 1 ¼ cups cream until soft peaks form. Drizzle in the caramel and beat until well blended. Spoon the caramel whipped cream on top of the pumpkin filling and refrigerate until completely chilled. Before serving, coarsely grate the chocolate on top of the pie.

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