ready for thanksgiving?!

Can you believe Thanksgiving is only a little less than a week away? I am completely in shock. And giddy.

Family starts showing up the beginning of next week and the cooking has already commenced. One more (hopefully!!) trip to the grocery store and the festivities can begin!

This is my first year to cook the Thanksgiving dinner and I’m so excited. Since this is my first time, and since I’m not an organized blogger, I don’t have pictures to guide you step-by-step through the cooking (maybe next year). But, I do have a menu. Here’s what I’m going to be making.

Obviously. The recipe for this is my mother-in-laws and we’re going to be cooking it together. Can’t wait. I’ll have to share her tips and tricks later.

I know it’s not kosher in some kitchens, but we believe in stuffing in this family. Not dressing. As in in-the-bird-stuffing. Here’s my mother-in-law’s recipe – simple but classic.

2 bags of Seasoned Cubed Stuffing (Pepperidge Farms is what we use)
3/4 cup onions, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
3 large green apples, chopped
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
Liver from turkey, chopped
Water, as indicated on stuffing bag
Optional: cranberries, raisins, walnuts, pecans, mushrooms.

Saute livers in 1/4 cup butter. Add onions and celery (and mushrooms, if using). Cook until tender. Add apples, remaining butter and water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add stuffing cubes and eggs. Add any additional ingredients (dried fruit or nuts). Mix thoroughly. Cool stuffing entirely before putting inside the turkey. Make it the day ahead and cool in the fridge overnight. This helps with food safety!

Cranberry Sauce
We have multiple forms of cranberry sauce in our house.

Canned Cranberry Sauce
Traditional shaped-like-the-can cranberry sauce from your childhood.

Cranberry Apple Sauce
Mix 1 can whole berry cranberry sauce with a jar of unsweetened apple sauce.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce
This year I’m going to make this cranberry sauce as well!

source: chris loves julia

Sweet Potatoes
We’re making two kinds of sweet potato pie this year as well. Hey, it’s Thanksgiving – more is better, right?

Sweet Potato Pie
3 lbs sweet potatoes
1 cup butter
2 cups cornflakes
Milk, as needed
Nutmeg, to taste
Cinnamon, to taste
Brown sugar, to taste

Chop and boil sweet potatoes until tender. While cooking, melt 3/4 of a stick of butter. Crush cornflakes and add melted butter. Mix well and place in bottom of a greased baking dish. Drain potatoes. Mash and add remaining butter, milk, spices and sugar to taste. Spread the potato mixture evenly over the crushed corn flakes. Gently push a marshmallow into the mixture and fill the top with as many or as few as you would like. Bake at 350° for about 25 minutes or until the marshmallows are lightly toasted. This can easily be made ahead of time and just heated.

Sweet Potato Casserole
3 lbs sweet potatoes
1/2 cup butter
1 + cups evaporated milk
3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp nutmet
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup crushed cornflakes
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup butter

Cook sweet potatoes until tender. Mash and add butter, milk, sugar, spices and eggs. Pour into large baking dish and bake at 400° for 15-20 minutes. Mix together crushed cornflakes, brown sugar, pecans and butter. Once potatoes come out of the oven, spread the cornflake mixture over top and return to the oven. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes, or until center is slightly firm.

Green Bean Casserole
I love green bean casserole. But, since I’ve been focusing this year on removing things like cream-of-whatever soups from our house, I’m going to be making it from scratch. Except for the french fried onions. Call me lazy, but I don’t want to have to fry something on Thanksgiving. It’s my fear of splattering oil, I suppose. And my kitchen clumsiness. Anyway, I’m going to be making these.

source: smitten kitchen

Garlicky Broccoli
This is a great easy side to make to freshen up some of the heaviness of the meal.

Garlicky Broccoli
Broccoli (frozen or fresh)
Olive Oil
Red Pepper
Garlic Salt

Bring water to a boil on the stove. Slice up broccoli into bite-sized pieces if using fresh broccoli. Add to boiling water and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until broccoli is crisp-tender. Make sure not to overcook it. Once broccoli is done, remove it from heat and immediately plunge it in ice water to stop the cooking. This will ensure that your broccoli won’t end up a pile of mush. While your broccoli is in the ice water, heat some olive oil in a large saute pan over low heat. Add red pepper and garlic salt. Drain the broccoli and pat dry. Once it is dry, add it to the saute pan, stirring to coat the broccoli with olive oil and spices. Add more oil and spices as needed.

Mashed Potatoes
No Thanksgiving is complete without mashed potatoes. There are, of course, a million ways to make them. My favorite way is below.

Red Skinned Homestyle Mashed Potatoes
Red Skinned Potatoes (usually you can make about 1/2 lb per person you’re serving)
Garlic (2-3 for 4 servings of potatoes, 5-6 for 8)
Milk, as needed
Butter, to taste

Wash potatoes and cut off any eyes or bad spots. Quarter the potatoes. Peel garlic cloves Bring water to boil in a large pan. Add potatoes and garlic to the water. Bring back to a boil and cook until the potatoes are fork tender. Adding the garlic to the water softens it and removes that harsh raw garlic flavor. When potatoes are done, drain the water, reserving about a cup of it. Mash the potatoes in the pan (depending on the texture you like you can use a mixer, fork, ricer, or potato masher). Add milk and/or reserved cooking liquid to potatoes until they reach desired consistency. Add butter and spices to taste. These can be made ahead of time and kept warm in a covered dish.

You can’t have turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes without gravy! So, here is how I make it.

Turkey Gravy
Drippings from turkey, about 1 cup
2-3 cups low sodium chicken broth
Salt and pepper, to taste

Let the drippings from the turkey sit for a few minutes to separate. Spoon the fat off the top. You can use the same pan you cooked the turkey in (ala the Pioneer Woman ) or you can use a new pan. I usually use a new one so that I can heat it on the stove. Add a few tablespoons of the turkey fat to the pan and heat. Add a few tablespoons of flour to the mixture and stir. It will appear dry – this is what you want. If it’s too dry, add a little more fat. If it’s too wet, add more flour. Continue to stir this mixture (called a roux) until it is a light brown color. Slowly stir in chicken broth. (Make sure it is low sodium, especially if you brined your turkey. Otherwise the gravy will be too salty.) Stir until blended. Add the drippings from the turkey (that you separated from the fat earlier). Continue to stir until thick and mixed well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Make sure to taste the gravy. You might not need salt, depending on the saltiness of your drippings.

One of my favorite memories of Thanksgiving is my mom’s popovers. Warm and airy and crispy and filled with butter and honey that drips all over when you bite into it? That’s Thanksgiving in a nutshell to me. This year I’m making popovers for Rob’s family for the first time. Yay for passing on traditions.

source: Betty Crocker

From the Betty Crocker cookbook
4 eggs
2 cups flour
2 cups milk
1 tsp salt

Heat the oven to 450°. Grease muffin tins or popover pan. (I’ve always used muffin tins, although the giant muffin tins are great too – it gives you more room for butter and honey!) Beat eggs slightly by hand. Beat in remaining ingredients just until smooth. Do not overbeat. (Beating the ingredients by hand helps make sure you don’t overbeat them. If you overbeat the batter the popovers won’t rise as much.) Fill cups about 1/2 full.

Bake at 400° for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°. Do not open the oven – this may cause the popovers to fall. Bake for an additional 20 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove popovers from pan immediately. Serve hot with butter and honey. (Add the butter and honey to the holes in the underside of the popovers.)

We’ll also be making an assortment of desserts. I’ll leave you with one more family recipe to enjoy.

Pecan Pie
1 unbaked pie crust (Here’s a helpful post on making pie crust.)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 eggs, well beaten
1 cup pecans (whole or large pieces)

Blend all ingredients and fill unbaked crust. Bake at 400° for about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and bake about 40 minutes longer or until center feels slightly firm to touch. Cool completely. Top with whipped cream and enjoy!


One thought on “ready for thanksgiving?!

  1. awesome. i hope you all have a tasty thanksgiving. who all is coming to town? also, i think i’m going to try your green bean casserole. it’s always been a favorite, but i am creeped out a little by the cans as well.

    On Fri, Nov 22, 2013 at 7:02 AM,

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