November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving Recap

So, I had the big T-day early. That is what happens when two people who have never had their own Thanksgiving dinner buy a fresh turkey instead of a frozen turkey - then freak out and cook it since who knows how long you can keep those damn things in the fridge.

But, that is fortunate for you, since I can tell you what recipes rocked and what recipes just rolled.

Witness the fantastic gluttony:

Thanksgiving Food Table #1 Thanksgiving Food Table #2

Continue for pics and recipes!

Sweet Potato Balls from Paula Deen: These were much milder than I expected, and not too sugary at all. I ignored the comments from reviewers and made the recipe as instructed. They were great! The coconut topping is mixed with cinnamon and a little sugar. Be very careful not to overcook, as the marshmallow insides will melt and the balls will collapse (heh).

Store bought pecan pie. Looordy this was so good! Warmed in the oven at 350f for 20 minutes and served with whipped cream.

The dessert platter. (Not shown - Ooey Gooey Pumpkin Bars)

Citrus Cherry & Walnut Cookies (Recipe in a future post)

1 granny smith apple, halved or quartered
1 orange, halved or quartered
1 lemon, halved or quartered
1 stalk celery, halved or quartered
1 med. onion, halved or quartered

Rinse turkey with water and pat dry with paper towels. Rub turkey with butter, sliding some butter under the skin if you so choose. Season with salt and pepper inside & out of turkey. Add fruits & veggies to turkey & truss the bird. Cook for 3 hours in a roasting oven, or until turkey is 180f.

This turkey was incredibly juicy and flavorful. If you aren't hung up on having crispy skin, which my husband sticks his nose up at most of the time, a roasting oven might be a great way to go. It frees up your oven and cooks the bird typically a lot faster than an oven. I have a 22 quart roasting oven that I picked up for $30 at Costco.

Oyster Stuffing:
1 extra large loaf of white bread (1 1/2 loaves if using regular sized loaves)
1 can whole oysters (either canned or refrigerated)
2 stalks celery, small dice
1 med. onion, small dice
Dried Sage to taste (I used roughly 1 or 2 teaspoons)
1/2 to 3/4 stick of butter
Splash of veg. or olive oil

Add oil and melt butter in saute pan. Add the celery and onions and cook until soft, but not caramelized (this takes 5 - 10 minutes, approx). In a large bowl tear up bread into bite sized pieces. Add the butter, onions and celery mixture and toss lightly. Add oysters to bread, breaking them up with your fingers into small pieces. Add sage and toss until incorporated. Heat at 350f until warmed through.

You can also add a bit of melted butter on top of the stuffing so it does not dry out on top while cooking. I covered the stuffing with tin foil while heating to avoid the drying out factor.

Cranberry Sauce:

Originally I was going to use an Alton Brown recipe for a tart cranberry dipping sauce, but I tarded out and couldn't find the bag of cranberries at the grocery store. So I bought two cans of cranberry jelly with *whole* cranberries. I attempted the AB recipe with 1 can of cranberry jelly, but this did not work at all.

Instead I made a quick cranberry sauce, as the jellied stuff really doesn't bother me.

1 can cranberry sauce, with whole cranberries
1 small can crushed pineapple
Splash of OJ

Mix until incorporated.

Homemade Brown Gravy:

According to the mom, when you add cornstarch to gravy, you should first dilute it in a little bit of cold water, then add it to your gravy.

1 extra extra large can of chicken stock
Drippings from your turkey (I had quite a lot, as I used a roaster oven)
Beef Base (the paste kind of bullion)
Cornstarch & Water

Add stock to turkey dripping and heat until simmering. Add a small spoonful of beef base and whisk until incorporated. Add cornstarch and water mixture (I used a few tablespoons with 1/4 cup of water, and added this several times until it was thick enough). Whisk and continue simmering until desired thickness is reached.

Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots:

1 bag frozen carrots (normally I use fresh carrots, but I was trying to save time)
1/4 cup or less of brown sugar
A few tablespoons of butter

Mix all ingredients and heat through at 350f.

Ooey Gooey Pumpkin Bars

These were fantastic! My husband normally doesn't like pumpkin pie, but liked these a great deal.

1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 egg
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.

Serve with fresh whipped cream.

Variations: For a Pineapple Gooey Cake: Instead of the pumpkin, add a drained 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple to the cream cheese filling. Proceed as directed above.

For a Banana Gooey Cake: Prepare cream cheese filling as directed, beating in 2 ripe bananas instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.

For a Peanut Butter Gooey Cake: Use a chocolate cake mix. Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter to the cream cheese filling instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.

Sweet Potato Balls

4 large sweet potatoes
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups shredded coconut, sweetened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large marshmallow per potato ball

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake the potatoes until tender, then peel and mash them. Stir in the brown sugar, orange juice, zest and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, toss the coconut with the sugar and cinnamon. Press mashed potatoes around each marshmallow, creating a 2 to 3-inch diameter ball. Roll the balls in the coconut mixture. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Watch carefully for the last few minutes of cooking; the expanding marshmallows can cause the potato balls to burst open.