Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Our Thanksgiving Menu
Our Thanksgiving menu will include:
Mashed Potatoes, Gravy
Sweet Potato Casserole
Pearl Onions (brought by guests)
Fruit & Nut Tossed Salad
Crumb-Topped Apple Pie
Key Lime Pie (brought by guests)
I suppose most of you already have your menu set and know exactly what recipes you'll be using. But just in case, I will share some of my tried-and-true recipes here.
For the turkey, I have tried a number of roasting methods. But the foolproof, best way I have found is to buy a turkey-sized oven bag and follow the chart and directions for roast turkey. Moist and wonderful every time. I roast it unstuffed.
For the stuffing, I buy a bag of Pepperidge Farm herb-seasoned stuffing and follow the directions on the bag, sauteing plenty of chopped celery and onion in the butter before adding it. Usually, I cook the stuffing in a crockpot on low, adding a little chicken broth if necessary from time to time to keep it moist. One can bake the stuffing in the oven, of course, but I like the crockpot better. And the oven is usually pretty full of other things, anyway.
For mashed potatoes, these are the best:
MAKE-AHEAD MASHED POTATOES
8 medium to large potatoes, peeled and cut up
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp. onion powder
Salt to taste
In large saucepan or dutch oven, combine potatoes and enough water to nearly cover them. Bring to boil; reduce heat, and cook, covered, 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain. Mash the potatoes, gradually adding cream cheese, sour cream, salt, and onion powder. Beat with electric mixer (or by hand if you prefer) until fluffy. Spoon into a greased 3-quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley.
Cover and refrigerate overnight. *
One hour before serving, remove potatoes from refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350º. Bake potatoes uncovered for 45 to 60 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
* Potatoes can be baked immediately if you prefer to eat them the same day. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
This recipe is a must for Thanksgiving and other gatherings when large amounts of people will be eating mashed potatoes. For our Thanksgivings when we have 20+ people, I usually double this or make 1 1/2 times the recipe.
For years I struggled with making turkey gravy, often resorting to packets of mix or canned or jarred gravy. The following recipe, which I found online, is just perfect and so easy. And it makes a lot!
EASY TURKEY GRAVY
5 cups turkey stock with pan drippings
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 cup milk
1/3 cup flour
Bring the turkey stock to boil in a large saucepan. Stir in soup, and season with poultry seasoning, pepper, seasoned salt, and garlic powder. Reduce heat to low, and let simmer.
Warm the milk in the microwave, and whisk in the flour with a fork until there are no lumps. (Or shake the milk and flour together in a plastic shaker.) Return the gravy to a boil, and gradually stir in the milk mixture. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Be careful not to let the mixture scorch on the bottom of the pan.
Sometimes I make a squash dish and a sweet potato one. This year I decided to make it easy on myself and have just one orange vegetable.
SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE
2 large cans cut yams, drained and mashed*
1/4 cup margarine, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup evaporated milk**
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour (may use whole wheat)
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup softened margarine (may use 3 Tablespoons oil instead)
Mix the first six ingredients in a large bowl; beat with electric mixer until well combined. Pile into a 2-quart baking dish. In another bowl, stir together topping ingredients. Sprinkle over top of potatoes. Bake the casserole at 325º to 350º for 35 minutes.
Makes 6 to 8 side-dish servings.
May be made ahead and frozen for future use. Simply thaw overnight in refrigerator and bake as directed.
* Or substitute about 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, cooked, and mashed.
** Or substitute evaporated skim milk or fat-free half & half.
This year, I think I am going to omit the topping and use mini marshmallows instead, just for a change of pace.
I wanted something green to add to our feast, but didn't want it to be a heavy broccoli or green bean casserole. I decided instead to use a favorite salad recipe.
FRUIT and NUT TOSSED SALAD
1 large or 2 medium bunches romaine, torn in bite-size pieces
1 can (11 oz.) mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted (I toast nuts in the microwave -- quick & easy)
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tblsp. vegetable oil
3 Tblsp. sugar
In a large bowl combine all of the salad ingredients and gently toss together. Put all of the dressing ingredients in a small jar. Cover securely and shake to combine. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to coat ingredients with dressing. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.
This is a delicious salad! It’s also very good served with a Mexican meal -- the light, fruity taste is a nice contrast to the spicy hot flavors. I think I will add a few dried cranberries for Thanksgiving, too.
For cranberry sauce, I am going to have a can of jellied sauce, but am also trying a baked cranberry sauce recipe from the new Susan Branch e-newsletter.
We have to have pie. Even for just a few people, I think it's nice to offer a choice of pie flavors. I am making these two and a friend is bringing a key lime pie.
CRUMB TOP APPLE PIE
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
Unbaked 9” pie shell
6 apples, peeled, cored, sliced
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Dash of salt
1/2 cup butter
Begin by mixing together the brown sugar and spices in a small bowl. In the pie shell, alternate layers of apples with the spice mixture. Sprinkle each layer with lemon juice before adding another layer. When all apples and spices are in pie shell, make the topping by mixing the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and dash of salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until crumbs form. Top the pie with the crumb topping.
Bake the pie at 450º for 15 minutes; then reduce the heat to 350º and bake 30 minutes more. Serve warm with cheddar cheese or ice cream on the side.
This excellent pie comes from Jane & Michael Stern’s wonderful cookbook, Square Meals. I have made this pie so many times that its page in my handwritten cookbook is freckled with apple juice and spices.
EASY PUMPKIN PIE
1 9-inch unbaked pie crust
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 425º. Combine all ingredients except pie crust in a large bowl and beat with electric mixer until well combined. Pour into crust.
Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350º. Bake pie for 35 to 40 minutes longer or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool pie before cutting or serving. Refrigerate leftovers.
I have never really cared for pumpkin pie, I must confess. A couple of years ago I found the above recipe on line and I have never looked back. This one is truly delicious and so easy. I am going to top it with a baked pastry cutout in the form of a turkey.
Hope these recipes, even if a bit last-minute, may enhance your family's Thanksgiving tomorrow!