Well, our 20 pound turkey has been thawing in the fridge since Saturday, and I've finally firmed up what I'm making for Thanksgiving and what our 7 guests will be bringing.
Our Thanksgiving menu will include:
Roast Duck (homegrown, brought by guests)
Mashed Potatoes, Gravy
Sweet Potatoes (brought by guests)
Squash (brought by guests)
Peas (brought by guests)
Salad (brought by guests)
Crumb-Topped Apple Pie
Cranberry Dream Pie
Key Lime Pie (brought by guests)
The beverages with dinner will be cider and water.
With dessert, I plan to serve coffee and hot spiced cider; tea will be available for those who prefer it.
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 methods and 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, sauteeing plenty of chopped celery and onion in the butter before adding it. Other wonderful additions to stuffing include dried cranberries and/or some crumbled, cooked, drained sausage.
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, so gravy hounds can really enjoy themselves and ladle on the gravy to their heart's content. (On second thought, it's probably not all that good for their hearts...)
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.
For cranberry sauce, I am going to have a can of jellied sauce, but will do something with whole cranberries also. Last year we tried and enjoyed a baked cranberry sauce recipe from the Susan Branch e-newsletter. This year, I may make that again, but I'm also considering a cranberry chutney.
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 three and a friend is bringing a key lime pie.
First, my best advice on pie crust:
MRS. T’S OIL PIE CRUST
(for a 1-crust pie)
1 1/3 c. flour
1 t. salt
1/3 c. canola oil
3-5 T. milk
Stir together flour and salt in a small to medium bowl. Measure oil into glass measuring cup, add milk to oil. Pour milk and oil into the flour/salt mixture. Combine with a fork till it forms a nice ball of dough. Take a wet dishcloth and wash off a section of your counter. Lay a large piece of wax paper on the wet area (so it’ll stick). Put the dough on the wax paper and lay another piece of wax paper on top. Roll out the dough to desired size and shape between the 2 pieces of wax paper. This works really well and saves you having to flour the counter!
For a double crust pie, use
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup milk
Mix and roll out as above.
I have double or tripled this recipe with no problems. However, I do find that when doubling or tripling, I end up with an extra crust or two, so keep that in mind when figuring how much pastry you’ll need.
Many people think they wouldn’t like a pie crust made with oil. I always use an oil crust for my pies, and they always turn out well. I think an oil pastry is much less finicky than one made with shortening or butter; the dough is much easier to work with. And of course, a crust made with canola oil is healthier, too!
I should also add that many pastry-challenged people use the refrigerated, already-rolled-out sheets of pie crust, and they like them a lot. I'm too frugal to buy them, but I like them too.
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 -- as my friend Marilyn always tops her pumpkin pies -- with a baked pastry cutout in the form of a turkey.
The third pie I'm planning to make is a new one to me, but I like its festive appearance, and the recipe sounds quite simple. You can find the recipe here: Cranberry Dream Pie
If you would like to see more of my Thanksgiving recipes, do click on the "Thanksgiving" link in the word cloud of labels in the sidebar to the right. Enjoy!
I hope that these recipes, even if a bit last-minute, may enhance your family's Thanksgiving this year!