Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What are your Thanksgiving plans? (and a Thanksgiving menu)

Are you cooking a huge Thanksgiving feast? (Raises hand)
Are you heading over to a family members or friends house to celebrate the gluttonous day?

Dave's plate from last years Thanksgiving

 I'll will admit it, I love Thanksgiving and I love cooking on Thanksgiving! Sure, I worry about making sure everything turns out ok and that the food is timed just right to come out of the oven at the same time, but it's still fun for me. I could cook like I do on Thanksgiving every day. Seriously, if anyone wants to pay me to cook all day long let me know!

We will have 5 people at our house this year and while I thought I would be able to pare down the list of dishes we will be having, I don't that that is going to happen. Our family has certain foods that are expected to be served at Thanksgiving including, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, and of course, turkey. The green bean casserole has to be the kind from the recipe on the back of the French fried onions can, although I am very tempted to make this version.

I use an entire 5 lb bag of Yukon gold potatoes to make mashed potatoes along with some half & half, butter and salt and pepper (after running the potatoes through a potato ricer). A pound of mashed potatoes per person sounds about right doesn't it :)

And the star of the meal, the turkey. Since I've been cooking Thanksgiving dinner the past 9 years, wow, seriously 9 years, that makes me feel old, I've made Cooking Light's Apple Cider-Brined Turkey and it's awesome. I also get a frozen turkey and brine it, I know they tell you not to do that, but I haven't had a problem with my turkey being salty. I have seen some dry brine recipes this year too that look pretty good, but I am going to stick with the method that works for me. If you are looking for a brine recipe, you can't go wrong with the one above. I don't make the gravy that is with the recipe though,  I just throw onions, celery, carrots, low sodium chicken stock in the bottom of the roasting pan, strain it when the turkey is done and thicken it with a mixture of flour and water. I also bought 2 boxes of gravy from Trader Joe's when we were back in Iowa. We had it at my sister's last year for Thanksgiving and it was great for non-homemade gravy. Plus it seems like we always run out of gravy before leftover mashed potatoes and turkey, now the problem is solved!

Also on our menu this year, scalloped corn casserole, crescent rolls, stuffing (not stuffed in the turkey though),  Stovetop turkey stuffing (Dave's request..) and pumpkin cheesecake. The scalloped corn casserole is a favorite of my sisters and we had it last year at her house for Thanksgiving (the first year I hadn't made Thanksgiving dinner myself in 8 years!). Dave loved it, so we have added it to the menu this year.

I have made homemade rolls in the past years, but they just aren't the same as crescent rolls, and it's one less thing to have to make ahead or on Thanksgiving. I'll take the help where I can get it. :)

One of my favorite Thanksgiving foods is the stuffing. It's my grandma's recipe and it is almost more like a bread pudding that stuffing. It's sweetened with apples, raisins, dates, cinnamon, sugar, cloves, and nutmeg. While nothing can compare to the stuffing that comes out of a turkey, I'd rather not deal with stuffing a turkey so I just throw the bread and spices in a loaf pan with chicken stock to moisten it, bake it at 350 for 30 minutes or so.

Dave is a Stovetop Stuffing fan. I am not, or really a sage fan either, there will be no sage on my Thanksgiving table. But for $0.89 I am happy to get Stovetop for Dave!

On to dessert! I usually make a traditional pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. I've made my own crust and bought pre-made crusts, but this year we are going a different route. Pumpkin Gingersnap Cheesecake! A few years ago when we had quite a few family members at our house for Thanksgiving we had pumpkin cheesecake and it was excellent. I am using a new recipe this year though, so hopefully it will turn out as good as it looks!

What's on your Thanksgiving menu this year?

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