New Recipes, Nov. 2011 - Thanksgiving
We've been in our home for a little over two years now and have had many wonderful family parties but not a Thanksgiving, until now! We've officially crossed the threshold into adulthood by hosting our first Thanksgiving complete with all the fixings and our own unique twists.
Mike made the Stuffing
I'm not sure why I got the urge to make one of my contributions the stuffing. When I first started thinking about what I wanted to make, my mind wanted something truly unique. After some thought, nothing really jumped out at at me. Then, while talking to Heather, I realized trying to be different just didn't make sense for such a traditional holiday. With a lot of her help we decided on a Classic Bread Stuffing with Sausage recipe from the November issue of Rachael Ray's magazine.
We changed it up quite a bit. Given the competition for the oven on a Thanksgiving morning, we ended up doing almost all of the work inside a crock pot. After sauteing the sausage, celery, onion, currants (we substituted those for the cranberries), and herbs on the stove, I mixed them with all the other ingredients in the crock port, put it on low heat, and let it do its thing for a few hours before dinner.
It was a pretty good stuffing for my first go at one, but as usual, it was far from an individual effort. The currants (which were Heather's idea) were very interesting and made for that unique kick I was looking for during my original brainstorming. I enjoyed it, even as we had more of it as leftovers throughout the remainder of the holiday weekend.
Heather made the Beans
I had to use this huge bag of green beans that I grew and froze during the summer. I loved the idea that we were still being thankful for our garden. Staying with the idea of tradition for our first Thanksgiving, I made a simple green bean casserole (no recipe) using cream of mushroom soup and sauteed onions with an almonds/panko crust on top. Delicious!
Heather made the Turkey on the Grill!
The Thanksgiving issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray was great. I love this magazine and it always inspires me to cook for my family. I think this issue is the reason we decided to take on Thanksgiving this year. I made the Fresh Herb Grilled Turkey by starting with a fresh 14 pound Wegman's Organic Turkey. I asked a Wegman's butcher to cut the turkey into parts for me (magazine's suggestion) because I knew it would totally stress me out. He did a beautiful job and gave me a $5 coupon to boot. I followed the instructions as exactly as I could and the herb crusted bird came off the grill looking amazing. Flavors were great but I wish it was a bit juicer overall. Grilling the bird was our unique twist but the leftover makeovers were maybe enjoyed a bit more by us than the dinner in a shepherd pie and a hash.
Heather made Pumpkin Pie for Dessert
I love watching Paula Dean cook but I don't usually make her recipes because they're often high in saturated this and that. When searching for a recipe for scratch pumpkin pie, I couldn't pass this one up. I actually followed a ginger snap crust recipe from Emeril and filled it will Paula's pumpkin mixture that blended cream cheese, eggs/yokes, half/half, and of course butter. The texture of this pie was luscious, not quite a cheese cake but still very creamy from the fat. You have to have pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and one made with homegrown roasted pumpkin and lots of decadence did not disappoint anyone!
Mike made Berry Pie for Dessert
A berry pie. Baking. Sounds like a lot of possibilities for me to screw things up. A quick search turned up a recipe from one of my least favorite TV personalities, Sandra Lee's Triple Berry Pie. Her show has always bothered me. I took it to be a lazy person's cooking show. Oh how silly and ignorant I was. What she is doing with her show is giving people like me (wannabe cooks) a way of making good food by minimizing possible mistakes.
The recipe is very straightforward. Defrosted frozen berries are poured into a pre-made frozen pie crust and they are topped with a granola crumble. The crumble took just enough work to make the entire dish something special regardless of how much of it was pre-made. Look at me now. I'm selling her show.
Even given the straightforward nature of the recipe, Heather was still watching over me enough to avoid two potentially huge catastrophes. Pies are interesting things, especially when the recipe can't be exactly sure how large your pre-made pie crust is. I proclaimed that we should definitely use all of the frozen berries we bought. Nope. Not a good idea. Heather decided on the proper amount and it ended up perfect. It filled the shell scrumptiously. When the pie was ready to go in the oven, she stepped in again and gave me a pizza stone to put under it. She laughed and said, "If it wasn't for me, you would have put that pie right on oven tray, wouldn't you?"
The end result was an extremely good pie, but sure enough, there was a bit of an overflow during cooking. Thankfully, someone was smart enough to put that pan under it.
What a great first Thanksgiving at our place. After writing this you can certainly see our go-to recipe finder is foodnetwork.com. You can always count on all the wonderful chefs there to have amazing crowd pleasing recipes. With the first one accomplished, we can look forward to many more!
Mike on November 29, 2011 at 10:05pm EST