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Posts Tagged ‘thanksgiving’

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just a few days away! I am in the midst of planning for this year’s meal and though it would be helpful to create a post with some of my favorite recipes. I hope this provides ideas and inspiration for your holiday feast.

Good Eats Roast Turkey on the Big Green EggBrandon and my dad cooked the turkey on the Big Green Egg last year and it turned out wonderfully. Alton Brown’s method for preparing a turkey is perfect and roasting it on the Big Green Egg instead of in the oven added so much flavor.

Classic White Dressing – This dressing recipe has a short ingredient list but tastes great!

Sweet Potato Casserole - With alternating rows of crunch and marshmallow topping, this sweet potato recipe is sure to please everyone at your table. I’ve been making this one for several years now. It’s delicious and you just can’t beat the presentation.

Macaroni and Cheese – I first tried this recipe as part of my 68 Days of Gourmet project. It totally won me over and I’ve been singing its praises ever since. Try it, you won’t regret it!

Creamed LeeksWhile searching for nontraditional sides for last year’s meal, I came across this highly rated recipe for creamed leeks. This dish ended up being a surprise hit with the whole family – even those who had never tried leeks before.

Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions and Shallots – This was another of the dishes that came out of my effort to mix up our sides. This recipe even had self-proclaimed brussels sprouts haters professing their love.

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake – Pumpkin cheesecake is a fun addition to a dessert spread full of pies.

Pumpkin Tart with Gingersnap Crust – This tart is unbelievably easy to prepare and delicious. The gingersnap crust is what really sets this off, especially when topped with a dollop of whipped cream.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


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My dad made this dressing recipe from Cuisine at Home several years ago and it’s been a family staple ever since. There is nothing fancy about this dressing and the ingredients list is surprisingly short but it sure is good – especially topped with gravy!

My grandmother has always been the dressing maker for our family Thankgsivings but even she got on board with this recipe. If you’re looking for a classic, traditional dressing recipe, this one’s for you!

One Year Ago: Macaroni and Cheese and Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake (both great Thanksgiving recipes!)

Classic White Dressing
(Recipe source Cuisine at Home, December 2007)

Ingredients:

8 cups French bread, cubed and staled (cube and let sit until dried out)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 stick unsalted butter
2 cups onion, diced
2 cups celery, diced
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh sage, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 eggs, beaten until frothy
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and coat a 2-quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place casserole dish on a foil-lined baking sheet and set aside.

Soak bread in milk while you prepare other ingredients.

Melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add onions and celery and cook 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until soft. Stir broth, onion mixture and herbs into bread and then add eggs, salt and pepper and gently stir until incorporated. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for one hour or until center is set.

Yield: 10 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 17

I was so excited to prepare our Thanksgiving feast with my dad this year. It’s rare that we have the chance to be together in the kitchen and we’ve never cooked the Thanksgiving meal together. This was the first year that Thanksgiving was at my parent’s house instead of my grandmother’s house and while Brandon was in law school we stayed in Birmingham for Thanksgiving due to finals. My mom pitched in with two killer desserts – Sweet Potato Pecan Pie and Apple Cranberry Pie.

We emailed back and forth about the menu for several weeks. We had the main dishes set but wanted to mix things up with the side dishes. I spotted these Creamed Leeks on the Epicurious Thanksgiving Guide and thought they sounded like the perfect accompaniment to our meal. I’m embarrassed to admit that I had never worked with leeks before and I was oh so thankful that my dad had taken to the time to watch a video of the test kitchen director cleaning and preparing the leeks for this recipe.

I wasn’t sure how these would go over with the dinner crowd but I was happy to find that they were extremely well-received. I did get several comments on what a different side dish it was (which was what I was going for!) but everyone enjoyed them – some even went back for seconds.

These Creamed Leeks would be a fabulous side dish to any holiday meal!

Creamed Leeks
(Recipe source Gourmet, November 2006)

Ingredients:

3 1/2 lb leeks, root ends trimmed
2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (from a country loaf, crusts discarded)
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
3/8 teaspoon black pepper, divided
6 tablespoons(3/4 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees (we had other things going on in the oven and couldn’t have the temperature that high so we cooked them a little longer at a lower temperature).

Cut each leek into an 8-inch length, measuring from root end, and halve lengthwise. Then cut crosswise into roughly 1 1/2-inch pieces, you should have about 8 cups). Wash leek pieces in a large bowl of cold water, agitating them, then lift out and transfer to another bowl. Repeat with clean water, then drain leeks well. Watch this video if you have never worked with leeks before.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a medium sized heavy skillet over medium heat. Stir in bread crumbs, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp and pale golden. This should take around 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add leeks and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover the skillet but leave the lid slightly ajar to allow steam to escape. Cook for about 12 minutes, until tender, stirring occasionally.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer leeks to a gratin dish. Slowly pour cream over leeks and scatter bread crumbs on top. Bake for about 15 minutes, until cream is bubbling and thickened and crumbs are golden brown.

*Notes:
– Bread crumbs can be cooked 1 day ahead, cooled completely uncovered and kept in an airtight container at room temperature. Scatter bread crumbs over leeks just before baking.
– Leeks can be cooked and assembled in dish with cream (but not sprinkled with crumbs) 1 day ahead. Cool completely, uncovered, then chilled, covered.


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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 10

I just finished sampling a slice of this cheesecake. I love cheesecake and I love pumpkin and this combination didn’t disappoint. Brandon’s first comment was, “I can’t believe how much it tastes like pumpkin pie.” I think what I like best about it is that it’s not too sweet. The balance of flavors is perfect and the texture is nice.

This cheesecake was published in Gourmet in November 2000. It’s received over 300 reviews and maintains a 4-fork rating. It’s definitely a winner if you’re looking for a holiday dessert. This cheesecake is a nice change from the traditional pumpkin pie. But don’t save it only for Thanksgiving, it’s a great dessert to serve throughout the fall and holiday season.

I substituted ginger snaps for the graham crackers in the crust because I love holiday cheesecakes with ginger snap crust. Also, you can omit the bourbon if you’d like but the bourbon flavor is not very strong.

If you’re a cheesecake and pumpkin lover this dessert is for you!

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Sour Cream Topping
(Recipe source Gourmet, November 1990)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CRUST
3/4 cup graham cracker or ginger snap crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

FOR THE FILLING
1 1/2 cups solid pack pumpkin
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)

FOR THE TOPPING
2 cups sour cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)

Directions:

FOR THE CRUST
Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Combine the crumbs, pecans and sugars in a bowl. Stir in melted butter and press mixture into the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of springform pan. Chill crust for 1 hour.

FOR THE FILLING
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt and brown sugar in a large bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together cream cheese and granulated sugar for about 3 minutes. Add in cream, cornstarch, vanilla and bourbon and mix until incorporated. Add in pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth.

Pour filling into chilled crust and bake the cheesecake for 50 to 55 minutes, until the center is just set. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 5 minutes (leaving the oven on).

MAKE THE TOPPING
Whisk together sour cream, sugar and bourbon in a bowl.

Spread sour cream mixture evenly over top of the cheesecake. Bake for 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan on a rack for at least an hour. Place in refrigerator and chill covered overnight.

Release cheesecake from pan and serve.

Yield: 8-10 servings

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altonturkey

Two posts in one day? I can honestly say I never thought this would happen but this turkey is just too beautiful not to share with my readers while everyone is planning Thanksgiving menus. I can’t take any credit for this bird – it’s my dad’s practice turkey for Thanksgiving. He made this last weekend on the Big Green Egg using Alton Brown’s Good Eats Roast Turkey recipe. If you’re looking for a turkey recipe I think you should give Alton’s a try. I was shocked to see it has received 2,289 reviews and still has 5-stars. Pretty impressive! My dad was very pleased with how this turkey turned out and will be using this recipe on Thanksgiving day.

One of the benefits of cooking your turkey on the Egg is having your oven space available for all your sides and desserts. Also, the smoke flavor and crisp skin is delicious! If you don’t have an Egg, no worries. Alton’s recipe provides step-by-step instructions for the oven.

The only thing my dad did differently was let the turkey air-dry in the fridge for 12 hours before cooking. This dries the skin to help it become golden and crisp while cooking.

Can’t wait to try this turkey on Thanksgiving day!

Good Eats Roast Turkey on the Big Green Egg
(Recipe adapted from Alton Brown)
Printable Recipe: Good Eats Roast Turkey on the Big Green Egg

Cook Time:

BRINE
14-16 hours (1 hour per pound)

AIR CHILL
12 hours

COOK TIME
2 hours 30 min (max)

Ingredients:

1 (14-16  pound) fresh turkey

FOR THE BRINE
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries (my dad substituted 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon)
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water

FOR THE AROMATICS
1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 rosemary sprigs
6 sage leaves
Canola oil

Directions:

TO MAKE THE BRINE
Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Remove the brine from heat, cool to room temperature and refrigerate.

TO BRINE THE TURKEY
The day before you’re roasting your turkey, combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed. Cover and refrigerate or set in cool area for one hour per pound. Turn the bird once halfway through brining if your turkey is not fully submersed.

After brining time is up, remove the bird from the brine, rinse and pat dry. Place in refrigerator and allow to air chill overnight, about 12 hours.

TO ROAST THE TURKEY
If using the Egg, set it up with a plate setter or pizza stone. Place a cast iron grate (feet side up) on top of that and finally you’ll place the turkey in a roasting pan on top of that (after Egg is preheated). Preheat the oven or Big Green Egg to 500 degrees.

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey’s cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

Roast the turkey in the Big Green Egg with lid down or on lowest level of the oven for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees (or bring the grill temperature down). Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees and remove the turkey to rest when it reaches this temperature. (After 2 hours my dad’s turkey was 163 degrees in the breast and 171 degrees in the thigh).

Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil for at least 15 minutes before carving.

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