Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thankful Thanksgiving Dinner

I remember the first time I planned our Thanksgiving Dinner how exciting that was!! It was back in the dark ages before 'internet' was even a word. So, I bought a magazine with ideas for Thanksgiving and Christmas and planned away. The funny thing is, that I still have that magazine as part of what became my Holiday Cookbook.

I still find the need to organize my thoughts before the big feast day, and tonight I am including you in my planning. I have been revamping my Thanksgiving recipes and grocery list in order to make everything work just a tad smoother next year too.

There is always something new I can learn. There is always a recipe or way to make that pie crust a little better than previous years.

I loose my train of thought easily, I always have. I adapted this idea from Flylady to fit my family's needs. I am going to put this on the table, then anyone can help me with the food preparation or setting everything out without feeling like they must be instructed each step of the way. My girls are wonderful cooks too and it is important that I learn to respect their needs as young women without stepping on too many toes in the kitchen. We will have many toes in the kitchen on Thanksgiving day!! 

List of Stuff to put on the Feast Table:
  1. Roast Turkey
  2. Pan Gravy
  3. Fabulous Stuffing (I use Italian bread)
  4. Cranberry Sauce
  5. Silky  Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  6. Candied Sweet Potatoes
  7. Green Bean Casserole
  8. Emily's Creamed Corn
  9. Cortland's Potato Rolls
  10. Perfect Cranberry Relish Mold
  11. Angeled Eggs (we leave out the onions)
  12. Pickles, Olives
  13. Salt & Pepper
List of Nibbly Stuff Before the Feast:
  1. Veggie Tray
  2. Crackers & Cheese
  3. Pumpernickel Bread & Knorr Dip
Dessert Table:
  1. Brown Family's Favorite Pumpkin Pie
  2. Scrumptious Apple Pie
  3. Decadent Pecan Pie
  4. Pumpkin Cheesecake
  5. Coffee
  6. Tea Pot
  7. Hot Chocolate
  8. Mugs
  9. Cream & Sugar
  10. Water Pitcher
  11. Napkins
  12. Dessert Forks

(click the pic)

The stuffing, turkey, and gravy are all part of the same preparation for this delicious meal. I should have been smarter and cooked a smaller turkey in those earlier years. I have often roasted a 20 24 pound turkey. Heavy to wash!!

So, I start by washing that big heavy bird and taking out the neck and that package of innards. I put the neck and those other gooey things into a small pot and simmer them for at least two hours. I use the neck for the gravy and give the rest to the dog for a treat. I used to use them in the stuffing but I often use sausage instead because that is what my husband loves best.

By this time I probably have the stuffing all chopped up. I have included anything from apples and nuts along with the traditional onions and celery. Before stuffing the bird, I salt and season the inside cavities. I always stuff the turkey on Thanksgiving but if I make another Turkey other times of the year, I don't bother. 

Stuff your turkey just before you slide it into the oven. Remove one of the racks from the oven and place the last rack along the second to the bottom ledge...not on the very bottom. 

I always chop a clove or two from an elephant garlic. I then poke tiny holes in the turkey with those pins that are used to hold the skin together over the cavity. Then I sprinkle and rub the garlic and butter over the bird. 

If you are not stuffing your turkey (I read that it makes for a very moist and succulent turkey) you may throw into the cavity: a carrot cut in half, celery cut in half, an onion cut in half, and a quartered apple, along with a little thyme and some sage, salt and pepper. Mix all this up with your hands.

Always pour about a half cup of water into the bottom of the pan.

Place your turkey in a pre-heated oven at 500* (yes, 500*) for half an hour only. SET YOUR TIMER!! This helps to brown the skin a bit so that the bottom of the turkey isn't mushy. You want the turkey to have a nice bronzy color. Now, turn the heat down to a reasonable 325* degrees. You won't feel so nervous now!!

Place a loose foil tent over your bird. Roast until a meat thermometer reads 180* degrees. When the turkey is done, let it set 30 minutes but an hour is fine. This gives you time to put some of the other dishes into the oven to bake, carve the turkey and put the finishing touches on your meal.

I know there might be some tips that I neglected to mention, so I am including a link with a video from All Recipes dot com. There is always something more to learn, something to improve on. This year, I am going to try the oven zapping method and I will make the buttery-herby-mixture under the skin of my turkey like shown in the video. 

Perfect Cranberry Relish Mold

This Jello mold can be served at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Yields 8-10 servings

  1. Assemble and prepare the following ingredients:

20 oz. can crushed pineapple (drain, reserving the juice)
2 pkg (3 oz each) cherry or strawberry gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1 cup whole cranberries
1-11 oz can mandarin oranges
1/2 cup chopped pecans 
1 Tblp. lemon juice

   2.  Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Add lemon juice and reserved pineapple juice.

   3.  Chill until thickened. Meanwhile, coarse chop cranberries in blender or food grinder.
   4.  Add cranberries, oranges, pineapple, and pecans to gelatin. Place mixture in holiday Jello mold or attractive  glass serving bowl. Chill until firm.

Decadent Pecan Pie


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon frozen butter (or shortening)
2 to 3 tablespoons ice-cold water


2/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup maple syrup or corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 cup pecan hales or broken pecans

1. in medium bowl, mix flour and salt.  Cut in butter (slice slivers using a steak knife), using a pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost leaves side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).

2. Gather pastry into a ball. Shape into flattened round on lightly floured surface. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. This allows the shortening to become slightly firm, which helps make the baked pastry more flaky. If refrigerated longer, let pastry soften slightly before rolling.

3. Heat oven to 375*F. With floured rolling pin, roll pastry into round 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch glass pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side. Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1 inch from rim of pie plate. Fold and roll pastry under, even with plate; press with times of fork or flute if desired.

4. In another medium bowl, beat all filling ingredients except pecans with wire whisk or hand beater until well blended. Stir in pecans. Pour into pastry-lined pie plate.

5. Cover edge of pastry with 2 to 3 inch-wide s trip of foil to prevent excessive browning. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until center is set, removing foil for the last 15 minutes of baking. Refrigerate at least 2 hours until chilled before serving. Store in refrigerator.

I have been finding all my recipes and printing up fresh copies since mine are old and some outdated. I figure this will help me keep my head together as I cook during the next couple days. It will even make it easy to pass off a recipe for one of my daughters to make as we prepare for our feast on Thursday.

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  1. Love your post and recipes. I can't wait to pop my turkey in the oven, and pull that stunning goodness out!=)

  2. Judith - I am drooling here, really. and it is only 8:50 am here in California.

    thanks friend, I think I need to just have my lunch now :)

    thanks for sharing this post though, everything looks so delectable oh yummmmmyyy....

  3. Everythng looks delicious!! I am looking forward to it.

  4. Lovely! Can you set the table for another please?

    Love reading your posts re: food creations... the photos look amazing.

    1. I'd love to have you Wendy, just hop on a plane!!

  5. Looks very yummy, wish I was coming to your house!

    1. I wish you were too!! You were only 3 hours from me at the Allume Conference!!

  6. Oh, my, no wonder you get overwhelmed! What a menu!


If you have gone a little way ahead, O friend, call back --
Twill cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track.


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