Thanksgiving Recap

by Cate on November 25, 2006

So the Thanksgiving holiday has come and gone and all that’s left is a fridge crammed with leftovers. Another perfect holiday that somehow managed to go off without a hitch, timing wise, which surprises the heck out of me since I didn’t plan it that way. Gotta love those accidental moments when everything just falls into place.

I actually didn’t plan the menu until Tuesday night. I had ideas of some things I was doing, but didn’t take pen to paper (or in this case, fingers to keyboard) until that night. As soon as I figured out the menu, I placed an order online for the groceries, to be delivered Wednesday night. I’m sure our delivery man was thrilled with us, his next to last stop, as he lugged case after case of soda up the 30 steps to our front door … in the drizzling rain. Hey, I can’t help it if they had a good sale on beverages, but I promise I tipped him. :)

Wednesday night, Nicholas and I took to the kitchen and made the Sweet Onion Tartlets, Cranberry Conserve and the Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes (two new recipes, one tried and true). As soon as The Husband came home, he got the turkey in the oven, cooking it at 200 all night… mmmm, what a fantastic smell to wake up to on Thanksgiving morning. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thanksgiving morning, I actually didn’t step into the kitchen until 11:30, but went right to work making two more recipes, the Cranberry Broccoli Salad and the Sausage Cheese Puffs (both tried-and-true). We packed up everything and headed off to my parents’ house. Once there, I made quick work of the Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple and Onion Stuffin’ Muffins (both new recipes and both Rachael Ray). Within an hour, we were sitting down to eat.

Perfect, relaxing holiday … only thing that would have put it over the top is if The Sister and Brother-in-Law and The Sister-In-Law were there, but we do have to share. ;)

All the recipes are below. Until tomorrow…

A year ago today… Thanksgiving!

P.S. A few recipe notes. If you have been searching for a cranberry recipe, I urge you to try the one below. It comes from a caterer’s mom and until I discovered it 3 years ago, I avoided cranberry sauce. It’s incredibly easy to make and you won’t make another recipe after this one.

The Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes are amazingly to-die-for, and after you see how easy the recipe is, you’ll be adding it to your cache as well.

Love, love, love the Cranberry Broccoli Salad and have been making it for a few years now. Healthy and a great way to sneak broccoli into Nicholas’ belly.

The Sweet Onion Tartlets? Well, we’ll talk about those tomorrow, because I’m never going to live them down. ;)

Roasted Butternut Squash
Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray
3 medium butternut or acorn squash, cut in half, seeds removed
6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces and softened
1/2 cup maple syrup
Freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place butternut squash halves on a large baking sheet with the cut side up. Divide the butter pieces among all 6 halves, smearing it all over the cut side of the squash.

Drizzle each half with maple syrup and season with freshly grated nutmeg and ground black pepper. Roast the squash for 40-60 minutes or, until the flesh is tender when poked with a fork. You can serve each person a whole half each or you can scoop out the flesh into a serving bowl, whatever makes you and yours happy.
Yields 6 servings

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes
Recipe courtesy of Southern Living

3 lb. potatoes (about 4 large)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 (3-oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon. paprika

Boil potatoes with salt til tender. Drain. Peel potatoes; place in large mixing bowl, and mash with a potato masher. Add 2 tbsp. butter and next 4 ingredients, mixing until all ingredients are blended.

Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 12 x 8 x 2 inch baking dish. Brush top of mixture with melted butter; sprinkle with paprika. Bake immediately, or cover and refrigerate. If refrigerated, let stand at room temperature 30 min. before baking. Bake at 350, uncovered, 30 minutes or until hot.

Yield 6-8 servings

Apple and Onion Stuffin’ Muffins
Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
1 stick butter, softened
1 fresh bay leaf, available in produce department
4 ribs celery and greens, from the heart, chopped (save time and purchase celery already washed, trimmed and cut into sticks, this makes chopping fast work)
1 medium to large yellow skinned onion, chopped
3 McIntosh apples, quartered and chopped
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
8 cups cubed stuffing mix (recommended: Pepperidge Farm)
2 to 3 cups chicken stock, available in paper containers on the soup aisle

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil to skillet and 4 tablespoons butter. When butter melts, add bay leaf and add the vegetables as you chop them, celery, onions then apples. Sprinkle the vegetables and apples with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Cook 5 to 6 minutes to begin to soften vegetables and apples then add parsley and stuffing cubes to the pan and combine. Moisten the stuffing with chicken broth until all of the bread is soft but not wet.

Butter 12 muffin cups, 2 tins, liberally with remaining butter. Use an ice cream scoop to fill and mound up the stuffing in muffin tins. Remove the bay leaf as you scoop the stuffing when you come upon it. Bake until set and crisp on top, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove stuffin’ muffins to a platter and serve hot or room temperature.

Sweet Onion Tartlets
4 tablespoons butter
1 Vidalia onion or other sweet onion, diced, about 3 cups
1 box (15-ounce) refrigerated pie crust (recommended: Pillsbury)
3 large eggs
1 1/3 cups half-and-half
1 (1.3-ounce) envelope golden onion soup mix (recommended: Lipton)
1 tablespoon fine herbs (recommended: Spice Islands)
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Melt butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Unroll pie dough 1 at a time. Use a 2 1/2-inch round cutter and cut as many rounds as possible (about 14 to 16), reserving scraps repeat with second pie dough. Gather together scrap dough and cut out as many rounds as needed to make 36 in total. Fit dough rounds into cups of mini muffin pan. Place in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, golden onion soup mix, and fines herbs. Set aside. Divide onions among tartlet shells, about 1/2 teaspoon each. Top each with 1/2 teaspoon of cheese. Stir egg mixture and fill tartlets. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes.

Cranberry Broccoli Salad
1-1/4 cups fresh cranberries, chopped
1/4 cup sugar
4 cups broccoli florets
4 cups coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage with carrots)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
6 slices of bacon, crisp-cooked, drained and crumbled (I double the amount of bacon)

Dressing:
1 cup light mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

In a small bowl, combine the fresh cranberries and sugar; cover and chill in fridge until serving time (berries will juice out). In a large bowl, combine broccoli, shredded cabbage, walnuts, raisins and onion. To make dressing, combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over the salad and mix. Chill covered at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Just before serving, gently fold in bacon and cranberry mixture.

Cranberry Conserve
4 cups fresh cranberries
2 oranges, peeled, sliced and quartered
1 cup raisins
1-1/4 cups water
1 cup chopped pecans
2-1/2 cups sugar

In large saucepan, combine cranberries, oranges, raisins and water. Simmer until cranberries are soft (until they split) – this should take about 20-30 minutes. Add pecans and sugar, stir well and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring often. Cool, then spoon into containers and chill. Stays good for about two weeks.

Sausage Cheese Puffs
1 pound bulk Italian Sausage
3 cups Bisquick
4 cups (16 oz) shredded Cheddar cheese
3/4 cup water

In a skillet, cook and crumble sausage until no longer pink; drain. In a bowl, combine Bisquick and cheese; stir in sausage. Add water and toss with a fork until moistened. Shape into 1-1/2 in. balls. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Cool on wire racks. Yield: about 4 dozen. Note: Baked puffs may be frozen; reheat at 400 for 7-9 minutes or until heated through (they do not need to be thawed first).

The Husband’s Overnight Turkey
For a 20 lb turkey, he puts butter over and under the skin, along with garlic and assorted herbs. Also douses it a bit with liquid Adobo (in ethnic aisle, large wine bottle shaped glass jar). He puts two cans of chicken broth and a little bit of apple juice in the roasting pan and stuffs the turkey with potatoes and onions. Cooks at 200 overnight — usually takes it out around 7-8 am.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Lydia November 25, 2006 at 2:04 pm

I’m definitely saving these recipes for next year! (Wait a minute, why is it that we only have turkey with cranberry stuff at Thanksgiving???)

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Andrea November 25, 2006 at 8:20 pm

That’s an interesting way to do the turkey! Do you mash the potatoes or eat them baked? The cranberry conserve sounds delicious too. Thanks for the recap.

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Cate November 26, 2006 at 2:13 am

Lydia – lol, exactly, no need to reserve them for once a year. I totally overbought cranberries this year, and am making another batch of the Cranberry Conserve tomorrow. The stuff is too good to wait a whole ‘nother year!

Andrea – The potatoes are mashed before they go into the baking dish. By baking them, they get a very slightly crispy topping. Delish!

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denzylle November 26, 2006 at 5:21 pm

Cate and the Husband – thanks for the Overnight Turkey details.

I look forward to trying it at Christmas here in England.

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