It occurred to me today that Thanksgiving is less than a week away. I knew it was coming, but the exact date was foggy. Plus, we’d planned a small Thanksgiving with just the three of us plus my mom – a group whose taste preferences I know as well as my own if not better. I even entertained the idea of ordering our Thanksgiving meal from Luby’s cafeteria. Why not? I’ve made my share of turkeys and in the end it’s just turkey. And hey, I’m just one person with one oven making the whole meal. Maybe ordering the turkey, gravy and stuffing would let me focus on desserts and sides….and isn’t it all about togetherness anyway?
I was all ready to put the Luby’s order in when Todd called to say he’d invited the family of a co-worker to join us. The fire was re-kindled! I put aside the notion of calling Luby’s and began going through my favorite recipes pile. I even did some of the grocery shopping today.
For safekeeping, I’m posting this year’s recipes here. Maybe they’ll help you out this Thanksgiving or next.
Gravy is a pain in the you know what, but to some people, it’s what makes the turkey. It’s not something you can just skip and the little packet of gravy that comes with the turkey won’t do….then again, with the price of food this year, maybe it will have to. Turkey wings are a little more expensive this year, but they’re a main ingredient in this gravy. I made it last year and everyone loved it. Plus, it can be made days ahead of time.
Woman’s Day Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy
4 turkey wings (about 3 lbs)
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
1 cup water
8 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup chopped carrot
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp. stick butter or margarine
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Have ready a large roasting pan.
Arrange wings in a single layer in pan; scatter onions over top. Roast 1 1/4 hours until wings are browned.
Put wings and onions in a 5-to-6 qt. pot. Pour water in roasting pan and stir, scraping up brown bits from bottom. Add to pot with wings and onions. Add 6 cups broth (refrigerate remaining 2 cups), carrot and thyme. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 1 1/2 hours.
Remove wings to cutting board. When cool, pull off skin and meat. Discard skin; save meat for another use.
Strain broth into a large container, pressing vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard vegetables; refrigerate broth and allow fat to rise to top. Skim off fat. Transfer broth to 3 quart pot and set on stove.
In a bowl, whisk flour into remaining 2 cups broth until blended and smooth.
Bring broth in pot to a gentle boil. Whisk in broth-flour mixture and boil 3 to 4 minutes to thicken gravy and remove floury taste.
Stir in butter and pepper. Serve or pour into containers; refrigerate up to 1 week or freeze up to 6 months.
Makes 8 cups
Ace Sagor is the father of a friend I went to high school with…someone I’d lost touch with years ago. Last year, my aunt asked me to vote for Ace’s stuffing in a stuffing contest. She had no idea that I knew the Sagors and had only heard about the stuffing because a friend asked her to vote. So I like making Ace’s stuffing not only for the fact that it’s awesome (it mixes cornbread and regular bread…a key element in my favorite stuffings) and it reminds me what a small world this is. P.S. Feel free to throw in a few cubes of waffle.
Ace Sagor’s Cornbread Dressing
8 cups cornbread, crumbled
4 cups soft white bread shredded
1 cup butter (salted)
1 cup diced celery
1 large onion, chopped
½ cup green pepper, chopped
1½ teaspoons poultry seasoning
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil to sauté
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Cut butter and add to breadcrumbs (both corn and white breads).
Sauté veggies in oil and add to bread mixture.
Mix in seasonings.
Add in eggs and broth until thoroughly mixed and moist.
Bake in large covered dish for 30 minutes. Remove cover for last 10 minutes to brown.
If you want good cranberry sauce, make sure to add orange. This is a very basic recipe, but the orange makes it memorable. Sometimes I throw in a little lemon zest. This is another make-ahead.
Allrecipes Basic Cranberry Sauce
12 ounces cranberries
1 cup white sugar
1 cup orange juice
In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the orange juice. Stir in the cranberries and cook until the cranberries start to pop (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and place sauce in a bowl. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.
My mom’s the only one who eats sweet potatoes, but her love for them knows no bounds — especially at Thanksgiving. Every year I make this dish just for her. She’s the only one who eats it and gets to take home all the leftovers. This year, she’ll have to share. It’s a Cooking Light recipe, but it’s not very light.
Cooking Light’s Streuseled Sweet Potato Casserole
5 pounds cubed peeled sweet potato (about 5 pounds)
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender (about 14 minutes).
Combine the half-and-half and next 4 ingredients (half-and-half through egg) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add potato to egg mixture; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Spoon potato mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Combine flour and sugar in a food processor; pulse to combine. Add chilled butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in pecans; sprinkle over potato mixture.
Cover and bake at 375° for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 25 minutes or until the topping is browned and the potatoes are thoroughly heated.
This is another Allrecipes.com favorite. I usually don’t add 6 oz cream cheese and a cup of sour cream to my mashed potatoes, but the add-ins help make this a good make-ahead dish. I guess the fat keeps the potatoes from getting gummy or drying out.
Allrecipess Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
5 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
2 (3 ounce) packages cream cheese
8 ounces sour cream
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons onion salt
Ground black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
Place potatoes in a large pot of lightly salted water. Bring to a boil, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, and mash.
In a large bowl, mix mashed potatoes, cream cheese, sour cream, milk, onion salt, and pepper. Transfer to a large casserole dish.
Cover, and bake for 50 minutes in the preheated oven.
Fuzz is going to make the pumpkin pie this year, which meant I needed the easiest and least messiest recipe possible. This one sounded good. I don’t think I’ve made it before, though it sounds familiar. I guess after this Thanksgiving, I’ll know whether it’s a repeater. It had high rankings on allrecipes.com.
Eagle Brand Basic Pumpkin Pie
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 (14 ounce) can EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Pour into crust. Bake 15 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool. Garnish as desired. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.
I’m trying to avoid pecan pie obsession this year, so I’ve decided to stick with what’s good and make this one. I’m going to make it two days ahead of time, freeze it, then thaw it out on T-Day. Pecan pie is one of those things that actually tastes better after it’s frozen and thawed…or at least in my opinion.
So that’s the menu as it stands. Every dish is simple, but the logistics of Thanksgiving are more complicated when you consider there is only one oven and a turkey that will be hogging it up for 4 hours. I guess the next step is to make a time table of when everything should be prepared.
Grilled Corn (Todd handling)
Steamed Fresh Green Beans