Friday, November 25, 2011

A Thanksgiving Feast

For the second year in a row, Hubby and I hosted Thanksgiving at our house, with a lunchtime buffet, for our family (minus MIL and FIL) and in addition to having a great time with our family, we had some yummy (and not so yummy) food, and I wanted to share the recipes I made and the reviews.

Hubby carving his first turkey

The center of any Thanksgiving is (supposed to be) the turkey.   Although we hosted Thanksgiving last year, my parents graciously made the turkey last year, so this was my first time making the turkey and hubby's first time carving the turkey.

"Grilling" our turkey

For our turkey, I was searching different recipes, when I randomly found this one for BBQ Turkey.   I really don't know how I found it, but it really caught my eye and sounded really interesting, so as soon as I saw it I knew it was the one, so we grilled our turkey.   As you can see from the picture, although it cooked on the grill, we really didn't grill it, in all reality the grill was just an outdoor oven, as it was cooked in the roasting pan.

Some of the turkey plated - YUM!
As for the recipe, I did make some adjustments.   I couldn't in my right mind include 2 - TWO! - cups of butter in and on the turkey.   That's EIGHT (correction - this is FOUR, which is still a lot of) STICKS!    I think in the end, I used 1/2 stick to a stick, so about 1/8 cup to 1/4 cup - much more reasonable.    For the chicken soup base, I was going to use chicken stock, but all I had was chicken broth, so I used that.   For the onions and apples, I cut all that up, but I barely crammed 2/3 of it in, so I just threw the rest around the turkey to add to the gravy flavor.   I also only used about 1/2 of the bottle in the turkey, so I also put that in the roasting pan to keep everything moist and add flavor.   Then I just let it cook.     I set my alarm for 4 hours, but for some reason it never went off and 45 minutes after it was supposed to go off I realized I never took the turkey off.   The sugar in the (dry) wine caused some burning, but it didn't burn the turkey or anything - and it all turned out delicious!   I actually would probably overcook again to add that flavor to the turkey and the gravy.

Now, although the turkey is the center of Thanksgiving, everyone really fills their plates up with the sides (as I just ate a plate of leftover sides - YUMMY!), so that is really where I put a lot of my thought and time.   I had everything planned out for the recipes and then the night before when I started one of the sides that could be made early and reheated, I realized I didn't look at the recipes to see how many the recipe was able to serve - UH OH!!!  With that, I used what I had on hand to increase the serving sizes, all of which worked out fine but one of which could have been better, so without further ado - the sides:

The soup simmering...

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup - My sister is allergic to apples, so I substituted pears for apples.   That same sister is also a vegetarian, so I used veggie broth instead of chicken broth.   Other than that, I followed the recipe (btw - its missing the step where you are supposed to saute the leeks in step 2) and it was AWESOME!

Mashed Cauliflower - You can follow any recipe, but here is just a sample.   I made way more of this than needed - what can I say I have that jewish gene in me that makes me provide way more food than necessary.   For this, there really is no need for the reserved liquid, and you just need a tiny amount of oil for liquid and flavor.   I also then baked it to try and crisp the top and remove some of the extra liquid.   I thought this came out great and I got some good reviews.

Cranberry-Pear Sauce

Cranberry Pear Sauce - Typically we just have canned cranberry sauce, but I really wanted try to make one this year.   I was very pleased with this recipe.    Also, my brother-in-law made a gelatin cranberry sauce that was really good, so if I get that recipe, I will share.

Sweet Potato Casserole - This is one of the recipes that I realized I might not have enough, but I happened to have a can of Yams, so I used that to supplement the sweet potatoes.  I also didn't add the pecans because Im not a fan of them, and I also killed the health factor by doing a little more than scattering the marshmallows.   But with that, I also made a smaller one without the marshmallows for the vegetarian family members and those that don't want all the sweetness.   I think the fact that this was pretty much gone sums up its rating.

Spinach Gratin - I kinda screwed this one up - and I wasn't a fan of it, and I don't think others were either.   There were tons of leftovers, but I do have to say it was better the next day, but still not something I would make again.   Now with all that being said, I really didn't follow the recipe and did some other things to mess this up.
  • I didn't think it was gonna be enough so I added an extra package of spinach and then guess-timated what I needed to add from the other ingredients without actually sitting down and doing the math
  • I put the spinach in the fridge overnight to defrost, but forgot to take it out in the morning to fully defrost.   Because of that, the spinach was still pretty much frozen, and I decided to take my chances and rush it and didn't take the time to defrost it under hot water and squeeze out all the liquid.   I tried to soak some of it up with some extra flour
  • I used 1% milk instead of 2% because I knew we would never drink the extra milk leftover if it was 2% (I usually buy skim milk)
  • I put A LOT of parmesan cheese in there to again soak up the extra liquid - which it didn't do at all.
  • I didn't bother to measure the cheese on top and just loaded it up
I might give the recipe another shot later on following it more accurately, maybe add a little more salt and nutmeg because it still needed some flavor - possibly add another spice, just not sure what.

Beer Cornbread - would go great with Chili

Beer Cornbread - I made this using yeungling.   It was good, but probably would have been really good with a lighter beer like a Hefeweizen (Blue Moon).

Check back tomorrow for some of the dessert recipes...

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