It’s Almost Dinner Time!!!

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And that means I’m turning off the computer and getting into the kitchen crunch!

 

Thanks for hanging out with me today! I’ll give a final wrap-up post once everything has been eaten, played with, and cleaned up!

 

Happy Thanksgiving II!

Ridiculously Unhealthy Mashed Potatoes

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My Thanksgiving II is a lot like a roller coaster, in that if you have a heart condition… you might want to take a pass. I use butter. Like A LOT of butter. Irish butter to be exact… it’s delicious and I eat it twice a year.

The least healthy item on the menu, however, has to be my Mashed Potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 8-10 Medium Red Potatoes
  • 1/4 cup Whole Milk
  • 1/2 cup Butter
  • 8 oz brick of cream cheese

Step 1:

Boil potatoes until they slide off the fork.

Step 2:

Once the potatoes are tender, remove from heat and transfer from pot into a large bowl. Using a masher, mash the potatoes (my family likes the skins to remain on the potatoes–red and gold work well if you like the skins).

Step 3:

Add butter, cream cheese and milk while still mashing. Once all ingredients are incorporated use a handmixer to whip the mixture to a fluffy consistency. Salt to taste!

See, not healthy at all.

Beware The Christmas Creep.

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Okay, my turkey is in the oven, and my sides are mostly setting and ready to be heated once it’s out. So, here is my first non-cooking post today.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday; I love it because it is the one holiday that is not about getting or giving. Thanksgiving is the one time a year we are called upon to be grateful for that which we already have… it’s great and it is really low key, low pressure, and just pretty chill.

Unlike her sister, the spoiled, bloated, pushy as hell older sibling: Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Christmas as much as the next guy, but she has a habit of wanting more and more of the calendar every year. She’s a cannibal holiday, devouring beautiful understated Thanksgiving every year. I’m sure she’d go after Halloween if she could figure out how to, but alas people don’t tend to view Halloween as family togetherness holiday and so it doesn’t get absorbed.

This hostile, holly berry and candy cane scented take over is what I like to call “Christmas Creep.”

Christmas Creep can happen without warning; it happens when the day after Halloween advertisements start to use jingle belly versions of the jingles, when radio stations start playing the same 50 Christmas songs on loop 24 hours a day, when coffee shops roll out their peppermint and eggnog flavored drinks before the pumpkin spice scent is off your breath. In short it’s when the ENTIRE month of November because a red and green, tinseled wonderland and we forget that Christmas is still nearly two months away.

To be fair, I’m sure this isn’t Christmas’ fault (as holidays aren’t sentient) and Christmas is a lovely, festive holiday to celebrate with people you love…. and you know the birth of Jesus to some people. It is however, the fault of advertisers and businesses, and I guess that’s why I hate Christmas Creep so much. Christmas starts earlier and earlier every year (I saw my first Christmas ad two weeks BEFORE Halloween this year), and “Black Friday” starts earlier and has even decided that Thanksgiving doesn’t need a whole day so it takes some of that as well.

I missed my first Thanksgiving with my family last year because of the Creep… I worked a hellish overnight shift at Starbucks… because shoppers need designer coffee to fuel their spend-a-thon. On a holiday that we should be spending thinking about what we already have, and the blessings of our lives and loved ones, I spent 16 hours being screamed at by people who were furious because they missed out on a doorbuster. It was gross and demoralizing.

Now, there is another type of Christmas Creep… it is harder to be angry at this one but not impossible. This creep is not a movement, this creep is a person. And she is my mother.

My mom is THE Christmas Creep. She listens to holiday music year ’round, has “Christmas in July” parties, and makes the excuse that “Love Actually takes place BEFORE Christmas… it’s not a Christmas movie!” She sucks all the specialness of out the holiday because she HAS to have it all year. She burns us out, but it’s very hard to be angry at her about it… but that of course doesn’t stop me because as you may have noticed: I’m horrible.

We tease her gently, calling her a “Creep” and jokingly steer her away from Christmas displays when we’re out with her. Because the woman needs to be put in check… it’s a problem.

All that being said… my righteous rage loses a bit of its steam on the first of December, and I can no longer be the Scrooge I am from October through November. But that’s okay.

This post wasn’t much of anything special, but I wanted to have something other than recipes today… I’ve got I think one more but maybe not.

Herb Butter Turkey… AKA The Main Event

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Okay, so the turkey is now in the oven. I stupidly forgot to take a picture of it before putting it in so you’ll have to use your imagination.

Here, I’ll help.

It’s big, and raw and covered in green herb butter with sage, onions, thyme and apple cores poking out its rear end. Translation: IT IS AN UNHOLY TERROR TO BEHOLD.

But it will be tasty.

But here’s the recipe It’s a Martha Stewart Living recipe, but again my tweaks are marked with italics.

Ingredients

  • TURKEY
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh sage (6 springs reserved)
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme (12 sprigs reserved)
  • 4 tbsp Irish Butter softened
  • 3 dry bay leaves
  • 2 granny smith apples sliced, cores reserved
  • 1 onion quartered
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 2 cups water, plus more if needed

1. Preheat over to 450 degree, with rack in lowest position. Tuck wings under turkey. Stir chopped sage and thyme into Irish Butter, and rub over outside of turkey. Rub any extra butter under the skin. Fill cavity with herb springs, bay leaves, apples cores, and onion; tie legs together with kitchen twine. Scatter apple slices and carrots around rack. Place neck and giblets in pan and add water.

2. Roast Turkey for 30 minutes . Baste with pan juices (I supplement the pan juices with my homemade turkey stock and melted butter for the first two bastings just to give it a head start)  Reduce temp. to 350 degrees; roast basting every 30 minutes for an hour and a half more. Rotate pan and add more water if pan is dry. Tent turkey with foil, and roast until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reaches 160 degrees.

3. Let turkey stand for 30 minutes before transferring  to platter for carving.

And that’s my turkey tried and true.

 

Sage and Onion Dressing

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Dressing is always the first thing I make on the day of. I was up prepping this delicious beast at 9:30… it needs time to rest.

Sage & Onion Dressing

I found this recipe on Pinterest… but tweaked it for my own tastes My changes will be marked in Italics

Ingredients

  • 1 Bag of Brownberry Stuffing Bread (14oz)
  • 4 tbsp Unsalted Butter (plus 2 melted tbsp for later use)
  • 1 lg White Onion diced
  • 4 lg celery stalks diced
  • 8 oz package of fresh white mushrooms diced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh sage leaves
  • Leaves from 4 stalks thyme
    • 2 large eggs, beaten
    • 2 cups turkey (homemade)

    1 teaspoon kosher salt

    • Freshly ground black pepper

 

Step 1

Heat the butter in a heavy skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or the vegetables are very soft. Stir in the sage and thyme and cook for 2 more minutes, then turn off the heat.

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Step 2:

Beat the eggs with the broth, salt, and a generous quantity of fresh black pepper. In a large bowl, fold together the toasted bread cubes with the cooked onions and celery, then stir in the egg-broth mixture.

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Step 3:

Spread in a lightly greased 3-quart baking dish and drizzle with the additional 2 tablespoons melted butter.

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At this point the dressing can be covered with foil and refrigerated overnight or up to 24 hours.

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 375°F. Bake covered for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 15 more minutes or until top is lightly browned. If you are baking the dressing directly from the refrigerator, expect to add 10 extra minutes baking time. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

For the Original Recipe : “Sage Onion Dressing” on TheKitchn.com

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake With Sturday Whipped Cream Frosting

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This is another item that needs to be prepared either, very early on the day of at least 24 hours ahead of time. It takes a about 6-8 hours to prepare.

This recipe also comes from that venerable fount of homemaking and hosting information: Martha Stewart Living.

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups graham-cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling

  • 4 packages (8 ounces each) bar cream cheese, very soft
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin-pie spice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in center. Assemble a 9-inch nonstick springform pan, with the raised side of the bottom part facing up.

Step 2

Make the crust: In a medium bowl, mix cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter until moistened; press firmly into bottom of pan. Bake until golden around edges, 10 to 12 minutes.

Step 3

Make the filling: With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar on low speed until smooth; mix in flour (do not overmix). Add pumpkin puree, pie spice, vanilla, and salt; mix just until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next.

Step 4

Place springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour filling into springform, and gently smooth top. Transfer to oven; reduce oven heat to 300 degrees. Bake 45 minutes. Turn off oven; let cheesecake stay in oven 2 hours more (without opening).

Step 5

Remove from oven; cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours. Unmold before serving.

For the Frosting (my own recipe)

  • 1 package (8 ounces) bar cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup white suger
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (mine in homemade but any will work)
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 heavy whipping cream

Step 1

Blend Cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract with a hand mixer until smooth. Set aside.

Step 2

Whip cream to stiff peaks.

Step 3

Gently fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture until fully combined. Frosting should be light and fluffy, not runny or chunky.

There are no photos of this… I overmixed the cheesecake and it cracked on the top. It is still delicious, and will still be served. But it’s not pretty enough to share with the public.

Dry-Brining My Turkey.

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I like to say (much to Alton Brown’s chagrin–which would be a great band name just saying) “Wet Brining your turkey is for chumps.” Thanks to the genius that is Martha Stewart, I have found a dry-brine rub that is head and shoulders better than any wet-brine I have ever had.

Salt & Thyme Brining Rub

  • 1/2 cup coarse salt
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
  • fresh ground black pepper

Step 1:

Mix seasonings together in a small bowl and set aside

Step 2:

Remove neck and giblets. Using paper towels, pat dry your thawed turkey inside and out, then transfer the bird to a roasting pan.

Step 3:

Season the turkey with the spice mixture, coat the entire outside. Use remaining mixture on the turkey cavity.

Step 4:

Cover the turkey, and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.

It should look like this when it goes into the refrigerator

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