Thanksgiving (and Christmas) Dinner

WOW it’s been a long time since I have last posted anything!  Guess a new job and physical therapy will keep a girl busy.  I’m kinda tired of grilled cheese, guess it’s time to start cooking!!  And man oh man do I have some idea’s so stay tuned!

I was hoping to post this before Thanksgiving so you could see what delicious dishes I was serving my family, but yea, that new job and PT changed my plans a little…  BUT this will also be my Christmas dinner!

I heard someone talking at work about making mashed potatoes the night before and then baking them just before dinner.  Hmm, I can do that.  I found “butter potatoes” at the store so I thought I’d give them a try.  So Wednesday night I peeled and cooked them, mashed them with a masher (not the mixer as I usually do).  Add about half a stick of butter and mix them in well.  This time I added some softened cream cheese too, it just made them a little more creamier, I wanted to use sour cream but since I forgot to put that on my shopping list…. I improvised and used the cream cheese.  I greased a casserole dish, poured in the mashed taters and in the fridge they went.  This can be baked at 275 till warm, but first dot the top with butter and cover.

Then I started on the cranberries.   Here’s the recipe:

1 bag of cranberries

¾ cup sugar

½ cup water

½ cup apple cider (NOT vinegar)

1 orange, run thru the food processor

1 tablespoon of Disoranno (optional)

Cranberry Sauce

Add the berries, sugar, water and apple cider to a saucepan.  Start with a high heat and as the mixture starts to bubble, you need to start turning the heat down.  You want the heat to be hot enough for a light boil/light simmer so the berries pop.  If you turn the heat too low, they just cook.  Whatever you do, DO NOT walk away.   I also like to cover the pan to keep the mess at a minimum AND so I don’t get splashed either!

Also, you can adjust the sweetness or tartness as your taste prefers.  You can start with just a half of a cup of sugar and add one tablespoon at a time.  Be careful when tasting, its hot!!!

While the berries are bubbling, go ahead and process your orange.  Now, I know we are always told not to use the pith of the orange, its bitter.  But, my Grandmother taught me to use the whole orange so that’s what I do.   I cut the orange up in quarters and toss it in the food processor until it is completely chopped up (smooshed up).    Remember to remove theseeds first!!!  When the berries are popped, reduce the heat to a very light simmer and add the orange and Disoranno if you are using it.

 If you don’t want to do the orange that way then don’t.  Instead you can zest the orange peel and set aside.  When the berries are popped go ahead and cut the orange in half and squeeze all the juice into the pan of berries and add the orange zest.

Cook the berries on low for about 5 minutes or so and remove from heat, transfer the berries to a heat resistant bowl to cool and thicken.

Next, I prepared the sweet potato casserole.  I’m in love with this dish.   And the recipe is:

5-6 Sweet Potatoes

4 T Butter, softened

1/3 cup Sugar

FOR THE TOPPING:

1 cup Brown sugar

1/2 cup Flour

1 teaspoon Cinnamon

Butter, cold and cubed

Sweet Potato Casserole

Mash the cooked sweet potatoes in your bowl, add the softened butter and sugar.  Pour into a greased 9×9 casserole baking dish.  In a separate bowl,  add the cinnamon, flour and brown sugar and blend with a fork.  Toss in the butter and cut in with either 2 knives or with a hand-held pastry blender.  When the mixture is all crumbly, place on top the mashed sweet potatoes and smooth over evenly.   At this point I covered the dish with foil and put it in the fridge with the other potatoes.  Bake at about 325 for about 30 minutes, or until heated thru.  About the last 10 minutes I remove the foil.

I made my traditional maple glazed carrots but I made them boozy too! 

1 bag frozen carrot slices

¼ cup water for the steamer

¼ cup Maple syrup

¼ cup Brown Sugar

1-2 tablespoons Whiskey

Boozy Glazed Carrots

I steamed a bag of carrot slices in my microwave.  I have this awesome steamer from Pampered Chef that I just love.  When the carrots are tender I drain them, add the butter, maple syrup, and brown sugar and heat in the microwave for about 2 minutes.  Stir in the whiskey and heat again, for about 3 more minutes.  Feel free to add a little more syrup or brown sugar if you want them sweeter.  A little more whiskey would also be delish!

*I didn’t take a picture of the turkey, not quite sure why, guessing we were really hungry and there was no time.  It was prolly more like me forgetting…. sigh

For the turkey, I quartered a large onion and placed that in the cavity of the turkey.  I then take about 3-4 tablespoons of butter cut into cubes and set aside on a plate.  In a bowl I mix up some garlic powder, seasoned salt, poultry seasoning, and salt and pepper.  If I am feeling a little daring, I go thru all my spices and herbs and play around with other additions.  Set this aside.  With clean hands, gently slide your fingers under the turkey skin, try to slide them all over the breast meat in down into the thighs if you can.  Then, grab some small amounts of the seasoning you mixed up and begin to spread that under the skin, rub it all over the meat.  When you are finished with that, start to place the butter dots under the skin too.  Tie up the bird and try to pin down the skin so it covers the breast meat.  I couldn’t find my turkey pins this year and I really wanted to cry over that.  I will probably find them next week, after I buy new pins for Christmas dinner.

For my stuffing (not sure why I call it stuffing as I don’t stuff the bird)

3 bags store bought bread cubes

6 eggs

2 tablespoons parsley

1 tablespoons poultry seasoning

1 tablespoon sage

5 cups chicken or turkey stock

1 large onion

½ stick butter

Salt & Pepper to taste

Stuffing

I chopped and diced the onion, melted the butter on the stove and simmered the onions until they were tender.  Remove from heat.  I sometimes use a stalk of celery along with the onion but I omitted it this time around.   Put the eggs in a large bowl and lightly break them up, add the parsley, poultry seasoning and sage and some salt & pepper, whisk until blended.  Pour in about 5 cups of broth.  This can vary depending on how moist you like your stuffing.   Then, when the onions and butter are cool, add them to the egg mixture.

I usually work with one bag of bread cubes at a time.  Pour one bag into a very large bowl and start ladling the egg and broth mixture over the bread.  Mix with your hands, add more as you need it but don’t make it so wet that it is all mushy, it is bread after all!! When you have that bag done, add it to your baking pan ( I use a very large foil pan ).  Repeat with each bag.  If you are noticing that you are running low on liquid and you are on the last bag, add some more broth and another egg to liquid bowl.  After you get all the bags done and into the pan mix them together too.  Now, My Mom used to kinda make large balls of stuffing.  You can if you want but I just bake loose.  I cover with foil and put it in the oven with the sweet potatoes.  When the potatoes are done I remove them from the oven, uncover the stuffing and bake for about 15 more minutes or until it is completely heated thru.  Or longer if you prefer your stuffing a little more….. Crispy?  Toasted?  Crunchy?

The only other thing I made was buttered corn and heated some store bought rolls. 

My 9 year old grandson said that it was the BEST Thanksgiving EVER!   These recipes fed 4 and I had enough leftovers to send home with my kids.  I love doing that!!!  Christmas will pretty much be a repeat of Thanksgiving dinner, my kids love it and refuse to let me try new dishes.  Warms my heart that they love our traditional dinner (sigh)

Happy Holidays everyone!!

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