Category Archives: Menus

How to make Thanksgiving Dinner without breaking a sweat

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I have been cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my extended family for almost 20 years. Not all of those dinners went smoothly. Like the year I forgot to make the mashed potatoes or the year I forgot the rolls in the oven and turned them into bricks. I have picked up so many tips and tricks over the years that now making Thanksgiving is simple and easy. With just a little prep a day or two before Thanksgiving you can actually enjoy the holiday alongside everyone else.

First thing I do every year is look at my menu for the day. Mine was based on what my family served when I was a kid and updated slightly with a deep fried turkey and my own spins on the old recipes. You don’t cook this menu more than twice (Thanksgiving & Christmas) so it is ok to have the exact same thing because your family will not get tired of it. I admit my Thanksgiving dinner is lacking in vegetables but my family gets at least one or two servings of vegetables with every normal meal so I don’t feel bad about not serving them on this special occasion.

My traditional Thanksgiving menu consists of –

Deep Fried Turkey – This is a must and this recipe can also be used on a hardwood smoked turkey for more juicy results.

Giblet Cream Gravy – I actually withhold the giblets from this recipe and use them in my dressing recipe.

Sage Turkey Dressing – This recipe is one that has been in my family for as long as I can remember and is my favorite. My dirty little after Thanksgiving treat is to take cold slices of this and make sandwiches out of it.

Sweet Potato Casserole with Praline Topping – If you make this Sweet Potato Casserole for a family dinner make sure you take a couple copies of your recipe because people will ask for it.

Decadent Mashed Potatoes – These are the best mashed potatoes ever. Being part Irish they make me proud.

Lion House Rolls – These tender buttery Lion House rolls are like the combination of a croissant and the standard parker house dinner roll.

Cranberry & Mandarin Orange blend – A can of whole cranberries and a can of Mandarin oranges mixed together and chilled.

Pecan Pie – This recipe was the most sought after pecan pie recipe on the web for years.

Sour Cream Apple Pie – Some people are prejudiced against sour cream so just say its apple pie until after they have taken their first bite and then they will be in love.

Hot Mulled Cider – Family members show up and look for this first thing because it is so good.

First thing to do while planning out your meal preparation is to go down the list of ingredients you need for each dish and make sure you either have them or they get on your shopping list. Double check the items you think you have because half the time I think I have them but I really don’t because one of my kids have done away with them recently. Make sure you get extra turkey parts like wings or legs to make your turkey broth because I find you don’t get enough flavor from just a neck and giblets and once in a while those are missing from your turkey. This was a tough lesson learned one year when the turkey was missing its giblets and my local grocery stores were all either closed or out of turkey parts.

The nice thing about this menu is that you can either make ahead or have most of the preparation done the day before Thanksgiving that way you are mostly just waiting on things to cook. This lets me actually enjoy some time with my family instead of rushing around the kitchen. The first thing I do each year is get my turkey in its brine. They can set in the brine for up to 48 hours but I prefer right around 24 hours. This lets me get my giblets out of the turkey also so I can make my turkey broth. You can either use a pressure cooker to make your turkey broth or you can cook it low and slow so you can all the flavor and gelatin out of the bones. I like to brown my turkey bits before boiling them so that the flavor is richer. I also like to include a half an onion, celery, a carrot and a clove of garlic along with some herbs like thyme, sage and a tiny bit of rosemary. Don’t waste fresh herbs on this. The dry stuff will turn out just as well. Once your broth is done strain it well and save all the meat and giblets for either your gravy or your dressing. Refrigerate and remember to remove the solidified fat from the top before you use.

I will usually make my pies one or two days ahead of time that way they get proper time to cool. Make sure you hide them well because hungry children are known to steal entire pies. I also put my cans of mandarin oranges and cranberries in the refrigerator at least a day ahead of time that way I can just throw them together at the last minute without worrying about chill time.

While I am waiting on the broth I will throw my sweet potatoes in the oven on a aluminum foil lined baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes or throw them in the pressure cooker for 15 minutes. Make sure you peel them right away after you take them out of the oven because they will just slide out of their skins. It will be much harder after they cool. I just throw them in the refrigerator until I am ready to put together the casserole. While I am waiting on the potatoes to bake I chop my onions, carrots and celery for my dressing.  If you are making rolls you should have your dough made and refrigerator proof it overnight. This makes it quick to get them done the next day and it also improves the flavor.

Once all that preparation is done you are ready to relax and rest up for Thanksgiving morning. Some key tips for Thanksgiving morning is to have a prep list for yourself so you don’t forget anything. Mine looks something like this.

1. Remove these items from refrigerator

  • Dough
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Turkey Broth – Remove the fat right away
  • Turkey – 1 to 1 1/2 hours before you plan to cook the turkey

2. Make Sweet Potato Casserole

3. Make Dressing

4. Prep Turkey for Frying then fry – Dry well and rub with olive oil, salt and spices

5. Form Rolls and let rise

6. Make Mashed Potatoes

7. Make Gravy

8. Bake Rolls

9. Make cranberry and mandarin mix

Tips for the turkey which are true for both a roasted or fried turkey. Make sure you take your turkey out of the refrigerator early enough so that it comes up to close to room temperature before you bake it. This will help it to cook more evenly and will make it more juicy. The key to the juiciest turkey is the brine ahead of time which imparts the moisture and flavor throughout the bird and not just where you injected it. The last thing to remember is to always let your bird rest tented in foil for about 10 minutes after you remove it from the oven or fryer. This lets the moisture redistribute and will keep it from gushing out everywhere when you cut it instead of remaining in the meat. Turkeys that are brined and rested properly will be moist and juicy even as a leftover.

I hope these tips and tricks will help you to not only have a more delicious dinner but one you can enjoy from beginning to end!

 

 

Indian Recipe Collection Basics

I absolutely adore Indian food. My children actually ask for Punjab Choley, Palak Paneer, and several different curries at least once a week. I don’t even remember when I started making Indian food at home it just evolved out of my families love for curry. I know some of you are thinking to yourselves, “but Indian food it too spicy”. That is the great part of making it yourself you can adjust the spiciness to your liking. In my family we kick it up and make everything too hot for the general public. I have to be careful to hold back the heat when cooking for guests because I have caused a few too many eyes to water. Overall Indian food is simple, healthy and fun change up to your boring meal time traditions. The Indian recipe collection below are some of my favorites.

 

Samosa

Samosa

Samosa from Jeyashri’s Kitchen
Aloo Gobi

Aloo Gobi

Aloo Gobi from Crave Cook Click
Bhatura

Bhatura

Bhatura from Sailu’s Kitchen
Paratha Bread

Paratha Bread

Paratha Bread from Food and Flavors By Shipli
Chole Paneer

Chole Paneer

Chole Paneer from Sinfully Spicy
Kadhai Paneer & Triangle Paratha (Flatbread)

Kadhai Paneer & Triangle Paratha

Kadhai Paneer & Triangle Paratha (Flatbread) from Sinfully Spicy
Tiki Masala

Tiki Masala

Chicken Tiki Masala from Serious Eats
Mutton with Potatoes

Mutton with Potatoes

Aloo Gosht – Mutton with Potatoes from Sinfully Spicy
Fish Curry

Fish Curry

Fish Curry from Sinfully Spicy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Vegetable Recipe Collection

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Roasted Beets, Carrots and Turnips with Balsamic Vinegar

As I have said in the past there is no season that makes me happier than Fall. Sure my birthday is in peak of fall but nothing makes me happier than the cooler temperatures and the changing colors of nature. My favorite vegetables are also at their peak of flavor at this time. I could just live on pans of roasted fall vegetables. You will notice that these recipes are pretty simple and mostly involve roasting. The reason I chose these recipes is because I want you to take the vegetables in their full glory. I love sharing my favorite recipe finds so please enjoy this Fall vegetable recipe collection.

Roasted Beets, Carrots and Turnips with Balsamic Vinegar from The Food Channel

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Rainbow Chard with Lemon, Fennel, and Parmigiano

 Rainbow Chard with Lemon, Fennel, and Parmigiano from Fine Cooking

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Shallots with Balsamic Vinegar

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Shallots with Balsamic Vinegar from Serious Eats

Lemon-Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

Lemon-Parmesan Roasted Broccoli from Get off your Tush and Cook

Parmesan, Swiss Chard & Spaghetti Squash Bake

Parmesan, Swiss Chard & Spaghetti Squash Bake

Parmesan, Swiss Chard & Spaghetti Squash Bake from Get off your Tush and Cook

Caramelized Turnips, Potatoes, & Carrots with Onions & Thyme

Caramelized Turnips, Potatoes, & Carrots with Onions & Thyme

Caramelized Turnips, Potatoes, & Carrots with Onions & Thyme from Six Burner Sue

Roasted Parsnips

Roasted Parsnips

Roasted Parsnips from Simply Recipes

Craving Pumpkin Recipes

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It is inevitable that even here in the deep south that once Fall starts I will start craving all things pumpkin. This year it started early with the pumpkin beers as the brewers jumped the shark and released them in August. I can’t complain too much because it means I will get to try more pumpkin beers this year but the excitement is starting wear off already. If you haven’t tasted Southern Tiers Pumking or Warlock yet then you need to apologize to your taste buds and run out and find some right now. If you happen on a bottle of their Choklat and you in any way enjoy chocolate you owe yourself to try this incredible beer.

Now my focus is on cooking and baking with pumpkin. I already schooled our local brewers about their choice of pumpkins for cooking. Those pretty pumpkin you see all over the grocery stores taste horrible and don’t even think about baking with them. You might as well use a butternut squash because it is more closely related to the pumpkin we get out of a can. If you can’t get your hands on Neck Pumpkins then you might as well use canned pumpkin. I have been browsing the internet for weeks gathering pumpkin recipes to share with you.

Neck Pumpkin

Neck Pumpkin

Here is a list of some of he most delish pumpkin recipes I have seen so far this season.

Pumpkin Marmalade from Tigress in a Jar

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies from Steamy Kitchen

Caramel Apple Shake from Mom on Timeout

Pumpkin Cheesecake Chimichangas from White Lights on Wednesdays

Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting from Two Peas & their Pod

No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake from A Night Owl

Baked Pumpkin Cream Cheese French Toast from Damn Delicious

That was a good start. Tomorrow I will delve deeper and give you some wonderful savory dishes.

Enjoy Life!

Candie

Thanksgiving Menu Favorites

 

Here we are 3 days to Thanksgiving and I most of you have followed my lead and analyzed all the local sales so you could make your dinner without breaking the bank. I was disappointed by this years price on Turkeys but I was able to find some really good sales on the other items I needed for sides. I use almost the identical menu each year which not only makes purchasing for dinner easy but I know that my recipes are tried and true and will be loved by all. This is my traditional Thanksgiving menu and the recipes that make it so special.

Deep Fried Turkey
Deep Fried Smoked Turkey – This is the same as my regular fried turkey recipe just using a smoked turkey.

Sage Turkey Dressing – This is the most popular side.
Sweet Potato Casserole With Praline Topping – I don’t need pie after eating this! Yumm

Mashed Potatoes
Giblet Cream Gravy
Buttered Corn – Frozen from my garden
Cranberry & Mandarin Orange blend – A can of whole cranberries and a can of Mandarin oranges mixed together and chilled.
Rolls

Pecan Pie
Sour Cream Apple Pie

Hot Mulled Cider – This is a must for all my holiday get-togethers

I have the preparation of this meal down to a science after making it for 10 years. I bake all the pies the day before and I also make my turkey stock the day before. The turkeys need to be placed in their brine the day before also so that gives me access to my giblets for the stock. Once the stock is made I separate out the meat and giblets and refrigerate everything. I almost forgot about baking my sweet potatoes. I have tried boiling them and I don’t think the end recipe has the same flavor or texture. I bake the sweet potatoes then skin them and throw them in the refrigerator until the next day. That leaves throwing together the sides on Thanksgiving morning and popping them in the oven just before you fry your turkeys. I can almost relax as long as I have my recipe check list on hand to see what has been done and what needs to be done. If I don’t keep my checklist with my silly things like forgetting the rolls or mashed potatoes tend to happen.

My suggests to make Thanksgiving a no stress day for you is –
1. Plan your menu well in advance
2. Use tried and true recipes
3. Make a list of what needs to be done
4. Start the day before and do all the preparation you can
5. Sit back and enjoy your dinner

Enjoy Life!
Candie