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November 24, 2011


I decided to try and tackle Thanksgiving myself this year, and it wasn't too bad considering I only had 3 people to make food for. It wasn't too stressful, but I was getting a little worried when I had 3 dishes to go in the oven after the turkey, but I just stuck them all in there at the same time and it worked out. I tried to make homemade rolls, and they didn't quite rise as I had hoped, but they weren't bad tasting. They were just kind of heavy instead of being light and airy. I ended up brining the turkey, making rolls, mashed potatoes, roasted cauliflower and broccoli, and an apple, pear, raspberry crisp for dessert. We also have an appetizer tradition of cheese, vegetables and crackers, and onion dip and chips. Everything turned out wonderful! Here's everything for you!
Turkey in the brine

Appetizers: Rosemary Crackers, celery, carrots, and cranberry goat cheese

Onion dip and salami

Cheese and cracked pepper crackers

Pears, apple and raspberries went into the dessert crisp

Gingerbread martini

Vegetables before they went into the oven

Roasted Turkey right out of the oven

Dessert with the crisp topping on it

Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli

Mashed Potatoes

Turkey, light and dark meat

Apple Pear and Raspberry Crisp out of the oven, hot and bubbly
Gingerbread Martini
My mom had this recipe and so we sent my dad out for Kahlua and I made these for us. Quite strong, but taste just like gingerbread. Maybe add a sprinkle of cinnamon on top as a garnish. Makes one drink.

3/4 oz. vodka
1.5 oz. Kahlua
1.5 oz. Irish Cream Liquor
1.5 oz. Goldschlager, or cinnamon liquor

Fill martini shaker with ice. Add all the liquors. Shake well. Pour into martini glass. Enjoy!

Roast Turkey
The turkey turned out delicious, but because we had a deeper pan it cooked in, it didn't get very brown on the sides. And we ended up having to carve off the white meat and put it back in for about 30 min. to cook the dark meat. Another technique we've used for keeping the turkey moist is cooking it upside down. We did it by accident one year, and it ends up keeping the light meat extremely moist, probably because the juices flow to the breast meat.

Here's the recipe adapted from Alton Brown

1 (14 to 16 pound) Frozen Young Turkey
For The Brine:
1 cup Kosher Salt
½ cup Light Brown Sugar
1 gallon Vegetable Stock (4 32oz. boxes)
1 Tbsp Black Peppercorns
1 ½ tsp Allspice Berries
1 ½ tsp Chopped Candied Ginger
1 gallon Heavily Iced Water
For The Aromatics:
1 Red Applesliced
½ Onionsliced
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 cup Water
4 Sprigs Rosemary
6 Leaves Sage
Canola Oil

2 to 3 days before roasting:

1. Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.

2. Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

3. Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat:

4. Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

5. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

6. Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.

7. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

8. Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 ½ hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes
I had planned to make these roasted garlic mashed potatoes, but it the craziness of getting everything done at the same time, I forgot to roast the garlic. These turned out delicious without the garlic, but would have been even better with it. It's up to you what you want to do.

Here's the recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman

2.5 pounds Yukon Gold Or Russet Potatoes
¾ Sticks Softened Butterplus more for baking
¾ (8-ounce) Packages Cream Cheesesoftened
¼ cup Half-And-Half
¼ cup Cream
Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Milkif needed, for thinning

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Peel the potatoes and rinse them in cold water. Chop the potatoes in fourths. Place the potatoes into a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

3. Drain the potatoes, and then return them to the pan. With the burner on low heat, mash the potatoes with a potato masher; the more steam that's released while you mash, the better. Mash for about 5 minutes. Turn off the burner.

4. Add the butter, cream cheese, half-and-half, and seasonings. Stir to combine, and if the mixture needs thinning, add milk. Check the seasonings, adding salt and pepper, to taste. Using a hand mixer, beat potatoes until light and fluffy.

5. Pour the mashed potatoes into a large casserole pan. Dot the surface with butter. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 10 more minutes. Serve immediately.

Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli
I had originally planned on spice roasting these, but opted instead for a drizzle of garlic olive oil and some cayenne pepper before roasting. I was never a fan of cooked broccoli and cauliflower when I was younger because they always turned out mushy, but these were still crisp and delicious! I adjusted the temperature on this recipe though, because when I cooked them at the original temperature, they just didn't brown before they were cooked. Enjoy!

Here's the recipe adapted from Anne Burrell

1 Head Cauliflowercut into bite-size florets
1 Head Broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
Garlic Infused Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
Grated Parmesan Cheese, for sprinkling

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

2. On a sheet pan, combine the cauliflower and broccoli; toss them generously with olive oil and salt. Sprinkle them with the cayenne pepper.

3. Roast 15-20 minutes, then stir the veggies so they have the chance to brown all over and rotate the pan to ensure even cooking.

4. If they aren't lovely and brown, let them continue to roast for another few minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

5. Remove the veggies from the oven, sprinkle with cheese and transfer to a serving dish. Serve immediately.

Apple Pear Raspberry Crisp
I found some delicious looking raspberries at the store while getting all the ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner, so I decided to add raspberries to this crisp. It was originally just apples and pears. Tips for making this: make sure your pears are ripe, and choose an apple that isn't too sour or it makes the dessert too sour.

Here's the recipe adapted from Ina Garten

2 pounds Ripe Bosc Pears (3-4 Pears)
2 pounds Firm Macoun Apples (4-5 Apples) (I used Granny Smith's and they were too sour and didn't get soft. Find something firm but sweeter)

2 Packages of Raspberries
1 tsp Grated Orange Zest
1 tsp Grated Lemon Zest
2 Tbsp Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
2 Tbsp Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
½ cup Granulated Sugar
¼ cup All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
½ tsp Ground Nutmeg
For The Topping:
1 ½ cups All-Purpose Flour
¾ cup Granulated Sugar
¾ cup Light Brown Sugarlightly packed
½ tsp Kosher Salt
1 cup Old-Fashioned Oatmeal
½ pound (2 sticks) Cold Unsalted Butterdiced


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Peel, core, and cut the pears and apples into large chunks. Place the fruit in a large bowl and add the zests, juices, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour into a 9 by 12 by 2-inch oval baking dish.
For the topping:
3. Combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for 1 minute, until the mixture is in large crumbles. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit, covering the fruit completely.
4. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the top is brown and the fruit is bubbly. Serve warm.

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