Sunday, November 7, 2010

Let the Thanksgiving Planning Begin

OK so the Menu was the easy part, since this isn't my first (or 8th) Thanksgiving in the last 6 years. Recipes:


(mostly copy/pasted from

Ingredients ~3 cups Corn Chex® cereal
~3 cups Rice Chex® cereal
~3 cups Wheat Chex® cereal (or any combination of cereal totally about 9 cups) (off brand is fine)
~1 cup mixed nuts (or more if your family is nutty like mine)
~1 cup bite-size pretzels (I have sticks leftover from Halloween spiders)
~1 cup garlic-flavor bite-size bagel chips or regular-size bagel chips, broken into 1-inch pieces (the mini ones are hard to find) ~2 cups Cheeze Its ~ Parmesan flavor
~6 tablespoons butter or margarine
~2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
~1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt (sometimes I leave this out)
~3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
~1/2 teaspoon onion powder
~A tub of Parmesan cheese (from the cheese section, not the Kraft shaker canister)

Oven Directions: (you can google the recipe to get the microwave directions, I prefer the oven)
Heat oven to 250°F. In large ungreased roasting pan, (I use the big disposable foil one I will cook the turkey in, its easy to wash after), mix cereals, nuts, pretzels, crackers and bagel chips; set aside. In microwave safe bowl, melt butter. Stir in seasonings and Worcestershire sauce.
Gradually pour butter mixture over cereal mixture and stir until evenly coated. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. For the last 15 minutes, mix in Parmesan cheese. (if making more than a day ahead, save this step for same day to finish up.) Spread on paper towels to cool, about 15 minutes. Store in airtight container.

Note: Can be re-baked if begins to stale a few days later, (if it lasts that long)
Artichoke Dip
~1/2 Costco size jar of marinated artichoke chunks, drained well
(you can buy multiple little jars from other grocery stores but its cheaper to buy a full jar from Costco/Cash & Carry than multiple little jars and you can freeze the other half of the jar, people will request this dip again)
~2 bricks cream cheese softened
~1 can diced green chilies (or diced jalapenos, more or less, depending on personal taste)
~about 1/4 cup of mayonnaise
~1 - 1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese (from tub works better than the bag for some reason)

~I put a Ziploc bag on my hand as a glove to break up the artichoke chunks, its easier and funner than with a knife or bare hands.
~Add the cream cheese, if its not softened, put the bricks in the mixing bowl with the artichokes and microwave for 30-45 seconds.
~Mix with potato masher
~Add mayo (I don't measure, just plop in a big spoonful), the diced chilies and 2/3 of the Parmesan cheese.
~Mix until, well, you know, mixed.
~Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.
~Cook in a 375ish oven for 15 mins or until hot and bubbly. OR as I usually do, Microwave on high, uncovered for 5-10 mins (depending on the size/shape of the dish)

Note: Microwaving works great if you bring this dip to someones house, or a workplace potluck. Serve with tortilla chips, or our favorite Tomato Basil Wheat Thins.

Another note: Can be made up to 2 days ahead of time, wrapped tight and cooked day of.

Yet another note: I recently tried this with a small crock pot for the first time, because it would be served in a colder building, and it worked very well. My crock pot has a removable microwave save crock, I made the dip the morning of and stashed the crock it in the fridge. i took it out and microwaved it for about 12 minutes (the crock is deeper/denser than average casserole pans) then put it in the crock pot on "warm".

One last note: a more shallow baking pan will create more of the bubbly cheesey crusty top that people love.



photo courtesy When Pigs Fly

~1 bag of cranberries
~tiny bit, like 1 tablespoon, juice or water
~less than 1 cup of regular table sugar

wash and dry the cranberries watching for any mushy or icky ones.

add juice or water (i have a pampered chef spritzer thingy) to lightly coat berries
add enough sugar to coat, tossing often in a big ziplock bag, .
remove from bag, store uncovered, the sugar will dry and get crusty, which is good.

Note: I wouldnt make more than 1 bag worth, people like them, but dont tend to eat many of them, unless you invite my sister to the party, then they will all get eaten.



photo courtesy Something So Clever

1 big can of fruit cocktail
1 medium can of pinapple tidbits
2 small cans (or like 10 fresh, peeled & sectioned) mandarin oranges
1/2 lb of green or red grapes or both
1 green apple, diced small
1 red apple, diced small
small amount of lemon or lime juice
2 bananas, cut in half lenthwise, then sliced (or left bigger if there are banana haters in your family)
1/2 lb strawberries, if in season
1 bag mini marshmellows
1 small tub whipped cream, or make from whipping cream/sugar/vanilla
(other fruits can be added or omitted depending on taste)

Drain canned veggies very well. (offer pineapple juice to sister, but then drink it in front of her)
toss cut apples with small amount of lemon or lime juice to prevent browning.
mix all fruit together except bananas, mix them in last so they dont get too beat up and mushy
fold in marshmellows and whipped cream.

Note: when making ahead of time, drain and mix fruit (all except bananas), and wait to add bananas (cut them right before adding) marshmellos and whipped cream until within a few hours of serving.

Roasted Turkey with Herb Medallions

has its own blog post



pic shown without mushrooms because its courtesy Things We Heart

This recipe originated from the back of the French's Fried Onions can, but made less mushy, and with more flavor.

~about 2lbs fresh or frozen greenbeans (or however close you get with the bag sizes this isnt chemistry lab) frozen is usually better, since theyre not in season. and more affordable, less prep work too.

~1 large can of lower sodium/lower fat cream of mushroom soup. (off brand is fine, we'll be dolling it up.

~1 large can of French's Fried Onions, regular or cheddar flavored

~1 lb fresh mushrooms (buy them cleaned and presliced if you'd like, but not too far in advance, or save $ and buy whole.

~1-2 tubs of parmesan or mixed italian shredded cheese, or 1.5 cups shredded sharp cheddar~several cloves garlic, or prediced garlic from a jar

~EVOO/butter, pepper, soy sauce(optional)

if you bought them whole, brush off mushrooms (dont wash) to get dirt off. Slice mushrooms. Super awesome tip: use one if these fancy egg/strawberry/mushroom/kiwi slicers. (mine is from Pampered Chef)

Save 5-7 pretty looking slices aside. Then crumble (easy job for kiddos to help) the rest into chunks, no need for a knife, just break the slices up. (I do this sitting down at the table, to save my feetsies from getting to tired, can also be done night before)

~sautee mushroom chunks in garic/EVOO/butter until carmelized (the picture isnt carmelized yet)~ add soup, pepper, dash of soy sauce and 2/3 can of onions. (skip the soy if you got regular sodium soup)

~ set soup mixture aside, (on a warm burner if you have one empty) cover or my mom will constanty have to "taste" a few chunks of mushrooms, you want to save some for the casserole.

You have 2 options to cook the greenbeans:

~If they came in a steamer bag, or if you just prefer to, go ahead and steam them until tender, but not over cooked.

~Otherwise, blanch them in boiling water until tender, but not over cooked. (while waiting for water to boil, prep a large bowl of ice water). When cooked, drain and dunk collander in ice water to stop the cooking process. (or simply run cold water over top from the tap)

~In large casserole pan, mix 2/3 of the cheese, the soup mixture and greenbeans.

~Cook, covered, at 350-375 (or whatever tem the rest of the T-day oven co-habitants are hanging out in) until hot through. Plan for this to take about 20 minutes, depending on pan size/oven temp etc. A few minutes before serving, top with remaining cheese, fried onions and fresh mushroom slices, and finish cooking uncovered, so the cheese gets bubbly and the onions crisp.

Note: The casserole can be done ahead of time, even the night before, then just cooked day of, heating through will take longer though than if starting from warm soup/beans.

Another Note: I have made this and then put it into a crockpot instead of casserole pan. It worked well, the top doesnt get crispy like it does in the oven though. (it was for a potluck at work, no ovens) this year, I am going to try to put it in the crockpot, but then top with broiled-crispy fried onions, and see how that works. There is always so much shuffling going on in the oven, and this year, all the dishes have to be carried downstairs to our home theater/shop for the buffet. My loft just wont hold 30-40 people comfertably, so luckily we have a shop-turned-banquet hall for large gatherings.





photo courtesy Mikes Table

This recipe evolved over years of making it up as I went along. I'll be honest, I used to pull out a box of Stove Top and just make it with turkey stock instead. Then I started adding to that, chopped celery and onion, then my mom made stuffing one time using boxed stuffing cubes looked easiy enough. So I started doing that, recently, I added the sausage. Bringing this to my then-boyfriend's grandma's for Thanksgiving sealed the deal for his family and he was forbidden to break up with me. This year I will be bringing it again, as his wife.

I appologize for the measurements, I'm not so great at measuring, just eyeballing stuff. Ingredients:

~1 lb italian sausage.(or whatever sausage you like)
~1 box/bag seasoned bread cubes(or crumbs)
~1 egg
~a bunch of store bought or homemade chicken/turkey stock (I usually make some with turkey neck/giblets and ends/scraps of the veggies that go in the turkey, poultry seasoning, and boullion cubes) but have to supplement with more from the store. I prefer the box version over the canned, because its easier to store leftovers in the fridge.
~1-2 lb of mushrooms sliced then broken into peices
~2 stalks of celery, diced
~1 or 2 carrots, diced fine
~about 1/4 cup chopped onion
~about 2 cloves garlic (or prediced jarred equivilant)
~EVOO (or butter) (or reserved sausage drippings)
~poultry herbs: sage, rosemary, thyme
~optional: meat picked from the neck(that was cooked in the stock) and additional scraps of turkey meat (if this is being prepared at about the same time as the turkey is done)

(this is half or 1/3 of what I usually make)

~to save effort on T-Day, I brown the sausage up a few days in advance, draining the fat, and store them seperate. I also chop veggies a few days in advance, but you can brown the sausage same day, draining, set aside.
~in butter/fat/evoo: saute veggies, starting with onions/carrots/garlic most of the way, then add mushrooms. Mix in warmed (usually in microwave) pre-browned sausage and turkey meat bits. add finely chopped herbs.
~toss veggie/sausage mixture with the bread cubes. add enough stock to moisten very well, (i toss with my hands so i can feel it) when mixed, add a gently scrambled egg(for binding) pour into buttered casserole dish.
~bake covered, until hot through at 350-375 (or whatever temperature other T-Day oven occupants are hanging out in after the turkey is removed from the hot-box). (if it will be a while before ready to bake, cover and store in fridge). remove cover for a few minutes at the end of bake time to crisp top.

Note: I use some leftover stock to remoisten and bake leftovers the next few days. or make a patty and fry in a pan for a ultimate sandwich with turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce.




with pecan crust

photo courtesy Leites Culinaria

So I goofed and lost the recipe I have used for the pumpkin cheesecakes I have made the last few years, but when I saw this one in All You magazine, it looked pretty close.

I will be making mini cheesecakes with foil cupcake liners in cupcake pans. I really cannot be bothered with a springform pan, water bathes, or cutting and serving each slice. Cupcakes are kind of my signature....

I just spoon a bit of the crust mixture into each cup, pressing into the bottoms with the end of a shot glass (I havent got the fancy Pampered Chef Mini-Tart Shaper yet). The rest of the directions are pretty close to what I do. I also top each cheesecake with a candied pecan (store bought) so people know there are pecans in it.

(Copy/Pasted from All You link above)
1 1/2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs (from about 30 cookies)
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
3 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin-pie spice
1. Make crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch springform pan. Cover outside of pan with 2 layers of foil. Stir together all crust ingredients. Press into bottom and up sides of pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool on a rack.

2. Make filling: With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and both sugars until light. Beat in eggs and yolks, 1 at a time. Beat in pumpkin, sour cream and vanilla. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour and spice. Pour into crust.

3. Place cheesecake in a large roasting pan; fill pan with 2 inches of hot water. Bake until cake is set around edges but still slightly jiggly when lightly shaken (cheesecake will firm as it cools), 55 to 65 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Cover and chill for at least 10 hours or up to 2 days.

This recipe from Leites Culinaria is also pretty similar to the one Ive used before.

Im linking to Its A blog Party's Days of Thanksgiving Holiday Party

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