Nov 25, 2012

Happy Bellies on Thanksgiving

I don’t know about you, but I had my fair share of food on Thanksgiving day. It hurt to move. Ha, seriously it did. This year, my husband and I celebrated Thanksgiving at home with my mother-in-law. It was just the three of us this year, which meant more wine and leftovers for us. Haha. This was also the first time I actually made a “Thanksgiving” meal since we typically go home either to D.C. or Roanoke, but we decided to stay put. The first thing I had to do was create the menu. I did lots of searching online for some new recipes I wanted to try. I did what I could to prepare some ahead of time, while the rest I cooked the morning of. Check out these recipes I created for our first Thanksgiving meal that I will certainly keep in my back pocket:

1. THE TURKEY & GRAVY: My first experience roasting a turkey went pretty well. Not gonna lie, it wasn’t perfect. We used a roaster with a cover which helped keep the turkey moist and tender. We removed the cover at the last 30 minutes of the roasting process, which wasn’t enough to brown the skin. We couldn’t leave it in the oven much longer because the turkey would have dried out. So we sacrificed the crispy skin for moist meat. Next time, I want both! With the pan drippings, I made a homemade gravy by just starting a roux (butter and flour) in a saucepan and gradually adding the drippings, stock and seasoning. Definitely much better than anything in a jar.

2. GARLIC & PARM MASHED POTATOES: I got two secrets to the perfect mashed potatoes. One, use gold potatoes. They have a great consistency when mashed. Two, simmer milk/heavy cream with finely diced garlic (about 4-5 cloves), some butter and a few herbs you have on hand. Simmering this mixture while the potatoes are boiling will just infuse all the flavors so nicely. This is a full proof way for flavorful mashed potatoes. Once you combine everything, add salt to taste.

3. FRESH GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE: I’ve had the typical canned green bean casserole. It’s not that bad, but it could be better. I found this particular green bean casserole on a cooking blog called Brown Eyed Baker. What appealed to me about this recipe is the the fact you can prepare this ahead of time and nothing came out of a can (besides the fried onions). The night before Thanksgiving, I made the casserole and refrigerated it overnight. The day of, I made the topping, popped the casserole in the oven for 10 minutes to reheat and added the topping to crisp up. This is not the moist figure-friendly recipe, but it had a fresh and clean taste to it without the use of anything canned.

4. SOURDOUGH BREAD STUFFING. Step away from the Stove-top and check out this amazing recipe for homemade sourdough bread stuffing from Dave Lieberman. Ahhhh, it is SOOO good. Like seriously. This recipe is definitely a keeper. I purchased the sourdough loaf from Panera and followed the recipe. The directions were pretty straightforward and simple, but the dish itself was rustic, moist, earthy and just delish. The sourdough just soaked up the flavors so perfectly. This dish is even better reheated since we did have lots of leftovers.

5. DINNER YEAST ROLL: So, I didn’t make these from scratch. I just couldn’t make myself! I cheated and purchased a bag of Sister Schubert’s dinner yeast rolls from Kroger. These were just delicious and didn’t require any work from me, which I liked. I just placed the rolls on a cookie sheet, added a smear of butter on the top and popped them in a hot oven for 10 minutes. These were the last thing we baked before we ate. Easy peasy!

6. CREME BRULEE: Last, but not least, the dessert. So I have something to admit. I am not a fan of apple, pumpkin, fruit pie. I don’t know why, I just never had an appetite for them. So, I decided to make something different. I made creme brulee from an easy recipe I found online. I noticed just from searching recipes, that creme brulee require the same few ingredients – egg yolks, heavy cream, sugar and vanilla extract (or vanilla bean). I made these Monday evening and refrigerated them until I was ready to serve. I bruleed the top and popped them back in the fridge to harden for a bit. This dessert is super rich and decadent. A little definitely goes a long way. I loved it, but maybe next time I’ll try to lighten it up a bit.

So, that’s what we ate for Thanksgiving! I hope you give some of these recipes a shot because they were really good especially that bread stuffing! I just love trying new recipes. Did you find a recipe for Thanksgiving and absolutely loved it? Please share with me by leaving a comment below. Would love to hear from you!

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