Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving Day

We'll be in town for Thanksgiving this year (in part to see the Yorkville Eagles play the Harlem Jets in a Turkey Bowl game).  So I've been thinking about how we'll feast on the big day.  Here are some of the things I've been considering:

BREAKFAST

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread (from Better Homes and Gardens)
I'd serve this with mini bagels or maybe even slices of my famous pumpkin bread, along with fresh fruit.
Ingredients:
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Directions:
Beat all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Makes 1-1/2 cups (24, 1-tablespoon servings).

MAIN MEAL

Ultimately we decided to have dinner at the Penn Club, where we enjoyed a great Mother's Day brunch a couple of years ago.  The Club's traditional Thanksgiving buffet will include:

Smoked Seafood
Shrimp Cocktail
Cheeses and Patés
Composed Salads
Pumpkin Soup
Traditional Roasted Turkey with all the Trimmings
Herb Crusted Beef Tenderloin
Homemade Grand Dessert Buffet


But if we hadn't decided to go out, I would have enjoyed cooking.  Perhaps I would have taken the easy way out and ordered a FreshDirect meal, which includes a whole roasted turkey, traditional turkey gravy, bake and serve dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, classic cranberry stuffing, creamed spinach, French green beans almondine, maple roasted yams with marshmallows, almost perfect mashed potatoes, and Carolina pecan pie.
Or I might have planned to follow Ina Garten's Thanksgiving Menu: Rosemary roasted cashews; Butternut squash and apple soup; Parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme turkey; Herb and apple stuffing bread pudding; String beans with shallots, Celery root & apple puree; Brussel sprout lardons; Cranberry fruit conserve; Baked chocolate pudding; Raspberry cheesecake; and Pumpkin mousse parfaits.

Or I might have assembled my own menu, which might have included:

Turkey with Cranberry Pecan Stuffing

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 large onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 pkg. (16 ounces each) Pepperidge Farm® Herb Seasoned Stuffing
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 (20 pound) turkey
  • Vegetable oil
Directions:
1. Heat the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Stir the celery and onions in the saucepan and cook until they're tender.
2. Stir the broth in the saucepan and heat to a boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the stuffing, cranberries and pecans and mix lightly.
3. Remove the package of giblets and neck from the turkey cavity. Rinse the turkey with cold water and pat it dry. Spoon the stuffing lightly into the neck and body cavities (if desired; otherwise cook stuffing separately and reduce cooking time). Fold the loose skin over the stuffing. Tie the ends of the drumsticks together. Place the turkey, breast side up in a shallow roasting pan. Brush with oil. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, not touching bone.
4. Roast the turkey at 325 degrees F. for 5 hours or until the thermometer reads 180 degrees F. and the drumstick moves easily, basting occasionally with the pan drippings. Begin checking for doneness after 4 1/2 hours of roasting time. Allow the turkey to stand for 10 minutes before slicing.
5. Bake any remaining stuffing in a covered casserole along with the turkey for 30 minutes or until it's hot.

I made a sweet potato recipe several years ago that I think was from the Neeley's.  It included coconut and it was fabulous and easy.  If I can't find that recipe, I might try:

Cane Syrup–Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallow Streusel

Sweet Potatoes Ingredients:
4 pounds dark-skinned sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup cane syrup
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 tablespoons orange liqueur

Streusel Topping Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature and cut into pieces
1/2 cup light-brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup toasted pecan pieces
2 cups miniature marshmallows

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Arrange the potatoes in 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Combine the cane syrup, butter, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the orange zest and liqueur. Pour the sugar mixture over the potatoes, and toss the potatoes to coat. Cover the dish tightly with foil.
Bake for 50 minutes, then remove the dish from the oven, take off the foil, and bake for another 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the syrup has thickened slightly, basting occasionally.
Meanwhile, make the marshmallow streusel: Combine the butter, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and pecans in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, and pulse the mixture until it resembles coarse pebbles. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, then add the marshmallows and toss to combine.
Raise the oven temperature to 425°F. Top the sweet potatoes with the marshmallow streusel. Return to the oven, and bake until the topping is bubbly and browned, about 10 minutes.
Serves 8.


Of course it isn't Thanksgiving without dessert.  I likely would have made two:

Best Apple Pie

Best Apple Pie

Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds cooking apples, pared, quartered, cored and thinly sliced (8 cups)
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch or 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 box piecrust mix or 1 package (15 ounces) refrigerated piecrusts
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • Water or milk
  • Sugar for sprinkling

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Place apples in large bowl; mix sugars, cornstarch or flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a small bowl; sprinkle over apples; toss gently to mix. Let stand until a little juice forms, about 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, prepare piecrust mix, following package directions. Roll out half of dough to a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface; fit into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch.
3. Pile apple mixture into pastry; dot with butter or margarine. Moisten edge of bottom pastry with water. Roll out remaining pastry for top to a 12-inch round; carefully drape over filling. Trim overhang to 1 inch; turn edges under and press together to seal. Flute decoratively. Cut vents in pastry with paring knife.
4. For a crispy-sugary top, brush top of pastry with a little water or milk and sprinkle lightly with sugar.
5. Bake at 425 degrees F for 40 minutes or until juices bubble through slits and apples are tender. If edge is browning too fast, cover with a narrow strip of foil. Cool completely or serve slightly warm.

Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

Ingredients:
  • 38 Nabisco ginger snaps, finely crushed
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 4 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin
  • 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup whipped cream
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 325 F.
2. Mix crumbs, nuts and butter.  Press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of a 9-inch springform pan.
3. Beat cream cheese and sugar with mixer until blended.  Add pumpkin spice and vanilla; mix well.  Add eggs 1 at a time and mix until blended.
4. Pour into crust and bake 1 hour and 20 minutes or until center is almost set.
5. Cool.  Refridgerate for 4 hours.
6. Remove rim and serve with dollop of whipped cream and dusting of nutmeg.

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