“Thanksgiving” Weekend

November 24, 2008

Well, sort of. We’ve kind of developed a tradition of visiting the Florida parents the weekend before and then spending the actual holiday on vacation with the NY parents. Even though we’re not traveling this year with the NY fam, we managed to uphold the traditional trip to FL with a last minute airfare bargain.

We started with a meal at La Bamba in Tampa. This is a tiny cafeteria style place that serves Cuban food. I assume that the cafeteria servings are good but there are only two things I eat when I’m in a Cuban place: pressed sandwiches and platanos.

After that we went home, chilled out, went to the grocery store to pick up our Thanksgiving dinner fixins for the netxt day, had some Greek food (it’s a caaaake!), and made the brine for our Thanksgiving turkey.

Saturday was a bit more adventurous. My dad and I were going to participate in a sailboat race so he got up nice and early, headed down to the pier and started prepping the boat. Before meeting him at 11am I helped my mom and Jacq prep some dinner items. Anyway, the race. As my dad and I were heading through the channel, our keel got lodged in the bottom and we couldn’t get through the channel. Apparently the tide was a bit lower than needed to get us out the the bay so after trying to dislodge ourselves for 30 minutes, we just headed back to the dock. Where we sat and chatted for a while, pretending we were at sea :)

While that was going on, Jacquie and my mom were doing the real cooking.

As soon as my dad and I got back, Lindsey surprised us with a cute Pooh Bear bag with a gift. Our first baby clothes :)

Then the good stuff, turkey day dinner (and dessert)!

And then more good stuff the next morn..

IHOP!! What a great breakfast to go :)
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In case you’re interested, you can click here for the Turkey Day menu and you can click here for the full photo gallery.

Turkey Day #1

November 24, 2008

Below you’ll see a summary of our Florida Thanksgiving Menu (11/22/08). Instead of creating one large post, we felt it’d be better to create a post of each item on the menu. Click on each of the dishes/links below to get some more details on our yummy Thanksgiving dinner :)

  1. Orange Turkey with Pan Gravy
  2. Sausage & Apple Cornbread Dressing
  3. Creamy Cole Slaw
  4. Sweet Potato Casserole
  5. Green Beans and Bacon
  6. Pretzel Salad

Orange Turkey with Pan Gravy

November 24, 2008

Orange Turkey with Pan Gravy
We brined the turkey overnight then placed on a roasting pan, using the fond to create the pan gravy after it was done.

Brine (enough for a 4 lb bone-in turkey breast)
2 quarts water
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
6-8 cloves
3 bay leaves
1/2 large navel orange, zest too
1 tbsp cracked black pepper

Warm up the water in a large pot, then add the salt and brown sugar. Whisk until it dissolves. Remove the pot from heat and add the remaining ingredients while whisking. Place the brine in fridge to cool down, then once cool add the turkey breast. Cover and let rest for 4-24 hours in the fridge.

Turkey
Remove the turkey from the refrigerator about 2-3 hours before you plan on cooking it. Rinse from the brine and pat dry.

When at room temperature, place the turkey in the roasting pan and cook in a preheated 350 degree oven. Roast until the internal turkey temp is 160 degrees. A meat thermometer will be your best friend in the kitchen but if you don’t have one, you can estimate it to be done at about 20-25 minute a pound. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving so all the juices can redistribute before you start carving into it.

Gravy
Fond
1 cup turkey stock
2-3 tbsp of all purpose flour (as a thickener)
Salt & Pepper to taste

While the pan is hot, use 1/4 cup of turkey stock to de-glaze the pan. Add 1 tbsp of flour and whisk to get all of the goodies off the bottom. Add another 1/4 cup of turkey stock. Continue to add flour and stock incrementally until the gravy is the desired consistency and quantity. Season to taste.

Sausage & Apple Cornbread Stuffing

November 24, 2008

Sausage & Apple Cornbread Stuffing

We decided to make our own stuffing this year and after about an hour of googling, my mom, Jacquie and I decided to just wing it instead of following a recipe. We knew it needed the basics — cornbread, carrots, celery, onions — but we were trying to come up with the delicious touches. We wanted to go chorizo (my mom insisted :) ) and decided to go with apples as a “surprise” flavor. It worked out really well even though we had to use breakfast sausage instead because the Fresh Market didn’t have chorizo.

Once quick note, there are three ways to make cornbread:
(1) Use cornmeal, slave for an hour
(2) Use Jiffy and make in a cast iron skillet
(3) Go to Boston market

Ingredients
12 cornbread muffins from Boston Market (yup, we chose option 3)
4 large carrots, diced
2 large shallots (or one med-large onion), diced
5-6 sticks of celery, diced
1/2 lb breakfast sausage, crumbled
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled/cored/diced
3 cups Turkey Stock
2 eggs, beaten

Cut up the cornbread in chunks and set into a buttered 9×13 glass baking dish.

In a large pan, sauté the sausage until brown

Remove the sausage leaving some of the fat. Add the celery, carrots, shallots and sauté (don’t forget to salt and pepper the mix as if it were any other veggie dish).

Add back in the sausage to the pan along with the turkey stock and turn off the heat. In the baking dish with the cornbread, toss the cornbread with the beaten eggs. Add in the mixture of veggies, stock and sausage then toss all together.

Place in a preheated 350 and cook covered for 25 minutes. Uncover and cook for another 30-35 minutes. If it becomes too dry just add a little turkey stock. Ours was actually perfect — crispy on top and soft under that.

Enjoy!! This was a quick and simple dish, which we loved every bite of it.

Sweet Potato Casserole

November 24, 2008

Sweet Potato Casserole

Ingredients
4 large sweet potatoes
salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 stick of butter
3/4 cup of small marshmallows

Peel the four sweet potatoes and then wrap in foil. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until fork tender, about 45-60 minutes depending on the size.

Take them out of the oven, mash with 1 tsp of salt and 1 tbsp of brown sugar. Spread evenly in a 8×8 baking dish.

In a small bowl, melt the 1/4 stick of butter in the microwave and mix in the remaining brown sugar. It should be thick but spreadable. Spread evenly over the sweet potatoes. Sprinkle the top evenly with the marshmallows.

Put back into the oven at 350 for 10 more minutes then move the mix to the top rack and broil. KEEP THE OVEN DOOR CRACKED AND WATCH THE MARSHMALLOWS. This part only takes a minute or two and if you aren’t watching, the mallows will be charred, not browned. Burnt is not good eats. Pull from the oven and serve.

This picture is actually after we had dinner. When sorting through all the pics we realized that in our excitement to eat we didn’t have a pic of the finished product.

Creamy Coleslaw

November 24, 2008

This is a really quick side dish to put together and though not necessarily what one would associate with a traditional holiday dish, this was our brother’s request and we were more than happy to oblige :)
Be warned, this makes enough to feed a small army.

2 small heads of cabbage (we used green/purple for color contrast but you could use whatever you like) – shredded (a food processor makes this a quick and easy job but make sure you use the slicing plate and not the shredder plate on the cole slaw or else you’ll end up with confetti as you will see below)
2 carrots – peeled and grated
2 shallots – grated
1.5 cups of mayonnaise
1/4 cup of sour cream
2 teaspoons celery seed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard

Mix all ingredients in a large (LARGE) bowl. Cover and let sit in the fridge for at least 3 hours for the flavors to meld. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Our brother tinkered with this for a bit so what ended up on our table wasn’t exactly made up from the amounts you see in the recipe. You really can’t mess this one up though.

Green Beans and Bacon

November 24, 2008

Green Beans with Bacon

1/2 pound green beans, cleaned and trimmed
1/4 pound bacon
salt, pepper

This one is as easy as it looks. All you have to do is boil some salted water in a large pan then add the prepped green beans. Boil for three minutes, dump the green beans into a colander, run cold water over them, and then lightly salt them.

To save you from having to do yet another dirty pan, add the bacon to the same pan you boiled the green beans in (now dry after draining) and cook the bacon until brown and crispy. Remove the bacon to a dish lined with a paper towel. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of the fat out. Add the cooked green beans and sauté briefly to evenly coat the green beans w/ the fat and heat through.

Serve warm.

Mom’s Pretzel Salad

November 24, 2008

Mom’s Pretzel Salad
**This was posted already but we have our own pics and wanted to add those in. Plus, this is so good it deserves tons of posts**

10 oz frozen strawberries, at room temperature
2 cups pineapple juice
1 0.6-oz package of sugar free wild strawberry jello or 1 6-oz package of regular wild strawberry jello

2 cups thin pretzels, crushed (not pulverized)
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, melted

1 8 oz package of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 cups Cool Whip (I think that you could use homemade whip cream if you’re averse to Cool Whip and/or you have an extra thousand calories to spare)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the pineapple juice in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the juice boils, mix in the jello powder. Add the frozen strawberries along with their juices and stir to combine. Pour jello mixture into a bowl/pan large enough to hold it all and refrigerate.

Combine pretzels, 1/4 cup sugar, and melted butter in a 9×13 baking dish that has been lightly oiled either with Pam or butter. Bake for 10 minutes and then remove to cool.

While the pretzel mixture is cooling slightly, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until light and fluffy. Then fold in the Cool Whip about 1/3 at a time so the mixture remains fluffy and light. 

Spread this over the slightly cooled pretzel crust.

When the jello in the fridge is slightly set (i.e.; if you shake the pan, it should shake versus slosh), lightly spread it evenly over the cream.

Refrigerate for a few hours to let the jello fully set. Cut and serve!