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Archive for November, 2011

In my family sweet potatoes are an integral part of our Thanksgiving spread.  While some prefer regular mashed potatoes, their sweet cousins have always been the potato of choice at our house.  There are a number of different preparations for them.  I like this one because it’s sweet, but not overwhelmingly so.  Don’t get me wrong, sometimes sweet potatoes with marshmallows hit the spot, but with such a rich meal these potatoes bring the sweetness without going overboard.

 

Grandma Grace’s Sweet Potatoes  – 1 Knife

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups sweet potatoes (about three medium-large potatoes)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1/3 cup butter

Prep:

  1. Peel the potatoes and chop them into ½ inch cubes.
  2. Place potatoes in a large pot and add water so that they are covered.
  3. Cook the potatoes over high heat until they can be pierced with a fork.  Once the water comes to a rolling boil stir occasionally and check on the potatoes every few minutes.
  4. Once the potatoes are cooked strain them in a colander.
  5. Melt ¼ cup of butter by putting it in a microwave safe bowl and cooking for 30-45 seconds depending on the strength of the microwave. Set aside.
  6. Break the eggs in a small bowl and beat with a fork.  Set aside.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit.

Cook:

  1. Pour the potatoes into a large bowl and mash them.
  2. Add to the bowl the sugar, eggs, ¼ cup of melted butter, milk, vanilla extract and salt.
  3. Stir well so that all of the ingredients are well mixed.
  4. Pour the mixture into a 1½ quart baking dish.
  5. In a small bowl mix together the brown sugar, flour and walnuts.
  6. Melt the 1/3 cup of butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
  7. Add the melted butter to the brown sugar and flour mixture and stir until completely integrated.
  8. Using a spoon or hands spread the brown sugar mixture evenly over the top of the potatoes.
  9. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes.
  10. Serve in the baking dish and enjoy!
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Cranberry sauce is a staple of Thanksgiving.  There are two camps, people who like whole-berry and people who like the jelly in a can.  I like both.  There is something about how the jelly holds the can shape that makes it a holiday classic.  At the same time the whole-berry just has a little more of that great cranberry zing.

This recipe is ridiculously simple and is as basic as it gets for cranberry sauce.  It will hold up well in the fridge for a few days, so you can make this well in advance of Thanksgiving Day allowing more time that day to focus on other dishes.  It is also so tasty it might just convert some of the jelly folks over to whole-berry…

 

Cranberry Sauce – 1 Knife

 Ingredients: 

  • 1 bag fresh cranberries (like Ocean Spray)
  • 1 orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ cup sugar
  • water

Prep:

  1. Rinse the cranberries in a colander.
  2. Wash the orange and remove any wax that might be on the skin.
  3. Zest the orange to yield about 1 teaspoon of zest.
  4. Using the same orange, juice it into a measuring cup.  It should come to short of ½ cup.  Add water until you get ½ cup of liquid.

Cook:

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat combine the cranberries, orange zest, juice and water, cinnamon stick, and sugar.  Stir well to incorporate all of the ingredients.
  2. Allow the content to come to a rolling simmer, stirring occasionally.
  3. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the cranberries have broken down and the liquid has thickened.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  Once room temperature remove the cinnamon stick and transfer into another container to cool in the refrigerator.
  5. About an hour before you want to serve the cranberries remove them from the refrigerator so they can come up to room temperature.
  6. Transfer the cranberries into a serving dish, serve and enjoy!

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Thanksgiving dinner can be the most intimidating meal all year to cook.  There is a lot going on from all of the sides and desserts, not to mention cooking a giant turkey.  I hope to demystify this dinner, at least a little, starting with the turkey.

Turkey is surprisingly easy to cook; you just need a roasting pan or any pan big enough to hold it.  You can also use an oven bag to cook the turkey, just be sure to follow the directions on it.  You can cook a turkey of any size, or just a turkey breast, following this basic rule: 325° Fahrenheit for 20 minutes per pound of bird.  Also you want to make sure the meat has reached 165° by checking it with a meat thermometer.  The little button thermometers that come with the birds cannot be trusted and often pop pre-maturely.

When it comes to the seasonings, you want to use enough to evenly sprinkle them over the whole bird.  Since bird and breasts can vary in size significantly I did not list measurements.  Use your best judgment as to how much to use.  When in doubt more is probably better than less.  Otherwise cooking a turkey is as simple as the instructions below.

 

Basic Turkey – 2 Knives

Ingredients:

  • One turkey or turkey breast, thawed
  • 1½ cups orange juice (2 cups for a whole turkey)
  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Black pepper
  • Salt (for whole turkey only)
  • Room temperature butter (for whole turkey only)

Prep:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325° Fahrenheit.
  2. Rinse the turkey in water, removing anything inside, like organ packets.
  3. If cooking a whole turkey rub the skin with the butter.
  4. Place the turkey in the roasting pan breast-side up.
  5. Pour the OJ over the turkey, allowing some to get inside the cavity.
  6. Sprinkle the paprika, garlic powder and black pepper over the bird so that it’s evenly covered.  If using a whole turkey also use salt.

Cook:

  1. Place the turkey in the oven.
  2. Baste every 30 minutes by pouring the bird’s drippings back over it.  If you don’t own a baster you can use a large spoon.
  3. When you have reached the approximate time that the bird should cook, check the temperature using a meat thermometer.
  4. When finished remove the bird from the pan and place on a cutting board to rest for about 20 minutes before carving.  While the meat is resting it’s a good time to prepare gravy with the drippings or save them to serve as is.
  5. Carve the turkey, serve and enjoy!

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