So C & I were relaxing after Thanksgiving Dinner and he asked me, “So? What do you think worked and what did you think didn’t this year?”
Good questions. We differed on a couple of things and we BOTH agreed that I, yet again, made too many things to eat. *sigh*
When will I learn. **Do not answer that.
So I’ll run thru what I made and what worked and what didn’t. What I/we thought was worth the time and energy and what really REALLY wasn’t.
1- Mini knishes – I made a double batch to serve, but I only reheated half. Half of those are now back in the fridge, awaiting consumption. Good for small crowds, not great for parties with tons of appetizers. *sigh* I had Delusions of Grandeur. Used Smitten Kitchen’s Recipe. Served with a bowl of mustard.
2- Gougieres (cheese puffs) – only great RIGHT outta the oven. Not worth the effort, even reheated and topped with more cheese. I made David Lebovitz’s Recipe.
3- Granola Crusted Nuts – (C smuggled the bag of leftover nuts outta the house so he could finish them all by himself). Smitten Kitchen’s Recipe. That woman ROCKS! Seriously, if you haven’t made this recipe yet – you smoke crack.
4- Dried Apricot-Goat Cheese-Pecan Bites – quick, totally easy, delicious and VERY requested. I made up the recipe (see below).
5- Cheddar Pecan Crostini – I adapted a recipe from Sunset Magazine. It’s supposed to be with chestnuts but the damn things wouldn’t peel, so we gave up and used the Pecans we already had on hand. Oh, and when I warmed up the honey I added a 1/4 cup of white wine too (recipe below).
6- Baked Feta – I made this a few weeks ago, using apples instead of pears. Last time I used a HUGE block of feta from BJs. THIS time I went to the cheese counter at a real cheese shop and asked the guy behind the counter for a suggestion. He let me taste this unsalted Feta that – quite literally – rocked my world. It. Was. Amazing. We used that feta this time and I nearly burned my mouth – TWICE on that stuff. It was so good I’ll attach the recipe below.
7- Cheese Plate with Crackers (My Mother-in-Law brought these. She’s so great!).
8- Crudité & a variety of dips (again, my MIL ROCKS).
Dinner: **I was too crazy busy to stop and take pictures of dinner. I’m sure you’ve seen over-filled tables with like a million too many people crammed around several tables pushed together, and you don’t need another photo of mine.
1- 2x 11 pound Turkeys. After much discussion, we decided buying a single 22lb. bird was not as smart as buying *2* 11 lb. ones. Except my single oven can’t actually HOLD TWO birds at the same time *sigh*…best laid plans, eh? So I opted to make one a day ahead of time, let it come to room temperature, throw it on a tray and put it in the fridge overnight. About 2 hours ahead of time, I pulled it out of the fridge, let it come to room temp and then reheated it (covered) for about an hour. It was crispy = delicious. With TWO birds no one had to fight over gizzards, legs, necks, bones, etc. That was a bonus. I dunno that I’d make 2 again, maybe by a 10lb. bird and a breast or some parts or something…. Food for thought.
2- Cranberries. I’m a TOTAL traditionalist. I like them PLAIN JANE. No orange, no ginger, no nuts. Blech blech blech. Cranberries + Water + Sugar. The end.
3- Green Salad. I think my mom and I were the only ones to actually eat any of this. NEXT year I’m buying a single bag of lettuce. Done.
4- Green Bean Casserole – I used Mel’s Kitchen Cafe’s recipe. I gotta say something first: do not judge her recipes by this single one. Her site rocks. It really does. This? Well this recipe was …yech. C and I both really didn’t care for it. Would it be scandalous to throw it away??
5- Mashed Sweet Potatoes Brûlée – If you haven’t joined Weight Watchers yet, there’s this lady who has a website that creates AMAZING meals using WW friendly ingredients, give you point values, etc. Skinnytaste.com – I applaud you!! I used her recipe. C and I differ here. I think this recipe ROCKS (and apparently everyone else loved it too because 6 1/2 lbs. of sweet potatoes were called for and there’s only, like, 1.5 cups of the stuff left. So there. *wink*).
6- Garlic Roasted Red Potatoes. C made these and they took like 3 hours and used more margarine and garlic powder than a human being should consume in a single day. And yes, they were terrific!
7- STUFFING! I’ve been saving odds and ends of bread in my freezer for like, a year now. This stuff makes everyone smile (see recipe below).
8- Roasted Cauliflower Drizzled with Date Syrup – I adapted it from this Bon Appetit recipe. One of the more requested dishes I make. *clapping* (recipe below)
9- Cabbage, Garbanzo and White Beans roasted in Garlic Confit – I made up this recipe. It’s funny…the easiest recipe is the one that got the most compliments. Huh. *shrugging shoulders* (recipe below)
10- Homemade Gravy – This took 2 weeks to make, cost more money than I wanna think about to make, and we STILL have a quart and half leftover in the fridge. Still, I looooooooved it. I think it was TOTALLY worth it too. I am really quite proud of it!
1- Coconut Macaroons with Meyer Lemon Curd – HOLY CRAP this is amazing. Seriously, lick your fingers, don’t touch my plate, good! I used Sarah Schiffman’s recipe. I bow to her. By the way, TOTALLY Gluten Free if you buy the right coconut. My MIL made the cookies and I made the curd – we’re a good team!
2- Pumpkin pie in a Shortbread Crust – The filling was from Bon Appetit and the Crust was Martha Stewart. Thumbs up on the filling, and mixed reviews on the crust. C didn’t like, C’s Dad and I did. I think it was best topped with Bourbon Whipped Cream (also from the Bon Appetit recipe).
3- Pecan Pie – It was my first time eating a Pecan Pie, much less baking one. C kept telling me it looked wrong – and then he tasted it. He said it was his favorite one. *MUCH clapping!* I used Chinese Grandma’s recipe.
4- Blueberry Pie – I made the same one I made a while ago, but used less cornstarch in the filling this time. Also, for some reason, I really didn’t love the crust this time. To my surprise – this one went first. *shrugging shoulders*
Stuff I forgot to put on the table:
1- Latkes – they’re still in the freezer. *sigh* I’ll get back to you about how they turned out.
2- Homemade Sweet & Sour Cucumbers. I totally spaced putting these out. Ahh well. MORE FOR ME!! These things are freakin’ GOOD. In fact, I used to make them for C’s Grandmother all the time. One of her favorites. Makes me miss her. Glad we used her china for the special meal. Made both C and I happy.
Overall – I only went nutso-crazypants once. At the very end – like the last 15 minutes when EVERYONE decided to stand between me, the table and the oven. I turned into a MESS. Apologies to all. THANK GOD I have a wonderful family and set of friends who understand and seem to love me anyway.
END RESULT: The dinner was delicious and sharing it with everyone was even better. Maybe you’ll come over and eat some of my leftovers with me? Please??
RECIPES: I’m only gonna write up the recipes I made up. I’ve included links to the original recipes in my descriptions. If you have any questions let me know!
4- Dried Apricot-Goat Cheese-Pecan Bites: You take a dried apricot, top it with a little shmear of goat cheese, less than a Tablespoon, more than a teaspoon. Top that with a Pecan. Put on a plate and watch them disappear!
5- Cheddar Pecan Crostini: Slice a baguette, toast the slices very lightly (just to give them a crunch). In a saucepan heat up 2T of honey, a 1/4 cup of white wine and 1 Tablespoon of Pickling Spice (that jar you’ve had in the back of your pantry for 2 years totally works). Just warm, don’t bring to a boil or a simmer. Slice a strong cheddar and lay atop the crostini toasts. Top with a nut of your choice – the recipe calls for chestnuts, but this time I used pecans and they’re good. Drizzle the honey combo over everything and set out. C and I liked these but I don’t know if I’d make them the same way again… Maybe stronger cheese next time? I used a strong NY State Cheddar, but I think a stronger hard cheese would stand up well to the crunch of the crostini and the tang of the spices.
6- Baked Feta: Take a block of feta and cut it in half. Lay in a small baking dish and cover with a little drizzle of Olive Oil. Bake at 400º for 10 minutes until it gets all bubbly and starts to look gooey (if there’s too much oil in the baking dish you can pour out later). While that’s baking thinly slice an apple or a pear. Melt 1 Tablespoon of unsalted butter in a small frying pan, add the fruit and then add in 1 T brown sugar, 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/4 t salt. Stir over VERY low heat til all pieces are coated and soft and fragrant. DO NOT LICK THE PAN. Hot hot hot! When the Feta looks like it’s starting to get gooey, flip the oven to broil and heat the cheese til it browns on the top. I liked it better with just a little color, but that’s totally your call. Pull out of the oven, drain extra oil, top with fruit mix and then add 1/4 cup crushed pecans on top. Serve with fruit, crackers, a spoon….
7- Stuffing: I saved up TONS of old bread, cubed them and allowed them to dry for like 5 days on the counter. I roasted 2 packages of mushrooms (1 button, 1 cremini) cut into large chunks. I put the chunks on a baking sheet and put on the top shelf in a 350º oven for 8-10 minutes, until they released their juices. I sautéed together (in a little olive oil), 2 carrots, 1 medium onion and 3 celery stalks – all cut into tiny pieces. I mixed the mushrooms (with juices) and sautéed veggies into the dried bread cubes + a bag of bought stuffing mix. I moistened everything with a box and a half of low-sodium chicken broth, threw in some additional thyme and sage and salt and pepper (about 1 Tablespoon each as I had like a huge-assed pan of stuffing to make. Frankly, it could’ve used more seasoning I think. Maybe some more moisture too…perhaps a bottle of white wine? Hmmmm…Food for thought). The only thing big enough to hold this MASSIVE amount of stuffing was one of those oval aluminum pans that the turkey is supposed to go in. **You shoulda seen my Dad’s eyes when he saw the mound of stuffing on the table!!
I prebaked the stuffing at 350º for 45 minutes, let it cool and refrigerated overnight. Two hours before cooking time I pulled it outta the fridge and let it come to room temp. I baked it at 400º for another 45-55 minutes, stirring once or twice in the middle. It was all moist and delicious and crunchy around the edges – something for everyone!
8- Roasted Cauliflower Drizzled with Date Syrup: I bought 2 large heads of cauliflower and after I washed and cleaned off all the browned spots with a sharp knife, I sliced the heads into steaks about 1/2″ thick. I laid each head on a lined baking sheet and let them air dry for a few hours (you can totally skip this step for a regular meal, but it’s ok to do ahead of time for a big-assed meal like Thanksgiving). Just before baking I drizzled the cauliflower steaks w olive oil, then threw the baking sheets on the top two racks of a 400º oven and roasted them for about an hour, flipping them once so both sides got all browned and crunchy. When the cauliflower was done I laid out the pieces on a serving tray and drizzled everything with Date Syrup (Silan). I bought it at a Middle Eastern grocery store, but you could totally use honey if you can’t find it. You can also throw some sesame seeds on top for a little color/crunch. I don’t bother. *grin*
9- Cabbage, Garbanzo and White Beans roasted in Garlic Confit: Take a medium/large head of cabbage and peel away the outer layers, cutting away yucky stuff. Slice in half, the slice each half into slices or wedges. Not too small. Move pieces to a baking sheet. Grab 2 cans of beans (We like Garbanzo and Small White Beans), rinse and drain. Add to the baking sheet. Take your garlic confit and throw 6-8 cloves of garlic onto the baking sheet and spoon 2-3 Tablespoons of the garlic confit oil over everything (if you don’t happen to have garlic confit on hand, use regular olive oil and throw whole garlic cloves on the pan – just remove before serving! Now, toss everything to coat in that glorious oil and throw into a hot oven (350º or 400º – both will work) and roast until everything looks crispy and browned and delicious. Be sure to toss/shake the pan several times. The roasting can take 35-55 minutes, depending on how full your oven is, how hot it is, and how crispy you like everything.
Didn’t Make It To The Table:
Sweet & Sour Cucumbers – You wash and cut the cucumbers into thin slices (I used to do this by hand, and then I discovered the simplicity of using a mandolin). You put the cukes into a container with a lid, add 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup sugar. Toss to coat. If there are more cukes than liquid you can add equal parts vinegar and sugar, or just decide to shake/toss the container once a day. If needs be, you can serve them about an hour after you make them but these need to cure in the fridge for a day or two to get really good. They don’t last 2 weeks in our house, so I can’t speak to how long they’ll be good for.
Overall, this was a very successful Thanksgiving and I am SO PROUD that I could feed everyone and see their happy smiles. What a glorious meal and what terrific time spent with loved ones!
Hope yours was wonderful too!!