Monday, November 30, 2009

Cooking My Way To Thanksgiving - Cranberry Sauce

I can't have turkey without cranberry sauce. I really enjoy the tartness of the jelly. When I was young, we used to buy our cranberry sauce from a can. But I've discovered that it's really easy to make your own sauce. If you can boil water, you can make cranberry sauce. Here are some fresh cranberries from Ocean Spray. One bag makes plenty of sauce. In a pot, you bring one cup of sugar and one cup of water to a boil. Then add the cranberries. Bring it back to a rapid boil and cook until the cranberries start to pop. This will release their natural juices. Keep boiling until all the berries are popped. At this point, you can turn the fire off. I also like to take a spatula and flatten the berries out. Remove from the stove and into a container to cool. The cranberry sauce will naturally become gelatin-like at room temperature. And there you have it. Some easy homemade cranberry sauce. Read more...

Cooking My Way To Thanksgiving - Gravy

When the turkey is finished roasting, I take the pan drippings and roasted veggies for the gravy. First, I drain the vegetables but make sure to keep the liquid. The liquid goes into a bowl where the fat can be separated. The fat/oil floats to the top and can be skimmed.
The vegetables goes into a blender and processed finely. A food mill would work really well here too. I would prefer one too but I don't own one...yet. Then I bring, the turkey juices, some stock, and half of the pureed vegetables to a boil. If the gravy doesn't look thick enough, I'll add some flour to the rest of the vegetables. Then I'll add that mixture to the boiling gravy. Make sure this boils too to ensure that the flour will thicken the sauce. The gravy is thick and super flavorful. My only gripe is that it's orange from the carrots.
Read more...

Cooking My Way To Thanksgiving - Roast Turkey

What's Thanksgiving without turkey? I really like roast turkey. It tastes great when done properly. I hate overly dry turkey. But I've discovered a way to make really juicy turkey every year. Ever since that one time, I've been asked to make the turkey every year from then on. I start with a frozen turkey from the supermarket. I like Butterball or Stonyfield Farms. I know that fresh turkey from a farm would produce the best turkey flavor but I can't afford it. I wish it would be cheaper because then I would definitely buy one. Until then, a regular frozen turkey it is for me.
I take some garlic, herbs, onion, and an orange for aromatics. Cut them into smaller chunks so they fit easily into the cavity of the turkey. While alternating each ingredient, stuff the bird with the aromatics. They make the turkey taste really good from the inside out. Don't forget salt and pepper too. Next, I make some herbed butter. You can use any kind of herbs you want. I like rosemary, thyme, and sage. I take the butter and rub it all inside of the bird but mostly underneath the skin of the breast meat. This helps keep this part of the turkey really moist while the harder to roast parts come up to temperature. And now this turkey is ready for the bacon. I don't fold the wing tips in because they get covered by the bacon. Otherwise, they would be folded in to prevent burning. One of my methods for a juicy turkey is bacon. I wrap the bird in bacon twice during the entire roasting time. I like to get a thicker kind so it doesn't burn too quickly. Going from one end to the other, I wrap every inch of the exposed skin with bacon. I also put some leftover vegetables in the bottom of the pan to collect the juices. It makes for some good gravy. Cut the vegetables in big, thick pieces. They'll roast along with the turkey without burning. Then onto a rack in a pan and into oven to slowly roast. I take it out when the bacon is cooked and nice and crispy. I carefully removed the cooked bacon. The first batch of bacon is always for nibbling while dinner is being cooked. Then I add another layer of bacon on top. Then back into the oven again. Sometimes, the second batch of bacon is cooked before the turkey is cooked. I'll take the second batch off and return the bird back into the oven. This also allows the skin to become nice and crispy. This year, the turkey came out really good. It was really juicy and flavorful. So much so that people actually took a good amount of leftovers and I wasn't left with much turkey. Read more...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cooking My Way To Thanksgiving - Biscuit Wreath

I saw this recipe on TV the other day. It's Sandra Lee's recipe from Semi-Homemade. I have to admit that it's the only recipe of hers that I have ever tried or even wanted to try. You start off with some store bought biscuits. Here I have some Pilsbury Grands buttermilk biscuits. Add some flour and roll them out. Take some festive cookie cutters and cut out each biscuit. Here's a turkey. a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_sn6ubFX7brs/SxC7PJ8aIDI/AAAAAAAADJE/9F3fHGmvTJM/s1600/CIMG4236.JPG"> And here's a pumpkin. Arrange them in a circle making sure they overlap. Brush with egg wash for a nice golden brown after it's baked. Follow the baking directions from the canister. And here it is all done. It looks pretty good. It doesn't taste too bad but unfortunately the biscuit is not as soft as they should be since I've rolled them out. Read more...

Cooking My Way To Thanksgiving - Apple Pie

Apple pie is made every year. Mostly because my sister always demands it. It's time consuming but it's worth it. Though most people are full by the end, there's always room for apple pie. This is especially true when served with vanilla ice cream. I start with some granny smith apples. They're peeled and sliced thinly. I mix in some sugar, spices, and flour. Then some good pie dough. This is not your figure friendly type of dough. I roll it out until thin and fits over the pie plate. I place the dough on the plate while making sure there's enough overhang. Then I fill the dough with the spiced apples. I cover the apples with the second piece of dough. It's trimmed and tucked under to secure everything inside. Then I make it all pretty with a scalloped edge and a turkey cut out in the middle. I bake it in the oven until it's golden and the filling is all bubbly. It came out so nice. And it tasted even better. Much better than my first try this year. Read more...

Cooking My Way to Thanksgiving - Brussel Sprouts

Some brussel sprouts are made every year. Lots of people aren't fans of this. But I am and I always make it for myself. I make them very simply. Just roasted in the oven with some salt, pepper, and oil. > Read more...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It's lots of good food. But a lot of effort goes into it. I always root for homemade food. So the days before Thanksgiving are actually really hectic for me with the food shopping, the prep work, and the actual cooking, baking, and roasting. I think it's completely worth it in the end. Don't you think so? Here you have some roasted vegetables, a biscuit wreath, roast turkey, cranberry sauce, and sausage stuffing. Mashed potatoes, corn, spiral ham, roasted sweet potatoes, and brussel sproats. The turkey and the biscuit wreath. Roast vegetables and stuffed mushrooms. The turkey from another angle and pasta with shrimp and broccoli rabe. A whole lot of bacon. The ham, mashed potatoes with spinach, and corn. Garlic Bread My first plate of food. My second plate of food. Dessert time! An apple pie. An assortment of cookies. And some flan. Read more...