Monday, November 25, 2013

Gobble it Up!

mini apple pies with Star Crust
below mini chocolate cream Pies
 My 3rd year of thanksgiving! I have learned a few things over the years, but first a quick recap of the last 2 years.  Year one was crazy I cooked solid for 2 days and had 15 people coming to my house. The term go big applied here! I made 4 different desserts (sweet potato pie, apple pie, chocolate pecan tart, and cream puffs), a 24 pound turkey named Hank, 5 different sides (carrots, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, green bean casserole and stuffing) I truly have no clue how I pulled it all off.
Last year I had a smaller crowd, only cooking dinner for 8 was way more manageable. I also had to work on the day before and the day of. I still made 4 different desserts in the form of mini pies (apple, sweet potato, pecan, and chocolate cream) a 17 pound turkey,  and 4 sides (green bean casserole, Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, and stuffing) Everything was in smaller portions so a bit easier to handle. 

Now that I have bored you all with a not so quick overview of the last 2 years- lets get on to this year. I am hosting about 10 people. I learned last year that my mini pies were cute- however they took a really long time to make. This year I am sticking to two desserts.  I have a 20 pound turkey courtesy of my work! yeah I got a free Turkey! I am going to add a cocktail. That should be fun! Now for the recipe roundup!
To start the day off right I will be serving a Special cocktail in addtion to Ryan's homemade beer. In trying to be festive I thought of a Cranberry Margarita- Here is a recipe simple and easy.
Cranberry Margaritas!
1 1/2 cups cranberry juice
3/4 cup fresh lime juice
3/4 cup tequila
1/2 cup Triple Sec
-Pour everything over ice and stir to combine. garnish with some salt rimmed glasses and lime!

Turkey Brining in my largest pot. -  (beer brine)
I asked Lukas to name the Turkey-  as we do every year since I was young, usually it's Tom. He has named our Turkey- Bunny. Yes! that is not a typo- A turkey named Bunny!  Last year I did a beer brine bird, and the year before was a cider brine. Both were amazingly delicious. No other recipes I saw looked as good as the cider-brined-turkey-with-star-anise-and-cinnamon . It will go down as one of my favorite turkey brines of all time. I will just warn you now, doing a wet brine like this one takes up alot of space in the fridge. If you have an extra fridge or even a large cooler it will help to keep your fridge free for other ingredients. And for easy clean up use a brine bag- yes they do make heavy duty bags just for this, don't use a garbage bag- they are NOT food safe.
this year really jumped out at me. So  I am going to go with the
Now on to the sides. Really if it ain't  broke don't fix it right? Well I am only changing a few things around.
But not the Mashed Potatoes! They are the co-star to any thanksgiving dinner for me. Served with any creamy mashed potatoes goes the gravy! Gotta have gravy! here is a fantastic rich-and-silky-turkey-gravy recipe.
Green Bean Casserole- A can of green beans and mushroom soup just doesn't cut it. 2 years ago  I made up my own version- Using fresh green beans, and a thick mushroom sauce. I am a sucker for the fried onions so they have to stay. The first year it was devoured, no leftovers for me. Last year I  made double and it was still all gone. This we will see if I can make enough! -yet still no recipe. I am such a slacker. 
Once again I am here with Stuffing- I can't explain how it's made. I can say whats in it but it's going to have to be by feel. I have watched my dad make it countless times- It's a basic stuffing recipe with onions, celery, mushrooms, olives, chicken stock, sausage, bread, salt, pepper, garlic. Mix together and either stuff or bake in the oven. Dad I'll be calling you on Thursday morning!
Last but not least Brussels sprouts! My favorite! My sister in law never liked Brussels sprouts until I made them for her. SO I get to make a whole bunch because I know they will at last be eaten by both of us. With any leftovers I will use for pizza later in the week. (SO YUMMY)
 Now onto Desserts! This is usually the section that takes the most amount of time to make. So happy I am only going to make 2 different kinds. 
Salted Caramel Cream puffs- Oh YES! thanksgiving doesn't have to be all about pies. I declare cream puffs just as good if not better then pie. They are light and fun to eat! need I say more?!
As always I will make Ryan's favorite- Chocolate Pecan tart. Rich and full of a toffee and chocolate flavor is a great end to a turkey dinner. 

This year I will take  more pictures.  I hope I have inspired some ideas. And wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.