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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner 2009

Notice the effing cranberry sauce is missing.  Grrr... What is the point of cranberry sauce.  It is ALWAYS missing from the table.  Somehow, it is ALWAYS forgotten.  I think I am about 0-26 with cranberry sauce and Thanksgiving dinner tables.  I guess I thought it would've been different this year because I made it myself!  Guess not.  :(

This is the first holiday I've ever spent away from my family.  It makes me sad and I am counting down the days when I can see the family again.  I miss everyone so much.  :(  I can't wait to head back east after school so we can see family on a more consistent basis.  Even a 6-hour drive wouldn't be so bad.

So, Ron and I tried to make the best of the situation with our own mini-family we have here out in Minnesota.   We began the day with our own mini-10k run (6.2 miles, but we ran 7.5 instead).  I'm so proud of him (and my dad) for how much they have improved with their fitness levels.  Then, I studied for nearly the entire day and Ron either: 1) watched football, 2) played video games, or 3) watched a movie/tv.

The Thanksgiving menu was relatively stress-free.  I made the cranberry sauce and prepared the potatoes yesterday.  Everything else will take about an hour or so to prepare. 

I have also made the pumpkin butter for the maple cinnamon biscuits.  See the recipe for pumpkin butter here.

Maple Cinnamon Biscuits 
adapted from Maple n' Cornbread

  • 2 cups flour (soft wheat works nice, eg: White Lily)
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, frozen for 30 minutes
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup cream or milk
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl combine all of the dry ingredients. 
  3. Grate the butter into the flour mixture. 
  4. Mix until mealy. 
  5. Stir together the cream and maple syrup. 
  6. Add to the dry mixture, folding only until moistened.  (Do not over mix or you will end up with heavy and dense biscuits)
  7. Place the dough on a floured surface. 
  8. Sprinkle with a bit of flour. 
  9. Gently form a 1 inch thick disc. 
  10. Using a biscuit cutter, dip in flour and then cut dough. 
  11. Place on a ungreased baking sheet, spacing each a few inches apart. 
  12. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden. 
  13. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack. 
These are best the day made or the following day slightly warmed in the microwave.  Store in an air tight container or bag once completely cooled.  Makes 8 to 10 biscuits depending on size cut.


Cranberry Sauce with Apple and Sage
adapted from Delicious Living
Yield:  Makes 1 2/3 cup

Did you know that cranberries sound like they are going to explode while you are cooking them?  I was terrified of the pot exploding!

  • 1 12-ounce package fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup thawed apple juice concentrate
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons honey (preferably orange blossom)
  • 1 teaspon minced fresh sage
  • Pinch of Salt 

  1. Put cranberries, apple juice concentrate, and water into a medium saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until cranberries burst and mixture is thickened a bit, 5-6 minutes.
  3. Stir in honey, sage, and salt.
  4. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Serving Size (1/4 cup):  77 cal, 2% fat cal, 0g fat, 0g sat fat, 0mg chol, 0g protein, 20g carb, 2g fiber, 30mg sodium 

Maple-Pecan Sweet Potatoes
adapted from Cooking Light  
 Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup)

  • 2 3/4 pounds sweet potatoes*
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 3  tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3  tablespoons maple syrup (use the food stuff)
  • 1  teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4  teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8  teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1  large egg, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2  cup mini-marshmallows
  • 2  tablespoons chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Pierce potatoes several times with a fork; place on a foil-lined baking sheet. 
  3. Bake at 400° for 1 hour or until tender. 
  4. Cool slightly; peel and mash in a large bowl.
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 350°.
  6. Stir half-and-half and the next 8 ingredients (through egg) into sweet potatoes. 
  7. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. 
  8. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. 
  9. Sprinkle the top with mini-marshmallows and chopped pecans; bake 12 minutes or until the mini-marshmallows are slightly melted. 
  10. Serve immediately.
This recipe is convenient because you can make this dish up to two days ahead.  This is what I did!  To do so, bake the potatoes and assemble the ingredients (through the egg).  Then refrigerate and bake at 350 degrees just before serving.

*The great yam v. sweet potato debate.  I purchased 'sweet potatoes' and not 'yams' because the recipe called for 'sweet potatoes' and Byerly's had them labeled side-by-side.  However, my mashed mixture does not resemble their picture.  I'm not quite sure if this is because yams are frequently referred to as sweet potatoes, so most stores/recipes generally label a 'yam' as a 'sweet potato' to avoid confusion, or if its the other way around.  However, my recipe does not have the orange like the recipe picture.  So, who the heck knows.

Nutritional Information:  Calories 185, Fat: 7.3g (sat 3.6g,mono 2.1g,poly 0.7g), Protein: 3.2g, Carbohydrate:  28g, Fiber: 3.4g, Cholesterol: 41mg, Iron: 1mg, Sodium: 315mg, Calcium: 57mg

Vegetable Medley with Creamy Parmesan Sauce
Adapted from Pillsbury
Yield:  6 servings (1/2 cup vegetables and about 2 tablespoons of sauce)

  •  1 bag (1 lb) frozen broccoli, carrots and cauliflower
  • 2 oz 1/3-less-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • Fresh basil, options
  1. Cook vegetables as directed on bag; drain and keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, in 1-quart saucepan, heat cream cheese, Parmesan cheese and milk over medium heat, stirring constantly, until cream cheese is melted and mixture is smooth and hot.
  3. Serve sauce with vegetables; sprinkle with chopped basil, if desired.
Nutrition Information per Serving:  70 calories, 35 fat calories, 4g fat (2.5 sat.), 10mg chl, 135mg sodium, 5g carb, 2g fiber, 2g sugar, 5g protein

Slow-Cooker Turkey with Cranberry Dressing
adapted from Prevention
Yield:  8 servings

  • 1 pkg (8 oz) herb-flavored stuffing mix (or use your own dried up bread)
  • 1/2 c. hot water
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 med. onion, chopped
  • 1/2 c. chopped celery
  • 1/4 c. sweetened, dried cranberries
  • 3 lb. boneless, skinless turkey breast
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  1. Coat 5-quart or larger slow cooker with cooking spray and spread dry stuffing mix in it.
  2. Add water, butter, onion, celery, and cranberries.  Mix well.
  3. Sprinkle turkey breast with pepper and basil.
  4. Place over stuffing mixture.
  5. Cover and cook on low 5-6 hours or until turkey is no longer pink in center and still moist.
Nutrition Per Serving:  340 cal, 46g protein, 25g carb, 5g fat (2g sat.), 115mg chol, 2g fiber, 630mg sodium

Also on the menu:
  • Stouffer's Macaroni and Cheese (for Ron - he claims it's some holiday tradition, but I only recall it being served for the past 3 years.  Prior to that, he never complained.  I think it's just his excuse to eat nasty frozen food on Thanksgiving day).
  • Individual pumpkin pie slice (for me) and individual vanilla cake piece (for Ron), both from Kowalski's Markets.
Overall, it was a success.  I do prefer crunchier stuffing though, but this worked just fine.  The sweet potatoes were excellent!!  I definitely recommend them.  We also played some Thanksgiving trivia during our dinner.  However, I love Ron and his company, but I am looking forward to Thanksgivings with the entire family again.

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