Friday, December 7, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

There is nothing better than walking into your home on Thanksgiving and smelling all the delicious goodies baking in the oven. I love the smell of a turkey roasting with all its seasonings, the smell of pumpkin pie and allspice, and simple dishes like mashed potatoes loaded with butter and heavy cream and green beans floating in cream of mushroom soup.

Cooking is one of my few hobbies and I jump at every chance to make a big meal for friends and family. It’s not a chore and when I feel stressed and overwhelmed, that is the time I choose to conquer a difficult recipe. If I conquer a complicated recipe, it helps me conquer the hard times in life. 

I am not a creative or artistic person and cooking is one outlet that I have to be both. I will follow a recipe once or twice, but after that, I let creativity take over.  I prefer to cook and not bake because it’s imperative to follow recipes when baking due to the formula of ingredients. As much as I follow rules in life, I don’t like following them in the kitchen.

For Thanksgiving this year, I entertained Pete, Sam, Maggie, my mom, her husband Joel, and my grandparents. I moved into my new home (my friend Sara’s house) the week before Thanksgiving so that I could host everyone there since she has a nice sized kitchen. It was a busy day, but I just loved cooking dinner for my family.

Below are two new recipes that I made for Thanksgiving, as well as the electric roaster details that I used for the turkey. Everything was wonderful. Besides the recipes below, I also made gravy, a basic bread stuffing, green bean casserole, and my grandparents provided an apple raisin stuffing and pecan pie. When my grandparents showed up with the apple raisin stuffing, my grandfather clearly neglected to realize that more than two people would be eating dinner, so mom added apples, raisins, and half a loaf of bread to ensure there was enough!

For the first time, I cooked the turkey in an electric roaster and it was such a success that I don’t think I’ll ever cook a turkey in an oven again. When I move out of Sara’s house, an electric roaster will be one of my first purchases. The thirteen pound turkey was moist and cooked to perfection in exactly two hours. All I did was stick pats of butter under the skin, I used olive oil all over the skin and sprinkled the outside and cavity of the bird with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. I put about one cup of water in the bottom of the roaster to ensure I would have juices to make gravy. I heated the electric roaster to its highest setting for 15 minutes (450 degrees) and put the bird in for 20 minutes. I then dropped it 325 degrees for the remaining amount of time. The most important thing to note is that you cannot take the lid off the top of the roaster while the bird is cooking. Just trust the process!

Turkey, Crescent Rolls and other Goodies

Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Courtesy of Cooking Channel

- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup orange juice (no sugar added or freshly squeezed)
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
- One 12-ounce bag cranberries

Combine the sugar, orange juice, 1/2 cup water, the cinnamon, salt and cranberries in a medium saucepan. Bring up to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 15 minutes. Let cool completely before serving. I made this two days before Thanksgiving and it was perfect the day of.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Sweet Potato Casserole
Courtesy of Food Network

I used yams for this recipe because that was what my grocery store had. I don’t eat this dish, but Pete said it was fabulous. He ate all the leftovers, so they must have been good.

- 2.5 pounds sweet potatoes (about 3 large), scrubbed
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
- 3 TBS unsalted butter, melted plus more for the preparing the pan
- 2 TBS packed dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and pierce each one 2 or 3 times with a fork. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until tender. Set aside to cool.

Turn the oven down to 350 degrees F. Scoop the sweet potato out of their skins and into a medium bowl. Discard the skins. Mash the potatoes until smooth. Add the eggs, butter, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and pepper to taste. Whisk the mixture until smooth.

Butter an 8 by 8-inch casserole. Pour the sweet potato mixture into the pan and sprinkle the top with the pecans. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until a bit puffy. Serve immediately.

Sweet Yam Casserole and Green Bean Casserole

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