Archived entries for thanksgiving

Acorn Squash Custard In A Half Shell

Nothing hits the spot on a crisp autumnal day like pumpkin pie. However, sometimes you don’t have a pumpkin, you’ve got a squash. And sometimes, you’re lazy and don’t feel like making pie. So, here’s a way to skip the pastry and get right down to business. Squash custard in a half shell.

Acorn Squash Custard in Half Shell

  • 2 c. roasted squash (about 3 large acorn squash)
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1 c. milk

Cut squash in half and scoop out as much squash from shell as possible.  Place in roasting pan and roast at 400 degrees for 30-60 minutes.

Using a food processor or mixer, process squash until smooth.  Add sugar, eggs, spices, and milk and process until smooth.

Pour custard mixture into squash shells. If you have extra, you can just pour into baking ramekins. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.  Turn temperature down to 350.  Bake for additional 30 minutes or so until the centers test clean with a toothpick.

Eat up!

A Guide To Thanksgiving Planning

Its Thanksgiving time! As you could expect, this is one of our favorite holidays. Its a day of eating until you’re sick and then going to sleep on the living room floor. To share the method to my madness, I thought I would share a sample menu and schedule with you so you can see an example of how to best manage your time. Lets get cooking!

Sample Thanksgiving Menu for 10

Monday and Tuesday:

  • shopping
  • tidy house

Wednesday:

  • Put poultry into brine
  • pumpkin soup
  • cranberry sauce
  • pecan pie
  • roast sweet potatoes for spoon bread
  • slice onions for casserole
  • set table

Thursday, Turkey Day:

  • assemble stuffing
  • prep poultry to roast
  • assemble casseroles (bean and onion)
  • get poultry in oven
  • bake stuffing
  • assemble spoon bread
  • toward end of roasting poultry, bake bean casserole.
  • prep potatoes to cook
  • take poultry out of oven
  • boil and mash potatoes
  • bake spoon bread and onion casserole while preparing gravy
  • serve food

Enjoy!

Acorn Squash: Tres Delish!

Its Thanksgiving time and we all want easy dishes with a bit of elegance.  A tasty treat, easy as (frozen) pie and a natural fancy pants is serving up acorn squash in its shell.  I love, love, love the sweetness of fresh squash in the autumn.  Yes, it could take up some prime real estate in your oven on Turkey day if you’re serving a group, but if you’ve got the space, this is a gobble-gobble great way to go!

Buttered Acorn Squash in its Shell
Each squash serves 2

  • Acorn Squash
  • butter
  • fresh rosemary
  • salt
  • pepper

Slice squash in half.  Scoop out seeds.  Pierce squash inside wells with a fork about 4-6 times, depending on size.  Try not to pierce through the outer skin.  Slice butter into squash halves, about 1 Tbs per half depending on taste preferences.  Lay one stalk of rosemary in squash well, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Place on a baking sheet into a preheated oven of about 350-400 degrees.  (You can roast these with other dishes in the oven if there’s space, so the temp variation is for that.  Bake for about an hour, or until the squash tests soft with a fork, or as we like to say, forkable!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thanksgiving Planning

Its Thanksgiving time!  As you could expect, this is one of our favorite holidays. Its a day of eating until you’re sick and then going to sleep on the living room floor.  We’re going to Ira’s parent’s up in Wisconsin for Thanksgiving this year so I’m not going to be doing much cooking.  I don’t want to miss out with my time to slave in the kitchen, so I’m hosting a Thanksgiving for friends tomorrow (sunday). To share the method to my madness, I thought I would share my menu and schedule with you so you can see how I’ve broken up my time.

2009 Thanksgiving Menu for 10

Janice, Ira’s mom, brought us a few of her organic free range chickens a few weeks ago.  They are the most delicious wonderful hormone free birds so I wanted to serve them for a Thanksgiving dinner.  They are a bit on the small side, so I decided to make a duck as well, when I found it on sale at our local market.  I then picked my favorite of the traditional side dishes.  I’ll include pics next week!  Here’s my schedule for getting everything together.

Friday Evening:

  • shopping: Stanley’s produce markt, Jewel Supermaket and Rich’s Polish Deli
  • tidy house

Saturday:

  • Put poultry into brine
  • pumpkin soup
  • cranberry sauce
  • pecan pie
  • roast sweet potatoes for spoon bread
  • slice onions for casserole
  • set table

Sunday:

  • assemble stuffing
  • prep poultry to roast
  • assemble casseroles (bean and onion)
  • get poultry in oven
  • bake stuffing
  • assemble spoon bread
  • toward end of roasting poultry, bake bean casserole.
  • prep potatoes to cook
  • take poultry out of oven
  • boil and mash potatoes
  • bake spoon bread and onion casserole while preparing gravy
  • serve food

Ok, I just wasted all day working on random stuff and now its 5 p.m. and I still have my whole Saturday check list to hit.  Time to get cooking!

Thankful Reflections of My Parent’s Thanksgiving


Sliced thyme and rosemary stuffed turkey rotisserie roasted on the BBQ.

I spent the weekend at my parents house and I am finally getting a chance to sit down and post about our Thanksgiving feast. This year fell on my Mother’s birthday, so we had a lot to celebrate and be thankful for. I keep talking about how my parents always do it up big. Here are some pictures to put my money where my mouth is.


Plate setting on my Great Grandmother’s satin tablecloth.

I am always in charge of setting the table.

This year, I used some small pumpkins from my parents garden as well small glasses of dried weeds and grass from the poolside flower beds to decorate the table.

For starters, a relish plate of my parents home made pickles. Organic cucumbers, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots and cauliflower from my parents garden.

Everyone loves olives!


My family members pictured from left, Grandma, Aunt Anne (in purple), Aunt Shirley, Aunt Lynda, my Dad and my Uncle John who seems to be in mid-pontification.

We serve ourselves buffet style. Food pictured (counter-clockwise from bottom right) Relish platters, radish rosettes, orange infused cranberry compote, creamy mashed potatoes, sliced oven roasted turkey, sliced rotisserie turkey, cheesy onion casserole, roasted sweet potatoes in a maple syrup sauce, roasted squash (in turkey tureen), green bean casserole (brought by my Aunt Margie), corn pudding, and apple walnut stuffing. You can see the pies on the upper right. The gravy bowls were on the tables.

My parents brined and roasted two turkeys, one on the BBQ (first picture) and another in the oven, stuffed with apple walnut stuffing, pictured above.

With so much food, its always hard to find a big enough plate!

My brother was a member of the clean plate club. Good job Alger!

We had to remember to save room for dessert. Pie options included peach raspberry, a ginormous apple pie, and good old pumpkin with fresh vanilla whipped cream. I ate so much, I think I’m good to until until next year.

Click here for more Thanksgiving photos.

Thanksgiving Leftovers


Turkey Burritos with Salsa and Cilantro courtesy of BonAppetit.com

The days following Thanksgiving usually brings plates and plates of the same left overs. I can only eat the same thing for so long. The best make over recipes take similar ingredients and completely change the context. Turkey burritos are a far cry from the fattening Thanksgiving food we’ve been eating for days and give a welcome Mexican twist to the those boring turkey scraps. While I’m still on vacation basking in eating my Mom’s food, check out the Thanksgiving Left Overs slide show on BonAppetit.com for more awesome ideas.

The Best Turkey Is A Brined Turkey



Soaking your turkey overnight in a salt brine solution is the best way to insure a moist juicy turkey on Thanksgiving. It requires no special ingredients or tools except a pot or bucket big enough to hold the turkey and small enough to fit in your refrigerator. You can also use a large cooler filled with ice if your Turkey is too large.

The turkey should be completely submerged in your brine solution and should be soaked anywhere from 12-24 hours depending on its size. For a large turkey above 15 lbs, I suggest 24 hours.

A basic brine solution is made up of water, salt and sugar. In addition to this, you can add any number ingredients such as fruit, herbs, spices, vinagers, juices, stock etc. The brine recipe I’ve used with success is:

For 1 Gallon of Brine:

  • 3/4 c. coarse Kosher salt
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. white sugar
  • 1/2 c. cider vinegar
  • 2 lemons quartered
  • 2 oranges quartered
  • Sprigs of thyme
  • sprigs of rosemary
  • handful of peppercorns

For each additional gallon necessary to submerge your bird, add 1/2 cup of salt, 1/2 c. sugar, and one more piece of citrus fruit.

Here is more information on brining poultry.

A Super Quick Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving is:
Turkey Pilgrims Pumpkin Pie
We will eat until we die.
Fin.

Did you like my poem? OK, lets make a quick pumpkin pie you can easily squeeze into your busy holiday schedule!

Grandma’s Pumpkin Pie

2/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. pumpkin**
2 egggs
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp cinamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1 2/3 c. milk

Mix everything together in a blender. Slowly add milk. The consistency of the filling once you add the milk will be very liquidy.

Pour in a pie crust. Here are the directions to my Grandmother’s Quick Pie Crust recipe.

Brush the edges of the crust with milk.

Bake for 15 minutes at 450 and then lower for 30-40 minutes at 350.


If your tester looks like this, you’re pie is not done.

Check pie with a toothpick or knife to test if done. When tester comes out clean with no pie liquid, your pie is done!

**You can use fresh pumpkin or canned. In my experience the canned pumpkin tastes just as good, and there are not additives in it. Around this time, stores often have the Libby pumpkin on sale pretty cheap. If you want to use fresh pumpkin, you need to cook it first. I suggest roasting in a similar fashion to the butternut squash we roasted for the butternut squash soup recipe.

A Favorite Thanksgiving Dish: Cheesy Onion Casserole

Since Thanksgiving is only a week away, I wanted to share a couple of my favorite family recipes. As you can maybe imagine, Thanksgiving is one of my family’s favorite holidays. My Mom always does it up big. Last year for a group of 11 people, my parents prepared a Turduckin and rotisseried a 14 lb Turkey. Thanksgiving is a day of total hedonism where we gorge ourselves silly and have enough left overs for an army!

Cheesy Onion Casserole, a family favorite, is so delicious the left overs are always fought over and my Mom has to evenly and judiciously distribute. No Thanksgiving is complete without a casserole and this one is literally as easy to make as it is to eat!

Cheesy Onion Casserole

  • 2-3 Tbs butter or margerine
  • 3 large sweet onions or 4 medium white or yellow onions
  • 2 c. shredded swiss cheese (8 oz.)
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted**
  • 2/3 c. milk
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 8 or so slices of French bread

Slice onions. Know any tricks not to cry while cutting onions? I whistle which works pretty well, but you need a lot of onions for this recipe. Any ideas??

Melt butter in a saute pan over medium heat, and add onions. Saute onions until clear, a little brown is ok. In a shallow 2 qt. casserole pan, layer onions, 2/3 of cheese and pepper to taste.

In a sauce pan, heat soup, milk, and soy sauce, stirring to blend. Pour soup mixture in a casserole and stir gently to mix. Top with bread slices. Bake at 350 uncovered for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, top of bread should be nice and toasted.

Push bread slices under the sauce and top with the remaining cheese.

Bake for 15 more minutes and you are done!

Sooo good!

**You can make this vegetarian by substituting cream of mushroom soup instead of cream of chicken.



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