Thanksgiving

Over-Achiever Friday: Thanksgiving Menu = 97.24% done

by Shawnda on November 2, 2012

in Menus,Recipe Collections,Thanksgiving

Show of hands. Who else spent a couple of hours yesterday sorting through browser bookmarks, magazine recipe tear-outs from years past, Pinterest, and favorite blogs to plan their Thanksgiving menus?

You are not alone.

Roasted Chestnut and Sausage Dressing

My parents and I usually alternate hosting every other year but a glitch in the matrix means I get to host in my “off” year. Thanksgiving dinner in my family is always a late lunch followed by unbuttoned pants comatose football-watching followed by the dragging of the Christmas tree decorations out of the attic.

Me, I could make an entirely new menu every year and be happy. But tradition is important to my dad (and when we’re talking broccoli & rice casserole, my little brother) so I try to work in enough new dishes to satisfy the holiday adventurer in me while keeping enough of the family favorites to prevent disownment.

Roasted Carrots

This year’s menu features decades-long-tradition dishes, a family favorite cocktail, and a few new/madeover dishes (*). The new stuff is getting a test run over the next couple of weeks – if they keep their place on the menu, I’ll share them before Thanksgiving. If they don’t, I have plenty of time to whine about it on Twitter and find a suitable replacement.

Thanksgiving Menu

What’s going on your menu this year? And if you need some inspiration or suggestions, check out some of our favorite Thanksgiving Greatest Hits!

Drinks
Cranberry Margaritas
Blood Orange Margaritas – I’ve already seen blood oranges in the market, hopefully they’ll stick around!
Wine – Riesling, Pinot Noir, and our housemade port
Beer – St. Arnold Pumpkinator and our Christmas Ale, if it’s ready in time

Appetizer
Baked Brie en Croute with Cranberry-Apricot Chutney, served with vegetables, crackers, and toasted baguette slices

Dinner
*Sweet Tea & Citrus Brined Turkey – Go big or go home, right?
*Hasselback Sweet Potatoes with Maple Cinnamon Butter and Bacon
Roasted Chestnut & Sausage Dressing – This is my very favorite dressing in the whole wide world.
Dad’s Baked Beans – 5 ingredients. And one of them is bacon.
*Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Casserole – We have 3 rules in my family regarding Thanksgiving dinner and this dish breaks all of them.
Roasted Green Beans – There is always a lack of things that grew in the ground, in close-to-natural form, at our Thanksgiving dinner table. And if the bin of green beans looks sad and picked over…
Thyme Roasted Carrots with Goat Cheese – More consolation prizes should come topped with goat cheese.
*Cranberry-Port SauceClassic homemade cranberry sauce… but with booze.
Black Pepper & Rosemary Dinner Rolls – And a plain batch thrown in for good measure.

Dessert
Not it! I have baseboards to dust. We’re pie people so I expect my familiy to show up with an assortment of sweet potato, pecan, and chocolate pies large enough to feed 3 football teams.

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Grilled Turkey & Brie Cranwich

Here in southeast Texas, we don’t really get a ceremonial changing of seasons to signal that fall is (according to the calendar) here. We know by the crates full of pumpkins piled up outside the grocery stores, the first glorious bags of glorious grapefruit from the glorious Rio Grande Valley appear lined up next to them, and suburban front lawns are overtaken with a layer of pine needles and those gigantic inflatable Halloween decorations.

Who knew life felt incomplete without a 12-ft tall inflatable Halloween snow globe out front? (My neighbor puts up and decorates a “Halloween tree,” I think she earns bonus points for that out here. Probably more bonus points than I get for pushing that gigantic plastic car shopping cart at HEB.)

There are pretty much no other signs of fall at this point, certainly not the thermostat of my black interior/black exterior car that lives in a sunny driveway (which, by the way, could really use that interior detailing that comes with an oil change… in another 1047 miles) just two zip codes north of the Seventh Circle of Hell.

And while an endless supply of pumpkin and apple goodies (and grapefruit margaritas!) are great and glorious, next in line to start driving that “no really – fall is here!!” feeling home is the appearance of a particular sandwich at a local chain deli.

They call it a Turkey Cranwich. And for as excited as I get about seeing it back on the menu, it’s kind of a total mess of a sandwich. They always sloppily throw it together in that typical lopsided, assembly-line, lunch-rush fashion and put enough red onion on it (but always clumped together on one side of the sandwich) to cripple a vampire. (That’s a lesson you only have to learn once. [shudder])

Grilled Turkey & Brie Cranwich

But it oozes melty cheese and cream cheese (when they remember that I order it grilled, with cheese) and tangy cranberry chutney with every bite. It’s like having Thanksgiving leftovers in mid October, only without the 4 loads of after-dinner dirty dishes. And it makes me far happier than any sandwich not wrapped in money and Super Bowl tickets should.

To whip up the sandwich at home, I added brie, omitted the cream cheese and red onion, and slathered generous amounts of a quick & easy homemade cranberry-apricot chutney (a sort of mash-up of these two recipes). No lopsided, assembly-line, lunch rush mess here! And bonus – the homemade cranberry-apricot chutney doesn’t cost nearly as much as the tiny jar from that shiny, gourmet kitchen store.

And PS. It goes great served with a bottle of Riesling, just in case you were at a loss for what “vegetable” side to serve with your fancy sandwich :)

Turkey & Brie Cranwich

Homemade cranberry-apricot chutney is the star of this turkey and brie panini.

Ingredients

  • For the cranberry apricot chutney:
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 spicy red pepper, seeded and chopped (optional; I used a red serrano)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1 tsp worcestershire
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar (more if desired)
  • Pinch of ground ginger
  • 12 oz bag of cranberries
  • 12-15 dried apricot rounds, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the sandwich:
  • Sturdy bread
  • Sliced turkey
  • Slices of brie from a small wheel
  • Cranberry-apricot chutney
  • Handful of salad greens
  • Olive oil

Instructions

  1. To make the chutney, heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and pepper (if using), and cook ~3 minutes, until the onions have softened.
  3. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.
  4. Add the remaining chutney ingredients to the pan and bring to a boil, let cook covered for ~10 minutes until the cranberries have softened and then remove the lid and cook until nearly all of the liquid has cooked away, about another 10-15 minutes.
  5. Taste for sweetness and add another tablespoon or 2 of sugar, if you think it needs it (I was looking for just enough sweetness to take the edge off the cranberries).
  6. Let cool and then transfer to a jar or bowl and keep in the refrigerator (will last a good 2 weeks).
  7. To assemble the sandwiches, heat your panini maker or grill pan to high.
  8. Lightly brush the outside of the bread slices with olive oil and the inside with a generous smear of chutney.
  9. Pile turkey, brie, and salad greens on top and grill until golden brown.

Notes

Yields: ~2 cups of chutney

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 30 minutes

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Glazed Lemon-Cranberry Loaf Cake

Merry Christmas, y’all!

My week to host Project Pastry Queen fell during Christmas so I picked the most Christmasy recipe I could find: Glazed Lemon-Cranberry Loaf Cake.

It’s “just” a small loaf cake scented with lemon zest, studded with fresh cranberries, and topped with a lemon syrup that soaks into the cake. I brought the cake to Christmas Eve dinner and it “just” went over really well.

I stayed true to the recipe but have no doubt it would work as beautifully with orange instead of lemon.

Glazed Lemon-Cranberry Loaf Cake

A moist lemony cake studded with fresh cranberries and glazed with a lemon syrup.

Ingredients

  • For the cake:
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 2/3 cup flour + 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temp
  • 1 cup sugar (I reduced to 2/3 cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used 0% fage)
  • For the glaze:
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Spray a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  3. Toss the cranberries with 1 Tbsp flour and set aside.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the eggs and lemon zest and beat until thoroughly combined.
  6. Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add half of the mixture and mix on low speed just until combined.
  7. Add half of the milk and mix on low speed just until combined.
  8. Add the remaining flour, mixing just until combined, and then the remaining milk.
  9. Add cranberries and mix a few seconds longer.
  10. Pour the batter into the pan and bake 45-60 minutes, until a skewer comes out with moist crumbs attached.
  11. Cool the cake for 15 minutes and then remove it from the pan.
  12. To make the lemon glaze, combine the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan.
  13. Bring the mixture to a boil for 30 seconds.
  14. Remove the pan from the heat.
  15. Gently pierce the top of the loaf cake many times with a toothpick.
  16. Use a pastry brush to apply the warm glaze evenly over the top of the loaf.
  17. Slice into ~10 slices to serve.
  18. Store leftovers tightly wrapped, will keep ~3 days.

Notes

Yields: 10 slices

Adapted from The Pastry Queen

Estimated time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Check out how the other Project Pastry Queen members fared with their cakes.

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Soft Dinner Rolls with Black Pepper and Rosemary

Today we’re sharing our favorite recipe for dinner rolls. If you’re still searching for the perfect soft, white, and fluffy dinner roll, you shouldn’t have to look any further.

The rolls are quite versatile, we’ve used it for hamburger buns, dinner rolls, and slider rolls. When making classic dinner rolls, I add a little more sugar than I would for burger and slider buns. When making a savory dinner roll, I skimp on the sugar and add a generous amount of black pepper and fresh rosemary.

And they’ll be a huge hit with your holiday dinner crowd – I made a double batch last Christmas and had absolutely no leftovers. None. I had been so looking forward to leftover turkey & cranberry sliders using the rolls. I’m planning ahead this year :)

Don’t have the time on Thanksgiving to make bread? You can make these ahead of time and freeze them in the pan – simply take them out and let them thaw and rise on the counter and then bake as directed.

Soft Dinner Rolls with Rosemary and Black Pepper

The perfect soft, white, and fluffy dinner roll. Make savory rolls by decreasing the sugar and adding a generous dose of black pepper and fresh rosemary.

Ingredients

  • 1 package (2 1/4 tsp) yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 Tbsp oil (vegetable, canola, or olive) plus more for greasing bowl and pan
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 Tbsp - 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper (optional, for savory rolls)
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary (optional, for savory rolls)
  • Pinch of cinnamon (optional, for classic rolls)
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter

Instructions

  1. Add warm water to the bowl of your mixer and sprinkle the yeast over top. Let sit 10 minutes, until frothy.
  2. Add the, oil, egg, and sugar to the bowl. If making savory dinner rolls, add 3 Tbsp of sugar, black pepper, and rosemary. If making classic dinner rolls, add 1/3 cup of sugar and a pinch of cinnamon.
  3. Add the flour and mix on medium-low speed with the hook until the dough holds together, about 2 minutes. The dough should clean the sides of the bowl. If not, add additional flour by the Tbsp.
  4. Increase speed to medium and knead the dough for 5 minutes.
  5. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let the dough for 20 minutes. Add the salt and mix the dough on low speed for 1 minute.
  6. Transfer the dough to a large bowl that has been lightly greased with oil. Cover it with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1-1 1/2 hours.
  7. Grease the bottoms and sides of a 9-inch baking pan.
  8. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface.
  9. Divide the dough in half and pinch off 7 pieces of dough the size of a golf ball (2 oz each if you're using a scale) from each half.
  10. Roll into rounds and place in the pan about 1/2-1 inch apart (they should fill the pan after the final riser).
  11. If freezing, wrap the pan tightly in foil and place in the freezer. Remove from the freezer and let thaw on the counter - plan on 2-2 1/2 hours for thawing and rising.
  12. Cover with a damp towel and let them rise for 20 minutes + oven preheating time. The rolls should expand to fill up the entire pan, if you can see more than a couple of spots of the bottom of the pan, let them rise a bit longer.
  13. Preheat oven to 350.
  14. Brush the rolls with half of the melted butter and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove them from the oven and brush with remaining butter. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Notes

Yields: 14 dinner rolls or slider buns (1 9-inch pan of rolls), 8 burger buns

Adapted from The Pastry Queen

Estimated time: 3 hours

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