I had every intention of posting this a little closer to Thanksgiving, I planned to post it on Friday, which then got postponed until Saturday and I’m not entirely sure where Sunday went. I think we all know what they say about “good intentions” and “best laid plans” which is why I’m here on Monday writing a post that I should have shared on Friday. But, moving on…
It has been said a time or two (or 3 or 4 or 20) that I tend to go every so slightly (read insanely) overboard with my holiday menus and preparation. If that is true (and I’m not admitting that it is!) I’m sure I come by it quite honestly by way of my mother. Every holiday meal I’ve ever made has fallen short of the abundance my mother spreads on the holiday table multiple times a year; of course I think the largest number I’ve ever had at my holiday table is 5 (this Thanksgiving it was only 2, and that included me), but that doesn’t stop me from striving for the Holiday feast perfection that my mother serves up at every major holiday.
So did I truly go over board this Thanksgiving? I’ll let you be the judge, but I will say that the leftovers are going to be enjoyed in several forms for quite some time…
I promise that I will post either full recipes or methods of making each item from my menu over the next week or two. For now, though, I will simply share a few pictures and short descriptions.
First the savory…
1. Roast Turkey: the crowning glory of any Thanksgiving feast; it is not to be skipped. This year I made a 15 lb turkey which I soaked in a home made brine (please do not ask for that recipe – I can tell you what I put in it, but I can’t for the life of me tell you how much of each item) for nearly 2 days. Before going in the oven the bird received an olive oil, salt and pepper rub down. The final product was (and still is) juicy, moist and flavorful.
2. Italian Sausage and Mushroom stuffing: despite all of the dire warnings on TV and the internet, I did in fact stuff my turkey. A mixture of herbed breads, onions, crimini and portabella mushrooms, and hot italian sausage; this stuffing has a little bit of a kick and is absolutely delicious.
3. Mashed New Red Potatoes: your basic skin-on mashed potatoes with feta and Parmesan cheeses, seasoned with onion, garlic, salt, and pepper.
4. Parmesan Garlic Bread: is a description really necessary here? Lots of butter, lots of garlic and a fair amount of cheese.
5. Stuffed Shells Florentine: In my family no holiday meal is completed without a pasta dish. These are jumbo pasta shells stuffed with a mixture of ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, chopped spinach and a healthy dose of Italian seasonings and baked in a fire roasted tomato marinara sauce with more mozzarella melted over the top.
6. Spaghetti Squash Casserole: This is one of my all time favorite side dishes. It is roasted spaghetti squash (separated with a fork) tossed with baby spinach, sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese and smothered with a creole seasoned Parmesan/asiago bechamel sauce.
7. Twice baked potatoes: Mashed potatoes, Colby-jack cheese, chives, sour cream, bacon – what’s not to like? I can never decide if I like the mashed potatoes or the twice baked potatoes better so I always end up making both. So far I have not regretted that decision.
8. Candied Sweet Potatoes: These are a relatively new addition to my holiday menu; they are the one item “Prince Charming” asked me if I could make for the holiday. They are not my favorite dish, but I think they came out rather well this year – corn syrup, brown sugar, butter and a hint of spice and vanilla make the perfect syrup to candy these tubers. “Prince Charming” approved although they still aren’t grandma’s – I’ll just have to keep trying.
Then the sweet…
I never can decide what to make for my holiday desserts. The problem isn’t what to make, but what not to make. If I had the time and resources I would make dozens of desserts for the holidays; but this year I limited myself to only four pies.
1. Caramel Toffee Apple Pie: This may just be my favorite apple pie. It is a little sweeter than the classic apple pie and I love the caramelized sugar and apple juices with the toffee streusel. I’ve linked to the recipe, but I will give you fair warning that I never directly follow that recipe anymore – I dug up the original just to share with you.
This year I tried a different pie crust recipe than usual, the end result of which was a rather pitiful looking pie. The lovely crimped edges of the crust literally melted (yes, melted!) off the edge of the pie plate during baking. I couldn’t leave it looking that way, and I certainly wasn’t going to make it all over again so I caramel whipped cream around the edge and garnished with crushed toffee. And I loved it! I will return to the usual crust next year, but I think I will keep the whipped cream and crushed toffee garnish.
2. Cranberry Apple Pie: I am not a big fan of cranberry sauce (I’m sure you noted its absence from the menu above) but I simply couldn’t have a Thanksgiving dinner with out a single cranberry. This pie is a perfect balance of tart and sweet and it always looks so pretty on the table. I used Dorie’s “Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough” since I was already making it for my Twofer pie – it didn’t disappoint.
3. Toffee Pumpkin Pie: This is still my favorite pumpkin pie recipe ever. This year, in the interests of efficiency, I replaced my standard pumpkin mixture with the pumpkin mixture for the Twofer pie (I tripled the recipe to make both pies). I think the rich buttery sweet taste of the toffee is a superb foil for the pumpkin and spice flavors. I decided to try Dryer’s seasonal Eggnog ice cream with the pie instead of whipped cream, I highly recommend it!
4. Thanksgiving Twofer Pie: pecan pie, pumpkin pie – why should you ever have to decide when you can have both at the same time? Click the link to see my full review of this one.
And there you have my Thanksgiving Feast line up. I thoroughly enjoyed making each and every dish and I will continue to enjoy eating them for – well – however long it takes!