Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

Part of me is literally flabbergasted that Thanksgiving is one week away. ONE. WEEK. I don’t know about you, but Turkey Day has seriously snuck up on me this year! I know I probably say that every year, but this year really does seem like it’s flying by. Craaaazy.

Thanksgiving is my third favorite holiday (the first being Christmas, duh, and the second being my birthday because YES MY BIRTHDAY IS A HOLIDAY SHUT YOUR CAKEHOLE) so I’m definitely happy it’s so soon. I’ve taken root as the primary cook for our family Thanksgivings, which is a huge joy to me because I love to cook so much. That said, planning out Thanksgiving dinner is not without its stressful moments.

This year will be the largest group of my family members to gather for a Thanksgiving meal that I’m head chef-ing up. Luckily, I’ve got my mom and two of my aunts who are all wonderful cooks as well, so I’m sure we’ll be able to tackle everything without a problem. I can’t wait to get everyone together, but I am trying to be a smidge more proactive this year. So far, that’s included actually designing the menu ahead of time! And here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

Gobble!

Turkey. Uh, duh. As in years past, I plan to use a Gretchened-up variation of Alton Brown’s Good Eats Roast Turkey recipe, which includes an overnight brine. This recipe honestly yields the best turkey ever. The brine keeps the turkey breast moist and delicious, and it seriously feels foolproof. There’s no basting, no checking, no turning of the bird. It requires the first 20 minutes on super high heat to seal everything in, and then you just turn down the heat and forgettaboutit. I always serve with pan-drippings gravy as well. Nom nom nom.

Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes

I mentioned a couple days ago that I was testing out a new mashed potato recipe, but that it didn’t quite live up to my Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes. Well, that’s because I believe few things can. I still am in love with this recipe, and I haven’t had a chance to make it for most of my family yet, so I’m very excited to. This recipe involves absolutely ZERO butter, making it far more waistline-friendly than your average taters. Instead, it uses roasted garlic, olive oil, and a splash of heavy cream. So good. So freaking good.

Stuffing with Butternut Squash and Apples

I am also planning on recreating my Stuffing with Butternut Squash and Apples recipe, which turned out truly fantastic last year. Usually there are a couple of vegetarians present at our family gatherings (my sister, in particular), but since Jenny and Dan are spending T-Day with his parents this year, I’m thinking about adding a little sausage into the stuffing as well. Either way, stuffing is my 2nd favorite Thanksgiving meal component (taters is #1), so I can’t wait!

Other meal components will include maple bacon roasted Brussels sprouts, this cranberry and pear compote that my mom and aunt made the last time we had a family dinner (it blew my jalapeno-cranberry relish recipe outta the water!), and I also want to try a new spin on kind of a green bean casserole. You know, find a way to make something with all the traditional flavor, but none of the Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom? Hahaha. We’ll see how that shakes out.

Still haven’t made any decisions on dessert yet, but you can rest assured there will be pie. OH SO MUCH PIE.

Man, I love Thanksgiving.

What’s your favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal? Are you all about the turkey, more of a sides person, or seriously into dessert?

Jalapeño-Cranberry Relish

So as it turns out, my protestations over hospitalizing Daxter because of cost were for naught. ‘Cause, you know, he ended up in the doggy hospital anyway and I feel like a terrible person for delaying the inevitable. The latest update is that if he can keep down food and water he might be able to come home around noon. So in order to distract myself from the fact that my little guy spent the night in a hospital bed… cage… thing… instead of being curled up awkwardly on top of my laptop as I try to type this (CRY.), I wrote up another recipe. Hooray for filler!

Okay, I promise that this will be the last uselessly late Thanksgiving recipe I’m going to lay on you guys… for now, haha. And to be fair, it really does translate past Turkey Day, since it’s spreadable on everything from leftover sandwiches to crackers & cheese.

Saucy

It’s a bit of a spin on traditional cranberry sauce, with as much zing as you want! Even if you’re not a huge fan of spice, the slightly bitter flavor of the jalapeño peppers and the zip of the orange and lime makes it a dish that’s so complex you’d never believe how easy it is!

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Jalapeño-Cranberry Relish
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This zesty cranberry sauce will leave your tastebuds satisfied with its mix of sweet and spice. Make it hotter by including some of the seeds from the jalapeño, or downplay the spice by only using one pepper. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 jalapeño peppers
1 12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 orange, zest and juice
1/2 lime, zest and juice
1 cup water

Instructions:

1. De-seed and finely mince the jalapeño peppers. Zest your orange and lime halves and set aside.

2. Heat a pot to medium heat with a bit of nonstick spray or a small sprinkling of oil. Add the jalapeño and heat for 30 seconds to a minute. Add lime and orange juices.

3. Add cranberries, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat until sauce is simmering. Add lime and orange zests and simmer until cranberries have burst and sauce begins to thicken, 10 – 15 minutes.

4. Remove from heat, transfer to serving bowl and let cool. The sauce will thicken and become more gel-like the longer it cools. I like my cranberry sauce cold, so feel free to refrigerate!

Jalapeno Cranberry Sauce

Nutritional info per 1/16th (~2 tablespoons) serving: 58 calories, 0 g fat, 15 g carbs, 0.1 g protein. WW Points+: 2

Highs and Lows

Happy (?) Monday, everyone! I hope everybody survived their holiday weekend unscathed and with only an extra 10 or 12 pounds around their waists (heh.) Surprisingly, I’m actually glad to get into a bit of normalcy over the next week or so. Until the craziness of the next holiday settles in, that is. Not that this unusual for me, as you are all painfully aware, but even with all of the Thanksgiving festiveness, the past week has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me. Ups and downs, highs and lows, it’s been a trip. Here are just some examples of each:

Feast!

High: The socially accepted binge that is Thanksgiving Dinner.

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Low: Not getting to spend Thanksgiving with my family (fur-family excluded).

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High: Completing 7.02 miles in preparation for the 15K coming up on Saturday (!!!)

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Low: How sore I already am, less than 24-hours later. And I only actually ran for half of it. Also a low? Seeing the race course and elevation map:

WHY SO HILLY?! Just kill me now. Ow.

High: The amazingness that is The Muppets Movie. Seriously, go see it right now. Mah-na mah-na.

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Low: Coming home post-movie to a sick puppy. Not that you need the specifics, but let’s just say my night — and day — included more than one messy clean-up. 🙁

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Extra Low: My sick puppy continuing to be sick, waking up every half-hour Saturday night to check for anything that may have spewed from either end, and, after 24+ hours of vomiting and diarrhea, finally making the decision to take him to the emergency vet at 10 PM last night. Prognosis? Undetermined, of course. It could be any number of things: upset stomach, parasites, blockage, gastrosomethingitis… They wanted to keep him overnight and IV-this and X-ray-that but even with my awesome pet insurance my monetary situation forced me to stay on the conservative side here. Which makes me feel like a horrible pet parent just saying so, but you know me: any sign of worsening or further trouble and I’ll be speeding (literally!) straight back to the Hope Center. But for now, at least my $585.00 procured a few meds and instructions for taking care of my little guy. Therefore, I’ll be playing the roll of Doggy Nurse today and hopefully things will go smoothly… for both of us.

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So, yeah… with all that, I’ve been doing some (more) emotional yo-yoing. And while mentally I know that Daxter is going to be okay, it’s still very worrisome. Oh, plus there’s the fact that I’m running on approximately 85 minutes hours of sleep thanks to getting home at 1:45 AM from the Doggy ER and Daxter’s frequent trips outside. I’m sure that my emotional instability will only continue to worsen as time goes on… and as I get closer and closer to Saturday’s race. For the latter, I know I just need to keep telling myself that I just need to FINISH the race: time be damned, pace be damned, other people’s opinions be damned. Right?

…right?

Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes

The belated Thanksgiving recipes continue! Put ’em in your Christmas box, or be like me and randomly make mashed potatoes for no reason other than because they’re delicious.

Peeled

Even if you’re not a potato fan, this recipe will teach you my not-so-secret method of making uhmaaaazing, creamy mashed potatoes without butter! I know, I know, it sounds crazy. But it’s delicious! And you can thank my sister for sharing this tidbit of knowledge with me.

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I’ve mentioned how I “roast” garlic before, and you can either do it my way or by roasting full bulbs of garlic in the oven (here’s a great tutorial on doing it that way.) Behold! True deliciousness!

Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes

Roasted Garlic Whipped Potatoes
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These creamy, dreamy mashed potatoes are so rich-tasting, you’ll never believe they are butter-free! The garlic and olive oil provide both flavor and a dose of healthy fats. Feel free to leave the potato skins on if you prefer that “smashed” potato texture, or whip until fluffy and light!

Ingredients:

10 red potatoes, peeled
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, for roasting (1 tbsp used in recipe)
Salt & pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)

Instructions:

1. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring water to a boil and cook until potatoes are completely soft.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the olive oil in a small pan on medium-low heat. Add peeled garlic cloves until oil begins to softly bubble. Reduce heat to very low and “roast” cloves until they are browned and soft. Remove from heat, set aside cloves and 1 tablespoon of the oil, and save garlic-infused oil for other uses.

3. Once the potatoes are done, drain the water and return to the pot. Add a splash of heavy cream if you are using, then whip together using an electric hand-mixer (alternative: use a potato masher or standing mixer.)

4. Mash together soft garlic cloves with a fork, then add them plus the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix together well. Garnish with crumbled bacon bits, chopped green onion, plain greek yogurt (or sour cream), or shredded cheese!

Nutritional info per 1/8th serving: 196 calories, 3.3 g fat, 38 g carbs (4 g fiber), 5 g protein. WW Points+: 5

Stuffing with Butternut Squash and Apples

Prepped

Because it’s so super helpful to post a recipe for something like stuffing AFTER Thanksgiving has happened.

Stuffing Ingredients

But hey, it’s possible that there is someone out there who makes stuffing for Christmas dinner too, right? RIGHT?!

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Well, at the very least, perhaps someone will want to file this away for next year, since it is pretty much the most awesome stuffing I’ve ever cooked/tasted/looked at.

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Stuffing with Butternut Squash and Apples
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This robust, savory stuffing has all the classic flavors of Thanksgiving, with the added bonus of butternut squash roasted with cinnamon to give it an extra zip. This would also be delicious with the addition of some chopped walnuts or dried cranberries. Enjoy with turkey and gravy, or simply by the spoonful!

Ingredients:

1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium white onion, diced
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 apples (I used fuji), chopped
1 10 oz. bag of seasoned stuffing mix
1 cup water
1 cup vegetable stock

Instructions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Toss your butternut squash in the oil, cinnamon, salt and pepper then place on a baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, chop and dice the rest of your ingredients, then melt the butter in a large pan (with high sides) on medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it begins to get soft and translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add celery.

3. When the butternut squash has finished roasting, mix it into the onion and celery. You want to be careful when mixing now, as the squash is probably very soft. Add the apples and saute an additional 2-3 minutes.

4. Add your dried stuffing mix directly to the pan, then pour water and vegetable stock over it. Mix the combination well. Add additional stock as necessary to achieve desired moistness.

5. At this point, you may transfer the stuffing into a casserole dish and bake for 10 – 15 minutes to achieve that crisper, drier top layer, or simply serve as-is.

Stuffing with Butternut Squash and Apples