Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Plan

Once upon a time, I considered Thanksgiving just holiday that someone made up as an excuse to eat in excess. (Much like some people think that Valentine's Day was contrived as an excuse to sell chocolates and greeting cards. I'm not one of those people, by the way.)

Now that I love to cook, though, Thanksgiving is like a culinary Super Bowl. It's what I've been training for all year long. With only two days to go until game day, it's almost Go-time. Much like the crazy Black Friday lady on the Target commercials, I'm running drills and getting stretched out for the big event.

Here's a peek at my Thanksgiving play book:

A Salad, for Good Measure (and so no one gnaws an arm off while waiting for the Main Event):

Walnut Side Salad

1 bag spring mix salad
1/2 cup balsamic dressing
1/2 container grape tomatoes
1/3 cup bacon crumbles
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/3 cup feta crumbles
1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted
Black pepper, to taste

Toss spring mix with dressing, onions and bacon. Top with tomatoes, feta, walnuts and pepper. Serve immediately.

The Bird: Maple-Roasted Turkey with Sage Butter (Get the recipe)

The Gravy: Turkey Gravy, from scratch, thank you very much (Get the recipe)

The Dressing: Pepperridge Farms Herbed Stuffing

Simply prepare as directed on the package, mix in one beaten egg and pop it in a 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes.

This is a family tradition and, as my husband informed me, is not to be messed with.

The Main Side: Hashbrown Casserole

2 lbs frozen hashbrowns, thawed
1 stick melted butter
2½ c corn flakes, crushed
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ chopped onion
1 can cream of potato soup
1 pkg (8 oz) sour cream
1 block (8 oz) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1-Thaw hashbrowns in bowl filled with ice water; drain. Return to bowl. Set bowl in refrigerator while mixing the other ingredients.
2-Sautee onion until soft.
3-Crush corn flakes and mix with melted butter; set aside.
4-Mix salt, pepper, onion, soup, sour cream and cheese in very large bowl.
5- Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
6- Working fairly quickly so hashbrowns do not start to turn color, fold hashbrowns into sour cream mixture. Spoon into greased 9x13 casserole dish. Sprinkle with corn flake mixture.
7-Bake for 45-55 minute or until top is toasted.

Instead of Sweet Potatoes: Roasted Butternut Squash, a new one this year

Cranberry Kicker: Cranberry Conserve with the addition of a little red onion for a savory note

The Bread: Another family favorite, Pillsbury Cresent Rolls

I'm leaving desserts up to my In-Laws this year but if I were going to make something, I was going to try Pumpkin Bread Pudding. How good does that sound???

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