Sometimes it's really fun to try new things, experiment with a challenging cooking technique, or create a modern twist on an old favorite. There are all sorts of books, magazines, websites and TV shows to spark creativity and encourage a little experimentation. Sometimes, it even starts to feel like pressure - we have a lot of information coming from all directions telling us to make this, try that, buy this serving piece, decorate like that.
This year, I'm keeping it simple.
I like to cook, and I like things to be pretty, so this is not about missing out on those aspects - it's just about having a cook-friendly, tasty meal of favorites that we already know we love. I want my family to enjoy a good meal, and I want to enjoy my family.
Here is our Thanksgiving menu:
Torn Greens with Glazed Pecans, Pear and Craisins
Creamy Orange Vinaigrette
Herb-Seasoned Roast Turkey Breast
Green Bean Casserole
Ginger-Orange Glazed Carrots
Coffee/Tea/Cocoa with dessert, if desired.
Here's the Breakdown:
Salad: This is just torn leaf lettuces - usually a couple of varieties combined. Nothing fancy, but it looks pretty and tastes good. I'll glaze some pecans with a little butter, sugar and pumpkin pie spices. This can be done in advance, and I'll make extras we can eat before or after the meal. I pile the lettuce on the plate, sprinkle with a bit of shredded carrot, freshly thin-sliced pear, angle-sliced celery, glazed pecans and craisins. It's very pretty.
Dressing: I make this ahead, and it's really simple. I mix a little sugar, orange juice and apple cider vinegar together. Add a low-flavor oil and a dollop of mayo, then combine. Mix in some orange zest, taste and adjust. It's better if it's made a few days ahead. so the zest can better infuse the rest of the dressing.
Turkey: "Herb-Seasoned" sounds fancy, doesn't it? I lightly coat the turkey breast with a spice blend, rubbing it up under the skin, and then sprinkling it over the top of the skin too (not too much, though). I like to put it on the meat the day before so the flavors can marry. This year, I think I'm going to use some steak seasoning we got when we went to Aldi. It's a very good spice blend, and I think it will look pretty and taste great. I'll roast it in a dutch oven, covered, and then remove the cover so the skin can brown. I brush the skin with a little butter toward the end to make it shiny and pretty.
Stuffing: You read about Grandma, right? I'm not sure my family would like the oysters, but Husband likes Stove Top, and so do I. (Daughter thinks that the very concept of stuffing is absolutely disgusting. More for us!). That was easy.
Pan Gravy: When I pull the turkey breast from the dutch oven, I'll make gravy from the drippings, thickened with flour and then strained. After straining, stirring in a bit of parsley makes it really pretty.
Mashed Potatoes: Skins on, with butter. Mashed potatoes freeze well, but look awful when you thaw them out. Upon re-heating, they turn back into nice mashed potatoes. Mine are already made and waiting in the freezer. When I put them in the bowl, I'll sprinkle a bit of paprika, in honor of Grandma.
Green Bean Casserole: This is another of Husband's favorites, so we stick with the recipe he grew up eating. I only make a small amount, since we think it's best when it's first made.
Ginger-Orange Glazed Carrots: This is Daughter's favorite. All I do is steam carrots, then transfer them to a shallow pan. Add a little butter, salt and pepper, freshly grated ginger and a bit of orange marmalade. Very easy, and they taste great.
Pumpkin Pie: Handmade crust, home grown pumpkin, but it's still not that difficult. The pumpkin is already cooked and pureed, so from there I just follow the pumpkin pie recipe in my cookbook. I always spill in a little extra pumpkin pie spice, because we like it that way. I'll make the pie the night before, so the oven isn't over crowded on Thanksgiving day.
Gingerbread Cats: Daughter doesn't like pumpkin pie, so we're going to bake a batch of gingerbread men the week of Thanksgiving. We'll make a few kitties with our cat cookie cutter, and those can be her Thanksgiving treat. I'll freeze the gingerbread men for now, and we'll get them out when we're ready to decorate some for Christmas.
We eat Thanksgiving dinner as a late lunch, so I'm not really concerned with having appetizers or anything like that. Supper is generally just us re-heating whatever we liked best from the main meal, and I'll likely put together a raw vegetable tray.
Happy Thanksgiving! Remember to count your blessings and enjoy the day! If you like, post a link to your plan, or leave a comment and let us know what you're doing for Thanksgiving.