Thanksgiving Weekend Special – Leftovers … Reinventing the Turkey

Thanksgiving weekend is a time to relax and enjoy some time with family and friends. After a few busy days of cooking, cooking and more cooking … it’s time to give thanks for leftovers!

Delicious dishes for Thanksgiving weekend.

Soup is my favorite Thanksgiving leftover. Last night after Thanksgiving dinner was done, I went to work on the bird. I removed and stored a few large pieces of turkey. (There wasn’t much.) I didn’t pick the turkey clean but left some to ensure a nice rich stock. Today I’ll throw the bones into the stock pot to simmer into stock. I’ll use some right away for soup this weekend and freeze the rest for another day.

If you love soup, try my …

Turkey Noodle Soup with Spinach
or
Thai Curried Noodle Soup with Turkey & Vegetables
or
Spicy Turkey Noodle Soup

If you don’t feel like making soup, then how about a

Stir-fry Vegetables with Turkey
or
Penne Gratin with Turkey & Butternut Squash

If you haven’t already, try an old Nye tradition … the first one up on Friday morning gets the last piece of Thanksgiving pie!

Bon appétit and have a great weekend!

For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!!

What do you do with your Thanksgiving leftovers? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2011

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How to Cook a Turkey & Roast Turkey with My Mom’s Stuffing & Giblet Gravy

I’m convinced that while no one knows how long to cook a turkey, everyone has an opinion. When I was a kid, Thanksgiving morning started early. It was still dark outside but I could hear my parents in the kitchen in whispered debate. What got them up before dawn and engrossed in earnest and animated discussion? Not my sister’s report card or my inability to toss a beanbag. Not even the state of the union, theirs or the country’s. It was the turkey. More precisely, when to put it in the oven.

My dad worried that the bird would be under-cooked and we’d all die of ptomaine. My mother worried that it would be overcooked and dry. Or maybe it was the other way around. The debate continues to this day but now the turkey is at my house.

Deciding how long to cook a turkey is both an art and a science. The day before Thanksgiving, I read the directions printed on the bird’s shrink-wrap. Next, I grab Joy of Cooking, Fanny Farmer and New Basics and re-read what they have to say about roasting a turkey. Then I park myself in front of my laptop and visit the internet for more advice from Martha, Food Network and Epicurious. Finally, I Google turkey hotline and visit all the sites that pop up on my screen.

After all that, I have a mixed bag of different cooking temperatures, times and instructions. Based on all of this information and using sophisticated mathematical calculations, I figure out how long it will take to cook my turkey.

No, not really.

By then I have too much information and go back to the directions on the shrink-wrap. What choice do I have? Having wasted most of the morning; it’s time to move on. I throw caution to the wind, commit to a start time, write myself a note in bold block letters on a florescent pink post-it and stick it on the microwave. Phew! Decision made!

After wasting so much time dithering, I finally get to work on the rest of the feast. I spend Wednesday afternoon peeling, chopping, mixing, pureeing and tossing. I set the table, reflect on Thanksgivings past and shed a few tears (onions).

Now that I host Thanksgiving, dinner is served closer to 6:00 than 1:00 and the how-to-cook-the-turkey debate begins post- rather than pre-dawn. My mother is just happy that someone else is cooking but my dad is convinced that I need his advice. He makes his first call to check on the turkey around 8:30 on Thanksgiving morning. To be fair, he also checks to see if I need help with any last minute errands and offers my mom’s assistance peeling potatoes.

I tell him the turkey is resting comfortably in the refrigerator. After some discussion, I respectfully, or maybe not so respectfully, ignore Dad’s advice. After all, he’s not the one who spent most of Wednesday morning bouncing around the internet and leafing through cookbooks. After a bit of last minute second guessing, I finally kiss the bird and shove it into the oven. What’s the worst that can happen? We eat at 6:30 instead of 6:00?

Happy Thanksgiving and bon appétit!

Roast Turkey with My Mom’s Stuffing & Giblet Gravy
The turkey is the crowning glory of every Thanksgiving table. Enjoy!

1 whole turkey with giblets – depending on how much you love leftovers, 1 – 1 1/2 pounds per personTurkey_NYE
Butter or olive oil
1/2-1 teaspoon dried sage
1/2-1 teaspoon dried thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 carrot, cut in large pieces
1 celery stalk, cut in large pieces
1/2 onion, cut in large pieces
My Mom’s Stuffing (recipe follows)
Giblet Gravy (recipe follows)

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Remove the giblets and neck from the bird. Don’t let them intimidate you. They are in an icky, drippy bag in one end of the bird or the other. Save them to make the gravy (recipe follows).

3. Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water and pat dry. For decades we were told to rinse poultry before cooking. Now the FDA cautions, do NOT rinse the bird. Rinsing poultry raises the odds for bacteria to spread to areas around the sink and counter tops.

4. Stuff the turkey with My Mom’s Stuffing (recipe follows) or your favorite stuffing.

5. Rub the bird with a little butter or olive oil, sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper and put it on a rack in a large roasting pan; add 1-2 cups water to the bottom of the pan. Cover with foil, put in the oven and roast for 30 minutes.

6. Reduce the temperature to 325 degrees and continue to roast the turkey; basting every half hour or so. You can use the following as a guideline:

10 to 18 pounds – 3 to 3-1/2 hours unstuffed & 3-3/4 to 4-1/2 stuffed

18 to 22 pounds – 3-1/2 to 4 hours unstuffed & 4-1/2 to 5 stuffed

22 to 24 pounds – 4 to 4-1/2 hours unstuffed & 5 to 5-1/2 stuffed

24 to 30 pounds – 4-1/2 to 5 hours unstuffed & 5-1/2 to 6-1/4 stuffed

7. While the turkey is roasting, make the giblet broth (recipe follows).

8. As your guests arrive, allow them to add opinions and misinformation to the how-to-cook-a-turkey debate. Continue to baste the turkey with the pan juices.

9. About 1 hour before the turkey is due to finish, remove the foil. Throw the carrot, celery and onion into the bottom of the roasting pan. Baste every 20 minutes. (At this point the turkey cooking debate should intensify.)

10. When you think the turkey is done, wiggle the legs to see if they move easily. Poke the bird to see if the juices run clear. If you poke it enough times all the juices will run out and you will have a very dry turkey. Alternatively, use an instant read thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. As soon as the thigh reaches 165 degrees, remove the turkey from the oven.

11. Let everyone admire the bird. If the cooking time debate continues, smile and have a glass of wine.

12. Draft a volunteer to help you wrestle the turkey out of the pan and onto a large platter. Reserve the juices and vegetables in the roasting pan for the gravy. Loosely cover the turkey with foil and let it rest for 20-30 minutes. While the turkey rests, make the gravy (recipe follows).

13. Carve the turkey and arrange on a large serving platter. Scoop the stuffing out of the bird, add it to the platter or put it in a bowl and serve.

My Mom’s Stuffing
Enough for a 12 to 16 pound turkey

1 loaf (1 – 1 1/2 pounds) country bread, torn into large bread crumbs
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
2-3 celery stalks, finely chopped
1-2 Granny Smith apples, cored and finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup (or more) chicken stock

1. Dry the bread crumbs a little by spreading them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and apples. Season with herbs, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Sauté until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.

3. Put the bread crumbs in a large bowl. Transfer the vegetables to the bowl and toss to combine. Add enough broth to moisten the stuffing. Don’t let it get soggy. Cool to room temperature and store, covered, in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. The stuffing should be cold when you stuff the turkey.

If you don’t want to stuff your turkey, you can cook the stuffing separately. Transfer to a large, buttered casserole dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down and bake at 350 degrees until the stuffing is heated through, about 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the top is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer.

Giblet Gravy
Enough for a 12 to 16 pound turkey

Giblets and neck from the turkey
4 or more cups chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine, divided
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup flour

While the turkey is roasting, make the giblet broth:

1. Put the neck in a small pot with 4 cups chicken broth, 1/2 cup wine and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Add the giblets and continue to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.

2. Discard the neck and bay leaf. Remove the giblets; strain the broth and store the giblets and broth in the refrigerator until you are ready to make the gravy.

While the turkey is resting, make the gravy:

3. Transfer the vegetables from the roasting pan to a blender, add the giblets and enough giblet broth to cover. Blend until smooth. Add the remaining broth and process to combine

4. Skim the fat from the roasting pan juices; discard all but about 1/4 cup fat.

5. Heat the roasting pan over two burners on medium-high heat. Add the wine and the giblet-vegetable broth. Whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a boil and deglaze the pan.

6. Meanwhile, combine the reserved fat with flour in a saucepan and cook, whisking constantly, over medium high heat for about 3 minutes.

7. Slowly whisk in the broth and juices from the roasting pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer the gravy, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. If the gravy is too thick or you think that you need more, thin/extend it with more chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste, pour into a gravy boat and serve.

Turkey Drawing courtesy of M/Y/D/S Animal graphics

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How do you cook your turkey? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Feel free to visit my photoblog, Susan Nye 365 or my cleverly named other blog, Susan Nye’s Other Blog, or website www.susannye.com. You can find more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

Some of my Favorite Dishes for Thanksgiving and the Weekend

If you are still at a loss for a few dishes for the Thanksgiving feast or weekend, here are a few suggestions. Whether you need to bring a side dish to your mother-in-law’s or are in charge of the entire meal …
(Click on any of the dishes to find the recipe!)

Appetizers – Just a few light bites!
Mulled Cider
Mediterranean Shrimp
Spicy Olives
Roasted Almonds
Roasted Red Pepper Dip, Feta & Walnut Spread or White Bean Dip
Need more? How about Antipasti, Bruschetta or even Summer Rolls?

Soup – Treat the soup like another appetizer. Let everyone sip the soup from mugs or cups while you put the finishing touches on dinner.
Roasted Butternut Squash
Wild Mushroom Soup

Salad – A great start to any meal.
Arugula, Corn & Tomato Salad
Roasted Mushroom

Side Dishes – Wonderful co-stars for the turkey!
Cranberry Sauce
Broccoli Puree
Roasted Butternut Squash
Brussels Sprouts & Pearl Onions
Roasted Green Beans & Tomatoes
Lemon Roasted Potatoes
Decadent Cheesy Potatoes
Wild Mushroom Risotto
Butternut Squash Risotto
Savory Bread Pudding

Dessert – No feast is complete without a sweet treat.
White Chocolate & Cranberry Trifle
Apple Bread Pudding
Pumpkin Cupcakes
Gingerbread Cupcakes
Rustic Apple Tart
Apple Crisp with Cranberry Coulis

Thanksgiving Weekend Brunch – When the house is filled with family.
Spinach Ricotta Pie
Tomato, Olive & Feta Tart
Ginger Scones
Brie & Sundried Tomato Omelets

Leftovers – Delicious dishes for Thanksgiving weekend.
Stir-fry Vegetables with Turkey
Spicy Chicken (or Turkey) Noodle Soup
Penne Gratin with Turkey & Butternut Squash

Have a wonderful feast, bon appétit and Happy Thanksgiving!

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dishes? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2011

Countdown to T-Time & Cranberry Sauce

Thanksgiving is all about family and food, and maybe a little football. More than any other holiday, dinner is the main act. There is nothing else to distract us, no jolly guy in a red suit, no fancy disguises or bunny rabbits. The table positively groans with fabulous dishes we only make once a year.

It you are hosting Thanksgiving this year, no need to panic. All you need is a good plan and maybe a little help. At least one or two friendly volunteers will probably pop up. Whether they offer to run an errand, bring dessert or carve the bird, don’t hesitate, accept!

For this feast of feasts, I offer you some of my tried and true recipes, foolproof timeline and my mantra, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

The Menu

You may have your own favorites. If not, I offer some of mine.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Roast Turkey with My Mom’s Stuffing (stay tuned – it’s up next week)
Cranberry Sauce (today!)
Roasted Green Beans & Tomatoes
Decadent Cheesy Potatoes
Mixed Greens with Roasted Mushrooms
Apple Crisp with Cranberry Coulis

And now for the Countdown

Before it’s too late:

I order my fresh turkey a week to ten days before Thanksgiving.

Saturday morning before Thanksgiving:

I grab a mug of tea (coffee if I’m feeling particularly groggy), take a deep breath and get ready to make some final, yes final, decisions. I review my menu and cast it in stone. I pull out my recipes and make my shopping list. Even if I have made the dish hundreds of times, I check the recipe to make sure I don’t forget anything. As I build my list, I check my cupboards. The last thing I need is to discover I’m out of cinnamon on Thursday morning. I also check expiration dates. If the sell-by date is May 1994, it’s probably time to buy a new jar! Then it’s off to the supermarket and farm stand for the first round of shopping.

Sunday:

If I don’t already have a batch in the freezer, I roast and puree the vegetables for the butternut squash soup (steps 1-3). I cool and store the puree in the freezer until Thursday morning.

Monday:

I find a half hour to make the Cranberry Sauce, Cranberry Coulis for the Apple Crisp and the Vinaigrette for the salad. Each takes about ten minutes. I like getting these tasks out of the way and the sauces into the refrigerator so I don’t have to worry about them. (Or, in the confusion, forget them.) It’s incredibly satisfying to check three things off my to-do list so early in the week!

Tuesday:

I set and decorate the table and pull out my serving dishes. Yes, I have one of those silly gravy boats shaped like a turkey … and pumpkin salt shakers. I throw together a quick and easy centerpiece of gourds and a few ears of Indian corn, add some candles and my table is picture perfect.

Wednesday:

It’s Thanksgiving Eve and I move into high gear. I clear my calendar and devote the day to cooking.  First I check and double check my lists and head to the store. I pick up my fresh turkey, greens, beans and anything I forgot on Saturday.

Home again, I make My Mother’s Stuffing and store it in the refrigerator. Next, I prepare the Decadent Thanksgiving Potatoes. A cross between smashed and scallop potatoes, they are not only delicious, they can be prepared in advance and baked at the last minute. It’s great to have one more thing out of the way and safely stored in the refrigerator.

Next, I roast mushrooms, crumble gorgonzola, prep onions and chop and toast walnuts for the salad. If I have time and no one has offered, I prep everything for the Roasted Green Beans and Tomatoes. Since there are walnuts on the salad, I don’t bother on the beans.

Turkey Day:

First thing in the morning, I make the Apple Crisp. With sweet and spicy apples bubbling in the oven, the house begins to smell like Thanksgiving.

Before I forget, I remove the squash puree from the freezer and put it in a large soup pot to thaw.  Then I take a walk. We have our feast in the late afternoon so I have plenty of time.

About a half hour before it’s time to shove the turkey into the oven, I stuff, tie and truss the bird. (Not forgetting to remove the neck and bag of giblets from the turkey’s cavity.)

While the turkey roasts, the house fills with delicious aromas and ravenous family and friends. I hold court in the kitchen and make broth for the gravy with the turkey neck and giblets. As we get closer to T-time, I roast the Green Beans and Tomatoes and bake the Decadent Thanksgiving Potatoes. To ensure no one faints from hunger, I finish the Roasted Butternut Squash Soup and serve it in mugs. Some of us stand around the kitchen while we sip our soup while others relax in front of the fire.

When the turkey has finished roasting, I let it rest for about thirty minutes. About this point, chaos starts to ensue.  There are usually at least ten extra people in the kitchen. Unless they offer to help, I do my best to ignore them while I keep an eye on the vegetables and make the gravy. A few deep breaths help a lot.

Somehow or other the well-rested turkey gets carved, the salad is tossed and everything ends up in a serving dish and on the table. Following my Nana Nye’s example, before sitting down, I put the apple crisp back into the oven which is off but still warm.

Finally, thankfully, we are all around the table. We raise our glasses in a toast to health, happiness, friends and family. Bon appétit and Happy Thanksgiving!

Cranberry Sauce
My grandfather lived on Cape Cod after he retired. He did a lot of odd jobs to keep himself busy, including harvesting cranberries in the fall. Enjoy!
Makes about 2 cups

12 ounces of fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
Grated peel of 1 orange
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool. Cover and refrigerate.

Just in case you find it useful … here’s my My Thanksgiving Checklist.

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What’s your favorite way to spend a cold, rainy day? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Feel free to visit my photoblog, Susan Nye 365 or my cleverly named other blog, Susan Nye’s Other Blog, or website www.susannye.com. You can find more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

The Thanksgiving Feast & Penne Gratin with Leftover Turkey

When we were really little, my grandmothers hosted Thanksgiving, trading off every other year. Eventually a broken hip and other ailments got the best of them. For a year or two they took us all out to a noisy, over-crowded restaurant. It didn’t take long for my mother to declare that SHE would now be cooking Thanksgiving dinner. No one argued.

Since my grandparents didn’t like to drive after dark, the feast was mandated to start at the stroke of one. To meet this deadline, my parents were up and in the kitchen early, stuffing the turkey before the dawn. Snuggled under the covers, I could hear them having what could have been misconstrued as an argument.  Within the family, we considered it to be nothing more than an enthusiastic discussion.

And what critical question could possibly merit so much predawn attention? Without fail, year in and year out, they engaged in an intensive debate on how long to cook the bird. In those days, my dad spent almost zero time in the kitchen but was surprisingly opinionated on this matter. Eventually they came to some kind of agreement, gave the turkey a kiss and pushed him into the oven.

Hours later the topic was revisited when they poked and prodded and opined if the bird was done. This second debate was even more interesting because at least one of my two grandmothers was more than apt, ready and able to pipe in with an opinion.

Eventually some kind of consensus was reached. Beautiful and golden brown, Tom Turkey was pulled from the oven. At that point, the activity in the already busy kitchen was turned up a notch.  After everyone had given the requisite oooh or awww, my dad went to work carving the bird. My mother and grandmothers bustled around at top speed getting everything else ready and on the table.  In short order, the sideboard groaned under the weight of the huge turkey and all the fixin’s.

Ours was a traditional New England feast and the menu remained more or less unchanged for decades. As in 1621, the vegetables were hardy and local. A salad never graced our Thanksgiving Day table but the spread always included a huge mound of mashed potatoes, a big pot of butternut squash and a bubbling casserole of creamed onions. Lots of gravy, homemade cranberry sauce, two kinds of stuffing and Nana Nye’s Cape Cod turnip completed the meal. Nana insisted and the rest of the adults seemed to agree that Cape Cod turnip was something special. I thought it tasted like bitter baby food. But then again I thought the squash tasted like bland, slightly sweet baby food. The meal ended with a trio of pies, apple, pumpkin and pecan, served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. No one ever felt the need for change; it just seemed right to have the same menu year in and year out.

My mother happily retired as Thanksgiving’s head cook several years ago. I now have that honor. Mom is more than delighted to peel a few potatoes but otherwise stay out of the fray. In spite of a few grumbles, I have made a change or two to the menu. (Blame it on all those years I lived in Europe!) The meal is a little simpler now. We make do with one stuffing instead of two. The squash is no longer boiled and mashed but roasted for soup. I’ve switched out the onions and turnip for broccoli and a salad. My sister-in-law Jennifer and her three girls bake beautiful apple and pumpkin pies. And my dad. Some things never change. He leads the annual Thanksgiving Day debate on how long to cook the bird.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends. Enjoy!

Bon appétit!

 Roasted Butternut Squash
Roasting squash is a delicious alternative to the boiled and mashed dish of my childhood. It is great on Turkey Day and wonderful in leftovers so make a little extra. Enjoy!
Serves 6-8 with leftovers

2 large butternut squash (about 2 pounds each), peeled, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place squash in large roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper and toss to coat. Roast for about 15 minutes. Add the onions, toss to combine and continue roasting, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned about 45 minutes total.

Cheesy Gratin with Thanksgiving Leftovers
Use the leftover squash in salads, soups or baked in a cheesy gratin.Serves 6-8

12-16 ounces dried penne pasta
1 pound baby spinach
About 2 cups leftover turkey cut into bite-sized pieces*
About 2 cups leftover roasted butternut squash
4 ounces grated cheddar cheese
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter plus more to butter the baking dish
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Pinch nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Butter a large baking dish.

Cook the pasta according to package directions, less 1 minute.  Drain and return the pasta to the pot. Combine the spinach with the hot pasta; let the spinach wilt. Add the turkey and squash and combine.

Heat the butter in a saucepan. Add the flour, herbs, paprika and nutmeg and whisk for 30 seconds. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Add about 2/3 of the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses and cook over low heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

Add the sauce to the pasta, toss to combine and transfer to the baking dish. Sprinkle the top with remaining cheeses. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until the gratin is piping hot and golden brown.

* You don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to make this dish. You can substitute the turkey with chicken or chicken or turkey sausage. Then again, a vegetarian gratin is also yummy.

Feel free to make a comment; I’d love to hear from you. Just click on COMMENTS below.

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© Susan W. Nye, 2009

Thanksgiving Reunion on Pleasant Lake & Leftover Turkey Stir Fry

Thank goodness for Thanksgiving. It gives us something to look forward to during November when the days are short, generally grey and often cold. For anyone who loves to cook or just loves to eat, it is a great weekend. The kitchen is warm and toasty and filled with the wonderful aroma of turkey and pumpkin pie. For football fans the weekend is a highpoint in the season. It might not be the Super Bowl, but between the local high school team, a slew of college games and the pros, even the most fanatic fan might overdose on the sport, or maybe not. Most important, it is a wonderful time for families and friends to get together.

People of all ages hit the road and are welcomed home in cities and towns across the country. Students will return home with huge bags of laundry and big appetites. They’ll be hungry for Mom’s home cooking and maybe a little TLC. Families will drive over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house. Siblings and cousins will swap stories, tell a few lies and jokes and argue about politics and football teams.

I am looking forward to having lots of family here over the holiday. I’ve ordered the turkey, made my lists and am well into the preparations. Throughout the week and weekend there will be arrivals and departures, comings and goings. During the Empire, all roads led to Rome. For the Nye family all roads lead to Pleasant Lake.

It started when I was ten. My family built a vacation house close to the lake. Over the years the little house in the woods has become a focal point for the Nye family. Summers are spent in and on the lake. Three generations of Nye children have learned to swim, sail and kayak on Pleasant Lake. In the winter we head to nearby ski slopes. When we were little, my sister, brother and I spent most Saturdays and Sundays on King Ridge’s wide gentle slopes. As teenagers, we demanded a little more challenge and moved over to Ragged Mountain. King Ridge has been closed for more than an decade and Ragged has had its ups and down. Ragged is having something of a renaissance and after a long hiatus we are delighted to ski there again.

For two decades I lived thousands of miles away, first in Switzerland and then briefly on the West Coast. No matter where I lived, I always found my way back to Pleasant Lake at least once, usually twice, a year. It was as if some obscure law of physics was at work, sort of like a gravitational pull. It certainly wasn’t Murphy’s Law. On the other hand, it could have been an irresistible force. Although for many years, I was hardly immovable. In fact, I rarely stayed put for more than a day or two. Until I moved here.

While I was gadding about the world, Pleasant Lake’s pull was slow but steady and gaining strength. Eventually I had no choice but to surrender. I bought a house, gave up my frequent flyer memberships, settled down and settled in. My brother delights in calling me a townie. Most long time residents have warned me that since I wasn’t born here I will always be a flatlander.

Townie or flatlander, it looks like I’m staying for keeps. With winter fast approaching, I’ve got all the proper accessories. Warm boots, a parka fit for the North Pole, three snow shovels, a roof rake, a snow blower and season ski pass. Weather permitting; Ragged hopes to open on Black Friday. The timing couldn’t be better. We’ll need some fresh air and exercise to shake off those tryptophan hangovers! A week of family and friends topped off with a little skiing, what more could a girl want?

Happy Thanksgiving and Have a Wonderful Holiday Weekend!

Bon Appétit!

Left-Over Turkey Stir-Fry
When you have had as many turkey sandwiches as you can stand, take a break with an Asian stir-fry. Enjoy!
Serves 4

1/4 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
1-inch piece of ginger, chopped
1 teaspoon minced jalapeno, or to taste
2-3 cloves garlic
1 medium onion, cut in half and sliced
1 red pepper, cut in julienne
1/2 pound baby bok choy, trimmed and cut in julienne
1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound cooked turkey, cut into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1. In a small bowl, combine the chicken stock, rice vinegar, lime juice, honey, cornstarch and salt. Whisk until smooth. Set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Add the ginger, jalapeno and garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the onion and red pepper and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the bok choy and asparagus and stir-fry for 2 minutes.

3. Add the turkey and toss to combine. Add the chicken stock mixture and toss to coat.

4. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 – 5 minutes or until the vegetables and turkey have absorbed most of the sauce and are moist and tender.

5. Drizzle with sesame oil, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve immediately with steamed jasmine rice.

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Do you have a question? An idea, a few thoughts or an opinion you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Feel free to visit my other, cleverly named blog, Susan Nye’s Other Blog, or website www.susannye.com. You can find more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010

 

Thanksgiving: It’s a Marathon – Not a Sprint & Broccoli Puree

On Thanksgiving, dinner takes center stage. At Christmas we get sidetracked by the guy in red. At Easter the bunny distracts us. But Thanksgiving is all about family and food, and maybe a little football. If you are hosting Thanksgiving this year, no need to panic. All you need is a good plan and maybe a little help. At least one or two friendly volunteers will probably pop up. Whether they offer to bring a pie, peel the potatoes or carve the bird, don’t hesitate, accept!

For this feast of feasts, I offer you some of my tried and true recipes, timeline and the mantra, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

The Menu

You may have your own favorites. If not, here are some of mine:

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Roasted Turkey with Wild Rice & Mushroom Stuffing
Cranberry Sauce (see below)
Broccoli Puree (see below)
Smashed Potatoes (you’re on your own)
Red & Green Salad
Apple Crisp

The Timeline

Now:

If you are planning to cook a fresh turkey it is a good idea to order it in advance. If you haven’t done it yet, do it now.

Saturday before Thanksgiving:

Grab a big mug of coffee or tea and clear everyone out of the kitchen. Take a deep breath. Organize your recipes and make your shopping list. When in doubt, check your cupboards. You don’t want to discover that you are out of cinnamon on Thursday morning. Check expiration dates. If the sell-by date is May 1994, it’s probably time to buy a new jar!

Now it’s off to the supermarket. Buy any and all non-perishables on your list. Purchase the ingredients for the butternut squash soup. Pick up hardy produce like apples, potatoes and cranberries.

Sunday:

Roast and puree the vegetables for the butternut squash soup (steps 1-3). Store the puree in your freezer until Thursday morning.

Monday:

If you are using a frozen turkey, buy it and put it in the refrigerator to thaw.

Make the cranberry sauce. Combine 12-ounces of fresh cranberries with 1 cup sugar, 1 cup orange juice, grated peel of 1 orange and a teaspoon each of cinnamon and ginger in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool. Cover and refrigerate. Make the Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette and refrigerate.

Tuesday:

If you have a separate dining room, set and decorate the table. Need a quick, inexpensive centerpiece? Arrange gourds and a few ears of Indian corn in a basket; add some candles and your table will be picture perfect.

Wednesday:

Pick up your fresh turkey, perishable goods and any groceries you forgot on Saturday.

Make the stuffing and store it in the refrigerator.

Make the broccoli puree and store it in the refrigerator.

Turkey Day:

Make the apple crisp.

Remove the squash puree from the freezer. Put it in a large soup pot to thaw. You can continue the recipe later.

Stuff and roast the turkey.
(Don’t forget to remove the neck and bag of giblets from the turkey’s cavity.)

While the turkey is roasting:

Use the neck and giblets to make broth for gravy. Simmer the neck and giblets in chicken broth. Cool, remove the neck and then process the giblets until fine in the blender. Store the giblet broth in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Bake the broccoli puree.

Boil and smash the potatoes.

Prepare the salad (everything except the vinaigrette).

Finish the soup.

When your turkey has finished roasting:

Let it rest for twenty minutes or so.

Make the gravy. Don’t forget the giblet broth.

Carve the turkey.

Orchestrate the final chaos of getting everything into serving dishes and on the table.

Relax and enjoy!

Bon Appétit and Happy Thanksgiving!

Broccoli Puree
Serves 10-12

5 pounds of broccoli, trimmed, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 cup sour cream
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter plus enough to butter the casserole dish
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Drop the broccoli and onion into 4 quarts of boiling, salted water. Cook until tender, 8-10 minutes. Reserve some of the cooking liquid and drain the vegetables.
2. Purée the broccoli, onion and sour cream in batches in a food processor (add a little cooking liquid if needed). Return the broccoli mixture to the pot, add the cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix well.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
4. Butter a large, oven proof casserole dish. Spoon the broccoli mixture into the prepared dish, dot with butter.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until steaming hot.

The broccoli puree can be made 1 or 2 days ahead through step 4 (skipping step 3); cool, cover and refrigerate.

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Do you have a question? An idea, a few thoughts or an opinion you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below.

I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Feel free to visit my other, cleverly named blog, Susan Nye’s Other Blog, or website www.susannye.com. You can find more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2010