Thanksgiving Is On The Way

Cranberry Sauce 003
Image by MGF/Lady Disdain via Flickr

After Halloween ends, Americans look forward to their next holiday, Thanksgiving. Not only is this a time to reflect on what to be thankful for in our lives, but it is also the ultimate in food gluttony.

Traditionally, families serve turkey, mashed potatoes, a variety of stuffing and some form of cranberry sauce! There may also be rolls, salad, corn, squash, green beans, pumpkin pie and more, as each family injects their own form of tradition into this annual meal!

Here are some of my tradional favorites. I hope you enjoy!

Cranberry Sauce with Bourbon

This is my mother’s recipe. Each year, she would make this for an auction. Her sauce usually sold for $12.00 an 8-ounce jar!

12 ounces cranberries
4 cups sugar
1/2 cup bourbon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Stir ingredients together. Place in the oven for 1 hour. Stir contents occasionally during cooking.

Tastes best when it has had time to sit, for example, 2 weeks. The longer it sits, the stronger the flavours.

Store in a refrigerator indefinitely.

Ideas: For a different taste, make as above, omitting the bourbon. After the cooking is completed, add 1/2 cup Grand Marnier (or other orange liqueur of your choice), the zest of one orange and 1/4 cup chopped walnuts!

Cranberry-Orange Walnut Scones
By Jennifer A. Wickes
copyright 2001

3 cups cake flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons orange zest — grated
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts — chopped
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons half and half
2 teaspoons sugar

Preheat your oven to 425 and butter a baking sheet. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Blend the butter into the dry ingredients, using your fingertips or a pastry blender, until the mixture is crumbly. Add the orange zest, cranberries and walnuts and toss to combine. Add the milk and juice, and stir until the dough is rough.

Gather the dough together and place on a floured work surface. Knead gently about 10 times. Divide the dough in half and pat each piece into a circle about 6 inches in diameter and about ½ inch thick. To glaze, brush the circles with the half and half and sprinkle with sugar. Cut each circle into eight pie-shaped wedges. Place the scones, barely touching, on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until puffy and golden, 15 to 18 minutes.

Yields: 16 scones

Serving Ideas: Substitute the fruits and nuts for your favorite scones!

Examples: blueberries, lemon and almonds; coconut, pineapple and macadamias; peaches, lemon and pecans.

Festive Holiday French Toast
By Jennifer A. Wickes
copyright 1998

3 1/2 cups yogurt, skim milk — vanilla flavored
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
6 large eggs
1 cup sugar — divided
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
zest of 1 orange
8 slices stale bread
1/4 cup cranberry sauce
1/4 cup cream cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, mix together the yogurt, juice, eggs, 3/4 cup sugar, nutmeg and orange zest. Pour approximately 1/2 the mixture into a greased 9″ x 12″ baking dish.

Place four slices of bread in the bottom. Mix the cranberry sauce and the cream cheese together in a bowl. Spread 2 tablespoons of cranberry sauce mixture over each slice of bread. Top each slice with another slice of bread. Pour over the remaining yogurt mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Bake 30 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Sprinkle with remaining sugar and place under the broiler.

Yields: 4 servings

Serving Ideas: Serve with warmed orange marmalade, or an orange flavored syrup!

NOTES: It is important to use STALE bread in a French Toast recipe. The main reason is that stale (AKA dry) bread absorbs more moisture (the custard mix here) than fresh bread.

You can use thick pieces of bread if you like. In this case, make a cut on one side of each slice and stuff it with 2 tablespoons of the cranberry sauce mixture and only use 4 slices of bread.

The cream cheese may be substituted for equal amounts of ricotta cheese or soft tofu.

Roasted Root Vegetables
By Jennifer A. Wickes
copyright 2002

4 red potatoes — quartered
4 turnips — quartered
2 parsnips — sliced 1″ thick
2 carrots — sliced 1″ thick
1 yam — cut 1″ thick
16 pearl onions — peeled
4 beets — quartered
8 garlic cloves — peeled
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons basil, fresh
salt and pepper — to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Wash and cut the above vegetables into suitable sized chunks – preferably, big enough to put into one’s mouth without having to cut it any further.

Let the vegetables sit on a paper towel to drain them of any excess water. Pat each piece dry. This will ensure that each piece comes out crispy.

Put all the vegetables into a Ziploc bag with the oil, salt, pepper and rosemary. Zip it shut and make sure everything is coated completely.

Place the contents into a pan, and bake for one hour. No basting is necessary.

Yields: 8 servings

The Ultimate Mashed Potatoes
By Jennifer A. Wickes
copyright 2002

2 pounds Idaho potatoes
1/4 cup butter — melted
1 cup cream — heated
salt and pepper — to taste

Wash the potatoes thoroughly. Without peeling or slicing them, place them in a pot of salted water (1 tsp. salt to every 2 quarts). Bring to a boil and simmer until the potatoes can be inserted easily with a knife. Depending upon the size of the potatoes, 20 – 30 minutes. The purpose here is to cook the potatoes with less surface area exposed to water. The more water exposed to the potatoes (chopped and peeled ones), the more likely the starch molecules in the potato will become water-logged and leave a tasteless end result.

Once the potatoes are cooked, using a potato ricer or a food mill (unless you want gummy mashed potatoes, do NOT use a hand mixer), mash the potatoes. The purpose here is to mash the potatoes with minimum contact or they will turn into paste.

Immediately season your potatoes. The purpose for this stage is that potatoes only absorb flavor when they are hot, so you want them to get their seasonings now!

Then, melt your butter and pour it over the potatoes and mix to cover. The purpose behind this stage is that you want to coat the potatoes with a fat first before the cream (or milk or broth) as those products will water down the starch cells.

Then add the warmed cream and mix thoroughly. If the potatoes look soupy, fear not! Cover the potatoes and let them sit for 5 minutes. The starch cells will absorb the extra liquid and they will thicken up!

Yields: 4 servings

NOTES: Cream may be substituted with milk or broth.

Butter may be substituted with margarine, a soy margarine or omitted completely.

Add other spices to your liking!

Spicy Pumpkin Cheesecake
The Art of Tofu
By Akasha Richmond
Copyright Morinaga Publications 1997

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 package lite tofu, firm — pureed
8 ounces tofu cream cheese, lite
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
2 tablespoons light molasses
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Coat the 9 or 10-inch spring form pan with cooking spray.

Mix the graham cracker crumbs, canola oil and maple syrup together and press into prepared pan.

Puree the remaining ingredients in a food processor and pour into crust. Bake for 50 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes and refrigerate 5 – 6 hours or overnight before serving.

Keep refrigerated.

Yields: 8 servings

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Leftover Ideas:
Turkey: turkey soup, turkey tacos, turkey stir-fry, turkey on a green salad, add to your next pizza or spaghetti sauce or the traditional turkey sandwich!
Cranberry Sauce: save for Christmas, use in the French Toast recipe, add it to an orange quick bread recipe, use in a fruit smoothie, or add it to your turkey or chicken salad sandwich instead of mayonnaise!
Roasted Root Vegetables: puree and add milk and butter for a “mashed potato” type side; toss with a balsamic vinaigrette.
Mashed Potatoes: potato pancakes, or use for the topping on your next Shepherd’s Pie.

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