This was supposed to be a “Happy Thanksgiving” post, full of gushy mushy things I’m thankful for. However, I fell into a turkey coma at 8 o’clock and didn’t recover until this morning.
Which means I missed going to Walmart and standing in line for 2 hours for a cheap DVD player. Oh well.
Since we decided to stay put this year, we found some friends that were in the same situation: no family in the area and wanting to eat some delicious food.
Beware, this is a pretty long recap.
Like I said in the last post, the prep started Tuesday night, with the cranberry sauce. That was easy, just made a standard sauce with a bag of fresh cranberries, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 cup of pomegranate cranberry cherry juice. Couldn’t find just plain ol’ pomegranate juice. I added a little bit of orange zest and some bits of candied ginger to spice it up a little. No picture, but it was hard not to eat the whole bowl.
As expected, Wednesday was pretty crazy in the office. Hubby had a craving for Quiznos for lunch, and I allowed it.
I had a Harvest Chicken salad and a Sonoma Turkey Flatbread.
Yoga ended up being canceled, which was kind of ok with me since I didn’t get out of the office until later and we had more prep to do that night. I made some stuffing, but I cheated and used Stovetop. I know from scratch is waaaaay better, but I had two boxes of cornbread stuffing that were about to expire sitting on my shelf. It was hard when I looked at the ingredients though…
Enriched wheat flour, high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oil…. bad bad and bad. As long as it’s once a year I suppose.
I did spruce it up a little by adding some sautéed onions and celery and then some golden raisins. Forgot to take a picture of that too. Hubby did some more turkey prep, think he just had to dry it off and set it in the fridge to dry out a little.
Thursday morning rolled around and the first thing I did was get the potatoes going. I decided to try mashed potatoes in the crockpot. Here’s the recipe I used, from somewhere on Pinterest.
Crockpot Mashed Potatoes (adapted from PinCookie)
• 5 lbs sierra gold potatoes or red potatoes, diced with peel
• 1 cup water
• 1/2 cup butter, cut into chunks
• 1 tablespoon salt, plus
• ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1 cup half and half, warmed
1. Place the potatoes, water, and butter into a slow cooker.
2. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Cover, and cook on High for 4 hours.
4. Do not remove the excess water from slow cooker. This adds to the creamy texture.
5. Mash potatoes with a masher or electric beater, adding the desired amount of warm half and half to achieve a creamy consistency.
6. Keep warm on low until serving.
7. Potatoes keep consistency for a couple of hours after mashing. Just keep the lid on the slow cooker and serve directly from there.
They ended up perfect, but by the time we got to our friends’ house, they had been mashed and sitting for about three hours so they were pretty dried out. Better to time it to mash them then eat right away. The original recipe called for a whole other stick of butter but I thought that would be a bit much.
The next step was making the gravy. Last year when we made gravy from the smoked turkey juices, the gravy was very smoky. I decided to go a different way this year. I googled turkey giblet gravy and found plenty of gross recipes that involved adding the giblets back to the gravy, which I was not a fan of. I finally found one that looked do able.
Turkey Giblet Gravy Recipe (adapted from cbsop.com)
- Giblets and neck from 1 turkey (add tail as well if it was cut by your butcher)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, quartered
- 2 celery stalks, cut in large chunks
- 2 carrots, cut in large chunks
- 3/4 cup white wine
- turkey drippings, chicken stock or water, enough to cover vegetables
- 1-2 tbsp. flour
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cut turkey neck into manageable pieces. (I just halved mine). Season neck and giblets with salt and pepper.
- Heat a sauce pot over medium heat. Add olive oil and let heat to a shimmer. Add neck and giblets to pan. Cook on both sides until well browned and pieces no longer cling to bottom of pan. (About 6 minutes per side.)
- Add wine, stirring well to dislodge any browned bits on bottom of pan. Add vegetables and pour over turkey drippings, chicken stock or water to cover. Return to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until all vegetables are fork tender. (About 1 hour)
- Strain liquid to remove all vegetables and turkey pieces. Reserve giblets and set aside to cool. Return liquid to sauce pot and return to simmer.
- If desired, mince reserved giblets and add to gravy.
- Mix cornstarch with 2 tbsp water or chicken stock, add to liquid and combine. Allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add butter, stirring constantly until completely mixed in.
- Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.
I piled a bunch of the weird stuff left behind from the turkey, as well as a piece of bacon.
Here is what it looked like after cooking for an hour.
Needless to say I did NOT chop it up and add back to the gravy.
The final product was delicious though. Great texture and the flavor was perfect, better than the super smoky gravy from last year.
After the gravy, I decided it would be a good idea to get a workout in. Guess what the best time to go to the gym is?
1 o’clock on Thanksgiving day. I did a quick 25 minute workout on the treadmill, and got the incline going so I broke a pretty good sweat.
The only thing left to do was assemble the salad.
Autumn Chopped Salad (slightly adapted from Iowa Girl Eats)
2 hearts of romaine lettuce, chopped
3 slices center-cut bacon
1 pear, chopped
1 apple, chopped
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup Poppy Seed Salad Dressing (or more or less)
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar (or more or less)
- Lay bacon strips down on a folded paper towel on a microwave-safe plate, then cover with another folded paper towel. Microwave for 1 minute then rotate the plate 1/4 turn and microwave for 30 more seconds. Continue rotating and cooking in 30 second increments until the bacon is crisp, then let cool and chop up.
- Add cooled bacon, romaine lettuce, pear, apple, pecans, dried cranberries, and feta cheese into a very large bowl, then add salad dressing and balsamic vinegar to taste. Toss well then serve immediately.
So many great ingredients. I also added a quick sprinkle of pomegranate seeds.
I think I added a little too much dressing, but it still tasted great.
The only thing left was the main event…
Smoked to perfection. It was just as good as last year, if not better.
I brought my camera with me to Josh and Jeanna’s, but of course forgot to take any pictures. We had quite the spread for 4 adults and 2 toddlers. Besides the stuff we brought, Jeanna made homemade French bread, spinach bread cups, sweet potatoes, creamed corn and the desserts. Pumpkin pie and crockpot chocolate cake. Everything was just incredible.
I went back for thirds, whereas Hubby didn’t even go for seconds. Can you believe that?? Granted, his first plate was a bit loaded. We had plenty of leftovers, so we’ll be eating well the next couple days.
Tyler started getting crabby around 7, as usual, so we headed home. He went straight to bed, and I laid on the couch. I really was going to try to go out to Walmart for the 10 o’clock sale, but I was just out. It was such a busy couple days that I just couldn’t do it. Based on the comments of some people from Facebook, I’m glad I didn’t… apparently it was pretty crazy.
Today I woke up pretty refreshed, and decided to get our day started with some great detox smoothies.
The smoothies included kefir, bananas, frozen blueberries, frozen strawberries, spinach, flax seed meal, and coconut oil. They were tasted so fresh, and were the perfect start to what will hopefully be a healthier day (doubtful though, with all those leftovers in our fridge).
Tyler really enjoyed the smoothie as well.
I sure am thankful for that little guy. Also my big guy, Hubby. We’ve created a special little family of our own, and can’t wait to add to it.
Very thankful for our extended families as well… hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving wherever you were. We’ll be seeing you soon next month.
And of course I’m thankful for all my other readers that are not family, so about all 4 or 5 of you. Have a great safe weekend!