Thanksgiving menu

I'm the head chef this year for the second year in a row. After last year's very-canned-food-based Thanksgiving, I'm seeking to improve my repertoire.


Does anybody have a delicious and foolproof recipe for whole or chopped cranberry sauce? I'm no domestic goddess, but I do love cranberries, don't you?

Second, a green bean recipe that uses fresh green beans. Past Thanksgivings have seen many a green bean casserole recipe using canned green beans, but that makes for a very mushy dish that kind of grosses me out.

And third, how about a Thanksgiving-appropriate pie with chocolate in it?

Fourth, yes of COURSE this picture is my Thanksgiving table from last year : ) No.

20 comments:

Maybe try a chocolate bourbon pecan pie???? Southern Living.com might be helpful or just compare recepies online. They are good!!!!!!!

November 25, 2008 at 8:55 AM  

JM, I'm sure that your Thanksgiving feast will be delicious! Here are some recipes from "Everyday Food" that look great (I haven't actually made them, but they look simple and delicious):

Basic Cranberry Sauce:
In a medium saucepan, combine 1 bag (12 oz) cranberries, 3/4 c. sugar, 1 tsp. grated lemon zest, and 1 cup water; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cook until cranberries are soft, about 10 min. Transfer to a bowl, and let cool to room temperature. To store, refrigerate up to 1 week in airtight container.

Stewed Green Beans with Bacon:
-6 slices bacon, thinly sliced crosswise
-2.5 pounds green beans, cut into 1-inch lenghts
-1 can (14.5 oz) reduced-sodium chicken broth
-salt and pepper
In a heavy pot, cook bacon over medium, until browned, 10-12 min.
Add green beans, broth, and 2 cups water; season. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cook until green beans are very tender, about 1 hour. Season as needed. Refrigerate up to 1 day.

Chocolate Pecan Pie:
-4 oz. semisweet choc., finely chopped
-4 large eggs, lightly beaten
-1.5 cups light corn syrup
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
-1/2 tsp. salt
-pie crust
-1 cup pecans
Preheat oven to 350, with rack in lowest position. Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together (do not whisk) eggs, corn syrup, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Stirring constantly, gradually add melted chocolate. Pour filling into prepared crust; place pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange pecans in one even layer over filling.
Bake just until set (filling should jiggle slightly when pie plate is tapped), 50-60 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let cool at least 4 hours (or up to overnight) before serving.

Yum! Enjoy :)

November 25, 2008 at 9:27 AM  

I know it sounds crazy, but I actually prefer canned cranberry sauce! If its shaped like a can, I'm all in! :) lol.

November 25, 2008 at 10:22 AM  

My whole family's with B-Mama on the cranberry sauce, as awful as it sounds. We just slice it up into rounds and arrange them on the plate.
As for green beans, you can make the green bean casserole using either fresh or frozen green beans, and it tends to be less mushy. Or you could just do a really simple sautee - sautee bacon and garlic, add green beans, salt, and pepper to taste. Cook until heated through and softening a bit, but not overly soft. Very easy and delicious. If you want to class it up a notch, throw some store bought slivered almons in there.

November 25, 2008 at 10:32 AM  

I don't have the recipe, but i've heard of a "johnny apple-seed" pie which is essentially an apple pie with chocolate chips (either in the pie or on the top). Might be worth looking into... i love apples and choco. together!

November 25, 2008 at 10:56 AM  

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November 25, 2008 at 11:21 AM  

Barefoot Contessa says if you have one exciting Vegetable recipe ( a stellar mashed potato or sweet potato casserole) the other veggies can be supporting roles, super fresh and super simple. You can take fresh green beans and blanch them in boiling water for about 2 minutes and then toss them with butter. Or you can toss whatever colorful veggies you have (broccoli cauliflower and cherry tomatoes look nice together) in olive oil, salt and pepper and put in the oven for 20 min at 400 degrees. If you have one heavy casserole type dish, I think its nice to have some simple fresh veggies to balance it. Also if you're in a hurry, I personally think frozen veggies have a fresher taste when cooked than canned stuff.

November 25, 2008 at 11:22 AM  

Love all the recipe suggestions ladies, keep them coming!

November 25, 2008 at 12:39 PM  

Oh, one more thing, doesn't anyone have a recipe for cranberry/orange relish for turkey? I saw this somewhere and it looked really yummy.

November 25, 2008 at 12:39 PM  

For a pie with chocolate, you could do a really simple pudding pie (literally, it's a pudding mix poured into a pre-made graham cracker crust). This might be breaking your less-packaged rule, but is so easy (no bake) and kids can help without concern about accidents with the oven.

November 25, 2008 at 1:15 PM  

There are great recipes and timelines available for free at www.savingdinner.com. She does a pumpkin cheesecake, so it doesn't help you on the dessert front, but she does have cranberry sauce and green beans on her menu.

I am cooking thanksgiving this year, too! Good Luck!

November 25, 2008 at 1:28 PM  

Here is a more specific link, since the menu mailer is a bit hard to find:

http://www.savingdinner.com/books/saving_dinner_for_the_holidays.html

click on Thanksgiving in the green box on the right side for the PDF file.

November 25, 2008 at 1:33 PM  

Wow, this is a great treasury already ladies. The green bean + bacon + almond recipes look very simple and delicious, and I have those ingredients on hand. Yes! Now the only remaining problem is which chocolate pie to try : )

I'll come totally clean now: does anyone know how to cook a conventional turkey correctly in the oven? I don't. Mine in the past have been so dry that they're barely edible even with gravy.

B-mama and Anonymous, your beloved cans of vile burgundy congeal wrongly called "cranberry sauce" would go great on the plate next to Red's, Tex's and Kate's all-organic, lovingly-butchered, personally-blessed heirloom turkeys.

I wonder how Mad Cow is celebrating Thanksgiving this year.

November 25, 2008 at 2:56 PM  

Juris Mater - Mad Cow is keepin' it simple: lots of lush green grass. My stomach still hasn't recovered from the years of grain feed in the factory.

B-mama - You're going to have your own intestinal problems if you don't stop ingesting that foul red gel. Resist the temptor and his counterfeit cranberries!

November 25, 2008 at 3:40 PM  

The secret to a yummy moist turkey is to buy Reynolds Turkey size bag. (They have a smaller size for chickens or roasts etc..) You put a bit of flour in the bottom of the bag, add the turkey, seal it up, poke a few holes and put it in a pan. All these directions are in the package. Super moist turkey! Clean up is a breeze because the pan doesn't get dirty and gravy is easy. Get a big strong husband to hold up the hot bird in the bag over a bowl and cut a hole in the corner of the bag. The juices will run out into the bag and then you can make gravy with it.

November 25, 2008 at 4:16 PM  

This is a really yummy green bean recipe...

Ingredients:
1 can chicken broth, divided
1 lb. fresh green beans
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup shallots, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
4 slices cooked bacon, crumbles (or 2 Tbsp prepared)
1/4 tsp dried basil or 1 Tbsp fresh
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:
Set aside 1/4 cup chicken broth. Pour remaining broth into saucepan. Wash beans and trim ends. Bring broth to a poil and add beans. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Drain beans; set aside and keep warm. Saute shallots and garlic in oil until tender. Add reserved 1/4 cup chicken broth and tomatoes to garlic mixture, cook until broth is almost evaporated, stirring frequently. Add bacon, basil, salt and pepper, stir until combined. To serve, spoon beans evenly onto individual plates and top with tomato mixture.

Notes from my personal experience. We like the beans bigger rather than shorter, so I think I had to use more chicken broth than the recommended amount. I think if you cut them into smaller pieces though, it may be enough. Also, I just dumped the tomato mixture on to of the beans and mixed it all up just prior to serving. It was delicious. :)

It's a fairly easy recipe (especially if you cut up prepare everything beforehand).

Good luck! And Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!!! May God bless each of you and your families.

November 25, 2008 at 4:56 PM  

JM, I second the turkey bag suggestion. It makes it so easy...

November 25, 2008 at 6:00 PM  

Amy and Lisa - What about the chemicals leaching out of the plastic? Juris Mater has previously expressed concern about her son Bean acquiring chemically-induced man boobs.

November 25, 2008 at 6:12 PM  

We make Julia Child's deconstructed turkey (in The Way to Cook and here:
http://frenchfoodfocus.blogspot.com/2007/11/deconstructed-roast-turkey-part-1.html)
You cut off the back and use it for stock and remove, debone & stuff the thighs (very excellent). The pieces cook separately so the breast doesn't dry out while the legs cook and in the end you put the pieces back together and it looks like a regular turkey. It's more work in the morning, but it also doesn't have to cook as long (~3 hours).

LL

November 25, 2008 at 7:39 PM  

For those who tuned in after our man-boob discussion days that Mad Cow refers to here, I should clarify that my son Bean does not have boobs. Quite the opposite, in fact. We avoid like the plague lavender, soy, and all other man-boob-enhancing products to ensure that that never happens.

I did like that Reynolds bag idea (bird goes straight from its plastic packaging into the plastic bag into the oven) until Sergeant Mad Cow had to swoop in and break up all the fun.

Anonymous, interesting concept, but deconstructing and reconstructing a raw turkey early Thursday morning sounds slightly salmonella-intensive for me.

November 25, 2008 at 8:32 PM  

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