I have gone home or gone to a relative’s house for Thanksgiving every year of my 36 year existence. Every single one. So this year, a month or so back, my mother says to me, “Lynne, what do you think about us coming to YOU this year? You can cook for us!” There was nothing but pure joy in her voice even at the mere thought. “SURE!!” I respond, before thinking that…um…I hadn’t ever really cooked a turkey before, and where I would consider myself a pretty good baker, I generally am lousy at the art of coordinated cooking. So I followed that up immediately with “…if you don’t mind eating each part of the meal as it’s ready…”
In the end, I would consider it fairly successful. Here are a few highlights:
My Turkey! I learned this year that there are a million ways people will tell you to cook a turkey – brine, dry brine, stuffed, upside down, baste…the list goes on and on. I kept it simple and went with this recipe from Bon Apetit. It firmly supports the saying that bacon does, in fact, make everything better.
Cranberry sauce – which should never come from a container (in my humble opionion) because it couldn’t be any easier, and there’s something very fun about watching the fresh cranberries pop. This Cooking Light recipe for Classic Cranberry sauce was delish! I did lighten up on the sugar a bit, and add more orange zest than it called for.
Yummmm, sweet potatoes. I have made this delicious Streuseled Sweet Potato Casserole, also from Cooking Light, probably a half dozen times – more often than not, I end up halving the sweet potato portion of the recipe, but making all the of the topping (after all, that is one of my favorite things about this dish!). I also add a hefty tablespoon of cinnamon to the potatoes, which isn’t called for in the recipe. You can bake and mash the potatoes the day before, and do the rest the day of…OR make the whole thing and pop it in the freezer. Make-aheadishness (my new word) is one of the keys to any big meal.
These Green Beans have been a favorite in the past, and I thought would tie in nicely with the turkey recipe I used. They are a flash to make, especially if you make the bacon ahead of time (plus, it helps not to have to deal with bacon smell and bacon grease while you are trying to whip up a dozen other dishes at the same time!).
My dad likes the traditional pies for Thanksgiving dessert, so in an effort to stick to tradition but put my own spin on it, I opted for pears instead of apples in this yummy Pear Pie recipe from Cooking Light. I used half Anjou and half Bartlett pears – what I liked about the pie is that it didn’t mush up like apple pie sometimes can, just by nature of the fact that pears are a firmer fruit. They held their shape really nicely, and it went deliciously with David Lebovitz’s Cinnamon ice cream (photographed separately – darn if that stuff didn’t melt into a mess as soon as it sat next to the pie!).
And before I officially make this the longest post ever, that’s a wrap. Thank goodness my parents brought a cooler because they filled it all up with leftovers, and my dad was thrilled about a few days of turkey sandwiches!!