The Perfectly Roasted Turkey

Let’s talk turkey!

I meant to post this back on Thanksgiving, but I got a little busy. It’s ok, you can save it for next year. Or even if you want to do a turkey for Christmas.

Roasting a turkey seems really intimidating because turkey meat tends to dry out. It really isn’t that hard though and ever since I’ve done it this way, I’ve had a perfectly roasted turkey every year.

Start with a dry brine. You can buy one, like this great one from Williams-Sonoma, or you can make your own, which is what I did this year:

1-1/2 cups of kosher salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons onion powder

About 4 tablespoons poultry seasoning (it was ½ of the small McCormick container of the poultry seasoning)

Mix together. Clean out your turkey (remove the neck and giblets bag) and dry the outside. Cover the whole bird with your brine. It’s OK to put it on really thick.


Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 24 hours.

Meanwhile, make your herb compound butter:

Take 1 stick of room temperature butter (you’ll want it really soft), and mix in:

2 tablespoons fresh sage, minced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced

Heavy pinch of salt

 

Put the butter in plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to use. The day you need it, take it out of the fridge and bring it back to room temperature. This butter could really be used on just about anything.

 

When you are ready to roast your turkey, unwrap it and rinse off all the brine. Dry it off and rub the whole thing with your compound butter. Make sure you get under the skin. This is pretty easy to do.

 

Put the bird in the roasting bag with some flour (see instructions on the roasting bags). I’ve also tried it where I put the bird in the bag and then put the butter on it. Either way works. I found them both to be about the same level of difficulty.

Put half an onion and all the herbs from one of those plastic packages at the grocery store of the Poultry blend in the cavity. Close the bag and cut a few slits in the top of the bag.

 

Roast at 350 degrees for about 2-3 hours or so depending on the size of your turkey. The roasting bag box will give you the correct instructions.

 

These roasting bags will help you immensely! You don’t have to worry about basting or anything. You just put the bird in the oven and set your timer.

Let the turkey sit for about 30 minutes before you start to carve it.

 

Now pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy your Thanksgiving or Christmas or holiday or really any day. Where is the rule that you can’t just roast a turkey whenever you feel like it? 😊

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Chicken and Harvest Veggie Skillet 

This time of year always seems to get really hectic. With all the other things going on during the holiday season, easy dinners are high on my priority list. 

Another thing I’m looking for is healthy meals. I’m all about the Christmas treats and yummy special meals, so that makes it all the more important that we eat healthy as often as we can to try to stay on track.

This meal fits both those criteria. It honestly came out of necessity. I needed to clean out my fridge so I just sort of threw a bunch of ingredients in a skillet and crossed my fingers. I’m so glad it worked because this was delicious! My husband requested it immediately be added to our regular rotation!

Chicken & Harvest Veggie Skillet 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed, seasoned with salt and pepper

4 slices of bacon, cut into pieces

1 medium sweet potato, cubes

3/4 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered 

1/2 diced Onion 

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 Granny Smith Apples, cores and cubes

2 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced (or 1 teaspoon dried)

1 cup chicken broth 

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard 

1-2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

In a skillet, brown you chicken in some olive oil until just cooked through. Remove from the skillet to a paper towel-lined plate.

In the same skillet, cook your bacon until crispy. Remove to a lined plate.

To bacon grease, add the onion, garlic, sprouts, and sweet potato and cook until slightly softened.

Add the thyme, salt and pepperto taste, and apple and cook until softened and the rest of the veggies are slightly browned.

Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let the broth evaporate. It will only take a few minutes.


In a small bowl, add the Dijon, vinegar, and olive oil. Whisk until smooth. Note: these are approximate measurements. I eyeballed it and forgot to keep track. 

Add the chicken and bacon back to the skillet. Toss the whole mixture with the Dijon vinaigrette.

Enjoy!!! 

From the Archives: Cajun Cornbread Stuffing 

From the Archives… Due to popular demand, this Cajun Cornbread Stuffing will be making an appearance on our Thanksgiving table again tomorrow.

Food on the Table

Like I mentioned before, I try to make a new stuffing every year. For some reason this year I couldn’t decide which stuffing I wanted to make, so I made two. Because I’m crazy and delusional to how much time there is in a day. Thankfully, freezing stuffing works and I was able to prep my two stuffings in advance.

Like I also mentioned before, I don’t really like stuffing, so again, I had the hubby do the taste test. I had to stop him from eating it so there would be enough for the big day! That seems like a good sign to me!

This may not be a traditional stuffing for Thanksgiving, but if it’s delicious, who cares, right?

8 cups of cornbread. Use whatever recipe you want or buy it from the store. I made two 7×11″ pans and it was plenty
1 stick of butter

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Boozy Pumpkin Pie

I’m sure for most people, when they think of Thanksgiving dessert, they think of pumpkin pie first. In fact, according to the many Pie polls I saw, pumpkin was the number one choice.

Since pumpkin pie is pretty traditional, I decided to shake things up a bit.

Allow me to introduce to you, dear reader, my Boozy Pumpkin Pie.

That’s right. This guy took a shot of whiskey before hitting the oven. And after a taste during the doneness test, I can assure it, that shot of Jack was the right decision!

It is really yummy! It has just a hint of Jack and the alcohol cooks off, so it’s a winner for all ages. 

Boozy Pumpkin Pie

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon each: ground cloves, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, ground allspice 

Pinch of salt

1 can pumpkin (15oz) 

1 can evaporated milk (12oz) 

2 eggs

1-1/2 oz Jack Daniels 

In a small bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, salt, and other spices.

In a larger bowl, combine your eggs, pumpkin, and evaporated milk. Mix well. Add the sugar/spice mix. 

Add the Jack. I used the whole mini bottle.

Pour into an unbaked pie shell and bake at 425 for 15 minutes then 350 for 40-50 minutes.

Next: top with some whipped cream and watch this become a new favorite. 

Pecan Pie

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but my family was always a big pie family when I was growing up. I remember often having various pies at celebratory events and everyone has their own favorites. For example, I love chocolate cream (which is 100% a real pie, regardless of what my sister says) and my mom is a big fan of coconut cream—with no whipped cream, and lemon meringue—no meringue. My dad loves him some berry pie. I’m not sure what my brother’s favorite is, but I think he’s a berry fan also. Either way, we all love pie.

That means when it comes to Thanksgiving, we take dessert pretty seriously. There are always a few pies to choose from and we tend to stick with the traditional ones: Pumpkin, Pecan, and Apple. Sometimes we change them up a bit like making a pumpkin cheesecake or a chocolate pecan pie, but the traditional base is always there. 

This year will be no exception. I’ll be making a pumpkin pie, this pecan pie, and my sister-in-law is bringing a caramel apple pie that sounds devine (seriously, who doesn’t love that flavor combo?!).

I think sometimes people are intimidated by pies, but you don’t have to be. They are not that difficult and if you want to buy your crust to relieve some of the pressure, by all means go for it. I doubt anyone would notice. My favorite store-bought crusts are the ones you find in the freezer that are already in a dish.

I love all three of the Thanksgiving pies I mentioned, but I think pecan may be my favorite. Here’s my recipe for a delicious pecan pie: 

Pecan Pie

Pie crust (store-bought or homemade. If you use my recipe at that link, make sure you add about a tablespoon of sugar since this is a sweet pie.)

2 cups chopped pecans

½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)

1 cup packed light brown sugar

Pinch of salt

1 cup light corn syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup whole pecans

Chop your pecans and set aside. You can buy them pre-chopped, which is fine, but you need the whole ones anyway, so it may be cheaper to just buy a bigger bag of the whole ones and chop some of them yourself. Also, I like chopping them myself because then I get different sizes some are teeny and some are just small, so it adds to the texture of the pie.

In a sauce pan over medium heat, melt your butter. Add the brown sugar and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat.

Add the salt, corn syrup, and vanilla extract. Whisk. In a small bowl, beat your eggs. Slowly add them into the corn syrup mixture and whisk until combined and smooth. Remember this is all off the heat. You don’t want to make scrambled eggs. 

Add your pecans and stir.

 

Pour the filling into your prepared pie crust and top with the whole pecans in whatever design you’d like. The filling is thick, so the pecans should just lay right on top.

 


Bake in a 350 degree oven for 60-70 minutes, or until the filling is set. 


TIP: Check about half way through. If the crust is already nicely browned, wrap it with some foil to keep it from burning while the rest of the pie finished baking. You can do this with any pie.

 

Serve with some whipped cream and enjoy!

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving pie/dessert??

 

Orange Cranberry Muffins 

**UPDATED RECIPE 11/28/2017**

When I was in college, I was a barista at a couple different coffeehouses. I was just surrounded by muffins of all kinds. I almost always ate a bagel for breakfast, but every once in awhile I really wanted a muffin. It was at this time that I discovered the wonderful flavor combination of orange and cranberry.

That was the inspiration for these muffins. When I was trying to think of a good way to repurpose the cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving leftovers, it hit me that they would be great in a muffin! So went to work creating this recipe.

These turned out really yummy. My hubby says they could use a bit more orange flavor, but they were also good as-is. If you also want more orange, I would suggest adding more zest and juice and a little less of the cranberry sauce. You will probably have to compensate for the extra liquid with a bit more flour though.

Orange Cranberry Muffins (makes a dozen muffins)

2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup orange juice (this was two oranges for me)

Zest from two oranges

1/3 cup melted butter

Leftover cranberry sauce (approx 1/4-1/3 cup)

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Create a little well, and add your eggs, milk, juice, butter, and zest. Mix well.

The batter should be thicker than a cake batter, but not cookie dough.

Scoop in some leftover cranberry sauce. And fold it into the batter.

Finally, fill a sprayed or lined muffin tin with the batter. I’m a big fan of using the ice cream scoop to fill the cups. It’s usually the perfect amount.

Bake at 375 degrees 15-20 minutes.

Let the muffins cook a bit and drizzle with a glaze made from 1 cup powdered sugar and enough orange juice to make it the texture you want (some people like thicker or thinner glazes).

Serve and enjoy!!!

Super Easy Cranberry Sauce 

If you are in charge of the cranberry sauce for your holiday meal, you definitely drew the long straw. The perfect cranberry sauce takes minutes and only about 4 ingredients (5 if you include the 1/2 cup water). And you can make it a day or two in advance.

Cranberry sauce is definitely the easiest part of the Thanksgiving meal. 

Super Easy Cranberry Sauce 

1 12oz bag of whole, fresh cranberries

1 cup sugar 

The zest of one orange 

The juice of half an orange

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

1/2 cup water

2 Tablespoons cornstarch 

In a pot over medium heat, add your cranberries, sugar, zest, juice, cinnamon, and water. Stir together and let come to a boil.


While the mixture is boiling, the cranberries will begin to burst, releasing their juices. Let it stay at a low boil until they are soft and mostly burst open. 

Once they are all soft, stir in the cornstarch and reduce to a simmer. Let simmer until thickened. 


Turn off the heat and transfer to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge to cool before serving. It will thicken up even more as it sits.


You can make this dish one to two days in advance and transfer the cranberries to a plastic container and store in the fridge until Turkey Day.