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Old 11-08-2011, 12:35 AM   #1
 
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Default Thanksgiving 2011

Care to share your Thanksgiving menu?

Looking for some suggestions or recipes?

Freaking out because it's your first time hosting?

Relaxed and chill because you get the pleasure of letting someone else cook? (oh boy, I'm looking forward to being that person one day)

I'm going to post my menu once I get it figured out. We're having our first Thanksgiving at our new home in CA, but this will be my 7th year cooking. Every year my goal is to try and pare down how much I make for only 4 people, but I always fail because I just want to make everything that reminds me of the big family dinners we'd have at my grandparents house every year when I was growing up.

Our tradition in years past (since we've been hosting) was my wonderful mother in law and her honey came and spent a few weeks with us and I'd do all the cooking. This year they're a bit far away to make the trip, but luckily we live closer to my sister in law and her hubs and they're driving down from Seattle to spend a few days with us. My MIL is vegetarian so I always made everything but the turkey veggie friendly so she'd have plenty to eat and although MIL won't be with us, my SIL is also vegetarian so I won't change anything in that respect.

So, please feel free to share your menu, recipes and anything else gobble, gobble related!
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Byron,GA> Charleston, SC> Jacksonville, FL> Guilford, CT> Rohnert Park, CA! A southern drawl in sunny Cali! .
The amount of time from slipping on the peel and landing on the pavement is exactly one bananosecond.
I do have a secret yen for pink in unexpected places. ~ninja dog
I've decided that I'll never get down to my original weight, and I'm OK with that--After all, 8 pounds 2 oz. is just not realistic.
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Old 11-08-2011, 12:41 AM   #2
 
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I'm just going to post the link to the turkey thread I started:
Turkey Time

Who Me? also started a thread where some ideas were posted:
Thanksgiving dinner menu help!

And speaking of pumpkin bars (mentioned on the Say It thread):
http://www.joepastry.com/2008/how_to..._pumpkin_bars/
I prefer to do this is in a quarter sheet tray because it's neater.

By the way, baking pumpkin pie like this or in a tart pan provides a better result because custards (like pumpkin pie) don't cook evenly in a pie plate due to shape. So, it's a lot harder to get an unsightly crack in a tart than it would be with a traditional pie.
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Old 11-08-2011, 04:53 AM   #3
 
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I will be assisting my mother and gram with:

Turkey
Stuffing
Butternut squash
Garlic mashed potatoes
Peas
Green bean casserole
Turnip with various things
Fruit salad

The grand finale will be my pumpkin cheesecake.
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Old 11-08-2011, 05:15 AM   #4
 
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Thanksgiving has come and past, but we had (same thing as every year!)...

Dinner
Turkey
2 types of stuffing
Mashed potatoes
Green beans
Squash
Cranberry sauce

Dessert
Butter, pecan & pumpkin cheesecake tarts
Pumpkin pie
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Old 11-08-2011, 10:49 PM   #5
 
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Here is my turkey recipe (although I may separate my dark and white meat like suggested in Saria's thread). I've used this recipe for the last 5 years and my turkey is always really moist with great crispy skin.

Tomorrow I'll post the recipes I have to write out. I usually make 2 types of dressing, my mom's recipe and my BIL's recipe. And as always the totally bad for you green bean casserole because I love it although no one else does. I may do some roasted veggies or a veggie soup this year. My mom and I cook together so she'll do the fresh cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and gravy. She makes the best gravy from scratch that I've ever had. I'll ask her for her recipes too.

Spring check out the red pepper soup I posted in the soup thread. Made with veggie stock it could msake a great veg side. And it's even good without the cream if you prefer not to use it.
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Old 11-09-2011, 09:26 PM   #6
 
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If you are into the marshmallow-laden concoction known as sweet potato casserole, you can ignore this, but if you loathe that stuff (like me), this is a pretty cool bit of science (and a recipe). Those who like roasted sweet potatoes, but just not on Thanksgiving when they want to sweet potato casserole, might want to have a look as well:
http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/11/t...-food-lab.html
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Old 11-09-2011, 09:41 PM   #7
 
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As much as I love me a marshmallow, I've never liked them on my sweet potato casserole. I roast the potatoes (in their jackets, it's just easier with everything else going on) for my casserole and use the least amount of butter and brown sugar I can. I think I can almost taste it now...

I'm starting to get ready for Thanksgiving! Although I'm really concerned about the oven here. I've never had such trouble with baked goods as I have here and I can't figure out what on earth it is.
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Byron,GA> Charleston, SC> Jacksonville, FL> Guilford, CT> Rohnert Park, CA! A southern drawl in sunny Cali! .
The amount of time from slipping on the peel and landing on the pavement is exactly one bananosecond.
I do have a secret yen for pink in unexpected places. ~ninja dog
I've decided that I'll never get down to my original weight, and I'm OK with that--After all, 8 pounds 2 oz. is just not realistic.
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Old 11-09-2011, 09:46 PM   #8
 
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You OF COURSE have at least one oven thermometer in there, yes? Yes?
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Old 11-09-2011, 09:52 PM   #9
 
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You betcha (just channeled Sarah Palin, I may have to shoot myself now).

It (the thermometer) is actually reading 25 degrees lower than the oven dial, but things seem to be coming out overdone on the outside and not done inside, for example, cornbread. And the banana bread (try not to cringe, it's just what I call it) came out super browned on the outside, but fine on the inside.

Is it just that gas ovens are unpredictable? This is my first time having one.

I'll probably make a double layer pumpkin cheesecake for T-day so that should be interesting.
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Byron,GA> Charleston, SC> Jacksonville, FL> Guilford, CT> Rohnert Park, CA! A southern drawl in sunny Cali! .
The amount of time from slipping on the peel and landing on the pavement is exactly one bananosecond.
I do have a secret yen for pink in unexpected places. ~ninja dog
I've decided that I'll never get down to my original weight, and I'm OK with that--After all, 8 pounds 2 oz. is just not realistic.
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Old 11-09-2011, 10:01 PM   #10
 
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I usually have a thermometer in the back and one in the front. Different parts of the oven run hotter. Also, you sure your thermometer is properly calibrated? Have you tested by putting it in ice water and boiling water?
I'm sure you do, but just in case, you do flip your baking trays back to front and top to bottom during baking?
Are you baking in dark pans (typically the ones coated with a nonstick layer)? Glass?

Banana bread (blending method) tends to brown a lot, so I don't think it's much to go on. Banana cake (creaming method) less so. See, the distinction matters.
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Old 11-09-2011, 10:16 PM   #11
 
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I only have the one and it's in the front, but I could move it to the middle or back since I know the front has been consistently 25 degrees less.

Good idea about calibrating because even though it's fairly new, when we moved and I put it in the oven here I had to thump it to get the dial to move.

And now that I know the difference, this was banana bread since there was no creaming (that means like creaming butter and sugar?). I just don't recall mine coming out so dang dark and I'm just cutting the edges off. Maybe it's my pan because the top isn't dark and bitter, just the sides and bottom.

My loaf pan is a non-stick metal pan, pretty heavy. All my casseroles are glass and when I had 3 cornbreads in a row come out bad it was my cast iron skillet. The last cornbread I made in a 8in glass dish and it was fine. The cornbread disasters was just disgusting. Mushy in the middle and the edges were super thick, brown and bitter. The first bad batch was a recipe I'd made before and it came out just fine using the same skillet and oven so I don't know what happened. Then I used the same recipe and white cornmeal instead of yellow and it was disgusting. Then once more I used the same recipe with some stone ground coarse cornmeal and yep, disgusting. It was the recipe where I let the cornmeal soak in milk and the first time I made it I really loved it so I can't figure out what factor is off. Could my cast iron skillet be off somehow? I mainly use it for cornbread and try to cook bacon or sausage in it from time to time. It's an 8in so there isn't much else I'd cook in it to keep it seasoned. It's not sticking, but it's not got that well-loved patina to it because it's a fairly new pan.

Good grief...who knew I'd write a novella about freakin cornbread.
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Byron,GA> Charleston, SC> Jacksonville, FL> Guilford, CT> Rohnert Park, CA! A southern drawl in sunny Cali! .
The amount of time from slipping on the peel and landing on the pavement is exactly one bananosecond.
I do have a secret yen for pink in unexpected places. ~ninja dog
I've decided that I'll never get down to my original weight, and I'm OK with that--After all, 8 pounds 2 oz. is just not realistic.
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Old 11-09-2011, 10:34 PM   #12
 
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Dark pans brown more than nice shiny pans. They also tend to produce a softer crust. It sounds like that's the problem there. When something's browning too much on sheet trays, I insulate by doubling up the trays. As is, I put all cake pans (except bundt pans, because the point is for the hot air to circulate all around the pan) on a sheet tray, but maybe you could double up your sheet tray for further insulation? If you can, try getting a light, shiny loaf pan, though. You can also cover the top with foil.
It may well be your thermometer is off, though!

Yes, a lot of banana breads are banana cakes because the fat gets creamed as opposed to being liquid and mixed with the wet ingredients (blending method). One is a cake, the other a quickbread. They produce very different textures (see muffin vs. cupcakes, another one where the distinction isn't made a lot of times), and well, one is just more work when all you are looking to do is make a simple quickbread.


Did you pre-heat your cast-iron? Cast iron pans aren't great at heating evenly. They retain heat well, but they need to be pre-heated well (in the oven) or the heat will be uneven and this could be why your cornbread came out undercooked in the middle.
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Old 11-09-2011, 10:51 PM   #13
 
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I'll try using double sheet trays with the loaf pan and see if it makes any difference (even though it's dark). I've only had it a few years, but when it's time to replace I'll go for lighter metal.

I do preheat my skillet, usually with a little canola oil in it because it seemed to make a nice crispy crust when pouring the batter over the hot oil and it is all sizzly (yes, that's a word).

I've been making cornbread a lot of years and never, ever had it come out completely inedible. I've used different recipes trying to find "the one", but they've always been good. When I did the soaked recipe it was just the type of cornbread I was looking for, moist but not overly and not cakey and had a great crumb. I was in love...then this. I would think *maybe* it's that my pan was too small for the recipe amount, but it turned out fine the first time so I'm stumped. I'll keep trying though. The weird thing was the nasty taste it had throughout. When the one came out underdone (white cornmeal) I put it back in the oven for a bit and after it did cook the taste was just gross. Then the more coarse ground yellow that I tried was the same bitter and just plain nasty taste. I'm pretty sure I broke some Southern rules or something and I was being punished in the form of bad cornbread.

And ok, this one actually was a banana bread! No cringing required. I put apples, walnuts and dried cranberries in it. Noms.

Thanks for the help and tips!!
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Byron,GA> Charleston, SC> Jacksonville, FL> Guilford, CT> Rohnert Park, CA! A southern drawl in sunny Cali! .
The amount of time from slipping on the peel and landing on the pavement is exactly one bananosecond.
I do have a secret yen for pink in unexpected places. ~ninja dog
I've decided that I'll never get down to my original weight, and I'm OK with that--After all, 8 pounds 2 oz. is just not realistic.
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Old 11-09-2011, 11:05 PM   #14
 
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One more thing! Cornmeal, especially whole cornmeal (as in, not the typical supermarket Quaker or other brands that have been stripped of the germ) goes rancid pretty quickly just as all whole grain flours do because of the oil contained. I keep whole grain and nut flours refrigerated or frozen for this reason and try to use them quickly. Maybe you cornmeal went rancid or you bought a bad batch and that was the bad taste? Even the supermarket stuff which has a longer shelf life can go bad.
http://www.joepastry.com/2011/corn-meal-is-corn-meal/
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Old 11-10-2011, 05:03 AM   #15
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GP is bringing...
~turkey, which we will fry
~oil, hopefully he can find it from last year
~gf will be making too much guac and too soupy of green bean casserole


I'll be bringing....
~pee-can pie
~sausage/rotel/cream chez dip

Mom will be bringing...
~giblets
~mashed taters
~sweet taters [really for her/dad]
~turkey parts [really for her]
~corn [really for my nephews]
~dressing [her special recipe]

Of course, I told her she's doing too much, but just like my grandmother was, she loves to be in the kitchen and cook...and then complain later...lol Hopefully no leftovers b/c I eat enough of them during the week and don't care for them for TG..bah..lol

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Old 11-10-2011, 05:37 AM   #16
 
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I should be getting ready for work but...

This is my second time cooking; it will be me, the kids, my bf, his cousin, and her son. Not sure if we will have any stragglers, last year we did.

So far, I know I am serving
Turkey
Mashed potatoes (for Aidan)
Macaroni and cheese (for Maya)
Stuffing
Cranberry Sauce
Some kind of green vegetable (I'm thinking roasted green beans with pine nuts)
Some kind of yellow vegetable; maybe the butternut squash gratin that SuZen posted
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Old 11-10-2011, 09:36 AM   #17
 
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Thanksgiving will be at younger sister's house this year. The usual menu - a big turkey, sage stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes (no marshmallows), a veggie of some sort, probably corn (no green bean casserole).

I will make pumpkin pie (my great aunt's recipe that is never altered), graham cracker cake (a new recipe I just came across and it sounded extra good because there is no frosting/icing. it's made with graham crackers and biscoff cookies), and brussels sprouts with walnuts and bacon.
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Old 11-10-2011, 09:42 AM   #18
 
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Sweet potato latkes have become a new Thanksgiving tradition at my mom's house. We make them savory like regular latkes but I've seen recipes for sweet potato latkes with stuff like maple syrup in them.
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Old 11-10-2011, 10:24 AM   #19
 
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Hadn't thought of that since both cornmeals were brand new purchases. The white was from the shelf (although I can't check the date on it because I decanted it from box to sealed container) and the coarse yellow was from the bulk bin section at our grocery.

What would be the odds that both were bad after all these years of never having any go bad. Bad kitchen juju, I haz it.

My sister in law is bringing sugar pumpkins for me to roast for the pumpkin cheesecake. I wish they were close enough for me to request them to bring a side dish or two because I certainly would!
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Byron,GA> Charleston, SC> Jacksonville, FL> Guilford, CT> Rohnert Park, CA! A southern drawl in sunny Cali! .
The amount of time from slipping on the peel and landing on the pavement is exactly one bananosecond.
I do have a secret yen for pink in unexpected places. ~ninja dog
I've decided that I'll never get down to my original weight, and I'm OK with that--After all, 8 pounds 2 oz. is just not realistic.
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Old 11-10-2011, 11:02 AM   #20
 
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Have you tried steaming your pumpkins? It's great for making puree. So is roasting, just that steaming can be more convenient and faster.
http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2011/1...kin-puree.html
You can squeeze it dry like the slideshow, but hanging overnight leaves it drier and is less work.

Have you considered going no bake with the cheesecake since you're worried about your oven? Custards, and especially one like cheesecake are a bit fussy.

I hang my cooked pumpkin (I actually use kabocha squash or Hubbard) in cheesecloth overnight before pureeing and passing through a tamis, whether I steam or roast. I always hang it because roasting still leaves behind a lot of water and that water makes a big difference.
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