Monday, November 20, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!


This is going to be a different Thanksgiving for my husband, Jerry and me. In September I was diagnosed with breast cancer and tomorrow (2 days before Thanksgiving) am having my third surgery. As odd as it may sound, I feel happy, strong and very confident that this will soon be behind me, but in the meantime was not sure I would be up to cooking my usual big holiday feast. So I have prepared the entire meal in advance, freezing almost everything except the turkey, which my husband will cook Thanksgiving morning. Here is our menu:

Cranberry Orange Sauce with Fresh Ginger Root
Don't you want to just dive into that sauce?!?
I made this several days ago. It keeps well in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. I make a variation of it every year. Go to: for the original recipe. This year I used half the sugar and all freshly squeezed orange juice for the liquid.
Homemade Dinner Rolls

(Go to: and scroll nearly to the bottom to get this recipe. I make them every year because they freeze well and that is one less thing to prepare as the big day approaches.

Green Bean Casserole with Cauliflower Cream

This is a take on the old fashioned (and pretty horrible) Canned green bean casserole with canned mushrooms and canned shoestring onions on top. This one looks a little better and was fairly easy to put together. The cauliflower cream is really delicious! You still have time to do this before Thursday. Recipe follows.

Triple Onion Mashed Potatoes

I believe this will freeze well, but have never tried so we will see! The addition of sautéed leeks looked wonderful and topping with crispy shallots and chives put this plain mashed potato recipe over the top. The recipe follows.

Roast Turkey Stuffed with
Pear/Sage and Golden Raisin Stuffing
This was my Nanna's roasting pan. It has seen many a turkey!
The Pear/Sage Stuffing has complex flavors and will only intensify when cooked in the bird on Thanksgiving morning. I know most caution about roasting your bird stuffed, but I have been eating turkey that way since a child and cooking it that way all my life, as has my Mom long before I was born so I will keep that tradition alive! Stuffing recipe follows.

And finally, my "DO-AHEAD GRAVY" will also be on our Thanksgiving table. Here is the link: You will love this gravy recipe. So silky with rich, deep flavors.

This is a winner. I do not like making gravy day of the holiday. Everyone is anxious to sit down and you are still toiling in the kitchen trying to get lumps out. This takes all the tension out of making gravy.
These are the turkey legs I used to make this year's gravy.
Looks like something you'd see on the Flintstones sideboard.
Green Bean Casserole with Cauliflower Cream

1 cup chopped yellow onion (I used white.)
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
7/8 tsp. Kosher salt (I used 1 tsp. by measuring in the palm of my hand.)
3/4 tsp. black pepper, divided
1 lb. green  beans, cut into 2 inch pieces
12 oz. shitake mushrooms, stemmed and halved
1 8 oz. container cremini mushrooms, stemmed and halved
3 cups chopped cauliflower, about 9 oz.
1 1/2 cups 2% milk (I used 1 cup 2% milk and 1/2 cup half and half.)
2 dried bay leaves
2 thyme springs (My thyme is done for the year so used 1/2 tsp. dried.)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tbsp. sherry (I used 2.)
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
Cooking spray
3 oz. whole wheat bread crumbs (about 2 slices or 2 1/2 cups.)
Here are the roasted onion, mushrooms, and green beans.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine onion, 2 Tbsp. oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, green beans, and mushrooms on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.
Bring cauliflower and next 5 ingredients (through garlic) to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat; cook 25 minutes or until tender. Remove pan from heat. Let cool slightly. Carefully place cauliflower mixture in blender; blend until very smooth. Return puree to pan; stir in remaining 1/2 tsp. salt, remaining 1/2 tsp. pepper, and sherry and nutmeg. Place green been mixture in a 9x9 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; top with bread crumbs that have been mixed with 2+Tbsp. oil. Sprinkle over dish. At this point, I froze, and will thaw completely before baking for 10 minutes at 425 degrees.

Triple Onion Mashed Potatoes
1 1/2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup half and half
1 1/2 oz. cream cheese, softened and cut into pieces
3/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter (I used 2 1/2.)
1 cup chopped leeks
1 1/2 Tbsp. canola oil (I used olive oil.)
1/2 cup sliced shallots
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives

Bring potatoes to a boil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan filled with water. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 20 minutes or until tender. Drain; return potatoes to pan. Add chicken stock, half and half, cream cheese, salt, pepper. Mash to desired consistency.
Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks; saute 5 minutes. Stir leek mixture into potato mixture. Do not wipe out skillet.
At this point I froze the potatoes and will finish the crispy shallots and chives on Thanksgiving morning, but if you are making on the spot...return skillet to medium-high. Add oil and shallots; cook 3 minutes or until shallots are browned and crisp. Spoon mashed potatoes into a serving dish and top with crispy shallots and chives.

Pear/Sage and Golden Raisin Stuffing

This is a recipe from Cooking Light, which I have changed up a bit, so not quite so light.

1 loaf homemade or bakery style white bread, sliced and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup hot water
2 thick-cut bacon slices
2 cups onion
1 cup chopped celery
2 Tbsp. Bell's seasoning
3 Tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
5 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups chopped ripe Bosc pear (about 2 large)
Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss bread cubes in various herbs and spices: finely diced fresh rosemary, fresh sage, Bell's seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, Salt. Arrange bread cubes in single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until golden, stirring after 10 minutes. Place bread cubes in a large bowl. Reduce oven  temp to 350 degrees.
Place raisins in 1/4 cup hot water to plump. Let stand 10 minutes. Drain.
Cook bacon slices in a skillet over medium heat until crispy; about 10 minutes. Remove to paper towel-lined plate; crumble. Add 1 Tbsp. butter to bacon drippings, onion, celery and saute for 8 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp. sage and garlic; cook 1 minute more. Remove pan from heat.
Combine stock, butter, pepper, and eggs in a large bowl. Add stock mixture, drained raisins, bacon, pear, and veg mixture to bread. Toss to combine. At this point I froze and will thaw completely before stuffing the bird. You may also coat a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, if you do not want to stuff it in the bird. If you cook it separately it should be called Un-Stuffing.

I have so much to be grateful for and even though currently experiencing cancer, believe that cancer can provide many gifts--
The outpouring of love from friends and  family has been overwhelming. The love and devotion from my husband has served to strengthen our wonderful relationship. And I truly feel this has brought me closer to God.

My husband, Jerry and I, celebrating his birthday
at Hacienda del Sol in Tucson. Fabulous, elegant, and understated Ranch.
November 13, 2017