Thanksgiving Things

5I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving!  This year was the first time I ever cooked a Thanksgiving dinner (turkey and all) on my own and it actually turned out really well.  The only menu item I managed to botch was the pie, and it still tasted okay… sort of… but we’ll get to that.  So I love the holidays, and next to Christmas, Thanksgiving is one of my favourites.  I love fall, pumpkins, leaves, and I love the beautiful colours, but my favourite part of course is the food (and maybe the wine…).  So when I had the opportunity to cook dinner I couldn’t say no.  I created my menu based on some of my favourite dishes I’ve had throughout the years.  I much prefer turkey over ham, so we bought a small turkey for the seven of us to eat.  It was pre-stuffed this time around, but at Christmas I will be making my stuffing from scratch.  About 3 years ago I tried a sweet potato casserole for the first time.  It had a brown sugar crust and I was fantastic, so I decided to include that on my menu.  I also love broccoli salad, and I found one that included cranberries and sunflower seeds to make it more festive.  And of course, what’s Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie?1

Ken and I were both fighting a pretty mean head cold last week. Luckily I was able to shake it by Sunday morning in time to start cooking.  We had a very lazy and relaxing weekend, caught up on some Breaking Bad, and made time to cross a few movies off our To Watch List (FYI Star Trek 2 and Iron Man 3 are must sees).  I am very thankful that this week is a four day work week because I am exhausted! Most likely because of all the cooking… and eating… and drinking… that I did this past weekend.

I love holiday decorations, which is likely why I start decorating for Christmas in early November.  When my mom was alive her and I would make a weekend out of it and watch Christmas movies all day long.  This tradition really hasn’t changed for me.  Thanksgiving is no exception, and while the decorations are no where near as extravagant as those put up for Christmas, I appreciated that my boyfriend’s mom “Thanksgivi-fied” the house, with pumpkin themed decorations, lots of oranges and reds, and a wonderful tablecloth.

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Broccoli Salad with Dried Cranberries and Sunflower Seeds

Ingredients

  • 2-3 broccoli crowns, just the florets, finely chopped (5-6 cups)
  • 10 bacon slices, crisp-cooked and crumbled
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1/2c mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar

Directions

Add broccoli, bacon, onion, seeds, and cranberries to a salad bowl.  Make the dressing my combining the mayo, vinegar, and sugar in a separate bowl. Pour dressing mixture over salad and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve (at least one hour).

*original recipe from alaskafromscratch.com

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Pecan and Brown Sugar Topped Sweet Potato Casserole

Ingredients

For the Sweet Potatoes…

  • 6 large sweet potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons packed dark-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (I omitted this)

For the Topping…

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees
  2. Peel potatoes, cube, and boil until soft and you can easily pierce with a knife.  Drain the potatoes of all water and then mash.  You should have 4 to 5 cups of mashed sweet potato. (or roast your potatoes instead, click here for more details.)
  3. Stir in brown sugars, eggs, orange juice, butter, vanilla, and salt; transfer to a square baking dish.  I used a large oval Corning Ware dish.
  4. Make the topping: In a small bowl, mix together butter, brown sugar, and pecans. Sprinkle over sweet potato mixture. Transfer to oven and bake until nuts are toasted and casserole has puffed, about 30 minutes. Serve.

*recipe adapted from MarthaStewart.com.

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My favourite dish at Thanksgiving has always been stuffing. Okay well not always, actually i only discovered it about five years ago and honestly I could probably live off the stuff.  I can’t wait to make my own at Christmas!

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So let’s talk about one of my downfalls.  I have a really hard time paying attention, especially when I’m busy or already distracted.  Often, for some reason, I try to multitask while I bake.  I can’t multitask to save my life.  So in all honesty, the main reason that I mess up my baked goods is because I misread the recipe.  I did this for my pumpkin pie.  In my defense this was my first pie, ever, and first crust, ever.

I made the pie crust from scratch, and got it from BrownEyedBaker.com.  I think next time I might do an egg wash on my crust to make it brown and shiny, and possibly a braid design, but I overworked my dough a little bit so i wasn’t able to do the design this time around.  Despite this, my pie crust turned out relatively well.  Ready to hear my mistake? So… the pumpkin pie wasn’t as sweet as I wanted it to be.  So I thought to myself, next time I am adding more of the sweetened condensed milk… the 1/4 cup the recipe called for just wasn’t enough.  Well, after rereading the recipe the next day, my boyfriend’s mom pointed out that I should have in fact used a full 14 oz can, not 1/4 cup.  Apparently I saw a 1 and a 4 and automatically assumed 1/4 cup.  I suppose next time I’ll know better… oups!  Perhaps that’s why my pie cracked a little bit. I was missing a full 12 oz of an ingredient!

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Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
  •  1 (14 ounce) can EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk
  •  2 large eggs
  •  1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  •  1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  •  1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 9 inch unbaked pie crust

Baking Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth.
  3. Pour into crust. Bake 15 minutes.
  4. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool. Garnish as desired. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.

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It still tasted okay… it was just a little bitter.  It wasn’t melt in your mouth fantastic.  I hope you had a wonderful holiday with your family! Happy Baking!

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