Pinned it Tuesday: pseudo-Thanksgiving

20 Nov

Pinned it Tuesday has been on hiatus following a bit of chaos in both my personal and professional life.  In getting back on track though, this post was inspired by three things: first, my mouth was watering when my mom told me about the early Thanksgiving dinner she was preparing; second, I wouldn’t know how to cook a turkey if my life depended on it; and third, I finally have some free time this week.  (I have the week off from work in case you hadn’t heard…)

So first my mouth watered when my mom told me about the meal she was preparing for her side of the family…although her descriptions also made me sweat.  It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that cooking large meals, or really any meal that requires more than one pan, stresses me out.  Preparing huge holiday meals then is clearly something I stay away from.  At family holiday gatherings I can usually be found in the living room with my brother and uncles, watching football, drinking beers, thwarting any sort of kitchen- or meal-related responsibility.  Sure, I duck my head into the kitchen a few times and offer to help – because I know that’s what I’m supposed to do – but everyone knows my culinary specialty lies in pouring cocktails.

This fear of cooking with more than one pan coupled with the fact that I live a very single life in Manhattan, means I’ve never actually cooked a large, organized meal in my life.  Let alone Thanksgiving dinner.  Who knows what on earth I was thinking but before I knew it, I had convinced myself that attempting to cook a small turkey would make a great blog post.  But what’s a turkey without the sides?!

Pause.

Because every meal, or attempt to cook a meal, clearly should start with a cocktail (and who needs cranberry sauce when you can have cranberries with vodka), I started here:

vodka spritzer

 Cranberry Vodka Spritzer

  • About 1 and 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 and 1/2 oz vodka, per drink
  • Lime, cut into wedges
  • Club soda
  • Ice

Directions: Put about 1 1/2 cups of cranberries in a blender.  Add 2 tbsp honey and about 1/4 cup water.  Blend until a puree forms, adding more water if necessary.  Pour into a bowl.  For each cocktail, add ice to a cocktail glass, then add 1 1/2 oz vodka and two tbsp cranberry puree.  Top off with club soda and squeeze a lime wedge into glass.  Stir gently to combine.  (original recipe here)

soup

 Simple Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 lb butternut squash
  • 1 medium boiling potato
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper (or white pepper, if you have it)
  • Sour cream and fresh dill, to garnish

Directions: Prepare the ingredients: thinly slice the shallots; peel the butternut squash; scoop out the seeds and chop into 1 inch pieces; peel the potato and cut into 1 inch pieces.  In a saucepan over low heat, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil and the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are translucent (5 to 10 minutes).  Add the squash, potato, bay leaf, a few pinch of kosher salt, and 3 cups of water. Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a steady simmer. Cook about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender.  Remove the bay leaf and let the soup cool slightly. Then puree the soup using an immersion blender (if you have one, or remove it from the pot and use a blender). Let the soup cool a bit more; it will thicken a bit and become creamy. Taste and add kosher salt and pepper to taste (we added about 1 teaspoon kosher salt). Use white pepper if you have it and want to preserve the pure look of the soup (if you don’t mind the black flecks, use black pepper!).  Serve garnished with sour cream and fresh dill, or other garnishes as desired.  (original recipe here)

sprouts

 Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 lb brussels sprouts (about 2 cups), ends trimmed and yellow leaves removed
  • 2 tbsp garlic olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place the trimmed brussels sprouts in a baking dish (I used an oval shaped baking dish but you can use any shaped baking dishes). Coat the brussels sprouts in garlic olive oil (or use plain olive oil if you want and add about 1/2-1 teaspoon garlic powder) and balsamic vinegar.  Add the salt and pepper and toss them all together to mix well.  Bake for about 35-40 minutes, shaking pan every 5-7 minutes for even browning. Brussels sprouts should be dark brown when done. Serve warm.  (original recipe here)

stuffing

Mom’s Stuffing

There is absolutely nothing fancy about my mom’s stuffing but it is BY FAR my favorite “side” on the planet!

  • Two cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1 cup onion, very finely diced
  • 1 cup of celery, very finely diced
  • Poultry seasoning
  • One loaf white or wheat bread, cubed

Directions: Heat chicken stock and butter in saucepan on medium-low heat.  Once butter has melted, add very finely diced onion and celery to soften.  Simmer for about 30 minutes.  Cube each slice of bread in 12-16 pieces.  Season cubed bread generously with poultry seasoning.  Pour stock/butter mixture over bread, mix well to make sure none of the bread is dry.  Either stuff in turkey, or bake alone on 350 degrees for about 20 minutes to heat.

And then for the so-called main event…Roasted Turkey with Herb Butter and Roasted Shallots

Here’s the recipe I was going for.  Although it technically didn’t happen…at all:

1. Can I please just explain how difficult it is to find a turkey that weighs less than 20 pounds at Thanksgiving time?  Impossible.  Apparently not everything is Manhattan-sized in this city.  Instead I grabbed a 5 lb turkey breast, which is still way too big for one person, and called it a day.

2. Duh, of course this recipe wasn’t going to work on a turkey breast.  Even I know that you can’t “roast” a turkey breast for hours on end (right..?).  I should have immediately plotted a new course of action when I couldn’t get my hands on an actual turkey.  (That, and if I’m honest with myself, I had to google “basting”…)

3. Similar the great broccoli realization of 2012, I just don’t like turkey.  I try to but I don’t.   Turkey is the new chicken.

So maybe this little “experiment” of mine didn’t work out exactly as planned but I’m a total appetizers/sides gal, so I was more than happy to enjoy several meals of butternut squash soup, roasted brussels sprouts, and mom’s stuffing.  (There obviously weren’t any leftover cocktails!)  I kept the turkey breast in my fridge for a few days, hoping I’d change my mind and give it a second try, but it ultimately met its final demise in the garbage chute of my apartment building.  Lesson learned.  I’m petitioning for lobster next year!

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One Response to “Pinned it Tuesday: pseudo-Thanksgiving”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. What I am grateful for this year 3.0 « Unwedded Bliss - January 9, 2013

    […] more taxing than enjoy a boozy brunch, watch football, nap, make out with a boy, catch up on Tivo, experiment  in the kitchen, grab drinks with friends, and yes, eventually find my bedroom floor.  I’m sure I’ll be […]

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