Thanksgiving Already: The Countdown

Copyright: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/profile_artshock'>artshock / 123RF Stock Photo</a>I turned my back for a minute and all of a sudden it’s Thanksgiving week! How did that happen? I’m scrambling to deep clean the house, wash dogs, and start decorating! It’s the Thanksgiving countdown.

We’ve been pretty preoccupied with Nana, which is probably why November went by in a whir. She’s doing good, by the way. The therapist thought she was responding very well. We’re now allowed to walk her for five minutes, twice a day. Might not seem like a lot, but it’s all she’s allowed to handle.

Poor thing is ecstatic to go out. We have to be very careful to keep her in a sling until we’re out on grass. Twice already, she was so excited to go out she escaped from our grasp and slipped on the wood floors. She was lame for the rest of the afternoon after that first spill.

I have company for Thanksgiving, or I should say, the day after Thanksgiving, so we are moving our celebration for the next day to accommodate family. Even their dog is coming.

Iko loves visitors (especially other dogs), but Nana as usual is a tart pill on toast. At least she’ll be confined to her pen during their visit, so I don’t expect any problems.

I plan on a mostly traditional turkey dinner, but I want fried turkey this year. More work for Greg since he does the frying, but I LOVE the crunchy skin of deep fried turkey. Contrary to popular belief frying the turkey does not make it greasy at all. The meat just falls off the bone, and it’s so moist. It’s quick too. The turkey will probably be done before the sides, so I’ll have to start those early, or maybe even the night before.

Right now, the plan is to do the cranberry sauce, the dressing, and the desserts the day before the feast. This leaves me to do the mashed potatoes, asparagus, peas, and rolls on Friday.

I’dΒ  like to leave you with a couple of tasty tips I use for special occasions.

Mashed potatoes: Who doesn’t like mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving? Generally, I boil and smash whatever I have but for special occasions, I go out of my way to find Yukon Gold potatoes. I think they taste better. I do have red potatoes in the garden so if I don’t go grocery shopping (I haven’t yet) I’ll use them instead.

The second thing I do for smashed taters is to mash them with sour cream along with a little milk. Now, I’m not a fan of sour cream but it gives potatoes an exceptionally good taste. Treat the sour cream like another seasoning–maybe one tablespoon per large potato unless you really like the taste of sour cream.

Cranberry sauce: Here’s the thing about cranberry sauce. Most people serve it with the turkey. I don’t like sweet things with savory, so I make my cranberry sauce for dessert.

Follow the instructions on the package. If I remember correctly it’s one cup of sugar to one cup of water (or orange juice) to one 12 ounce package of cranberries. Boil until the berries pop. Set aside to cool then refrigerate.

If you are lucky enough to live where they sell Blue Bell Ice Cream, get Old Fashioned Vanilla. Drape several heaping spoonfuls of cranberry sauce over the vanilla ice cream. This is heaven. This is the only time of year I make it.

You’re welcome. πŸ™‚

Savory Sausage Dressing: Ah, dressing, you haunt me every year.

40+ years gives you a little training and I’ve come up with what I think is a pretty fair contender. I have had guests that don’t like dressing, or don’t like certain ingredients in dressing, but they gobble this one up, so take that as a vote of confidence.

Here’s the recipe:

1Β½ pounds sweet Italian sausage cooked and drained
2 medium sweet yellow onions, diced
6-8 large celery ribs, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 strips of thick bacon, crumbled. Pork belly or pancetta is even better.
6 cups stale bread, crumbled. (I buy day-old French bread from the clearance aisle of my grocery store.)
3 cups crumbled cornbread (made a few days prior)
Β½ cup butter
1 tablespoon ground sage
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
4-5 cups chicken broth (for a richer taste, make your own broth)

β€’ Cook the bacon until crisp

β€’ Cook the onion and celery in the grease leftover from the bacon. Add garlic. Set aside.

β€’ Cook the sausage and drain. Crumble the sausage. Set aside.

β€’ Mix the breads together, the sage and the salt. Add the sauteed vegetables, bacon and sausage.

β€’ Slowly add the broth until the mixture is very moist but not sopping.

β€’ Taste it for salt. This is when I add pepper to taste too.

β€’ Grease the baking dish with the butter.

β€’ Pour dressing into the greased oven dish, cover with foil and bake for about 45 minutes at 350Β°.

β€’ Remove foil and bake at 400Β° for another 15 minutes or until the edges form a crust.

It’s a very satisfying side dish. Even better the second day.

***

I’ll talk to you again on Wednesday!

Is Thanksgiving a big feast day at your home? How about everyone outside the US? What’s the biggest holiday of the year for you? Christmas, New Year’s, or birthdays?

 

 

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11 Comments

  1. I’ve heard that about the sour cream in the mashed potatoes. I like my cranberry with the potatoes and the stuffing – for me, it’s all about the sides. πŸ™‚

    So glad to hear Nana is doing well!

    Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Maria! I’m sure it will be a yummy one. πŸ™‚

  2. Stacy McKitrick

    Yay, Nana’s getting better!
    Thanksgiving will be spent at our friend’s house again this year. Mmmmm…. lots of good food. I’m sure I’ll come home STUFFED!!
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Glad to hear Nana is doing better and is able to enjoy a few minutes of “freedom” when she is allowed to be walking outside.

    That is interesting to serve cranberry sauce with the desserts. I can see the reasoning behind it.

    Son had a friend that his mom put interesting things into the stuffing, like apples, etc. My mom was the traditional bread type of stuffing. Me, Stove Top stuffing πŸ™‚

    betty

  4. Betty: I’ve had stuffing with apples, nuts, and cheese. I don’t care for a lot of extra texture. Nuts feel like a cooking mistake, like there’s something in the stuffing that doesn’t belong. But lots of people do it so I guess it’s just me. πŸ˜€

  5. I missed this, sorry, Maria. My life has a different order since Bernadette’s retired. Blogging and responding restricted to Saturday. I have copied your dressing recipe. We call it ‘stuffing’ over here. I’m very intrigued by your deep fried turkey. They are not small critturs. You must have a bloody big pot. I’m jealous. Fried Turkey envy πŸ™‚

  6. Mike:
    re: …since Bernadette’s retired. Blogging and responding restricted to Saturday.

    Don’t apologize my dear friend. Good friends are welcome any time. πŸ™‚

    re: dressing or stuffing
    I think we call it stuffing only if it’s in the bird.

    re: fryer
    It’s not as big as you might think. I think the machine is about 12 inches in every direction. The biggest turkey we’ve ever fried was about 15 pounds but we generally stick to smaller 10 pound birds when we can find them.

    For a small appliance it’s still bigger than most but I have a good storage spot for it in my pantry. We use it 3-4 times a year. It’s a terrible indulgence, but man, you cannot beat a fried duck or turkey. Everything is cooked evenly, and it’s all tender.

    I will share my frugal tip for frying. Since it uses up a lot of oil, we filter it through cheesecloth, then store the clean oil in wide mouth plastic bottles that we’ll freeze until next time. Since we fry only a few times a year, the oil stays fresh for the whole year without buying new oil for each and every Fry Event. At the end of the year, I toss it and start over.

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