Friday, November 26, 2010

Even Better Than The Real Thing

I didn't post last weekend because I was running around like a crazy woman even though I had Friday and Monday off.  I had invited Laura V and Mary Kate R to Thanksgiving at my place, as Shawn was working and they would not be able to spend the day with their families, and my mom has moved to Arizona again.  Now, you have to understand that I haven't had company in a while, which means that I really hadn't cleaned much. Because company coming is pretty much the prerequisite for me to instigate a real cleaning.  So on Friday morning, after another six month mammogram (which was good news and I can resume a regular annual schedule), getting an oil change, dropping into work to sign stuff, I started the cleaning process, and I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned.  During this cleaning process, I had an unintended milk exposure because I forgot to check to see if Girl Scout Thin Mints had milk in them.  Which they do.  ARGGH!!!!  (Picture me screaming and shaking my fists at the sky.)

On Saturday we went grocery shopping and got that taken care of, and then I went to a meeting of the Misplaced Modifiers at Sally's.  It was a good meeting and people had done really good work.  My sex scene was not universally ridiculed, so that was good.  We got to see Oliver, a.k.a. the law firm (the kiddo has a lot of names and sounds like a law firm--in fact, I'm using his name as the name of the law firm in my novel), who is really beginning to look less like an infant and more like a toddler.   When I got home from the meeting, we cleaned and cleaned. 

On Sunday, I cleaned, made cranberry sauce, both diabetic and regular, roasted the garlic for the mashed potatoes, and devised the cooking timetable for the week, and headed off to the Concord Knitting Meetup group.  We made a pork loin for dinner, and then we cleaned until about 9:00 p.m, which took care of everything except a few final touches.

As I had Monday off, I got up made the turkey brine (recipe to follow) and vacuumed and mopped the kitchen floor, and ended up dragging out the Hoover stream carpet cleaner and doing the entry way.  I will not discuss the results but suffice it say it's amazing how much freaking sand can be in the carpet, even though you just vacuumed it three times before you ran the carpet cleaner.   Then I got cleaned up and headed to Concord to sign stuff at the office.  After that I treated myself to lunch at the Golden Bowl, and headed to the Rockingham Mall to visit Bare Escentuals so that I could pick up some makeup as I was out, and then I went to the Used Book Superstore and picked up some quick reads.  Note that I had dropped off two garbage bags of donations to the same said Used Book Superstore on Saturday.  Sigh.

Tuesday night, I worked on Step 1 of Grandma Jackson's stuffing (recipe to follow) and ran errands for the last minute things.  Like a bottle of Watermelon Schnapps for Laura V and I.  It sounds awful, but mix it with Sprite, and it tastes just like a Watermelon Jolly Rancher.  It's so yummy.

On Wednesday night, I got out the turkey and put it in the brine and out on the balcony, peeled the potatoes, and the butternut squash before Laura V's bus came in.  Quick side note:  In a previous blog post, I discussed having purchased the Titan peeler as seen on TV because I have an issue with wanting to see if that stuff works.  Let me tell you, it made peeling that squash a piece of cake. After picking up Laura, we headed to Taipei Tokyo to get dinner, and then came back to the apartment to finish doing the other prep work.  We made the vegan key lime pie (recipe to follow), put a rustic grains bread together in the bread machine, made the spinach dip (recipe previously provided in an early blog post), and made blueberry muffins for breakfast the following morning.

Finally yesterday was Thanksgiving.  Laura and I got up early to make the chocolate pecan pie (recipe to follow), bake gram's stuffing, and make roasted vegetable salsa (recipe to follow) in the Showtime Rotisserie, before Mary Kate arrived.  Once Mary Kate arrived, we rinsed the brine off the turkey, stuffed the cavity with a quartered onion, fresh sage leaves and 4-5 garlic cloves, and then we used the solid injector to inject onions, sage and garlic into the turkey breast in three places on each side.  We also made roasted garlic mashed potatoes, a pumpkin butternut squash bisque (recipe to follow).  Mary Kate brought this roasted vegetable casserole with caramelized onions on the top, which was yummy, and this sparkling wine called New Age that we had tried at a Concord Co-op tasting, which was wonderful. I introduced Mary Kate and Laura V to Beatles Rock Band.  There was much laughing, and Kiwi was totally not impressed with our singing skills.

The vegan version of Key Lime pie was surprisingly good, but it didn't really set well. It was very soupy, but we may not have cooked the filling enough.  I may try it one more time to see.  After we tried a piece of it, we decided to freeze it to see in that helped, which it does.  It froze very well, and when I took it out this morning to repackage it, it melted quickly, so I think it could be served frozen to solve the soupy issue.

The turkey for some reason was the best turkey I've ever done.  It was incredibly moist and even the breast meat (I'm a dark meat girl myself because I find breast meat dry and icky) was luscious.  Not to brag or anything.  I think having the probe thermometer really helps you from overcooking it too much.

I have a freaking boat load of leftovers, but at least I won't have too cook for some time.

Menu and Recipes:


Spinach Dip with Tofu (see previous blog post)
Hummus with Roasted Garlic
Assortment of Pickles
Tortilla Chips

Roasted Vegetable Salsa - As Modified: (all roasting we did in the grill basket in the rotisserie)
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in thirds crosswise, roasted
1 red bell pepper, quartered, seeded, roasted
1 green pepper, quartered, seeded, roasted
2 jalapeno chilies, quartered, seeded, roasted
5-6 cloves garlic, roasted
2 green onions or scallions, chopped
4 large tomatoes, rough chop
Run all of the above through a food processor, leaving pieces in a fine chop. Put mixture in bowl, and add the following:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of lime juice
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
1/4 tsp ground chipotle pepper
2-3 tsp of Penzey's Salsa Salad Seasoning
3-4 drops of Marie Sharps Habanero Grapefruit Hot Sauce
3-4 drops of Tabasco's Green Jalapeno Hot Sauce
Black Pepper and Lawry's seasoned salt to taste.
Mix well.


Turkey Brine - As Modified from Alton Brown's recipe: (do 2-3 days before cooking turkey)
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon of vegetable stock (we used water and the Better Than Bouillon low sodium vegetable base which is dairy free - regular is not)
1 tablespoon of black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons of allspice berries
1 1/2 teaspoons of chopped candied ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons of sage
1 gallon of heavily iced water
Mix all ingredients except water in a large stockpot  over medium high heat, and bring to boil mixing to dissolve sugar and salt.  When at a boil remove from heat, bring to room temp, and refrigerate.
The evening before you're cooking the turkey take the bring, put in a pot or container big enough to hold the brine, turkey and the heavily iced water.  Mix brine and water, and put turkey in breast down.  Refrigerate for 8-16 hours.  It says turn the bird once, but I didn't. Rinse brine off before cooking.

Grandma Jackson's Weird Meat Stuffing recipe:
1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground beef
onions 2-3 chopped
celery 3-5 stalks chopped
ground pepper to taste
salt to taste
ground sage to taste (I usually end up using probably 2-3 teaspoons)
rubbed sage to taste (I usually end up using 2-3 tablespoons)
1-2 bags of Pepperidge (sp?) Farms breadcrumbs or equivalent
Put ground pork and beef in a stock pot with enough water to cover. Boil the crap out of it until it's completely disintegrated. I've been known to use my stick blender too. Add pepper, salt, onions, celery and rubbed sage. Cook until onions and celery are a bit translucent. Add bread crumbs until you get a nice pudding, doughy consistency, usually between 1 and 1 and 1/3 bags. Mix in ground sage as needed to get the right taste. Put in a bird or put in a loaf pan and bake at 400 for an hour until nice and crispy on top.

Rustic Grains Bread - As Modified (bread machine 1.5 loaf):
1 cup room temperature water
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons of canola oil
1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar
3 tablespoons of yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup of Harvest Grains Mixture from King Arthur Flour
2/3 cup of 9 Grain Flour from King Arthur Flour
1 2/3 cups of bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of rapid rising bread machine yeast
Put ingredients in bread machine in order listed. Select Basic cycle, medium crust and 1.5 loaf size, and press start.

Dairy Free Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes:
Yukon Gold peeled potatoes boiled
1/2 cup garlic cloves roasted in olive oil in oven at 350 degrees for an hour

2-3 tablespoons of Earth Balance Vegan margarine
1/4 to 1/2 cup of almond milk.
Mash together.

Dairy Free Pumpkin-Butternut Bisque:
1 tablespoon of Earth Balance Vegan margarine
1 medium leek, white part only sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 15 oz can of unsweetened pumpkin puree
4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth (we used water and chicken Better than Bouillon low sodium)
1 tablespoon of light brown sugar, firmly packed.
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Freshly grated nutmeg - we probably grated a good teaspoon
1 cup of almond milk
slivered almonds as garnish (although we forgot to do this)
In large soup pot, over medium heat, melt margarine, add leek and salt and pepper and saute until leek is soft but not browned. Add squash and stir to coat.  Add pumpkin, broth, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and stir well.  Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until squash is fork tender. Use a blender or a stick blender to puree soup.  Taste for seasoning and top with almonds.


Vegan (Dairy Free) Chocolate Pecan Paradise Pie as Modified:
1 graham cracker crust - you can find dairy free ones at the grocery store or you can make your own.
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2/3 cup warm vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup Earth Balance Vegan margarine at room temp
3 tablespoons of molasses
2 tablespoons of amaretto
2 cups chopped lightly toasted pecans
1 cup Ghiradelli Semi Sweet chocolate chips (no dairy in them)
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Put oats in a blender or food processor and blend until very fine but not powdery.  Put in bowl with salt and flour and stir.  In a separate large bowl, combine almond milk, maple syrup, margarine, molasses, amaretto and whisk until smooth (used stick blender, worked better).  Whisk in flour mixture.  Stir in pecans and chocolate chips with wooden spoon. Pour into graham cracker crust.  Bake for 38-40 minutes.  Serve warm  and store leftovers in refrigerator.  Nuke leftovers a bit in microwave before serving.

Vegan (Dairy Free) Luscious Lime Pie:
1 graham cracker crust
1 1/2 cups firm silken tofu, well drained
1 cup soy cream cheese
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons of finely grated lime peel (used Pampered chef  micro grater and it worked well)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Combine tofu and soy cream cheese in food processor or blender until smooth. Combine sugar and cornstarch in small bowl, mix well, and add to tofu mixture, process until smooth scraping down sides as needed.  Transfer to sauce pain and cook on medium heat stirring constantly for 5 to 7 minutes until mixture begins to thicken.  It should not come to a boil or begin to get lumpy.  Pour into a bowl and mix in lime juice, lime peel, and vanilla.  Stir constantly until well formed, pour into crust and refrigerate for 8-12 hours before serving.

And that wraps it up for Thanksgiving this year.

Just a shout out to Lora K, I'm thinking of you and I know everything will be okay.

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