Tag Archives: Turkey

Thanksgiving Menu Part 1

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Usually I have our Thanksgiving menu finalized weeks in advance.  Maybe it is the third kid factor, but for some reason I was way behind on finishing it up.  With less than a week to go I have finally finished the menu and I think this will be a yummy Thanksgiving this year.  Over the past 8 years or so we have been tweaking our menu so that we can have a pretty relaxing Thanksgiving even though we have a LOT of food.  Here are the dishes that we have on our menu that we are able to prep a few days and some even a few weeks in advance.

Cranberry Bars: This recipe has been on our menu forever.  It was published in Gourmet magazine before Conde Nast made the awful decision to nix it.  I usually make these a few days before Thanksgiving since they keep well in an airtight container.  That is, if we don’t eat them all before Thanksgiving.  I may have to make a second batch since these are one of our “snacks” for Thanksgiving and knowing that makes it seem totally fine to nibble on them all week.  Kind of like having Halloween candy around before Halloween. 

Sweet and tart cranberries atop a crumbly shortbread make for the perfect all-day snack on Thanksgiving.

Sweet and tart cranberries atop a crumbly shortbread make for the perfect all-day snack on Thanksgiving.

Cranberry Sauce with Port and Tangerine: This is another of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes.  I usually double it since we love it so much and we use it in our breakfast on Thanksgiving.  I love to make this recipe because not only does it taste great, it is really fun to watch the cranberries burst!  I am a food science nerd!

Turkey Leg Confit: This is a new recipe for us this year.  I wasn’t able to find duck fat but I did find some goose fat so we are going to try that instead.  And I am not roasting the breasts as the recipe calls for.  We are making this ahead because we love dark meat and who doesn’t love anything that braises in fat? Since we are making it ahead it will give us extra dark meat and not require the oven on the day of.  Win-win.  (We’re going to make a porchetta-style turkey breast with the breast to have for dinner early in the week…we’ll be gobbling soon!).  We’ll be making this one on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. 

Turkey Stock: This year I roasted a turkey early so that I could make some homemade stock since I haven’t found a store bought option that I like.  I froze the stock in quart size freezer bags…and had almost a bowlful before I finished putting it away.  This recipe calls for roasting the veggies before adding them to the stock and I think that is what makes this stock AMAZING!

Roasting veggies for our turkey stock in our teeny tiny German oven...with no oven light.  Reminds me to be thankful that we do have an oven and food to put in it.

Roasting veggies for our turkey stock in our teeny tiny German oven…with no oven light. Reminds me to be thankful that we do have an oven and food to put in it.

Cider GravySince we do a non-traditional turkey I realized last year that I need to have “normal” gravy to go with stuffing and mashed potatoes.  I roasted a turkey this week so that I could make the stock AND this yummy gravy.  We used just a smidge of it when we ate the turkey and I froze the rest. 

Pumpkin Five-Spice Ice Cream: If you live in Ohio you can swing by a fancy grocery store to find this fresh from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.  I have the Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home cookbook and am obsessed with it.  We had this ice cream last year and it was a big hit so we made it again.  Since ice creams can stay happy in the freezer I usually start making them a few weeks ahead.  This year I was “so behind” since I just made it a few days ago!

Cranberry Royale Sorbet: Since I am cranberry obsessed and love a nice sparkling wine this one just had to be on the menu.  A scoop in a champagne glass topped with Prosecco…I die.  This is just one of the reasons I cleaned out all of the fresh cranberries at the grocery store yesterday. (Sorry to anyone else needing them 🙂 ).

I put most of the turkey stock in the freezer in quart size bags and laid them flat to freeze quickly and use our space well.  I saved this quart of dark golden goodness to use this week to make some soup.  Yum!

I put most of the turkey stock in the freezer in quart size bags and laid them flat to freeze quickly and use our space well. I saved this quart of dark golden goodness to use this week to make some soup. Yum!

Baked Apple Sorbet: This is one we had last year and was super easy and yummy so we are having it again.  If you have never made homemade ice cream (or sorbet) this is a great one to start with.  You just bake some apples with spices, blend it and then whizzzzz it in the ice cream maker.  Could. Not. Be. Easier.

Gucci Muu Muu (Chocolate Ice Cream with Coconut). Hubby bubby requested a chocolaty ice cream for Thanksgiving this year so we are trying this one out.  I haven’t made this before, but since the recipes in the Jeni’s book use a similar process it should turn out well and be kid friendly to boot!

Garlicky Potato Apple Soup: We are trying a new soup this year since we can’t find the recipe for the best ever soup we had a few years ago and didn’t love the one from last year.  We will make the soup the weekend before Thanksgiving and then freeze it in baby food ice cube trays.  We heat it up on the stove on Thanksgiving and then have it in a slow cooker for when guests arrive since I feel like the eating should really be a marathon.  A cranberry bar here, some soup there…perfect way to warm up for the big meal.

This is the best gravy separator of all time.  When you squeeze the handle the good stuff drains from the bottom and you can leave the fat in the separator.  Genius!

This is the best gravy separator of all time. When you squeeze the handle the good stuff drains from the bottom and you can leave the fat in the separator. Genius!

What are your favorite make-ahead Thanksgiving recipes?  What is your best tip for a relaxing Thanksgiving?  I hope you like the links to all of the recipe sources.  Let me know in the comments section below!

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Thanksgiving Dry Run

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I have a confession.  I think about Thanksgiving all year long.  I start planning the menu at the first sign of weather turning chilly.  Usually I start making ice cream several weeks before Thanksgiving.  I had an almost panicked moment, “I’m so far behind!” We have no ice cream in our freezer, gasp!  A few deep breaths later I realized that most normal people are still planning their Thanksgiving meals, too.  Our menu this week is our dry run for roasting a turkey in our brand new oven.  Fingers crossed that it goes well!

Sunday: Fettuccine with Sausage and Kale and salad.  Since this is the week before Thanksgiving (aka crunch time) I decided to add a few things to the menu that we’ve had before. Even though I’ll still have to make them it will be nice to have my cooking brain on auto-pilot for a few meals.  This fettuccine was super easy and we all loved it.  I think I even spotted Ryan eating some of the kale!

We love pasta. I usually save some of the pasta boiling water in case our sauce needs a little more pizza.

We love pasta. I usually save some of the pasta boiling water in case our sauce needs a little more pizza.

Monday: Ribollita. If you have never had ribollita you must try this recipe. It is such a hearty soup that hubby bubby not only doesn’t mind that there is soup on the menu but he LOVES this recipe!  There are so many veggies and beans and just a little smidge of pancetta (we are using bacon this time) so it is not only hearty but healthy to boot. 

Tuesday: Sage Butter-Roasted Turkey with Cider Gravy, Apple and Pistachio Brussels Sprout Salad and some kind of potatoes. This is our Thanksgiving dry run. When we were at the grocery store hubby bubby caught me trying to add three turkeys to our cart.  They are frozen, what is a girl to do?  I need to get them all early enough so that I can thaw them safely.  He reminded me that we don’t have that much fridge space so I reluctantly put one back.  So, I ended up getting a ten pounder for today and a fourteen pounder to test thawing times.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday: Leftover Makeover with Turkey Tortas.  Usually we just have boring leftovers that I don’t try to fancy up at all. I think that might be a New Year’s Resolution in the works…do a better job with leftovers.  Anywho, this week we get one of the best leftover items evahhhhh.  I made this last year the day after Thanksgiving and it was amazing.  It is worth roasting a turkey just to have this torta.  For reals.

I know kale is "so last year" but who couldn't love these beauties?

I know kale is “so last year” but who couldn’t love these beauties?

Thursday: Spicy Pumpkin Chili.  This is one we haven’t tried before but it sounds so amazing and we have a gazillion cans of pumpkin so I just had to put it on the menu.  Hannah has dance in the afternoon so I am planning to get it finished before we leave for dance and then just keep it in our slow cooker on low until we get home.  What is better than chili on a cold Fall day?

Friday: Parents’ Night Out! Woohoo! We will give the kiddos some leftovers before we drop them off and then hubby bubby and I will go out for a hot date.  I’m not sure where we’ll go yet.  Guess I should start figuring that out!

We sure do love these kiddos, but what parents don't need a night out every now and then, right?!

We sure do love these kiddos, but what parents don’t need a night out every now and then, right?!

Saturday: Buffalo Chicken Buffalitos.  The chicken recipe is a slow cooker fave (I leave out the margarine) and I use it to make our version of the Buffalitos they have on the menu at Buffalo Wild Wings. I just shred some lettuce and pick up some pico de gallo and tortillas and they are divine.  Perfect for some college football watching.

This week I added links to all of the recipes we’ll be having. Hopefully you like them!  Let me know in the comments below.  Have a delicious week!

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