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Giving Thanks and Counting Blessings…

IMG_6788I have fallen woefully behind on posting a seasonal recipe column this autumn. I was recently reminded by my friend John, a wealth of cooking and related wisdom. He sagely suggested that I detail this year’s Thanksgiving Menu  instead of my usual seasonal recipe layout.
It made perfect sense. Each year, many dishes on this special day remain essentially unchanged, due to family tradition. But I  like to add a little variety here and there, not too much, just a bit…. For instance, this year, instead of making the usual sharp cheddar cheese sauce, pearl onions and mushroom casserole, I used smoked cheddar cheese. No complaints.IMG_6797I have included our menu for this Thanksgiving, a few recipes and some follow-up suggestions about what to do with all that leftover food.
Another tip I’ll share is when I make the stuffing; I make a very large amount. Whatever does not fit in my largest casserole dish, I put into a smaller casserole dish and freeze as an accompaniment to Christmas Eve dinner or another winter meal.IMG_6802Hot Gravy Ready to go to the Table

The Menu

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Cheddar Cheese Ball
Variety of Crackers
Blue Corn Tortilla Chips
Mixed Nuts
Dilly Beans from our Garden
Hot Mulled Cider
Cold Cranberry Juice
Selection of Wines
Sparkling Cider
IMG_6804Sliced up and Still Hot

The Main Event

Roast Turkey, cooked with herbs and pear or apple wine
Dad’s Rich Mashed Potatoes
Fruit Wine and Herb Gravy
Corn Bread, Sausage and Apple Stuffing
Onions in Smoked Cheddar Cheese Sauce
Glazed Carrots with Orange, Ginger and Thyme
Green Beans with Slivered Almonds and French Fried Onions
Baked Winter Squash with Nutmeg
Sweet Potatoes in Maple Syrup
Pumpkin Bread with Pumpkin Seeds
Blueberry and Banana Bread
Cranberry Walnut Bread
Ice Water
Cold Cider
Whole Cranberry Sauce

Desserts by Uncle Herb and Aunt Jean

Traditional New England Pumpkin Pie
Chocolate Velvet Pie
Apple Crisp
Vanilla Ice Cream
Herb’s Special Whipped Cream
Regular Coffee
Chocolate Raspberry Decaf Coffee

IMG_7052Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce

Cheddar Cheese Ball
Bring to room temperature and blend together;  Ingredients will be stiff:

I pkg. Cream Cheese
I 1/2 cups of grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/8 tsp garlic powder
2 T white wine or 1/2 &1/2
1 T white Worcestershire sauce (or more for flavor and to moisten mixture)

Blend all together well.
Form into a ball shape and place on waxed paper
Coat with Combination Below:

Crush together:
1/4 cup pecans, walnuts or mixed nuts with 1 t. dried parsley and 1/2 t. garlic powder.Spread coating on clean waxed paper about 1 foot square.
Roll cheese ball in nut mixture until well coated. Wrap snugly in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Best when made at least one day ahead.

Will keep for 2 to 3 weeks refrigerated. Remove from refrigerator 1 to 2 hours before serving to soften up a bit.
Spread onto sturdy crackers, like Triscuits and Wheat Thins.
Serve with a spreader.
*Can also be cut into half and served 1/2 at a time, cut side down.
IMG_7053Hot Mulled Cider
1 Gallon Fresh Cider
6 Cinnamon Sticks
15 Whole Cloves
3 Star Anise
1 Orange, sliced crossways
1 Lemon, sliced crossways
1 Green Apple sliced crossways, showing stars
1 Red Apple, sliced crossways, showing stars, stud with cloves
½ cup brown sugar or maple syrup, optional
1/2 cup whole cranberry sauce, optional

One hour before serving:
In a large, acid proof kettle:
Simmer 1 quart cider with all fruit and spices, for 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally
Add remaining cider, and sweeten if desired. Continue to simmer on low until served.IMG_6807An Array of Vegetables

Corn Bread, Sausage and Apple Stuffing
1 lb. Sausage links, your choice, I like the Vt. Maple breakfast sausages. Cook and slice into ½ inch sections
4 apples, cored and diced in ½ inch cubes (I don’t peel mine)
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
2 large onions, diced
3 stalks celery
1/2 tsp dried powdered or crushed rosemary
½ tsp powdered sage
1 tsp thyme leaves
6 cups cubed fresh or bagged cornbread, and/or whole grain bread
3-4 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or cider

Cook sausage and saute onion and celery. Toss together in a large bowl with herbs, bread, raisins or cranberries and apple pieces. Add liquid until stuffing just holds together. Let it sit for about 10 minutes to give bread time to absorb the liquid. Add a bit more broth if necessary. Bake in buttered baking dish or casserole at 350 degrees, for about 45 minutes or until top is golden and slightly crunchy. Baking time depends upon size and shape of pan.
Makes about 8 cups stuffing (I usually triple this recipe)IMG_6806Onions in Smoked Cheddar Cheese Sauce
4 jars small white onions, well drained
2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced and sautéed
½ cup Parmesan cheese
½ cup French Fried Onions
½ cup seasoned bread crumbs
3 cups cold milk
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, half or all of which may be smoked cheddar

Blend 3 cups of cold milk and ½ cup of flour well with a wire whisk. Cook on medium low in a double boiler or in the microwave, covered, until very thick. Stir every 2 minutes or as needed.
Slowly add cheese and blend until melted. Reheat on low if necessary to melt cheese.

Drain and gently squeeze excess moisture from the onions
In a greased casserole dish, combine mushrooms, cheese sauce and onions
Top with Parmesan and bread crumbs blended and french fried onions on top
Bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 90 minutes until top is golden and dish is bubbling.IMG_6808Glazed Carrots with Orange, Ginger and Thyme
Carrots, 2 lb.
Orange Juice, 2 cups
Honey, ½ cup
¼ cup crystallized ginger, minced
2 Tbsp. Butter
Fresh or dried thyme leaves

Wash and trim 2 carrots. Cut in half crossways. Cut each section into 4 sections, lengthwise.
Steam carrots in orange juice in an acid-proof kettle, drain when just cooked
Toss carrots with glaze (recipe below)and top with thyme leaves. Can be reheated in oven until heated through.

Honey Ginger Glaze
In a saucepan, combine honey, butter and ginger. Heat on low until well combined. Allow to continue cooking on low for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Jean and Herb generously provided the desserts this year so I don’t have their recipes. I will toss in an autumn feast favorite dessert of my own here.

New England Indian Pudding
5 cups milk

Stir in:
½ cup stone-ground cornmeal

Then blend in:
1/2 stick butter, softened
¾ cup maple syrup
2 T dark brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten well
Pinch sea salt
1 tsp. each; ground ginger and cinnamon

1 cup raisins
1 cup walnut pieces

Butter a medium casserole dish well
Add the batter, spreading evenly
Pour over all but do not stir in:

1 cup light cream or ½ and ½
Bake in a 350 degree oven for one hour

Serve with ice cream, whipped cream or hard sauce
Makes 6 to 8 servings
For Hard Sauce, See Recipe Below

Hard Sauce
Combine the following and blend until fluffy and creamy.(I will concede that this is easiest done with electric beaters):

1/3 cup room temperature butter
1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
2 T heavy Cream
2 T Maple syrup
2 T Brandy

Leftovers Worth Waiting For

Grateful Turkey Stew

Break up and Cook Turkey Frame in 1 gallon of water in a large kettle for ½ hour on high
Drain broth from turkey and when bones have cooled, pick off all available meat
Add additional meat to equal 2 cups, if necessary
Toss picked over bones

In another large kettle
Add 2 cups (leftover) white wine (alcohol will cook out)
Hot broth reserved from above
2 cups sliced carrots
2 onions diced
1 cup chopped celery
3 cups diced potatoes
4 chicken bouillon cubes (optional)
1 T poultry seasoning or equivalent seasoning of your choice

Cook on high until all vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally
Add up to 3 cups leftover gravy and blend well
Add 2-3 cups of turkey meat cut into bite-sized pieces
Serve with bread or rolls and a salad or cut up fresh fruitIMG_6805Spiral Ham

Ham and Barley Soup

Cook meaty ham bones in 1 gallon water, ½ hour on high
Strain bones from broth
Pick any usable meat from bones and set aside, toss the bones
To broth, in a large kettle, add 1 ½ cup barley
Cook for ½ hour on medium, semi-covered, stir occasionally
Add 2 onions diced, 2 cups carrots sliced, 1 cup white or red wine (leftover is fine)
1 T dried basil
Continue cooking until barley and veggies are done, about ½ hour
Stir in 2 large cans of diced tomatoes
Add 1 to 2 cups of ham in bite-sized pieces
Serve with bread and saladIMG_6809Dad’s Rich Mashed Potatoes

Next Day Turkey Pie
In a deep casserole dish, lined with a half-baked pie shell (pie shell is optional*), layer:
Turkey cut into bite-sized pieces
Leftover veggies, carrots, beans…
Leftover onions with Cheese sauce
Top with Leftover mashed potatoes sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, grated

Bake at 350 for ½ to ¾ hour.
Topping should be golden brown

*If no pie crust is used, grease pan well before layering

Serve with a salad

Turkey Stir Fry
Substitute turkey cut into bite-sized pieces, for the meat in your favorite stir fry recipe.

Turkey Tacos
Substitute cooked turkey cut into bite-sized pieces, for the meat in your favorite taco recipe. Add one can of white kidney (cannelloni) beans.

Turkey Salad Sandwiches
To 2 cups of finely diced turkey, add:
½ cup celery, finely diced
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup crushed pecans
½ tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp curry powder
Mayonnaise to moisten

Serve on whole grain bread with fresh greens or on top of mixed salad greens

Cranberry Bagel Spread

Combine Well:
1 cup softened cream cheese
½ cup whole berry cranberry sauce
2 T brown sugar
1 tsp. fresh orange zest
¼ cup ground walnuts
½ tsp ground cinnamon

Spread on hot bagels or English muffins for a tasty and zesty morning treatIMG_6803Mixed Nut Breads

Thankfully and Gratefully,