Sunday, December 06, 2009

Thanksgiving (and some dog treats!!)

While we were in San Diego we came across the cutest pet shop. What really drew me into the store was the 7 month old Boxer puppy running around inside. So we walked in, checked it out and played with the puppy for a bit. I was missing my kids, so getting a little dog time in was therapeutic. :) I noticed they had a case of dog cupcakes and I knew we would be leaving with a couple for Taylor and Chewie. They were all the same flavor, but the icing was different colors. These dogcakes had a shelf life of about 2 weeks as long as they were kept in a cool area.

As soon as I pulled out the package, I had Chewie and Taylor at full attention. They just knew they were about to get a special treat

Jim and I did try a little of the frosting, just to see if it would be edible, and it was! It was even a little sweet. I'm not brave enough to try the cake part, just the icing.

Chewie was very tender as he took the cupcake out of Jim's hands. I didn't get a picture of Taylor because she was gentle, but super quick

Our day started out pretty easy, did some yard work, cleaned the house, took the kids on walks and cooked a tasty Thanksgiving meal. Unfortunately since I work in retail I had to work the rest of the weekend, so this was our one day to spend together so we wanted to make the most of it.

Taylor getting in her afternoon nap

Chewie napping on the other side of the room
Before dinner we enjoyed some Brie, Gouda and a Gorgonzola cheese with some crackers and a white wine

We didn't do anything crazy for Thanksgiving this year, we stuck with the basics. I did buy a 15 pound bird because last year we didn't have enough left overs. I'm a HUGE fan of leftovers and everything that you can do with them! Plus it just doesn't get any better than a simple turkey sandwich.
I found a recipe a few years ago for stuffing and I have used it every year. It is a slightly different take on a traditional stuffing, but has all of the same elements.
Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Pancetta
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
Prep Time:
20 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
1 hr 10 min
8 to 10 servings


6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
8 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice (I used bacon)
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves (only had dried rosemary)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 (7.4-ounce) jars roasted peeled whole chestnuts, coarsely broken
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 pound day-old ciabatta bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes ( I use 3/4 loaf of ciabatta bread and 3/4 loaf of pumpernickel. It adds a slightly different flavor and gives the dish a great color combination)
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup (or more) canned low-salt chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, beaten to blend

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter a 15 by 10 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until crisp and golden, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a large bowl. Melt the remaining butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, rosemary, and garlic. Saute until the onions are very tender, about 12 minutes. Gently stir in the chestnuts and parsley. Transfer the onion mixture to the large bowl with the pancetta. Add the bread and Parmesan and toss to coat. Add enough broth to the stuffing mixture to moisten. Season the stuffing, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mix in the eggs.

Transfer the stuffing to the prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down, and bake until the stuffing is heated through, about 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the top is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer.

Eggs for our deviled eggs

Taylor my Sous Chef

This year I cooked the turkey breast side down, and it was super moist. I am posting the recipe that I used because I plan on using it over and over again!!! I found this at the website. They have some great recipes.
Mom's Roast Turkey Recipe
Preparation time: About 5 hours.

1 turkey, approx. 15 lbs.*
Juice of a lemon
Salt and pepper
Olive oil or melted butter
1/2 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
Tops and bottoms of a bunch of celery
2 carrots
Sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme


1 To start, if the turkey has been refrigerated, bring it to room temperature before cooking. Keep it in its plastic wrapping until you are ready to cook it. While in the refrigerator, and or while you are bringing it to room temp, have the bird resting in a pan, so that if the plastic covering leaks for any reason, you are confining the juices to the pan. If you get a frozen turkey, you will need to defrost it in the refrigerator for several days first. Allow approximately 5 hours of defrosting for every pound. So, if you have a 15 pound turkey, it will take about 75 hours to defrost it in the refrigerator, or around 3 days.

Handle a raw turkey with the same amount of caution as when you handle raw chicken - use a separate cutting board and utensils to avoid contaminating other foods. Wash you hands with soap before touching anything else in the kitchen. Use paper towels to clean up.
Remove the neck and giblets (heart, gizzard, liver). Use the heart and gizzard for making stock for the stuffing. The neck can be cooked along side the turkey or saved for turkey soup.
Note that if your turkey comes with a plastic piece holding the legs together, check the instructions on the turkey's package. Most likely you do not need to remove those plastic ties for cooking (unless you plan to cook your turkey at a very high temperature). If you remove the plastic ties, you will need to use kitchen string to tie the legs together.
2 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

3 Wash out the turkey with water. Pull out any remaining feather stubs in the turkey skin. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Lather the inside of the cavity with the juice of half a lemon. Take a small handful of salt and rub all over the inside of the turkey.

4 In this method of cooking a turkey, we don't make the stuffing in the turkey because doing so adds too much to the cooking time. For flavor, put in inside the turkey a half a yellow onion, peeled and quartered, a bunch of parsley, a couple of carrots, and some tops and bottoms of celery. You may need to cap the body cavity with some aluminum foil so that the stuffing doesn't easily fall out. Close up the turkey cavity with either string (not nylon string!) or metal skewers. Make sure that the turkey's legs are tied together, held close to the body, and tie a string around the turkey body to hold the wings in close.

5 Rub either melted butter or olive oil all over the outside of the turkey. Sprinkle salt generously all over the outside of the turkey (or have had it soaking in salt-water brine before starting this process). Sprinkle pepper over the turkey.

6 Place turkey BREAST DOWN on the bottom of a rack over a sturdy roasting pan big enough to catch all the drippings. This is the main difference between the way mom makes turkey and everyone else. Cooking the turkey breast down means the skin over the breast will not get so brown. However, all of the juices from the cooking turkey will fall down into the breast while cooking. And the resulting bird will have the most succulent turkey breast imaginable.
Add several sprigs of fresh (if possible) thyme and rosemary to the outside of the turkey.
7 Chop up the turkey giblets (gizzard, heart). Put into a small saucepan, cover with water, add salt. Bring to simmer for an hour or so to help make stock for the stuffing . (did not do this.... kind of grosses me out)
8 Put the turkey in the oven. Check the cooking directions on the turkey packaging. Gourmet turkeys often don't take as long to cook. With the turkeys mom gets, she recommends cooking time of about 15 minutes for every pound. For the 15 lb turkey, start the cooking at 400 F for the first 1/2 hour. Then reduce the heat to 350 F for the next 2 hours. Then reduce the heat further to 225 F for the next hour to hour and a half.

If you want the breast to be browned as well, you can turn over the bird for the last 15-20 minutes of cooking, at an oven temp of 300°F. (Oven must be at least 250°F for browning to occur.) Note that if you do this, you will have a higher risk of overcooking the turkey breast. We never worry about browning the breast. - I tried to do this, but it was a BITCH to turn that turkey, so I left it breast side down

Start taking temperature readings with a meat thermometer, inserted deep into the thickest part of the turkey breast and thigh, a half hour before the turkey should be done. The dark meat in the thigh should be about 175°F. The white meat in the breast should be 160°F to 165°F. If you don't have a meat thermometer, spear the breast with a knife. The turkey juices should be clear, not pink.

9 Once you remove the turkey from the oven, let it rest for 15-20 minutes. Turn the turkey breast side up to carve it. (See Epicurious video on carving a turkey.)
Our Thanksgiving Turkey!

Getting the table ready for our meal

YUM!! I hope everybody had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!

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