Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Cooking

The Fall Season and especially Thanksgiving are my favorite time of year. The days finally turn crisp and cool, making it okay to spend a whole day inside cooking and baking! Some friends of mine have started a tradition of celebrating the holiday a weekend early by gathering friends, trying to recreate our family favorite and enjoying some much needed alcohol.

Since the dinner wasn't taking place at our house I offered to make some sides, desserts and rolls. I scoured all my recipe books, cookbooks and the internet to find some exciting recipes. Little did I know this would take me all day to create.

I started the day off with my best friend, a hot cup of coffee with milk and splenda. My all time fave. I try to pretend its a starbucks latte...

I'm pretty lucky to have this new gourmet kitchen at our house. This is my view from where I work, I love it.

I started with the easiest of my creations. the cranberry sauce. I had two bags of fresh canberries from Trader Joe's. I added some water, sugar, fresh squeezed orange juice and grated orange peel.

As I was cooking this I added some peeled and chopped granny smith apples. I tried to add them during the process so they would keep some of their crunch. Along with cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg and cloves. Tried to make it a little spicy!

Then I turned to my biggest challenge, my first time trying to create traditional stuffing from scratch. I used a sourdough, sausage and apple stuffing recipe that I found on epicurious. I'll put this at the bottom of the post.

While working on my cranberry sauce I made the rustic sourdough croutons for the stuffing.

Then cut up some of my ingredients for the stuffing. I feel like I read the recipe twenty times throughout the day because there were lots of steps!

Chopping the sage brought a great aroma to the kitchen. It is so spicy smelling, if that makes sense?

I browned the sausage in my favorite pot. This was passed down to me from my Great Aunt Geri, I love using it, it's so durable and it makes me feel good everytime I use thinking of her. Another thing I love to cook with is my grandma's two handed potholder that she made. She used this all the time, my Mom gave me this last year and I cherish it. It brings back so many memories from childhood.

Once the sausage was removed I browned the vegetables. It smelled so yummy.

This was the remnants of the pumpkin bread I had just made the day before. I was so glad I made it because it was what my boyfriend had to eat all day since I was a little preocuppied. It was a good thing he had a new project in garage he was working on, left me and the kitchen to ourselves!

Then I added the sausage and vegetables to the croutons, looked amazing already.

From there I added the chicken stock and eggs and baked for over an hour.

After that marathon thought I was done but I still had pie and rolls to make! I used my old trusty kitchenaid pie crust recipe that uses 2 1/4 cup flour, 2 tbs chilled butter, 3/4 cup shortening and ice water. whip it in the kitchenaid and its easy as pie!

I like to use sugar pumpkins, thankfully I had roasted and mashed a small sugar pumpkin the day before so that was one less thing I had to do. It turned out looking great.

And last but not least the homemade rolls. I was bummed I couldn't find the recipe I used last year that were the best rolls ever. But these were a close second.

And done!! It looked alot darker in this picture because it was dark outside!! It was a fun day and I'm ready to celebrate all over again with my family.

Here the recipe I used for the stuffing if you'd like to try! Enjoy!

1 1 1/2-pound loaf sourdough bread, crusts removed, bread cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 13 cups)
2 pounds bulk pork breakfast sausage
2 large onions, chopped (about 4 generous cups)
2 cups chopped celery (about 5 stalks)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, divided
6 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled Granny Smith apples (about 28 ounces)
3/4 cup golden raisins (about 4 ounces)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
3 large eggs


Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Spread bread cubes in single layer on large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until pale golden, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer bread to very large bowl. Sautésausage in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, breaking up into small pieces with back of fork, 8 to 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to bowl with bread cubes. Add onions and celery to drippings in skillet; sautéuntil golden brown, about 12 minutes. Transfer to bowl with bread-sausage mixture (do not clean skillet). Melt 2 tablespoons butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples; sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add to bowl with bread mixture; mix in raisins.
Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in same skillet over low heat. Add 2 tablespoons sage; stir 30 seconds. Add sage butter to bowl with bread-sausage mixture; toss to blend. Season stuffing with salt and freshly ground black pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Generously butter 15 x 10 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Whisk broth and eggs in medium bowl; add to stuffing and toss to mix. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Bake stuffing uncovered until top is golden and crisp in spots, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes and serve.