Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Planning Ahead: Thanksgiving Day Menu

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it encompasses the four F's- food, football, friends and family! This year, for the first time, I am hosting Thanksgiving and making the majority of the meal. I will be cooking for my boyfriend Kevin, sister Lisa, and my dear friends Meredith, Zach and Stefan. Thankfully, as this is my first time as a Holiday Hostess and my kitchen is definitely not equipped to churn out the entire meal, I am sharing responsibilities with my guests. Kevin will make appetizers and provide special bottles of wine that he purchased in Napa Valley, Zach will bring the turkey breast and ham, Stefan will bring the dessert, and Meredith will bring a salad. Lisa is traveling from Wisconsin so won't be bringing anything- she'll just be in charge of cleaning up! :)

I am making my favorite part of the meal- the side dishes! At Thanksgivings past I would always put a little bit of meat on my plate and pile the rest high with the delicious accompaniments. This year I am thrilled to be able to make my favorite part of the meal, and I've done extensive research for fantastic recipes. And don't worry, I will be honest and upfront about how these dishes turn out- check back after Thanksgiving for my personal pictures and notes on the recipes!

Thanksgiving Day Side Dish Menu

1. Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
2. Turkey Gravy
3. Coconut Green Beans
4. Corn Pudding
5. Citrus Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows
6. Herbed Buttermilk Biscuits

Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten, Foodnetwork.com
Serves 6

Kosher salt
3 pounds boiling potatoes, such as Yukon gold, peeled
1/2 cup milk
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil. Meanwhile, cut the potatoes into 1 1/2-inch cubes and add them to the boiling water. Bring the water to a boil again, lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes fall apart easily when pierced with a fork.

Meanwhile, heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan, making sure it doesn't boil. Set aside until the potatoes are done.

As soon as the potatoes are tender, drain them in a colander. Place a food mill fitted with a small disc/blade over a heatproof bowl. Process the potatoes through the food mill, turning the handle back and forth. As soon as the potatoes are mashed, stir in the hot milk-and-butter mixture with a whisk or rubber spatula. Add enough buttermilk to make the potatoes creamy. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and the pepper, to taste, and serve hot.

Turkey Gravy
Recipe courtesy of Taste of Home
Yield: 2 cups

Drippings from 1 roasted turkey
1.5 cups turkey or chicken broth
1/4 cup flour
Salt and pepper to taste

Pour turkey drippings into a 2-cup measuring cup. Skim fat, reserving 2 tblsp.; set aside. Add enough broth to the drippings to measure 2 cups.

In a small saucepan, combine flour and reserved fat until smooth. Gradually stir in the drippings mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Gravy will thicken upon standing.

Coconut Green Beans
Recipe courtesy of Padma Lakshmi for Glamour magazine
Serves 4-6

2 tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. mustard seeds
2 tbsp. cashew pieces
4 whole dried red chilies
11/2 lbs. green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
Salt, to taste

Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add mustard seeds. When the seeds start to crackle, add cashews and chilies. Once the cashews are toasted, add green beans and stir. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add coconut and salt. Cook another 8 to 10 minutes while stirring. When green beans are cooked through but still crisp, remove from heat.

Corn Pudding
Recipe courtesy of Foodnetwork.com
Serves 4

Beat 4 ounces softened cream cheese, a 15-ounce can creamed corn, 3/4 cup thawed frozen corn, 1/2 cup cornmeal and 1/2 chopped onion. Stir in 2/3 cup milk, 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1 beaten egg, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 cup shredded cheddar, and salt and pepper. Spread in a buttered 1-quart casserole dish and bake 50 minutes at 350 degrees. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Citrus Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows
Recipe courtesy of Taste of Home
Serves 2 (I plan to triple the recipe)

2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup miniature marshmallows

In a saucepan, cook sweet potatoes in boiling salted water for 10 minutes or until tender; drain. Transfer to a greased 1-qt. baking dish. Sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Drizzle with orange juice and dot with butter. Bake, uncovered, at 450° for 15 minutes. Top with marshmallows. Bake 2 minutes longer or until marshmallows are puffed and golden brown.

Herbed Buttermilk Biscuits
Recipe courtesy of NYTimes.com (Great article! http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/18/dining/18mini.html)

Herbed Buttermilk Biscuits: Combine 3 cups flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, 4 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves. Use your fingers to rub in 1 1/2 sticks of butter until the mixture resembles small peas. Add 1 cup buttermilk and stir until just combined. Drop large spoonfuls onto a baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees until golden, about 15 minutes.

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