Thanksgiving, is my favorite holiday. In 2009, it was my second year in the Army and I remembered how it felt to be away from my family for the holidays and I knew first hand it was really depressing to spend Thanksgiving in the barracks. I hosted Thanksgiving dinner in my apartment and invited all the junior soldiers who lived in the barracks over to my apartment. That year I had my Thanksgiving dinner catered. The next year I decided to try and cook by myself. Each year has presented new difficulties but this year I feel like I have everything down pat.
Here is a list of my go to recipes:
The Turkey: I found this guide to be very useful when picking out my turkey:
Two years ago, I started smoking my turkey. The turkey comes out SO juicy and crisp on the outside.
I start out by thawing my turkey in the fridge five days prior to Thanksgiving. Then the night before Thanksgiving I brine the turkey. Each year I clean out my fridge to make room for a 5-gallon The Home Depot bucket.
You can get one for $2.97.
Then I pour in the spices:
Mix all items in bucket. Then add some boiled water and let it cool. The first year I brined the turkey I only had a small pot to boil water so I just added the boiling water in the bucket, but generally you boil the water with the spices in the water for five minutes. Honestly, I was unable to taste the difference. Add defrosted turkey and fill the rest of the bucket up. When I was single I would put the bucket into the fridge prior to filling it up because it was too heavy for me to lift, but now I just make my boyfriend do it!
Let the turkey brine for at least 12 hours and then rinse the brine off the turkey when you are ready to put it in the smoker.
Prior to putting the turkey in the smoker, mix together the same spices and rub the turkey down with the mixture. I cut up lemons and place them inside of the turkey and onions.
I buy flavored wood chips from The Home Depot as well. First soak them in water and make an aluminum foil container for them and poke holes into the make shift container.
I place this at the bottom of the smoker and put water into the drip pan bowl. Also, place the charcoal into the smoker. Then place the turkey into the smoker and let it smoke for a few hours.
You can buy a smoker here http://www.homedepot.com/p/Cuisinart-Vertical-18-in-Dia-Charcoal-Smoker-COS-118/300721566
My boyfriend loves baked mac and cheese. I use Pattie Labelle’s mac and cheese recipe. http://www.food.com/recipe/patti-labelles-macaroni-and-cheese-17186 Every year this mac and cheese is a hit. (He told me it was better than his aunt’s baked mac and cheese so that says something!)
Another family favorite is Ensalada de Papa (Potato salad) that my grandmother taught me how to make:
Russet Potatoes, mashed
Apples, sliced or cubed
Yellow onion, chopped
Salt and pepper
Roasted red peppers, sliced
Boiled eggs, sliced
Last year I made cranberry sauce myself for the first time and was not happy with the results. I think I put too much orange zest in it. I followed the recipe to the tee, but it tasted too tangy. This year I will either tweak the recipe I used or go back to canned cranberry.
I am also going to try a new stuffing recipe I got from Kourtney Kardashian app
Corn bread stuffing:
1 celery stock, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
¾ cup water
6 cups cubed into 1 inch pieces
1/3 cup fresh sage leaves
2 large eggs beaten
Sweet potato soufflé:
Everyone’s favorite at my house.
You will need:
3 Cups of mashed yams: I peel them then boil them. You will know they are ready when the yams begin to float.
3/4 cups of sugar
1/3 cup of softened butter
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of milk (we use Lactaid milk you can not tell the difference)
Mash the yams and add the rest of the ingredients. I add the eggs last so I can taste it to make sure its sweet enough. Bake it for 45 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees.
This year I am also trying something new: gluten-free pumpkin pie. I never made pumpkin pie before because I felt like making all the Thanksgiving fixings AND dessert was just too much for me to do on my own.
My daughter is allergic to dairy so I will also be making coconut whipped cream. While researching a recipe to try out I stumbled across this website called Petite Allergy Treats. And I am thrilled that I did because my daughter is pretty much allergic to everything. Here is the link: http://petiteallergytreats.com/ Check it out!
I also make a pasta salad because I feel like it’s something people can munch on while they wait for the food to be ready.
Its super easy to make. Boil the pasta, drain it, put it in a bowl. Add sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, cheddar cheese, mini pepperoni, chopped onion, and dressing. Then mix. This is something that is best to make this the night before and place in the fridge.
Red onion, chopped
Cherry Tomatoes, halved or whole
Hormel mini pepperoni
Ken’s Light Ceasar salad dressing
Shredded cheddar cheese