Quiet Christmas Day and Bonus Puppeh!

After a nice party last night, I’m ready to join Bixby in perfect relaxation pose. I do have plans to cook a Standing Rib Roast Dinner (recipe here). I think the sides will be mashed potatoes and roasted zucchini.  There are more than enough cookies to get us through to at least January. Yikes!

I roasted two heads of garlic earlier this week, to use in last night’s guacamole and today to season the roast. I may just add the rest to the mashed potatoes. Can’t have two much garlic. Yum.

Just before the guests arrived last night, I received a 6 week Scout picture after the jump:

But wait, there’s more! Click to read

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Perfect Pencil Tree

I decided this year that, because Bixby and Bailey loved to rough-house, I needed a tree I could tuck away and easily block off. So I snagged a pencil tree in October when they were on sale. It was bittersweet when I put it up…

I must say though, I really like the look of it and glad I made the jump to an artificial tree.

Christmas Cookie Exchange: A Few Holiday Favorites

Sunday is my annual cookie baking day with friends. Most of goodies are going into gift boxes, but I’ll hold enough back for my annual Christmas Eve dinner. This is the usual round-up.

Pictured above:

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies, recipe here

Spritz Cookies, recipes and instructions for using a cookie press here.

Pecan Cookies, recipe below.  Much more below the fold.

But wait, there’s more! Click to read

Been there, Done that..

We bought one of those pre-cooked turkeys, ordered a small Cajun fried turkey from Kroger just to see what it would look like.  Got a call the day before it was due for pickup and was told they were out of those, would I like an oven roasted one?  Yeah, OK.  It was a pallid looking thing that may have been thoroughly cooked but it definitely needed some time in a hot oven to brown.  We slowly brought it up to 150 degrees internally in a covered electric roaster with water under the rack and then transferred it to a 500 degree oven to finish – that took 20 minutes or so and improved the look.  We were thinking that buying a pre-cooked bird would be easier than from raw but it wasn’t.  And no giblets!  They did send a quart of gravy in a boiling bag.

We ordered the Deluxe Turkey Dinner, it came with the green bean casserole, dinner rolls, mashed potatoes, gravy,  plus some sort of cranberry relish and a tub of Classic Dressing – we didn’t bother to open either one.  We added the sweet potato dish, the corn, our own cranberry relish, and my famous Southern style cornbread dressing.  Their green beans were barely OK, they needed some more time, uncovered, in the oven.  The mashed potatoes were ..mashed potatoes.  Sort of meh, but that’s why gravy.

We had plenty to keep us occupied.  The sweet potato dish:  cubed, roasted in olive oil and honey with cinnamon.  The fresh cranberries were cooked with the zest of an orange and its juice, with added dried cranberries and dried blueberries.

I boned the carcass and made stock, it simmered on the stove all night.  Thanks to a tiny burner on the new stove I didn’t fear leaving it on.  It did make for some good looking stock.  I’ll let it come to room temperature, ladle it into plastic containers, freeze those, and then vacuum seal the lot.

 

Thanksgiving Feast

Kept it low key, but still have a ton  of leftovers.  From left to right – cheesey potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, GF stuffing, regular  stuffing, green bean casserole and of course the star of the day – turkey and roasted vegetables.

I hope everyone had a wonderful day.

Now back to work for me!



 

Thanksgiving Files: Spatchcock Turkey Is the Way To Go

Spatchcock Turkey finish

This is the only way I’ve been preparing turkey since my first attempt. The only thing I changed up from that first time I prepared it, I skip the metal rack and instead place the bird on a bed of carrots, celery and onion. With the shorter cooking time, the flavor needs the boost the roasting veggies add.

From 2015:

Sometimes the scariest part of the Thanksgiving Dinner is the worry that the turkey will not turn out properly – undercooked, overcooked, dry, flavorless – and ruin the whole meal. I’ve cooked in bags, roasted, braised, fried, deboned – about everything but brine. I’m not a fan of brining. And still every year I worry.

This year I decided to try removing the backbone and flattening the bird, cooking it at a high temperature for a shorter cooking time. It seemed like it was pretty foolproof and stress free and the bird turned out great.

BTW, my recommendation is to always get two smaller birds instead of one massive bird – you’ll have a much better outcome with shorter cooking times. Not to mention not having to worry about fitting a huge bird in the oven. We usually do an oven bird, then grill, smoke or fry another.

For this recipe, a good set of poultry shears makes quick work of removing the backbone. I prepped the bird yesterday, wrapped it up and refrigerated it. This gave me time to make a nice broth from the backbone, giblets and neck last night (see notes below) and make the cranberry sauce, because it’s always better the next day.

Spatchcock Turkey Prep

Roasted Spatchcock Turkey

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 whole turkey (10-12 pounds)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

Rimmed baking sheet, rack

In a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle, crush together pepper, salt, sage and rosemary and add to brown sugar. Set aside.

With a sharp knife or scissors, remove the back bone of the turkey, flip over and press down on the breast bone to break and flatten. I wasn’t quite strong enough, so I turned the bird over, scored the bone, flipped it back and tried again, this time it broke easily. I then trimmed off the wing tips. See my notes below on what to do with the back and wing tips.

Place the bird flat, breast side up, on the rack in the baking sheet. Rub with spice mix and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Before cooking drizzle olive oil over turkey and roast for 1 hour or until the temperature of the thickest part of the breast reaches 160 degrees. Remove from the oven, tent with foil and let rest for 30 minutes (during this time the bird temperature will reach 165 degrees and thighs should be 175 degrees).

Carve and serve.

NOTES: I took the back, wing tips, neck and giblets, covered them with water and simmered them for about an hour. I then used the broth for both the stuffing and gravy. I also cooked the stuffing in the oven, in a baking dish, uncovered, with the turkey. They finished up about the same time.

The next time I make this, I would forego the metal rack and instead use a roasting pan and place the bird on a bed of carrots, celery and onion. With the shorter cooking time, the flavor could use the boost. I do feel this is a great technique for wood grilling or smoking.

More Recipes: We have a bunch, a peck, a bushel, of Thanksgiving recipes, including my favorite Upside-Down Cranberry Cake (here), No Boil Mashed Potatoes (here), and Non-Traditional Sides (here), click on this link for all the other recipes or search by name or ingredient in the search box at the bottom of the blog.

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!  – TaMara

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