Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving Plan (and bonus Sweet Potato Puff recipe)

FYI: This is NOT my table. 
Before I had my son, holidays were a fun time to plan a daring meal and enjoy lots of time in the kitchen with family members.  Now that kids are in the picture, holidays have changed a bit.  I prefer to be in the kitchen less, and spending more time with the kids.  So that means that my menus have had to adapt and change as well. 

This year for Thanksgiving I am focusing on getting as much cooking and prep done ahead of time. Since I have the day before Thanksgiving off from work, I will probably use that day to leisurely do my prepping.  The meal will be simple (for me, that is) but full of the flavors that myself and my family enjoy. 

I'm going to provide links to some recipes (and one actual recipe courtesy of my sister Trish), but I am writing this post more to give you an idea of my plan of attack, rather than my specific recipes.  Every family has their own traditional recipes, and I'm not about to mess with yours! But here's the plan for mine:
The turkey of my dreams

The turkey:
In my house, we brine our turkeys using Alton Brown's brine.  Last year, we decided to try cooking a turkey breast, rather than a whole bird, and it worked fabulously.  So I will be brining the turkey breast the night before.

The stuffing:
I saw Ina Garten prepare her stuffing the night before, put it in its baking dish, and let it wait patiently overnight in the fridge until she was ready to bake it along with the turkey.  That is exactly what I will be doing this year.  Since I have the new addition of gluten restrictions for some family members, I may be making two smaller pans that contain different types of breads, but the flavor bases of both will be the same.  And all will be done the day before.  If you want to get an idea of my base recipe, it is this Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing from Food  Very yummy.

The sweet potatoes:
I toyed with the idea of not having these this year, but I LOVE sweet potato casserole so much that I just can't do it.  So will probably make my sister Trish's Sweet Potato Puff on Tuesday night or Wednesday (see recipe below).  Because our oven is tiny, I will bake it the day I make it, and reheat it in the microwave on Thanksgiving day.  Gasp!  Hopefully it will turn out ok.  Wish me luck.

So pretty.
The mashed potatoes:
Don't judge us.  When it comes to potatoes, we are a family divided.  On turkey day, I like mine sweet, and others like theirs in the form of good 'ol American mashies.  So two types of potatoes it is.  In order to lighten the work load on the holiday, I will be peeling and cutting the potatoes the day before, and keeping them in the fridge in a bowl of water.  As long as the potatoes are covered with water, they will stay fresh and won't get brown/grey.  Genius!

The broccoli casserole:
This is a recent addition to my family's holiday repitoire that has replaced the traditional green bean casserole.  Think thawed frozen broccoli that is put in a baking dish, topped with Velveeta, and further topped with crushed Ritz crackers and melted butter.  Heaven! Believe it or not, this actually works well in the crockpot, so to save oven space, that's exactly what I will do. 

What Martha Stewart's pie might look like. 
Not mine.
The corn:
This one is for my brother-in-law (and the rest of us, if we're honest.) Just simple corn with butter on top.  Nothing fancy. 

The pies:
I'm pretty sure that we will be indulging in store-bought pies this year.  If you know how delicious my mother's (and sister's) pies are, you know that this is quite a sacrifice!  But with three kids under the age of 2 1/2 running around, sacrifices must be made.     

Bonus Recipe: Trish's Sweet Potato Puff
  • For the sweet potato mixture:
    • 3 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
    • 1/4 lb butter, melted
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • For the topping:
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup butter, melted
    • 1/3 cup flour
    • 1 cup chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine all sweet potato mixture ingredients and pour in a greased casserole dish.
  3. Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over casserole.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes.
NOTE: The origin of this recipe is sketchy.  Trish got it from a law school roomate, who may have gotten the recipe from her grandmother.  See? Sketchy. 


  1. Kelly -- do you have a recipe you will be using for the GF stuffing?? My son has celiac and we've just left out the stuffing b/c I couldn't find a good recipe for it! If so, can you IM me on FB with the recipe??? I would appreciate it!! :)

  2. Serena: Unfortunately, I'm still in the beginning stages of the whole GF thing. I was toying with the idea of using GF bread, but I understand that the consistency is very different. Or GF cornbread, which is pretty good. I also thought about making the stuffing without the bread at all. My friend and I did that during the low-carb craze: all the veggies, sausage, spices, etc, and just leave the bread out. Those were my thoughts. I haven't even looked for a recipe yet, though.