Category Archives: Thanksgiving

Clear Out the Cranberries

I’ve talked about Thanksgiving leftovers for several posts, and I was quite pleased with myself for so efficiently using all the bits that remained from our feast.  One dish was a bit of a challenge to reinvent, however – the cran-orange-apple relish.  I can only eat it for so long before my palate tires of the tartness.

I knew there had to be a way to turn it into a baked good, but I wasn’t sure how the consistency of the relish would effect the consistency of the batter.  Would I be able to figure out the ratios of dry ingredients to wet?  So, I turned to my cookbooks and the interweb for help.

Inspired by a recipe on the Washington Post’s website and a spiral bound cookbook I inherited from my grandmother, I came up with this…

Cranberry Relish Muffins with Orange Glaze
Makes 12 to 14 muffins

1 1/4 cup leftover relish
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans

For glaze:
1/8 cup orange juice
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp orange zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 12-cup muffin tin, or 6 cup large muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

To make muffins, combine the relish, sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and eggs in a large bowl.  Stir to combine.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl, then stir into relish mixture.
Add the chopped pecans and mix.
Fill muffin tin and bake on middle rack of oven for 25 to 30 minutes until tester comes out clean.
Let cool for about 10 minutes in tin, and then using a butter knife, loosen from the pan and finish cooling on a wire rack.
To make the glaze, combine orange juice, powdered sugar, and zest in a small bowl.  Smooth out any lumps and drizzle/spread on top of each muffin.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Sweet Potato Redux

Thanksgiving leftovers are the best, but I do tire of turkey sandwiches and reheated stuffing.  Many of the remaining dishes from your Thanksgiving meal can be turned into something more inventive, however.

Take sweet potatoes, for example…I made mashed sweet potatoes with chipotle peppers this year.  I got some of my best compliments ever, but I still had some left after the meal.  If you also have leftover diced sweet potatoes you could make them into soup or a hash with turkey and brussel sprouts.  Now, if your sweet potatoes are mashed they can become some delicious bread…

Sweet Potato Bread
Makes 2 loaves

2 cups sugar
2/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
4 eggs
2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, orange juice, oil, applesauce, eggs, sweet potatoes, and mix well.

Add dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Mix in pecans.
Divide batter between 2 well-greased loaf pans, or one large and two mini-loaf pans, like I did.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.  Cool to room temperature in pans.

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Turkey-Palooza

Had enough turkey yet?  Not me.  I’m always looking for ways to reinvent my Thanksgiving leftovers.  Although, I am nearing the end of my supply.  Luckily, I had enough to whip up a turkey pot pie.  Just the right supper for a cold and dreary day.

I made this pot pie with a biscuit crust because I did not feel like rolling out pie dough, but if you feel more energetic than me, here’s my recipe for pie crust.

I cooked the filling in a cast-iron skillet, topped with biscuit dough and baked it in the oven in the same pan.  You can easily transfer the filling to a baking dish before topping with biscuit dough, or us a deep-dish pie pan and put pastry crust underneath and on top of filling.

Turkey Pot Pie with Cheesy Biscuit Crust
Serves 4 to 6

Filling:
3 Tbsp butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbsp flour
2 cups chicken or turkey stock
1 potato, diced
2 cups shredded turkey
1/2 cup peas and/or other leftover vegetables (be sure to dice, if needed)
1 Tbsp dried parsley
salt and pepper, to taste

Melt butter in saucepan and cook onion until tender.

Add celery, carrots, and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.
Add flour and cook another 2 minutes to thicken.  Add potatoes and stock and simmer until tender.
Stir in turkey and any vegetables you want to add.  Turn off heat.  Stir in parsley, salt, and pepper.
Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp coarse ground pepper
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 Tbsp butter
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Stir together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper.  Add cheeses and mix to coat.  Blend in butter with pastry cutter or fingers until mixture resembles peas.  Pour in buttermilk and stir until all sticks together.  Drop biscuit dough by spoonful onto filling.  Don’t worry about total coverage.
Bake until the biscuit topping is puffy and golden brown and filling is bubbly, probably 35 to 40 minutes.

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A Tale of Two Side Dishes

I didn’t see a can of jellied cranberry sauce on the Thanksgiving table until I was an adult.  I must admit I thought it was a bit of a joke.  However, I have come to realize that it is a comfort food to some people and a strong part of their holiday tradition.  My husband is one of those people.  He firmly believes that not only must our meal include a can of jellied cranberry sauce, but it we should not destroy the ridges formed by the can for the sake of presentation.

Last year, our first Thanksgiving as a married couple, he performed a small ritual to open the can.  Apparently, you must ease the jelled sauce out of the can oh-so-slowly, so it can maintain its nature defying shape, including the ridges of the inside of the can.  There was also discussion about the noise that the sauce makes as it makes its complete descent from the can.  I’m not even sure how to spell the sound I heard…How could I deny him this pleasure?

So, the jellied cranberry sauce will once again be making an appearance this Thanksgiving.  But, because I don’t like it, we will also have a cranberry relish.  Yes, I could make a homemade cranberry sauce… 1 bag cranberries, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water…cook until saucy.  But, I grew up with a relish on the table.  A cranberry orange relish to be exact.  Dad made it every year.   After several years of cranberry experimentation as I hosted by own Thanksgivings, I have decided to revisit an old stand-by…with an addition (apple) to make it my own.

Cran-Orange-Apple Relish

1 orange (I used navel)
1/2 apple (I used Pink Lady)
12 oz bag fresh cranberries
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, depending on taste

Cut and peel the orange, and remove the segments from their membranes.  I just used my hands to peel it apart in large chunks and dropped it in a food processor.  Add most of the zest from the orange.

Peel, seed, and chop the apple.  I just used half, but the whole apple will work, too.  Add it to the food processor.
Sprinkle on about 1/4 cup sugar, and pulse it with the fruit.  Give it a taste to see if it needs more sugar.  Even if you think you like things sweet, it is better to start with less sugar and add as you go.  You can’t take it away once it is in there.  Plus, if you use a sweeter apple, like Pink Lady, you will likely need less added sweetener.
Luckily, cranberries are highly acidic.  Why is that lucky?  Well, those acids discourage the growth of bacteria and that means that your relish will keep for quite a while in the fridge.  And, that means you can make this easy relish in advance before you feel overwhelmed by other holiday tasks.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Gobble…gobble!

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