With Thanksgiving only 2 1/2 weeks away, it's time to start thinking about your family's festive feast! We don't want our fun readers stressing out about all the preparations, so we've put together some tips and ideas for a fabulous holiday meal that is simple to make and sure to impress. Here's the Funspired scoop on holiday cooking:
Get the "griller" in your household to take on the bird this year. We recommend one of these great preparations:
- Smoked Turkey - Stuff your thawed turkey with apple, orange, celery, and onion. Then, season the outside with lemon pepper and salt. Make a good smoking fire and have some type of liquid over the fire. Put the turkey to the side of the fire, and lightly coat the turkey with maple syrup every 15-20 minutes for the first hour, and then every hour until done. The turkey will turn black, but don't let it fool you - the flavor is inside!
- Beer Butt Turkey - Just like the popular beer butt chicken, but use a BIG can of beer (like Foster's) for your BIG bird. This preparation produces a juicy tender turkey and can be customized to your favorite flavor profile. Here is one example that uses as nice dark porter.
- Switch It Up - Throw the gang for a loop by substituting the turkey with a grilled rack of lamb, beef tenderloin, large fillet of salmon or your "specialty" on the grill. Holiday meals are all about time spent together with family enjoying delicious fare - but you certainly don't have to eat the same boring food every year!
Chose one item from each category - no need to overdo it! And be sure to delegate - everyone will love getting to help with the preparations.
- Stuffing - Make it your own this year. Start with your usual basic bread stuffing (like this easy one), then add in your own flair. Some of our favorite combinations: Chorizo & Almond, Tomato & Olive, Bacon & Brie, Cherry & Pecan, or Mushroom & Sage. Let your creativity shine in this dish!
- Cranberry Sauce - This simple recipe with citrus juices is from one of our readers. Thanks, Kate!
- Potatoes - Roasted: Buy a variety of potatoes (Yukon gold, red, purple, sweet) and cut them all into 1" cubes. Combine with chopped onion, rosemary, olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake at 350 until tender. Easy and so delicious. Pureed: There's nothing better than mashed potatoes. Jazz yours up this year with these tasty add-ins: For your white potatoes, mix in some cauliflower, parsnips, or celery root and finish with fresh herbs, truffle oil or caramelized onions. For your sweet potatoes, mix in some carrots or winter squash and finish with maple syrup, candied pecans or honey mustard. Baked: Bake your potatoes (or microwave them) whole, then set up a toppings bar so everyone can make their own magic.
- Greenery - Salad: Fresh lettuce, avocado, sweet peas, feta, pine nuts, and a lovely vinaigrette. Simple and delicious. Saute: Chose a hearty leaf vegetable such as kale or broccoli rabe. Remove the center vein, chop coarsely, and saute with garlic and olive oil. Or, blanch some brussel sprouts or asparation, then saute with salt, pepper and a little butter. Soup: Nothing better than warm soup on a cold day, and Popeye would even approve of this one! This green soup is creamy without any cream - what could be better?
- More - Winter Squash is easy to prepare, hearty to eat, and so good for you. Bake it with brown sugar for a tasty side (like this recipe for acorn squash). Bread: Whip up some Pumpkin Bread, Cheesy Beer Bread or Mini Cornbread Puddings. Beans: White beans sauteed with bacon and chopped tomato will add a Tuscan flair to your meal.
This course is perfect to make ahead of time and just heat up on the big day. Don't go overboard, just chose one and serve it a la mode with some fresh berries. Some of our favorites: Pumpkin Crisp, Chocolate Pecan Pie, or Apple Cranberry Pandowdy. Or, this last one is a little more complex, but boy does it sound worth it... Maple Cheesecake with Roasted Pears. YUM!
ON THE WEB
If you want some more help planning your meal, check out one of these great online resources: Cooking Light, Everyday Food, Food Network, and Rachael Ray. They also have some great ideas for your leftovers!
Sometimes it's just better to order your food so you can enjoy the holiday worry-free. One of our favorites for ordering a turkey is Greenberg Smoked Turkey out of Tyler Texas, delivered UPS. Also, these local places have great to-go options for your holiday feasts: Honey Crust Hams (806-354-9898), Edes Custom Meats, and Cattle Call.
Your fun friends,
Susan and Farrar