Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thanksgiving Day recipes from the Smith Kitchen

So, Tattooed Minivan Mom is hosting a big linkfest over at her blog to share Thanksgiving recipes. I wanna play, so here are some of our family's tried-and-true recipes that get made during the Thanksgiving-Christmas holiday season. (Oh, and PS if you scroll to the very bottom of TMM's post, you can hear Adam Sadler's Thanksgiving song, which is a classic, no?)

(Note: I didn't *create* or *invent* these recipes, I've gathered them from here, there and everywhere over the years. If I know my source, I'll give credit, but please know I am not some genius chef who whips these up out of my head! Some other geniuses created these; I just make them!)

Let's talk turkey for a moment! I know there are lots of different methods people use from deep frying to old-fashioned basting-n-baking. Well, Hubby and I are big fans of Alton Brown, and we have been faithful followers of his turkey method since we first saw it on Good Eats. I'm not going to repeat the whole thing here, but rather give you the link for the Good Eats Roast Turkey. Allow me to mention two things about this method/recipe that has never, ever, ever failed us: (1) the brining is key and (2) you have to do the Turkey tent. Following Alton's instructions will mean you will never wind up with a dry or tasteless turkey, I promise.

Okay, now that the bird is out of the way, let's get on to the side dishes, shall we?

Two recipes I've made every year to much acclaim involve the delightful cranberry. They're both easy-peasy and a change from the "jellied or whole berry" canned cranberry sauces.

Cranberry-Raspberry Sauce
(I think this might have been a Good Housekeeping recipe from years ago)

from 1 large orange: 1 tsp of zest from peel and 1/2 cup juice squeezed

1 bag (12 ounces) cranberries

1 container (10 ounces) frozen raspberries in syrup, thawed (reserve syrup)

1/2 cup sugar

2 tbs fresh lemon juice

2 tbs Grand Marnier (orange flavor) liqueur

In large saucepan (careful - this can spatter when the berries are popping), heat all ingredients (including raspberry syrup) except liqueur to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, until most of the cranberries pop and mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove saucepan from heat; stir in liqueur. Spoon into serving bowl; cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 3 hours.

Holiday Cranberry Applesauce (orig found in a USA Weekend magazine supplement)


3 lbs cooking apples (I like Jonagolds, myself), cored and sliced but NOT peeled

1 1/2 cups cranberry juice cocktail

2/3 cup red hot cinnamon candies (available in cake-decorating aisle)

In a large pot, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat, covered, for 15 minutes. Lower heat; simmer until apples are very soft, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly. Transfer to a food processor with the knife blade; process until smooth. Serve warm, chilled or at room temperature.

Now, for the veggie portion of the meal. This recipe is one my family has made for every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner since I was a baby. It is one that even kids who don't like veggies will eat (if my own veggie-hating - as kids - sisters are any evidence)!

Corn Casserole

24 oz. frozen corn

1/2 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup sugar (sometimes I use a bit less, more like 1/3 cup)

2 eggs, well beaten

1/2 cup butter

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in medium saucepan. Stir in flour and sugar, mixing well so there are no lumps. Remove from heat. Gradually add milk and eggs. Stir in baking powder. Mix very, very well. Fold in corn (still frozen). Pour into buttered (I use the butter flavored cooking spray myself) 2 quart casserole dish. Bake, uncovered, for 50 minutes to an hour. You will know it is done when it is golden brown and "solid" on the top, like a souffle.

Salad time! I first came across this recipe in one of those fundraiser cookbooks that charities sell (think it was from the agency I worked for at the time, actually) and have amended it slightly over the years. This one is one where there are NEVER any leftovers for the next night's meal.

Spinach Salad

2 bags of baby spinach leaves (variations suggest romaine lettuce or cabbage instead)

1/2 cup sunflower seed kernels

1/2 cup slivered almonds

2 packages of Ramen noodles (I use the chicken flavor but I don't think it matters which kind really)

1 can mandarin oranges, drained

1 cup craisins (dried cranberries)

1 stick (8 tbs) butter

For the dressing, combine:

1/2 cup oil

1/4 cup vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)

1/2 cup sugar (I actually use a little less, maybe 1/3 cup)

1-2 tablespoons soy sauce (original recipe calls for one, I tend to use closer to two)

Crumble the Ramen noodles (no seasoning packet, just the noodles) and saute them along with the almonds and sunflower seed kernels in the butter until lightly browned. Cool and drain/pat off excess butter with paper towels. Add to spinach and toss with dressing. Once thoroughly tossed, sprinkle oranges and craisins on top. Enjoy!

Okay, how about some bread? Of all the banana bread recipes I've tried over the years, this one seems to be the most unfailingly simple and delicious:

Banana Bread


2 cups sugar

2 sticks butter

6 crushed, very ripe bananas

4 well beaten eggs

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together sugar and butter. Add bananas and eggs. (My Kitchenaid stand mixer is delightful for this recipe.) Sift together flour, salt and baking soda. Combine dry and wet ingredients and mix well. Pour into 2 well-greased pans and bake for 45 minutes to an hour (until toothpick in center comes out clean).

Still hungry? How about some dessert?

This recipe was given to me at one of my bridal showers. My colleagues threw the most lovely, thoughtful, kitchen-themed shower for me (on August 17, 1994 according to the note on the back of this recipe) and I still have and use the recipes they gave me then. (Each person contributed one recipe along with an ingredient/cooking tool to go with the recipe.) This apple pie recipe came from my coworker Debbie, and I've been making it since Thanksgiving 1994! (And a special shout-out while I'm feeling all nostalgic here - Kathryn, thank you again for all your work in planning the shower. I do remember it fondly to this day, Short Drink! xoxo)

Apple Pie


2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

2/3 cup shortening (I use the butter flavored Crisco sticks)

4-5 tbs VERY cold water

Sift flour and salt into medium sized bowl; cut in shortening with fork or pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle water over, a tbs at a time; mix lightly with a fork just until pastry holds together and leaves sides of bowl clean. Roll out, fill and bake following instructions for filling. Makes enough crust for a 9" lattice top or double crust pie.


6-7 medium apples (again, Jonagolds are my favorite), washed, peeled, cored and sliced

In a separate bowl, combine the following:
1 cup sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg (I am a fresh-grater, but that isn't necessary)

2 tbs flour

1 tbs lemon juice

1/2 stick (4 tbs) butter, cut into pats

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pour sugar mixture onto sliced apples and coat them well. Pour apples into shell and dot with pats of butter. Put on top crust, using knife to cut slits/vents into crust. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes with foil around edge of crust. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and remove foil from edges. Continue to bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown.

And last but not least, some candy! My hubby is a big pecan fan, and while he has complained about my pecan pie in the past (seriously, he said it was "too pecan-y" if you can believe that), he never complains about these pralines. He can't - his mouth is too full from wolfing them down! When this recipe says "easy" it means it, too. Easy as pie. Actually, much, much easier than pie, especially with the whole "crust from scratch" bit.

Easy Microwave Pralines


1 lb light brown sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tbs light corn syrup

1 tbs butter

2 cups chopped toasted pecans

In a deep, microwave-safe bowl, mix together sugar, cream and corn syrup. Microwave on high for 13 minutes.

Mix in butter until well blended, then stir (and stir and stir) until mixture begins to cool and get creamy. At this point, stir in the chopped pecans. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper and cool.

Now, be sure to work off all the calories consumed on Thanksgiving by hitting the stores on Black Friday, okay?


Debbie said...

Well, yum. You've just got the whole meal mapped out for us!

April said...

oh, totally going to try the banana bread recipe!YUM!

Jennifer said...

Wow--those all sound great!! I too do the brining and the turkey tent--it never fails!!

Hot Tub Lizzy said...

I think eating all that would make me funky

Creative Junkie said...

that corn casserole sounds just like YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMM.

Lylah M. Alphonse said...

I love Alton Brown! And I am going to try your corn casserole...

Little bit o' Linky love here:

-- L.

Tammy said...

hi, de-lurking here to let you know that I enjoy reading your blog.

Thanks for the Alton Brown tips and all the great recipes you went to the trouble to include. They sound yummy!☺

Ally in Wonderland said...

I found your blog through Finding Normal and noticed in your comment you are the mother of a child with some special needs, my latest post is about parenting a special child and I have questions for a mom just like you. I’d love any answers you have!

Michelle said...

Yum! Thanks for sharing! I may have to try the cran/raspberry sauce

Carrie said...

Ohhhhhhh, I'm hungry! Stupid Weight Watchers...

Actually, it's not too bad. I might be able to live with it. I said might!!

Rebecca said...

Sounds delish!
Over from SITS!

Teresa said...

Ramen noodles? In a salad? Seriously??? Okay, I soooooo have to try that!

Grand Pooba said...

ooo, ooo, I needed that apple pie recipe! Thanks!