Make Ahead Roast Turkey

I made my second ever thanksgiving turkey this year. It was a roaring success! Per Ina Garten, I made it ahead! This freed space in the oven for the day of and eliminated a lot of stress. I had my reservations but the turkey was full of flavor, tender and moist. The prep is well worth the work. I was even able to make a workout class the morning of Thanksgiving! All of the holiday preparation paid off.

Thanksgiving Thanksgiving Thanksgiving

Roast Turkey

For the turkey
12-15 pound fresh turkey
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoon fresh thyme
Zest of one lemon
1 large yellow onion, unpeeled and cut into quarters
1 lemon, quartered
8 sprigs fresh thyme
4 TB butter
For the gravy
6 TB unsalted butter
1 large onion, halved and sliced
4 large garlic cloves, whole
6 TB flour
4 cups chicken stock
2 TB bourbon
10 large fresh sage leaves
2 sprigs fresh tarragon
1 cup white wine

For Thanksgiving Thursday, I picked up my bird on Monday. Rinse the turkey, inside and out. Dry it well with paper towels and place into the roasting pan. Cover and coat the turkey (including inside the cavity) with salt, pepper, lemon zest and thyme. Cover tightly with Saran Wrap and refrigerate.

On Tuesday, I uncovered the turkey, removing the Saran Wrap. This allows for the skin to become translucent. This is also the day I made the gravy base. In a large sauté pan, heat the butter, onions and garlic cloves. Cook and simmer until the onions brown and caramelize, about 20 minutes. Add the flour, cooking about a minute. Stir in stock, bourbon, sage, tarragon and pepper. I leave out salt, considering the stock is already salted. Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes.
Let the gravy base sit at room temperature for an hour and then strain out all of the solids.
Refrigerate the base until you’re ready to make the gravy Wednesday.

Preheat the oven to 325°. Wednesday was roasting day! Take out the roaster and be sure to drain any juices in the pan. Cover the bird with butter and salt and pepper. I then made a pouch out of cheesecloth. Fill the satchel with onion, lemon and fresh herbs. Place the bag into the cavity. Tie the legs together and wrap the wings tightly under the back.

Roast for 2-2 1/2 hours until the breast meat registers at 165° with a meat thermometer. Baste the bird throughout cooking time. Carefully carve off both breasts. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Place the rest of the turkey inside the oven to continue cooking. Most likely, another hour (at least that was the case for me) or until the thigh meat registers at 180°.

Carve the carcass and wrap all meat tightly in foil. With the pan drippings, add the gravy base and white wine over medium heat. Bring to a boil, scraping up all the bits inside the pan. Let simmer until smoothed and thickened. I ended up adding an additional 2 cups of stock here. I know gravy is a favorite and wanted to bulk up our inventory for the big day.

In an ovenproof dish, add enough gravy to cover the bottom 1/4 of the dish. Add all of the turkey on top of the gravy and cover tightly. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

On Thanksgiving, remove the turkey and let sit at room temperature an hour before you’re ready to eat. In the oven, heat the meat in its gravy, uncovered for 15-20 minutes.

This technique worked amazingly for me! I think it’s my new standard for the holidays. Thanks Ina!

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Cheesecake

I’ve never attempted a cheesecake before! In addition to the two and a half pounds of cream cheese, the only real thing I needed to purchase was a springform pan. We’ll see how this goes! Recipe will follow based upon the success of this very special birthday cheesecake!

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Fabulous and Classic Cheesecake

Crust:
5 tb unsalted butter, melted, plus room-temperature butter for pan
12 graham crackers (3×5 inch)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp course salt

Filling:
2 1/2 pounds bar cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 tb fresh lemon juice
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 375°. Start by making the crust. Butter the springform pan and set aside. Using a food processor, pulse graham crackers until finely ground into crumbs. Stir in the melted butter, sugar and salt. Combine the mixture well and press into the bottom and 1 inch up the side of the pan. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until set. Let the crust cool and turn down the oven to 325°.

Boil a tea pot of water. I used my electric kettle! This will be used later.

With a mixer, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually add sugar until the mixture is creamed. Beat in lemon zest, lemon juice and salt. Add the eggs one at a time. Continuously scrap down the sides of the pan as you go. Beat in sour cream

Wrap the bottom of the springform pan in wide aluminum foil. Pour the filling over the graham cracker crust and place in a roasting pan. Now it’s time to use the boiling water; add it into the roasting pan until it comes about halfway up the side of the pan. Bake cheesecake until it’s just set on the center, about 1 hour 45 minutes. Remove the pan from the water and let it cool 20 minutes. Run a knife along the edge, cooling completely. Cover and chill overnight before serving.

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Grandma’s Casserole

This is my ultimate favorite comfort food. I’ve made a couple of adaptations from my moms original recipe. If you can believe it, this is a figure friendly dish coming from Weight Watchers 1987. I’m normally not a fan of leftovers, but this is actually one dinner I look forward to heating up the next night. Enjoy!

“Grandma’s Casserole” Weight Watchers 1987

3 TB olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 pound ground lean turkey
2 TB pepper
2 TB salt
1 TB red pepper flakes
15 oz can tomatoes with liquid
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cup water
1 package (12 oz) very thin egg noodles
1 package (8 oz) light mozzarella cheese

Sauté onion and peppers in oil. Add turkey breast, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook until done. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce and water. (I like using canned stewed tomatoes with oregano and basil) Bring to a simmer, cooking 15 minutes.

Spray a 9×14″ pan with cooking spray. Cover the bottom with a thin layer of sauce and add the noodles atop. Spread the meat mixture over noodles and sprinkle on the cheese to finish.

Cover with foil and bake at 360° for 45 minutes or until noodles are cooked and mixture can be cut to serve.

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Meatball Lasagna

This is the easiest lasagna I think I’ve ever made. I used jar sauce, some fresh herbs, roasted vegetables, frozen beef meatballs and no bake lasagna noodles. Yum yum yum! The boys at the table had two helpings!

Meatball Lasagna
1 box no boil lasagna noodles
2 cups frozen beef meatballs
1 bunch fresh Italian leaf parsley
2 tablespoons basil
1 green pepper
1 sweet onion
1 large garlic clove
1/2 cup mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

Begin by coarsely chopping the pepper, onion, garlic and mushrooms. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 425° for about 20 minutes.

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Mix together in a small bowl the ricotta, mozzarella, 1/4 cup of Parmesan, parsley and basil. Set aside.

Place a third of the sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 glass dish. Add the roasted vegetables on top and then a double layer of the pasta noodles. Use another third of the sauce, the meatballs and the cheese mixture. Finish off by laying the remaining noodles, sauce and the last 1/4 cup Parmesan.

Cover and bake at 425° for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes.

 

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Summer Broccoli Salad

Tonight is pizza night! I always like a good salad to compliment the cheesy “za”. Salad on the side helps to not overindulge in those slices! As usual, I wasn’t feeling anything too basic. With what I had in the pantry and fridge this is what resulted!

Broccoli Chickpea Salad

4 cups broccoli florets
1 medium sweet Vidalia onion, sliced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 can drained and rinsed chickpeas
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup olive oil plus 2 TB
2 TB lemon juice
1 TB Dijon mustard
1 TB white balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Blanche the broccoli and set aside. In a large saucepan heat two tablespoons of olive oil adding the sweet onion and cooking until translucent. Stir in garlic and pine nuts. Toss in the cooked broccoli, lemon juice, chickpeas and diced pepper. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

To make the vinaigrette, whisk together olive oil, vinegar and mustard. Pour over the salad and chill.

I decided to add one chopped romaine heart to the chilled salad before serving.

The above vinaigrette is my go-to for all cold summer bean salads!
Red wine vinegar works great in the dressing as well.

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Turkey Lettuce Wraps

These are by far the easiest and tastiest lettuce wraps I’ve ever made. Well, I’ll admit, they’re the first I’ve ever made. I’ll go ahead and stick with this recipe; that’s a fact!

Turkey Lettuce Wraps
1 pound ground turkey
1 head bib lettuce
1 frozen package of Trader Joe’s Asian vegetables with sauce packet
2 TB soy sauce
2 TB sesame oil
1 clove garlic
1 small onion
3 TB Asian seasoning
Olive oil

Use enough oil to coat the bottom of a skillet to brown the turkey, onion, garlic and 2 tablespoons of Asian seasoning. Cook the meat through. Roughly chop the vegetables to stir in the turkey mixture. Add the sauce packet, soy sauce, sesame oil and remaining 1 tablespoon of Asian seasoning. Simmer to combine.

Serve immediately with bib lettuce.

 

#FoodieFail! I didn’t take a picture of the process, ingredients or the final product! As you know, I’ve taken a blogging hiatus.  I realize I’d had this stored and decided to run with it to get myself back in the groove.  You’ll forgive me this once 🙂

Try this recipe for something light and fresh for summer.  I served this with a side of farro to add a little heartiness on the side.

Black Bean Butternut Squash Chili with Quinoa

Looking for an easy, healthy, and ghoulish stew? Give this recipe a try adapted from Epicurious. I made this for my company Halloween potluck. It was a hit! Fittingly themed as orange and black this is a low calorie dish that is great for a large crowd.

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2 1/2 TB olive oil
2 sweet onion
8 garlic cloves
2 1/2 TB chili powder
1 TB ground coriander
1 Tsp dried oregano
2 14.5 oz cans crushed tomatoes with Italian seasonings
8 cups of water
1 8oz can diced mild green chili peppers
2 diced chipotle peppers
3 cans black beans (drained and rinsed)
3 cups raw, cubed butternut squash
1 medium diced red apple
1/2 cup quinoa
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large stockpot and add diced onion.  Season with salt and pepper while cooking through to caramelize the onions.  Add garlic, chili powder and coriander, stirring for about one minute.  Stir in tomatoes, water, peppers, black beans and oregano.  Bring to a boil and let simmer for an hour.  If you’re making this ahead of time, let the soup cool after it’s simmer and refrigerate up to two days.

Add squash, apple and quinoa.  Intimidated by peeling and cubing the squash? Here is a nice tutorial via Simply Recipes.  Allow the additions to simmer for another 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy!