thanksgiving eve

Or should I say, "An Ode to Stovetop"? 

I have been thinking about and planning and prepping for Thanksgiving for MONTHS. Yah. Not really sure why I get so excited about it, but I guess it's just one of those things. I've had visions of fresh herbs and yeast bread and elegant desserts dancing in my head since September.

And here I am the night before, resigned to Stovetop. 

But happy. 

The princess, Thanksgiving 2009

See above. That, my friends, is what Thanksgiving is all about. Enjoying my family and just pausing and being thankful. So while a divine, homemade sausage-sage stuffing would definitely be something to be thankful for, a stress-free day with the fam is worth the Stovetop. (And let's be honest - I actually really like Stovetop. Ain't no shame in it.)

Meanwhile, I've got a pumpkin pie cooling on the counter, a fresh cranberry-orange relish in the fridge, and plans to make some easy, AWESOME fresh wheat rolls tomorrow. And I fully intend to watch the parade (or more specifically, the "big balloons") with the kids. 

So, in honor of the big day, here's my stress-free, family friendly menu, complete with recipes. Enjoy!

- Grilled Turkey (brined with fresh rosemary and sage, and smoked with hickory chips, courtesy of my hubby!)
- Cranberry-Orange Relish (recipe below)
- Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Rosemary and Shallots (recipe below)
- Roast Broccoli  (remember this one?)
- Whole Wheat Yeast Rolls (recipe below)
- Stovetop (what, what!)
- Mulled Cider (for kids and parents alike)
- Pumpkin Pie (I love the Libby's recipe - I made a healthier version of homemade pie crust that I'll report back on, and I always double or triple the amount of spices called for. Yum!)

Cranberry-Orange Relish (from Epicurious.com)
  • 1 navel orange

  • 1 (12-oz) bag fresh cranberries

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

  • Finely grate 2 teaspoons zest from orange. Cut away and discard peel and pith from orange, then cut sections free from membranes.

    Pulse cranberries with zest, orange sections, sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor until finely chopped. Chill, covered, at least 2 hours to allow flavors to develop.

    Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Rosemary and Shallots (from the February 2010 issue of Real Simple)
    • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
    • Kosher salt and black pepper
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 4 shallots, sliced into thin rings
    • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh rosemary
    Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot. Add enough cold water to cover and bring to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt, reduce heat, and simmer until tender, 14 to 16 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water, drain the sweet potatoes, and return them to the pot. Mash with the reserved cooking water. 

    In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring, until the shallots are tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve the mashed sweet potatoes drizzled with the rosemary-shallot mixture.

    Whole Wheat Yeast Rolls (adapted from Simple Daily Recipes)
    • 1 package quick-acting active dry yeast
    • 1 1/3 cup skim milk (105º to 115ºF degrees)
    • 1 cup whole wheat flour
    • 2 to 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 tablespoon melted butter
    • coarse salt
    Dissolve yeast in warm milk with sugar in electric mixer bowl.  Stir in whole wheat flour, oil, and salt.  Beat until smooth.  Stir in enough all purpose flour, scraping dough from side of bowl, until soft dough forms.  Cover and let rise in warm place until double, about 45 minutes.
    Heat oven 400ºF degrees.  Prep a 12 cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
    Punch down dough in center and fold over a few times.  Pinch off small balls of dough (about 2-inch diameter or so) and quickly roll in palm of hands.  Put 3 balls to one muffin cup; brush with melted butter; sprinkle with coarse salt. You'll probably have some dough left over.
    Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until crust is light golden brown.  Immediately remove from pan.  Store loosely covered.
    SO GOOD!
    A parting shot from Thanksgiving last year. Just cuz it's funny.