A Post-Thanksgiving Note

Happy (Late) Thanksgiving Everyone!

I always make a list of things I needed to buy or do prior to any holiday meal. I’ve been doing this for years. Often, I forget a thing or two. This holiday, I overlooked two staples of a traditional Thanksgiving meal – cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie 😦

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Not that it really matters. I’m sure for many of us, there are more important things to look back to and be grateful for. I hope you all had a wonderful and memorable get-together dinner with your family, friends and loved ones this holiday. This is the true meaning of the holidays anyhow.

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However, for the sake of learning from my mistakes, if I were to go back to my list I’ll probably find other things to improve on.

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The cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie are just two of those things that would give your palate a good break and a great finish. When you are in the middle of chowing down all these savory food and as the flavors simultaneously explode in your mouth – don’t you want to spoon up a refreshingly tart and sweet cranberry sauce to clean up your palate?  Then, prepare you for a decadent dessert of the traditional creamy pumpkin pie slice. That would have taken me to a great finish!

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Also, I’ve tried few ways of cooking turkey such as in the Nesco roaster oven which I’ve done for the most part of the years past, the Masterbuilt smoker and in the regular oven with cheesecloth cover. This year, I tried roasting it in the oven using Reynolds Oven Bag. I was not happy about the result. When it was time to transfer the turkey in the plate, the bottom part of the bird was stuck on the bag. So we had to slice it up from the roasting pan. That was disappointing; not to see a whole turkey served on a plate. However, the bird was really moist and brown. If I were to do it again, I would sit the turkey in a wax paper inside the oven bag.

So far, the best turkey I’ve made was a regular oven-roast turkey in 2015 with cheese cloth cover and few sticks of butter tucked underneath the cheesecloth. Maybe next year, I should just stick to this method. Lessons learned!

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This year, besides the traditional Turkey Roast, I also made Beef Roast as another entrée. I made a 6-dish meal for this holiday which includes: Broccoli Grape Salad, Butternut Wild Rice Stuffing, Cheesy Mashed Potato with Turkey Gravy, Pepperoncini Roast Beef, Turkey Roast, and Chocolate Delight for dessert. Some family members brought a few dishes to pass such as Green Bean Casserole, Corn Bread, Apple and Cherry Pies.

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I’d like to share the recipes for four of the above dishes I made. They are very easy, quick and foolproof. The ingredients are real simple to find. I did all my shopping in a grocery store in town. The beef roast is slow cooked. The salad was mixed and tossed. The stuffing only took few simple steps. Just perfect for busy cooks who have tons of other things to do. I hope you try these recipes and enjoy them as well. Thank you for reading!
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BROCCOLI GRAPE SALAD
Yield:  8 Servings
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Ingredients

* Broccoli florets – 3 small heads, cut up into bite size (4 cups)
* Seedless grapes – 3 cups
* Spring onion – ½ cup, diced (optional)
* Walnuts – 1 cups, chunks
* Block of Cheese – 1 lb. package, cut in cubes (2 cups)
* Bacon bits – ¼ cup

Dressing
* Greek Yogurt – 2 cups (honey or vanilla flavor)
* Mayonnaise – 1 cup
* Honey – 3 tbsp.
* Red wine vinegar – 2 tbsp.
* Dried chives or parsley – 1 tbsp.

Cooking Instructions
1. Since this is to be eaten raw, wash the broccoli and grapes well.
2. Measure and prepare all the ingredients.
3. Put all the dressing ingredients in a bowl and mix well using a small wire whip.
4. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a big bowl and lightly toss using a rubber spatula.
5. Add the dressing mixture into the salad and slightly toss everything together. Transfer to a cleaner bowl if needed.

BUTTERNUT WILD RICE STUFFING
Yield: 8-10 Servings
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Ingredients
* Butternut – 1 medium size (peeled and cut into bite sizes)
* Celery – 4 stalks (washed and cut into bite sizes)
* White onion – 1 medium, diced
* Dried cranberries – 1 cup
* Wild Rice – 1 box (cook according to box directions)
* Spices: Cinnamon-1 tbsp, Nutmeg-1 tsp and/or Pumpkin Spice – 2 tsp
* Salt and pepper – to taste
* Oil – 2 tbsp for sautéing

Cooking Instructions
1. Cook the wild rice first, it takes longer to cook. Follow box instructions.
2. When cooking wild rice, keep the heat on medium to prevent drying. Try or taste the rice if they are al dente. Do not over-cook or it will turn mushy. Let the water dry out completely. Set aside.
3. Measure and prepare all other ingredients.
4. Peeling and cutting butternut squash is tricky, try using bigger kitchen knife like a cleaver or meat knife. Do not use vegetable peeler it will not work.
5. In a baking sheet, place or spread the squash evenly and sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin spice.
6. Add a small dash of salt and pepper. Broil uncovered for 15 minutes.
7. When rice and butternut squash are cooked, sauté onions and celery in 2 tbsp. of oil. 8. Add the dried cranberries and turn heat off.
9. Mix everything together in a serving bowl and toss lightly using any serving spoon.

PEPPERONCINI ROAST BEEF
Yield: 8-10 Servings
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Ingredients
* Beef roast cut – 2 packs Eye of Round, 4-5 lbs. each (rib eye or shoulder roast)
* Herb rub – dry oregano, thyme, salt and pepper
* Bay leaf – 4 pcs.
* Garlic gloves – 8-10 (skin on)
* Salted butter – 1 stick (8 tbsp.)
* Ranch salad dressing seasoning mix – 2 packs
* Au Jus gravy mix – 2 packs
* Golden Pepperoncini – 5 pcs. (spicy mild)

Cooking Instructions
1. Measure and prepare all the ingredients.
2. Rub the herbs generously over the roast.
3. Heat the cast iron pan or frying pan. Slightly brown all surface of the roast.
4. Place the roast in the slow cooker.
5. Add the Au Jus mix, Ranch mix, pepperoncini, stick of butter, bay leaves, and garlic. Add more pepperoncini for spicier taste.
6. Set the slow cooker on high for an hour, and then turn to low.
7. Slow cook for 7-8 hours or until roast is tender.

CHOCOLATE DELIGHT
Yield: 8-10 Servings (9×13 dish)

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Ingredients
* Graham cracker crust – 1 bag (9 crackers) OR
* Graham cracker ready pie crust
* Butter – 1 stick (1/2 cup), melted
* Tiny Marshmallows – 4 cups
* Chocolate chips – ¾ cups
* Chocolate fudge pudding – 2 packs
* Cool whip – 1 ½ tubs OR
* Heavy whipping cream – 2 of 16 oz. pack (use hand mixer and whip til creamy)
* Hershey’s chocolate syrup

Instructions
1. Grind the graham crackers into fine powder.
2. Add melted butter into the crust. Or just buy the ready pie crust.
3. Spread the tiny marshmallows over the crust.
4. Make 1 pudding packet according to box directions.
5. Pour the pudding over the crust, spread evenly to cover all surface.
6. Spread the cool whip or whipping cream very lightly on top of the pudding using a rubber spatula. Save enough for last layer.
7. Spread the chocolate chips over the cool whip.
8. Prepare the other pudding packet then pour over the dish.
9. Top with the remaining whipping cream.
10. Drizzle with chocolate syrup on top and refrigerate.

4 thoughts on “A Post-Thanksgiving Note

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