G and D’s Mini Thanksgiving



D and I have a tradition of having a mini Thanksgiving ahead of the actual holiday.  Because there are so many people at the actual celebration, it can be hard to get a chance to spend any time together.  We didn’t do one last year because J was less than a month old and took all of our energy.  So we brought back the tradition this year.  Plus, it gave me a chance to knock out some recipes for the blog.  Plus plus, stuffing > not stuffing.

One mistake: not breaking this meal up with something like a salad or cranberries or green beans.  Look at that picture!  It’s sepia-toned it’s so stinkin’ brown.  Brown onions, brown stuffing, brown gravy, brown turkey skin.  Yikes.

I’m going to start with the low-light and work my way up.  The turkey.  We always get the Jennie O perfect turkey breast in a bag.  You don’t thaw it, don’t season it, don’t baste it.  Just stick it in the oven and wait until the timer pops.  Except ours didn’t have a timer, and I didn’t notice that until it was already overcooked and crazy dry.  Oops.  At least I found the thing on sale.

Sugar-glazed pearl onions

I was maybe going to make these for the big Thanksgiving, but D talked me into trying it first.  That was a good call.  This took forever, and it wasn’t all that tasty.  The first step, where it says to cook on medium low until the liquid has evaporated?  Yeah, 30 minutes later and it was still super soupy.  That’s when G got impatient, cranked up the heat and pretty much boiled off the liquid.  The next step where you get them golden went pretty well.  The actual vinegar and thyme was tasty, but really it was just onions.  Nearly an hour for a bunch of onions?  You’d better be caramelizing onions for some french onion soup or something.  Mmmmm….french onion soup….

Simple stuffing (Sausage variation)

The sausage variation is only in the magazine.  You add 1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage, out of the casing, to the veggies in the pan after they are softened and cook until browned.  Then, move on to the add wine step and follow as always.  I used sourdough bread instead of Italian bread, and I’m quite happy that I did.  Sourdough gives you just a little more flavor and cuts against the richness ever so slightly.  Also, this recipe doesn’t give directions for you to cook this on its own.  The turkey breast had you cooking it at 375 so I cooked this in a 8 x 8 pan at 375 for 25 minutes then browned it uncovered for about 15 minutes.  That’s another thing.  I halved this recipe to just make one pan.  I regretted that.  Who has ever wanted less stuffing?  Rookie mistake.  It was delicious.  It’s tough to say if that’s just because stuffing is delicious as a general proposition.

Cranberry-pear cake bars

Where did that corner piece go?

Where did that corner piece go?

Yet again, MSLO is kiiiiilling me by not putting one of the recipes online.  The November 2007 issue seems to be especially bad for this.  Sigh.  My version of the recipe after the jump.

Anyway, the cranberry bars were amazing.  They were very moist and blondie-like in flavor although cake-like in texture.  The batter definitely seemed like a muffin batter.  I am fully planning to try making this as muffins someday.  Maybe with a struesel topping.

Oh, and I had a small piece with two different Ben and Jerry’s coffee ice creams as a semi-frozen Kaffee und Kuchen.  Coffee heath bar crunch was the best with the cake.  Coffee coffee buzz buzz buzz (coffee ice cream with espresso-flavored chocolate chunks) was the better of the two on its own.

coffee heath, cake, coffee and espresso fudge chunks.

coffee heath, cake, coffee and espresso fudge chunks.

It was an awesome Thanksgiving dessert, day after Thanksgiving breakfast, dessert to send to work with your husband, all around sweet treat.  Thank you, Beck family of New Canaan, Connecticut.  You’re all geniuses.

Cranberry-pear cake bars

Adapted from Everyday Food Issue #47 November 2007 p. 166

  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t table salt
  • 1 3/4 packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 T finely grated orange zest (from one orange)
  • 2 pears, quartered lengthwise, cored, and thinly sliced (My pears were insanely ripe and were only firm because I put them in the fridge for a week.  So I didn’t peel mine.  If you actually have firm pears, you should probably follow the directions and peel the pears before you cut them up
  • 2 c fresh or thawed frozen cranberries (I think I wound up dumping the whole bag in there)
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Butter a 9 x 13 pan with butter wrappers that you’ve been saving because you read this blog, and you think it’s a good idea.  Or be wasteful and melt butter just for this.  Tear off a piece of parchment paper a little over a foot long and drape it over the long edges of the pan to line bottom and two long sides with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on sides.  Butter the paper again.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, and zest until smooth.  Add flour mixture; mix just until moistened.  Fold in pears, cranberries, and walnuts.  Wipe the sweat off your brow.  This is a thick batter.
  3. Transfer batter to the prepared pan, smooth top.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes.  Cool all the way in the pan on a rack.  Don’t even think that you can yank on those parchment pieces like handles and expect it to lift up in one piece.  It’s too soft.  Get a spatula involved, move slowly, and be careful.  Transfer to a cutting board.  Cut it into pieces.  The original recipe says to serve with whipped cream.  That’s totally unnecessary.  Coffee ice cream, on the other hand…well…

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