Series: How To Cook Thanksgiving Dinner: The Main Item

This is a series of links to recipes, videos and more for creating your perfect holiday feast. The first one is for the main item, the turkey, crown roast or whole roasted cauliflower for a vegan option.Nut Crusted Fresh Fruit Tart

Following series over the next few days leading up to the big day, will be the following posts:

  • Vegetables and side dishes
  • Breads and rolls
  • Desserts
  • What to do with left overs

Whether this is your first Thanksgiving dinner or your 50th, here are some tips and recipes for making the feast stress free.

I’m linking to the posts I’ve published over the years so click the links and create the Perfect Thanksgiving meal!

Let’s take a look at The Main Item

How to Roast a Turkey – a Step by step guide, with pictures.

Remember to click on the links for the full posts!

Of course if you don’t eat bacon, don’t use it, but it sure is delicious! If not using bacon, be sure to baste the bird every 1/2 hour. If the skin gets to dark, tent it with foil.

Tips for the Turkey:

  • Order fresh organic birds well in advance
  • If getting a frozen bird, allow it 3-4 days to thaw in your refrigerator
  • If brining your bird, remember to keep it cold
  • Open up all the cavities and remove any packets of innards, necks etc, from the inside, use these to make stock for gravy
  • Allow ample time to roast the bird and to let the bird rest at least 20 minutes before you start carving.
  • Save the bones to make stock. I love making stock on a cold dreary day. It makes everything smell so warm!

Turkey Roasting Chart for unstuffed and stuffed birds: Calculate your roasting time with this chart http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/turkeyroastingchart.html

Cover with bacon strips to baste the turkey during the initial phase of roasting. Remember the large bird will roast for several hours. After the first 2-3 hours, the bacon will be done, remove it and this becomes the "cooks treat". Continue roasting the bird, basting every 30-40 minutes. The skin will crisp and become golden brown. If the skin starts to get too brown before the bird is done, tent it with foil.

Cover with bacon strips to baste the turkey during the initial phase of roasting. Remember the large bird will roast for several hours. After the first 2-3 hours, the bacon will be done, remove it and this becomes the “cooks treat”. Continue roasting the bird, basting every 30-40 minutes. The skin will crisp and become golden brown. If the skin starts to get too brown before the bird is done, tent it with foil.

If Turkey isn’t on your menu but a Crown Roast is,

Here is a video from Charlotte Cooks on How to make a Crown Roast of Pork or Lamb (Mint Sauce recipe on the site)

Watch it here:

Tips for the Crown Roast:

  • Be sure to order your roast well is advance from your butcher. These aren’t typically an “off the shelf” kind of item. they will even french the bones (recommended) and tie it for you, just ask.
  • Use your favorite stuffing
  • Use a meat thermometer to cook it just right:
    • Rare: 135°F remove at 125°F and allow carry over cooking to reach 135°F
    • Medium Rare: 140°F Remove at 135°F and allow carry over to reach 140°F
    • Medium: 145°F Remove at 140°F and allow carry over to reach 145°F
    • Mid well to well 150°F and above. It is suggested to remove the number of well done portions from the others and finish those later rather than subject the entire roast to well-doneness disaster.
  • Carry over cooking is when the internal temperature of the meat continues to rise after it is removed from the oven.
  • Allow the roast to rest at least 20 minutes before slicing.

If a vegan meal is on your menu, you can Roast a Whole Cauliflower.

We love this and have it often during the year.

Tips for the Vegan Roast:

Plated roasted cauliflower

Plated roasted cauliflower

  • Buy large unblemished organic cauliflower; it really has the best flavor.
  • Use Greek yogurt, it’s thicker. Or drain plain yogurt in cheesecloth or a strainer over night to thicken it.
  • Use any leftovers to make a delicious soup!

 

So! There are some ideas for your main menu item on the Thanksgiving table.

Next up: Vegetable side dishes!

Happy Holidays!

#thanksgiving #thanksgivingrecipes #thanksgivingdinner #howtoroastaturkey #howtomakeacrownroast #stuffing #holidaymeal #veganroast

 

 

 

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Whole Roasted Cauliflower Enrobed in Spicy Yogurt Dressing

 

This is a delicious way to serve a whole roasted cauliflower. Instead of drying out in the oven, the spicy yogurt dressing serve as a marinade and a tasty barrier holding all the yummy juices inside.

Whole Roasted Cauliflower Enrobed in Spicy Yogurt Dressing

Whole Roasted Cauliflower Enrobed in Spicy Yogurt Dressing

The yogurt dressing will turn golden brown when the cauliflower is done. Pierce carefully with a slim knife to test for tenderness all the way through.

Do not over-cook, you don’t want the vegetable to fall apart and be mushy.

Each head of cauliflower will serve 4 people generously, 6-8 as a side dish.

This would make a fun “roast replacement” for any vegetarian (not vegan due to the yogurt) meal.

Plated roasted cauliflower

Plated roasted cauliflower

Here’s what you need:

Whole Roasted Cauliflower Enrobed in Spicy Yogurt Dressing

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower
2 cups plain Greek yogurt (or drain plain yogurt so it is nice and thick.)
Zest and juice from 1 lime, more if your taste prefers
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Method:

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

Very Tasty!

Very Tasty!

Trim the base of the cauliflower to remove any green leaves; trim so it sits flat.

In a medium bowl, combine yogurt with the lime zest and juice, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.

Spread the mixture all over the cauliflower; use a brush or your hands to smear the marinade evenly over the surface. Save any extra for serving later.

Place the cauliflower on the prepared baking sheet and roast for 40-45 minutes in a 400°F. The surface will be dry and lightly browned. The marinade will make a crust on the surface of the cauliflower.

Place the cauliflower on the serving platter and cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Slice the cauliflower into wedges and serve with a fresh green salad.Whole Roasted Cauliflower Enrobed in Spicy Yogurt Dressing

Serve any extra yogurt marinade on the side of the roasted cauliflower; add good quality bread and you’ve quite a meal.

Try this for Meatless Monday!

#wholeroastedcauliflower #roastedvegetables #cookingvegetables #cauliflower #meatlessmeals #meatlessMonday #vegeterianmaindish

Sweet Pickle Chips

Making Sweet Pickle Chips

Making Sweet Pickle Chips

I have to admit I have a great weakness for sweet pickle chips.

Well, actually not just sweet pickle chips, I have a weakness for nearly ALL things pickled.

Chances are if it hangs around on a pickling day it just may get processed into some kind of something sweet or sour or both.

Sweet Pickle Chips

Sweet Pickle Chips

There is something about the simple process and the synergistic reaction of all the ingredients that results in some of the most amazing flavors on earth.

OK, I can get carried away with pickles, but who wouldn’t? I’d rather look at silly pickle pictures on Facebook than all those animal pics. At one time, at another house, in another time, there was a 100 gallon propane tank above the ground to one side of the property. I wanted to paint it like a giant pickle. The gas company told me I would get fined so I didn’t. It was the perfect shape for a giant pickle too!

I get my love of pickles from my Dad. For years now, whenever it is time for a gift, I send him a renewed subscription to The Pickle of the Month Club. He loves them!

Anyway, back to these little gems. They aren’t too sweet. Here are a few pointers:

  • Select cucumbers the size of the pickles you want (Look at the diameter and the length)
  • A basket of goodies to pickle!

    A bowl of goodies to pickle!

  • Dissolve 1/2 cup salt in some luke-warm water. Add enough ice to cool the water down to cold. After washing add the cucumbers , soak them for 30 minutes in the salt water. There should be enough water to cover the cucumbers.
  • By the way, they will float, so dunk them a bit as you work around them. Play like they are submarines . . .

Soaking does a couple of things:

  • Helps eliminate any bugs and garden debris
  • Starts extracting excess water from the cucumbers so they absorb more brine. This step also helps to not dilute the brine when the cucumbers are added later.

Sweet Pickle Chips

Making Sweet Pickles Chips

Making Sweet Pickles Chips

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of wax-less Kirby cucumbers, cleaned and cut into slices 1/4 inch thick
  • 8 ounces sweet onion, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices

Simmering Brine:

  • 1 quart of water
  • 12 ounces apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed pickling spice

Mix brine ingredients in a large pot, bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the sliced cucumbers and onions, return to a boil and lower heat. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Drain, discarding liquid unless processing another batch.

Pickling Vinegar Brine

  • 10 ounces white vinegar (NOT WINE Vinegar!)
  • 13.5 ounces granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon celery seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mixed pickling spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed  whole allspice berries
  • 2 bay leaves

Optional:

  • 2-3 cloves fresh garlic – for a fresh garlic flavor
  • 1-3 dried red chili pods or red jalapeno pepper – to give some heat!

Combine everything in a sauce pot and bring to a boil. It will need to be stirred to encourage the sugar to melt.

Stir the spices and sugar as you bring to a boil for the Pickling Brine.

Stir the spices and sugar as you bring to a boil for the Pickling Brine.

This mixture needs to be boiling when the vegetables are done simmering.

Procedure:

Wash the cucumbers in water slightly warmer than the cucumbers. Soak in a large bowl of cold water with 1/2 cup salt in it.

This helps eliminate any insects and garden debris that may be lurking on the cucumbers.

Mix the simmering brine ingredients, put on the range top over high heat to bring to a boil.

Mix the pickling vinegar brine and put that over high heat, stirring often to prevent the sugar from burning.

Drain the cucumbers after they have been soaking for at least 30 minutes.

Slice the cucumbers and onions into 1/4 inch slices.

Slice the cukes 1/4" thick

Slice the cukes 1/4″ thick

When the simmering brine reaches a boil, drop in the cucumbers and onions, return to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

Drain the vegetables, discarding liquid (Unless processing another batch).

Place the cukes and onions in a large canning jar. Using a wide mouth funnel, pour the boiling pickling brine into the jar all the way to the top. Leave as little head room as possible. Everything must be submerged under the pickling brine.

If you find there are pieces that want to float, place a small glass plate or dish on the surface to hold everything down.

At first the jars may appear cloudy but as the turmeric and celery seeds settle to the bottom, the vinegar will clear up and you can enjoy looking at gleaming bottles of an amazing turmeric colored sweet pickles!

A Jar of Sweet Pickle Chips

A Jar of Sweet Pickle Chips

Resist eating them for at least 4 days but they are amazing if you can hold off for 3-4 weeks. Everything mellows and they become one divine pickle. But if you must, you can taste the next day, just remember they will mellow considerable as they age.

Once you try these, the half sour pickles and the pickled cauliflower, and pickled beets, you will never buy pickles again! I really like that idea – “No processed food unless you process it yourself” is my new motto!

Slicing cucumbers for Sweet Pickle Chips

Slicing cucumbers for Sweet Pickle Chips

You may notice this recipe is the same as the pickled cauliflower recipe and it is! All I have done is substituted the main pickling ingredient.

Cool thing with these is if you ever need pickle relish and don’t have any, simple chop of some of the pickles and onions and you have a great relish! Especially if you add a red chili or sweet red pepper, but not much. The flavor would overwhelm everything else in the jar.

Remember to serve the onions too! If you use a sweet onion like Vidalia, they become another kind of special.

Keep these in the refrigerator unless you want to process them in a canning process to make them shelf stable.

A Jar of Sweet Pickle Chips

A Jar of Sweet Pickle Chips

I find the sweet pickle chips don’t last long enough to can so just get set to make more.

Enjoy!

Pickled Cauliflower

Pickled cauliflower ingredients

Pickled cauliflower ingredients

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE cauliflower, especially when its pickled cauliflower! When I was little, I would go into the jar of mixed pickles in the refrigerator and pick out the few bits of cauliflower that could be found. It was always disappointing because if you were lucky, you could find two pieces in a single jar.

And my dad likes it as much as I do. I always wanted to see a jar of pickled cauliflower on the shelves of the grocery, but when I have seen them, the contents have always been disappointing.

Yummy Pickled Cauliflower!

Yummy Pickled Cauliflower!

SO, using a pickling method I use to make sweet pickles, I used cauliflower instead of cucumbers with lip-smacking good delightful flavor.

Pickled Cauliflower

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of cauliflower, cleaned and broken into 2-3 bite size bits – measure after cleaning the cauliflower
  • 8 ounces sweet onion, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices

Simmering Brine:

  • 1 quart of water
  • 12 ounces apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed pickling spice

Mix brine ingredients in a large pot, bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the cauliflower and onions, return to a boil and lower heat. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Boil the vegetables in the simmering brine for 10 minutes

Boil the vegetables in the simmering brine for 10 minutes

Drain, discarding liquid unless processing another batch.

While vegetables are simmering, make the vinegar pickling brine.

Pickling Vinegar Brine

  • 10 ounces white vinegar (NOT WINE Vinegar!)
  • 13.5 ounces granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon celery seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mixed pickling spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed  whole allspice berries
  • 2 bay leaves

Optional:

  • 2-3 cloves fresh garlic – for a fresh garlic flavor
  • 1-3 dried red chili pods or red jalapeno pepper – to give some heat!

Combine everything in a sauce pot and bring to a boil. It will need to be stirred to encourage the sugar to melt.

Stir the spices and sugar as you bring to a boil for the Pickling Brine.

Stir the spices and sugar as you bring to a boil for the Pickling Brine.

This mixture needs to be boiling when the vegetables are done simmering.

Procedure:

Wash the cauliflower in water slightly warmer than the cauliflower. Cut into florets. Soak in a large bowl of cold water with 1/4 cup salt in it.

This helps eliminate any insects that may be lurking on the vegetable.

Mix the simmering brine ingredients, put on the range top over high heat to bring to a boil.

Mix the pickling vinegar brine and put that over high heat, stirring often to prevent the sugar from burning.

Drain the cauliflower it should soak for at least 15 -30 minutes.

When the simmering brine reaches a boil, drop in the cauliflower and onions, return to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

Drain the vegetables, discarding liquid (Unless processing another batch).

Place the cauliflower and onions in a large canning jar. Using a wide mouth funnel, pour the boiling pickling brine into the jar all the way to the top. Leave as little head room as possible. Everything must be submerged under the pickling brine.

If you find there are pieces that want to float, place a small glass plate or dish on the surface to hold everything down.

At first the jars may appear cloudy but as the turmeric and celery seeds settle to the bottom, the vinegar will clear up and you can enjoy looking at gleaming bottles of an amazing pickled cauliflower!

Fresh and Pickled cauliflower

Fresh and Pickled cauliflower

Keep these in the refrigerator unless you want to process them in a canning process to make them shelf stable.

Pickles Cauliflower, Sweet Pickle Chips and Half-Sour Pickles chilling

Pickles Cauliflower, Sweet Pickle Chips and Half-Sour Pickles chilling

Fresh and pickled cauliflower

Fresh and pickled cauliflower

I find they don’t last long enough to can so just get set to make more.

Enjoy!