Monday, December 19, 2011

Thanksgiving down, Christmas Next

I'm clearly behind as I still haven't posted about Thanksgiving, so I absolutely must write this one up before Christmas comes this weekend! At first I was told that there wasn't much room for me to do a lot of cooking, as my mother was taking care of most of the food - but then, the night before, when I got home I was told I could cover a long list of things! Fine by me! This year we just had dinner the four of us, and then got together with extended family for dessert so here goes - my thanksgiving in pictures!
I got up pretty early to get started, but even then - by the time I got up my dad had already gotten the turkey ready to go and into the oven. Last year I tried to brine the turkey and I didn't find that it made a big difference in flavor or juiciness, so no brining this year. Still very important though to baste throughout the cooking process.

We kept it pretty basic this year - turkey and gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, squash, carrot casserole, brussels sprouts, the usuals. The carrot casserole was particularly good because my mom used carrots from our garden!
In addition to the carrots, we also had brussels sprouts from our garden! I love that they were so tiny compared to the ones you find in the grocery store. I just sauteed them with garlic, chopped bacon, white wine, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
For appetizers, since it was just the four of us, we tried not to go overboard - baked brie was a popular request, so that was my focus. It's also a pretty simple recipe - just 5 ingredients: a brie wheel, pepperidge farms puff pastry, raspberry jam, chopped walnuts, brown sugar. Let the frozen pastry sheet thaw out, place the brie wheel right in the middle, and pour the raspberry jam, walnuts and brown sugar on top.
The amounts of each depend on how big you're making your dish. The brie wheel we had was much too large for just us, so you'll see I cut out a hole from the large wheel and just used the smaller circle. I actually made little baked brie bites with some of the extra brie and pastry dough, for another time. Bake at 350 degrees until the pastry dough seems cooked through and slightly brown on the outside - maybe 15-20 minutes, depending on the size. I like to serve with crackers, fruit (grapes, apples) and even some raw veggies work.
After yummy appetizers, we sat down to dinner! My beautiful plate with a little bit of everything! Delicious - my mouth is watering now thinking back on this meal. Our turkey actually turned out a bit dry - it took much less time to cook than the package suggested based on its weight. Thankfully we all had time to digest dinner before heading to my aunt's house for dessert. Sadly, I do not have a picture of our over-the-top dessert table with enough desserts for every person to eat an entire pie! Pecan pie, lemon meringue pie, apple pie, pumpkin bread pudding (with rum whipped cream!), death by chocolate, pumpkin pie, etc. - definitely not a shortage of sugary treats.
Another treat was this bottle of wine that my dad uncovered - a bottle I brought home from Italy when I studied abroad there in 2005! I had gone to a wine tasting at this vineyard in Montepulciano and somehow we've managed to save this bottle for 6 years now. My dad did a little online research and found a site that talked about how this wine, produced in 2005, would be in its peak 5-6 years later in 2011/2012 - just the perfect timing for Thanksgiving 2011! Amazing timing - and a delicious bottle of wine - I guess I'll just have to get back to Italy and get another now that we finally drank this one!

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