Mashed Potatoes, Gravy and a Turkey Rub

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This is a little all-in-one, your spiced turkey rub plus a homemade broth that sits in the bottom of your roasting pan for basting, your broth will turn into a gravy and we top it off with the MOST incredible mashed potatoes I’ve ever tasted. EVER!

The great thing about this combo is you can make all 3, or you can pick and choose. If you are picking and choosing which to make, let me reiterate…BEST mashed potatoes ever 🙂 You wanna know the secret…

Cream Cheese!!! What?!?! I’ve never put cream cheese in my mashed potatoes before, but let me tell you, from now on, that is my key ingredient!

Let’s start at the beginning:

Spiced Turkey Rub
2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground star anise
coarse sea salt
2 Tbsp finely grated peeled ginger
2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 14-lb turkey at room temperature 1 hour, reserving neck and giblets (discard liver)

1. Place black pepper, coriander, cloves, anise and 4 tsp salt in a spice grinder to combine and form a powder. Reserve 1 tsp spice mixture and combine remaining spice mixture with grated ginger, garlic and butter.
2. Rinse turkey inside and out; pat dry. Starting at cavity end, gently side your fingers between skin and flesh. Slide spice paste under, pushing butte out with a finger on outside of skin. Tie legs together, tuck wings under.
3. You can cook turkey to package directions at this point. No need to baste as the spice paste with baste from the inside out for a crispy golden skin. If you are following the below gravy recipe, don’t put the turkey in the oven just yet…time to make the broth!

Spiced Turkey Gravy
Neck and giblets from turkey
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
6 1/4″ thick slices fresh peeled ginger
1 bunch green onions, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 cup Chinese rice vinegar
4 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp cornstarch

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Pat neck and giblets dry; cut into 1″ pieces. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté neck pieces and giblets, about 5 minutes. Add green onions, carrots, celery and sliced ginger and sauté, stirring, 8 minutes.
2. Add rice vinegar and boil, scraping up brown bits, 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth, soy sauce, and reserved spice mixture; bring to a boil. Pour mixture into roasting pan; set rack in pan, arranging neck pieces, giblets, and vegetables around it.
3. Roast turkey on rack, rotating pan halfway through, until a thermometer inserted into fleshy part of thigh registers 170°, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
4. Carefully tilt turkey so juices run into pan; transfer turkey to a platter. Let stand 30 minutes.
5. Make gravy while turkey stands. Strain pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing hard on and then discarding solids; skim fat off tope and discard. You should have 4 cups of stock. Transfer all but 1/2 cup stock to a saucepan; bring to a boil.
6. Whisk together cornstarch and reserved stock; whisk into boiling stock and boil; whisking 2 minutes until thickened. If necessary, add more cornstarch 1 tsp at a time and waiting another 2 minutes while whisking. Serve turkey with gravy.

And now for the BEST part!!! Those incredible mashed potatoes!!

Perfect Mashed Potatoes
3 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes
2 tsp salt, divided
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup half & half
4 ozs cream cheese, softened
3/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1. Peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place potatoes, 1 tsp salt and cold water in a stock pot, cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and cook 15 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain.
2. Place potatoes in a mixing bowl, add butter, half & half, cream cheese, remaining salt and black pepper. Beat at medium speed with a hand mixer for 30-60 seconds for desired smoothness. Serve with gravy and enjoy!!!

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Pumpkin Mascarpone Pie

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OBSESSED! This pumpkin pie with mascarpone whip cream is heavenly!! I don’t make pies…in fact, this may be my first homemade pie…ever. I probably tried to get a little too fancy with the crust because it didn’t hold up so well after I cut into it. The good news is the crust, the filling and the whip cream were all incredible delicious, which is the most important part, right?!?!

Now just a heads up…the recipe below is the original recipe but I doubled the ingredients for the pie crust so that I had enough to make all the disc cutouts for the edge of my pie crust. If you want a traditional crimped edge, simply follow the recipe below. If you want to get more decorative, double your flour, butter and shortening.

And another heads up…I will be eating this pie at midnight on Thanksgiving when I get home from work…just in case you were wondering.

Pumpkin Mascarpone Pie
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
5/8 tsp salt, divided
5 Tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1/4 cup chilled vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, divided
1/4 tsp ground cloves
8 oz plus 1/4 cup mascarpone, divided
1 cup chilled whipping cream
2 Tbsp sugar

1. Blend flour and 1/4 tsp salt in a food processor. Add butter and shortening; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 1/4 cup ice water by the teaspoonful if dry. Gather into a ball; flatten into disc. Wrap in plastic; chill at least 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350°. Roll out dough on a floured work surface to a 12″ round. Transfer to a 9″ pie dish. Trim overhang to 1″ beyond rim. Crimp edges. Chill crust while making filling.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat pumpkin and brown sugar until well blended. Add eggs, lemon juice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, 1/2 tsp vanilla, cloves, and 1/4 tsp salt; beat until blended. Add 8 oz mascarpone and beat until mixture is smooth. Transfer to chilled crust.
4. Bake pie until custard is set, about 55 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool.
5. Using mixer, beat remaining 1/4 cup mascarpone, whipping cream, sugar, remaining 1 tsp vanilla, and remaining 1/8 tsp salt in a medium bowl until soft peaks form.
6. Serve pie with whipped topping.

Original recipe from Bon Appétit.

Green Bean Casserole

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I’m gonna be really honest…I don’t like green beans or green bean casserole. But…it is a Thanksgiving staple, right? So I wanted to give it a shot. I wanted to try a recipe that had a bit more flavor and this recipe did the trick with a rich, creamy, nutmeg wine sauce. Part of this recipe is making your own French fried onions, you could easily cut this step out (don’t buy the shallots and vegetable oil, instead buy the canned French fried onions) and make this recipe even easier. Also, I made this in my cast iron skillet but you can use a baking dish instead.

Green Bean Casserole
1 1/2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed
Vegetable oil for frying
1 cup shallots, thinly sliced
(can substitute previous 2 ingredients with canned French fried onions)
3 Tbsp flour, divided
8 ozs mushrooms (shitake, bella or crimini), sliced
2 Tbsp butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
1 cup half and half

1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Wash and trim green beans. Blanch in boiling, well-salted water for 3 minutes. Immediately transfer to ice water bath and set aside.
3. Heat 1 to 2 inches of vegetable oil in a deep, medium skillet. (skip this step if using pre-made French fried onions)
4. Pat shallots dry, then toss with 1 Tbsp flour. Season with salt and pepper. Fry shallots in oil (in batches) until golden brown, then transfer to a plate to drain on a paper towel.
5. Melt butter over medium heat in a medium pan or cast iron skillet. Add mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are golden brown.
6. Add garlic and nutmeg and cook for another minute or two. Add 2 Tbsp of flour and cook for 1 minute.
7. Slowly add white wine, cook for a minute and stir to break up any flour lumps. Slowly add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Boil the mixture for another 2 minutes then turn the heat down to medium-low.
8. Add half & half and cook, stirring, until mixture begins to thicken. Take off heat.
9. Add green beans to mushroom mixture. Add 1/4 cup of fried shallots. Mix to combine and season with salt & pepper. Transfer green bean mixture to 9×9 baking dish or bake in a cast iron skillet. Sprinkle remaining on top of casserole. Bake for 20 minutes until green beans are warmed and mixture is bubbly.

*Original recipe from Plum Pie

Cheddar & Sage Biscuits

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We’re about halfway through the Thanksgiving feast posts! Still to come…green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy, turkey & pie! All the best parts!

These biscuits take things up a notch, not just a plain dinner roll with butter, the sage and cheddar taste great together and it makes your house smell so yummy when they are baking.

I’m not one for labor intensive recipes, so I’ve always stayed away from baking breads, but these were quick and easy.

Cheddar & Sage Biscuits
Makes 12 biscuits
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for working
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp coarse salt
2 cups grated sharp white cheddar (5 1/2 ounces)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 450°. In a food processor, pulse flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add cheddar and sage and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture is the texture of coarse meal, with pea-sized pieces of butter remaining. Add buttermilk and pulse until just combined, 2-3 times.
2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead just until it comes together. With a floured rolling pin, roll dough to a 3/4 inch thickness. With a floured 3 inch biscuit cutter, cut out 12 biscuits (reroll and cut scraps).
3. Place biscuits on a baking sheet, 1 1/2 inches apart, and bake until puffed and golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Original recipe from Martha Stewart.

Truffle Mac & Cheese

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Mac & Cheese was never part of our Thanksgiving meals growing up, but last year, my brother-in-law made it part of our meal and, I mean, it pretty much made the meal. This recipe incorporates truffle oil and a crispy topping, and makes beautiful dish for your holiday table. The flavor is subtle, which is the key for a meal with so many competing dishes.

Truffle Mac & Cheese
2 1/4 cup 1% milk, divided
1 medium onion, sliced crosswise
1 bay leaf
12 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup (3 ozs) shredded fontina cheese
1/2 cup (2 ozs) shredded Comte or Gruyere cheese
1 1/2 tsp white truffle oil
2 ozs French bread baguette, torn
2 Tbsp grated fresh parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tbsp olive oil

1. Heat 1 3/4 cups milk, onion and bay leaf in a large saucepan until tiny bubbles form around edges (DO NOT BOIL). Cover and remove from heat; let stand for 15 minutes.
2. Cook pasta to package directions; drain.
3. Strain milk mixture through a colander over a bowl; discard solids. Return milk to saucepan over medium heat. Combine remaining 1/2 cup milk and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until blended. Gradually stir flour mixture and salt into warm milk; stirring constantly with a whisk. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; let stand 6 minutes or until mixture cools to 155°. Gradually add fontina and Comte cheeses, stirring until cheeses melt. Stir in pasta and truffle oil. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart broiler-safe glass or ceramic baking dish.
4. Preheat broiler.
5. Place bread, parmesan cheese, and garlic in a food processor; process until coarse crumbs form. Drizzle with olive oil; pulse until fine crumbs form. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over pasta. Place dish on middle rack of oven; broil 2 minutes or until golden brown.

Original recipe from Cooking Light.

Fall Harvest Salad

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My friend Janine texted me one day about a homemade salad dressing, saying that I HAD to try it. Of course I believed that it would be tasty and that I would like it, but for whatever reason, I didn’t try out the recipe. A few weeks later, Janine and her hubby were at our house for the weekend. We were getting ready to eat dinner, I was asking what kind of salad dressing everyone wanted on their salad and Janine quickly whipped up this Maple Vinaigrette Dressing.

I mean…this dressing has changed my salads forever!!!

This is another recipe for your Thanksgiving table, course #1 to get everyone started, a beautifully colored and incredibly full-flavored fall salad.

Maple Vinaigrette Dressing
Makes 1 1/2 cups dressing
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tsp Dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste
3/4 cup olive oil

1. Combine balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon mustard and salt & pepper together in a blender or food processor.
2. With blender or food processor running, add olive oil in a steady stream, to combine.

Fall Harvest Salad
1/2 acorn squash, peeled, seeded and sliced lengthwise into 1/2″ wedges
olive oil
salt & pepper
4 cups spinach
1/2 cup shaved parmesan
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place squash on rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until squash is tender when pierced with a fork.
2. In a large bowl, toss spinach with 1/4 cup of Maple Vinaigrette Dressing (more to taste if desired).
3. Top spinach with squash, parmesan, pecans and cranberries. Toss to combine and serve.

Cranberry-Orange Sauce

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My husbands words: “Mmm…I don’t usually like cranberry sauce, but that’s really good!” That’s a success in my book! If nothing else, can you all just promise me that you WILL NOT serve canned cranberries at Thanksgiving this year?!?! No offense to those who like canned cranberry sauce but let’s be honest…it’s kind of weird. I mean, it comes out still looking like the inside of the can and the texture is, for lack of a better adjective, mushy. And not to mention, this recipe is SO easy to make, literally 30 minutes, start to finish.

 Cranberry-Orange Sauce
12 oz bag fresh cranberries (if using frozen, thaw first)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp orange zest
1 cup fresh orange juice
course salt and ground pepper

1. In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, orange zest and 1/2 cup water. Season with salt & pepper.
2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat to medium-low and simmered until thickened, 15-20 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and add the orange juice, stirring to combine. Let sit for about 10 minutes and serve at room temperature.

Cornbread Stuffing

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Recipe #1 for a Thanksgiving feast! I have to admit, I’ve only cooked big holiday meals a handful of times, so I’m certainly no expert but I do know that I’m a perfectionist, a bit controlling (do not comment, mom or husband!) and I don’t like surprises in the kitchen when I’m entertaining. So I thought it was a great idea to test out all my Thanksgiving recipes ahead of time. This stuffing makes the cut and will absolutely be on our Thanksgiving day table. There’s a little work involved in preparing the cornbread first but you can easily do that ahead of time (up to a week) or, if your grocery store sells pre-made cornbread in their bakery, you can use that too.

Cornbread Stuffing w/ Sausage & Fennel
8 cups 1/2″ cubes Savory Cornbread
1 pound bulk ground breakfast sausage
10 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided, plus more for baking dish
1 medium fennel bulb, chopped, plus fronds for serving
4 celery stalks, chopped
8 scallions, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 Bosc or Comice pears, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp dried sage leaves
2 cups (or more if desired) low sodium chicken broth, divided
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
3 large eggs, beaten

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Divide cornbread between 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Bake, tossing occasionally, until beginning to brown in spots and dry out, 40-45 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, cook sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up with a spoon, until dark brown, 6-8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a small bowl; let cool.
3. Reduce heat to medium and heat 8 Tbsp butter in same skillet. Add fennel, celery, scallions, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Add pears and wine, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until wine is almost completely evaporated, about 5 minutes.
4. Increase oven temperature to 400°F. Butter a 9″x13″ baking dish. Combine sausage, fennel mixture, parsley, oregano, thyme, sage, and 1 1/2 cups broth in a large bowl. Add cornbread and toss to combine; season with salt and pepper. Let sit 10 minutes, then add remaining1/2 cup broth and toss, adding more broth if needed (bread should be very moist but not soggy). Add eggs and mix gently just to combine. Transfer dressing to prepared baking dish and dot with remaining 2 Tbsp butter.
5. Cover dressing with foil and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until stuffing is golden and crisp on top, 20-30 minutes longer
6. Serve topped with fennel fronds.

Original recipe from Bon Appétit.