I’ve really been in the Thanksgiving spirit this year and I decided that I really wanted to try my hand at roasting a turkey. Brad and I contemplated having a friend pre-thanksgiving feast but that would have meant canceling our Christmas party, which we really didn’t want to do. Still, I REALLY wanted to roast a turkey, and I kept seeing amazing Thanksgiving side dish recipes I wanted to try. I decided to make Thanksgiving for two (which, by the way, is basically impossible.)
Brad and I settled on a couple of interesting recipes for our Thanksgiving Feast: Sweet Potato Boats, Acorn Squash with Maple Pecan Butter, and Cranberry Orange Sauce.
This past Sunday while Brad was at work I decided to tackle the feat of Thanksgiving dinner. I started around 9 a.m. jotting down what temperature each dish cooked at and for how long. With only one oven I knew it would take specific timing to get everything to finish around the same time. Once I knew what time to start each of the side dishes I started scouring the internet for directions on how to roast a turkey.
I know, I know, it’s 9:00 a.m. the day I’m going to roast a turkey and I still had no idea how to do it. However, in my defense, I hadn’t originally planned to make the turkey on Sunday. I was waiting on directions from a co-worker of mine, who happens to be a great chef, but with the holidays and family / friend gatherings, I didn’t see another time when I would get the chance to roast the turkey.
After browsing various recipes, I found that it was still a few hours before the turkey needed to go in the oven. I took this chance to make the cranberry sauce, as it was the only dish that could be made early and refrigerated.
1 Cup Sugar
1-1/4 Cups Orange Juice
Zest from 1 Orange
1 teaspoon cinnamon
12 ounces Fresh Cranberries
In a saucepan combine sugar, orange juice, orange zest and cinnamon. Warm until sugar dissolves.
Add cranberries to saucepan and bring to boil
Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Cool, cover and refrigerate
The cranberry sauce was quick and easy to make. I put it in the refrigerator and headed to the park with Maggie as I still had some free time before I had to get the turkey started.
When it was finally time to get the turkey out I found that I hadn’t needed to spend time searching for directions, Butterball gives roasting instructions with their turkeys (you’d think I’d have noticed that when I bought it). I turned the oven on to 325 degrees and coarsely chopped up onion, celery, carrots and garlic, tossing the vegetables with unspecified amounts of salt, pepper, dry rosemary and dry basil. I then unwrapped my turkey only to read that the first instructions are “find the 2 cavities in the turkey and remove the neck and gizzards.” (So to clarify: I have to stick my hand up this turkey’s butt and pull out the neck?!?! That is not only gross but degrading to the turkey…I mean you already killed it and then for a kicker you decided to shove it’s head up it’s butt?!”) For starters I couldn’t even find the neck cavity because they cover it with a flap of skin, I was already confused by the directions. I reach my hand into the one cavity I could find and it sounded something like this “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh…eeewww, gross, eeewww, eeewww, gross, gross, eeewww.” I pulled the neck from it’s body and was completely freaked out. Still there was supposed to be another cavity! After about a minute of prodding the turkey, I found the skin flap, pulled it back and reached my hand into the neck cavity. It sounds very similar to pulling out the neck. Actually, this part wasn’t nearly as bad, because this part was at least bundled in a bag. Everything after this was a breeze (I mean, how much worse could it get anyway?) Next I patted the turkey dry with a paper towel, put the turkey into a roasting pan, filled the cavities with the chopped vegetables, brushed the turkey with oil and tented foil over the top. It was about 12:30 PM when I put my turkey in the oven and I was PUMPED! I was so excited, the hard part was over, now all I had to do was wait while the oven did the rest of the work.
The next item to go in the oven was the sweet potatoes. The directions called to start by baking the potatoes for 1 hour at 400 degrees to soften the inner flesh. As the turkey was baking at only 325 degrees, I figured I would just leave the potatoes in there for longer than called for. After about 1-1/2 hours I pulled out the potatoes and cut them in half. As I tried to scoop out the flesh I noticed that some of the potatoes were still quite firm inside so I put them in the microwave for about 5 minutes to finish cooking. Once the potatoes were soft, I scooped out the flesh and used my beater to mash it along with several other ingredients (see recipe below). I then put the boats on a baking sheet, filled them with the now mashed sweet potato and topped each boat with the pecan flax crumble topping.
Still I wasn’t done, I also wanted to make rolls. The rolls called for baking for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. When I pulled out the sweet potatoes to top them with marshmallows, I also topped the acorn squash with the maple pecan butter. I then pushed the turkey to one side of the oven and put one pan of sweet potatoes next to it. I put the other pan of sweet potatoes (and acorn squash) along with the rolls on the top shelf.
Everything was in the oven and prepared to be finished only 15 minutes after Brad got home from work! I was so proud of myself, I even made time to clean up some of the dishes before Brad got home. He was really surprised to see everything I had done and I was so pleased that he finished the dishes for me!
Unfortunately, when the timer went off nothing was done! The temperature in our oven is off, by what I thought was 25 degrees, apparently it’s more like 50 degrees off. Also the oven loses heat every time you open it, which was no less than 6 times after I put the turkey in. I left everything in the oven for approximately 10-20 extra minutes. The rolls were done, the potatoes were done, the squash was done…to my complete disappointment the turkey was NOT DONE! I had been so excited that I had timed everything just right and it was ruined, the turkey still about an hour to cook. Fortunately, I have the best and most understanding husband who simply said “It’s okay, we’ll just eat everything else and eat the turkey when it’s done.”
Even though, we had to eat the turkey separately, dinner was AMAZING and I think I have a lot to live up to next year. Even better, everything is great reheated the next day, and the next, and the one after that which is good because I think we’ll have leftovers in our house for a while.
As it is Thanksgiving here a just a FEW things I’m thankful for:
- My amazingly supportive husband, who loves me completely and is the only person in the world that can put up with my craziness day in and day out.
- My energetic puppy Maggie Moose, who can always cheer me up, gets me exercise even in the cold by making me take her for walks, and never leaves my side when I’m sad or sick.
- My friends, who laugh with me, cry with me, love me, listen to me and at the very least, make amazing memories with me
- Brad’s friends who have accepted me unconditionally, without question or judgment, and who I am able to consider my own friends
- My family who love me through thick and thin, who has always been available when I need them most, who hold on tightly even when I try to let go, and who are understanding even when they don’t understand
Have fun, be safe, hug those that are close, and tell someone you are thankful for them.
4 large sweet potatoes (that are not too curvy)
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 - 1/2 cup light coconut milk (I used 2% milk instead
Flax Crumble Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons coconut oil (solid)
2 Tablespoons flour
1/4 Cup dark brown sugar
1 Cup raw pecans, chopped
2 Tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes (or used sweetened and forgo the mini-marshmallows)
2 Tablespoons oats
1 Tablespoon flax seeds (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Poke a few holes in the potatoes and bake for 1 hour or until soft and tender (Or cook your potatoes in the microwave for approximately 10-15 minutes, or until soft)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Once potatoes are cooked, cut them in half and allow to cool for 5 minutes
Scoop flesh out of potatoes leaving a thin layer of potato in the skin. Place the skins on a baking sheet
In a medium sized bowl, mash potatoes well.
Add brown sugar, maple syrup, coconut oil, cinnamon and vanilla to potatoes and continue mashing until smooth.
Stir in eggs and ¼ cup milk (add more milk if potatoes are too thick)
Evenly spoon the potatoes back into the potato skins, the filling should be just popping over the skins.
Make Flax Crumble: mix ingredients together with your hands, making sure to coat everything this the coconut oil.
Evenly top sweet potato boats with flax crumble.
Bake for 15 minutes, add marshmallows and return to oven for 15 minutes
1 acorn squash
1/4 Cup Butter
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
1/4 Cup Pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cut the squash in half and remove seeds.
Cut each half in half (end up with 4 pieces of squash)
Place squash in baking dish, skin side down
Bake uncovered for 30 minutes
Mix together butter, syrup and pecans – evenly divide mixture on squash pieces
Continue baking for 10 minutes, or until butter mixture is melted.