Brown Bag Turkey Hint

You are getting ready to make your Thanksgiving Turkey with the old recipe that your mother used. The recipe has you place the bird into a paper bag and bake it.

Now days you are not going to want to do this. Most brown bags that are provided by your local grocer are made from recycled paper products and may contain harmful chemicals.

Instead, most stores carry an affordable plastic poultry baking bag that is designed specifically for this purpose.

Quick Pumpkin for Pie

You want to make a fresh pumpkin pie, but it is so hard to prepare the pumpkin for the filling.  To quickly and easily peel a pumpkin for pie or mashing just turn to the microwave.  Take your pumpkin and cut in half. Scoop out the seeds and fiber.

Place the pumpkin cut side down on a large plate or in a bowl.  Place the plate/bowl in the microwave and cook until tender.

Using a pair of oven mitts, remove the pumpkin from the microwave and scoop the softened pulp out of the shell and into a bowl.

Let the pumpkin cool, then continue with your recipe.

Sharing Thanksgiving

To really get kids into the festive spririt for Thanksgiving, get each one of the kids a cornish game hen.

As you are preparing the Turkey, let them prepare their own birds.

You can then bake them in their own roaster and as you baste your bird, they can baste theirs and for the feast they can enjoy their own creation.

This is a great learning experience and it keeps the kids occupied.

Gravy Tips II

The hardest thing to tell with gravy is how much to make. The general rule of thumb is to make about 1/3 cup of prepared gravy for each person.

If you have gravy lovers like in my house, I will bump it up to 1/2 cup as you can never have too much gravy!

For each cup of gravy you will want 1 tablespoon of fat from whatever you are making, 2 tablespoons of flour and 1 cup of broth.  Heat your fat over medium heat in a sauce pan large enough to hold the amount of gravy that you are making.

Reduce your heat to medium low and remove the pan from the heat to add the flour.  Using a wire wisk, blend the flour well into the fat and return your pan to the heat.

Let cook for 3-4 minutesstirring often with your wire whisk until golden brown to light carmel in color.  Add about 1/3 of your broth and remove from heat.  Whisk the mixture well until all lumps have been removed.

Return to the heat and add the remaining liquid.  Increase heat to medium and bring to just a boil for at least 2-3 minutes.  The gravy will thicken as the mixture cooks.

Taste and if needed you can season with some salt and pepper, don’t forget to let the mixture cook for a few minutes after the addition to blend the flavors well. Don’t keep adding flour if the gravy is a little thin, it will continue to thicken as it cools just before serving.

Place your gravy into a bowl or a gravy boat to serve.

If you will not be serving the gravy immediately, place a piece of plastic wrap over the surface, actually touching the gravy to keep a film/crust from forming. You can then remove the wrap and reheat in a microwave or reheat in a pan on the stove over medium heat.

Pre-Cooking Mashed Potatoes

If you find that you are going to be in a pinch for space while preparing your special meal, you can always prepare your mashed potatoes up to 2 hours ahead of time.

When you have thoroughly prepared your potatoes and they are ready for serving, simply place them into a crock pot and let them sit at the low setting for up to 2 hours.

You can serve them right in the crockpot to save dirtying any more dishes and they will stay toasty warm.

Keeping Gravy Warm

As you found out that when you serve gravy it thickens while it cools. Toward the end of dinner you can sometimes find a congealed glob that really isn’t that appetizing or pourable.

The next time that you serve gravy for a large dinner, try serving it in a fondue pot. The heat from the candle or burner will keep your gravy warm and pourable.  Just make sure to keep it away from the decorative centerpiece or it could catch on fire!

Don’t have a fondue pot? Grab your crockpot.  I bought a small one specifically for keeping gravies and sauces warm.

Stuffing Tips II

Now that you are ready to make your stuffing, how do you decide how much you need?  If you can estimate that each person is going to eat about 1/3 cup of stuffing.

If you plan on stuffing your bird, don’t worry if it will all fit. If you stuff the Turkey/Chicken and find that you have some left over, just place it into a casserole dish and bake alongside the bird.

If plan on baking the stuffing in a casserole instead of in the bird you will want to adjust the liquid in your recipe. If you place stuffing in a bird, it will absorb the juices making a moister stuffing. If you bake it in the baking dish you will not have that extra flavor nor moisture.

If you do place the stuffing inside your bird, don’t pack it in too tightly. The stuffing will expand as it bakes and you don’t want it to explode outside your bird.

When checking the temperature of your bird to see if it is done, don’t forget to check your stuffing temperature also. The stuffing has to be at least 165º to kill any bacteria that might be present.

Fresh VS Dried Cranberries

You are getting ready to prepare a recipe for the holiday season and you notice that it calls for fresh cranberries.  You run down to the store and all that you find are dried cranberries and you wonder if they are ok to substitute.

You can use dried cranberries in most recipes with satisfactory results. You will need to change the quantity though. For each cup of Fresh, substitute 3/4 cup of dried.

If the recipe turns out too dry, you can soak the cranberries in some warm water for about a half an hour before using in your next recipe.

You can use dried cranberries in the place of raisins or currents to add a little extra kick in recipes asking for them.