What To Do with Leftover Cranberry Sauce?

29 11 2013

Make pancakes, of course!! What did you think I was going to say?

IMG_0793Last Friday my girlfriends and I got together for book club and to share a  fantastic Thanksgiving dinner. I brought some a ton of homemade cranberry sauce to the gathering thanks to using a full bag and a half of cranberries (warning- it makes a LOT). Though we ate half the sauce, there was still quite a bit left over so I brought it home.

On Sunday, as I mulled over my options for pancake flavors, I remembered that I had cranberry sauce in the fridge. Definitely pancake worthy. I wasn’t quite sure what else to pair with the cranberries, so I pulled out The Flavor Bible to see what they suggested. (By the way, this is a great gift for foodies, and that’s an affiliate link). As I read through the list, cream cheese popped out at me, since I had some in the fridge that I needed to use up. Walnuts were also on the list, and a recipe started forming in my head (with the help of some additional prompting from Bill 😉 )

It was decided that we would make maple walnut pumpkin pancakes with cranberry cream cheese filling. Phew, that’s a mouthful!

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Actually, the “pumpkin” part of that recipe wasn’t part of the original plan until Bill grabbed TJ’s pumpkin butter and threw a dallop into the batter. I was skeptical, but I honestly think that it MADE these pancakes.

IMG_9348Uh, we like pumpkin butter around here. (Only three of them were mine, two were for a friend.)

The pancakes turned out great! They weren’t overwhelmingly pumpkin-y; it was more of the spices from the pumpkin butter that came through in the batter. The pancakes had a nice crunch from the walnuts, and the creamy sweetness from the cranberry filling was perfection. I will definitely be making these again!

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Maple Walnut Pumpkin Pancakes with Cranberry Cream Cheese Filling

Note: these measurements aren’t going to be perfect, I often will just throw things into the batter without measuring, so some measurements are guesses!

Ingredients:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup dry oats
2.5 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup chopped walnuts + extra for topping
2 eggs
3 TBS light brown sugar
3 TBS maple syrup
2 TBS pumpkin butter
1 cup greek yogurt
1.5 cups milk

For the Filling:
Mix together equal parts cranberry sauce and whipped cream cheese, depending on how much you want!

How to:

In a medium sized bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. In another bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir until just combined.

On a hot griddle/fry pan, pour 1/4- 1/3 cup of the batter. Allow to bubble, flip and let cook through.

Layer the cranberry filling between your pancakes. Top with more cranberry filling, maple syrup and chopped walnuts.

Dig in!

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How I Prepared My First Thanksgiving Turkey

30 11 2012

Vegetarians beware: this post contains some explicit pictures of raw turkey.

I know this is quite a bit late, but I figured I’d share my experience in preparing my first ever turkey. I hope it might serve as a good “how to” for some first time turkey cookers.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

Before I got my hands on (and in) a turkey, I did some research. I spent a few days googling “How to roast a turkey” and reading the latest Food Network Magazine and the little Thanksgiving handout from Williams Sonoma. I also was curious about brining, so I read up on that too. The Serious Eats Food Lab had a really interesting article about the science behind brining. It was a little too detailed, but I did pick up on a few things.

Anywho- my indecisiveness paired with my desire for perfection caused me to flip flop between whether or not I was going to brine or not brine. In the end, decided to go for it.

I loosely followed The Pioneer Woman’s recipe for her favorite turkey brine. Man, did it fill the house with a wonderful aroma! I started this several hours before I went to bed on Wednesday night because the brine needed to come to a boil and then cool completely before sticking the turkey in.

Note: if you are going to brine a turkey, use a fresh turkey and make sure it hasn’t been pumped full of sodium already! I’ve read too much Michael Pollan and watched too many food documentaries to buy one of the run of the mill Butterballs, so I opted to spend a little extra money on a free range, organic turkey. Worth it? I dunno, I’ll just tell myself it was.

(um not sure what is up with my eyes/eyebrows in this picture…)

Next came the icky part- finding the giblets and such and pulling them out from inside the turkey. I rinsed the bird and then dug in.

Don’t forget to check both openings of the turkey! I made that mistake and only checked the obvious opening. I didn’t realize they might have stuffed the other end with the bag of innards until after I talked to my mom, when the bird was already brining in the fridge. Whoops.

I used one of those oven bags and filled it with the brine and turkey, wrapped it up tight, stuck it in a bowl and put it in the fridge to brine overnight. I think it may be possible to overbrine the turkey by letting it soak for several days. My turkey brined for about 14 hours.

Thanksgiving is all about backwards planning, starting with the time you want to eat, and then calculating how long it will take to prepare the bird, including the brining, the resting, the cooking, and more resting. (Not to mention figuring out when to cook the sides when the oven is monopolized by the turkey!) My bird was 10.8 pounds so I was guessing it would take close to 3 hours to cook since I was going to stuff it. I wanted to let it rest for about 30 minutes before putting it in the oven and I needed to let it rest about 30 minutes after it came out of the oven, so I took it out of the refrigerator about 4 hours before the planned meal time.

While it was resting, I prepared my stuffing.

I didn’t really follow a recipe, but here’s what I used: 1 roll of Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage, 1 onion, ~8 celery stalks, 1 loaf stale German Dark Wheat Bread, 1 Braeburn Apple, fresh Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Salt, Pepper to taste.

I patted the turkey dry and filled the it with the stuffing.

My turkey came pre-trussed, but if yours isn’t, just use some twine and tie together the legs.

I filled all of the crevasses I could with stuffing, and let it overflow a little. Once stuffed, I buttered and seasoned the turkey all over. I probably could have used more butter, but oh well!

Now it was ready for the oven!

Well, almost. Before sticking it in the oven, butter a piece of foil that will fit on top of all the stuffing. Put it butter-side down onto the stuffing so that it doesn’t burn.

It’s also worth noting here that a lot of what I’ll call “purists” shy away from stuffing the turkey, and instead make the dressing on the side. Stuffing the bird prevents it from cooking as evenly, and you need to be extra careful that the stuffing is at least 165ºF so no one gets sick.

I popped it in the oven at 400ºF for the first 30 minutes before turning the temperature down to 325ºF for the remainder of the cooking time.

Not gonna lie, I was a little lot worried out when I pulled it out at 30 minutes at the tips of the wings were already a dark brown and clearly crispy. But Bill assured me it would be okay and that no one really eats the wings anyhow:-)

I basted the turkey every 30 minutes with a mixture of butter and chicken broth. I think I might have been doing something wrong because I always expected to baste the turkey with drippings in the pan. But every time I pulled the bird out, there was just some pieces of the turkey browning on the bottom, no juices…

3 hours later, my first turkey was done!

Not quite as photogenic as I would have liked, but it will do!

Carved and plated was much prettier:

I’d say this turkey was a success! The meat was juicy and flavorful. I definitely think the brine helped! The stuffing was delicious and I made a flavorful gravy with the pan drippings. (Side note: I unstuffed the bird and put the stuffing in an oven-safe pan and threw it back in the oven, just to make sure any contaminants were cooked off.) What a great meal!

I was a little intimidated by the whole process going into the holiday, but when it was all said and done, it wasn’t all that bad. Sure it’s a pretty labor intensive process, but I love being in the kitchen, so I didn’t mind it.

Now that I’ve got one under my belt, I’m ready (well, maybe not until next Thanksgiving) to tackle another one, and make it even better next time!





The Ultimate Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwich

28 11 2012

One of the reasons I decided to cook a whole turkey instead of just turkey breasts was because I wanted leftovers. I mean who doesn’t love an overstuffed turkey sandwich with all the fixins’? And when it comes to making said overstuffed sandwich, Bill Berry proved to be quite the expert.

Yup, that would be Bill’s double-decker turkey sandwich that was outta control delicious. Here’s how he made it:

First, he started with some Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter which I brought back from my weekend trip to Chicago. And yes, I paid $20 to check my bag so that I could bring back three jars of it (and some trail mix, sesame cashews, and chocolate.) So worth it.

Then he sliced some of his tequila laced sweet potatoes, and added the first layer of turkey.

He was careful not to overload, since he had many more layers to go.

Then he smeared some fancy mustard onto the next slice of bread to finish off the first half of his sandwich.

I could have dug in right then, but no siree, there was still half of the sandwich to go!

Next up: cranberry sauce. No post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich is complete without it!

And why not add some more carbs to the sandwich in the form of stuffing?

“Is it soup done yet?”

Nope, there was still a layer of turkey, arugula, and a thin spread of miracle whip to go before Bill stepped back and said it was done.

Check out those layers!

After a quick diagonal slice and a few photos, the ultimate sandwich was ready to eat.

Mmmm. I don’t think I’ll ever make a boring turkey sandwich again!

Question of the day: How did you use your leftovers?