Simply Turkey

Thanksgiving Spread 2011

Cooking a turkey can be very intimidating the first time. I know I was petrified. Then there’s the rumor going around that you have to get up at 5am to cook said turkey, which is just silly, unless you wanted Thanksgiving Breakfast I suppose. So this is the way I’ve discovered to cook a turkey in your oven that is easy, moist and delicious (also the meat seasoned this way work great for a million turkey leftover recipes). First you have to select your turkey. Remember how you figured your head count? Well, imagine about 1lb uncooked bird per person. This will leave you with plenty of leftovers, but not leftovers in December. I cook about a 12 1/2lb turkey even though our head count is 13 or so, mostly because we make way too many sides each year and this year we are also having ham (ironically this is a “guy thing”). The list below gives you cook times so you can better plan your day.

*Keep in mind that if it’s a frozen turkey you should start thawing it (on the bottom shelf of your fridge) Sunday afternoon or Monday morning. *

6-8lbs 2-2 ½ hrs

8-12lbs 2 ½-3 hrs

12-16lbs 3-3 ½ hrs

16-20lbs 3 ½-4 hrs

20-24lbs 4-4 ½ hrs

Turkey is done when it reaches a temperature of 165 degrees internally. They come with those little pop out thingies that will let you know when they are done, but I do like to double check with a meat thermometer, just in case. I cook our turkey at 350 degrees, but as the day goes on I occasionally turn the oven up to say 375 for rolls (which will only be about 10 to 15 minutes, and will not harm your turkey). I assume that’s why my turkey never takes the full amount of time to cook, but I only have the one oven. Also when plotting time for Thanksgiving Day, keep in mind after you cook your turkey it needs 20 to 30 minutes to “rest” (which is fancy chef’s language for let the juices get all good and soaked in) before you carve it. This is the perfect time to stick a few things back in that suddenly empty oven to heat them back up.

My rub for simply wonderful turkey:

Onion Powder

Paprika

Seasoned Salt

Dried Rosemary (crush it in your hand before mixing it with the other seasonings)

Pinch of Sage (compared to others)

Pinch of Black Pepper

The top 4 ingredients   should be in almost equal portions, sorry, I never measure and have no idea how much I put on a turkey. This should be rubbed on the breasts of the turkey under the skin and all over the exterior of the turkey.

I make my rosemary olive oil, but you can but it too and it’s not that expensive. I use that under the breast skin (about 2 Tbls) and then drizzled over the entire bird (about 7 or 8 Tbls). While I am lubing up and rubbing down the turkey (we get very close) I am preheating the oven, you want that turkey to go into the oven no cooler than 350 or you really will be doing this all damn day. While you are cooking and assembling other dishes do not forget your turkey’s most important ingredient! That’d be love and attention. Every time you open the oven door use either a turkey baster or a ladle (I mean big cooking ladle, not teeny gravy ladle) and scoop the juices from the pan back over the turkey. Think of you turkey like a well behaved 5-year-old, you can leave it be, but you should check on it at least every 30 minutes. If your oven door hasn’t opened in the last 30 thirty minutes, do so and ladle that baby up. I was looking for the tiny turkey cooking times and the giant turkey cooking times on the internet when I (happily, because I cook about the way she does and firmly believe butter gets a bad rap) discovered this is also how Paula Deen cooks her turkey! She uses a more sophisticated rub, (duh, real cook) but I’m referring to the turkey basting love, I thought that was kinda cool.

Don’t be scared of the turkey (they are not even intimidating before they get naked the way you buy them at the store), and wow the hell of anybody who gets the privilege to sit at your table this year. (Miscreants are eating out of their laps in the den around here, so really, privilege.)

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Thanksgiving Planning in 7 Easy Steps

As many of you know I love I love a good party, any holiday I can get my hands on and run with. Well Thanksgiving is one of my favorites, mostly because it’s all about the food. Food, family, and just enjoying each other, can’t beat that with a stick. As much as I am excited about next week, I know that some are nervous, stressed, overwhelmed, which is totally taking away from your ability to enjoy the holiday. In an effort to help prevent any of you from “Gettin’ all Holiday”(defined below for those of you who were unaware) on anyone I made a list (yay, lists!) of things that help me stay sane/cheerful/fairly relaxed during the next week. Keep in mind, I firmly belive if you aren’t having fun, stop, do it differently, don’t do it at all, whatever, but holidays should be fun, for EVERYONE, not just the kids, not just the in-laws, not just your own family. Kay, back off of soap box & onto list of helpfulness…

  1. Make a Master list. I know, first item on the list is make a list, but this helps, I promise. Make a list of whose (probably) going to be there. (this gives you a head count & keeps fresh in your mind any dietary restrictions, which you should write next to people’s name on this list) On your Master list you have eaters and eaten. So you should list all the food you want to serve. (like you are brainstorming, you can cut items later).
  2. Edit that list! Go through the Master list and evaluate it. Are you serving 8 sweet potato dishes? Is someone going to be rushed to the hospital due to the fact that every dish has their allergen in it? Is the vegetarian in your group about to waste away? What about the no veggie/meat and PLAIN potatoes only eater? Do you have more deserts that side dishes? Balance your menu as best you can and rewrite it. This list goes on the fridge so you can find it all week long.
  3. Calender. Draw a 1 to 2 week calendar on a sheet of notebook paper. (I recommend 2 week for maximum holiday chill time, but as long as you have a week you should be fine) Plot 2 days to go grocery shopping (the second should be no earlier than the Monday before Thanksgiving and no later than the Wednesday before, DO NOT plan to go on Thanksgiving! Yes, you can go for an emergency, but don’t do that to you intentionally!) Using you edited menu, decide what you are going to cook and when. Keep in mind fridge space when you do this. Your goal is to cook as few things as humanly possible on Thanksgiving day. (think Turkey on the day, Sweet Potato Pie can be cooked 2 weeks early, boil eggs on Saturday to Devil on Thanksgiving Day, etc)
  4. Grocery Lists (yes 2 lists) and Shopping your Pantry. Sit down with your Edited list, Calendar, and all your recipes along with 2 sheets of paper. One list will be for that first trip to the store, you get the idea. It helps to have a child (or relative/friend/etc) look for items as you call them out from recipe cards. If you have the item on stock, pull it out (try putting all non perishables in a box), if you don’t it goes on one of your two lists. Place items on your list with an eye on when you plan to make what. However, I would buy the Turkey at least one week early, so you still get to pick. 2 lists have 3 main benefits, #1 it spreads out your grocery budget across (hopefully) more than one paycheck, #2 if you forgot/underestimated how much you needed/etc you have PLANNED to go back (this is emotionally important, I promise) making 1 “extra” trip is waaay more relaxing than 4 or 5 for other little things, #3 you can start cooking 1 1/2 to 2 weeks in advance and still have fresh veggies on the actual day.       *At this point I point out that if you aren’t already the owner of one of those magnetic clips? Invest. They look like the clip part of an old clipboard, but stick to the fridge. they are perfect for holding school flyers, and will keep all of your lists in order (ie not lost).*
  5. Follow your Plan. Except when your life happens, then adjust your plan. You will have more freedom to do this the earlier you start. See how much more relaxing that is?
  6. Enjoy Thanksgiving! You did all of this! You are the conductor of your very own gastronomical symphony! (Many pats on the back)
  7. Do not leave house on Black Friday. An important final stress reducing step. Out of milk? It’s all good, no one will die between now and Saturday, I promise. Make sure some Holiday Booze was secreted away for today, enjoy it, prop your feet and laugh at the people assaulting each other on the news while wearing your fuzzy pjs.

Hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving! recipes/etc to follow this week!

*Gettin’ all Holiday: Usually used as in “I was so mad about how that woman was acting, I was this close to Gettin’ all Holiday on her ass.” Comes from years in restaurants that were open on the holidays and located near malls, refers to the way people act (like complete shit heads)/treat each other (as though they are actually insane and self-species-loathing) from November 1st through January 10th or so every year. Is most famous for occurring on Black Friday, but can be seen in disrespectful, self-absorbed,and hatefully people any day during this time period. We have been using it for years (pre YouTube) along with “Y’all have a Rainbow F-ing Day” (which is a story for later) but last year it was demonstrated even better than I can explain by folks all over the good ole US of A. Try to avoid Gettin’ all Holiday on folks, you could end up on the internet…*

Easy Make Ahead Sausage Baskets

Here we are, back to school in one week. Sigh. One of the things I do to make the school year a little easier on myself is make breakfast the night before. I have several make ahead breakfast recipes, you remember the French Toast Casserole, I thought I’d share some of these with all of you. Make ahead breakfasts are perfect for those of us who want our kids to eat real food in the morning for school, but whose brains don’t function well enough to cook. (Not to mention I like my 5 to 6 hours of sleep every night, so no, I’m not getting up earlier) I also discovered that it was the best way to actually feed everyone when GC started middle school. Around here the high school starts, then about 30 minutes later the middle schools start, then 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours later (depending on which one your kid goes to) the elementary schools start. Now, despite the fact that eggs are going to kill us (for this week) I want to feed my kids food that includes proteins and carbs and fruit (not sugar cereal or pop tarts *shudder*) for breakfast. But anyone who has ever tried to eat hour old eggs can tell you, you can’t keep them warm or reheat them; so making breakfast that can span from 5:30 am till 8am, be quick, be appealing, be inexpensive, be different at least some days, and be fairly healthy? That’s my challenge. Also, most of these are great for taking to brunches, or when you have relatives around wanting breakfast at all hours like you have nothing better to do and have opened a damn bed and breakfast during the holidays (which, as we all know, once we get nice and used to school, Bam! Holidays!). Sorry I have watched my mother struggle with this and have even participated in the insanity. Anyway, back to school mornings. This first one is yummy and super easy, and can be carried in the car during snooze button related emergencies. (An added bonus)

What you will need:

1 lb sausage (Turkey works great here, but you can use whatever sausage you like. Make sure to use the ground sausage, not links or already pattied sausage. The good news, that’s the cheapest sausage out there)

Shredded cheddar

2 cans (10 to a can) biscuits (these are the tiny biscuits that are usually sold in four packs)

Muffin tins

Cooking Spray (I recommend a butter-flavored one)

Heat oven to 400° F

Brown Sausage. Place on 2 layers of paper towels to help drain fat.

Spray muffin tins.

Use 1 can of biscuits to make baskets in the bottom of each tin. Carefully (remember the less you handle dough the better) using your thumb in the center, stretch the dough into a shallow bowl like in the picture.

Place a pinch of shredded cheese (just enough to fill the divits you made earlier) into each basket.

Use a small spoon to place sausage on top of cheese. (you want to try to stay in the middle of the biscuit as best you can)

Gently stretch the second can’s biscuits large enough to top the baskets. Using fingers lightly push the edges just lower than the center.

Bake until golden brown. (about 15 mins)

 * You will have lots of sausage left over. Once it is completely cooled place in freezer safe container and put it in your freezer. You can use this portion in another recipe, or to make more of these baskets.*

After you have let these cool slightly (they will still feel warm, but wouldn’t burn your fingers) drape a clean dish towel over them. This will keep them fluffy and fresh tasting for in the morning. You can reheat these or not to serve, it’s totally up to you. After breakfast you will want to place leftover baskets in a Tupperware and place them in the fridge.

 Serving:

You will notice how tiny these are. That’s on purpose, you can serve these with whatever cut up fresh fruit you gave on hand (or applesauce- a breakfast fav around here) and a glass of milk to make a nice well-rounded breakfast that isn’t so filling you might need a nap afterwards. I recommend serving 1 basket, 1/3 to 1/2 piece of fruit (depending on the fruit, obviously) and milk to kids about 8 and under, if they are hungry afterwards, well, you have 10 baskets, let them have a another. For the bottomless pits bigger kids, I go ahead and start them with 2 baskets, 1/2 to 1 piece of fruit and the milk. An alternative for the kid who doesn’t want to drink milk this week: 1 glass of OJ (not SunnyD or other such crap, actual 100% OJ, with pulp, aka fiber) and 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt instead of fruit and milk works also.

See how easy that is? Just so you don’t think I put on my judgey pants today, yes we do keep cereal (like Cheerios and Raisin Bran) around the house, but I try to have those be for weekends (when I sleep in) and on mornings when we just have no time at all. Like all things, moderation is key, don’t eat sausage or processed cereal everyday, mix it up.

As always if you try this out, or have a make ahead breakfast idea of your own, let me know!

 

They are all Liars! Or Just Flip the Box…

Here lately it seems a girl can’t turn around without someone putting

Balance & education are key

in their two cents regarding how we should all be feeding our kids and how anything less than that is tantamount to child abuse.

 If you are looking for an article like that, STOP, boy have you fallen down the wrong internet rabbit hole. There are no such instructions on this entire blog.

Okay, back to the rest of us is this Village where we educate ourselves, swap advice, info, and also silliness. As many of you know one of my (many) pet peeves is people with holier than thou attitudes (and little other qualifiers, often) telling me what to do with my kids. I am going to leave that statement right there, standing on its own because it is probably the opening line for a whole different post I will write later (probably when angry at one of those people). I get really tired of the constant nutrition-based craziness I hear/read/etc all the time it feels like. There are the parents whining that McDonald’s is bad for their kids but advertising to them and how the government should step in and stop them, which I think should now be known as anti-parenting (defining statement of such a character: I, as the person claiming to be the parent of this child, am not able to care for them and/or set reasonable limits, and therefore choose to demand that my government/doctors/the school  system/corporate America do the parenting for me. )There are the celebrities, with no medical training, who are offering Nutrition Guidelines. There are idiots wandering around wanting to make blanket laws/policies regarding what Americans can buy in a grocery store. There are Faux Scientists (these are the ones getting paid by corporations to attach their name and it’s credentials to skewed studies) trying to scare the hell out of us, or conversely, sweeping dangerous shit under big corporate rugs. So what should we do? As parents, what can we do? Educate ourselves, do the research, check the research, talk to your Pediatrician about your unique children. A lot of parents I know do that, but then we forget the next step. Teach your kids. I have said it before, I feel like a big part of my job as a mom is to raise my kids, you know, out of babyhood, through childhood and teen years and on to be happy self-sufficient adults. Adults who need to understand nutrition basics. We all talk about this epidemic of childhood & adult obesity (and I have seen the children and adults) but here’s the thing; not all of our kids are obese, some of them are underweight. I’m not referring to children whose parents cannot feed them regular meals. I have a child whose pediatrician has him on a diet that includes suggestions like “if you can add peanut butter, butter, or dressing to it, do that”. He is the thinnest child in my house. He still drinks (brace yourself for it) 2% milk (the rest of us drink skim, we are not underweight, but no one in my house has ever been close to overweight either), he’s 12. He has been on this diet (using the dictionary definition of the word here) since he was 2, under the monitoring of his pediatrician. He is the reason that I know, for sure, that one meal plan for all can’t work, shouldn’t work.

Every Saturday RedBird, K-man, BoyChild II, and I run errands. We go to roughly 2 different grocery stores each Saturday. We spend a lot of time discussing, debating, and reading labels. The boys (particularly BoyChild II) ask questions about what we are doing, so we explain it to them. We call it Flipping the Box. It goes something like this:

Mom, can I have this? (holding up some brightly colored box of cereal)

I don’t know, Flip the Box and see.

(Turning box) Well, it has 12 grams of protein per serving… ohh, (face falls) I see sugar and 3 “oses” in the list. (Puts box back on shelf) Maybe this one? (moved on to another box)

That’s kinda my point, no tantrum, no whining, he understands what he read (sugars end in ose most of the time– he calls them sneaky sugars, & he’s right) and why that was too much. He is seven and knows that an occasional cookie or whatever is fine, but not for breakfast. He asks for help, cause he’s seven, but he has been given the tools to figure it out himself. Now am I telling you he doesn’t pick up the box of Froot Loops “Just to check”, like maybe that sugary, food dyed, candy masquerading as breakfast got all healthy on us since last Saturday? (it hasn’t) He is seven, after all, he also buys in to the marketing schemes, which brings us full circle. He gets confused, “but it says whole-grains. Those are good, right?” or “They said balanced breakfast. Aren’t we supposed to eat balanced all day?” and so on. This does not, however make me mad at the commercial, it’s an opportunity to teach him how to understand what they are and aren’t saying. To teach him what the hell all of those health food catch phrases really mean. I found a great article here that lists the biggies and explains them really well. He can learn it, not cause his mom is some sort of super smart nutrition guru, or because he’s so exceptionally bright (no that he’s not a smart kid, calm down), he learned just like his SN brother and his sister did (and continue to do so) I take the time to learn the facts and then to teach them. Going to the grocery store is something that becomes a hugely important learning tool. I know I learn better by doing, my kids do too. If you would like some handy resources check out the links I have attached below.

 Pocket Guide for Portion Sizing

 How to Read Nutrition Labels

 16 Misleading Food Phrases

 12 Confusing Foods

 Another Article about Evil Parents, not Evil Junk Food

Learn it, love it, explain it.

So go shopping with the kids, drag them into the kitchen for a lesson in meal planning or just a lesson in what all that stuff on the box means. As always, talk to your doctor, do the research, and don’t blindly follow this week’s trends with your kid’s bodies.

*A note of warning: Following this advise can have the side effect of your children being VERY judgey when they catch you eating out of your junk food stash at 11pm when you think they are asleep. (don’t act all innocent, like I’m the only one) 😉 *