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44. Thanksgiving

Renny Darling

 

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Dear Fans,
We are now approaching the end of the year.  It is a time when we delight in the grand feasts of the festive Holiday Season, Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year.  This is a time of pure magic, pure fantasy for so many of us.  For the next 2 months, I will be sharing with you menus and recipes that will range from the traditional to the classic, to new and inspired dishes.  Most of the recipes will be from my beloved cookbook  "Happy Holidays & Great Celebrations."

Of course, I love all my books, but this book came from my journals and contains a trove of memories from actual dinners and parties and holidays and celebrations that I made over the many years. So, I don't have to tell you how sentimental it makes me feel.


How nice to start with Thanksgiving, when families and friends get together and share love and friendship and not to forget ... a delicious dinner.

The Recipes
Holiday Mulled Apple Cider

Puree of Honey Carrot Soup with
Apples & Cinnamon

The Best Banana & Cranberry Bread

Traditional Thanksgiving Turkey with
Old-Fashioned Bread Stuffing

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Holiday Mulled Apple Cider

This can be prepared 1 day earlier and stored in the refrigerator. Reheat over low heat at barely a simmer.  Avoid using an aluminum pan. Enamel pans are best.

            2         quarts apple cider
            1/2      cup light brown sugar
            2         cinnamon sticks
                       peel of 1 orange and 1 lemon
            12       whole cloves
            6         whole allspice
                       orange slices of lemon slices studded with cloves

In a 4-quart non-aluminum saucepan, place all the ingredients.  Bring mixture to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Strain into mugs and serve with a cinnamon stick as a stirrer. Yields 8 cups or 12 servings.

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Puree of Honey Carrot Soup with
Apples & Cinnamon

This is one of the nicest soups to start a holiday feast.  It is festive and interesting with a promise of good things to come.  This can be prepared one day earlier covered and stored in the refrigerator.  Heat before serving.
 
            1            pound fresh baby carrots
            2            apples, peeled, cored and sliced
            2            onions, chopped
            6            shallots, chopped
            2            cloves garlic, chopped
            6            cups chicken broth
            1            tablespoon maple syrup
                        salt to taste

            1            cup half and half

            12             teaspoons low-fat sour cream
            12            sprinkles cinnamon sugar

In a covered Dutch oven casserole, simmer together first group of ingredients for 30 to 40 minutes or until vegetables are soft.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a food processor and blend until the mixture is pureed.  Return vegetables to the pot with the broth and stir in the half and half.  Heat through, but don't allow to boil.  Serve with a teaspoon of sour cream and a light sprinkle of cinnamon sugar.  Serves 12.

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The Best Banana & Cranberry Bread

This is one of my favorite breads.  It is a poetry of flavors and textures.  It has a great "crumb" and can be cut into the thinnest slices.  To insure success, do not puree the bananas.  Mash them coarsely with a fork and then stir them in.  If the bananas are pureed, it will take forever to bake the breads and results will be less than satisfactory. 

            1/3          cup sour cream
            1 1/4       teaspoons baking soda

            1/2          cup butter
            1 1/4       cups sugar

            2            eggs
            1            teaspoon vanilla

            1 3/4      cups flour
            2            medium bananas, coarsely mashed (about 1 cup)
            1            cup frozen cranberries
            1            cup chopped walnuts

Stir together sour cream and baking soda and set aside.  Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla and sour cream mixture until blended.  Stir in the remaining ingredients just until blended.  Do not overmix.

Divide batter between 4 greased mini-loaf pans (6x3x2-inches) and bake at 350° for 45 minutes, or until a cake tester, inserted in center, comes out clean.  Allow to cool in pans for 15 minutes, and then remove from pans and continue cooling on a rack.  Yields 4 mini-loaves.

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Traditional Thanksgiving Turkey with
Old-Fashioned Bread Stuffing

            1            turkey (about 15 to 18 pounds), thoroughly cleaned
                                    and patted dry

Baste turkey, inside and out, with Basting Mixture.  Pack Old-Fashioned Bread Stuffing loosely into the neck and body of turkey.  Pull neck skin over to the back and skewer it down.  Skewer body opening with poultry pins.  Lace string around pins, back and forth.  At the last turn, bring the string under the legs and tie them together.  Baste turkey again.

Place turkey on a rack in roasting pan, tent loosely with foil and baste often with Basting Mixture and juices in the pan.  Continue baking and basting until turkey is done.  (If special directions for roasting appear on the wrapper, follow them.  If not, use the approximate roasting chart below.)  Remove skewers and set turkey on a platter.  Let it rest for 20 minutes, so that it will be easier to carve.  Remove any fat from the gravy.  Gravy is delicious and does not need to be thickened.

Basting Mixture:
            1            cup melted butter
            1/2         teaspoon salt
            2            teaspoons onion powder
            2            teaspoons garlic powder
            2            tablespoons paprika

In a saucepan, heat together all the ingredients until blended.  Use a 2-inch brush for basting turkey.

Roasting Chart

Roasting times are approximate.

Unstuffed Turkey
Under 12 pound --- Roast at 325° about 25 minutes per pound
Over 12 pounds --- Roast at  325° about 20 minutes per pound

Stuffed Turkey
Add about 30 minutes to total cooking time.

Testing for Doneness
1. If you use a meat thermometer, insert it in the center of the inside thigh muscle, the thickest part.  It should register 180° to 185° when turkey is cooked. 
2. You can test for doneness by moving the drumstick up and down.  If it gives
easily, turkey is done.

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Old-Fashioned Bread Stuffing

This is enough stuffing to fill an 18-pound turkey.  I prefer baking the stuffing separately to avoid any problem of contamination.  However, a stuffed turkey does look beautiful, so use good care in handling.

            1/2         cup butter
            3            large onions, chopped
            1            cup chopped celery
            1/2         pound mushrooms, thinly sliced

            2            eggs, beaten
            1/4         cup chopped parsley leaves
            2            teaspoons poultry seasoning
            1/2         cup melted butter
                        salt and pepper to taste
            2          packages (8 ounces, each) herb-seasoned stuffing mix

            2          cans (10 1/2 ounces, each) chicken broth

Sauté onions and celery in butter until onions are soft.  Add mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are tender.  Place mixture in a large bowl and stir in the next 7 ingredients.  Stir in only enough chicken broth to hold stuffing together.  This can be used to stuff the turkey or it can be baked separately.

To Bake Stuffing Separately, Preferred:
Place stuffing mixture in a 12-inch round baking pan, sprinkle with 1/3 cup chicken broth and bake for 30 minutes.

IMPORTANT:
1.  Do not stuff turkey in advance of roasting.  Stuff shortly before roasting.
2.  Remove stuffing before storing leftover turkey.
3.  Improper handling of stuffing can lead to growth of harmful bacteria.  So please take care to stuff turkey shortly before roasting and remove stuffing from turkey before storing.

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