Thanksgiving

Salt-and-Pepper-Turkey-made-in-an-Electric-Outdoor-Roaster-a-quick-and-easy-processI have always been a big proponent of deep-frying a turkey. It has been, until now, the juiciest turkey I have ever made. However, the biggest turn-off of the whole deep-frying process is the $50 of oil you need to buy and then have to dispose of...it's kind-of-a-pain and always feels like a big waste.

However, there is nothing better than not tying up the oven on Thanksgiving Day with a turkey that needs four hours to cook. Therefore, deep-frying the turkey continued for a few years until I just couldn't get myself to buy those large vats of oil anymore. So the turkey made it's way back to my indoor oven and last year I did make one of the most delicious turkey's ever.

But, over the past year I kept seeing this Char-Broil The Big Easy Electric TRU Infrared Smoker and Roaster everywhere I went. Mostly at large warehouse stores like Lowe's. Seeing it so many times wore me down and I finally decided to buy one. It was a sign, right? I wanted to get the turkey cooking back outside where it belongs. This way the oven is reserved for all the beloved side dishes. Good idea? Yes. I thought so too.

This past weekend I finally fired it up to give it a test run. It requires a 30-minute seasoning cycle before using, which was not a big deal to complete.

I wanted to make a "no-frills" recipe. No exotic rubs and/or seasonings. No brining (which I always do). And no expensive free-range, local, special-fed, gobbles in seven languages turkey. I wanted to see what this machine could do on its own with a simple, frozen Butterball, rubbed in peanut oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. That's it. The results were kind of astonishing.

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cranberries.jpgPudgy, glossy and scarlet red. There they were, bright and fresh, in plastic bags piled one on top of the other in the produce department of the grocery store, reminding me the holiday season is quickly approaching.

Images of Thanksgivings of the past appeared in my mind. I pictured our family gathered around the dinner table, nearly finished with a big turkey meal, when suddenly my mom yelled out, “The cranberries!” The roll of jellied cranberries pushed from a can (I know, I can hardly believe it, either) into a long, narrow crystal bowl had been forgotten in the refrigerator.

Those who don’t care for cranberry sauce may be familiar with only the canned varieties. Nothing beats the flavor of firm, fresh, deep red cranberries that have been cooked with water and sugar until they pop, pop, pop.

These little red jewels are so lovable. They are easy to store, they’re versatile and they’re so good for you. Refrigerated in their original packaging, they can last as long as two months. Put the original bag inside of a freezer bag, and you can store them frozen for about nine months. This is good news for all cranberry lovers, since the season is short.

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Simple-Cinnamon-Cranberry-Dinner-RollsThanksgiving is almost here and it's time to nail down those menus. Serving homemade bread is one of the best parts of the holiday meal.

We have so many choices when it comes down to what kind of bread or roll to serve. For me, it comes down to how many people I have to serve and what flavor am I looking to add to the meal.

Since Thanksgiving has so many savory dishes, I am always looking to add a little more sweetness to the meal. I love when dried fruit is added to stuffing. It helps give diversity to the meal. Since I often add the dried fruit to the stuffing, I thought maybe I would try adding it to the dinner rolls instead. It's always fun to change things up a bit.

I did not want the rolls overly sweet, so I added a little bit of cinnamon and only a half cup of dried cranberries to my regular dinner rolls recipe. It. Was. Perfect. The slight hint of cinnamon and a bite of dried cranberry smothered in butter was the perfect way to round out the meal.

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bestpumpkinpie2There are tons of pumpkin pie recipes, and in November all of the food shows and magazines are filled with both classic and innovative recipes. I think I’ve tried all of them – most started with canned pumpkin, and then the ingredients vary - some use heavy cream, others swear by evaporated milk, some are heavily spiced with cinnamon and cloves.

I love pumpkin pie, but have never found what I would call the BEST pumpkin pie until recently. I was watching an episode of America’s Test Kitchen (the leader in test perfected recipes) called “An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving”. The ingredients and the method were quite original and I couldn’t wait to try it.

There are a few extra steps, but well worth it. If you don’t want to make your own crust, you can use a Pillsbury Ready Made crust. Feel free to alter the amount of cinnamon (I used Penzey's Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cassia Cinnamon Click here for Penzey's), but the fresh ginger is key to the pie’s flavor.

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