Tag Archives: holiday recipes

#OXOTurkeyDay – Dinner For Two

OXO TurkeyDay - Title Shot

There are very few brands I love unconditionally. OXO is one of them. Their products are not only well made, but thoughtfully designed. This year, OXO is celebrating Turkey Day by sharing an array of Thanksgiving-friendly products via their Blogger Outreach Program, which I’m proud to be part of.

Tools in the #OXOTurkeyDay kit included the following:

OXO TurkeyDay - Tool Collage2
Left to Right: The most amazing twine dispenser (twine included), a non-slip butter dish with cover, a thoughtfully designed turkey baster with an angled neck & counter rest to prevent drips (and cleaning brush), and the turkey lifter that makes transferring your bird from pan to serving platter a snap.

OXO TurkeyDay - Tools Collage1
Left to Right: That twine dispenser I’m in love with (did I mention that?), a better look at the bird lifter’s design, and a fat separator only a gravy hoarder can truly appreciate. If only it worked on my thighs.

I started by tackling the bird. Since it’s just the two of us at home, The Complete Package picked out a lovely organic chicken that came in at around 4 pounds. Perfect! After the bird was properly cleaned & prepped, I broke out that twine dispenser and trussed her like 50 Shades of Prey. From there, I stuffed softened butter and fresh sage leaves under the skin, massaged more butter onto the outside, and gave her a generous sprinkle of kosher salt mixed with freshly ground black pepper and ground poultry seasoning.

OXO Turkey Day - Chicken Prep Collage

You know what I love most about preparing a turkey at Thanksgiving? Fresh sage. If you can get your hands on some, use it. Those frosted velvet leaves are so fragrant and wonderful. It’s the stuff Turkey Day dreams are made of.

#OXOTurkey Day - Fresh Sage

Next up was my mother-in-law’s easy cornbread dressing recipe. We make it every year without fail – come hell or high water. Some people insist on green bean casserole. Some go nuts without their beloved yams or cranberry sauce.
For us, it’s not Thanksgiving without Louise’s cornbread dressing.

#OXOTurkeyDay - Dressing Collage

The Complete Package has certain ideas about Thanksgiving dinner that are set in stone. His mother’s dressing is one. Mashed potatoes with gravy is another. I use thin-skinned white potatoes and leave the skins on. I like the rustic, vitamin-rich goodness of potatoes with the skins on. My secret is to add 2-3 tablespoons of Fage 0% fat-free Greek yogurt, real butter and a dash of milk. Perfect. Every. Time. My tool of choice is an old-fashioned hand masher. I also tried out the new OXO butter dish. It’s made with a sturdy non-slip metal base and has a clear acrylic cover that keeps funky fridge odors at bay. If you have fridge funk, that is. I’m not judging. This is a judgement-free blog. No judging here.

OXO Turkey Day - Mashed Potato Collage

In our house, every drop of bird broth is reserved for the most coveted of condiments – gravy. I looked forward to testing out the OXO fat separator, and it didn’t disappoint. Once the bird was baked, we poured the drippings & broth through the removable strainer and the separator did the rest. The red silicone stopper prevents spills and pops out easily when you’re ready to pour. Like all OXO products, the measurement markings are A+ here. I love that OXO uses bold, colorful markings for aging far-sighted Nanas like me.

OXO TurkeyDay - Gravy Collage

My last side dish was bacon-wrapped green bean bundles. These are so easy! Just blanch fresh green beans for 3-5 minutes in boiling salted water, then plunge them in ice, pat dry with paper towels, and wrap with bacon. I used a thick-sliced hickory smoked bacon. I also sprinkled half of the bundles with a coarsely ground black pepper to add so zing, because bacon & black pepper are BFFs. For real.

OXO TurkeyDay - Green Bean Bundle Collage

We also grabbed a few cornmeal rolls from the freezer (thank you Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic) and a jar of my homemade cherry, pear & apple cranberry sauce. The Complete Package needs gravy. I need my cranberries.
For me, it’s just not Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce.

OXO TurkeyDay - Finished Dinner

Start to finish, I had dinner on the table in 3 hours. Not bad for a table for two of all our Thanksgiving favorites with leftovers. You HAVE to have leftovers for the sandwiches alone. Am I right? Yes? Don’t leave me hanging, people.

OXO TurkeyDay - Finished Dinner2

My deepest thanks to the fine folks at OXO for providing all the tools we needed for our holiday feast. Now here’s a quick rundown of the recipes shown above.

Louise’s Easy Cornbread Dressing:
1 envelope (6 ozs.) Pioneer yellow cornbread mix
1 envelope (6 ozs.) Pioneer buttermilk biscuit mix
milk, eggs & oil – as directed on the above packages
Pam cooking spray to coat the baking pan
1 cup minced celery
1/2 cup minced white or yellow onion
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 can (10 ozs.) condensed cream of chicken soup
1 box (32 ozs.) low-sodium chicken broth (see below)
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon fresh sage, minced
salt & pepper to taste

Dump the cornbread and biscuit mixes into a large mixing bowl and add the eggs, milk & oil listed on the package instructions for both mixes. Whisk until smooth and pour into a lightly sprayed 8″ x 8″ baking pan. Bake at 375F until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is lightly browned. Remove from the oven & allow to cool to room temperature. Using a knife, score the cornbread into 1″ pieces and dump them into a large mixing bowl.

In a small skillet or pan, saute the celery and onion in 2 tablespoons of butter until lightly browned and translucent. Pour over the cornbread cubes and add the undiluted chicken soup and seasonings. Add enough chicken broth to create a moist but not soggy cornbread mixture (approx. 1 to 1 1/2 cups, then save the rest for gravy). Spoon into a lightly sprayed baking pan and bake at 350F for 30-45 minutes, or until the top starts to brown lightly. Serve hot.

NanaBread’s Simple Mashed Potatoes:
6-8 small white potatoes, scrubbed
2-3 tablespoons Fage 0% fat-free Greek yogurt
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
a splash of milk, if needed
salt & pepper to taste

Place washed whole potatoes into a saucepan and cover with water. Cook over medium heat until you can pierce the potatoes with a paring knife, and the knife goes easily through the cooked potatoes. Drain & return to the pan. Add the yogurt, butter and salt & pepper and mash with a potato masher or heavy fork until mostly smooth. If they are a little dry, add a splash of milk. Keep warm until everything else is ready.

Easy Poultry Gravy:
3 tablespoons butter or canola oil
3-4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2-3 cups broth from your baked bird, or boxed broth from above
salt & pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon poultry seasoning

In a saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and flour, whisking until smooth and slightly browned (3-5 minutes). Slowly whisk in the chicken/turkey broth and whisk until smooth. Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking often to prevent lumps. Season with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning and keep warm until all else is ready.

Bacon-Wrapped Green Bean Bundles:
1 pound of fresh green beans
12 slices of hickory smoked thick-cut bacon
1 teaspoon salt
coarsely ground black pepper, optional

In a saucepan, add enough water to fill the pan half-full. Add one teaspoon of salt and bring the water to a boil. Snap the stem ends off the green beans, then blanch them for 3-5 minutes in the boiling salt water. Remove from the boiling water and plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain and pat dry on paper towels, then divide them into four piles. Gather each pile into a bundle and wrap with 3 slices of bacon. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil, and arrange your bundles in the pan. Sprinkle with black pepper, if desired. Bake at 425F on the middle rack until the bacon is throughly cooked and starts to brown. If needed, fold the foil over the exposed green beans to keep them from overcooking. Once the bacon is done, remove from the oven and keep warm.

NanaBread’s Sage & Butter-Basted Bird:
1 whole chicken (mine was 4 pounds)
1/2 stick of butter, softened to room temperature
8-10 fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon McCormick poultry seasoning
1 to 2 cups chicken broth, for the roasting pan
string to truss the bird

Begin by removing the chicken from the package and rinsing it thoroughly under lukewarm water. Pat dry with paper towels and place on a cutting board. Using cotton twine, tie the wingtips under the bird and tie the drumsticks together at the ankles. Run your fingers under the skin of the bird to loosen it, then rub at least half the softened butter under the skin, covering as much ground as you can. Gently place the whole sage leaves under the skin, then massage the bird with the remaining butter. Mix the salt, pepper & poultry seasoning and sprinkle it all over the bird. Place in a roasting pan and add the chicken broth. Cover and bake at 375F for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake an additional 20-30 minutes until nicely brown and the bird reaches 165F with an instant read meat thermometer. Baste once or twice when the bird is uncovered, and she’ll come out gorgeous.

For Kirsten’s Cornmeal Buns, click here. She made them as burger buns, but they are also fabulous as knotted dinner rolls. They’re my favorite.

So now you know our Thanksgiving favorites. What are yours? Do you have traditional dishes you prepare each year, or do you like to wing it (turkey pun) and try new things? Share here! You never know when your old family favorite might become someone else’s new family favorite. If you’ve posted them on your own blog, be sure to leave a link in your comment so we can all click over.

Happy #OXOTurkeyDay to one and all,
Jeanne

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Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce

NanaBread's Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce

Know what I love about this recipe? That it’s easy to make and no one will ever suspect you cleaned out your freezer to make it. Every six months or so, when my freezer is over-run with leftover hot dog and hamburger buns and half of several baguettes, I make bread pudding. The finished product is so pretty and so delicious, no one will ever suspect. Perhaps it’s the buttery bread pudding…perhaps it’s the whiskey sauce that goes on top…perhaps it’s the perfect combination of both, but it’s fabulous and now it’s available all of you. This recipe makes one 9”x13” pan, or 12 very generous servings.

For the bread pudding, you’ll need:
20 cups of diced white bread (burger & hot dog buns, French bread, etc.)
One pint of heavy whipping cream
One pint of milk (easily measured by pouring milk into the empty cream carton)
4 large or jumbo eggs
2 cups of granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons of pure vanilla extract
¼ cup of Toriani Vanilla Syrup, optional
4 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted

Bread pudding couldn't be easier to make, really!

Pre-heat your oven to 350F and make sure the oven rack is in the middle position. Clean out your freezer and let your bread thaw. I like to use a mix of 70% buns and 30% French bread for this recipe. It’s about texture. The buns will get soft and a little mushy, and the French bread will hold its shape. Together, they make a perfect finished texture. Begin by cutting the thawed bread into ½” to ¾” cubes. I know 20 cups sounds like a lot of cubed bread, but it smushes down once the liquid is added. Throw the bread into a large mixing bowl and set it aside. In a separate bowl, combine the cream, milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and vanilla syrup (optional). Beat until well combined and pour over the bread cubes. Let sit for one minute, and then toss with a spatula to coat the bread with the milk mixture. Wait another minute and toss again. Do this several times, or until the milk mixture coats all the bread cubes and has been absorbed, for the most part. Spray a 13” x 9” baking dish or pan with cooking spray; pour in bread mixture and using a spoon or spatula, push the mixture out into all four corners to create an even thickness. Do not smooth out the top like you would a cake batter. You want the top surface to be lumpy and bumpy to catch all that beautiful melted butter. Trust me. Next, melt the unsalted butter and pour it evenly over the top. Place your baking dish on a rimmed cookie sheet (to prevent spill-over in your oven) and bake at 350F for 40-60 minutes, or until the top is a gorgeous golden brown and the center is not longer jiggly. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool.

While that’s baking, make the whiskey sauce. If you’re worried about the alcohol, don’t fret…some of it will cook out and the flavor, when combined with the buttery flavor of the bread pudding, is phenomenal. Really and truly…it’s mind-blowing. If you don’t like whiskey, you can substitute Amaretto, Grand Marnier, or a good golden rum. And if you don’t like alcohol at all, you can make a nice lemon sauce or top it with vanilla ice cream. But I recommend the whiskey sauce. I use Weller’s Special Reserve for mine; it’s awesome. And I’m not a whiskey drinker. But I love this sauce. Here’s how it’s done:

For the whiskey sauce, you’ll need:
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 ounces of whiskey (or other booze)
3 eggs, at room temperature

In a heavy-bottom sauce pan, beat the sugar and butter with a whisk until well combined. Turn the heat on to medium-low and while whisking constantly, cook until it is bubbly and the sugar starts to dissolve. This will take 6-8 minutes or so. Don’t walk away from the stove…this can scorch or burn quickly. Once the mixture is bubbling and foamy, stir in the booze and continue to whisk until sugar is completely dissolved and it returns to a bubbling boil. In a separate mixing bowl (metal or glass), crack your eggs and beat until lemon yellow. Using a ladle, gradually add some of the sugar/whiskey mixture into the eggs, beating furiously with your whisk. It’s really important that you beat the eggs rapidly with your whisk while you slowly add the whiskey mixture. Failure to do so will result in curdled eggs. (If that happens, don’t panic. You can strain the sauce before you serve it.) Once you’ve added enough whiskey mixture to warm the eggs (about ½ a cup), begin to slowly whisk the egg mixture back into the pan of whiskey/sugar. Again, beat furiously to incorporate the two to insure that the eggs don’t curdle. Remove the sauce from the heat, and continue to beat for another minute by hand, until everything is incorporated and the sauce is smooth. Serve warm over bread pudding. Resist the urge to eat it straight from the pan with a big spoon, especially when it’s flaming hot. The sauce should be stored in the refrigerator; just warm it in the microwave before drinking serving.

Bread pudding - even before baking, it looks delicious!

And that’s my recipe for bread pudding with whiskey sauce. It was adapted from one of my favorite cook books, Cleora’s Kitchen by Cleora Butler. Whether you eat it warm, room temperature or cold, it’s always delicious and it would make a great addition to your holiday menu. If you love bread pudding, I hope you’ll try it and let me know what you think. Happy holidays, and happy eating!

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