Tag Archives: cranberry sauce

Thanksgiving Tips: Cooking Ahead

26 Nov Cook Ahead Thanksgiving

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner can seem daunting. Even if you’ve done it many times before. I still get nervous, even though I’ve been in the kitchen for about five years and I cook with my dad. You know what makes cooking dinner (especially for a large group of people) easier? Making a few items ahead of time. For the items I made either last Thanksgiving or Christmas I have linked to their recipe. Do you make anything ahead of time? Have questions about anything I’ve listed? Leave a comment below!

Cook Ahead Thanksgiving

  1. Cranberry Sauce: Raw or Cooked, make a day or two before and keep refrigerated until dinner. Serve cold, room temp or hot (the cooked one).
  2. Pumpkin Pie. Keep covered in the fridge for a couple of days and serve chilled (with whipped cream of course!)
  3. Roasted Garlic. Don’t make the potatoes, but you can definitely roast your garlic the night before. Keep it wrapped in aluminum foil in the fridge until needed.
  4. Dinner Rolls. Well not all the way. But make the dough and set them in your pan and keep covered. After you take your turkey out of the oven, turn down the heat and stick your rolls in to bake. (Sorry no recipe yet, this Christmas though!)
  5. Butternut Squash and Apples (a side dish my family made last year). We made it the night before and reheated on the stove after taking the turkey out of the oven.

You don’t have to cook ahead, but it can make the kitchen a little less hectic the day of. Use that extra time to spend more time with friends and family. Watch the parade or watch the big game. However you end up spending Thursday I hope it’s a good one. Stay tuned to my Instagram, Twitter feed and my Facebook page for all the adventures I’m having in San Francisco.

I want to know how you’re celebrating as well, so be sure to share your own photos of Turkey Day with me online! I will also try to answer any questions you may have throughout the day so tweet me @sarahallynbauer or post to Facebook and I’ll respond as soon as my hands are clean 😉

Happy Thanksgiving

Leftover Turkey Sandwich

23 Jan

I think I make the best leftover turkey sandwich. Ever. But that’s just my humble opinion. My mom doesn’t like my sandwich, but that might be because there’s no lettuce or tomatoes. But it’s a sandwich I only get to make for about a week once a year so I enjoy every bite and every calorie. It’s a portable Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner, how can you not love that? I know it’s way past the holidays, but keep this handy for next year!

Turkey Leftover Sandwich ready for consumption!

Turkey Leftover Sandwich ready for consumption!


Take a spoon and spread a little gravy on both slices of bread. Sometimes I heat it up a little bit in the microwave (about 20-30 seconds). Lay your turkey on one slice. Make sure the turkey covers the entire piece of bread, corner to corner. You want to make sure you’re getting turkey in every single bite! Heat up your stuffing (about 20-30 seconds) and lay over the turkey, about 1/2 inch from the edge because when you squish it down and as you eat the stuffing will move around. If you have any of the glazed pearl onions left over put a few on top of the stuffing. Then cover with cranberry sauce, again, not quite to the edge as it will also move around. Place your second piece of bread on top and voila-delicious turkey sandwich! If you’re out of gravy, you can also use Dijon mustard, or do one piece of bread with gravy (your top slice) and the bottom slice by the turkey with the Dijon mustard. I hope you enjoy the sandwich as much as I do!

 Close-Up of the layers of the Turkey Leftover Sandwich

Close-Up of the layers of the Turkey Leftover Sandwich

Turkey Leftover Sandwich

Turkey Leftover Sandwich

Thanksgiving 2012 Part 2: Side Dishes

30 Nov

Side dishes at Thanksgiving are just as important as the turkey. And everyone has their own traditions, although there are a few staples: mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, dinner rolls, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. How you make those dishes and what else you add to the table varies from family to family. As I mentioned in Part 1, our dinner table included all of the above, plus pearl onions, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and apple mixture, a big salad, apple pie and chocolate cream pie. (We  had a lot of people.)

My dad has always prepared the cranberry sauce at least two ways: raw and cooked. There have been times that he’s brought along an extra cooked version infused with something (I can still taste the brandy infused cooked cranberry sauce from last year!), but this year it was just the two. I challenge any of you who eat it from the can to make it from scratch next year. Your taste buds will thank you. I’m going to make it for Christmas this year instead of my dad, as it’s one of the few things left that I  haven’t made since he usually makes it ahead of time.

The raw cranberry sauce ready to be served!

The raw cranberry sauce ready to be served!

Our side dishes remain relatively the same, with a few new items every now and then. (I remember a pumpkin puree soup that didn’t gain too many fans, lol.) One of the big obstacles cooking Thanksgiving dinner (or any large dinner), is timing it all out. Cooking at my aunt and uncle’s house we have an advantage over cooking at our home, as they have a double oven and a warming shelf. But I assure you that this dinner can be done with a single oven too. Picking up from where I left off, most of the work begins after flipping the bird. (haha-another joke! ok, promise no more.) First thing on the list: Garlic Mashed Potatoes. My dad roasts the garlic, either in the morning or the day or two before. Take a whole head of garlic and cut off the top so you can see all the cloves. Place on a sheet of aluminum foil so that you can wrap the whole head up. Drizzle olive oil over the top and close the top up so there’s some air around the garlic. We do this for two heads. Place in the oven at 450 degrees for 45 minutes. I estimate about 1/4 lb of potatoes per serving.

GARLIC MASHED POTATOES (about 12 servings)

  • 3 lbs of white potatoes (you can use russet if that’s your preference)
  • 12 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups of Half & Half
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Pepper
  • 2 full heads of garlic (a third if you really like garlic)

Cut up the potatoes into quarters and place into a large pot of water. Boil until you can easily stick a fork into the potato and pull it back out with no resistance.  Drain and dump back into the pot. Grab a masher and start mashing, adding in the butter in small chunks. Then add in 1 cup of the half and half, all the garlic, salt and pepper. Mash until they are at a texture you like. If they aren’t getting creamy enough add the rest of the half and half. Taste and if need be, add more salt, pepper, or garlic. Transfer to a serving bowl and cover. You can also use an electric masher. I like to use a hand one because it’s a great workout.

Mushrooms and shallots in the saucepan.

At the same time we were working on the potatoes we started work on our green bean casserole. Normally we make green beans with ginger and bell peppers, but this year dad wanted to do something different. We took a large purple onion and cut about 2/3 of it thinly so we had a bunch of onion rings to fry. I dredged them in flour and we heat about an inch of oil in a large frying pan. Once the oil was hot we dropped the rings in, turning them after a couple of minutes. We removed them to a plate covered with a paper towel to soak up any extra oil. It took 3 turns to get them all done. Next we started the mushroom sauce. (I will share this recipe at a later date as I didn’t make it, my dad did.) At the same time, we set a large pot of water to boil. Once it was boiling we dropped the green beans in to blanch them for about 3-5 minutes depending on how many beans you have. SIDE NOTE: If your green beans have not come with the tips cut off, be sure to do that before blanching. Once your beans are done, drain them and put into casserole dish. Pour your mushroom sauce over the green beans evenly. Spread the remainder of your fried onions (some went into the mushroom sauce) around the edge of your beans. Stick in the oven at 350 for about 20-30 minutes (depending on how many green beans you used).

I'm getting the onions covered in flour to be fried.

I’m getting the onions covered in flour to be fried.

Frying the onion rings for the green bean casserole.

Frying the onion rings for the green bean casserole.

While dad finished the gravy, I worked on the glazed pearl onions. One of my favorite dishes, and one of the first I learned how to make at Thanksgiving. Super simple, but you do have to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. We do two bags since we have so many people. Cook each bag separately so they all cook evenly.

GLAZED PEARL ONIONS (about 6 servings)

  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • Package of frozen pearl onions (1 lb)

In a medium frying pan on medium-high heat, melt the butter and add the sugar, stirring it around so it doesn’t burn. Immediately add the onions. Make sure they all lay flat in the pan and keep them moving so they are covered by the sugar and butter mixture. If you feel lucky you can try to toss them. Word of advice: start small or else you’ll lose all your onions. Continue to cook until they are beautiful golden brown so they are all covered nicely with the sugar. Place in small bowl, cover and place on warming shelf.

Tossing the pearl onions. Don't drop them!

Tossing the pearl onions. Don’t drop them!

Glazed pearl onions almost done!

One of the new side dishes this year was my dad’s roasted squash and braised apple mixture. He made it ahead of time as well (I told him that when we do Christmas dinner it would be a dish that I would make so I can take a stab at it though), so we saved some time (and oven and stove space). We did need to heat them up which we waited until the turkey was out of the oven though. The final items to go into the oven after the turkey came out: the rest of the stuffing mixture, the dinner rolls, and my sister-in-law placed her sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top in the broiler for a few minutes. My mom finished the salad with her own dressing.

The roasted squash and braised apple concoction that my dad made.

The roasted squash and braised apple concoction that my dad made.

Dad is working on the gravy

Dad is working on the gravy

Our turkey was beautiful and so very juicy. We took the roasting pan, deglazed it and added the juices to the gravy. Yum! Just like with any meat, you want to let it rest. By the time we got everything into the oven, the side dishes under the warming lamps or back in the oven, the pan deglazed and the gravy officially done, the turkey was ready to be carved.

The turkey is ready to be carved!

The turkey is ready to be carved!

We opened the neck first to pull out the stuffing, then we took the stuffing out of the other end. (Once the rest of the stuffing was done in the oven we mixed the two-mmmm!) I am extremely nervous to carve a turkey. I’m not sure why, but probably because it’s the main event and my dad always does such a beautiful job at it. So last year he started teaching me how to do it properly and we each carve half the turkey. We pull the legs off first and carefully cut out the rest of the dark meat on the bird. It usually comes off pretty easily. When pulling off the drumsticks and wings, you will most likely have to cut the connecting muscles/tendons slightly. Once the dark meat is off we tackle the breast. The breast is the hardest party (in my humble opinion), but there are “guides” that help you cut in the right place. Find the breast bone and cut just on the outside of it where you feel the bone end. Your knife should be able to follow along the bone as you cut down. Once on the cutting board, cut at an angle and your knife should slide right through. Make the slices about 1/4 to 1/2 an inch thick. My mom and aunt took everything into the dining room while we finished carving. And voila-dinner is served! Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m ready to eat! YUM!!!

Thanksgiving 2012-Part 1: Turkey and Stuffing

26 Nov

We all know that on the third Thursday of November we take the time to travel (far or near) to be with family and friends to devour large amounts of food. It’s a national holiday and it’s been celebrated since the pilgrims landed. It hasn’t always been the fourth Thursday, but I’ll let Wikipedia tell you the history, I’m here to talk about the food. And food there was at my Thanksgiving this year. With 13 adults, 2 kids and an infant at the table, we had a turkey weighing in at 21 lbs, 3 lbs of garlic mashed potatoes, 3 lbs of sweet potatoes, 2 lbs of pearl onions, 2 cranberry sauces, a 2 lb green bean casserole, stuffing made from 4 loaves of bread, 2 lbs of squash and apples, a huge salad, 24 dinner rolls, giblet gravy, a pumpkin pie, 2 apple pies and 2 chocolate cream pies. Needless to say, we had more than enough food. (Disclaimer: I will not be be sharing all the recipes, especially since I didn’t cook some of the dishes, so please forgive me now.)

The turkey is stuffed and ready for the oven.

Dad and I started on the stuffing about 8:30am. Since we always stuff our turkey it’s the first thing to do. The stuffing recipe we use is one of my grandmother’s and over the years there has been much discussion about whether to dice the bread or shred it so we’ve now settled on half and half. Green onions, white onions and parsley are all chopped. Then we melt the first (but definitely not last) sticks of butter of the day. Sometimes I think the day should be called ButterGiving, haha! Okay, I’ll try to stay away from the bad jokes. Toss in the veggies to the melted butter and once the onions are translucent, pour the mixture over the bread and mix. (By the way, the loaves should be stale. Leave them outside 2-3 days before Thanksgiving and they’ll be perfect!) We also add some chicken stock or broth to add more moisture.

Dicing up the sourdough and french bread loaves

Turkeys can be cooked many different ways, and everyone seems to have their own preference. Personally, I don’t think I’ll ever get on the bandwagon of deep frying a turkey, but if that’s your choice, all the power to you! We like to keep it simple, letting the natural juices and simple spices and olive oil speak for themselves. With all the other flavors on the table, the turkey is the simplest dish that can be mixed with everything else or just with the gravy. Either way-yum! My dad swears by a Butterball turkey and we take out the bag of the giblets and set aside to use for the gravy (another recipe of my grandmother’s), dry out the inside then stuff it at both ends. Not all the stuffing fits and the rest is put in a baking dish and set aside to finish baking later in the day. The turkey goes into the oven, breast side down for the first 3 hours with an onion, carrots and celery in the bottom of the pan along with about an inch of water. The turkey juices will drip down into the pan and we’ll end up deglazing the pan to use in the gravy. Mmmmm. It was now about 9:45am.

L-R clockwise: Turkey before being stuffed; basting the turkey; flipped the bird over before going back into the oven to finish; before flipping the bird-pretty right?

Since my dad pre-made the cranberry sauces and the dinner rolls, we were able to relax for the first hour the turkey was in the oven. My uncle is an amateur photographer and I asked him to take some portraits of me as well as photos throughout the day. So we went out to the porch and under the beautiful sun of San Francisco had some fun. (Those pictures will come later!) The weather was so beautiful this year, it was hard to go back into the kitchen, but I did, as there was still much to do! The heat was turned down on the turkey and we set our timer to baste every 30 minutes.

Mom making her famous hummus!

Meanwhile, my mom made her yummy hummus and my aunt set out some appetizers to knosh on. There were cheeses, baguettes, veggies and the wine was opened. Mom’s hummus was homemade and mixed with grilled eggplant (which is the basis for baba ghanoush. This gives her hummus extra texture and taste!) and she chopped up a small home grown jalapeno for a little spice. It was a great mini lunch before we started in on the rest of the side dishes. Those side dishes will be in Part 2 later this week, as will the finished turkey, so stay tuned!

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