My sweet celiac and youngest, Izzy

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving Extraveganza Part 1

Ok, this week has been a whirlwind of weather, 70's, 60's, 50's, 30's and even some 20's.....last Thanksgiving we had a white Thanksgiving, my second one ever in my life.  Me and Thanksgiving have an interesting past.  Thankgiving was one of the times of years that I split as a child between two grandparents' house and I have two distinctinve memories of each house.  One grandmother usually made reservations somewhere nice by the time I was old enough to remember Thanksgiving with her (which is totally fine and sometimes super fun) and the other had my enormous clan over and very specific traditions that I didn't know much about until I was older.  There were a few Thanksgivings as an adult that I spent with in-laws and several I spent as a single mom with my best friend and her family which I'm so close to it's like my own. Then there were the years that finally my little girls were old enough to not need me being in the same town and I was able to travel during the week of Thanksgiving when they were with their dad's family and it was just me, obviously not cooking a feast for 1.  I have been to Mexico, Hawaii and Vegas during Thanksgiving and had great and unique Thanksgivings all along.  But my most favorite have been in the last 5 years.  Where I went back to tradition and provided the smaller little sweeties in my life a sense of what Thanksgiving truly is.  Most of you that know me, know I come from a very large family......blended together I have 7 siblings, 5 aunts and uncles, 30 cousins or more and so many numerous other family members I couldn't even name them all.  Most of us were at some point always with each other during Thanksgiving at one point or the other and sometimes all at once!  It was so weird to think, when our super close friends and then my mom couldn't be here for Thanksgiving this year that there would be two adults and two babies.  I thought to myself, that isn't Thanksgiving.  One of the things that is my fondest memories is that I always had my cousins, some of which are as close as my siblings, to be with.  There are many of my friends that did the amazing Facebook challenge to say what you were thankful for each day of November until Thanksgiving.  I didn't do that, not out of selfishness or unthankfulness but because I am hoping to save what I am most thankful for, for the week of Thanksgiving.  5 years ago I would tell you I was most thankful for my TWO children's health and how Lana, who had a heart transplant this year, was doing so well in every area and Shelby was succeeding in gymnastics and school.  I would tell you that I was thankful for the most amazing grandmother ever to live and the best sisters, brothers and cousins a girl could ask for, and for the gift of attempting to adopt and my close friends who were our new "family" who went through everything with us.  4 years ago I was thankful for "Team Turkey" which only a few people know about.  My Aunt Sheila, my cousin Traci and I were allowed into the inner circle of my Nana's kitchen for the coveted "Thanksgiving tradition".  Nana was getting older and couldn't do all of the prep work and cooking herself and needed help.  She recruited a few of us that lived in town and she "trusted" - HAHA - with the treasured Thanksgiving meal.  We spent the entire week of Thanksgiving cooking off and on and then the night before, I spent the night at my sweet Nana's house helping with the final preperations.  We put the turkey in at 8 and it would take, on low heat, til 12 am to cook and we spent the night watching Hallmark movies and dishing about the latest crazy styles and commericals and all the news gossip on her favorite weather people in Jax and life in general.  Then,  I went upstairs to bed and she called me when the alarm went off and it was time to take the turkey out of the oven.  Traci and I joked the whole week about getting t-shirts that said "TEAM TURKEY" because we were allowed into the inner sanctum as the grandchildren and it was probably one of the most speical Thanksgivings of my life.  The next year, we added two more kiddos to the mix.  OMG!  Yep, Noah in March and Izzy in Sept and we had other great grandchildren that were added that year to make it even more speical.  The following year we moved to Arkansas.  We spent Thanksgiving in a smaller way but still good and then last year we had friends and family with us preparing for what we did not know then, would be a truly tough year ahead.  Where family would mean more than it ever had.  My Nana passed away, Traci got married to an amazing man, the babies grew bigger and we were headed down a road where my first baby needed a new heart and a new angel watching over her and us.  Thanksgiving will always from this point forward be my Nana's holiday, and I will never celebrate one that I do not think of Traci and Aunt Sheila.  Hopefully by next year we will make it back home to spend it together.  This year though, we will spend it with friends that are like family to us, here in AR.  In the end we will have almost 20 "new family" members to celebrate with us who were celebrating on their own that we brought together.  That is truly what Thanksgiving is all about.  The coming together. Making new traditions or keeping with the old, it is truly an amazing holiday that is usually swept under the rug on the curtails of Christmas but happens to be one of my favorites, with or without food....

Here are some recipes and ideas for our allergy safe Thankgiving that doesn't skimp on ANYTHING but the gluten and dairy!!!

Fried Turkey:
we ususally brine the turkey the night before so it's full of salt and juice and love.  We typically filll large coolers (depending on how many you have coming) with water, apple cider, salt, peppercorns and perhaps a few herbs.  We brine them overnight in the liquid and then inject them with butter, garlic and herbs before frying.  The best and most amazing thing we've EVER done with the actual frying of the turkey was you take

  • 1/4 bunch fresh thyme

  • 3 big sprigs fresh rosemary

  • 1/4 bunch fresh sage

  • 1/2 head garlic, smashed, husk still attached

  • You add that to your cold peanut oil before reaching the proper temp for frying and it infuses the peanut oil with so many wonderful flavors.  It's truly the best part of it all...

    Mashed potatoes:
    Take a head of cauliflower, peel and cut it and steam it. Peel if chosen and cut and boil 7 Yukon gold potatoes  and drain.  Put both into one large pot and mash with a potato masher, add 1/4 cup coconut milk or more if needed for desired consistancy and butter alternative (approx 2-4 TBSP), 2 tsp salt and pepper and 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese.  Blend well and serve piping hot.  (you can also saute some minced garlic in a saute pan with some olive oil and add at the last minute as well).  Garnish with 2 TBSP fresh cut chives.

    Roasted Veggie Smash:
    Peel and chop into 1/2 inch peices 4 sweet potatoes and 2 butternut squashes, 3 carrots, 1 onion.  Preheat oven to 350.  Toss with a 3-5 TBSP olive oil and salt and pepper and thyme. Roast in oven for 20-30 minutes and pull out to cool.  Toss all in a heavy stock pot and add 1 C vegetable broth, purree and put in baking dish.  Stick in the oven for 20 more minutes until bubbly (can add Gfree granola and brown sugar mixture...1/2 and 1/2 of each in the last 10 minutes for crunch)

    Roasted Brussel Sprouts:
    I used to hate these...quite honestly I couldn't think of a good use for them at all.  Then I saw Ina Garten's recipe, thought it sounded good, tweeked it, tried it and YUM!  No one I knew liked them until now!!! 
    1 lb trimmed brussel sprouts, fresh
    2 TSBP bacon drippings
    2 TBSP Olive oil
    2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper

    put all ingredients in a bowl and toss, spread of cookie sheet, roast in preheated oven at 350 until crispy (about 15 min) and serve hot or room temp

    Green Bean casserole: (this has some dairy in it)
    1 lb hericot verts
    1 box Gfree Pacific cream of mushroom soup (for DF option you can saute 1 lb baby bella mushrooms with 1 clove garlic, 1 TBSP olive oil and salt and pepper, then add 1/4 c white wine and reduce. Add 1 tsp to 1 TBSP constarch and equal coconut milk til desired thickness.)
    4 shallots or 3 small onions, peeled-sliced
    Steam hericot verts in steamer; mix with either version of cream of mushroom soup, salt and pepper to taste in bowl and transfer to 9X13 baking dish.  Take onions or shallots, dredge them through cornstarch or potato starch and add to hot olive or grapeseed oil in saute pan until crispy...put green bean mixture in 350 preheated oven for about 30 minutes.  10 minutes before your time is up, add onion topping.

    Cranberry sauce:
    This is typically the recipe I use except I usually sub some of the water for OJ...maybe half OJ and half  water and for those without nut allergies, toasted walnuts that are then chopped are nice as well.

    Parker Station rolls:
    These are the rolls that we made in an earlier blog but we bushed with honey butter on the top and we did up the sugar to 1/2 C to make it more like it:

    There will be stuffing and more recipes coming tomorrow...just a little taste preview since I'm already craving the good stuff!


    1. Wow! I'm too afraid to fry the turkey, but good for you all. What sweet memories and sentiment. Happy Thanksgiving!

    2. Fried turkey is so yummy! I used to giggle at people who did it til I tried one...never want another roasted oven turkey again! :) BUT I confess, I have very little to do with the turkey. I help with the brining usually but the day of, it's all my husband. So I have to give him all of the credit on that one!