Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving Deliciousness

This year my brother and sister-in-law hosted Thanksgiving.  Vin, Lilly, and I went to assist with the preparations on the evening beforehand.
Mr. Tom Turkey

We used Alton Brown's Best Gravy Ever & Perfect Roast Turkey recipes.  They came out great, though I would definitely recommend having an oven thermometer to make sure your oven does not run too hot or cold AND a probe thermometer that can stay in the oven.  The one my SIL had was not oven safe.  I hadn't even realized that they sold ones that weren't oven safe!!  We took it out at the right time but I am thinking their oven runs hot.  The great thing was that even though it cooked a little longer than it should have, because it was brined, the turkey was still delicious and moist!
He's cooked.  And delicious!

We made the stuffings (a regular and one with apples and dried cranberries) and the mashed potatoes the night before.  My brother made his famous sweet potatoes with marshmallows ahead of time, as well.  The stuffings and the potatoes went into slowcooker crocks and then into the fridge.  In the morning Laurie took them out of the fridge, brought them to room temperature and then set them into the slowcookers to be heated.  By dinner time they were perfectly heated!  

Laurie made all the stuffings and this particularly amazing green bean casserole dish (recipe courtesy of her mom) that I hope she makes for all future events.  It was not your typical green bean and mushroom soup recipe.  Let's just say it involved bacon, wine, and cheese.  Yes.  Bacon in the green beans.  You can stop drooling now!  And p.s. they were even better today.

I used Martha Stewart's mashed potatoes recipe to make 10 pounds of potatoes, though I tend to eyeball all the ingredients.  Mashing 10 pounds of potatoes was more challenging than I had anticipated.  I did it in batches but it was still really hard to do.  We eventually broke out the kitchenaid stand mixer for its inaugural use and that is what did the trick.  My Aunt Pam brought her famous twice baked potatoes.  Why yes, we did have 2 stuffings, 2 white potatoes, and oh yes, 2 sweet potatoes.
Did you know that 1 large slow cooker holds 10 pounds of mashed potatoes?

All along I had intended on baking the sea salt browned butter chocolate chip cookies, but I ran out of time.  On Thanksgiving morning I did make the pumpkin crunch cake I found through Pinterest.  I am only slightly obsessed with that site.  So, here is the recipe.  I will tell you that mine does not look like the picture on the website.  I also used walnuts instead of pecans and probably only a cup because that is what I had in the house.  I left a small portion without nuts since Lilly is anti-nut.
I left a small portion without nuts.

Pumpkin Crunch Cake
1 box yellow cake mix
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
I added a tsp of vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (the original recipe called for 1/2 cup)
1 cup butter, melted
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease bottom of 9 x 13″ pan.  Mix pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Pour mixture into greased pan.  Sprinkle dry cake mix over pumpkin mixture and top with pecans.  Drizzle melted butter over pecans.  Bake 50-55 minutes. It is puddingish or custardy so it is done when it looks set when you jiggle it a bit, not when a knife comes out dry.

It was a huge hit, but I don't think it will ever replace the pumpkin gingerbread trifle I make every year.  This is a Paula Deen recipe that was given to me by a parent of one of my students.  I have been making it for years. This year Laurie made all the ingredients and I assembled it.  I always think of tinkering with the recipe, but I never have.
the famous trifle

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle


  • 2 (14-ounce) packages gingerbread mix (I only use 1 because I use a trifle bowl, not a punch bowl.)
  • 1 (5.1-ounce) box cook-and-serve vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 (30-ounce) can pumpkin pie filling
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground cardamom or cinnamon
  • 1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping (I usually have more on hand.)
  • 1/2 cup gingersnaps, optional


Bake the gingerbread according to the package directions; cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the pudding and set aside to cool. Stir the pumpkin pie filling, sugar, and cardamom into the pudding. Crumble 1 batch of gingerbread into the bottom of a large, pretty bowl. Pour 1/2 of the pudding mixture over the gingerbread, then add a layer of whipped topping. Repeat with the remaining gingerbread, pudding, and whipped topping. Sprinkle of the top with crushed gingersnaps, if desired. Refrigerate overnight. Trifle can be layered in a punch bowl, or as I mentioned above, in a trifle bowl.  
My other sister-in-law Kelly's pilgrim cupcakes.  How cute are they!!

I really love that we have some family traditions but also that we welcome some new ones as our family expands!  It was a great Thanksgiving feast!

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