Well, we did it. We've all managed to navigate our way through Thanksgiving and officially enter into the Christmas season.🎄 Some of you may have come out a little battered and bruised from the experience, while some of you thrived and reviled in the Thanksgiving festivities. Either way, Thanksgiving 2022 is officially in the books.
I think I can speak for the all the hosts and hostesses of the Thanksgiving meal when I say that leftovers are the best part of hosting. The food that we can sit down and enjoy without worrying if the green beans are getting cold, if we made enough mashed potatoes and when the right time is to start the coffee.☕️ There are so many timers, schedules and expectations running though my brain on Thanksgiving day that I didn't feel like I really had the time to relax and enjoy my meal. Leftovers, on the other hand, those are the real deal. The meals that I can actually enjoy while not having to worry about the turkey getting cold.
The first few days following Thanksgiving, I eat a variation of our Thanksgiving meal: a slice of turkey, a spoonful of dressing, a slice of jellied cranberry and a scoop of sweet potatoes. After several identical meals in a row though - I like to change it up and I start making soups, salads and turkey sandwiches.
I know this blog post is titled chicken panini but for all of you out there with turkey leftovers - this could just as easily be turned into a turkey panini. Slice up some of your leftover turkey and use it to make this delicious sandwich. And in case you're wondering, I don't own a panini press so I had to "make do." Don't let that stop you from trying this yummy sandwich either.
4 french bread
2 chicken breasts, sliced thin
8 slices of mozzarella cheese
2 Roma tomatoes sliced
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
½ cup Greek yogurt or mayonnaise
1 teaspoon smoked chili powder
½ a red onion sliced
Ready or not, here it comes.🤣 Thanksgiving is just 2 days away!!🦃 This is the point in the week that I surrender my list of unnecessary Thanksgiving tasks and accept the fact that my guests will appreciate whatever food makes it to our Thanksgiving table. I am certain that I'm the only person in the house that will even be aware of the fact that there will be no whipped, honey, cinnamon butter drops or homemade parmesan herb croutons on the salad this year. 😅
In retrospect, I can admit that my expectations for this years Thanksgiving meal were slightly unrealistic.😅 A month ago when I put together the menu, I figured I'd have plenty of time to cut cheese into darling little leaf shapes and make a homemade pumpkin shaped cheeseball for the appetizer tray. 🧀 But, clearly, I was mistaken. 🤣
Today, my focus shifts from the small details to the big picture of Thanksgiving. I'm choosing to concentrate on the most essential parts of the meal. Chocolate acorns and individual mousse cups are being pushed aside so that I can focus on what's really important - the turkey, the dressing and the potatoes. I've learned that if I can get those 3 things on the table - my family will deem our Thanksgiving meal, a success. Any other food that gets made is really just a bonus. 🙃
Traditional mashed potatoes are a non-negotiable for my family on Thanksgiving. 🥔 I'm more of a sweet potato girl, myself so I always make a small batch of sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving, as well.🍠 I've mashed, stuffed, casseroled and souffléd my sweet potatoes but this year, I'm trying out a new starchy delicacy - Hassleback Sweet Potato Casserole. I can hardly wait for these leftovers. 😂
Hassleback Sweet Potato Casserole
3 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
2 cups heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
4 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Place under broiler until browned.
I made these sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving but, you know that I taste tested them before tucking them away for Thursdays big dinner. 😋 This may just be my new favorite way to eat sweet potatoes. These are a must try if you are a sweet potato fan, like me. 😉
Have you ever experienced that sense of overwhelming peaceful calm that envelopes you when you're facing a particularly stressful or turbulent situation? Me neither.🤪 Here we are, 4 days before Thanksgiving, and I'm still waiting for that serene tranquility to kick in. This week, I'm feeling the exact opposite of calm as we enter the chaos of the holiday season.
I'm over here running around like a chicken with it's head but off. (Sorry for that visual.😅) I feel like I've been making multiple trips, to multiple grocery stores, to gather up all of the supplies that I need for my busy week of baking. And I apologize in advance if the frazzled me accidentally happens to bump into you, quite literally, while running through the aisles of the grocery store this week. 😜 I know that I'm too stressed out by the fact that I need a list to remember the 2 things that I need to pick up at the grocery store. 🤷🏻♀️
Despite the busyness that they bring - these food driven holidays are my jam. I'm in my element when there are menus to be planned, food to be prepared and guests to be hosted. So many lists and schedules - it's makes my borderline obsessively organized heart, very, very happy. 😆
My time this week is being split between catering orders and Thanksgiving prep. I have a refrigerator covered in to-do lists and that's all it takes for me to feel like I've got this whole Thanksgiving cooking thing, under control. 🙃 Prepping food and crossing each thing off of my list as I go, is the name of the game this week.
This year, I made 2 different kinds of dressing to accompany our grilled turkey. I made a cornbread and sausage dressing and a spinach and artichoke dressing. Both recipes are new for me and I'm curious to see which one my guests will prefer. For those that are spinach dip lovers - this Spinach and Artichoke Dressing will be right up their alley. It's all of the cheesy, creamy, spinachy goodness of the popular dip - without the chips.
Spinach and Artichoke Dressing
1 large loaf French bread
2 cups frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 cups mozzarella
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 Onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon freshly chopped sage
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme
1 teaspoon freshly chopped rosemary
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
8 oz. cream cheese, cubed
Pour over cream cheese mixture and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.
Bake 20-25 minutes at 350.
You'll notice in the pictures that I divided my spinach and artichoke dressing between 2 dishes. Since I am serving 2 different dressings this year, I didn't need 2 full dishes of each so... I divided this recipe in half. I'll serve 1 dish for Thanksgiving and I froze the other to pull out at Christmas when my Spinach Dip loving daughter-in-law is in town. 😉
Every Thanksgiving, the great dressing vs. stuffing debate seems to emerge again. People all over social media have been debating the difference between the two, all month. My very simplistic (and unverified) answer is this: Both words describe a bread based side dish, traditionally served alongside poultry but "stuffing" is baked inside the bird and "dressing" is baked in a separate dish.
At the risk of offending the stuffing fanatics everywhere, I'll admit that I'm partial to dressing. My reasons have much more to do with logistics than they do personal preference.
1. Stuffed turkeys take longer to cook and honestly, who has extra time for cooking on Thanksgiving?
2. Since stuffing is exposed to uncooked poultry, I have to take extra measures to ensure that the stuffing is thoroughly cooked before serving it to guests.
3. And maybe the biggest drawback of all - stuffing tends to be soggy and I'm more of a crunchy dressing person. 😬
I credit my Ohio roots with my definition of a traditional Thanksgiving dressing: bread cubes, herbs, onion and thin slices of celery. I can't remember a Thanksgiving as a kid, where we didn't have this type of side dish. Then I moved to the south and my eyes were opened to all sorts of new kinds of dressings. Dressings with spicy peppers, oysters and cornbread!
I'm all for nostalgic - especially when it comes to Thanksgiving but, curiosity's gotten the best of me this year. The thought of a cornbread based dressing was just so intriguing that I had to try it. I'm not skipping the traditional dressing though. Never fear - this year, they'll be two options - a cornbread and a more traditional dressing. This will be a good test to see which one my guests prefer. (I'll update you on that after Thanksgiving.)
1 1/4 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoon fresh sage, minced
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Freshly chopped parsley, for garnish
This cornbread dressing is crazy good but it takes a LOT of pans. I felt like I was washing dishes for days. So my advice to you is this, find yourself a reliable dishwashing assistant before you make this yummy Thanksgiving side dish.
I think we can all agree that we don't serve canned cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving because of its exquisite taste.🤣It's about sensation of the jellied fruit. There's something simultaneously soothing and also a little disturbing about the sound that the congealed fruit makes when it slides out onto a plate. The wiggle, the jiggle, the tin can ridges, the sound - canned cranberry sauce is a delight for all the senses.
When I was a kid, canned cranberry sauce was a staple on our Thanksgiving table and I loved everything about it ... except the flavor. 😅 There's just something nostalgic about it though and even though I hardly ever eat it - my Thanksgiving table just seem incomplete without it.
I've tried replacing the canned cranberry sauce with a homemade version but, it's never quite the same experience. Spiced cranberry sauce flavored with rich brandy and the sweetness of orange and clove is amazing but it lacks the shape and jiggle of its canned counterpart.
So, why has it never occurred to me before to make my delicious, homemade cranberry sauce and put it in a can? 🤷🏻♀️ Now I can have my jellied cranberry sauce - and eat it too. 😅
Jellied Cranberry Sauce
2 cups cranberry juice
3 cups (12 ounces) fresh cranberries
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Unmold with fingers and invert jelly onto plate.
Full disclosure: My first attempt at canned cranberry sauce was a complete failure. It wasn't even salvageable so... I dumped it down the drain and started again. The second time I used half the juice and it turned out perfectly. If you follow my recipe - make sure that you have 2 empty cans ready because you'll have enough filling for more than one. Enjoy!!
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