Simple, delicious (and time-saving) approaches to the Thanksgiving meal
An important rule to always remember: make sure that you are never on a diet around the holidays. Granted, it is good to watch what you eat and make good choices, but it is next to impossible not to “stuff yourself” on thanksgiving. Agree?
One way to eat responsibly is to take smaller portions. Again, very difficult at Thanksgiving.
Another thing you don’t want to do on Thanksgiving is to be a slave to your kitchen. I can remember Thanksgivings when I barely got out of the kitchen.
By the time I got everything on the table, it was “wolfed” down, then it was time to do clean up! A daunting task sometimes.
If possible make as much ahead of time as you can.
This year, I am going to try something different. That is, mashed cauliflower as a substitute for mashed potatoes. This will give my guests a healthy option without missing out on all the trimmings.
These really are delicious and you may find that making these ahead of time really frees you up for more socializing with your guests.
Another option would be to mix half of the mashed cauliflower with half real mashed potatoes. In doing this, you will be getting your picky eaters, who won’t each vegetables, to eat this without even realizing that they are eating something healthy.
Potatoes are not an unhealthy food. The problem is all the delicious things we like to add to the potatoes. Butter, sour cream and gravy, just to name a few.
Dress your mashed cauliflower up how you would mashed potatoes. A good and tasty thing to add to the cauliflower is cottage cheese. Blend it with the cauliflower to get a smooth consistency.
Make the mashed cauliflower the day before thanksgiving so that you can just put it in the oven to reheat.
I have fond memories or my grandmother making gravy at Thanksgiving and Christmas. She really considered it an art form and no one else could do it the way she did.
She would sit for an hour skimming the fat off the top of the turkey drippings. I have tried to make gravy the way she has done for years. It is good, but I have never gotten the enjoyment out of it that she did.
That is why I now like to make my gravy ahead of time and just add the pan drippings from the turkey when it is done.
I double and sometimes triple this recipe for gravy depending on the number of guest I am having. I also want to be sure to have some gravy for leftovers.
The turkey drippings will give the gravy a darker color, or you can add a couple drops of Kitchen Bouquet. (Not too much though or your gravy will be too dark)
Having the mashed cauliflower and gravy prepared ahead of time will allow you the opportunity to relax a bit on Thanksgiving, or add even more dishes to an already full menu.
Enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday. Be thankful for all that God has given you, and enjoy your time with family and friends.
And remember,..a good cook always cleans up!
CREAMY MASHED CAULIFLOWER
1 large head cauliflower, broken into small florets
Salt and pepper
Steam cauliflower for 12 to 15 minutes until cauliflower is tender. Drain.
Put florets in food processer. Add milk. Mix until cauliflower is the consistency of potatoes.
Season with salt and pepper.
COOK’S NOTE — At this point, add any thing that you would normally add to mashed potatoes, i.e. sour cream, cream cheese, chives, etc. Cottage cheese is also delicious.
Pour into greased casserole dish. Cover and store in refrigerator up to 2 days.
When ready to serve, warm in oven until mashed cauliflower is serving temperature.
MAKE AHEAD TURKEY GRAVY
6 TB butter
6 TB flour
4 cups chicken or turkey broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pan drippings from turkey
In medium saucepan, melt butter and whisk in flour.
Cook over medium-high heat until flour is incorporated and white bubbles begin to form on the top of the roux.
Cook the roux for 2 to 3 minutes, whisking constantly.
Gradually add the broth, whisking constantly until the gravy is thickened and comes to a boil.
Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
COOK’S NOTE — At this point, you can cool, cover and refrigerate the gravy base for as long as 4 days. Reheat in a stovetop pan. When turkey is done, skim off fat and pour drippings into the gravy base and bring it to a serving temperature.