Thanksgiving Comes Early. Demo Dinner and Beer Tasting from Fresh Fork Market

Is it possible to be so full, and yet still hungry?  If so, that’s what I am, after the Fresh Fork Market Thanksgiving Beer Dinner.  It was a demo/dinner/sampling of the company’s Thanksgiving offerings this season.  And my appetite is piqued.

thanksgiving dinner winter squash soup

When we sat down at the communal tables in Market Garden Brewery (which served as the night’s event space), there was freshly baked bread, butternut squash and bacon biscuits, with creamy guernsey butter and belly-warming winter squash soup to start….a good start indeed.

thanksgiving bread and butter

While we sampled one of three beers offered for the evening, Chef Adam Lambert demonstrated several different ways to prepare, break down, and carve a Thanksgiving turkey.

thanksgiving dinner turkey demo

Brining is a must, according to Lambert.  Noted.  Trussing you can do without.  Excellent.  Always intimidated by that part anyway.  To stuff, or not to stuff?  He says for safety reasons (and to not overcook the bird) cook the stuffing separately.  Grill it, smoke it, roast it, or…a new one for me… “spatchcock” it (method of removing the backbone then cooking it flat, thus making for a more even thickness).

thanksgiving turkey spatchcocked

Chef Lambert answered questions throughout the demo, everything from where to place the thermometer, to what kind of knife to use for these various methods.  By then, the smells coming from the kitchen had made their way to the back of the event space and it was time to feast.

thanksgiving turkey roasted

The buffet had everything you look for in a Thanksgiving dinner, plus some things you’ve probably been meaning to try.

thanksgiving dinner buffet

There was turkey two ways, (traditionally roasted and spatchcocked/smoked/grilled) mashed potatoes with turnips, cauliflower risotto, braised carrots and greens, sweet potato casserole, creamed cabbage, roasted Brussels sprouts, two kinds of stuffing, root vegetable hash, cornbread, shaved raw vegetable salad, home fries with cabbage and jowl bacon, Harvard beets.  And these are just the ones I can recall.

thanksgiving dinner my plate

After seconds, and thirds, and finally take out containers were offered…it was time for apple pie.  Since I limited myself to one trip to the buffet line (and one to-go container 🙂  )  I saved just enough room to sample the Amish baked pie.  Sorrynotsorry on that one.

fresh fork market turkeys

Those who sat at my table were discussing which Thanksgiving package they were ordering and already dreaming about the pasture-raised turkey that had their name on it.  (Click here for info on Fresh Fork Market Thanksgiving Orders) Guests walked away with an extensive instructional book, about 45 pages long, that covers everything from planning, to prepping and execution.  A new “bible for Thanksgiving hosts” if you will.  A great takeaway!

I left the evening stuffed, satisfied and stimulated…ready to be adventurous and ambitious in the kitchen this Thanksgiving (stay tuned for a “Friendsgiving” post very soon!)  I’m also convinced that this year, the turkey MUST be brined.  So mom, I’ll be over early in the week to take care of that for us!  Thanks, Chef Lambert and Chef Bosley for the great recipes and inspiration!  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes

I can’t believe I’m going to say this…but I’m almost “pumpkin pie-d out.”  It is my favorite dessert, period.  I gobble up anything pumpkin pie or pumpkin spice flavored beginning October 1st, and usually don’t stop until the end of Thanksgiving weekend.   So by now, I’m usually ready to move on.

After Thankgiving I still had so much excess pumpkin pie filling from a double recipe, combined with apparently small pie plates, that I cranked one more out over the weekend.   But this morning there was still about a third of that pie left, staring at me.  I don’t like throwing food away ever, but I certainly don’t like throwing away my favorite dessert.  It seems sacrilegious.

pumpkin pie leftover

I usually get my “Cheftovers” ideas in the morning, when I crack open the refridgerator for the first time that day.  And today was no different.  That pie was lingering, and I was hungry for breakfast.  Why not pumpkin pie pancakes?  Sure sounds tasty, and I think it just might work.  I read a quote from radio and TV critic Harriet van Horne recently that inspired me:

“Cooking is like love-it should be entered into with abandon, or not at all.” 

So I ran with the idea.  What’s the worst that could happen?  I waste some pie that I really didn’t want anyway?

pumpkin pie pancake batter

The rest is pretty simple.  I grabbed the pancake mix I keep in the pantry and prepared that as usual, according to the directions. (2 cups of mix, and a cup and a half of water)  Then I cut a generous piece of pie and scooped out the filling.  I added it to the pancake batter and blended it until it was smooth again.  Once that was added, the batter was pretty thick, as you might imagine.  So I added about a half a cup more water and the consistency was back to where it should be.

pumpkin pie pancake on the griddle

Then I fired up the griddle pan, and cranked out my pumpkin pie pancakes just like I would a standard stack of ’em.  My preschooler still wanted butter and syrup like normal, and she practically licked her plate clean.  I am not a big fan of maple syrup in general, so I topped mine with a bit of butter and some whipped cream.

Duuuuuude, these were tasty!  They didn’t have the same consistency as regular pancakes, which was fine with me.  I find regular pancakes kinda bland and dry anyway.  These were far more moist and flavorful.  I will do this again…might even scoop out the rest of the leftover filling and freeze it for future breakfasts this month.

What do you still have lingering in your fridge that you’re trying to find a creative way to use?

Black Friday Breakfast- Overnight French Toast

Since I work with leftovers, Thanksgiving is pretty much my Super Bowl.  (see previous posts on The Pilgrim Pocket, and 5 Better Things to do with Thanksgiving leftovers) And I know, I know….the last thing you want to do on the day after Thanksgiving is cook.  But as I’ve mentioned before, I hate wasting food…especially food that I, or someone from my family, have put so much time and love into.

I also have the unfortunate luck of working on Black Friday (no, I’m not in retail!) So I whipped together an overnight French Toast with some of the Thanksgiving Day remnants to help me get out the door quicker, fuller and help out my husband who has a special “daddy day” planned with his daughters.

My inspiration was a Ziploc bag full of leftover “Monkey Bread” we were sent home with after stop one on Thanksgiving.  If you’re not familiar, it’s a bundt pan of guilty pleasure made with biscuit dough, butter and sugar.  A friend of mine challenged me to make French Toast with it.  I recalled an overnight recipe I’d made before from the The Yummy Mummy Kitchen by Marina Delio.  Of course she uses fresh French bread, but I didn’t see why this couldn’t be adjusted.

I pulled apart the “monkey balls” and placed them in a single layer in a greased baking dish.  Then, I took some blackberries from my produce drawer and the remainder of the homemade cranberry sauce from the day’s feast and filled in the gaps.

making black friday breakfast

I whisked together a couple of eggs, some vanilla and added whole milk.  But here is where you could use some of the massive amount of half and half you bought for the coffee you served with pumpkin pie, or the rest of the heavy cream you purchased for your potato recipe.  Use what you’ve got!  (I also left out the syrup that the original recipe calls for, as there’s already so much sugar on the monkey bread) I poured the mixture over the bread/berries then covered it with plastic wrap and left it in the fridge overnight.  (if you’re in a hurry, try doing it without the “overnight” element…and let me know how it turns out! I’m curious myself)

Black Friday morning, I melted some butter, added brown sugar and some crushed walnuts and sprinkled that mixture on top.  Here’s another good place to use leftovers, like pecans you have from the pecan pie you made.  I placed in a 375 oven for about 40 minutes.  Top it with syrup, and enjoy!

What do you have leftover from Thanksgiving? I am looking for inspiration and another challenge!!

Five better things to do with Thanksgiving leftovers

Don’t default to tired turkey salad or slap together a boring turkey sandwich in the days after your Thanksgiving feast.  Try mixing it up with these Cheftovers  ideas for your holiday leftovers: Baked Brie with cranberry sauce, Turkey Tetrazzini, Pilgrim Pockets, Mini turkey pot pies, and Thanksgiving casserole.

This year I made home made cranberry sauce for Friendsgiving.  I’ll never buy it canned again.  It was easy, bright and beautiful…and too good to toss.  So I took a semi circle of Brie (inexplicably leftover from a cheese plate one of our guests brought…that stuff usually goes quick in a crowd!) and topped it with about half a cup of the leftover cranberry sauce.  I then wrapped the Brie/cranberry sauce in a sheet of puff pastry I defrosted and brushed it with melted butter and baked it at 375 until it was golden brown.  Spread that melty, sweet, tart, creamy goodness on a buttery cracker and you’ve got a spectacular holiday appetizer.

Brie with cranberry sauce

I like to try to find some way to incorporate pasta when I’m dreaming up leftovers ideas.  Turkey tetrazzini is a savory way to include the flavors and excess from Thanksgiving dinner, but not have a carbon copy dinner on Black Friday.

turkey tetrazzini

I looked up a couple of turkey tetrazzini recipes online and married a handful of them based on what I had and what I was trying to use up.  I used two cups of chopped leftover turkey, and added that to a sauce I made with sauteed onions and garlic, cream of mushroom soup (a Cheftovers pantry must-have) turkey stock (which I made with the turkey carcass…a mindless task you’ll be happy you did) some canned mushrooms, cheddar cheese, and season salt.  I tossed that combo with some al dente linguine, put it in a casserole dish, topped it with some more cheese and baked it (covered with foil) until bubbly.  Toward the end I topped it with chopped parsley (leftover from my herb rubbed turkey recipe) and some red peppers that were lingering from a veggie tray.

pilgrim pocket

The Pilgrim Pocket is simple…make a Thanksgiving leftovers calzone.  Just use leftover stuffing, turkey, and veggies (like green bean casserole, carrots or corn) and stuff that into a pie crust (cut in half, then folded over once filled) I used gravy and/or cream of chicken/cream of mushroom soup to bind the insides and keep it moist on day two.  Pinch the sides to seal in all the goodness and brush the outside with an egg wash, and cut slits before baking. (400* for about 25 min)

pilgrim pocket sliced

If you have some extra Pillsbury biscuits in the fridge you didn’t bake, try some mini turkey pot pies.  I placed the biscuits in a cupcake tin, and filled each with the same kind of filling from the Pilgrim pocket.

making mini thanksgiving pot pies

I suppose you could also incorporate a little mashed potatoes, although I think those freeze pretty well.  I topped them with a dollop of cream of chicken soup, and some french fried onions (in the cupboard from the green bean casserole recipe) and baked them at 350 for 23-25 min.

mini turkey pot pie

Now…if you don’t have biscuits, or pie crust…or you have already used them and STILL have leftovers, like I did…I also made a Thanksgiving casserole of sorts.  I cooked some egg noodles, and place those in the bottom of a baking dish.  Then I took roughly the same combo from above, or whatever you’ve got left, in my case…a few cups of turkey, the last of the green bean casserole, or whatever veggies you have…and I poured in the last of my gravy and mixed everything up.  I topped the noodles with that mixture and sprinkled the remainder of my french fried onions on to finish.  It’s a comforting, easy combo that should reheat pretty well too.

thanksgiving casserole

I’m always looking for inventive ways to use what’s around.  Please share your creative Thanksgiving leftover dishes.  

The Pilgrim Pocket: Post-Friendsgiving

Half the fun of Thanksgiving dinner is thinking about the leftovers.  There’s hardly another meal on the planet that reheats and tastes just as good in the days after as this original, American feast.  But this year, I wanted to think beyond turkey sandwiches, turkey salad and turkey soup.  And I had an idea…the Pilgrim Pocket.

Friendsgiving guests

This weekend I hosted a “Friendsgiving” to celebrate the bountiful blessings and the company of my family and of a couple others.  We watched football, snacked while enticing smells filled the house, then sat down and piled our plates high with turkey and all the traditional trimmings.  The Cabernet and the gravy flowed.  It was a warm, fun evening.

Friendsgiving dinner plate

I took a quick assessment after the table was cleared and the guests had left.   About four portions of the 13 lb turkey, one helping of stuffing, LOTS of mashed potatoes and gravy, half a casserole dish of green beans, a few cups each of corn and fresh cranberry sauce and a couple items in the fridge (a pie crust, and crescent rolls) that I never used.

Since we only get to eat this combination of delectable dishes once a year, I didn’t think it was wise to completely change the flavor profile…best to just repackage it into something a little more exciting than luke warm leftovers.  Enter the Pilgrim Pocket, a thanksgiving calzone of sorts.

pilgrim pocket crust

I pulled out the remaining pie crust I had in the fridge (from the two pack I bought for the pumpkin pie I made) and unrolled it, then sliced in half.  I took a cup full of turkey (chopped) a cup full of green bean casserole and the rest of the stuffing and mixed it all together.  I added some gravy to keep it moist on day two.  I put the Thanksgiving mixture on one half of each of the semi-circles then folded the other half over, and pinched the sides to seal it in.

pilgrim pocket egg wash

I brushed the outside with egg wash and cut a couple of slits in the top to vent.  Then I popped my Pilgrim Pockets in the oven at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes.  The result was a Thanksgiving redux that would have made the pilgrims proud!

pilgrim pocket sliced

Stay tuned…I have plans for that cranberry sauce.  What have you done with leftovers from Thanksgiving?

Make room for Thanksgiving

As soon as we turn the calendar page to November, we cooking and hosting enthusiasts already begin to think Thanksgiving.  I’m hosting a “Friendsgiving” this weekend, celebrating our bountiful blessings with some of our closest friends.  But when I took a look in my fridge, I realized there wasn’t much room for what I had planned.

Clean out the fridge

I took stock of my fridge, freezer and pantry and got to brainstorming.  (sidebar…also beginning to question why I have things like cocktail onions and candy leftover from Easter still in there)

I uncovered a lonely frozen filet mignon.  Easy to make that the jumping off point for my dish.  It’s clearly not enough for more than one person though….best to keep digging.  I also discovered half a bag of frozen peas, a handful of fresh green beans, and some crescent rolls I forgot I’d bought.  First thing I thought of was a beef pot pie.  Easy comfort food.

I seasoned the beef with some onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper and seared it in a pan.  While that was cooking I sliced up some onion and garlic (two staples of any cook’s produce drawer) and I found some sliced mushrooms in the pantry, and reached for something else I always keep handy, beef broth.  This dish was starting to come together.

clean out the fridge filet

After I let the meat rest for a bit, I sliced it up into cubes.  Then, in the same pan that I seared the beef, I added a little olive oil and cooked the onions and garlic together.  Once they were sweating in there, I tossed in the green beans to soften a bit, and then the mushrooms.  (carrots would be good in here too, even asparagus if you have some of that sittin’ around)  I mixed the meat with the veggies, and added some peas.  Now, it was time to get to work on a sauce.

clean out the fridge veggies

I melted a couple of tablespoons of butter and added an equal amount of flour, and quickly whisked it together to create a roux.  Then I poured in, still whisking quickly, a few cups of beef broth.  I left it on the stove at a medium heat until it thickened up.  Then I seasoned it.  Use what you like, or what you’ve got.

clean out the fridge sauce

After I added the sauce to the meat and veggies it was time to get creative with my construction, since I didn’t have enough filling for a traditional pot pie or a standard pie crust.  I placed some baking cups in a cupcake tin, and opened up the crescent rolls.  I filled each baking cup with the meat/veggie mixture.  Then I rolled the triangle-shaped crescent rolls into a ball and flattened them out…making mini-pot pie crusts.  I baked my adorable little pot pies at 400 degrees for about 17 minutes.

mini beef pot pie mini beef pot pie2

By dinner time I had a nice meal, and bonus: by using up a couple of canned goods, a few items out of the freezer and the remainder of some of the veggies in my produce drawer, I created some much-needed space in my kitchen before I begin prep for “Friendsgiving!”

(Confession: the baking cups don’t help keep it together, only made clean-up easier.  This won’t be pretty when you attempt to scoop it out of the cupcake tins, but it’s still tasty.)

What have you unearthed in your fridge/freezer/pantry that you’d like to use up before the most important meal of the year?