Tag Archives: thanksgiving

Maple Squashiness

For someone who has always hated squash, the weirdest thing has happened to me. The last year or two a strange evolution has occurred and all the sudden, I’m a huge fall and winter squash fan. And it’s all because of this simple recipe. While there are lots of ways to cook it, this is what I find myself doing time after time. These sticky, sweet, buttery, yummy wedges just keep me coming back for more.

Sometimes I add a few dried cranberries or nuts, or a crumble of goat cheese, but more often than not, it’s just this. Real maple syrup. Real butter. Sea salt. Cracked pepper. You can’t go wrong.

One note: wrestling these things into submission is sometimes a bit of a chore, depending on the particular squash you are using. This recipe will work on pretty much any hard-shelled winter squash, from acorn to butternut. I personally love having the extra caramelization on all the edges, so I go through the trouble of cutting it into wedges. But if you don’t want to mess with it, or if it’s just too hard to cut up, cut that sucker in half, scoop out the seeds and just put the ingredients in the cavity of each half. Cut it into wedges after you cook it. You may need to cook it a bit longer since it’s a larger chunk, but it will still turn out lovely.

Maple Squashiness. Simple. Delicious.

Maple Squashiness. Simple. Delicious.

Maple Squash

1 acorn squash (or any type of hard-shelled winter squash)
1 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. real maple syrup
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper

Optional – dried cranberries or cherries, chopped almonds or walnuts, goat cheese

Preheat oven to 400˚.

Cut squash in half. Remove seeds (you can discard these or clean them and bake them for a snack). If you want to, cut further into smaller wedges. Scatter little pieces of butter all over, drizzle with maple syrup, sprinkle with sea salt & pepper.

All ready to go in the oven.

All ready to go in the oven.

Bake for 30-40 minutes (adjust cooking time for bigger or smaller squash) or until fork tender. If using nuts/dried fruit/cheese, sprinkle on squash 5-10 minutes before you take it out. Serve hot.

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Herb Roasted Turkey

When I lived in the middle of the country, far away from my family, I cooked Thanksgiving dinner most years for my own little family and in-laws.  And although many people complain about such a task, I always loved it.  I enjoyed having people enjoying my food, and of course when you’re the cook, you get all your favorite dishes. 🙂  Now, I’m back in the Pacific Northwest, surrounded by family and thrilled to be here.  But since Thanksgiving is no longer at my house, I’ve found that I rarely cook turkey.  Which is a shame, because it’s pretty darn good.  And it’s not just for Thanksgiving.

I had a turkey in my freezer that I bought around Thanksgiving when it was on sale.  I decided there was nothing wrong with eating turkey in springtime so I roasted that sucker the other day.  The rest of the meal did not resemble Thanksgiving, since eating like that should definitely be limited to once a year.  But this is pretty much how I cook turkey for any occasion.  What leftovers don’t end up on a sandwich the next day get packed in ziplock bags in my freezer to be used in soups, pot pies and whatever else.

Everybody has their favorite method for cooking turkey.  Some brine, some smoke, some deep fry.  I am a huge fan of roasting bags.  They reduce the cooking time and always yield a perfectly roasted, juicy turkey.  Plus they make clean up a snap.

Herb-Roasted Turkey

Herb Roasted Turkey

Herb Roasted Turkey

1 whole turkey
1/2 stick butter, softened
2 tbsp olive oil
2-3 tbsp. fresh rosemary
2-3 tbsp. fresh sage
2-3 tbsp. fresh thyme
Salt & pepper
Roasting bag – turkey size
1 tsp. flour

Preheat oven to 350˚.  Finely chop all herbs.  In a small bowl mash together the butter, olive oil, and chopped herbs, along with a pinch of salt & pepper.  Set aside.

Butter & herb mixture.

Butter & herb mixture.

Get out a turkey size cooking bag (I use the Reynolds bags) and lay it in a large roasting pan.  The directions on the bag say to add a spoonful of flour to the bag so I always do, although I’m not sure if it’s actually necessary.  I figure it just contributes to the good gravy in the end.  If you’re gluten-free you can probably skip it or use gluten-free flour.  Place the turkey in the bag.  Using your hands, loosen the skin over the breast and drumsticks, wherever you can reach.  Be gentle, and try not to tear the skin.  Rub the butter and herb mixture under the skin and all over the outside of the turkey as well.  I usually add another few grinds of salt & pepper on the outside as well.

Don't be shy, get that butter and herb mixture all over under and over the skin for maximum flavor.

Don’t be shy, get that butter and herb mixture all over under and over the skin for maximum flavor.

Seal bag and tuck end down into the pan.  Cut a couple of small slits in the bag so steam can escape.  Cook according to the bag instructions.  For my turkey (14 pounds, unstuffed), this meant 2 – 2 1/2 hours, until a meat thermometer in the thigh hits 180˚.  Then take it out and let it rest at least 20 minutes.  This is an important step, do not skip it!  Letting the turkey rest will result in a more juicy bird.  I use this time to make gravy, mash the potatoes, make the salad, etc.

To make gravy, cut off one corner of the cooking bag and drain turkey juice into a saucepan.  Mix up a bit of water or milk with a few tablespoons of cornstarch.  Bring liquid to a boil, then whisk in cornstarch mixture.  Taste and add salt & pepper if needed.  Serve with turkey (and mashed potatoes of course!).

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