Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Money Saving Thanksgiving - oh the SHAME

As horrifying as this is, Sandra Lee made a simple, affordable Thanksgiving dinner that actually looked quite yummy.  Trust me, I can hardly even choke out the words.  And yet, I'm still going to post here because hey - foods is foods and these recipes look easy.
I admit; this is the recipe that won me over - cream cheese?  IN the mashed potatoes?!  Madness.

Baked Mashed Potatoes
You basically just make your standard mashers (with salt, butter, milk, salt and pepper; whatever you use) and then add the fun.  Throw in a hefty handful of shredded cheddar cheese, a half a block of cream cheese and smoosh it in to incorporate.
Scrape it into a baking dish coated in nonstick cooking spray, then cover in crumbled cooked bacon and breadcrumbs and bake for 30 minutes or so at 350.  You can serve with chives or green onions.  Nom!

Cider gravy sounds pretty tasty too.  Again, get ready to make your standard gravy, but combine 1 cup of cider with 1 cup of chicken broth and slowly mix that into a roux (butter & flour; 3 tbsp of each).  You can add pan drippings if you want, or skip them.  Her recipe calls for 1 tbsp of brown mustard, but ew and I'm thinking honey mustard might be great.  A teaspoon of fresh thyme to finish, and ta da!

For her Roasted Turkey Breast with Spicy Herb Oil, she did a yummy spice rub.  I typically jam a bunch of pats of butter, cloves of garlic and sprigs of rosemary under my turkey skin, but her version sounds good too.  She just takes canola oil with chopped rosemary, chopped sage, chopped thyme, garlic powder, chile powder, crushed red pepper flakes and salt and pepper and rubs the mixture under the skin and on top before baking.

The final recipe that caught my eye was one of her round two recipes for Fried Potato Cakes.  My Irish boyfriend loves him some potato cakes, and since these ones have bacon, cheese, and green onions if you're using the leftovers from the above recipe, they sound divine!  You just take some of your leftover mashers, stir in some more cheese, and  dredge in bread crumbs seasoned with salt, pepper and cayenne and fry til the outside is crispy.  Easy peasy.  Drain them on paper towels to get rid of some of the excess oil.

And it just wouldn't be a Sandra Lee recipe post without cocktail time. . . how about Pumpkin Pie Martinis and Holiday Party Punch?
The martini is a bit labor intensive, requiring you to make a pumpkin pie spice simple syrup with brown sugar; 1/2 cup of each with 1 tsp of spice (hmmm, how else can I use that I wonder?), and then one of those awful sugar rims using regular sugar and more pumpkin pie spice - which I'll skip thanks.  They always either slide down the glass making it all sticky, or they dry onto the edge of the glass requiring you to nibble it off.
Then you whisk together 2 cups of half and half (Trader Joe's fat free!), 2 tbsp pumpkin puree, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and half of the simple syrup.  Combine with 4 ounces of vanilla vodka and shake or stir well with ice.  Pour into glasses and top with a little bit of sparkling water if desired.

The punch is a bottle of cranberry juice, a bottle of sparkling cider, half of a 2 liter bottle of gingerale, the juice of 2 lemons, and 12 ounces of vodka mixed together in a punch bowl.  Garnish with a sliced orange and frozen cranberries to act as ice for, oh, 2 minutes or so.  In fact, I'd probably freeze a bit of extra juice to use as the ice cubes to keep things cool.

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