Thanksgiving: A Photo Recap

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Jesse and I had a wonderful holiday, and hope you did too! Despite having a couple invites, we still decided to do our own thing and stay home, partly because we were already deep in our food planning. We also already had a vision of how we wanted to spend the day.

We both helped coach the holiday workout in town at the gym, but after that, we were home the rest of the day. I had already made some of the dishes and done some prep, so the food stuff was pretty easy. Shortly after getting home, we both called our families to check in, catch up and send our love. Then, midday while the turkey was cooking, we roasted chestnuts and drank wine. When dinner was all ready, we feasted and everything was delicious. Later on after dinner, we enjoyed our butternut squash pie with homemade half & half yogurt on top while watching, Home Alone. Oh, and we did so in our pajamas too — the best!

Our dinner included mashed cauliflower with lots of butter, bacon fat roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon pieces mixed in, spiced cranberry relish and local, pasture-raised turkey. Oh, and pie too, as mentioned above. For the turkey, I brined it for two days (bought the brine from New Seasons — no sugar in it either!), then slathered it in grass-fed butter mixed with fresh herbs and stuffed it with lemon, onion and more fresh herbs. It’s the same way I made my first turkey last year and it tasted just as delicious as the second time around.

Hope you all had a joyous holiday as well.

Cheers!

Jesse, trussing the turkey.
Jesse, trussing the turkey.
Eating freshly roasted chestnuts.
Eating freshly roasted chestnuts with Jesse.
Our turkey, ready for carving.
Our turkey, ready for carving.
Jesse, carving the turkey.
Jesse, carving the turkey.
The side dishes.
The side dishes.
My plate.
My plate.
Eating a messy slice of pie while watching Home Alone. Yes, I changed into my pajamas for this too.
After dinner, eating a messy slice of pie (the first piece never comes out clean) while watching Home Alone.
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Meat Lovers Pizza

Meat lovers pizza.

Usually, when I want pizza, I make meatza (see a couple recipes here and here). It’s a ground meat crust, topped with sauce and veggies, and baked like a pizza. It’s delicious and satisfying. But recently, when I stumbled upon Against All Grain’s Meat Lovers Pizza,  I knew I had to try it.

Having a Vitamix makes the crust incredibly easy to make, but a food processor will work too. I varied my toppings, but I think it still somewhat suffices as meat lovers. An addition of bacon would have made it more accurate though. I guess I’ll just have to make it again, so I can put bacon on it.

Here’s how I followed the recipe. I didn’t change much with the crust, except I used Italian herb-infused olive oil instead of regular for extra flavor, and used dried herbs instead of fresh because that’s what I had. As I mentioned previously, I varied the toppings and also omitted the raw mozzarella cheese.

For the crust:

  • 3/4 cup whole raw cashews (or cashew flour)
  • 3 Tbsp whole raw almonds (or almond flour)
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (next time I will use 1/4 tsp. It was a little too salty.)
  • Dash of garlic granules
  • 2 large eggs, preferably pasture-raised
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2½ Tbsp Italian herb-infused extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp cold water
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 tsp dried basil
The crust, prior to baking.
The crust, prior to baking.
The crust, post baking, with the sauce on top. Now, it's ready for all the good stuff.
The crust, post baking, with the sauce on top. Now, it’s ready for all the good stuff.

For the pizza:

  • 1/2 cup marinara or pizza sauce (make sure it is not sweetened)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 1/2 lb ground buffalo, browned
  • 2 homemade turkey breakfast patties, cooked and diced into small pieces
  • Tuscan herb-infused olive oil, for drizzling, optional
The pizza in its entirety, after baking.
The pizza in its entirety, after baking.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the cashews and almonds until a fine flour has formed. Alternatively, you can use the grain attachment of a Vitamix if you have one, which is what I did.
  3. Dump the cashew/almond flour into a large bowl, and mix in the coconut flour, garlic granules, sea salt and baking soda by hand.
  4. Add the eggs, apple cider vinegar, olive oil and water, and mix well.
  5. Add the parsley and basil, and combine.
  6. Let the dough rest for 2 minutes to let the coconut flour absorb some of the liquid. Note, it is a fairly wet dough, so don’t be alarmed that it doesn’t come together into a dense ball.
  7. Turn the dough out onto a large sheet of parchment paper on the counter. Sprinkle a little almond flour on the top of the ball of dough, if desired (I didn’t use any), and then place another piece of parchment on top.
  8. Use your hands to flatten the ball into a disc, then lightly roll out the dough into a circle that is 1/4 inch thick.
  9. Remove the top piece of parchment and carefully by gently tugging from one corner. Slide the other piece with the crust onto a pizza pan. Note, if you can’t remove the parchment without taking half of the dough with it, just bake the crust with the top piece intact. You can remove it once the crust has baked and before you add the toppings.
  10. Bake the crust for 12 minutes, or until it has puffed up and is golden brown around the edges.
  11. Top with marinara sauce, ground buffalo, sausage and mushrooms and bake for another 10-15 minutes.
  12. Slice and drizzle a little extra olive oil on top, if desired.

I like a hearty slice.

Easy Turkey Breakfast Patties

Homemade turkey patties with pastured eggs, broccoli and avocado.

After today, I will officially be done with my first week of winter term…hooray! I had a lot of fun in my fitness assessment class yesterday, learning how to take blood pressures. This is a completely new skill for me and I found it very fascinating. It’s crazy hearing the swishing of blood through the artery. I have never heard that before! I’ve had my blood pressure taken countless times in my life, but never had the opportunity to listen to what a blood pressure sounds like. I’m pretty stoked to know how to do this and it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it was going to be. I was intimidated at first, but was fortunate to work with a great partner who had previous experience. He helped me a lot! Needless to say, I look forward to practicing more.

Meanwhile, remember my Christmas Recap post, in which I mentioned making homemade turkey breakfast patties? Well, I’m finally sharing the recipe. Yay! It’s incredibly easy and I almost feel silly posting it because of how simple it is. These are great to keep on hand in the freezer, though they never seem to last that long in my freezer. They’re great cooked up as bulk sausage in a scramble, like I made on Christmas, or as patties with sunny side up eggs, avocado and veggies, as seen in my photos.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground turkey breast
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp ground sage
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Dash of cayenne

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Directions:

  1. Combine ground turkey and seasonings together in a large bowl. Mix well with your hands.
  2. Form into eight slider-sized patties. Layer between parchment paper and freeze. Alternatively, the patties can be cooked right away. You can also cook as bulk sausage, rather than form into patties. If cooking as patties, these take about 3-4 minutes each side — a little longer if they’re frozen. I recommend melting a little fat of choice over medium-high heat in a skillet first. Then, add the patties and cook.

Yields: 8 patties

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Simple Supper Friday: Chicken Turkey “Noodle” Soup

Chicken turkey "noodle" soup.

It turns out, I had a little more leftover Thanksgiving turkey than I thought (yay!), and since I wanted to make soup with it, that’s what I did. I added chicken as well to make the soup go further. I had half of a spaghetti squash leftover in the fridge and thought I’d see how it’d fare as noodles in the soup. I was hesitant because I didn’t want a bunch of soggy squash stands, but it worked great. Actually, this turned out to be the best variation of a chicken soup I have ever made. Seriously. I didn’t want to stop eating it because it tasted so satisfying, flavorful and delicious. I admit though, making soup with bone broth makes it that much richer and more flavorful, and makes a huge difference.

In fact, this soup is so delicious, I couldn’t stop thinking about it in yoga the next morning and made up my mind right then and there that I was having it for breakfast. And I did. And then I had some again at dinner. It is that good. I would’ve eaten up the rest this morning, but I told Jesse I’d save it for him.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups leftover Thanksgiving turkey meat, chopped
  • 1 lb cooked boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped
  • 8 cups chicken or turkey broth, preferably homemade
  • 2 Tbsp grass-fed ghee or fat of choice
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 large carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped (I like to add the leaves too)
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 2 cups cooked spaghetti squash strands (about 1/2 of a large squash)
  • Chives for garnish, optional

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Directions:

  1. In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the ghee. Add the chopped leek, celery and garlic, and sauté for a few minutes. Then, add the chopped carrots.
  2. Mix in the spices, sea salt, pepper, turkey, chicken and broth (if you need more broth than the recommended 8 cups, feel free to add a bit more). Bring to a simmer. Then reduce heat to low, cover with a lid and continue to simmer for at least 20 minutes or longer if you have the time (up to 60 minutes). This allows the flavors to meld together.
  3. Finally, add in the spaghetti squash strands and mix until heated through.
  4. Serve with chopped fresh chives, if using.

Yields: 5-6 servings

The best medicine.

Turkey Tetrazzini

One of the best things about Thanksgiving dinner is the leftovers, specifically, the leftover turkey. Jesse and I have done a darn good job plowing our 8.42 pounder down, but the other day I stopped him as he pulled it out of the refrigerator. I cut him off, so I could make this delicious recipe. Now, we pretty much only have the wings left and not enough that I can really make anything with. I will be making some turkey bone broth with the carcass though. I’m wishing I had a bit more turkey meat, so I could make soup, but ah well. Have you made anything spectacular with your leftover turkey or other Thanksgiving dishes? If so, please share!

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 cups leftover turkey meat, chopped
  • 1 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 Tbsp grass-fed butter
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used chardonnay)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 3/4 cup full-fat coconut milk, plus more if needed
  • 1/2 cup chicken or turkey broth, preferably homemade (plus more if needed)
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1.5 cups frozen green peas
  • 2.5 cups cooked spaghetti squash strands (~1/2 of a large squash)
  • 2 slices of cooked bacon, chopped
  • Fresh chives for garnish, optional

Directions:

  1. In a large pot or skillet, melt 1 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for a 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and sea salt, then sauté for a couple minutes. Pour in the wine and allow it to cook with the mushrooms for several minutes, or until the liquid reduces by half. Once done, remove from pan and set aside.
  2. Add the remaining butter (3 Tbsp) to the pan you cooked the mushrooms in, over medium heat. Once melted, add the coconut flour and whisk together with the butter for a couple minutes. Next, slowly add 3/4 cup coconut milk and 1/2 cup broth. Bring to a simmer and continue to whisk for 5-8 minutes over medium-low heat, until mixture has thickened. Add the nutmeg.
  3. To the sauce, add the mushrooms, cooked turkey, chopped bacon and peas. Stir together and let cook for a couple minutes.
  4. Add the cooked spaghetti squash strands and season to taste with pepper and sea salt; stir to combine. Splash in more broth and/or coconut milk if needed; you want the mixture to have a little extra moisture since  some of it will cook off in the oven. If it’s a little soupy, that’s okay — a lot of it will soak up, especially once it cools.
  5. Pour the mixture into a greased casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Serve with fresh chives garnished on top, if using.

turkey tetrazzini

 

Thanksgiving 2012 Recap

My first turkey! Pardon the nasty flash.

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving and my very first turkey turned out fantastic! I kid you not when I say it was the best I ever tasted. Honestly, I didn’t know turkey could taste that good. Growing up, I always slathered it in gravy or cranberries because it tended to be so bland and tasteless. This turkey needed nothing and was so moist and flavorful. I brined it for over 24 hours, then rubbed homemade herb butter (grass-fed butter blended with fresh sage & thyme) all over the outside and under the skin. I stuffed the cavity with a quartered onion, leftover fresh herbs and one lemon (cut in half). The skin came out brown and crispy, just the way I like it (I can’t stand flabby skin — that’s when I won’t eat it) and I could taste flavors of the wine (from the brine) on the meat and skin. This will now be my go-to recipe for turkey! The rest of our meal consisted of roasted brussel spouts tossed with bacon and dried cranberries (apple juice sweetened), fresh green beans with sautéed shallots and chantrelle mushrooms (this tasted just like green bean casserole, but better!), my mom’s spiced cranberry relish, mashed buttercup squash, homemade neck/gizzard gravy, and almond flour biscuits (though neither of us ate one with dinner). For dessert, crustless pumpkin pie with 24-hour half-and-half yogurt as our (thick) whipped topping.

In the morning, before all the eating happened, Jesse went to Jiu-Jitsu and I got a workout in at Recreate. It was a fun Thanksgiving workout with 45+ others. A good time was had by all. After we got home (Jesse was there too because he helped coach class), I made us homemade almond flour biscuits with bacon, sunny-side up eggs and avocado. Then after eating, we Skyped with my parents back in Michigan and later, I got to Skype with my grandparents. Yay for technology! Anyway, here’s a photo recap of our Thanksgiving.

All slathered with herb butter and stuffed with herbs and aromatics.
I sautéed carrots, onion and celery in some ghee with sea salt and pepper, and then added it to my slow cooker with bone broth (enough to cover everything), a bay leaf, and the neck and gizzard from my turkey. 6 hours later, I had the base for a gravy. I took the meat off the vertebrae and chopped up the gizzard. Everything went into the blender with some pan drippings. Minutes later, it turned into a fantastic, flavorful and nutrient-dense gravy.
In the slow cooker, ready to simmer for the next six hours.
The pumpkin pie!
In the afternoon, we roasted some chestnuts to nibble on (and pair with our mead — honey wine). Here, Jesse is peeling the cooled chestnuts. They’re so tasty and look like little brains!
Checking the turkey. Nope, it wasn’t done. Back into the oven it went.
I gave Dutch a new box to play in (compliments of my mom for the goodies she sent me from her Austria trip). He loved tearing up the tissue paper inside and enjoyed napping in here all day long. Mila, our Siamese cat, doesn’t care about boxes, so Dutch gets to have it all to himself.
Jesse slicing the turkey. He got too hot because of all the heat coming from the kitchen, which is why he is shirtless.
Our spread.
Jesse getting impatient while I snapped photos. He was still hot, so ate dinner shirtless.
My plate. There ended up being a lot more gravy involved than what you see here. It’s so good that I kept ladling it on!
Dessert, homemade pumpkin pie with 24-hour half-and-half yogurt.

Thanksgiving Dinner Prep

All my turkey essentials. I’ve received some great tips from fellow bloggers and my followers. I’m collaborating a couple ideas. Thanks for the help! Grass-fed butter, sea salt and pepper will also be involved in the turkey roasting. Oh, and foil too!

I officially have everything I need to make my Thanksgiving dinner. I convinced Jesse to come to New Seasons with me this morning to pick up the local, pasture-raised turkey I reserved, along with all the turkey roasting essentials I was missing. We were happy to receive a petite 8.42 pounder — my first turkey ever! I’ll be putting it in its brine bag either tonight or tomorrow with New Seasons’s homemade brine (consists of Willamette Valley chardonnay, sea salt, bay leaves and black pepper). Meanwhile, I’ve been busy doing other Thanksgiving prep — my 24-hour half-and-half yogurt is culturing as we speak (the topping for our pumpkin pie), I made a batch of regular whole milk 24-hour yogurt over the weekend (need some for the pie itself), roasted my sugar pie pumpkin for the pumpkin puree, blended it in the food processor and let it drain for 24 hours to get the water out. Tomorrow, I will make the cranberries, assemble and bake the pie, and possibly prep some of the vegetables (wash and trim the brussel sprouts and green beans). I’ll be roasting the brussel sprouts and tossing them with bacon bits, and the green beans will be served with shallots and chantrelle mushrooms. We’re also having mashed buttercup squash. I contemplated a cold salad, but it’s getting to be a lot of food and it’s just the two of us, so I think I need to stop! I do have kale and the other essentials to make the salad I was thinking about though. Chances are, I’ll call it good.

Into the oven.
After roasting, pureeing and draining, the pumpkin puree is complete and ready for use.

Have you been doing things advance to make your life easier on Thanksgiving? What are your best practices and tips?