Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Apple Pecan Dressing, Apple Cranberry Relish, and Potatoes....Oh my

I'm combining two day's worth of posts as I want to get all the recipes out this week and since I was in bed all day yesterday.... I'm doubling up today.

Nearly every dish I made can be prepared ahead of time!! The only things I actually made on Thanksgiving were the ham, gravy, Brussels sprouts and the Dreamy Apple pie....All four of the dishes in this post can be made one, two or even three days ahead of time - saving you both time and sanity on Thanksgiving.

All day last Wednesday and most of Thursday I heard Beth explain that she does NOT like stuffing (dressing). She's had ample opportunity to try it, in many different variations, and has never liked it. However, she's good about trying it every time.... So, imagine my surprise (and her's) when she tried mine and said, "Oh my GOD mom, this is really good!!!" I will admit I did it a little different this year (mainly adding apples).

You'll need:
1 box Mrs. Cubbinson's Cubed seasoned stuffing mix
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 bunch of celery, top half, sliced thin (include the leaves)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 granny smith apple, cored, peeled and diced
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup butter

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13 casserole dish. Place the stuffing cubes in a large mixing bowl.

Melt butter in a sauce pan, add onion, garlic and celery. Cook until onions are translucent. Pour in 1 1/4c. of the broth, simmer for several minutes then add the diced apple. Add remaining broth and pour over the stuffing. Mix until all the liquid is absorbed. Turn out into the prepared casserole dish.

Now, you can either serve this as it is now, or you can bake it in a 350 degree oven until the top is browned. If you put in right away into the oven it usually takes only 15 minutes or so. Otherwise you can refrigerate it and bake in up to three days later - you'll just need to adjust the baking time so that it gets hot all the way through.

In keeping with the apple additions, here's the recipe for the apple-cranberry relish.

Because we did not roast a turkey this year, traditional cranberry sauce would not quite fit the bill. However, I still wanted to bring the beautiful red berries to the menu. I decided to keep going with the apple theme and added some to the standard cranberry recipe. Another dish receiving Beth's seal of approval - this one was exceptionally good right after cooking - just make sure to allow it to cool sufficiently or you'll burn the tar out of your mouth.

You'll need:
1 package fresh cranberries
2 granny smith apples, cored, peeled and diced
1/2c apple juice
1/2c water
3/4c sugar

Combine all ingredients in a pot on the stove, and bring to a rolling boil over medium high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the cranberries "pop" and the mixture is turning that perfect shade of pink. Be careful NOT to overcook this - you want the apples to hold their shape and not turn to mush. As the mixture boils it'll start to foam. This is your cue to watch the apples closely to prevent overcooking.

Remove from heat and allow to cool before transferring to a serving dish. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.

I served two types of potato dishes on Thursday: Mashed Sweet Potatoes with butter & brown sugar and Creamy Herbed Potatoes.

For the Mashed Sweet Potatoes:

6-8 sweet potatoes or yams - I opted for the ones with the bright orange flesh

1/2c. butter
1/2c. cream (give or take a little to suit your preference)
brown sugar to taste
salt to taste

Peel and cut up the sweet potatoes into evenly sized chunks. Bring several quarts of salted water to a rolling boil & add the potatoes. Boil until the pieces are fork tender - start checking after 15 minutes or so. Once the potatoes are thoroughly cooked, drain and return to their pan. Start mashing - adding butter and cream as you go until the consistency is what you'd like to see. Stir in brown sugar, a heaping spoonful at a time and mix well after each addition. Once the sweetness is where you want it, add a little salt to really perk it up. Move from the pan into a casserole dish.

For the Creamy Herbed Potatoes, follow PW's recipe found here. I used red potatoes, sliced ultra thin by using a mandolin. I also used the fresh herbs I had on hand - basil, rosemary & chives.  This dish is ULTRA rich.

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