Even though I was born in the South (hi Fulton county), my love for biscuits didn’t begin until I went to high school and would leave my four hour tennis practices depleted and hungry. Luckily there was a Popeyes right by the courts, but I never wanted to ruin my dinner completely so instead of getting chicken and a whole plate, I’d just order two biscuits with a side of butter and honey. Oh man, they were SO good.
That experience turned me into a hardcore biscuit-loving human. I love biscuits of all kinds but to be honest, ones made with shortening are it! And guess what, I’ve never baked them. I’ve always opted for full butter. And yes, they’re good, delicious even, but they’re not like this. I’m here to say that if you’re shy to bake with shortening, so was I but we’re here together, let’s do it!!
Last week I had the pleasure of going to lunch with Carla Hall and she was so amazing. We talked for a few hours about all sorts of things. I’m not gonna lie, I was a little nervous before, but once I sat down I was like, why was I so stressed?! She’s such a beautiful person, even better in person than what you see and know from TV.
I am SO excited about this post because if I’m being completely honest, I never cook the turkey for Thanksgiving. Josh is super passionate about brining, roasting, blah blah and I just let him do it and I concentrate on the sides and desserts.
BUT, when ALDI reached out about hosting a Friendsgiving with some of my bestest blog friends–Geri, Teri + Jenny, Naomi, Jeanine, Ashley and Claire–I decided that it was time to figure out how to make and share a proper recipe for Thanksgiving turkey. I like to think that this post forced me to learn how to spatchcock a turkey. I’m so glad I know now!
One of the most popular recipes this fall has been this Mojo Sheet Pan Chicken and there’s good reason for it! It’s so flavorful and the lemon/orange and heavy garlic flavors work so well together. I thought that maybe it would be delicious on turkey and boy was I right!
If you’re unfamiliar, mojo is a Cuban marinade that is wildly simple but oh so good. In Cuba they have sour oranges, which are sort of a cross between a lemon and an orange. They aren’t readily available in the United States and most Cubans/people trying to achieve mojo, simply combine lemons and oranges—it’s a good solution!
I went to ALDI where I picked up a gorgeous, hormone-free turkey at a super affordable price, along with the organic dried oregano and organic lemons and naval oranges.
Thanksgiving is undoubtably the most popular pie holiday of the entire year.
And I happen to love, LOVE pie. I love eating pie, but I’m pretty sure I love making it even more.
Here are some tips that I find helpful:
Common Problem: Dough Shrinkage
Dilemma: Have you ever rolled out the most perfect pie crust, crimped the edges to only be super bummed out after it comes out of the oven that the whole thing shrunk??!?!
Solution: Shrinkage happens for two reasons.
The first is too much water in the dough. When you wrap up the dough in plastic wrap, it should never be sticky. If it’s sticky, roll the entire thing in a few tablespoons of flour and knead it one more time AND then wrap it.
The second possible problem is that it didn’t have enough time for the gluten to relax. Most pie crust recipes will tell you to rest it in the fridge for an hour. Well, if you only let it rest for an hour, most likely it will shrink. Ideally it’ll rest for an entire night in the fridge. This also breaks up some of the work and makes pie-making a bit easier.
Common Problem: Pumpkin (or any custard) Pie Cracking
Dilemma: You make a pumpkin pie (or cheesecake) and it looks perfect when it come out of the oven and then BOOM! A DAMN CRACK! Many people will tell you that you probably baked it too long and this could be true. But if there was no crack in the oven then you probably baked it just right, but it was the drastic temperature change when you took it our of the oven that did you in.
Solution: First of all, cracking isn’t the worst thing that could happen—it’s totally edible and delicious. To avoid it from happening, turn the oven off, prop the oven door open and allow the pie to cool slowly, rather than taking it from the very hot oven to often times chilly (it’s November after all!) kitchen counter. I usually let it cool for about 30 minutes to an hour this way and then take it out and place it on the counter. If you have kids or dogs, have them avoid the kitchen for that time.
Common Problem: Being Flustered
Dilemma: If you’ve never made pie, the first time may stress you out so much that you may never want to make it again. It requires a good amount of steps. There are multiple components. The idiom “easy as pie” could not be further from the truth. But it’s not hard.
Solution: Make the pie crust the day before. This will allow you to concentrate on just the pie crust, which if you’ve never made it before, can be a confusing. You’ll have to have a bit of focus but I swear you can do it!
Make the filling, stick it in the fridge and then roll out the pie crusts. Organization helps a whole lot of pie-making. AND if all else fails, Tweet me and I’ll try and help! Also, if the pie turns out to be not the prettiest, top it with a scoop of ice cream and no one will care!
Now, here are some of my favorite pies to make for Thanksgiving!
I used to be one of those psycho people who liked to be really hungry for Thanksgiving dinner. So instead of having breakfast, I’d just power through the day so I could REALLY enjoy dinner. But then that lead to be, like, being mean to people so now I make sure to eat breakfast AND I always have an appetizer prepped.
This is perfect for that because it can be made the day before and then heated up when hanger-vibes strike.
This weekend I accompanied my best friend to look for wedding dresses. When she made the appointments, we both sort of rolled our eyes and shrugged our shoulders. I guess we’re gonna have to do this. Neither of us are super girly so the idea of having to go to a bridal boutique or whatever didn’t sound all that exhilarating…until we got there.
Man, it was way more fun and emotional than I ever thought it was going to be. It was such a happy experience! It made me appreciate all the steps along the way to getting married. It made me happy for her and for me and for her mom, who was so grateful and thrilled to witness every single dress, good or bad.
What did you do?
Are you realizing that Thanksgiving is like a stone’s throw away?! I went to CVS the other day and they just skipped from Halloween to Christmas! JUST LIKE THAT! It’s really intense and aggressive and it’s stressing me out.
Gravy is my everything. While I love it on everything from stuffing to slices of turkey to mashed potatoes, I REALLY love it the day after Thanksgiving. You know, when things have dried up a bit and really need that dreaded word we all hate: moisture. Cranberry sauce helps too and so does mayonnaise, which is actually foreshadowing as to what’s to come next week, but for now, GRAVY!
This gravy is thick and smooth and delicious. It starts by using the drippings from yesterday’s turkey. And I’ll say that the drippings from that turkey and its dry brine are VERY salty drippings. But I added a few things to combat that saltiness so no need to not get on this lil’ gravy train (do you see what I did there?).
Isn’t Thanksgiving the best? Even planning Thanksgiving excites me so very much.
For years and years and years, I dunked a raw bird in a wet brine and called it a day. Last year Josh spiced the brine with persimmons and quince and fall stuff like all-spice and cloves. I loved it. But, I also was curious if this was really even needed. I mean, it was kind of a pain. There was a trash bag involved and there’s something inherently weird about putting food you’re going to eat into a garbage bag, even if it’s clean.
So, I did some research. And turns out a lot of people we’re a million light years ahead of me with their hatred toward the wet brine. And some of the science behind why dry brines are best, made complete sense to me. (Serious Eats’ experimentation is super awesome.)
I decided to give the dry-brine a go this year and I’m so glad I did. This year it’s all ’bout the dry brine. Says who? Just me.
The brine I made consisted of salt, ground coriander, minced herbs like sage, rosemary and thyme, and zest from a lemon and orange. It’s really actually quite simple. The bird is rubbed with it the day before and the entire bird dry-brines for a good 24 hours.
There’s nothing fancy or weird or particularly unusual about this. I mean, it kinda reminds of how I like to roast a chicken. This recipe yielded the crispiest skin I’ve ever had on a turkey, which in my book immediately makes it a complete keeper. I would be completely content if someone served me crispy turkey skin ONLY. Of course, that’d be insane and v Paula Deen of me; not a cute look for me.
For the whole recipe and more pictures and a longer tirade about my love for this recipe and turkey, go to PBS Food!
Twice-baked potatoes are kinda basic, aren’t they? They are in an endearing way, of course. They’re simple and adorable and I kinda have the urge to pat them on the head and tell them they’re cute. But for this Thanksgiving, I wanted a side dish with a bit of class, so I decided that old favorite of ours needed a bit of a makeover.
This is its classier bigger sister; less cheese, less carbs yet still indulgent and delicious. Also, this is definitely the first time where I’m saying less cheese/less carbs and meaning it as a good thing.
Amelia and Joy the Baker have never met. But I know they would get along because they’re both what I could consider “peanut butter enthusiasts.”
Amelia, in her little time on this planet, has tried peanut butter every which way: cheap creamy peanut butter (read: Jiff), all-natural chunky peanut butter, smokey peanut butter, and even peanut butter mixed with honey. She prefers her peanut butter vessels to be human spoons, slices of apple, bananas or even sneakily off the side of a bowl. She does not discriminate.
I probably won’t be the richest grandma so I doubt I’ll leave copious amounts of money to a school or hospital; I won’t end up buying a ton of jewelery in my lifetime so there will be no diamonds (sorry, grandchildren); and there’s a good chance I won’t be leaving behind large amounts of land in the hills of Wisconsin (are there hills in Wisconsin?…you get what I mean).
My hope is that my grandkids will tell their friends about how their grandma looked so sweet and small yet she was strong, told sarcastic jokes and had a foul mouth. I hope they tell their friends that whenever I visited, I made them the most elaborate ridiculous lunches and wrote them the sweetest notes for them to find at lunch time. And I hope they tell their friends about how their grandma, with her super veiny hands, made the best pies ever.