Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thanksgiving: turkey, roasted butternut squash, bulgur pilaf, lentil salad, roasted green beans

One of the reasons I've come to hate grad school lately is because it's not challenging anymore.  Sure, it's more frustrating than I could ever imagine, but that's because of things completely out of my control.  That's why I've had so much fun trying new things in the kitchen - it gives me some of the challenge that I crave in life.  And I guess I decided to give myself the ultimate challenge of cooking most of the things for Thanksgiving this year.

As Thanksgiving approached, I became quite nervous.... mostly about the turkey.  I figured that if I screwed anything else up it wouldn't be a big deal, but you can't have Thanksgiving without turkey.  Luckily there were plentiful Thanksgiving episodes on the Food Network, and I decided to try out Alton's recipe from Good Eats.  I think the brine (plus taking it out as soon as the breasts got to 161 degrees) left it moist, and overall it was a success.

Thanksgiving turkey
Plus, it allowed me to get creative.  Hey, you might as well put the squash to good use, right?

Thanksgiving turkey in brine
(it's holding the turkey down in the brine)

I also made a sausage and mushroom dressing (with a recipe from Cooking Light).  I used all whole wheat bread (from a loaf I made earlier in the week), substituted chicken sausage and stock instead of turkey, and left out the marjoram (we didn't have any).  It could have used a little bit more moisture, but I thought it was good.  I also made the bulgur pilaf and lentil salad that I've written about in the past, and roasted butternut squash with lemon, thyme, and parmesan and garlic-roasted green beans with shallots and almonds from Kalyn's Kitchen.

I couldn't have done it without help, especially from Eric and Mom, in the last hour or so when everything was cooking at once.  Mom conveniently cut her finger that morning, but luckily Eric helped me out with all of the chopping, and they both helped me keep track of everything once things got chaotic.  Despite being somewhat stressed about the fate of the turkey, I had a lot of fun cooking (especially since I had good company).  Now I have to find another challenge...

Katie and Eric cooking Thanksgiving dinner

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