Cooking

Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate Truffles

In keeping with my homemade gift theme this week, I wanted to share this simple, yet very tasty recipe, for Homemade Chocolate Truffles. These melt in your mouth, with a smooth, creamy texture and rich, chocolate flavor.

They can be a lovely hostess gift. Kids can make them, too.

The secret for making really good truffles is using the best quality chocolate you can. You can use chocolate chips, but get good quality chips.

They are very soft, and melt quickly when handled. When rolling them out, I prefer to wear plastic gloves. Make them without gloves, and you will understand why.

At candy making stores, you can get small papers cups and small boxes or tins for wrapping up your truffles.

Chocolate Truffles

1/3 c. Whipping cream

6 T. butter, cut into small pieces

2 c. chocolate chips- or 12 oz. dark chocolate, grated or chopped coarsely

Unsweetened cocoa

Heat cream to boiling in small saucepan. Stir in butter and cook until melted. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until melted. Place in shallow bowl and chill until firm, at least a couple of hours. Roll mixture into 1-inch balls and roll in cocoa. Sometimes the mixture is quite firm and hard to roll into perfectly smooth balls. You can roll them out as smooth as you can, roll in cocoa and then roll again to smooth out. You might want to give them another roll in the cocoa after that.  Makes about 30.

Chocolate Truffles

Homemade Bath Salts

Homemade Bath Salts

If you are looking for a simple and easy gift to make for someone, you might want to make bath salts. It is one of my favorite gifts to make. Everyone seems to like them. This is a fun craft for kids to make for Mom, teachers etc. I like using essential oils, but you can use perfume, too. You can also leave them unscented, if someone is sensitive to perfumes and fragrances.

The ingredients are fairly easy to find. Epsom salts can be found at any drug store. Essential oils can be found at most craft stores. Food coloring- grocery stores. Try to find pretty jars to put them and finish with a pretty label.

Sometimes I add small amount of dried flower petals. If you do that- just small amounts and crumbled pretty fine, so there won’t be issues with clogging drains. Here are the directions.

Homemade Bath Salts

Epsom Salts

Fragrant oils

Food coloring- optional

Flower petals

Place 2 cups Epsom salts in a non-reactive bowl and add a few drops of scented oils and a few drops of food coloring, if desired. Toss to distribute, or place in a jar with a tight fitting lid or even in a plastic bag and shake mixture well. Take a whiff. If you can’t smell them, add more. You can add more coloring, too if needed. Add a few petals, broken up, for additional fragrance and for color. Place salts in a glass jar with a lid or in a plastic bag and let stand 1 week. Smell again and adjust fragrance as needed. Fragrances mature and you may find them too weak or strong. Add more oil or cologne to heighten aroma or add more salts to cut down on intensity. Keep in mind that the bath salts will be diluted a lot in a bath, so a little strong is good.

The oils are available at many craft stores and by mail. See the section on mail order in the back of the book. Choosing the fragrance you want to use can be a little trickier. Most of the florals are a safe bet, but you may want to get more creative. Citrus, herb, spice and woody fragrant oils can add a dimension to your bath salts that make them really outstanding.

To present them as a gift salts can be put in a wide-mouth jar, with a lid. Decorate with ribbon and attach a small scoop, if you like. Discount and dollar stores are a good place to find attractive jars at a reasonable price as well as garage sales and resale shops. You can also package them for individual use in lollipop bags with a card board header, like the herb packets. I like to make different fragrances and label them  (relaxing bath, earthly delights, sweet dreams, etc. I then package them in the bags and add a few to a gift basket.

Easy to Make Cashew Brittle

Homemade Cashew Brittle

If you need a great food gift- perhaps something to bring to a holiday party- this brittle might just be the answer. This is also a wonderful option when you just don’t have a lot of time. It is fast and easy to make.

I was given this recipe at a craft show a few years ago. The brittle is cooked in the microwave. No special thermometers or equipment required. Just a glass bowl and a few minutes of your time. It could not be simpler.  It is really good, too.

You can use other nuts, if you prefer, or peanuts. You can add a little cayenne pepper, if you want a spicy version. You can also dress it up with a drizzle of chocolate, once cooled.  So many ways to enjoy it.

Stored in a covered container, in a cool, dry place, the brittle will stay crunchy for weeks.

 Homemade Cashew Brittle

2 c. cashews*

1 c. sugar

1/2 c. corn syrup

1/8 t. salt

1 t. butter

1 t. vanilla

1 t. baking soda

Butter or oil a large baking sheet and set aside. In a 3-4 quart glass bowl combine the nuts, sugar, corn syrup and salt. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Remove from microwave, stir well and return to microwave. Cook 3 more minutes in microwave. Remove and stir in butter and vanilla, stirring until butter has melted. Return to microwave and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from microwave and stir in baking soda. Stir until well blended and pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet. Spread out quickly, then allow to cool. Once cool, break into pieces. Store in a cool, dry place. I normally store it in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.

* I used salted cashews but feel free to experiment with other nuts

Note: Use high power setting on microwave.

Homemade Cranberry Liqueur

Cranberry Liqueur

You can do more with cranberries than make sauce. Not that I don’t like cranberry sauce, I do. I love cranberry season and find myself using them in all sorts of recipes. This is one of my favorites.

I got the recipe from my sister Cindy, many years ago. It is also called Cranberry Bounce. If you start a batch now, it will be ready to drink, and for gifting, in just a couple of weeks.

Cranberries, sugar and vodka. What a great combination. It’s simple to make and it makes a nice gift, too.

The color is absolutely beautiful. The sweet/tart finished product can be enjoyed by just sipping, on the rocks, or mixed with club soda. It can also be a nice addition to all sorts of cocktails.

Often after Thanksgiving, the price of cranberries goes down. I stock up on them, freeze some and make a batch, or two of cranberry liqueur. This year, even before Thanksgiving, prices have been good.

I hope you give it a try. I am sure you will be pleased with the results.

Cranberry Liqueur

1 lb. fresh cranberries (most bags are 12 oz.)

2 c. sugar

4 c. vodka- at least 80 proof

Grind berries fine in food mill or food processor. Place in large jar and combine with the sugar. Let stand, covered until sugar is dissolved completely, several hours or overnight. Add vodka and let steep 1-3 weeks, stirring occasionally. Strain and filter. Makes 5 cups.

Note: Fruit can be saved in fridge and used, sparingly, in desserts, fruit salads and on cake or ice cream.

Cinnamon-Vanilla Belgian Waffles

Cinnamon-Vanilla Belgian Waffles

When I want a special breakfast, I make waffles. No one ever complains when you make waffles for breakfast. Or if you  make waffles for lunch or dinner, for that matter.

The response is even better when you make Belgian waffles. At least that has been my experience.  My theory is, that because Belgian waffles are bigger, people love them even more.

These waffles are light and rich at the same time.

Belgian waffles can be used as a dessert, too. For dessert, just top them with ice cream, chocolate sauce or whipped cream – or all three.

You can even freeze any extras. Oh, who are we kidding? There aren’t going to be leftovers. But if there were, you could freeze them.

Cinnamon-Vanilla Belgian Waffles

2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 t. cinnamon
2 eggs, separated
1-1/2 cups half and half- or milk
1 cup butter, melted
2 t. vanilla extract

Sliced fresh strawberries, powdered sugar or syrup

In a bowl, combine dry ingredients. In another bowl, lightly beat egg yolks. Add milk, butter and vanilla; mix well. Stir into dry ingredients just until combined. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter. Bake in a preheated waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions until golden brown. Serve with strawberries, powdered sugar or syrup. Yield: 10 waffles (about 4-1/2 inches).

Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread

I find myself in the mood to bake, now that the weather has gotten cold. I also find myself with a pile of winter squash. Baking pumpkin bread is just the thing to do.

I often use pumpkin, but will also use butternut or Hubbard squash, instead of the pumpkin in the recipe. They all work just fine.

I like to make several batches at a time, and freeze the extra. Of course, if word gets out that I have fresh baked pumpkin bread it never makes it to the freezer. Every year I get a lot of requests for my pumpkin bread.  Everyone seems to love it.

It is versatile, served plain, it is a great breakfast. Topped with a dusting of powdered sugar or sweetened fruit and whipped cream, it becomes dessert. I also often bake smaller loaves for gift giving.

I do find myself adding more spices, sometimes. Play around to find the combination of flavors you like. I often add cloves, allspice or mace.

Pumpkin Bread

1 ¾ c. flour

1 ½ c. sugar

1 t. baking soda

¾ t. salt

1 t. each cinnamon and nutmeg

½ c. softened butter

2 eggs, beaten

1 c. pumpkin

1/3 c. water

Mix dry ingredients and set aside. Beat together butter and eggs until fluffy. Beat in pumpkin and water until smooth. Stir in dry ingredients until smooth. Pour into a greased 9×5-inch loaf pan. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 60-65 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing from pan and placing on cooling rack.  Wrap in plastic, best served the next day. Freezes well. Makes 1 loaf.

As with other quick bread you can make this recipe and bake it in smaller pans for gift-size loaves. Baking temperature is the same. Time will vary, so check after 30 minutes and test for doneness as usual.

10 Recipes for Leftover Turkey

Turkey Reuben

It is that time of year, when we find ourselves waking up to leftover turkey. Sometimes quite a lot of leftover turkey.

Of course, be sure to make stock from the carcass. Turkey sandwiches are always a favorite in my family.

There is a lot more you can make with the rest of the bird, though. Here are 10 fun and tasty ways to make the most of all that turkey.

I never get tired of turkey, but if your family does not feel the same way, these recipes could come in handy. Enjoy!!

Turkey Reuben Loaf

3 ¼ c. flour

1 T. sugar

1 t. salt

1 package quick-rising yeast

1 c. hot water

1 T. oil

¼ c. thousand island dressing*

8-10 oz. thin sliced turkey

4 oz. sliced Swiss cheese

1 c. sauerkraut, rinsed and squeezed dry

1 egg white, beaten

Caraway seeds

Set aside 1 cup of the flour. Combine remaining flour with the other dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir in water and oil and gradually stir in enough flour to make a soft dough. Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Roll dough into a rectangle about 16 x 8. Spread dressing down center middle of dough. Top with meat slices, cheese and sauerkraut. Cut one-inch wide strips of dough from filling to edge on both sides. It will sort of look like fringe. Alternating sides, fold strips up and over the filling at an angle. Carefully lift loaf onto greased baking sheet and place at an angle. Cover with a towel and place sheet on top of a roasting pan half-filled with simmering water for 15 minutes. Brush with egg white and top with seeds. Bake in a preheated 400-degree for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly before slicing. Serve warm and refrigerate leftovers.

* You can make your own Thousand Island Dressing by combining equal parts of ketchup, mayo and sweet pickle relish.

Note: The variations for this bread are almost endless. Some favorite combinations are ham and Swiss with mustard, roast beef and cheddar, chicken, broccoli and cheese, Spinach with ricotta or feta and onions, pizza, assorted fillings. You get the idea. Use your imagination and have fun. Just be careful not to overfill, or the bread will be hard to move, use fillings that aren’t too runny and always use cold fillings.

If you want to use regular yeast use warm, rather than hot water. Also, don’t let dough rise over boiling water. After kneading cover dough and let rise 45 minutes. Punch down and assemble as in original recipe. Cover with a towel and let rise until dough looks puffy, about 40 minutes. Bake as directed above. These breads can also be frozen.

Turkey Tetrazzini

2 T. butter or oil

1 c. chopped celery

4 oz. sliced mushrooms

4 T. flour

1 1/2 c. chicken or turkey stock

1 c. half and half or milk

1/4 c. sherry

2 c. cooked turkey, cubed

4-6 oz. broken spaghetti, cooked

salt and pepper to taste

bread crumbs

butter

Parmesan cheese- optional

Heat butter or oil in pot and add celery and cook 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook 3 minutes more. Stir in flour and mix well. Add stock, half and half and sherry bring to a simmer- stirring often. Stir in turkey and pasta. Adjust seasonings. Place mixture in oiled casserole and sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and drizzle a little melted butter over the top. Add Parmesan cheese, if you like. Place in a 350 degree oven and bake until bubbly- about 25 minutes. Serves 4.

 Turkey Noodle Soup

Oil*
2 onions, sliced
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
4 ribs celery, sliced
4 qts. Turkey stock
4-5 c. turkey meat, cubed
1 c. chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Hot pepper sauce to taste
1 lb. wide egg noodles, cooked

Heat oil in soup pot and cook onions until starting to brown. Add carrots and celery and cook a few minutes more. Add stock and meat and simmer, covered, until veggies are tender. Add parsley and simmer 15 minutes longer. Adjust seasonings. Warm noodles and serve on the side so everyone can add as many noodles to their soup as they like. Serves 8.
* Since I had freshly made stock I used a little fat from the stock to cook the onions.

Turkey Won Ton Soup

1½ lbs. cooked turkey, about
1 head bok choy
3 T. hoisin sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
24 won ton wrappers
2 qts. Turkey stock
1 t. ginger
1 t. hot pepper sauce
Chopped green onions
Sesame oil

I used dark meat from the turkey, mostly. I minced enough to give me a cup of meat. The rest I cut into thin strips. I then took stems from the bok choy and minced enough of them to make 1 cup. Combine the minced turkey with minced bok choy, the hoisin and the garlic. This is the filling for your won tons. Slice more of the bok choy- using mainly the leaves, into thin shreds. This will go into the soup later, along with the strips of turkey. You should have at least a couple of cups of the shredded bok choy, but more is OK, too. To make the won tons place one on your work surface and spoon a rounded teaspoon of the filling into the middle of it. Moisten edge with water, fold in half and press to seal. I used round wrappers, but square wrappers are fine, too. I like the round ones, labelled for dumplings, because they are a little thicker. I get them at a local Asian grocery store. Repeat with remaining won tons and fillings until done. Bring stock to a boil and add the ginger and hot sauce. Add the won tons to the simmering stock. Simmer gently for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the strips of turkey and the shredded bok choy greens. Cook about 5-6 minutes longer. Finish soup with chopped green onions and a drizzle of sesame oil. Serves 6-8.

Turkey Chili

1 large onion, chopped
2 T. oil
2 ribs celery, sliced
1 sweet pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans lima beans, drained and rinsed
1 can ( 4 oz.) chopped green chilies
3-4 c. cubed turkey
2-3 c. stock- turkey or chicken
3 T. chili powder, or to taste
1 T. cumin, or to taste
Generous dash of hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh chopped cilantro

Toppings: Pick what you like. Some good toppers are shredded cheese, chopped green onions, salsa, sour cream or tortilla chips

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In soup pot cook onion in oil until golden brown. Add the celery, peppers and chilies and cook 5 more minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, except cilantro and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and simmer until flavors blend, about 30 minutes but longer is fine. I usually cook it covered for 15 to 20 minutes and then remove the lid so it can thicken. Add the cilantro right before serving. Ladle into soup bowls add add toppings of your choice. Serves 6.

Turkey Florentine

2 T. oil or butter
1 large leek, cleaned, trimmed and chopped
4 T. flour
1½ c. stock – turkey or chicken
24 oz. fresh spinach, washed
¾ c. half and half- you could use milk instead
3 c. cubed cooked turkey
Salt and pepper to taste
2 t. hot sauce- or to taste
1 c. shredded Pecorino/ Romano cheese, plus extra for sprinkling on top
Hot cooked pasta

In large skillet cook leeks in oil or butter over medium heat until tender. Stir in flour and cook until smooth, but not brown. Add the stock and cook until mixture starts to thicken. Add the spinach and continue cooking, stirring often until the spinach is wilted. The spinach cooks down a lot- you might have to add it a little at a time to have room in the pan for all of it. As soon as the spinach is wilted add the half and half and the turkey and cook until heated through and bubbly. You might need a little more stock or half and half if the sauce is too thick for your taste. Season with the salt and pepper and the hot sauce. Stir in the cheese. Serve over hot pasta. Serves 4-6.

Turkey with Herb Dumplings

1 turkey thigh, cut off the bone and cubed

1 large onion, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

4 carrots, peeled and chopped

3 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

4 c. turkey stock

4 T. flour

salt and pepper to taste

1 c. baking mix- like Bisquick- I make my own

1/2 c. milk

2 T. chopped green onion

1 T. chopped parsley

1 t. dried basil

In Dutch oven or large pot, brown turkey thigh. Add the vegetables and brown them, too, turning to prevent burning. Add stock, cover pot, and simmer until veggies are tender, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Combine flour with some cold water or more stock until smooth. Add to the pot and stir well. Mixture will thicken. Meanwhile combine baking mix with milk and herbs. Drop dumpling batter by tablespoonfuls over the turkey mixture in pot. Reduce heat to low, cover pot and cook until dumplings are cooked, about 20 minutes. To serve place some of the turkey and vegetables with sauce in serving bowls and top with dumplings. Serves 6.

Turkey Vegetable Soup

1 onion, chopped

oil

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

3 small potatoes. peeled and cubed

1 c. corn- cut from 1-2 ears

1 medium tomato, peeled and chopped

2 c. shredded cooked turkey *

3-4 cups turkey stock- or whatever you have and like

Fresh parsley and basil

salt and pepper to taste

dash of hot sauce

Heat oil in pot and cook onion until golden. Add carrots and cook a few more minutes. Add remaining vegetables, turkey and stock and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes- or until veggies are tender. Add herbs and simmer a few more minutes. Adjust seasoning and add hot sauce. Serves 2-3 for dinner.

*If you want to turn this into a vegetarian soup add vegetable stock  and add a couple of cups of cooked beans. Kidney beans would work well.

Turkey Lo Mein

1 onion, chopped

2 T. oil

1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained

1/2 c. green peas- you could also use green beans

2 c. diced cooked turkey

8 oz. angel hair pasta -I use a very fine noodle I get at the Asian market

soy sauce to taste

Hoisen sauce or oyster sauce to taste- you could also use stir-fry sauce

sesame oil

chopped green onions

Heat water for pasta. Heat oil in skillet and cook onion until browned.  Add water chestnuts and cook 1 minute longer. While onion is cooking cook pasta. Add peas to onion mixture and stir to combine. Add the turkey and heat through.  Drain pasta and toss into turkey mixture. Season with soy sauce and what ever Asian sauce you have on hand. Drizzle with sesame oil and top with green onions. Serves 4.

Turkey With Tortellini

1 lb. cheese tortellini, cooked and drained

2-3 c. cubed cooked turkey

2-3 c. cooked broccoli, chopped

2 T. butter or oil

2 T. flour

1 c. half and half or milk, warmed

2 c. stewed tomatoes- I used my canned tomatoes- you could substitute a 14 oz. can of tomatoes

salt and pepper to taste

fresh chopped parsley

In bowl combine tortellini with turkey and broccoli and place and a lightly greased casserole. In saucepan melt butter and add flour whisking until smooth. If using oil just combine oil and flour in pan and whisk until smooth. Add  half and half and cook, stirring often until thickened and bubbly. Add tomatoes and heat through. Season to taste. Puree sauce and pour over the turkey mixture. Sprinkle with the parsley. Bake in a 350 degree oven until heated through and lightly browned around the edges- about 40 minutes.

Turkey Florentine

Turkey Florentine

Turkey with Herb Dumplings

Turkey with Herb Dumplings

Turkey Lo Mein

Turkey Lo Mein

Turkey with Tortellini

Turkey with Tortellini

Uncle Art and the Giant Turkey

 I posted this story last year and had a request to post it again….so here it is….

Rather than posting a recipe today, I wanted to share a fun Thanksgiving memory with you. Through most of my younger life, Thanksgiving was spent with my family and my Aunt Tillie and Uncle Art’s family. My mother and my Aunt Tillie were sisters. They were as close and loving as sisters could be. We took turns at each others homes, and shared the cooking duties.

There was a friendly rivalry every year to come up with a special dessert or to have a new side dish. The biggest part of this challenge though, was to get a really big turkey. My mother was convinced that a big bird was tastier than two small ones. Aunt Tillie agreed. So every year it was the quest of the host family to score a really large turkey.

My mom and dad would go to the local butcher to order the bird weeks in advance. I am sure Tillie and Art did the same. They always seemed to end up around 25 pounds, give or take. My dad and uncle kept track. Last year was 26 pounds and 4 ounces, but two years before, closer to 27 pounds. I swear, these birds had to be part ostrich.

The ultimate goal was to get a 30 pounder. It had eluded them all, until one year. Uncle Art had found a new guy. A turkey guy, who promised him the 30 pound bird of his dreams. We knew days before the big day, that the really big bird dream was going to happen. Then my mom got a phone call from Aunt Tillie.

My uncle had picked up the beast. He proudly brought it home. He looked at it, lovingly at first. Then he looked again. This was not Uncle Art’s first turkey. He felt something was wrong. Remember, this was something they had all dreamed about finding. Finding it first was cause for bragging rights, for sure. He was convinced that he had been duped, that the bird fell short of its promised weight. He told my aunt about his suspicions and they weighed the bird. It was too big for their kitchen scale, so my uncle weighed himself on the bathroom scale and then weighed himself again, this time holding the turkey.

Uncle Art had been right. He was short at least a couple of pounds of the promised 30 pounds. He went back to the turkey guy, irate. The man was defensive at first, but weighed the bird again. It weighed in somewhere in the area of 28 pounds. The man gave him some money back and lacking a bigger bird, Uncle Art brought it back home.

As I recall it was a perfectly lovely bird, cooked to juicy perfection. To my Uncle Art it was both a failure and a success. On one hand, he had not gotten the 30 pound bird he was hoping for. He did, however, take pride in the fact that he spotted it. That in the world of turkeys, he could see the difference between a 28 pound and a 30 pound bird.

I believe, some years later, a 30 pound bird was found. The story that year, around the Thanksgiving dinner table, was not so much about the 30 pound bird before us, but about the one that nearly was.

I hope you all have a great day, spent with those you love. I also hope you make memories to make you smile, when some of those we love are no longer here. Love and best wishes to all.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Candy Turkeys

Candy Turkey

Every year, I spend the day before Thanksgiving making some special treat or craft with my niece, Elia. Last year we made these cookie “turkeys”. She liked making them so much we are making them again this year. They are really easy to make, and since there is no baking involved, you don’t tie up the oven if you need it for other things, like maybe a real turkey. Here are the ingredients you will need.  We did them sort of assembly line fashion, because Elia wanted one for each person’s place at the table.

Candy Turkeys

chocolate sandwich cookies

candy corn

mini peanut butter cup

malted milk balls

candy pumpkins

melted chocolate

To start, place a cookie on your work surface. Affix a peanut butter cup, for the body. with a little melted chocolate. Place a malted milk ball on top of the peanut butter cup, using a little more melted chocolate to make the head. Once the chocolate hardens a little break off the tip of a candy corn and affix with chocolate to make the beak. Stick a few candy corn between the cookies- into the frosting layer- for the tail. Open up a cookie and use a little more chocolate to stand up your turkey on the frosting surface- Elia wanted them to be standing on snow. Or you can use a whole cookie, if you prefer. Place it off center, so you have room for your pumpkin. Let it harden for a minute, then add a candy pumpkin, using another drop of melted chocolate.

Elia hard at work

Elia hard at work

She made quite a few

She made quite a few

My place at the table

My place at the table

My Mom, Dinah Shore and the Upside Down Turkey

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought I’d share how my mother came to roast her turkey breast-side down. I must say, there are a number of ways to roast a turkey and have it come out nice and juicy.

I have no objection to any way you like to cook your bird including, but not limited to, frying, wrapped in bacon, cheesecloth wrapped, spatchcocked, sous vide etc. Stuffed, un-stuffed, brined are all OK by me, if that works for you. I have found over the years that cooking a turkey is a very personal decision, and folks get pretty passionate about how they cook their bird.

Many years ago a singer named Dinah Shore had a TV show, which my Mother really liked. Dinah, besides being a singer, liked to cook. She gave her turkey cooking tip one time on her show. She said she roasted her turkey breast side down for most of the time. The theory is that if the bird is breast side down the juices will flow into the breast- which eliminates the need to baste. It also slows down the cooking time for the breast- so it comes out cooked at the same time as the dark meat.

My Mother was intrigued, to say the least. She talked about it, a lot, leading up to Thanksgiving. We used to get a really big turkey and my Dad has his doubts about how easy turning over a hot, partially cooked turkey, would be. Mom was adamant. So it was that that Thanksgiving my Mom put her bird in the pan, on the rack, breast side down. She was excited and nervous at the same time.

Let’s face it- the turkey is the star of the meal and if it didn’t work it would be a disaster. But Mom trusted Dinah and they went ahead with this radical new plan. After about 3 hours of cooking, maybe a bit less, they managed to get the turkey turned over and returned it to the oven. Mom would look pensively through he oven window. I think giving birth was easier on her.

Well, in the end it worked out great. The bird was juicy and evenly cooked. No basting, so less work. She was delighted that she had held to her plan and had not been persuaded to cook it like before.

So every time I cook a turkey I cook it breast side down. How long I roast it that way depends on the size of the bird. Normally about 2 hours- because I am roasting a smaller turkey. I always remember my Mother when I cook it that way. I remember that first breast side down Thanksgiving and every one after that. Mom always was delighted- like the first time- and she always mentioned Dinah Shore.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. May your turkey be juicy and most importantly, may you get to spend time with the people you love. I’ll be with family and I’ll think about my Mother and Father – and Dinah.