Countdown to Turkey Day 2011: November 14 The Great Shopping List

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Heather says:

It’s time to make your Thanksgiving Day Dinner shopping list. I know that Thanksgiving is almost two weeks away, but this will hopefully give you time to take advantage of some sales and spread the cost over two grocery runs.  In many households this makes the expense a little easier to absorb. Unless you’re paid monthly and then well, it won’t help at all, sorry.

Grab your Thanksgiving Day Menu and all of the recipes, even if you think you know them by heart. This year I have been working with Butterball to help families get ready for Thanksgiving, check out the Must-Have Shopping List for Thanksgiving I created with them.

Do you need help making your shopping list? is a great tool for creating shopping lists. To make it even easier, many Home-Ec 101 recipes are already in their database.

Alternately, spreadsheets aren’t just for accounting, you know.

Open up a spreadsheet in Excel or Open Office -have you ever tried Open Office? It’s free and compatible with Microsoft products, so you don’t have to shell out mega bucks for their proprietary software. There’s nothing for me to disclose, I simply love the tool. If you don’t want to install Open Office, Google docs are another free option and you can share the documents with others. Google Docs has improved significantly over the past year, so give it a look if you haven’t tried it yet.

Once you have your spreadsheet open, list your recipes across the top, one per column. Under each recipe list the ingredients. If a recipe calls for apples, list the number after the ingredient apple x 3 or chicken stock x 2 qt. This won’t take up the whole spread sheet.  This creates mini-shopping lists for each recipe.

On the lower half of the spreadsheet start new columns. I like to divide my list up by grocery store departments: butcher, dairy, dry goods, produce, etc. Cut and paste each item into the appropriate column combining when appropriate ie 2 apples for the dressing  + 14 for the pies = 16 apples.

Save and print your grocery list and don’t forget to shop your pantry before heading to the store. (This just means crossing off the items you have on hand). Don’t forget, if you rarely bake to test your baking powder to be sure it is still effective.

Remember, it’s still too early to buy your produce.

Just for fun, what recipe are you most looking forward to this year?

Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Cornbread Dressing

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Heather says:

If you have ever even given cornbread dressing a favorable nod, add this shrimp and andouille sausage recipe to your repertoire right this very moment. Heck, don’t even wait until Thanksgiving or Christmas to give this side dish a try. Yes, you want to double the recipe, it’ll work as an amazing post-Thanksgiving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You’ll have to wrestle your spouse for the leftovers, so you may as well make the effort worth it, right? When doubled, this recipe nearly fills a 6 quart dutch oven.

Oh and in case you’re wondering, this recipe is 100% gluten free.

My good friend Philip took a lot of pictures, so scroll past the recipe to see how this gorgeous recipe comes together. The PrintFriendly feature at the bottom of the post will let you get rid of all the pics and extra text, easy peasy.

Shrimp Andouille Sausage Cornbread Dressing

: Cornbread Dressing with Shrimp and Andouille Sausage

  • 1 recipe sweet cornbread, made the day before
  • butter to grease the baking pan
  • 1 lb Andouille Sausage
  • 1 – 1.5 lbs shrimp, peeled, deveined and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 ribs celery, including leaves, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded & diced
  • 2 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper (estimate this)
  • a pinch of cayenne (go very light, as the sausage already has some kick)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 – 1.5 cups shrimp stock – you can use chicken or turkey stock, if you need to

  • Preheat the oven to 350F and butter a 13 x 9 baking dish.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium low heat. While it heats, peel the casing from the sausage and crumble it as evenly as possible into the pan. (This part is kind of a pain).
  • Brown the sausage. Then transfer to a paper towel. Leave the drippings in the pan. Chop the sausage so the pieces are uniform in size and not too large. The size is somewhat of a personal preference. If you and your family like big chunks, that’s fine.
  • Add the chopped celery and onions. Cook for about two minutes, just until the onions begin to soften. Add the bell pepper and garlic.
  • Return the sausage to the pan and add the green onions, salt, ground black pepper, cayenne, and shrimp. Stir to mix after each addition and add the shrimp last. Cook until the shrimp has just barely turned pink. The shrimp will finish cooking off the heat and you don’t want to over do it.
  • Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Grab a large bowl and the cornbread. Tear the cornbread into chunks, it’s going to crumble easily, don’t stress, the egg will bind it back together.
  • To the cornbread, add the sausage mixture and the beaten egg. Add 1/2 the shrimp stock. Mix gently.
  • Feel the mixture, it should be moist, not soggy. If it is still dry, continue adding the stock a little at a time until there are no dry areas. Remember, we’re NOT making soup.
  • Spread the mixture into the buttered dish, cover with foil, and bake for 20 – 30 minutes at 350F. Remove the foil the last few minutes to brown the top.
  • If you make this ahead of time, refrigerate it overnight. It will take longer to heat through, more like 45 minutes, but check after 30 to ensure it doesn’t burn or dry out.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time:

Number of servings (yield): 8

Cornbread Dressing

Andouille Sausage and Shrimp DressingThank you for taking the pictures, Philip. Check out his photography site for more.

Submitted to: Tasty Tuesday

Countdown to Turkey Day 2011: November 1

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Heather says:


Thanksgiving Dinner

It’s time to launch Countdown to Turkey Day 2011. Why yes, I am ridiculously excited about it this year. Oh I know, it’s hard to tell, since I get excited about Thanksgiving every year, but this year?

Well, it has been even more exciting as I have had the fantastic opportunity to work with Butterball.  Yes, gobble gobble, the turkey people.

This year I am one of the Butterball Bloggers* and I have had an absolute blast. I even had the opportunity to attend a day (Turkey Talk-Line Experts get more than a day) of their training in Naperville, IL. I had a wonderful time and learned more about turkey in one day than I have in my (no, I’m not going to say how many) years of cooking it.

*The blog goes live with 2011 content later this week.

I have already been teased about my enthusiasm for the project by friends and family, but oddly enough they didn’t mind eating the results of said enthusiasm. So who was gobbling? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

This year, I’ll be posting: recipes, shopping lists, instructions on how to coordinate the cooking times of your meal, and cleaning checklists -broken up over the month so you aren’t scrubbing toilets while stuffing turkey.

Today you have three tasks.

1. Decide – When and Where

Sit down with pen and paper and decide where and what time dinner will be served. Create a tentative guest list that notes any allergies or dietary restrictions. It’s easier to plan around a gluten or nut allergy than it is to rework a menu.

2. Figure Out – Seating and Serving

Before things get crazy look at your guest list. Do you have enough chairs and place settings? Are you serving a casual enough meal that sitting on the floor and using Chinette works? No? Party rental stores often allow chair, china, and glassware rental in lots much smaller than you’d imagine. I’ve rented as few as ten chairs in the past for parties. Reserve what you need ASAP.

3. Find the dining room table.

Hey, don’t look guilty, we all do it from time to time. Horizontal surfaces are a magnet for paperwork and odds and ends.

Clear it off today. Yep, that means getting rid of the Halloween candy, too.

Give it a good polish. If you have placed any leaves or extensions in storage, pull them out and check for spiders or other unexpected friends. If it doesn’t cause problems go ahead and install them. Otherwise, place them in a convenient location, and while you’re at it,  you may want to write that location down.

How many of you are considering hosting Thanksgiving for the first time?

What intimidates you the most about the event?

Countdown to Turkey Day November 24, 2010 The Eve of the Event

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Heather says:

Tomorrow’s the big day. Are you ready?

For many families today is for baking and food prep. Here are few last minute tips to help everything go smoothly.

  • Check the turkey now. Has it completely thawed?
    Use the water bath method to finish defrosting the turkey.
  • If you have several recipes calling for diced onions and/or celery, go ahead and chop it all today. Cover tightly before refrigerating.
  • Do not pre-cut your potatoes and toss them in the fridge, it’s a bad idea.
    If you want a head start on mashed potatoes, you can make them today and then bake in a covered oven safe dish to reheat (with lots of butter, please). Alternately, tomorrow morning, peel and dice the potatoes, then hold them in a bowl of cold water. Rinse the potatoes before cooking in salted water. The same goes for sweet potatoes, exposure to air makes them oxidize.
  • If you’re using your own bread for dressing, go ahead and tear / cut that up today, too.
  • Cornbread for the cornbread dressing? Make that today, too.
  • If you don’t have children or pets and you have a formal dining room vs the every day table, you can even go as far as setting the table, BUT put the plates / glasses on the table upside down or cover them with a large -clean!- sheet so they don’t catch any dust.
    Tomorrow, just before the guests arrive, flip or uncover everything. If you have young children or pets, just don’t. Somehow or another they’ll just make more work for you or create an embarrassing fur / sticky fingerprint situation.
  • If you’re playing host to friends and family, check the guest bathroom. Make sure there’s enough TP, soap, and something to dry off hands that doesn’t look like it’s only purpose is decorative. I can’t be the only person who worries about messing up someone’s starchy, frilly towel arranged over sea shells. Make sure the towel for hand drying is in an obvious, convenient spot. It’s better than having guests forced to wipe their hands on their pants.
  • If you have room, go ahead and chill any beverages that will be served.
  • If you choose to roast your turkey, it can be trussed today. Need a tutorial see How to Truss a Turkey. Just don’t forget to take the turkey out of the refrigerator about an hour before cooking.

Do you have any last minute tips for everyone?

familyPlease remember even if nothing comes out right, your mom, sister, and drunk uncle Roy are driving you nuts, or if it’s just not turning out as planned,  that Thanksgiving is a celebration in the spirit of gratitude. The fact that we have friends and family willing to even begrudgingly come together is a sign we are truly blessed. If you know someone, perhaps a serviceman or woman far from home, set an extra place and welcome them to your table. It doesn’t matter how simple the meal, the intention is what matters. We have two families in this life, the one we are given and the one we create; embrace them both this holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you from

Countdown to Turkey Day November 23, 2010

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Heather says:

Tick. Tock. Your time is running out. However, you’ve been following along with this year’s Countdown to Turkey Day and aren’t stressing, right?

  • Grab your Thanksgiving Shopping List and buy your produce and other perishables.
  • If you went the fresh route, pick up your turkey.
  • If your turkey is thawing, take a moment to get rid of the condensation that may be pooling under your thawing turkey.
    You don’t want to have your turkey resting in a bacterial swimming pool.
  • If your turkey is still in the deep freeze, pull it out and put it in the refrigerator. Give it as much of a head start on a water bath thaw as possible.  If you need tips, check out: How to Quickly Thaw a Turkey in a Water Bath.
  • Take some time today and get the house as close to company ready as possible.
  • Find your meat thermometer, roasting pan, the blades for the food processor, and any other kitchen gadgets that don’t often see the light of day.

Don’t worry, it looks like more than it is. Finally take a moment and confirm that you have enough servingware, silverware, plates, etc for your guests.

Are you ready?