Archive for November, 2008

Tips for a successful Thanksgiving dinner

It’s a daunting task, preparing that first Thanksgiving turkey. We’re making it a little easier by giving you step-by-step instructions for pulling together an entire meal.

Click here for tips and recipes for making a great Thanksgiving dinner.

Where’s that turkey from?

Where did your Thanksgiving dinner ingredients come from? did some investigating and here’s what was discovered:

Turkey – According to the National Turkey Federation, Minnesota produces more turkeys than any other state. In 2007, the poultry powerhouse produced an astonishing 48 million turkeys. They’re expecting to break 49 million this year. As for turkey processing, Butterball wins the contest hands down. Last year Butterball processed more than 1.3 billion pounds of turkey.

Mashed potatoes – Idaho produces more potatoes than any other state. Roughly 400,000 acres are planted each year, accounting for more than one-third of the entire U.S. fall harvested acreage. To put that area in perspective, consider that 400,000 acres is more than half the area of Rhode Island. It may seem like overkill, but we need all that production. It’s estimated that Americans consume around 140 pounds of potatoes each year.

Gravy – The No. 1 source for turkey gravy is … the pan you just used to roast the turkey. However, if you aren’t one for homemade gravy, or you already pitched the drippings, look no further than Glencoe, a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland. Glencoe is home to McCormick & Co.’s U.S. headquarters and several of their processing facilities. McCormick is one of the world’s leading producers of spices, condiments and instant gravy.

Stuffing – Everyone has a favorite way to make stuffing, whether it’s oyster, tofu, sausage, or just plain ol’ breadcrumbs. Since there’s no clear consensus, we decided to offer some facts about the world’s best-selling stuffing. Stove Top Stuffing is a subsidiary of Kraft Foods Inc. The processed-foods giant is based in Northfield, Illinois, but its distribution is slightly broader. Kraft products are present in more than 150 countries worldwide and can be found in more than 99% of U.S. kitchens.

Sweet potatoes – North Carolina grows more sweet potatoes than any other state, but Vardaman, Mississippi, is the only place that claims the moniker of “Sweet Potato Capital of the World.” Vardaman plays host to The National Sweet Potato Festival each year during the first week of November. The festival includes a 5K run, sweet-potato tasting, pie-eating contest, live music and much more.

Marshmallows – When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, where would sweet potatoes be without marshmallows? Doumak Inc. was founded in 1961 by Alex Doumak. The company patented the extrusion process that creates the cylindrical sugar-covered marshmallows we all enjoy today. Doumak Inc. is now part of Kraft Foods and is based in Elk Grove, Illinois, a suburb of nearby Chicago.

Green bean casserole – Although Wisconsin, New York and Oregon are the leading U.S. producers of green beans, Green bean casserole comes from a very specific place in New Jersey. Dorcas Reilly invented the green bean casserole back in 1955 while she was an employee for Campbell’s. Reilly grew up in Camden, New Jersey, and in 2002, she presented the National Inventors Hall of Fame with her original copy of the recipe. The recipe now accompanies Enrico Fermi’s controlled-nuclear reactor and Thomas Edison’s light bulb.

Winter squash – According to the USDA, Americans get most of their winter squash from Mexico. The two most popular forms of winter squash are acorn and butternut. There are many ways to prepare winter squash, but perennial favorites include butternut squash soup, stuffed acorn squash and roasted squash basted in butter (What isn’t good roasted and basted with butter?).

Cranberry relish – The cranberry capital of the world is, without a doubt, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association was founded all the way back in 1888. Whether you get it from a tub or make it yourself, no Thanksgiving feast is complete without cranberry relish. Food for thought: Cranberries are one of only three fruits native to North America, along with blueberries and Concord Grapes.

Dinner rolls – Warm dinner rolls are a crucial part of any Thanksgiving feast. Since they don’t exactly grow in fields or on trees (oh, what a wonderful world that would be!), we decided to make a suggestion rather than breaking down the ingredients. Sister Schubert’s Homemade Rolls is a family-owned business based in Luverne, Alabama. Like many other companies, Sister Schubert’s offers trays of ready-to-bake dinner rolls. Don’t worry. They didn’t pay us to suggest them; we just think they’re delicious.

Apple cider – Apples are grown in many places in the U.S, but if the home of apple cider had to be selected, Massachusetts would win hands-down. Former U.S. President John Adams supposedly drank a pitcher of apple cider every morning. According to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, the average consumer drinks 13.2 pounds of apples in the form of cider and juice every year.

Pumpkin pie – When it comes to pumpkin production, Illinois is king. The Prairie State produces around 500 million pounds of pumpkin every year. Even more amazing than the amount produced is the amount processed. Morton, Illinois, and nearby Peoria, Illinois, are responsible for more than 90% of all the pumpkin processed in the U.S.

Pecan pie – Georgia leads the nation in pecan production. Pecans are generally harvested during October and November. Orchards in Dougherty County range widely in size with some encompassing thousands of acres. The high-density of pecan trees in the area has earned it the title of “Pecan Capital of the World.” Although some historians credit French settlers in New Orleans with inventing the dessert, the earliest available recipes are as recent as the 1920s and ’30s.

Cinnamon ornaments to make with the kids

While the kids are home from school today,help them make  cinnamon ornaments. Here are instructions from ­McCormick.

Cinnamon ornaments
3/4 cup applesauce
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Supplies needed: Plastic wrap, cookie cutters, ­drinking straw, colorful ribbon.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Mix applesauce and cinnamon with hands in small bowl until smooth ball of dough is formed. Using about 1/4 of the dough at a time, roll dough to 1/4-inch to 1⁄3-inch thickness ­between two sheets of plastic wrap. Peel off top sheet of ­plastic wrap; cut dough into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Make a hole in top of ­ornament with drinking straw. Place ornaments on baking sheet.

Bake 21/2 hours. Cool ­ornaments on wire rack. (Or, to dry ornaments at room temperature, carefully place them on wire rack. Let stand for 1 to 2 days or until ­thoroughly dry, ­turning occasionally). Insert ­ribbon through holes and tie to hang.
If desired, may be ­decorated with glitter, ­sequins, paint and more. Makes 12 to 15 ornaments.

Make gravy in advance to save time on Thanksgiving Day

A classic giblet gravy can be prepared a day ahead, and the drippings added after the turkey is done.

Classic gravy

Giblets, neck, and liver from a 10- to 30-pound turkey
2 onions (about 12 ounces), peeled and quartered
2 carrots (about 8 ounces), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
3/4 cup sliced celery
About 2 quarts fat-skimmed chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup cornstarch

Rinse giblets and neck; chill liver airtight to add later, or save for other uses. In a 5- to 6-quart pan, combine giblets, neck, onions, carrots, celery, and 1 cup water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Uncover; stir often over high heat until liquid is evaporated and giblets and vegetables are browned and begin to stick to pan, 15 to 20 minutes longer.

Add 1 quart broth and the pepper to pan; stir to scrape browned bits free. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until gizzard is tender when pierced, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. If desired, add liver and cook 10 minutes longer.
Pour mixture through a fine strainer into a bowl. If desired, reserve neck, giblets, and liver for gravy; pull meat off neck and finely chop neck meat, giblets, and liver. Discard bones and vegetables. Measure turkey stock; if necessary, add more chicken broth to make 1 quart.

In the unwashed 5- to 6-quart pan, combine the 1 quart turkey stock and chopped neck meat, giblets, and liver, if using.
When turkey is done, remove the rack and the bird from roasting pan. Skim off and discard fat from pan juices. Add 2 more cups chicken broth to roasting pan and stir over low heat to scrape browned bits free. Pour mixture, through a fine strainer if desired, into turkey stock and bring to a boil over high heat.

In a small bowl, blend cornstarch with 1/2 cup water until smooth. Add to stock mixture and whisk until boiling, 3 to 5 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Impress your family with a homemade pie on Thanksgiving

Why make a pie when you can buy one to pop into the oven or one that’s already baked and ready to eat?
The taste, of course. A homemade pie simply tastes better. Don’t waste that wonderful pie filling on a frozen or refrigerated crust when you can make one from scratch. If you would like to try your hand at making a pie, click here to watch Fort Worth pastry chef Gwin Grogan Grimes demonstrate the basics of pie crust making.

Here are tips for making a great crust from the Dallas-Fort Worth Star Telegram.
A from-scratch crust is the most intimidating part of pie-making for most cooks, but these secrets will help cure your fear of pie-ing.

  • Work with cold ingredients. Cold fat (butter, shortening or lard) and ice water will help ensure success. The colder the ingredients, the less chance you have of overworking the dough and creating a tough, hard crust.
  • The bigger the pieces of fat in your dough, the flakier the crust will be. Your choice of fat will affect the flakiness and flavor of the crust. Butter has the best flavor; shortening or lard will create a flakier crust because they are 100 percent fat, while the best butter (like European-style Plugra) is only 82 percent fat.
  • Mix the dough and then gently form it into a disc, or discs, if making more than one crust. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour or for as long as two days. For longer storage, place plastic-wrapped discs into a freezer bag and store in the freezer for as long as a month.
  • Roll out dough to the thickness specified in your recipe, working from the center of the dough out. Roll from the center to the top, then from the center to the right, then from the center to the bottom and finally from the center to the left. Think of the dough disc as a clock face and roll from the center to noon, then 3, 6 and 9 o’clock.
  • It is easier to roll a circle out of dough with a tapered, or “French,” rolling pin. These are wooden pins without handles that taper to a point at both ends. Straight rolling pins, like those with handles, are better for rolling out squares and rectangles.
  • Use as little extra flour as possible when rolling out dough. For some, it helps to roll dough between pieces of plastic wrap, parchment paper or wax paper. Or use a silicone dough-rolling mat.
  • Carefully transfer dough to the pie pan. You can roll it up around the rolling pin and unroll over the pan, or loosely fold the dough in half, then in half again, and transfer the triangle to the pie pan, centering the point. Unfold gently over pan and ease the dough into the bottom of the pan. Do not stretch or pull the dough to make it fit or to fix a tear. You can always use a scrap of dough to cover a tear or make a patch. Remember, no one is going to see the inside bottom crust of your pie.
  • Refrigerate the pie pan with the dough for 30 minutes or as long as a day. Then fill pie and bake, or top with a second crust as your recipe indicates. If adding a top crust, refrigerate the pie again for at least 30 minutes before baking.
  • All the resting and chilling assures that your crust will be as tender and flaky as possible. Each time you handle the dough, you are working the gluten in the flour, and the more you work the gluten, the tougher the dough will be. By allowing the gluten to rest, you are preventing toughness and the chance that the dough will shrink as it bakes. By keeping the dough as cold as possible, you are ensuring that the crust will be flaky by keeping the fat from melting before it goes in the oven.

Basic piecrust
If you use lard, make sure to buy it from a store with good turnover, for the freshest product. Store it in the refrigerator; it will need to be very cold for the recipe, and it will stay fresher longer. Fat turns rancid very quickly, so always smell it before using it. Your nose will know if it’s gone bad.
Makes 1 double-crust 9-inch pie (recipe may be doubled or tripled)
2 1/2 cups (12.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) lard or vegetable shortening, chilled
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water, or more as needed to hold dough together.
1. Whisk the flour, salt and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add the lard or shortening and the butter and toss the fat in the flour mixture with your hands. Break up any very large pieces of fat, coating each in the flour mixture as you do so. The chunks should be no smaller than the size of a pecan in the shell.
2. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of the ice water over the mixture. With a rubber spatula or your hands, use a folding motion to mix just until the dough sticks together. If the dough will not come together, add more ice water, 2 tablespoons at a time. Do not overmix the dough, or your piecrust will be tough and dry.
3. Divide the dough into 2 balls and flatten each into a 4-inch disc. Wrap separately in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days, before rolling.
— Adapted from “Cook’s Illustrated” magazine

Tips for saving money on your Thanksgiving dinner

Here are some tips for saving money on your Thanksgiving dinner from

  • Make a list. One of the easiest ways to over-spend on the Thanksgiving meal is to over-shop. Make a list of what you need and stick to it.
  • Seek out coupons. You’ll find more coupons than normal in the Sunday paper and online at sites like that can be used on the holiday dinner. Alone these can cut costs significantly, but pair sales with coupons to save even more.
  • Buy a frozen turkey. You can save 30-40 percent by choosing a frozen turkey over a fresh turkey. Allow four to five days for the turkey to thaw completely in your refrigerator.
  • Make Your Own Pies. Pumpkin pie is cheaper to make than to buy. Plus, frozen pie crusts can be found on sale. Pumpkin pie is surprisingly easy to make and tastes better than store-bought too!
  • Look for “Loss leader” Items. Grocery stores are advertising more holiday-related “loss leaders,” or deeply discounted items, on the front pages of their ads. Most stores will offer saving on stuffing, dinner rolls, potatoes, and pie crusts.
  • Know price matching policies. Some stores will match the advertised prices at other grocery retailers. This will keep you from driving from store to store if you can get most everything at one store.

Check out these Thanksgiving menus

If you want someone else to cook the Thanksgiving turkey or the entire holiday feast, here are places to call.
■ Bayou Bluegrass Catering is serving its first Red Mile Clubhouse Thanksgiving Day buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The menu reflects the cooking styles of the chefs. Matt Falcone puts a Louisiana flair to the menu; Javier Lanza adds a Central American and French twist to the mix, and Jane Webb brings a taste of New England, as well as her Southern favorites, to the table. The cost is $25 adults, $20 seniors, $15 ages 4 to 8. Call (859) 233-0814. Menu items include honey-glazed turkey, traditional baked turkey and Cajun fried turkey.
■ Bob Evans restaurants are offering the Farmhouse Feast, which feeds six to eight people and is $74.99. Included are roasted boneless turkey breast, dressing, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet corn, green beans with ham, cranberry orange relish, rolls, pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie. The heat-and-serve meals can be picked up Wednesday. They also are available during December. Bob Evans restaurants are at 2566 Richmond Road, (859) 269-1003; and 2341 Buena Vista Road, (859) 293-1572.
■ Campbell’s in Paris, 519 Main Street, is having a Southern Thanksgiving buffet from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Included are turkey, country ham, oysters, and salads, sides and desserts. The cost is $27.95. Call (859) 987 5164.
■ Corky’s Barbecue has smoked turkeys for $39.99, available for pick-up from 10 a.m. to noon Thanksgiving Day at the Tiverton Way store. Call at least 48 hours in advance. Corky’s private dining rooms are available for holiday parties. Dinners start at $5.79 a person. Stores are at 2300 Sir Barton Way, (859) 264-7675; and 130 West Tiverton Way, (859) 272-7675 . Go to
■ Cheapside Bar and Grill, 131 ­Cheapside, will be open Thanksgiving night. Hours are 6 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Call (859) 254-0046 or go to
■ Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is cooking a Thanksgiving Dinner to Go for six. The menu includes: oven-roasted turkey breast with creamy turkey gravy, cornbread dressing, baked sugar-cured ham, sweet potato casserole with caramel pecan topping, choice of three vegetables, cranberry-orange relish, biscuits or corn muffins. Cost is $49.99. Call your neighborhood Cracker Barrel to order. Pies – $8.49 each – include pecan pie, chocolate pecan pie, apple pecan streusel pie, and not sugar added apple pie.
■ Mondelli’s Bake Shop, 3120 Pimlico Parkway, has baked goods to round out your holiday dinner. Included are pumpkin bread, pumpkin cake, jam cake, cherry chews, pies, butterflake rolls, butter biscuits and iced turkey cookies. Call (859) 245-5377. Orders may be picked up by 5 p.m. Wednesday.
■ Ramsey’s Diners will be closed Thanksgiving Day, but their cooks will prepare the holiday meal for you. Ramsey’s Thanksgiving dinner-to-go is $18.95 a person. The menu includes turkey breast, corn bread stuffing, cranberry-apple relish, and a choice of four vegetable dishes. Individual side dishes can be ordered for $15 each. Menus are available at all the Ramsey’s locations, or call (859) 252-7926. The deadline for orders is 5 p.m. Monday; pick-up is Wednesday at the Ramsey’s Commissary, 938 Winchester Road, next to Charlie’s Seafood Market.
■ Three Suns Bistro, 298 East Brannon Road, will be open Thanksgiving Day. The buffet will be served 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. A special dinner menu will be served 4:30 to 9 p.m. The buffet includes: herb-roasted turkey, glazed ham, pecan-fried chicken, beef brisket and fresh catch. The cost is $25 for adults, $19.95 for seniors. Call (859) 245-0048 or go to
Feeding the soul and the body
The Scott County Arts Consortium is continuing its Art for the Soul, Food for the Body luncheon series Monday. It will be at 11 a.m. in the parish hall of Church of the Holy Trinity, 209 South Broadway, Georgetown. Call (502) 867-7564. The cost is $10. The menu includes roast pork loin, potatoes au gratin, mixed vegetable medley and pumpkin pie.

Master distiller offers samples

Four Roses master distiller Jim Rutledge will be at The Thoroughbred Shop, 2005 Versailles Road, from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday. He will offer samples of single-barrel bourbon. Call (859) 254-0358.

Barton’s replaces Jazz Man in Winchester

Last August, the Jazz Man restaurant opened in Winchester and within days, it closed. Owner Bart Mahan changed the concept from barbecue to a steakhouse and reopened it as Barton’s on Nov. 10.

Barton’s serves wood-fired steaks, seafood, and pasta.

“Our cuisine is fresh. We prepare our own sauces, dips and dressings,” general manager Wesley Bunch said.

Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Call (859) 744-6500. Barton’s is at 120 April Way, next to Wal-Mart.

Rachael Ray coming to Lexington

Food Network star and cookbook author Rachael Ray is coming to Lexington to sign her newest book, Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Book.

She will be at Joseph-Beth Booksellers at Lexington Green at noon Dec. 10. Rachael Ray’s new book is the “Ultimate collection of: all-new 30-minute meals, vegetarian dinners, meals for one, kosher meals, and holiday menus.” The book is $24.95.

Red Lobster fires up wood grills nationwide

Red Lobster introduces wood-fire grilled dishes to its menu.
“This is the most comprehensive culinary and menu change in Red Lobster’s history,” Red Lobster President Kim Lopdrup said in a press release. “Wood-fire grilling introduces our guests to a whole new way to enjoy seafood.”
The new menu items, which are grilled over oak, include:

  • Wood-grilled lobster, shrimp and scallops — a split Maine lobster tail, skewered jumbo shrimp and sea scallops with a buttery garlic finish
  • Peach bourbon BBQ shrimp & scallops — wood-grilled jumbo shrimp and bacon-wrapped sea scallops with a sweet peach-bourbon BBQ sauce
  • Wood-grilled sirloin & shrimp — a lightly seasoned center-cut sirloin and a skewer of jumbo shrimp
  • Wood-grilled scallops, shrimp and chicken — skewered sea scallops, jumbo shrimp and a tender chicken breast with a buttery garlic finish
  • Jumbo shrimp with lobster butter — two skewers of wood-grilled jumbo shrimp topped with a savory lobster butter
  • Maple-glazed chicken — a wood-grilled chicken breast with a sweet maple and cherry glaze
  • Honey BBQ grilled chicken and shrimp — a wood-grilled chicken breast and skewered jumbo shrimp with a creamy honey BBQ sauce
  • Peach-bourbon BBQ scallops appetizer — wood-grilled, bacon-wrapped sea scallops with a sweet peach-bourbon BBQ sauce over thin-cut onion rings

For more information about Red Lobster’s Wood-Fire Grill, please visit

Here’s one of Red Lobster’s recipes.

Peach bourbon BBQ shrimp & scallops
24 (26-30) count peeled shrimp
24 scallops
4 Bamboo skewers (soaked in water for 10 – 15 minutes) for shrimp
4 two-prong metal skewer for scallops
Olive oil
24 pieces bacon
Salt and pepper to taste
Peach Bourbon BBQ sauce (see below)
Peach bourbon BBQ sauce
2 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce
¼ cup ripe fresh or frozen peaches (peeled, seeded and chopped), or substitute peach preserves
2 ½ tablespoons bourbon

Place shrimp next to each other on a bamboo skewer, leaving room on either end. Make sure to cover the end of the skewer with foil so it doesn’t burn.
Wrap one piece of bacon around each scallop and place scallops on a two-pronged skewer so they don’t turn.
Brush both sides of the shrimp and scallops with olive oil and season with salt and pepper
Place the shrimp and scallops on a medium hot grill. Keep an eye on them because they will cook quickly and you don’t want to burn them.
Grill shrimp and scallops for approximately 2-3 minutes per side. Take them off the grill when they are about 80 percent done.
Add the Peach Bourbon BBQ sauce during the last moments of cooking or when the cooking is complete for added flavor.
To make sauce:
Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan.
Bring to a simmer while stirring for 8-10 minutes, allowing the alcohol to cook down.
Cool and blend in a food processor or blender until smooth.

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