Weekend Cooking: Pre-Thanksgiving Motivation

weekendcookingBeth at Beth Fish Reads hosts this fun cooking meme every weekend – a time to blog about anything vaguely foodie in nature.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but about two weeks before Thanksgiving I start craving stuffing, roasted poultry, squash, yams and pie. I think it is just  thinking of Thanksgiving that starts my mouth watering.

Yesterday I decided to kick off the Thanksgiving season with some pre-Thanksgiving fare. I stuffed a 5.5 pound chicken and roasted it; made a bit of acorn squash and gave the plate a bit of green with steamed broccoli.

BettyCrockersCookbookMy very first cookbook I ever owned was Betty Crocker’s Cookbook which my mother gave me. For many years this was my sole inspiration and reference to cooking…until I became more adventuresome. But I still use this cookbook – primarily for reference. And so when I roasted my chicken yesterday, I dragged my dog-eared, food splattered copy of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook off the shelf and looked up the time-frame for roasting a chicken. What I love is that any basic food information you could want can be found inside this simple cookbook (their pie crust recipe comes out perfectly). I looked up chicken, and referenced the roasting schedule (which is conveniently divided up into the SIZE poultry and whether it is stuffed or not). For my chicken, I planned on 2.5 hours of roasting time at 325 degrees.

I don’t reference a cookbook for making stuffing because I mostly improvise when it comes to that. Stuffing is one of my favorite foodie things to make at this time of year and yesterday I pretty much used what I had on hand to create it. Here it is just in case you want to give it a try (sorry about the lack of exact measurements for some ingredients…I tend to just add a little of this and a little of that as I go):

To stuff a 4-5 pound chicken…

  • 4 cups of dried, cubed bread
  • diced up celery (at least 1/2 cup)
  • diced up sweet onion (at least 1/2 cup)
  • diced up fresh mushrooms (I used about 5 large ones)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup to 1 cup of liquid (I use canned chicken broth…but you can use water or homemade chicken broth instead)
  • pepper to taste
  • currants or dried cranberries to taste
  • pecans – crumbled into bite sized pieces to taste
  • chopped up fresh parsley to taste

Melt the butter in a fry pan, add the vegetables and saute until the celery and onions are clear or just tender. Dump the butter and vegetables into a large bowl and add the bread cubes, currants (or dried cranberries), pecans, pepper, and parsley. Mix well. Add in the liquid a little at a time until you have the right level of moisture (this is completely up to you…some people like very moist stuffing, other people like their stuffing a bit drier). Taste and adjust seasonings or ingredients as needed. Then stuff that bird and pop it in the oven. The left over stuffing I add to a buttered casserole dish and bake it for about an hour at 350 degrees or until the top of the stuffing is brown and crunchy.

To make acorn squash:

Chop your squash into halves and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash upside down in a casserole dish and then add water until it comes about 1/2 way up the sides of the squash halves. Bake in a 400 degree oven until the squash are easily pierced with a fork (about 45 minutes depending on the size of your squash). Remove from the oven; drain the water and flip the squash right side up (be careful..they are very hot!). Add a dollop of butter and brown sugar into the squash halves and place under a broiler (set on high) until the sugar and butter are bubbling (they actually begin to caramelize a bit). Remove from the oven and cut into serving sized pieces. Serve hot. These also taste great leftover – just heat them up in the microwave.

Today Kip and I are enjoying leftovers. Yum!!!

What are you making this weekend? Are you already anticipating a Thanksgiving feast? Do you have a favorite cookbook for reference or basic recipes?

To read more Weekend Cooking posts, visit Beth’s blog today and check out Mr. Linky!

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    • Beth F on November 14, 2009 at 08:49

    I love acorn squash cooked just that way. Yummmy. So funny that we both posted about our first cookbook — Betty Crocker and given to us by our mothers! Love it.

  1. This was one of my first cookbooks too. I could always count on it for all my questions about food. I’m with you on the cravings for roasted poultry, etc. I’m getting ready for the big feast day too.

    • Jill on November 14, 2009 at 09:57

    Yum! I’m definitely in the Thanksgiving mood now (although we do dressing, instead of stuffing). Why is it that we only make these foods one time a year!!!

    • Laura on November 14, 2009 at 11:24

    I’m planning my Thanksgiving menu this weekend also. This will be our second vegetarian Thanksgiving, and we are still experimenting. Last year I made a delicious main course, but it was waaay more time-consuming than the traditional meal. So this year I’ll try something different. Little by little we are creating a new tradition.

    • Verbatim on November 14, 2009 at 11:45

    Your stuffing sounds yummy. I have the very same cookbook, given to me 22 years ago when I got married, and I still refer to it (although mine is missing its cover now). Can’t beat it for the basics. I have a *huge* craving for pumpkin pie . . . which I’m satisfying by baking some pumpkin cream cheese brownies today.

    • JoAnn on November 14, 2009 at 12:27

    That was my first cookbook, too…and given to me by my mother 24 years ago! I agree it’s the best for basics.

  2. My favorite cookbook! This was the one my mom always used and then when I was leaving for college, my grandma happened to have two copies so I got my own then — printed in 1975, the year I was born.

    My Thanksgiving dinner this year is coming out of that cookbook — lasagna. This is my favorite recipe!

    • Kathy on November 14, 2009 at 12:46

    Your meal sounds delicious! Our neighborhood is having a chili cook-off this evening, so we’ll be eating chili tonight.

    • caite on November 14, 2009 at 14:13

    everyone needs a basic cookbook, to look stuff up, to use as a reference. I can only imagine how many folks, including me, have that one on a shelf.

    I love roast chicken. I hate to say it, but I actually think roast chicken is way better than turkey.

    • Lisamm on November 15, 2009 at 00:58

    Yum. I made roast chicken tonight and it really did put me in the mood for all the Thanksgiving flavors to come! Also made a yummy pumpkin praline dessert last weekend. It’s back on the treadmill on Monday for me!

    I have that very same cookbook on my shelf!

  3. These both sound wonderful. I love stuffing with cranberries, and I love acorn squash too (although I make mine from the start in the microwave). Thanks for sharing these great recipes!

    • paula on November 15, 2009 at 11:00

    Good Ole’ Betty Crocker – what a classic cookbook and the one I also turn to as a great reference – or for a basic recipe (like mac and cheese) that I can improvise on! Your stuffing sounds so yummy and aren’t leftovers just the best? Hope you are having a great day today! miss you sis

    • Wendy on November 20, 2009 at 08:47

    Beth: I am amazed at how many commenters have noted the Betty Crocker cookbook also sits on their shelf…a true classic!

    Margot: Glad I’m not alone with the poultry cravings!! Less than a week away now!

    Jill: I think of this type of food as “comfort food” … and it is good cold weather food. That said, I think it is a bit of work cooking the traditional fare and people think of it as special food…but I don’t know…perhaps we should make it more often!

    Laura: I admire your tenacity at creating a vegetarian Thanksgiving. I like meat too much…I’d fail at being a vegetarian…but I do respect that choice for others!

    Verbatim: Oooooh, I love pumpkin pie!!! I always make it for Thanksgiving 🙂

    JoAnn: It is so funny how many people are telling me that Betty Crocker was their first cookbook given to them by their mother!!! I am thinking we are all in the same age group *laughs*

    • Wendy on November 20, 2009 at 08:51

    Kristen: Lasgna!!!?!?!? I also love that dish!!!! I haven’t made the one out of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook…will have to check it out 🙂

    Kathy: I wish so much I could eat chili…but I am allergic to cumin and unless I make it myself, I’m scared to death I’ll get a bite of cumin!

    Caite: You know, I’m with you re: roast chicken vs. turkey. I love chicken…turkey sometimes is a little dry for me.

    Lisa: LOL – another one with Betty Crocker on her shelf! Your praline dessert sounds awesome!!!

    Rhapsody: You’re welcome! I’ve not made squash in the microwave, but I guess that is a quick way to do it!

    Paula: I miss you too!!! I always think of family when I pull that cookbook off my shelf. I haven’t tried the mac and cheese in there yet…will have to get your recipe with the improvisations 😉

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