Perfectly Cooked Thanksgiving Turkey (Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod)

Perfectly Cooked Thanksgiving Turkey
(Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod)

Thanksgiving Menu 2014

Herb and Cheese Poppers
Assorted Cheeses, Crackers, Genoa Salami and Prosciutto
Trio of Assorted Olives

Sage Butter Turkey with Cider Gravy
Herb, Mushroom & Andouille Sausage Stuffing
Candied Sweet Potatoes
Buttermilk Ranch Mashed Potatoes
Emeril’s Green Bean Casserole
Chipotle Cranberry Sauce
Bacon Crusted Corn Bread

Aunt Rita’s Chocolate Cake
Pumpkin Cheese Cake
Banana Coconut Cream Pie

Most of the recipes that I used were from Bon Appetit Magazine, November 2009. I totally trust recipes from this publication because I have been preparing food from this magazine for 31 years! In fact my very first issue was also the Editor in Chief, Barbara Fairchilds first issue that she worked on November 1978 and I have every single copy from that issue on. I have a fantasy to be featured in one of the issues some day. Anyway getting back to the food. Each day I make components of the meal including the desserts so that when my guests arrive I am relaxed and can enjoy their company. On Monday I will make the Cream of Mushroom Soup that goes into the Green Bean Casserole. The recipe from Emeril Lagasse made enough soup that Steve and I had it for dinner with a salad and some really good sour dough bread. It was yummy. On Wednesday I will fry the crispy onion strings for the casserole. After the very first time I made the onion strings from scratch instead of using the canned I was hooked. I can never eat the ones from a can again. The onion strings are so easy to make and look how good they are. This green bean casserole is the best ever. And the last thing on do on Wednesday evening, after we finish dinner is to set the table for the big feast. Even if I am not completely ready for my guests it will look like I am!

Freshly Fried Onion Strings (Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod)

Freshly Fried Onion Strings
(Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod)

Table Set for Thanksgiving Dinner (Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod)

Table Set for Thanksgiving Dinner
(Photo Credit: Sandy Axelrod)

I also take a couple of short cuts with the potatoes. For the candied sweets I use a drained can of Sweet Potato Chunks, butter, dark brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Mix it all up in an ovenproof serving dish and bake for 30 minutes at 350F. And for the Buttermilk Ranch Mashed Potatoes I will make the fresh Ranch Dressing on Monday and use Ore-Ida Steam and Mash plain Russet potatoes instead of peeling, chunking and boiling. All you do is steam then for 10 minutes in the microwave and then proceed as if you did all of the work.

Of course of everything I make the desserts are always my favorites. It has taken me many years to get my girlfriend Jackie’s Aunt Rita to part with her fabulous chocolate cake recipe but it was worth the wait. The pumpkin cheese cake recipe is from the Food Network Web Site. It’s a Paula Deen recipe. But the coconut pie is a recipe that I have developed from several different recipes to make a pie that has something for everyone, coconut, bananas and chocolate! So I am willing to share the two that you can’t find anywhere else. Sorry no pictures of the desserts, we ate them all too fast!!!

Aunt Rita’s Chocolate Cake

1 pkg. Duncan Hines Devils Food Mix
1 small pkg. Jello Instant Chocolate Pudding
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
8 oz. sour cream
4 lg. eggs
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (I prefer Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chips)

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a tube pan and dust with dark cocoa powder. Mix all ingredients except chips in large bowl with beater until thoroughly blended. About 2 minutes. Fold in chips by hand with spatula. Spoon batter into tube pan and bake for at least 1 hour until toothpick or cake test inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes and then remove from pan and cool completely. This cake is so good it needs no icing.

Banana Coconut Cream Pie
Original Recipe by Sandy Axelrod

For pie crust:
2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
6-7 tbsps. ice cold water

In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the shortening and cut in until mixture resembles course crumbs. Add the water and let sit for a minute. Using a pastry cutter or your hands press the mixture together to form a soft ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least half hour. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a 12″ circle about 1/4″ thick. Carefully fold the dough in half and then in half again and unfold into a 9-inch by 2 inch deep pie pan. Crimp the edges and chill again for another 30 minutes before baking. Meanwhile preheat oven to 350F. Bake until golden, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately place 4-5 ounces of bittersweet chocolate chips in pie and spread as chocolate melts all over crust. Allow to cool completely. Then cover entire pie shell with sliced ripe bananas before adding filling.

For the filling:
3/4 cup sugar
12 oz. unsweetened coconut milk
12 oz. whole milk, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
5 egg yolks
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup flaked coconut
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. butter

1/3 cup toasted coconut
whipped cream for garnish

In a non-reactive 1 qt. saucepan combine sugar, coconut milk and 1 cup of the milk. Scald but do not boil.
In a small mixing bowl whisk the remaining 1/2 cup milk and cornstarch together to make a slurry. Whisk egg yolks with salt in a medium bowl. Temper egg yolks by adding 1/2 cup scalded milk mixture to yolks and whisk completely. Add the yolk mixture and slurry back into the milk mixture and whisk vigorously over medium heat until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and add the coconut, vanilla and butter. Whisk until completely incorporated. Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell, cover and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator. Chill pie completely, at least 2 hours. (I made mine the day before) Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of toasted coconut to serve.

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