Let’s Talk Turkey!

OK people, we are thirteen days away from the most fabulous food day of the year ~ Thanksgiving! I LOVE gobble day almost as much as I love my birthday. My husband is most certainly rolling his eyes – my birthday celebration would last an entire month if it were up to me and all of five minutes if it were up to him.  This year is oh so exciting as I get to host this fabulous holiday.  Some of you may cringe at the idea of hosting but for me it means I get to stay in my house, all day, with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade on, apron clad and barefoot in my kitchen. Not trying to throw it back to the 50’s y’all, but I just really love to wear an apron, be barefoot in my kitchen and watch a parade!! Just me?  When I think of how this day will unfold ( which I do more often than I care to admit)  I picture me, calmly cooking in the kitchen, sipping a glass of perfectly chilled chardonnay, turkey roasting in the oven and my kids, happily setting my gorgeous kitchen table.


Photo Cred ~ joyful healthy eats

This is hilarious, right,  as there will be nothing calm, or perfect, about this day!  I will be a nervous ninny and everyone in my house will pay for my nerves. There will be attempts to help ease my anxiety but none will be 100% successful.  I will make so many lists; recipe idea lists, drink lists, ingredient lists, table lists, seating lists and day of lists. Problem is I never really cross anything off of said lists, so I end up making new ones, and then I inevitably forget something and find myself at Target or the grocery store like fifteen times during that one week.  But guess what? Not this year.  For some crazy reason this is the first year it dawned on me I could create a “turkey day ingredient list”, on Harris Teeter home shop, to begin slowly adding items I will need on the 22nd. Our friends at the Teet are so damn clever. Why is this such a big deal? Well, raise your hand if you have NEVER had to go back to the store after getting home and unpacking eighteen grocery bags because you forgot something?  I see no hands. Plus, no need to walk up and down the aisles with a giant g-list that’s trailing behind you like you sprouted a dinosaur tail. On November 20th I will pull up to my favorite James Island HT and load all those beautiful, brown paper bags into the back of my caravan. Tell me that doesn’t make you happy??!!! Since I have already started working on my “turkey day recipe list” I figured I would share. Not bragging – I have chosen to begin my turkey planning over cleaning my house, helping my child with her social studies project and switching out the girls summer/winter closets – they can totally still wear shorts!  #Priorities. So how about this week I give you multiple tried and true turkey recipes and next, my favorite side dishes?  Sound like a plan? Good – grab a pen and paper and label this list “Turkey & Tips”…

Turkey & Tips: At my house we have fried turkeys and we have roasted turkeys and I love them both ways.  BUT, I prefer an oven roasted bird because it’s just prettier, y’all.  I order my turkey from Whole Foods, every year, and they have never let me down.  The process is super simple – go online, choose your size and select your pick-up day.  If you are brining  your bird, make sure you pick it up at least 2 days before. AND make sure if you purchase a frozen bird you give yourself DAYS to thaw that sucker. There’s a Duffy rumor floating around that my sis-in-law learned this the hard way!!!  OK, on to my favorite turkey recipes:

  1. Slow Roasted Turkey – I love slow roasted birds as they require very minimal hands on time.  You need to make sure you have your bird, thawed, two days before t-day as you will start seasoning it 48 hours prior to baking. This method calls for you to cook the bird on high for 45 minutes and then all but turn off the oven and cook while you sleep! No lie.
  2. Classic Roasted Turkey – Doesn’t get any more Martha Stewart-ish than this.  You need your bird thawed 24 hours prior to baking for this fabulous favorite!
  3. Cheesecloth Roasted Turkey – This was our recipe of choice last year and it did not disappoint.  Probably one of the juiciest birds I have ever eaten.  You will have to put in a little extra time/work with this one but it is totally worth it in the end! We dry brined our bird last year – dry brine recipe below.
  4. Dry Brine Recipe – So much easier than a wet brine! Plus, the salt pulls all of the moisture out of the skin so it gets nice and golden brown without robbing the meat of flavor/moisture.  I will absolutely be dry brining my bird this year!!
  5. Breast Side Down Turkey – This is kind of a genius idea right here people.  We all know the breast meat dries out the fastest but cooking it upside down allows all the juices from the cooking bird to drip down to the breast meat making it super moist and flavorful!
  6. Non-Brined Turkey – I have to say, this one looks pretty darn good.  It incorporates the cheesecloth method but skips the brining, so all of your work is day of.  Just make sure your turkey is thawed!!!

Thanksgiving Wisdom – There are so many turkey day tips out there and quite honestly, some are BANANAS and will cause you more anxiety.  For me, there are two simple thoughts I can share:

  • Anything you can do ahead of time, do.  Set the table, wash the linens, dice the veggies, make the bread (I’ll share the best drop biscuit recipe next week), pie filling, gravy, and all the casserole dishes you can make & refrigerate prior to baking. Don’t go crazy, but if you have the time, and space, do what you can as this will seriously cut down on your day of cook time. Plus, it will free up your kitchen cook space. I struggle with space as we only have one oven.  Which leads me to my next tip….
  • Create a recipe game plan.  Have each recipe on a sheet of paper with what temp it needs to cook at and for how long.  This will allow you to see what dishes you need to prep first, what dishes can cook in the oven together and honestly, if you have the space/time to actually make and serve all of your dishes – I have to borrow my neighbors ovens to get all of our sides ready around the same time.  To this point, make sure you include recipes you can cook on the stove, in a crockpot or dishes that can be served cold.  Oh, and write down what time you start cooking each dish and when it should be ready.  There is NO WAY you will be able to keep track of all those times in your brain.

Okie Dokie, now on to what you should eat THIS week!!!

Meal Plan for the week of November 11th!

Sunday, November 11th – Tortellini Soup with Italian Sausage & Kale – Can you even? How good does this sound?  And you don’t even know it has cream in it!! Surprise – it has cream.  Everything is better with cream.  Plus, anyone eating this recipe will believe you slaved in the kitchen all day when in reality, it should take you all of 15 minutes to pull together.

Monday, November 12th – The BEST Tuscan Garlic Chicken – The weeks leading up to Thanksgiving are SO long.  I’m kind of OK with that as I will start losing my shizzizzle once Dec. 1 rolls around but on the other, a drawn out week is the worst. Thankfully you’ve got this yummy recipe to help make your Monday super simple.  Really filling and low calorie.  Serve with a side salad if you are watching carbs!!

Tuesday, November 13th – Smoky Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salad – I know, this screams summer  but honestly, you can purchase these delicious ingredients all year long so why not?  My husband hates two foods and two foods only – avocado and water chestnuts – so I get the avocado all to myself! This recipe calls for you to grill your salmon which is fabulous but if you don’t want to mess with the grill, just bake at 350 for 25 – 30 minutes. When it’s flaky, it’s done!

Wednesday, November 14th – Chicken Shawarma Sheet Pan – I have a love affair with The Modern Proper.  Their recipes are bananas good and insanely quick to whip together.  This recipe calls for two things you may or may not be familiar with – peppadew peppers and tahini.  Peppadew peppers are a pickled sweet red cherry pepper and can be found in the “pickled” section of your g-store. There really isn’t a substitute so if you can’t find, don’t worry about it.  Tahini looks like peanut butter and can be found in the ethnic section of almost all grocery stores – you shouldn’t have an issue locating!!

Thursday, November 15th – Sesame Garlic Beef Short Ribs – Instant Pot or Crock Pot here peeps.  This week is amazing, right? Not much to say about this insane recipe other than its super simple! Oh, it calls for coconut aminos which is paleo code for soy sauce.  I have a major work event, on this day, so I’m banking on my husband pulling this together so I can chow down once I’m home!

Friday, November 16th – Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Chili – Our weather people are calling for cold in Charleston next week, which means it will be hot as hell, but I’m going with it.  I know I’ve given you multiple chicken and slow cooker options but they are all too good not to share!! Plus, chicken is cheaper and it’s always so nice to come home to a crockpot dish on a Friday. You may even have leftovers for Saturday lunch!!

Happy, Healthy Eating Friends.  Please do me a favor and follow along on Pinterest ~ Dinner with the Duffys!!

XO ~ Kelly D.

















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