Cranberry-Pepper Jelly

If you've been reading my blog at all over the past week or so, you're probably sick of hearing me talk about this Cranberry-Pepper Jelly! But I promise, this will be it on this least until next year. I know it probably seems odd that I'm providing the recipe in this post after Thanksgiving, but this condiment is so yummy and versatile that it lives well past Turkey Day. Fantastic on turkey sandwiches of course, but also great with baked brie or really paired with any cheese. It also makes a nice cracker dip along with some cream cheese. This cranberry-pepper jelly knows no bounds and it's super easy to make as well. The recipe is from the 2011 Thanksgiving issue of Bon Appétit with only a couple of very minor SavoryGirl adaptions.

So first things first...the ingredients. Super simple ingredients here along with a heavy-bottomed pan and you're ready to go:

A Photo Journey through Thanksgiving 2012

I know Thanksgiving is over and everyone is ready to move onto the next big holiday, but with the week of Thanksgiving being my favorite cooking week of the year I thought it was worthy of a couple more blog posts.  This one is simply a nice visual journey through all of the dishes I made this year with some descriptions.

Next week I'll highlight the recipe for Cranberry Pepper Jelly that I make every year. It is fantastic on sandwiches, baked brie, with cream cheese and crackers, etc...  So while most have already made their one turkey of the year there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy the spicy-sweet deliciousness all year long.

So let's start the photo journey with that one...Cranberry Pepper Jelly. This is almost always the first thing I make, the weekend before Thanksgiving, since it has a 3-6 week shelf life in the refrigerator. I've honestly never liked anything other than canned cranberry sauce (I know, blasphemous!) until I discovered this recipe. Now I'm totally hooked on it's spicy-sweet combination and for the first time ever didn't even touch my canned cranberry sauce this year!

The next thing I make the weekend before the holiday is homemade turkey stock as a base for my gravy. If you don't want to do this you can always use store-bought chicken or turkey stock, but I find that making your own makes a big difference in the gravy and it's honestly very easy. If you're like me, this also means you get a little extra Turkey meat for your leftover soup as well since I refuse to throw away all of the meat on the turkey wings after making the stock.  Just pick it all off and freeze it until your ready to make your soup or other Thanksgiving leftovers.

A couple of days before Thanksgiving I start brining the turkey and prepping all of the veggies that will hold for a day or two.

I find that nothing makes for a juicy turkey like brining it for 2 days in advance...not frying it, not starting it cooking upside down, nothing. I also slather it in herb butter (both on top and under the skin), so that doesn't hurt! My favorite brine that I have found over the years is a beer brine...I use Newcastle which makes this turkey a bit of an expensive date, but trust me your guests will be singing your praises. And we all know that's hard praise to get with so many bad, dry turkey experiences from Thanksgivings past! Make sure the brine is completely covering your turkey...sometimes you have to get a bit crafty with pressure on the bag in certain spots to make this happen.

It's also important to have a great carver on hand day-of so that you can plate your turkey in a beautiful and appetizing husband is a pro at this by now, so I'm lucky here as you can see below.

Weekly Menu: November 25 – December 1, 2012
Sunday: Turkey Mushroom Risotto
Monday: Tofu Veggie Stir Fry
Tuesday: Leftovers: Risotto
Wednesday: Leftovers: Stir Fry
Thursday: Suz in Austin; Salmon & Roasted Rapini with Tomatoes
Friday: Suz in Austin; Christian eating out
Saturday: Suz in Austin; easy grilled Chicken and Baked Sweet Potato (DIY)
It's a short week for me since I'm heading to Austin, TX for a long overdue girls weekend on Thursday so we're keeping it pretty simple in terms of dinner.  Sunday we'll use up the last of our Thanksgiving turkey and broth leftovers and make a turkey mushroom risotto with a side spinach salad. Then we'll do a simple tofu and veggie stir fry...vegetables that don't have marshmallows melted over them seem to be lacking a bit lately so this will be a nice healthy dinner.  Once I take off on Thursday Christian will most likely turn to his old standby favorites. Salmon with roasted rapini & tomatoes one night and easy grilled chicken and a baked sweet potato another night. Healthy, simple home cooking.

I'll return home on Sunday to a nice home cooked meal by Christian...but you'll have to wait until next week to find out what that delicious meal will be!
Weekly Menu: November 18-24, 2012
Sunday: Leftovers: Shrimp & Grits
Monday: Grilled Salmon with Roasted Rapini & Tomatoes
Tuesday: Eat Out
Wednesday:    Leftovers: Frozen Mixed Bean Soup
Friday: Leftovers: Thanksgiving seconds!
Saturday: Eat Out
My favorite cooking week of the year is here! If you've already checked out my Thanksgiving Menu that I posted last week you know that I plan ahead and spread out my cooking over the entire week before. Makes the big day much more enjoyable so I can focus on my friends, family and football. So that means we'll be keeping the cooking for our other dinners this week pretty simple. Leftovers from both last week's menu and soup from the freezer that we cooked a while back and of course those wildly sought after Thanksgiving leftovers.

A SavoryGirl Thanksgiving, 2012

I love Thanksgiving...good friends, family, food, football and fun.  What's not to love? To be honest, though, I didn't always love it...when I was a kid it seemed kind of silly to me how my mom slaved away all day just for one meal. But ever since I've been the cook I totally get it. Yes it can be a lot of work but it's the work of love. All that effort is worth it for the "ooohs and aaaahs" when you walk in with the Turkey. Or watching your husband's face as he takes that first bite of your famous Sweet Potatoes that he loves so much but only gets this one day a year. Personally, I also love the strategy and planning that Thanksgiving takes...and that's the key to actually enjoying this holiday as host. So not only am I sharing my menu, but I am also sharing my detailed cooking and timing plan to get it all done and downloadable shopping lists. That's right, time to start enjoying your own Thanksgiving party!

You all know by now that I love to cook and hopefully you agree that I am a pretty good judge of recipes as well...therefore I can almost guarantee that my menu below is going to be delicious. I've been hosting large Thanksgiving dinners for years now and I can proudly say I haven't had a dud yet (knocking on wood as I type!). Some of the dishes below are old favorites but many are new.  Since I have a bit of a smaller crowd this year I'm keeping appetizers more simple than usual (and yes one leans Mexican!) but otherwise this year's menu is pretty typical of a SavoryGirl Thanksgiving. You can also check out my previous SavoryGirl Thanksgiving Menu, if the one below doesn't suit your fancy.

Last year the Pancetta Crisps, Succotash, Kale Salad and Cranberry-Pepper Jelly were big hits out of the new of which is making a repeat performance this year along with the turkey brine recipe and my ever-present sweet potatoes.

Weekly Menu: November 11-17, 2012
Sunday: Malaysian Beef Curry
Monday: Yogurt Marinated Grilled Chicken with Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Spinach
Tuesday: Leftovers: Malaysian Beef Curry
Wednesday:   Leftovers: Yogurt Marinated Grilled Chicken & Goat Cheese Quesadillas
Thursday: Shrimp & Artichoke over Parmesan Grits
Friday: Easy Breakfast for Dinner
Saturday: Eat Out
It's weeks like these that make me particularly grateful for our menus. I'm out of town for work Tuesday through Thursday but by planning ahead and cooking early in the week Christian can just rely on leftovers while I'm out of town. Then we'll keep it simple when I return with an old favorite (that we were supposed to make last week, ooops!) and an easy night of breakfast for dinner.

Sunday's Malaysian Beef Curry is a new recipe...sounds spicy and fantastically delicious and the best part is that it's a slow cooker meal. There is a longer ingredient list and tamarind paste can sometimes be a bit hard to find, but boy is it going to make the house smell amazing while it cooks! The Yogurt Marinated Grilled Chicken recipe is a new one, but super simple and healthy. Just make sure you prepare and start marinating the chicken the night before you plan on making it. Get creative with the chicken leftovers...we're going to turn it into chicken and goat cheese quesadillas, probably with a side black bean salad.

Stay tuned for my Thanksgiving Menu, which I'll be posting in a couple of days. It's my favorite holiday since I love cooking and entertaining so much.  The planner in me will help lay it all out for you so you can actually enjoy yourself day-of and not be stuck in the kitchen missing the party. If I do say so myself, SavoryGirl Thanksgivings are always a big hit and my guests are quite happy and well-fed by the end of the day!
Weekly Menu: November 4-10, 2012
Sunday: Tunisian Spiced Lamb with Chard and Couscous  
Monday: Curried Cauliflower and Chickpea Stew
Tuesday: Leftovers:Lamb with Chard & Couscous
Wednesday:   Leftovers:Cauliflower & Chickpea Stew
Thursday: Shrimp & Artichokes over Parmesan Grits
Friday: Eat Out
Saturday: Leftovers:Shrimp & Grits
Before we get to the food, let me first say that my heart goes out to all of those affected by Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast. As a born and raised East Coaster who has experienced many hurricanes myself I am completely dumbstruck by the amount of devastation this has caused...this world of climate change is bringing a whole new class of storms along with it unless we all start changing our behaviors now. Luckily all of my people out there are safe and have their electricity back as of yesterday...I hope the same is true for all of you. If you're not close enough to lend a helping hand in person and feeling a bit helpless like I am, please donate to one of these fantastic organizations and their specific Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, I think we're all in need of a bit of this is a week of quick and easy hearty fall favorites. While that means no new recipes for us, I encourage you to give them a try...I'm confident at least one of them will end up in rotation as a favorite at your house too. First up, Tunisian Spiced Lamb with Chard. If you don't cook with lamb often don't worry, this preparation is pretty similar to cooking a steak so nothing too advanced going on here. If you prefer you could swap this out for another meat as well (lamb is a bit pricey) since it's the spices and chard preparation that make this dish so unique.

The Curried Cauliflower is an amazing vegetarian dish...I found it last year when I was on a huge chickpea kick. Check out my post on all of my other favorite chickpea recipes that I found during that time, if you don't currently love chickpeas you will after these! This would also make a great pot-luck dish to serve lots of people if you do live on the East Coast and are helping get friends in your community fed. Last, but certainly not least, is Shrimp & Artichokes over Parmesan Grits. I've been making this dish for almost 10 years...from one of my earliest cookbooks I think. It's super simple (you use canned artichokes) but comforting and delicious. Just what we all need at this time of year.