Autumn Spice Turkey Brine

We are just a day away from Thanksgiving 2021 and I am so looking forward to enjoying time with our families. We have two gatherings planned; one of which we are hosting, so it’s going to be a fun and very busy weekend!

Thanksgiving in the US revolves around everyone gathered at the table with a bountiful meal served up. We Americans love to eat and generally it’s done in excess.

While my own Pilgrim ancestors that survived that first year to celebrate in 1621 didn’t write about the details of the feast, others recorded that part of the meal consisted of wild fowl. Could this be the reason we have turkey today as the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving dinners?

This year I am brining our turkey before roasting. Brining helps the turkey absorb extra moisture which will help prevent the bird from drying out while roasting. The salt in your brine soaks deep into the meat adding layers of flavor. It also breaks down some of the tough membranes’ turkey is known for having, giving you a tender bird to serve up. The best part of using a brine is it is so easy! And who doesn’t like easy for the holidays?!

To brine the turkey I combine sea salt, brown sugar, juniper berries, star anise, lemon peel, orange peel, dried apple bits and other fresh herbs (I’ll post a link to print the full brine recipe below) with 2 1/2 gallons of water in a large non-reactive pan. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally, until the salt and sugar has dissolved. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate so that it is chilled. After the brining solution is chilled add your turkey, cover and refrigerate to soak for 24 hours.

After your bird has soaked in the brine, rinse and prepare to roast using any of your favorite roasting recipes.

I roasted our bird by stuffing it with chopped apples, oranges and fresh rosemary and thyme from the garden, and placing it on a bed of the same ingredients. Since I was really looking for an orange flavor, a few well-placed orange slices between the skin and breast worked magnificently. Tent your turkey with foil and pop into the oven at 350 until the temperature reaches 160 degrees.

I made a baste for our bird using 1 cup of turkey broth, 1 cup Riesling, and a stick of butter. By brining the turkey, I didn’t have to baste near as often.

After removing the turkey from the oven, I let it rest about 30 minutes. Using my baster, I removed the juices from the pan to make up a flavorful gravy. You really need about 5-6 cups, so if you don’t have that much from the turkey, add canned broth. It’s perfectly fine to do this as you’ll still have plenty of that fresh roasted flavor. To keep as much fat as possible from my gravy I love using my OXO fat separator. If you don’t have one, head off to Target right now (thank me for the excuse to shop later) and get you one! This is probably my most used kitchen accessory.

Everyone makes gravy differently, but I’ve found the easiest way is to divide your turkey broth/juices and while most of it simmers on the stove top, save a 1/2 cup of the juices to whisk with 1/4 cup of flour until smooth, then add to your simmering broth; whisk well. Stir in some salt and pepper to taste, maybe some fresh parsley. Cook until you it thickens, about a minute or so.

Plate your roasted turkey and enjoy all the oohs and ahhs you’ll get over your moist, tender and yummy turkey! If you would like a detailed recipe, check out my Autumn Spice Turkey Brine.









































Turkey Stuffed Acorn Squash

Its fall y’all!

My favorite time of year for so many reasons, but I just love fall flavors!  While pumpkin is scrumptious, it is not my favorite but I do love autumnal fruits and veggies, even combining them for unique flavors.

Seriously, who ever thought mixing protein, with a vegetable and multiple fruits would be so delicious and absolutely satisfying.

Take for instance this Turkey stuffed acorn squash.

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With fresh apple, tart cranberries, lean turkey and oh-so-delicious bacon this scrumptious supper was so filling and satisfying.  You almost wouldn’t know it was good for you!

This recipe requires time and multi-tasking to prepare, but it is fairly simple and totally worth it.  Save it for a night when you’ll be in from work early with no where to be, or prepare it for a fabulous weekend dinner with the family.

Turkey-Stuffed-Acorn-Squash-2 | Fiddle Dee Dee

And whatever you do, don’t be afraid of the acorn squash.

So many people are afraid to cook with them because they think it is difficult!

It’s really not!

Turkey Stuffed Acorn Squash-2

This delicious recipe requires you to use fresh ingredients, otherwise the flavor just isn’t going to be there.  The dried cranberries I used are no sugar added and are Paleo approved.  I also used nitrate-free bacon because; one, excessive nitrates give me headaches, two, it’s one less unnatural preservative our body doesn’t need, and three, it just tastes better!

Turkey-Stuffed-Acorn-Squash-4 | Fiddle Dee Dee

The presentation of this is so pretty, it would make a great company dinner dish as well.  Serve it up with garlic roasted green beans, and maybe a crisp green salad, utilizing some of the dried cranberries and add a few pecans with a French vinaigrette.

Click Turkey Stuffed Acorn Squash for the full printable recipe! Turkey-Stuffed-Acorn-Squash | Fiddle Dee Dee

Carrying on the theme of dinner, apple dumplings would make a fabulous dessert to accompany this meal!

What are some of your favorite fall flavors?

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Pomegranate Roasted Turkey

Here it is the day before Thanksgiving and I am just now posting a turkey recipe.  With the craziness of the retail world at the moment I’m running way behind, and totally living a lifestyle that screams quick and easy (without fast food) as we plan to entertain friends for the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow.  I know you are thinking I’ve lost my mind with the concept of an easy turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, but seriously, this one is easy-peasy!

And tastes absolutely delicious, too.

I promise.

I’ve made this one multiple times over the last nine years as it was a recipe I found in a magazine (can’t remember which one) and have held onto for many an occasion.  With eight simple ingredients and absolutely no stuffing (unless you want to take the time), grab a roasting pan and let’s get to it!

Pomegranate Roasted Turkey2

INGREDIENTS:

3 sticks unsalted butter
8 c. pomegranate juice
1 c. unsalted chicken broth
1¾ tsp. pink salt (so much healthier than table salt)
1½ tsp. pepper
1 turkey
½ c. fresh sage leaves
2 sprig fresh rosemary leaves

Cheesecloth (I found mine at Fresh Market with the parchment paper & foil)

ROASTING THE BIRD

1. Preheat the oven to 350º.  In a saucepan on the stove, combine 1 cup of pomegranate juice, 1 cup unsalted chicken stock, 1 teaspoon salt & 1 teaspoon pepper, and the 3 sticks of butter together, bring to a boil, and then remove from heat.

Pom Mixture

2. While your pom mixture is heating up, sprinkle a little pink salt & freshly ground black pepper inside the cavity and on the outside of the bird, placing him in a large roasting pan.

Turkey prep

3. Remove your heated pom mixture from the hot eye and let cool just a few minutes.  Fold your cheesecloth so that it will fit the entire bird.  Soak it in the pom mixture so that it is completely saturated.

soaking Cheesecloth

Do not squeeze the juice from the cheesecloth and place it over the top of the turkey.  Make sure the chicken wing tips and everything are covered by the cheesecloth.

Prepped Turkey

4.  Pour the remainder of the pom juice over the turkey and place in the oven.  Baste with the juices every 20-30 minutes, keeping the cheese cloth saturated.  Basting with the cheesecloth helps to keep your bird super moist and the skin from burning!  Roast until the breast of the turkey reaches 165º; up to 5 hours depending on the size of your bird!  Let stand in the pan (continuing to baste if you desire) for about 20 minutes before carving.

Your cheesecloth may appeared burned crispy, but as long as you have kept it basted every 20-30 minutes, your turkey should still have golden skin when the cheesecloth is removed.

Your cheesecloth may appeared burned crispy, but as long as you have kept it basted every 20-30 minutes, your turkey should still have golden skin when the cheesecloth is removed.

5.  This turkey has a thick pomegranate sauce that accompanies it.  You can begin making it when your turkey has about an hour left to cook.  Take the remaining Pomegranate juice, the sage and rosemary and place in a saucepan; bring it to a boil.

Pom Sauce 2

 Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is fairly syrupy; about an hour.  Strain the herbs from the sauce and serve with a ladle at the table.

Pom sauce

6.  After your turkey has rested, carefully remove the cheesecloth from the turkey, being careful not to tear the skin.  Arrange on a platter with pomegranate garnish & carve to serve.

Pom Roasted Turkey

That’s it ladies and gentleman… a super easy turkey recipe for a most moist and flavorful turkey this Thanksgiving Day!

I forgot to photograph the pomegranate sauce that accompanied it, but I can assure you, IT IS FABULOUS!

I forgot to photograph the pomegranate sauce that accompanied it, but I can assure you, IT IS FABULOUS!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from the Jones family!

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Asian Meatball Wraps

After all the heavy, rich foods of the Christmas season I am totally ready for simple eats with fresh ingredients and lots of flavor.  I found this recipe for Asian meatball lettuce wraps on Pinterest (it’s a South Beach diet stage one recipe) and decided to make a few health conscious changes like lowering the sodium immensely by leaving out the fish sauce and using lower sodium soy sauce as well swapping the sesame oil for olive oil.

The result?

An absolutely delicious supper without even a hint of leftovers!

And if my kiddos thought it was that good, it was totally worth sharing with you!

asianmeatballwraps

 Ingredients:

Unseasoned rice vinegar

Olive Oil

1 pinch red pepper flakes

1 pound ground turkey breast

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon ground ginger

3 teaspoons low sodium-soy sauce

cooking spray

Boston lettuce

Small English cucumber, julienned

Chopped fresh mint

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.  In a small bowl, whisk together  1/4 cup rice vinegar, 1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce and red pepper flakes to make the dressing.  Set aside at room temperature.

2.  In a large bowl, stir together turkey, garlic, ginger, 3 teaspoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons rice vinegar and 3 teaspoons soy sauce.  Form mixture into 24 1-inch meatballs.

asianmeatballs

3.  Lightly coat a broiler pan with cooking spray and arrange the meatballs.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, until cooked through.

meatballs

4.  While the meatballs are baking, prepare your fresh veggies, by separating the lettuce leaves for the wraps, chopping the mint and slicing the cucumbers.

butterlettuce

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5.  Lay three lettuce leaves on each plate, placing two meatballs on each leaf.  Top with cucumber and mint leaves, drizzle with dressing, and serve.

This makes dinner for 4, but you can always double it for a larger group.

 

Asian Turkey Meatball Lettuce Wraps; perfect for a low carb yet fillng meal.

Asian Turkey Meatball Lettuce Wraps; perfect for a low carb yet filling meal.

I love the presentation of these little wraps.  Not only do they make for a family friendly supper, but they would make a pretty addition to a finger food buffet for a National Championship/ Super Bowl game party.

The meatballs can be assembled a head of time so that they only have to cook before serving.  There are so many possibilities for this recipe.

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I hope the first week of this year has been everything you had hoped for!

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