Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Edition

Tomorrow we're going to Thanksgiving dinner at Johnny's sister, Di's house. Di is also my boss and co-worker. Other attendees will be Di's husband, Rob, as well as Johnny and Di's mom, dad and younger brother, Mikey. Other siblings are out of town, or going other places for dinner. And Di's two boys will be at their Dad's. So we're down to a lonely 7 from a usual holiday gathering of 15.

I decided to bring one dish for each course of the meal - an appetizer, a side dish and a dessert.

For the appetizer I chose deviled eggs. Unfortunately, I realized during the peeling process that Johnny's mom's eggs are NOT peel-friendly. I've boiled them before just to have boiled eggs and to make egg salad and they are a mess. Their yolks are a lot bigger, so you don't have as much whites to work with. The membrane that holds the shell to the egg is also a lot thicker and stubborn to let go. I even tried the trick from that video I posted - boiling the eggs with baking soda in the water. It was supposed to make them blow easily out, but it just left me standing there cursing 18 eggs for 30 minutes. There was only one casualty - by the time I finished peeling it, there was pretty much just a yolk left. So, I let the dog have a treat. And there he stayed, the rest of the entire egg-making process, hoping he'd score again. See him?

The yams were an experiment of mine, loosely following a tasty-looking recipe I found the other day, while browsing Thanksgiving dishes online. Called "Sweet Potato Casserole II" the recipe is as follows:

4 1/2 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup milk
1 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup butter
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. In a large bowl, mix together mashed sweet potatoes, 1/2 cup butter, milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and eggs. Spread sweet potato mixture into the prepared baking dish. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar and flour. Cut in 1/3 cup butter until mixture is crumbly, then stir in pecans. Sprinkle pecan mixture over the sweet potatoes. Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.

Basically, I cheated and started off with a big ole can of candied yams - eliminating the need for most of the sweetening. I did end up adding everything to the yams, just cut back on the sugar and went by consistency for the milk. The topping I pretty much followed verbatim - just eyeballed the measurements, instead of using measuring cups. Everything tasted delicious and smells good, so I have high hopes!

And, finally, the dessert! Which, I actually did not cook. Nooo, it's not store-bought -- Johnny made it!! Last year he saw a Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake on Yahoo's homepage and made it. This year, I just put him in charge of it again! Quite the contrary to my eyeballing, he diligently measured every ingredient, including making use of the "dash" spoon of his special measuring set.

2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (I threw the rest of the can in with my yams, I forgot to mention!)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
dash ground nutmeg
1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup thawed cool whip

Mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs; mix until blended. Do not overbeat after adding eggs. Remove 1 cup batter; stir in pumpkin and spices. Spray 9 inch pie plate with cooking spray; sprinkle bottom with crumbs. Pour remaining plain batter into crust. Top with pumpkin batter. Bake at 325° for 40 minutes, or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 3 hours, or overnight. Top each serving with 1 Tbsp. of the whipped topping.

We'll be adding more whipped topping than that, of course. He was kind of bummed about the cracks after it was done baking, but I assured him they'll be covered by gobs of whipped topping! In the background is my little "to bring" list I wrote myself so I don't forget something in the morning. Having dishes spread out in two fridges tends to make me do that.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! Here's a little poem I received at the end of an email forward, that's appropriate for this situation:

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey be plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have never a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!

Oh! And one last thing, (as if this post isn't long enough already). I left our uncarved pumpkins on the front porch for Fall decorations and I saw yesterday that somebody made a snack out of them!!

P.S. - I had wanted to share a tip about "serving platters." My mom, a piano teacher, has several functions and recitals a year. Sometimes she has this lady make these amazing cookie and chocolate platters for the events. Instead of using one of her dishes that needs to be picked up or returned later, she makes disposable platters. They're simply a heavy piece of cardboard wrapped with a pretty foil wrap. I stole her idea for my eggs, since we don't have a platter that large and just used normal foil, taping it to the underside of the cardboard. It serves it's purpose, can be thrown out afterwards and doesn't look as cheesy as a paper or plastic plate.

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