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Thursday, November 19 2009
I enjoy hosting Thanksgiving, but it can be taxing—especially on my wallet. Thanksgiving is all about abundance, and I want to keep it that way—without breaking the bank. So I’ve carefully selected my menu this year to include Thanksgiving recipes that are affordable and delicious.


My rules for selecting the recipes were simple: I kept my main dish (the turkey) to under $3 per serving. For side dishes and desserts, I kept them at $1.50 or below. My entire meal is going to please my palate and, at less than $7 per serving, keep my wallet happy too. Now that’s something to be thankful for.

Here’s my menu:

Layered Mashed Potato & Mushroom Casserole ($1.42 per serving) Fancy up regular mashed potatoes with a layer of mushroom duxelle—a sauté of finely chopped mushrooms and shallots. We omitted the traditional butter in the duxelle and added chard for a nutritional boost. Serve this hearty side in place of mashed potatoes at any holiday feast or enjoy it as a vegetarian main dish.

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Onions ($0.65 per serving) Fresh herbs, onion and bacon pair beautifully with Brussels sprouts. This vegetable loves the cool weather of fall and early winter. If you can find them still attached to the stalk, don’t be intimidated—buy them, as they’re likely more fresh. All you need to do is slice off each sprout with a paring knife. However you find them at the market, this is a delicious way to prepare them. (Recipe adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters.)

Creamed Onions ($1.50 per serving) A holiday staple in many households, creamed onions are usually bathed in a rich white sauce made with heavy cream. In this version, we roast the onions for an added layer of flavor and lighten up the sauce with low-fat milk. The result is a luxuriously silky sauce with a sweet roasted onion flavor for far fewer calories and less fat. We like the smaller size of pearl onions, but boiling onions also work well.

Cranberry Upside-Down Cake ($ .90 per serving) This rustic cake is a delicious alternative to pie and uses one of the tastiest fruits of the fall harvest—cranberries. The basic recipe is very versatile and can be made with apples, pears, peaches, plums or any full-flavored, slightly acidic fruit. Just arrange the fruit in the skillet before you pour the batter over it. The cake is best served warm; if you can, put it in the oven just before you sit down to dinner. (Recipe adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters.)

Brine-Cured Roast Turkey ($2.48 per serving) (see recipe below)

A big turkey is so spectacular you hardly need to do anything to embellish it. But brining can be that extra touch that makes it so juicy and flavorful that you’ll remember it for years to come. Brining the turkey takes 3 days so you’ll need to plan ahead, but the lengthy brining time really pays off with fabulous flavor. Make sure you start with an all-natural bird without any added water and sodium solution. (Recipe adapted from Alice Waters.)

Active time: 1 hour 10 minutes | Total: 3 hours (plus 3 days brining time) | Equipment: Pot, bucket or clean cooler large enough to hold the turkey (but small enough to fit in your refrigerator), kitchen string

3 gallons water, divided
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup kosher salt
2 carrots, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
2 leeks, dark tops trimmed off, chopped
1 small stalk celery, chopped
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
4 star anise
5-6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 12- to 14-pound naturally fed, free-range turkey
1 large sprig rosemary for basting
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil for basting

1. Bring 1 gallon water to a boil in a large nonreactive pot that will hold your turkey and fit in your refrigerator (see Tip). Stir in sugar and salt until completely dissolved. Turn off the heat. Stir in carrots, onions, leeks, celery, bay leaves, peppercorns, coriander, crushed red pepper, fennel seeds, star anise and thyme. Add the remaining 2 gallons water. Place the turkey in the brine and weight it with a plate, if necessary, so it stays below the surface. Refrigerate for 72 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 425°F.
3. Remove the turkey from the brine, brush off any briny bits and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes (discard the brine). Tuck the wing tips under the turkey. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Place the turkey on a roasting rack set in a large roasting pan.
4. Roast the turkey until the skin starts to brown, 40 minutes. Use rosemary sprig to baste the turkey with oil. Reduce oven temperature to 350° and continue roasting the turkey, basting with more oil about every 30 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh without touching bone registers 165°F, 1 to 1 1/2 hours more, depending on the size of the turkey. If the skin begins to darken too much, cover it loosely with foil.
5. Carefully transfer the turkey to a large, clean cutting board; let it rest, loosely covered with foil, for 20 minutes before removing the string and carving.
Makes 10 servings, plus leftovers.
Cost per serving: under $2.50

Per 3-ounce serving (without skin): 147 calories; 4 g fat (1 g sat, 1 g mono); 66 mg cholesterol; 0 g carbohydrate; 25 g protein; 0 g fiber; 96 mg sodium; 253 mg potassium.

Nutrition bonus: Zinc (20% daily value).

Kitchen Tip: If you do not have a pot large enough to hold the turkey plus the 3 gallons of brining liquid, bring 1 gallon of water to a boil in a smaller pot, add the flavorings (Step 1), then transfer the brine to a clean large bucket or medium cooler (small enough to fit in your refrigerator). Add the remaining 2 gallons water and the turkey. To fit the brining turkey into your refrigerator, you may need to remove a shelf or two.

By Hilary Meyer

EatingWell assistant editor Hilary Meyer spends much of her time in the EatingWell Test Kitchen, testing and developing healthy recipes. She is a graduate of New England Culinary Institute.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 11:27 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, November 05 2009
Seafood is a traditional food in many North American communities, making it popular as a Christmas or other holiday gift. These traditions vary by region, often including whatever seafood is available locally in season.

In areas such as the Mid-Atlantic Coast, oysters are popular for Thanksgiving and Christmas. In New England, family dinners might include rich chowders made with clams, cod, haddock or other local seafood. Lobster is another item that may be served in New England during the holidays.

Similarly, West coast families might serve King crab, Dungeness crab or wild Pacific salmon for a holiday meal. Along the Gulf Coast, Cajun and other cuisines use shrimp, crawfish, catfish and other seafood in holiday dishes.

In the USA, coastal communities have always served seafood as part of family meals. Regional seafood dishes became a holiday tradition throughout much of North America. After a few generations of coastal residents left their small fishing towns to live elsewhere, the demand for seafood as a holiday food spread across the nation, creating a need for shipped seafood.

Fortunately the seafood industry has responded with a variety of solutions. A wide range of non-perishable products are available now for seafood enthusiasts and holiday shoppers. Items such as smoked salmon, canned oysters, pre-cooked seafood soups, chowders and stews are all offered in forms that do not require refrigeration.

For shoppers that want the highest possible quality, seafood is available fresh from the boat. Lobsters, crabs, shrimp, clams, oysters, scallops, mussels, fish and other seafood is all available online, ready to be shipped overnight in special chilled containers. Online stores also offer frozen seafood products, either uncooked or fully cooked meal entrees.

Gift baskets are another option when choosing a seafood-related gift for a loved one. Baskets are available that contain single types of products or a mixture of several items such as smoked salmon or other fish, canned smoked oysters, caviar, canned stews and other delicacies. Gift baskets are extremely popular for outdoorsmen as many come with combinations of seafood, wild game, cheeses, condiments and other treats.

Seafood cookbooks are a perennial favorite gift. These are available at local bookstores or via online specialty stores. Seafood collectibles are another popular gift idea. These include t-shirts, prints, photographs, calendars, coffee mugs, stickers and other gifts.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 09:44 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, November 03 2009

A thanksgiving dinner may be synonymous to an informal party; however, you still do the same thing when hosting a formal party: planning. Preparation for a party is important. It determines the would-be result of the occasion. Therefore, do not fail to make a careful preparation. If you have no idea on how to go about this, check the list below to help you:

1.    Make sure that you have bought everything in advance. Make a grocery list and divide it into two groups: one week and one day before the dinner party. For the "one week" list, buy supplies or items, such as napkins, canned goods, paper plates (if necessary), and cups, that you can buy a week before without worrying about them being spoiled. For the "one day" list, buy items that require freshness, such as chicken and meat products.  

2.    If you have desserts, make sure that you have already prepared them a day before to give them enough time to freeze or chill. Remember, visitors always look forward to desserts. 

3.    Make it a healthy dinner. Remember, with so many people now becoming health conscious, it is but right to serve your visitors a dinner that promotes a healthy lifestyle. For the others who are unmindful of their health, you may also help them achieve a realization that it is high time to become aware about healthy living.

4.    Wake up early on the day of the Thanksgiving dinner. Because if you wake up late, you will surely cram up because you still have so many chores to organize.

5.    It is also important that you look best during your Thanksgiving dinner. You should not expect that your visitors will understand you if you seem stressful and haggard all because of all the preparations you did for them. To make sure that you will not be put in this same position, see to it that everything is ready four hours or so before the party; thereby, giving you enough time to relax, enjoy your bath, and look yourself best.

6.    You should not forget this: clean your place. All your hard work will go to waste if your home is not ready in time for your party because it is cluttered with stuffs. Ask some people to help you come up with a dirt-free home. Put some decorations, if necessary. For one, buy fresh flowers and do not forget to replace your ordinary curtains with special ones.

7.    Set the table an hour or two before the expected arrival of your visitors. The moment guests arrive, they only expect a few minutes of smiling and greeting, and off they go to eat. Thus, it is important that the table is already set. 

These are just simple tips for preparing a Thanksgiving dinner, but these tips will contribute a lot in the success of the occasion. Your visitors will surely reward you with their praises because you have thrown a carefully planned Thanksgiving dinner for them.

Harrison Fray is an experienced and expert wedding planner who specializes in wedding gifts and bridesmaid gifts buying. He can assist you to purchase personalized groomsmen gifts cheaply but with unique style. Drop by Engraved Gift Creations to see what Harrison recommends.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 11:32 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, November 02 2009
Ordering Thanksgiving Dinner online is a much easier than ever before. Let's face it. Who is going to be in the mood to make a BIG Thanksgiving turkey dinner? I doubt too many people. Most people just flat out don't have the time to prepare such a meal. But since it is a tradition to have turkey for Thanksgiving, you still want to eat it. This is exactly online food ordering was invented.

One of the big advantages of ordering Thanksgiving Turkey online has to be the money you save on gas. Let's face it. Gas isn't exactly cheap. But, if you live far away from the supermarket that can be quite costly. It' also a big hassle that most people are not up to it. Ordering online really takes care of this problem. All the hassle and gas expenses are already taken care of for you.

Spare time is something that you have to think of, as well. ALL of us have very busy days, and every second in our day is extremely precious. Who in the world wants to spend long hours in kitchen over a hot stove? You can save so much time for yourself when you don't have to actually cook the meal. Your turkey dinner will be prepared by professional chefs.

Also, unless you are just an excellent, you are probably not going to be able to cook a tastier meal than a professional chef would. So if I were you, I would definitely contemplate ordering food online.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 09:57 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email