Slow Cooker Sunday: Turkey Meatballs in a Cranberry Chili Sauce

The book I got this recipe from touts them as satisfying your craving for Thanksgiving, while that may be true, I think they are a great appetizer if you are having a small get together, a game night, or a nice accompaniment to stuffing – if you are really hankering for that Thanksgiving flavor.

Begin by combining ground turkey along with panko breadcrumbs, an egg, chopped onion, sage and salt. Gently mix to combine. I used a cookie scoop to scoop the mixture and then rolled it into golf ball-sized meatballs. I baked them in a 425 F preheated oven on a parchment lined baking sheet for about 15 minutes.

While the meatballs were in the oven I combined a can of jellied cranberry sauce and chili sauce in the insert of my slow cooker and stirred it until the cranberry sauce had completed broken down and the two ingredients were well combined. Once the meatballs were cooked I added them to the sauce and gently mixed them in. I covered the slow cooker and cooked it on low for 90 minutes, until the sauce was heated.

Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs in a Cranberry Chili Sauce

  • Servings: Makes about 20
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Ingredients:

1 lb. ground turkey

3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

12 cup finely chopped yellow onion

1 teaspoon ground sage

1 teaspoon salt

1 14 oz. can jellied cranberry sauce

3/4 cup chili sauce

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients except the cranberry sauce & chili sauce. Gently mix the turkey mixture until just combined and roll into golf ball-sized meatballs.

Place the meatballs on the baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, until browned and cooked through.

In a slow cooker mix the cranberry sauce and chili sauce together. Add the meatballs gently toss with the sauce. Cover and cook on low for 90 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Slow Cooker Family Favorites

Slow Cooker Sunday: Herbed Turket Breast

Have you ever thought about cooking your Thanksgiving turkey in a slow cooker? Well, unfortunately you can’t put a whole turkey in there, but, you can cook a turkey breast. Believe it or not, they actually say slow cooker friendly on the wrapper, well, at least the one I picked up did. My friends and I had our 2nd Annual Friendsgiving Celebration last weekend, and when I offered to bring the turkey in my mind I was already thinking of a slow cooker turkey breast since there wasn’t going to be that many of us. I decided on a turkey breast that was 7.5 lbs. Now, when I brought him home and tested him out in my slow cooker I freaked out a little bit because he didn’t fit. Well, he fit I just couldn’t put the cover on the slow cooker. But, I thought to myself that once he thawed out he should just fine.

On the day of the get together I got up early just in case it took longer than directed and in case of any other mishaps. I began by placing a chopped carrot, onion and celery in the bottom of my slow cooker. I then placed the turkey breast on top of the vegetables and sprinkled him – oh, and yes, I always refer to my turkey as him or he, it’s because of Tom The Turkey – with an herb and spice mix and then drizzled melted butter over him. If you don’t have the specific spices that I used below feel free to create your own spice mix.

After a little coercion I was able to get the cover snug on top and I set him to cook on low. I was planning on him being done between 6-7 hours.

While the pop-up time did pop out at 6 hours I decided to leave him in there a little longer just to be sure. I figured he wouldn’t dry out in a slow cooker. And unfortunately the one downfall of cooking a turkey in a slow cooker is not getting that nice browned skin.

But, that was nothing that a few minutes under the broiler couldn’t resolve.

So, would I make a turkey breast like this again? Yes! It’s stress-free and pretty much guarantees that you will have a juicy turkey. I am tempted to go my usual route of brining the turkey beforehand next time though. Oh, one thing I was able to make with this turkey that I had never been able to do before was gravy. There was a decent amount of drippings left in the slow cooker and I must say, homemade gravy from the drippings beats anything you buy in the store hands down.

 

Slow Cooker Herbed Turkey Breast

Ingredients:

1 carrot, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces

1 onion, chopped into 1-inch pieces

1 celery stalk, chopped into 1-inch pieces

3 tablespoons onion powder

1/2 teaspoons sage

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 6 to 7 lb. bone-in turkey breast

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons cornstarch

 

Directions:

In the slow cooker toss together the carrot, onion and celery.

In a small bowl mix the herbs and spices.

Place the turkey on top of the vegetables and sprinkle with the spice mixture. Try to get some of the mixture under the skin of the turkey as well. Drizzle with the melted butter. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, or until fully cooked – 165 F

When the turkey is done, preheat the oven to broil and place the turkey in a roasting pan and broil for a few minutes to brown the skin. Don’t leave it in the oven too long or the turkey could dry out.

Combine the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water.

Strain the remaining liquid in the slow cooker into a medium saucepan. Bring to a bowl over medium-high heat. Whish in the cornstarch mixture and cook until the gravy thickens.

Slice the turkey and serve with the gravy.

 

Recipe from Slow Cooker Family Favorites

 

 

Brussels Sprouts & Cranberry Sauce

So, I’m working a little backwards here. Yesterday I brought you a delicious pie you can serve for Thanksgiving dessert and today I am bringing you two sides. A roasted Brussels sprouts dish and homemade cranberry sauce. Come back on Sunday for Slow Cooker Sunday where I will tell you how I slow cooked a turkey breast – see, definitely working backwards!

I know Brussels sprouts is not a favorite vegetable for many, but, I think the reason is because they are not preparing them the best way. Yes, they have a bitter flavor, just like broccoli rabe, but, when you season and roast them in the oven they take on a whole new flavor. Even the little charred sections taste good. And, they get perfectly tender. The recipe I recently tried called for them to be roasted in the oven and then topped with a glaze made with grapes, honey & scallions… YUM! I can’t wait to make it again and I am pretty sure it will make any Brussels sprout skeptic think twice about that vegetable that looks like a baby cabbage.

I grew up eating cranberry sauce from a can, not the whole berry sauce one, but, the jellied version. It’s weird, I won’t eat the whole berry one from a can because I feel like it’s too fake but I will eat the jellied version. Yes, I will still eat it with my turkey and stuffing. I don’t really know what prompted me to try making cranberry sauce myself since I was content with the can stuff, but, I’ve used the same recipe now for quite a few years and it’s one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving. I look forward to a sandwich with leftover turkey warmed up with melted cheese (preferably provolone) and topped with cranberry sauce every year after Thanksgiving. I am dreaming of it now as I type… LOL! So, what is so special about this sauce? I think it’s the simplicity of it. There are no out of the box ingredients. It’s simply a bag of fresh cranberries, sugar, water, fresh ginger, orange zest, a cinnamon stick, ground cloves and salt. I tried getting a little fancy one year, but, it just didn’t top the simple yet delicious taste of this cranberry sauce. Make a few days before you intend to use to really get the best flavor.

So, I hope these two dishes will make their way to your table, or, they have given you ideas of something else to try.

 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Grapes

Ingredients:

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups red seedless grapes

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons honey

Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions:

Place a baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven and preheat to 450 F.

Toss the Brussels sprouts with the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl. Spread them on the hot baking sheet and roast, tossing halfway through until tender and charred in spots, 20 to 30 minutes.

While the Brussels sprouts are in the oven…. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the grapes and thyme and cook until the grapes starting to burst, stirring occasionally. Add the scallions and honey. Increase the heat to high and bring to boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer until the juices thicken and the grapes are glazed. Season with salt and pepper.

Once ready, transfer the Brussels sprouts to a dish and drizzled the grape mixture over them

Recipe from Food Network

 

Cranberry Sauce

  • Servings: 2 1/2 Cups
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Ingredients:

1 12 ounce bag fresh cranberries

1 cup sugar

1 cinnamon stick

2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger

2 teaspoons orange zest

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

 

Directions:

In a medium saucepan combine 1 cup of water with the sugar, cinnamon stick, ginger, orange zest, salt and cloves. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the cranberries and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer, stirring until slightly thickened.

Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Allow to cool before refrigerating

Recipe from Rachael Ray

Pumpkin Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting

So, what happens when you bake a cake late at night and then frost it early the next morning? You don’t take pictures! But, that’s okay. I don’t need pictures to tell you how delicious this cake is. I do have this lovely final picture though…

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With Thanksgiving this week this Pumpkin Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting is my final pumpkin dessert of the season. I can’t say it’s the best as that title goes to the Pumpkin Tiramisu I posted about last month, but, it’s definitely a close second, and I am sure would be a welcome addition to your Thanksgiving dessert table. I actually made it for a Friendsgiving celebration I had with some wonderful friends last weekend. If you’ve never had your own Friendsgiving celebration I strongly advise you to have one next year. There’s absolutely no drama and you get to spend some time with people who are just as important or in some cases more important to you than your own family!

Here are some quick notes about this cake though… Definitely go with the freshly grated nutmeg and don’t try to substitute ground ginger for the freshly grated ginger, trust me, these two things make a huge difference in the flavor. I speak from experience. Make your own buttermilk by combining vinegar (or lemon juice) and milk (for this cake, I used 1/2 tablespoon of vinegar and 1/2 cup 2% milk to make the buttermilk.) And finally, if you’re not a fan of goat cheese go with a simple cream cheese frosting. You can never go wrong with cream cheese frosting.

So, however you’re spending your Thanksgiving I hope it’s one with delicious food, sweet desserts and great company. And remember, no matter what has happened in life there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for!

 

Pumpkin Cake

Ingredients:

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups light-brown sugar

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups solid-pack pumpkin

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger

1/2 cup buttermilk*

*To make your own combine 1/2 tablespoon vinegar (or lemon juice) with 1/2 cup milk – I used 2%. Let stand for 5-10 minutes at room temperature. When the milk is ready it will have thickened and you will see small curdled bits.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prep two 8-inch round pans, either by spraying them with baking spray (what I did) or brush the pans with butter, line the bottoms with parchment paper, butter the parchment paper then dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

With an electric mixer (or stand mixer) beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. Then beat in the pumpkin and finally the vanilla and ginger. Reduce the speed to medium and add the flour in the batches alternating with 2 batches of the buttermilk, beating until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake until the cakes are golden brown, the edges pull away from the sides of the pan and a cake tested comes out clean, about 30 -35 minutes. Transfer the pans to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Turn out the cakes onto the racks to cool completely.

Place the bottom layer of the cake on a cake stand (or board) and spread half of your desired frosting evenly over the cake. Top with the second layer and evenly spread the remaining frosting over the cake.

Recipe from Martha Stewart

 

Goat Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

1 pound (2 – 8oz bars) cream cheese, at room temperature

8 ounces soft goat cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

Beat cheese until combined, then gradually add sugar and continue beating until smooth and creamy.

Recipe from Martha Stewart

Thanksgiving Desserts

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with delicious food and joyous times with loved ones. This year I spent the day at a friend’s house enjoying said delicious food and joyous times – although I did cook a turkey the following day. At this point though I am kind of turkeyed out! I didn’t go empty handed to the Thanksgiving celebration though; I brought the dessert… three pies, a cheesecake and a chocolate cake. What can I say, I love to bake!

Among the pies was a Pumpkin Pie that I decorated using Fall themed pie cutters. Then there was a Sweet Potato Pie that I decorated with a leaf border. I made this pie because I had never tried sweet potato pie and was curious what the fuss was all about, it was good, but, I am partial to pumpkin. And finally an Apple Pie that I gave a nice twisted pie crust design.

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For the Cheesecake I stuck to a basic recipe that was a hit and topped it with sugared cranberries. The cranberries were so good that I ended up eating the leftovers like they were candy.

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And finally, the Chocolate Cake. The cake had a pumpkin spice mousse filling – it was super simple to make and delish thanks to a box of Jell-O Pumpkin Spice Pudding Mix – and frosted it with chocolate frosting. And to give it a Fall theme I topped it with white chocolate leaves in seasonal colors.

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Thanksgiving Wrap-Up

So I ate the last of my Thanksgiving leftovers yesterday and they were definitely good while they lasted. Ironically cooking a turkey on Thanksgiving has never intimidated me like cooking on an everyday basis used to. Go figure! I would like to say that I turned those turkey leftovers into something creative, but, that just never happened (although I did have a thought or two about it.)

Along with my turkey (which I must say came out really juicy and tasty thanks to brining and an herbed butter rub)…

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I also made a Sweet Potato Casserole (it was the first time I ever made one and it will definitely become a staple of mine), Williams-Sonoma’s Focaccia Stuffing and Brussels Sprouts with Caramelized Onions…

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And in my opinion Thanksgiving is just not complete without some Cranberry Sauce.

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For dessert I decided to make a Pumpkin Pecan Pie. I usually just make a plain old Pumpkin Pie but after seeing a recipe that included pecans I was intrigued to try it. In all honesty I didn’t particularly care for that recipe so originally I decided to add pecans to the usual recipe I follow for Pumpkin Pie, but, I decided this year to try out Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie recipe. They are known for their packed pumpkin in cans so I figured they should know a thing or two about turning that into a delicious pie.

To start I toasted about 1/2 cup of chopped pecans on a lightly greased baking sheet in a 350 degrees preheated oven for five minutes. After they cooled I scattered them on the bottom of a deep-dish pie shell. I took a major short-cut and opted to buy a frozen pie crust.

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Next, I made the pumpkin filling by beating 2 large eggs in a bowl and then adding in the pumpkin and a mixture of sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves. And then I gradually stirred in a can of evaporated milk.

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And finally I poured that into the pecan covered pie crust and baked it for fifteen minutes in a 425 degrees preheated oven and then dropped the temperature to 350 degrees and baked it for another forty-five minutes.

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I loved the texture the pecans added to the pie as well as the nutty flavor.

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And while many were out scoring Black Friday deals I opted to stay in and work on some Christmas crafts… Stay tuned!