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Menu Plan for Fall I: Week 12, Thursday

Thanksgiving Day Dinner for Two or 4..or 6..
Butternut Squash Soup
Roast Turkey with Madeira
Sage, (Giblet) and Celery Stuffing
Fresh Spinach Gratin
Cranberry Cheesecake Pie

Cooking time:  4 - 5 hours for menu          Cooking schedule: see below for instructions

       This menu is for a small group, 2 - 4 but there will be leftover turkey, stuffing and pie.  If you increase the soup, stuffing and add potatoes, it could easily serve 6 - 8;   Everything expands easily...   
You could serve the soup in coffee mugs for your guests (or you) to sip while standing around chatting rather than a proper sit-down first course if you are feeling cramped for either space or time!
I've given an additional favorite recipe Maple Sweet Potatoes I should be made ahead as should the Cranberry Cheesecake Pie and the
Ginger Cranberry Sauce.

Simple Butternut Squash Soup

Total time: 30 minutes
    Butternut squash makes a lovely, creamy soup with no cream and very little fat.  A dollop of crème fraiche or sour cream to finish and you have the perfect autumn soup.

Simple Butternut Squash Soup Ingredients:

 Instructions:

Note:  To clean butternut squash first peel it, using a potato/vegetable peeler.  If it's large (typically) cut it in half between the 'neck' and 'bowl' ends.  Then cut those in half the 'long' way.  Scoop the seeds out of the round end and discard.  I use the neck end for uniform pieces and the bowl end for soups and smaller pieces. Wrap what you're not using in plastic wrap and refrigerate. 

Roast Turkey with Sage Stuffing

Total time: 4 hours
    A stuffed 8 - 10 pound turkey will take 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 hours to took.  You need a meat thermometer so you don't over cook it.  It is overcooking that causes dryness.  BTW, I checked some of my many cookbooks for roasting times and they ranged from 2 1/2 hours to 4 hours for an 8 lb bird... that's a big range - get a thermometer. 

Roast Turkey with Sage Stuffing Ingredients:

 Instructions:

Sage, Prosciutto, (Giblet) and Celery Stuffing

          Lay the bread out the night before to let it dry.  It, doesn't have to be perfectly, evenly dried.  If you are using the giblets add 4 more slices of bread.

stuffing Ingredients:

 Instructions:

The finish: 

Fresh Spinach Gratin with Ricotta

Total time: 45 minutes
   This is a bit decadent for such a healthy vegetable as spinach, but it will please even those who don't normally like spinach. 

Fresh Spinach Gratin with Ricotta Ingredients:

 Instructions:

Cranberry Cheesecake Pie 

Total time: 15 minutes plus 2 hours chilling
    We've had enough pumpkin and need some cranberries to round out our dinner.  This is a no-bake pie and goes together quickly.  And it's yummy!  Or you could buy one...  then you wouldn't have leftovers.... Based on a recipe from 'My Great Recipes'

 Ingredients:

 Instructions:

Cooking schedule: Time: 3 - 4 hours
Cranberry Pie: 15 minutes at least 2 hours earlier
Maple Glazed Sweet Potatoes - 20 minutes earlier
recipe below, bake at the same time as the stuffing
Additional Utensils:
baking dish
The Dinner:
Evening before: 
Lay out bread to dry
Earlier in the day or the day/night before:
Utensils: measuring cups, spoons, knives, small, medium and large saucepans with lids, blender, whisk or mixer, roasting pan for turkey, small, medium and large bowls, baking dish for spinach, baking dish for stuffing, foil
Take cream cheese out of fridge to warm.
Put stock, onion, celery tops, carrot and neck in pan
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer, skim
Set table, arrange centerpiece
Tear bread
Add gizzard and heart to stock, skim
Whip cream
Mix cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, fold in cream
Mix cranberry, marmalade, nuts
Assemble pie, refrigerate
Add liver to stock, skim
Tidy kitchen, do whatever
Drain stock and cool
Dinner time:
Chop onion and celery, trim and chop mushrooms
Sauté onion and celery (and mushrooms)
Chop Prosciutto and add to onion/celery
Chop giblets and neck meat if using
Make stuffing
Mix herbs, butter and mustard
Prepare turkey, spread butter under skin

Stuff turkey, truss and start to roast
Put unused stuffing in fridge
Reduce heat on turkey
Prepare spinach
Roughly chop spinach and set aside
Mix coffee with turkey/chicken stock
Relax for an hour or 2 - just remember to baste
45 minutes before dinner: Turkey temp should be about 20 degrees from desired finish
Start to bake stuffing
Clean and slice leek, sauté
Add squash, stock, sage, nutmeg to leeks
Cover soup and simmer
Make spinach gratin, set aside
Baste the turkey some more
Heat the reserved stock for the gravy
Dissolve cornstarch in cold stock or water
Remove turkey (when done), tent
Turn oven to 375F (190C)
Bake spinach
Purée soup, finish and serve
Relax and enjoy
Done? Uncover stuffing
Put turkey on carving board
Drain pan juices, skim fat, scrape brown bits
Add leftover stock, Madeira
Heat pan juices for gravy
Un-truss turkey and remove stuffing
Hand the knife to someone else to carve
Remove stuffing from oven and mix
Finish gravy
Remove spinach
Serve and enjoy
Happy Thanksgiving!
Don't forget the pie...

Ginger Cranberry Sauce

Total time: 30 minutes

Ginger Cranberry Sauce Ingredients:

 Instructions:

This will get very thick when cool and will keep for several weeks in the fridge.

Maple Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Total time: 60 minutes
     These are not overly sweet - no mini-marshmallows.  The taste of the sweet potatoes shines through and is enhanced, rather than overpowered, by the maple.

Maple Glazed Sweet Potatoes Ingredients:

 Instructions: