Thanksgiving Feast Ideas

In honor of the holiday, the Knight Rider would like to shre a few of our own favorite tips, tricks and recipes.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Turkey Roasting for Beginners

By Pam Linkous

If you have a good thermometer, you can roast your turkey straight from the freezer.  There, I have said it and past experiences back me up on this claim.  Sometimes defrosting a turkey is just not convenient and often is downright dangerous.  I never defrost my bird and no one has died (other than the turkey) yet.  That said, there are some important things to get straight first.  Number one, this only works with a TURKEY BREAST!  A whole bird has some pretty nasty parts in a bag stuck inside the “cavity” and it is impossible to extract this giblets kit when it is solidly frozen inside the bird.  Past experience also backs me up when I tell you it is extremely embarrassing to hand the beautifully roasted turkey over to Uncle Joe to carve and he digs out a hot, dripping paper bag and announces to the table that the “cook seems to have forgotten something.”

Another important step is buy a box of cooking bags from the grocery store.  These are specially treated plastic bags that can go in the oven and not only do they make cleaning up a breeze, they are critical to cooking a frozen turkey.  Get the large size which is adequate for a turkey breast.  If you need the extra large, you must have a whole bird and this will not work from a frozen state (at least not as well).  Do not skip this step because if you don’t cook the frozen bird in the cooking bag, it will take twice as long to get to safe temperature and when it does, you may as well just throw it directly to the dog to gnaw on until Christmas.

On Thanksgiving morning (or about three or four hours before you want to eat), line a baking pan with foil.  I usually buy an aluminum pan from the dollar store so I can just get rid of the whole greasy mess but a foil lined 11×13 pan will work just as well.  Get out your cooking bag and gently shake it open and lay it in the pan.  I slice some onions to put in the bottom of the bag but that is a personal preference. Get the turkey out of the freezer and cut the wrapper off, making sure you peel all the bits off.  Stubborn pieces will slide off if you run the bird under gently running warm water.  When it is clean, lay the turkey breast side down in the bag and pull up the bag so it is settled in the bottom.  This is contrary to what all the recipes ever written tell you to do but it makes for the moistest turkey breast you have ever eaten.  At this point you can rub butter over the skin if you want but I have never noticed it makes a difference when using the cooking bag.  Pull up the open end of the bag and cinch it down tight with the little tie that is provided with the cooking bag.  Don’t use a twist tie because they are made of things that do not behave nicely in a hot oven for several hours.  Trim the edges above the tie if the bag may touch the element in the top of the oven and then make two or three SMALL slits in the top of the bag to vent the steam.  A turkey breast will produce a lot of moisture as it cooks and the cooking bag will blow up like a toasty brown balloon and you will spend “Black Friday” cleaning your oven if you don’t provide some escape holes.

Pop that whole thing in the oven, turn it on to 400 degrees and go watch the parade on television.  In about an hour, turn back the oven to 350 degrees and check to see if there is browning and bubbling going on in there.  At two hours, that important thermometer comes in to play.  Carefully pull the pan with the turkey in it out of the oven and stick the thermometer in one of the ventilation slits you made in the bag.  If the temperature races up to over 165 degrees, start checking other places in the breast to see if it stays at or over 165. Pay particular attention to the deep areas near but not touching the bone.  If nothing reads below 165 degrees, you are ready to move on to mashing the potatoes.  More likely, there will be cooler spots so the bird goes back into the oven for another half hour.  Wash the thermometer and repeat the process until nowhere on the turkey reads less than 165 degrees.  When it is at the safe temperature all the way through, cover the whole thing with a tin foil blanket and set it on the back of the stove until everything else is ready.  If it is going to be hours before the carving begins, let it cool for an hour and stow it in the refrigerator .  About a half hour before time to eat, put the whole thing back into a 350 degree oven and let it warm back up.  Carve and enjoy, but be sure to get the leftovers into the fridge within two hours.  You don’t want to spend Black Friday in the bathroom either!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

By Angelica Lee

I really do not like pumpkins or anything that has pumpkin in it so I was surprised that I actually like this, whether or not you like pumpkins, everyone will enjoy this.

4 eggs
2 1/2 c. sugar
1 cup oil
1/3 c. water
2 c. canned pumpkin
1 c. chocolate chips
3 1/2 c. flour
2 tbsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Beat eggs and sugar together. Add oil, water and pumpkin to egg mixture and mix flour, soda, salt and cinnamon together and add to pumpkin mixture. Stir in as many chocolate chips as you like (6 to 12 ounces). Pour in 2 or 3 greased bread pans and bake at 300°F for 1 1/2 hours or until cake tests done (toothpick inserted in center comes out clean).
Cranberry Apple Cobbler
By Sarah Polan
4 cups cranberries
6 granny smith apples, peeled and sliced thin
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon apple pie spice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 (11 ounce) cans biscuits, flaky kind that has layers
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
6-8 tablespoons butter
cooking spray or Crisco

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9″X13″ baking dish with cooking spray or grease lightly with Crisco.
2. In a small bowl combine cornstarch, brown sugar, cinnamon, and apple pie spice.
3. Using 1/2 a can of biscuits, pull apart the layers and haphazardly distribute a single layer across the bottom of the baking dish.
4. In a large bowl, combine cranberries, apples, vanilla, and the brown sugar mixture. Mix evenly and pour half the mixture onto the biscuits in the baking dish.
5. Create another thin layer of biscuits on top of the cranberries/apples with the other 1/2 can of biscuits. Then pour the remainder of cranberries and apples into the dish.
6. Create a top crust by laying on the remaining can of biscuits that have been separated into layers.
7. Sprinkle with sugar, dot generously with butter bits, and bake for 20 to 30 minutes on middle rack until top is golden. Check the center, going all the way to the bottom for doughy spots. If the center is not done, cover the top with a loose sheet of aluminum foil and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes on 350°.

About Sarah Polan

Sarah Polan entered New River Community College in the summer of 2008 at age 16 after being homeschooled her entire life. She had already been a member of the Roanoke Times "Edge" staff for two years at that point. Sarah came to New River with the dream of rebuilding the long forgotten school newspaper and with the help and encouragement of Janet Hanks and the IT staff, the online Knight Rider was born. Sarah has served as editor and contributing writer for three semesters and continues to coordinate and produce the e-paper biweekly. She also edits an on-line national publication for the Boy Scouts of America Southern Region Venturing division and will be contributing an article to the nationally published Scouting magazine blog. She has also provided a student blog post to the student organization VA21. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys traveling in search of her dream college which she will transfer to next year.
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