Thanksgiving is one of those holidays when you wish you had three or four ovens. It seems that everything needs roasting or baking! And everything has to be hot at the same time.
Thank goodness for the invention of slow cookers, barbecue grills and air fryers! Oh, and freezers. Yes, freezers are great for prepping some dishes ahead of time, freezing, and then heating them at (almost) the last minute.
I say “almost” because you need time for thawing before you reheat. Otherwise, you may end up with a browned exterior and an icy interior.
Air fryers are the world’s best invention. In fact, my energy bill has gone down since I bought one. No need to heat an entire oven when a countertop appliance will do.
For Brussels sprouts or broccoli, toss the vegetables with olive oil and a dash of flavor—no-salt seasoning, everything but the bagel, garlic or onion granules, salt, etc. Roast until slightly charred and tender. Chill and reheat in the microwave when dinner is ready.
Mashed potatoes, yams, and even roasted creamer potatoes can be made ahead and chilled. I like to add cream cheese and/or crumbled crisp bacon to my mash. Yes, it’s caloric. But it’s only one day.
When I mash my yams, I like to add orange juice and zest. Or brown sugar, butter, and a good splash of rum. Marshmallows? Not for me, thanks. And I’ve never liked that canned green bean casserole with a glob of mushroom soup. Fresh green beans are better. Toast some whole raw almonds in the air fryer, chop, and sprinkle on the beans.
I like homemade cranberry sauce. Cook whole berries in just enough water to barely cover them. (Or a mix of water and orange juice.) Add a cup of sugar, some orange zest, a few dashes of cinnamon and cloves, and cook until the berries pop. Mash with a potato masher, add chopped toasted walnuts, and chill.
If you’re using canned jellied cranberries, cut off a slice or two, chop it up, and mix with softened cream cheese until smooth. Use it with crackers on your appetizer tray.
Don’t baste the turkey. It runs off into the pan, anyway, and it slows down the browning. Just tent the bird with some foil. Remove it during the last 20-30 minutes to crisp up the skin.
Or do my favorite thing. Cover the turkey with strips of bacon. Remove it in the last half-hour to brown the skin. The bacon drippings mixed with the turkey juices make fabulous gravy! Crumble the bacon into the potatoes or over the green beans.
Don’t fill the turkey with stuffing. It slows the cooking, and it can breed salmonella. Instead, roast the dressing in a pan. Got leftover dressing? Measure out 2-3 cups, add an egg, and stir to combine. Form into balls about the size of a walnut. Air fry about 10 minutes or until brown and crispy. Serve as a side. Hint: You can do this with dressing mix, too.
African baskets, anyone?
If you like pretty baskets—a great way to corral fruits and vegetables on your countertop—I’ve got a tip for you. Local drumming instructor Ibou Ngom, a native of Senegal, is selling gorgeous woven baskets and totes from Africa.
They’re colorful, tightly woven, washable, and incredibly practical. I use them for harvesting my vegetables, shopping, and more. Ibou has a Facebook page where you can see them. Just search for his name. Or give him a call at 831-295-3125. Prices range from $20-40.
Feed hungry people
My fellow journalist and longtime “little sister” Karen Kefauver liked the idea of supporting organizations that feed people. I provided suggestions in my last column, but she said I should be more specific.
Giving a complete list here would be impossible, but the County of Santa Cruz has a list on its website at https://tinyurl.com/awma5mf8. Several places of worship also provide food and/or shelter services. For a list, go to the Association of Faith Communities, www.afcsantacruz.org.
TIP OF THE WEEK
You still don’t have a food cover in your microwave? No wonder you’re always cleaning it! Buy one and cover your plates. You won’t have splatters anymore.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Ordinary turkey sandwiches are great. Using waffles instead of bread takes it to another level. You can adapt with your own preferred fillings.
WAFFLED CRANBERRY CREAM CHEESE TURKEY SANDWICHES
Makes 12 sandwiches
For the waffles:
1 1/2 cups flour (white or whole wheat)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups lukewarm buttermilk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the sandwiches:
Leftover sliced turkey
Leftover cranberry sauce
Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)
For the waffles:
1. Heat a waffle iron to high heat. Meanwhile, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl, preferably with a spout.
2. Melt the butter in the microwave in a large glass bowl. Add the buttermilk to the hot melted butter mixture. Whisk together. Whisk in the egg and vanilla.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. The batter will be a little lumpy.
4. Pour or ladle the batter into the waffle iron until it just reaches the outside edges. Try not to overfill, or the batter will run over. Cook until the steam has slowed or stopped.
5. Remove waffles when they’re browned and crispy on the outside. Place in a single layer on a wire rack to cool while you continue making waffles. There should be enough batter for six waffles, which will make 12 sandwiches.
For the sandwiches:
1. Preheat the oven to 300F.
2. Break the waffles into fourths. Spread cream cheese over one side of each waffle, then spread cranberry sauce on top of that. Place slices of turkey on six of the waffle quarters, followed by the arugula. Top each with another quarter of a waffle, then place each sandwich on a baking sheet.
3. Place the sandwiches in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes or until warmed through. Sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar, if desired, then serve.