Tag Archives: Food Network

Five Great Mexican-Inspired Dishes for a Summer Party

As the days get longer and the sunset stretches on well past dinner time, all things Mexican-inspired start to sound irresistible. Guacamole with fresh tomatillos, agua fresca, mushroom chile tacos topped with pickled onions and jalapeños — and who can turn down a fresh margarita or a crispy, indulgent tostada?

These five recipes can serve as the cornerstone of a late afternoon Sunday supper, or make them all and invite some friends to sit around a backyard fire. Salud!

Turkey Tostadas

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From Coupon Clipping Cook

If by chance you have a gift certificate for turkey or ham still lingering in your wallet, you’re in luck this summer — according to About.com’s Chelsie Kenyon, “turkey is actually indigenous to Mexico and was a part of the Aztec diet along with tomatoes, squash and sometimes iguana.”

Tostadas are among the most forgiving of Mexican dishes, stacked like nachos on a crispy tortilla with everything from refried beans to fresh cilantro. Try Rachael Ray’s recipe for tostadas topped with black beans, corn and shredded turkey, with cheese (cotija is excellent), sour cream, lime and chipotle sauce for extra kick. A little avocado wouldn’t go amiss here either.

Queso Fundido with Chorizo

Some recipes don’t need any translating. That’s the case with this rich, gooey cheese dip, spiked with serrano chile and studded with fresh Mexican chorizo sausage.

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Photo by Romulo Yanes for Bon Appetit

Bon Appetit’s recipe combines Monterey Jack and cheddar with beer (they say a lager, like Corona), minced onion, tomato and fresh oregano.

Served hot out of the oven or in a fondue pot with some good tortilla chips, it’s a can’t-miss party appetizer.

Ham and Cheese Torta

A torta is basically a Mexican sandwich, a crusty white roll piled high with meat (steak, chicken, pork, chorizo) and the classic trimmings you’d find on a taco or tostada, like queso fresco (a mild white cheese) and pickled onions.

It’s also a great vehicle for ham, as made clear in this simple recipe from Pati’s Mexican Table. Made with refried beans, avocado, queso fresco, fresh tomato and fresh onion as well, these ham tortas would make an excellent weekend lunch.

For more inspiration, see a slide show of 10 fantastic tortas on Huffington Post Taste. Fried egg, spinach, pork belly and roasted jalapeño? Si, ¡dámelo!

Pozole

20090610182812Pozole (or posole) is a Mexican stew made with tender, slow-cooked pork, hominy (corn without the hull, soaked in lye), fresh chiles and lots of toppings. You can slurp it with a spoon or pull out the meat and toppings and wrap them in fresh tortillas.

A classic version is Rick Bayless’ white pozole with all the trimmings, which calls for three kinds of pork (shank, trotters and bone-in shoulder) and is best made on  a weekend, when there’s plenty of time for a slow simmer.

Or try Marcela Valladolid’s recipe from “Mexican Made Easy” on the Food Network, a beef shank version that’s faster and simpler.

One Great Margarita

Margarita on the rocksThe perfect margarita doesn’t come from a mix, use bottled lime juice or require freezing and blending. No, the perfect margarita, as printed in Imbibe Magazine, is simple and fresh, the ideal thing to celebrate the coming of summer.

Make this correctly, and everything else on the table will taste even better. The salt on the rim is optional.

Makes 1.

  • 2 oz. silver tequila (or reposado if you like)
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. Cointreau (or other orange liqueur)
  • Ice cubes
  • Tools: shaker, strainer
  • Glass: double rocks
  • Garnish: lime wheel and salt (optional)

Combine ingredients with ice in a shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into an ice-filled glass and garnish.

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One Ham Bone, Three Great Soup Recipes

Just like I’ll fight (nicely, of course) the other cooks at the Thanksgiving table for possession of that flavorful turkey carcass — such a great way to make stock — I do the same at Easter for the ham bone.

These rainy April days are the perfect time to take that ham bone out of the freezer and put it to good use for some great tasting and heart warming comfort food.

Bean soups especially benefit from a long simmer with a ham bone, whether or not there’s much meat left on it. If there is, that’s just a bonus; slice it off at the end and add it to the soup.

Allow at least two hours for each of these soups, and know that they’re just as good reheated for lunch.

SPLIT PEA SOUP

One of my favorite spring soups is split pea, that hearty staple, even better when it’s studded with bits of ham. Ina Garten’s recipe for split pea soup, taken from the original Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, is a simple and delicious way to start.

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To use your ham bone in this recipe, submerge it in the soup during the last 40 minutes of cooking. Depending how much meat comes off  the bone, you may be able to reuse it if you refrigerate it between uses.

NEW ORLEANS RED BEANS AND RICE

Red Beans & Rice

John Besh’s beautiful, coffee table-worthy cookbook, “My New Orleans,” is 384 engaging pages of stories, recipes and Southern inspiration.

I first made this fragrant pot of red beans and rice on Super Bowl Sunday, with the justification that the game was being played in New Orleans, and so red beans and rice were perfectly appropriate.

This simple recipe starts with the trinity (green pepper, celery, onion) and gets flavor not only from smoked ham hocks, but also from bacon fat, cayenne pepper and, of course, Louisiana-made Tabasco sauce. The red beans freeze well, too.

HAM BONE SOUP

Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Everything is better with bacon, and that includes Melissa Clark’s simple ham bone soup, adapted from an old Junior League cookbook. According to Clark’s piece in The New York Times, “The soup was simple: boil a bone with beans and a bay leaf, and dinner was done.”

Add a green salad and some crusty bread and you have a wonderful meal to share and savor!

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

A Vegetarian Easter Holiday Dinner

Most people think of Easter dinner and imagine something heavy and carnivorous at the center of the table — a spiral-cut ham, a rack of lamb, a thick pork tenderloin.

But no one wants to leave vegetarian family and friends out of the loop, and even for the meat-eaters things can get pretty heavy. Change up your 2013 Easter menu with these simple, savvy veggie-centric options from some of the web’s best recipe sites.

Pear and Pecan Salad

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This simple starter salad from Betty Crocker could be made with any variety of nuts — pecans, walnuts or even pine nuts. Whisk together a quick dressing of Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, maple sugar, salt and pepper. Make sure your pears are nice and ripe, and everything else takes care of itself.

Spring Pizza

MV7957_0 Asparagus is like an announcement in vegetable form: it’s finally spring! Perk up the Easter table with this pretty, bright spring pizza, topped with asparagus, garlic, chives and a mozzarella/fontina cheese blend.

Reviewers on Eating Well note that you can substitute green onions for the chives and feta for one of the cheeses. If the asparagus stalks are a little thicker, be sure to peel the ends.

Risotto Primavera

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This risotto primavera from Bon Appetit is perfect for Easter dinner for so many reasons. It’s rich and warm, perfect if the late-March weather is still snowy. And it’s endlessly adaptable based on what you find at the grocery store, from edamame and spring peas from the freezer to carrots, spring onions and leeks. Top it with an over-easy egg if you’re feeling decadent.

Scalloped Potatoes with Creme Fraiche

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Scalloped potatoes always feel so wonderfully holiday-worthy. These are especially good, containing creme fraiche (similar to sour cream, but milder), half and half, fresh thyme, garlic and chives.

According to one cook on the Food Network website, “I made this wonderful recipe for Easter and it was a HUGE success!! The potatoes came out beautifully creamy and the flavor was just amazing.”

Venetian Carrot Cake

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For dessert, conclude with one of the Easter Bunny’s favorites — carrots, cleverly disguised and sweetened up in this beautiful Venetian carrot cake by Food Network chef Nigella Lawson. Amped up with pine nuts, golden sultana raisins, vanilla, almond flour, nutmeg, lemon and (of course!) rum, this lovely cake will please everyone at the table, vegetarians and carnivores alike.

We wish you the best for a wonderful holiday with family and friends. We hope these recipes help you to make it a delicious event too. Bon Appetit!

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime. gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin. Contact: Rick Kiley, Chief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog – “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

Five Great Ham Recipes for Breakfast

Or, what to do with all your wonderful leftover holiday ham!

I know I’m not the only one with a Tupperware taking up half of my fridge’s bottom shelf, stuffed with leftover glazed ham. Use those leftovers as inspiration and get a little protein into your morning with these five breakfasts. (Some of them are make-ahead, but all are simple.)

1. Ham and Fontina Frittata

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Easier than an omelet but with all the same ingredients, a frittata is as simple as whisk, pour, bake. Rachael Ray keeps it simple in this recipe, which has just a few ingredients: eggs, milk, ham, cheese, and a little butter and oil for cooking.

It’s simple to add veg, too — try New York Times’ Mark Bittman’smore vegetable less egg” frittata, which can be adapted to whatever’s in your fridge/pantry: onion, broccoli, asparagus, snap peas, tomatoes, mushrooms and more.

2. Ham and Asparagus Quiche

ham-asparagus-quiche_300

Photo credit: Charles Masters

Quiche is such a grand breakfast food, probably more suited to brunch than a quick run-out-the-door weekday. Started on a premade pie crust, this ham and asparagus quiche from Real Simple uses Gruyère (and four large eggs) to bring all the flavors together.

Quiche is infinitely adaptable, too, though as with the frittata, parboil or sauté the vegetables that won’t cook through in the oven. The recommendation to serve each wedge of quiche with a green salad dressed with bright vinaigrette is a smart one — the tartness of the dressing cuts through the relative heaviness of the quiche.

3. Ham and Cheese Breakfast Strata

MK5155Strata is like a ham and cheese sandwich saw a tray of lasagna and decided that a casserole pan held its destiny. The sandwich ingredients (bread, ham, cheese, mustard) get bound together with eggs and a few flourishes, like rosemary and roasted red peppers.

This version, from Eating Well, gives a nod to January as get-back-on-the-treadmill month by using skim milk and fewer egg whites for “plenty of flavor, half the calories and one-third the fat of the original.”

4. Honey-glazed Ham on Sweet Potato Biscuits with Blackberry Balsamic Drizzle

ZB0206H_honey-glazed-ham-on-sweet-potato-biscuits-with-blackberry-balsamic-drizzle_s4x3_lgMost breakfast dishes that incorporate ham into the mix use eggs as the glue. But this morning dish, from Food Network “sandwich king” Jeff Mauro, skips them in favor of buttermilk sweet potato biscuits, crunchy arugula and a sweet-spicy drizzle made with fruit preserves, serrano chile, basil and balsamic vinegar.

5. Ham, Artichoke and Potato Gratin

Making a gratin is a little like making lasagna (and both take a long time to cook, so make this one the night before). But the end result, with its lovely layers of thinly sliced potato, ham, artichokes and Comté cheese, is well worth the effort. Bruce Aidells created this recipe, using leftover or good-quality deli ham.

We wish you the best for a healthy, happy and inspired New Year!

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

Ham Appetizers for Holiday Entertaining

A holiday ham doesn’t have only one part to play in your end-of-the-year celebrations. Check out these great appetizer ideas for passing around at family gatherings — all finger food and easy to execute.

Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry

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From Ina Garten, The Food Network.

This is one of my favorite holiday appetizers. It starts with premade puff pastry and comes out of the oven bubbling and delicious. (I especially like it because it doesn’t involve filling little individual quiche cups or wrapping dozens of shrimp in bacon. Who has time?)

You can vary the cheese — cheddar is great for a more kid-friendly version, as is part-skim mozzarella — and any hard cheese could substitute for Gruyere.

Smoked Ham Roll-ups

Smoked_Ham_Roll_Ups

From Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats.

This is another take on the “make something big and cut it into small bites” school of appetizer cooking. You could skip the horseradish, add some chopped sundried tomatoes to the cream cheese or augment with green onions for color and a little onion flavor.

Deviled Ham Sandwiches

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From Lisa Lavery on CHOW.com.

Deviled ham comes together quickly in a food processor, blended with pickle relish, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise and spices. Recipe author Lisa Lavery says to served the ham “with fancy crackers, or enjoy it on bread for a departure from the everyday ham sandwich.”

Bonus: This can be made three days ahead, to give you more time for other things on the day of the party.

Mini Buttermilk Biscuits with Ham, Arugula and Fig Preserves

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From Louisa’s Catering on GroupRecipes.com.

Feel free to cheat on the buttermilk biscuit part of these tasty little sandwiches, a riff on the classic fig/ham combination commonly found in tapas form (usually with a cured ham, like Parma or prosciutto). Fresh arugula lends crunch and a touch of spice, while the fig preserves go beautifully with the saltiness of the ham.

Mini Frittatas with Ham and Cheese

From Cooking Light.

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Credit Randy Mayor; Lydia DeGaris-Pursell

These bite size frittatas will require the purchase of a mini-muffin pan if you don’t already have one. But they’re savory, surprisingly light (even with regular instead of reduced-fat ham) and so simple to make, that could be a worthy investment.

Made with onions, chives,  cheddar and egg, these taste great hot and at room temperature, so they’re a cinch to make ahead.

Have fun entertaining!  Merry Christmas one and all!

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

How to Cook, Glaze and Carve a Holiday Ham

Few centerpieces are more anticipated than a perfectly pink holiday ham, glazed with a spiky coarse mustard and sweet fruit preserves, and sliced into lovely petals.

But if you’re cooking a ham for the first time, getting from the package in the grocery store to that beautiful Christmas Day dinner-table picture can seem like a daunting journey. So, for the newbie, this is our ham primer.

Nueske's spiral sliced bone-in ham

Nueske’s spiral sliced bone-in ham

Start with a cured or smoked (precooked) ham. (You can definitely make a fresh one, but today let’s leave that to the more experienced cooks.)

The most popular kind of ham is a city ham. Much like a brined Butterball turkey, city hams are wet-cured, injected with a mixture of salt, seasonings and curing agents. An article on Real Simple claims that “bone-in city hams tend to be moister and more flavorful than the boneless variety,” though both come ready to eat.

Benton's Smoky Mountain Country Ham

Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Ham

Country ham is favored in the south. These hams are dry-cured with a salt/seasoning rub, then smoked and aged. Real Simple explains, “salty and chewy, the intensely flavored meat is usually served with biscuits or incorporated into casseroles and salads. It’s sold both uncooked and cooked, and mostly bone-in.”

Bon Appétit recommends getting a ham with “some kind of bone in it. It will give you a sense of where to take the ham’s temperature to determine doneness (see below), plus, that leftover bone will bring a soup or pot of beans to the next level.”

According to a Rachael Ray how-to, “spiral hams cook faster because the heat penetrates better.” Either way, if you have a whole ham, be prepared to dedicate your oven to it for a good chunk of time.

Alton Brown, the lovable science-geek chef on the Food Network, recommends warming a precooked ham for three to four hours at a low temperature (250°F) under foil, then increasing the heat, adding a brown sugar/bourbon glaze and then upping the heat (350°F) for a final hour.

A classic holiday ham recipe on Chow.com estimates five hours of cooking and prep time, using a temperature of 325°F. The Neelys’ recipe is a little faster, about three hours for a 14-pound ham at 350°F. Choose a recipe that fits your time frame; remember that the ham will smell wonderful while it cooks!

how-to-carve-ham-1

Photo by Zach DeSart

Choose a glaze for your ham, usually a combination of something savory or spicy, like mustard, cloves, garlic or ginger, and something sweet, like orange juice, pineapple, fresh or dried figs or even Coca-Cola. The glaze usually goes on in the last 60 to 30 minutes of cooking.  Check out our recent post, 5 Ways to Glaze a Holiday Ham, for more recipe ideas.

Finally, carve your ham. If you have a spiral sliced ham, that’s already been done for you. If you don’t, look to a step-by-step guide like the one Jeffrey Elliot put together at Huffington Post, or this one from Hunter Lewis at Saveur.

For a video, watch Ron Stapleton from Stapleton’s Quality Meats demonstrate how to carve a holiday ham. And avoid some common mistakes, like drying out the ham or burning the glaze, by reading this tip sheet from Bon Appétit.

We hope these tips and resources for cooking a Holiday Ham help you enjoy cooking yours.  Happy Holidays!

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

What to Serve at Your Holiday Party: Turkey or Ham?

A perfectly browned turkey or a glazed holiday ham, sliced into layers like the petals of a flower. Either makes for a crowd-pleasing main course, ample enough to feed a crowd, with leftovers to spare.

But when you’re hosting a holiday gathering (that isn’t Thanksgiving — turkey has the clear edge there), which do you choose for your centerpiece? What makes better appetizers for a cocktail party?

If your gathering is less than two weeks after Thanksgiving, everyone might be happier with ham. A spiral-sliced, smoked bone-in or boneless ham comes already cooked, so all you have to do is warm it up, glaze it and serve.

Hosting a cocktail party? For appetizers, ham is a little more decadent than turkey.

For example, I served ham and cheese puff pastry squares (recipe by Ina Garten on the Food Network) for my New Year’s Eve party in 2010. They were finger food, easy to make and fantastic with sparkling wine.

Ham and rice croquettes are a tiny bit more fussy because they require frying, but reviewers of this Gourmet recipe raved about them. “Superb! One of the easiest apps to please a wine-swilling crowd,” wrote one; another said, “My guests really loved them.”

For a Spanish flare, try Spanish-style garlic shrimp with ham and bell peppers, which is a “great tapas or appetizer with crusty bread.”

If you have picky eaters or anyone who keeps kosher on the guest list, go with turkey. Turkey offers white meat for the dieters and dark for everyone else, and most flexitarians make an exception for fowl.

If you choose, you can even roast a smaller bird (though the leftovers are so good, that’s a hard argument to make).

Credit Elinor Carucci for Bon Appétit

For appetizer portions, Jennie-O is a font of great entertaining ideas based around turkey, like pesto turkey pinwheels and smoked Gouda and turkey dip.

These turkey pockets are made super easy by the addition of premade dough.

For something different in the weeks following Thanksgiving, try something more exotic on your turkey. Asian flavors are awesome with the neutral flavors of turkey breast meat — check out the cinnamon-orange scented turkey from Rick Rodgers at Bon Appétit (the “dry brine” salt includes star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, clove, coriander and fennel).

Joanne Chang’s recipe for a turkey glazed with soy, sesame, honey and ginger, found in Food & Wine, will banish memories of Thanksgiving from your holiday gathering. Also intriguing is a recipe for a teriyaki glaze on the turkey and shallot gravy to finish.

Credit Con Poulos for Food & Wine

Whatever you do, be sure to save some leftovers for yourself! Enjoy.

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

How to Carve a Thanksgiving Turkey: Good Tools and Confidence

Carving a turkey for the first time can be a truly imposing task. In the same way that little Cornish hens or poussins are like miniature versions of familiar roast chicken, a turkey looks like that chicken on steroids. All other considerations aside, most turkey is huge.

But the encouraging fact is, even though your Thanksgiving turkey is significantly bigger than a chicken, the process of taking it apart is largely the same.

Tools

To carve a turkey, you need a few basic tools:

  • A large cutting board, preferably one with drainage grooves or a “well” around the outside to catch drippings
  • A sharp knife — some like a long carving knife, others prefer a chef’s knife
  • A carving fork
  • A warm patter, to put the carved meat on
  • A warm pot of turkey stock nearby, to moisten the meat before it goes out (optional)

From Flickr.com

Tips

First, don’t carve your bird at the table. It’s messy. Present the bird to the dining room table if you must (although before dinner, doesn’t everyone hang around in the kitchen anyway?) and then return to the kitchen to carve.

Second, let the bird rest for around 30 minutes before carving. (Longer is usually fine; just stick the platter in a warm oven when you’re done carving.) Resting time is important because it allows all those good juices to re-infuse the meat. Carve too soon and you’ll have a dry bird (and also a very hot one, which makes it harder to carve).

Step-by-Step

These are just the basics, based on how we carve. Refer to the pros (see video below) for other methods, all of which work. For a photo step-by-step, check out this post on The Huffington Post.

1. Remove the drumsticks. My husband sometimes removes the thigh and leg pieces together, separating them after they’re off the bird. Holding the drumstick vertically, cut the meat off in bite-size pieces.

2. Remove the wings.

3. Separate the breast halves. Cut the breast meat horizontally, creating slices at whatever thickness you like.

4. With the large pieces you have, cut as much good meat off as you can. If you like, save the bones for stock and the drippings for gravy.

From The Huffington Post slide show.

Watch and Learn

Alton Brown at the Food Network presents How to Carve a Turkey

How to Carve a Turkey at Martha Stewart Living‘s “Everything Thanksgiving”

Cook’s Illustrated video: Carving a turkey

The Butcher Carves a Turkey” by Craig Duff, The New York Times

With the right tools and your new knowledge, carving your Thanksgiving turkey should be both straightforward and easy to manage.  All the best for a very happy Thanksgiving!
The gThankYou! Team

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

Looking for Thanksgiving Recipes? Start Here

The holidays can be a thoroughly overwhelming time — even when they technically haven’t started.

Getting a sense of your Thanksgiving Day feast menu in advance can ease the stress of the day, and ensure you’re not quick-thawing a 20-lb. turkey the day you plan to serve it.

A home cook might compile recipes in a Word document (as I have done for years, with a fair amount of success). Even simpler, some of the sites below will make up a menu for you.

One Epicurious app for Android allows you to choose the recipes you want to make, and then puts the ingredients from each one into a shopping list. So easy.

1. Epicurious is a great place to start for Thanksgiving recipes. I like the handy timeline; a list of budget-conscious, American wine recommendations; suggested tools; and tons of recipes from Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Sunset Living and more.

I love the suggestions from fellow cooks — you can click on helpful reviews and have them print along with the recipe, a great tool — and I love this Thanksgiving menu planner.

It asks six simple questions — like: How many people are you serving? Do you want something traditional, modern, exotic? Do you want the dishes to be healthy? — and then spits out a menu (I got “Ted Allen’s Modern Thanksgiving“) you can reject or accept.

gThankYou! Ginger Pumpkin Pie by Cooking Light

Cooking Light’s Ginger Pumpkin Pie
Photo by Charles Masters

2. If this is your first Thanksgiving at the stove, check out Cooking Light’s Thanksgiving for the Novice. Their suggested lineup is basic: creamy salsa dip, sausage and mushroom stuffing, honey-roasted sweet potatoes, classic pumpkin pie. But there are also dozens of fun, approachable and often health-conscious feast day recipes to be found here, including ideas for cocktails, “perfect” pies and what to do with leftovers.

3. A new site for me, and the one I’m using to plan my own meal this year, is Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs’ Food52. There are ideas for how to dress up your Thanksgiving table, an approachable how-to for the Russ Parsons dry-brined “Judy bird,” and contests among home cooks to find the best recipes for Thanksgiving staples like mashed potatoes.

Recipes that are currently catching my eye: cider-glazed sweet potatoes with bacon, pecans and blue cheese (below); beer-and-bacon glazed collard greens; crispy delicata squash rings with currant, fennel and apple relish.

If you like a recipe, you can click the button with the little turkey on it that says “Add to My Menu” and it pops the recipe into a Thanksgiving file. I love this.

Photo from SuperStarter on Food52.

4. A few other sites to try include Martha Stewart Living’s Everything Thanksgiving (it does literally look like EVERYTHING, from appetizers and side dishes to fall centerpieces and projects for the kids).

Thanksgiving Turkey Cake at Chow.com

I like the practical thrust and the nice visuals at the Food Network, which is a great place to find themed recipes for a Paula Deen-style Southern menu or a failsafe batch of ideas from science guru Alton Brown. If you want how-to videos, this is also the best place to start.

Finally, if you like moral support in your cooking adventures, start with the Thanksgiving recipes at Chow, the site connected to the active Chowhound forums. Search the Home Cooking board before you ask your question; chances are, it has been asked (and answered, in detail) before.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving Recipe sources?  Happy Cooking!

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.

Five Ways to Add Flavor to Your Thankgiving Turkey

Turkey by itself — especially the breast meat — doesn’t have a ton of flavor and can run a little dry. For the best-tasting, juiciest turkey, most birds need a little help.

Here are five ways to add richness, spice and excitement to your Thanksgiving turkey.

Photo via Indulgy.com

1. Brine it. The white meat of turkey is not naturally  juicy. To add both moisture and flavor, soak the bird in brine the night before you plan to cook it. It works wonders.

There is a fair amount of internet buzz for Alton Brown’s five-star-rated Good Eats Roast Turkey, which as of this posting has 4,007 reviews on Food Network. To make his brine, you basically make a tea using kosher salt, brown sugar, vegetable stock, peppercorns, allspice and candied ginger. Cool it down and then soak the bird in the mixture for 8 to 16 hours.

The results? See the reviews: “A HUGE hit,” “soooooo easy,” “awesome turkey flavor, mild, subtle, and what Thanksgiving is all about!”

2. Inject it. You can buy pre-injected turkey, though some are wary of these — a whole frozen turkey from Butterball, for example, includes “modified food starch, sodium phosphates (and) natural flavorings.”

Williams-Sonoma Flavor Injector

You’ll know exactly what’s in the injection if you do it yourself. Granted, this requires some tools, but those who tried Brian Page‘s butter-injected turkey with thyme gave it “four forks” out of four on Epicurious.com.

“By putting the butter inside of the turkey it makes the turkey moist inside,” wrote one reviewer. “When the butter comes out into your water it makes it good for basting, because it helps brown the skin on the outside. I also use poultry seasoning, putting some on the inside and out.

3. Rub spices on the skin. Add flavor fast with a simple spice rub, which can range from basic to bold. One Cooking Light recipe packs tons of flavor, with cumin, coriander, oregano, sage, thyme, dry mustard and a little brown sugar.

Saveur has a recipe for a beautiful chile-rubbed Mexican turkey, involving toasted pasilla chiles, 30 cloves of garlic, orange juice, olive oil and honey.

Chile-rubbed roasted turkey. Photo by Landon Nordeman for Saveur.

4. Spread herb butter under the skin. No time to brine? This is a great last-minute technique that you can easily adapt for roast chicken, too.

Both Ina Garten and Martha Stewart offer step-by-step instructions for making a compound butter (with chopped herbs and lemon zest), then (in Martha’s case) loosening the skin of the bird and slathering the slightly softened butter underneath. Ina gets brown skin by brushing the melted butter mixture on top.

5. Stuff it. Take a lemon or an orange, a quartered Spanish onion or a full head of garlic, a bunch of rosemary or a few sprigs of thyme, and shove them into the cavity of the bird. (Apples are delicious, too.) This perfumes the meat lightly. Garlic left in its papery skin emerges melting and sweet, amazing spread on crusty bread.

Happy Cooking! Let us know what you do to make your Thanksgiving Turkey it’s flavorful best.

About gThankYou, LLC

Turkey Gift Certificates and Turkey Or Ham Gift Certificates by gThankYou! are two of America’s favorite employee gifts and can be redeemed for any Brand (Turkey or Turkey Or Ham), at virtually any Grocery Store in the U.S.

gThankYou, LLC provides company leaders with a variety of easy, meaningful and affordable ways to recognize and reward employees, holiday time or anytime.  gThankYou! Certificates of Gratitude and our free Enclosure Cards are personalizable including incorporating your company logo. And, nearly all orders ship same day.

gThankYou, LLC (www.gthankyou.com) is based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Contact:  Rick KileyChief ThankYou! Officer, gThankYou, LLC at info@gthankyou.com or 888-484-1658.
Follow the Company Blog –  “Celebrating Work”.
Join the Conversation @gThankYou 
Watch our gThankYou! YouTube Video – “Learn More About Us”.

“G” logo and “Certificates of Gratitude” are trademarks and “gThankYou” is a registered trademark of gThankYou, LLC.