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My Travels/ Thanksgiving

Mann’s Apple Orchards

Mann's Apple Orchards

There’s a great place I go to for apples and other produce, pies and pastries and, oh ya, my favorite Caramel corn ever from… Hutchinson’s Candy which has the best caramel glaze ever! OK, back to Mann’s. I’ve been coming to Mann’s with my family since I was a child. I can remember buying a cup of cider out of an old wooden barrel with a tap on it. While my Mom was buying apples, I was getting my cup of cider. Those were the days!

There’s been lots of changes since then, and Mann’s doesn’t make their own cider anymore on site. They now have it made for them with their same special blend of apple varieties and sweetness. Every time I go there, no matter ehat time of year, I get some apple cider.

A lot has changed since the good old days. Mann’s doesn’t just sell apples and other fruits anymore. They moved from the location I remember… twice, into a brand new huge facility, that has something for everyone. Not only do they have fruits and vegetables, they have freshly made pies and pastries, soups and prepared foods, jams, jellies and honey and they even make lunch if you’re in the area. The apple trees still surround the area, so not everything has changed. And it certainly has changed for the better.

Farm Stands & Specialty Markets/ Holiday/ My Travels/ Poultry/ Thanksgiving

Raymond’s Turkey Farm

Raymonds Turkey Farm

Raymond's Turkey Farm

Well, I’ve got my turkey on order, and will pick up in time to brine the night before, and get ready to cook for a wonderful Thanksgiving feast. When making your prized Thanksgiving turkey, there’s no short cuts on quality. There’s nothing worse than going through hours of preparation to come up with dry, stringy turkey. I’ve been making the trip to Raymond’s Turkey Farm for years, and can attest to the fact that their turkeys are the freshest and tastiest that I’ve had!

Raymonds Turkey Farm

Raymond’s Turkey Farm is a place you can go to assure you are getting the freshest. They offer fresh Broad Breasted White Holland turkey’s, that are raised in an open environment, and fed a high quality grain diet.  All of their products contain no preservatives. Other items they carry are turkey pies, cooked turkeys, prepared stuffing, squash, gravy, turkey dinners and soups. They also roast and stuff half turkeys.

During the year, when I do get a chance to go there, I pick up a few turkey pies. Especially during the fall and winter months, its quite convenient to be able to put a turkey pie in the oven, for a delicious comforting meal. Unlike, most chicken or turkey pies you buy, these pies are “packed” with meat!

The quality of these farm raised of turkeys far surpasses the quality you will get from any frozen turkey that’s shot full of preservatives (look on the label of any frozen turkey!). The meat is more tender, moist and tastier. Of course the price reflects that quality, but in my opinion, is well worth it. Especially for your Thanksgiving turkey!

At Thanksgiving time you must call your turkey request in ahead of time. There are people that come from all around to pick up their turkeys, and anyone lucky enough to be in the immediate area, or driving through, can stop in during their business hours for their products any time of year.

After I pick up my turkey at Raymond’s, I go right down the street to Mann’s Apple Orchards to get 2 gallons of cider (the best), and maybe one of their wonderful pies or pastries.

Side Dishes/ Thanksgiving

Herb Bread Stuffing

Herbed Bread Stuffing

Herb Bread Stuffing

Do you make the stuffing in a separate dish in the oven at Thanksgiving? I do. And every time, no matter what I do, it comes out dry and boring. I noticed a great recipe for stuffing that uses turkey wings to help flavor the stuffing as well as keep the moisture in, from Cooks Illustrated.

The original recipe calls for stale bread and fresh herbs. I have used the stale bread method several times, and like the consistency of prepared herb stuffing much better. I think the stale bread comes out too mushy for my liking, and seem to always go back to the prepared stuffing mix. Not to mention, I’m always short on time, so it certainly speeds things up. I still add my own seasoning and herbs as well, so it really comes out quite flavorful.

The stuffing made with the turkey wings method was very moist and flavorful. The juices render from the turkey wings while the stuffing is cooking. You can also double the recipe if you choose to. You can vary it by adding cranberry & pecan, sausage & mushroom, or anything you want to put in it.

Don’t be like me, and half read the recipe. When I made this recipe, I did not read the directions fully, and did not cut the wings at the joint. It is very difficult to brown the wings, and to lay on top of the stuffing if you do not separate them. It still tasted very good, though! Yet another lesson learned!

Herb Bread Stuffing

Herb Bread Stuffing


Herb Bread Stuffing
Recipe Type: Side Dish
Author: A Foodie Affair
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 70 mins
Total time: 1 hour 25 mins
Serves: 10-12
This stuffing mocks the same moist and flavorful stuffing that is cooked inside the bird.
  • 1 pkgs (14 oz) Herb Seasoned Stuffing Mix (eg. Pepperidge Farm or Arnold)
  • 3 lbs. turkey wings , divided at joints
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 6 Tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter , plus extra for baking dish
  • 1 large onions, chopped fine
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped fine
  • 2 tsp.table salt
  • 1 tsp.ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. dried celery flakes
  • 2-1/2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Bell Seasoning to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Separate wing segments at each joint. Use tip of paring knife to poke 10 to 15 holes in each wing segment. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add wings in single layer and cook until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Flip wings and continue to cook until golden brown on second side, 4 to 6 minutes longer. Transfer wings to medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat butter in skillet over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add onion, celery, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened but not browned, 7 to 9 minutes. Add pepper; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 1 cup broth and bring to simmer, using wooden spoon to scrape browned bits from bottom of pan. Add vegetable mixture to bowl with herb stuffing and toss to combine. Add remainder of broth and parsley.
  4. Grease 13 by 9-inch baking dish with butter. Add egg/broth mixture and parsley to bread mixture and gently toss to combine; transfer to greased baking dish. Arrange wings on top of stuffing, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and place baking dish on rimmed baking sheet.
  5. Bake on lower-middle rack until thickest part of wings registers 175 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 60 to 75 minutes. Remove foil and transfer wings to dinner plate to reserve for another use. Using fork, gently fluff stuffing. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.





Christmas/ Holiday/ Sauces, Dressings & Gravy/ Thanksgiving

Triple Cranberry Sauce

Triple Cranberry Sauce

Triple Cranberry Sauce

I’ve had this recipe I cut out of a magazine for some time now, and finally decided to make it. It has three versions of cranberry in it. The description in the magazine said “this tangy version” and, “intense flavor”. They are not kidding. This is not your average cranberry sauce.

I made the recipe exactly how the recipe reads, and the finished version is pretty thick and VERY tart (for me anyway)! My mother also tried it, and said the consistency  would be perfect on a turkey sandwich. I however, like it a little juicier and a little sweeter. So I tried it again, and added a little more sugar and added more liquid.

Triple Cranberry Sauce

Triple Cranberry Sauce

 Triple Cranberry Sauce

1 c. frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrate, thawed
1/2 c. water
1 c. sugar
1- 12 oz. pkg fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed & drained
1/2 c. dried cranberries (about 2 oz.)
3 Tbsp orange marmalade
rind of 1/2 orange
1/4 tsp allspice

Combine cranberry juice concentrate, water and sugar in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add fresh and dried cranberries and cook until dried berries begin to soften, and fresh berries begin to pop, stirring often, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in orange marmalade, orange rind and allspice. Cool completely. Cover; chill until cold, about 2 hours. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

For the original recipe: decrease sugar to 1/3 c. and omit the water. The original recipe also called for 2 Tbsp orange juice, which I omitted because I thought it tasted too orangy.

Christmas/ Desserts/ Holiday/ Thanksgiving

Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake

I got this recipe out of one of those supermarket checkout cookbooks. Decided it would be perfect to try at holiday time.

Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake

2 c. gingersnap cookie crumbs
1/3 c. butter, melted

4 pkgs (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 c. canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1-1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Heat oven to 300 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch spring form pan with shortening. Wrap foil around the pan to catch drips. In small bowl mix cookie crumbs and butter. Press crumb mixture in bottom and 1 inch up sides of pan. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Cool 5 minutes.

In large bowl, with electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium speed, just until smooth & creamy (do not over beat). On low speed, gradually beat in sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time, just until blended. Spoon 3 cups of the cream cheese mixture into pan, spread evenly.

Stir in pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg into remaining cream cheese mixture, mix with wire whisk until smooth. Spoon over mixture in pan.

Bake 1 hour 25 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, or until edges are set but center of cheesecake still jiggles slightly when moved.

Turn oven off, open oven door at least 4 inches. Leave cheesecake in oven 30 minutes longer. Remove from oven; place on cooling rack. Without releasing side of pan, run knife around edge of pan to loosen cheesecake. Cool in pan on cooling rack 30 minutes. Cover loosely; refrigerate at least 6 hours but no longer than 24 hours.

Run knife around edge of pan to loosen cheesecake again; carefully remove side of pan. Place cheesecake on serving plate. Store cheesecake covered in refrigerator.

16 servings

The Verdict:
This cheesecake was excellent. It tastes just like pumpkin pie. The gingersnap crust is the perfect crust for it also.

Christmas/ Desserts/ Easter/ Holiday/ My Lemon Obsession/ New Year's/ Thanksgiving/ Valentine's Day

Well, I Made It Through Christmas, But Not Without Making Tyler Florence’s Berry Trifle…

Berry Trifle

Berry Trifle

I first heard of this recipe on a Tyler’s Ultimate show I Tivo’d and it sounded great for holiday time. I cooked a boxed lemon pie filling on the stove (the type generally used for lemon meringue pie filling),  instead of the lemon curd.

Berry Trifle

1 pint blueberries
1 pint strawberries, hulled and cut into thick slices
2 pint raspberries
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

Lemon Cream:
1 quart whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (11-ounce) jar lemon curd
1 store bought pound cake, sliced 1/2-inch thick


Place the berries into a large bowl and sprinkle with half of the lemon juice. Lightly toss.

Combine the berries, sugar, cornstarch and remaining lemon juice in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook just until the berries begin to break down and give up their juices, about 3 minutes. Take
the berries off the heat and let cool; the mixture should thicken up as is cools.

In a clean bowl, whip the cream with the sugar and the vanilla to soft peaks. Put the lemon curd into a second bowl and stir in a little of the whipped cream to loosen it. Then fold in the rest of the cream.

To assemble the trifle, spoon a layer of the lemon cream into a large glass bowl. Add a layer of pound cake, breaking the slices into pieces that fit. Then soak the cake with a layer of berries and their juices. Keep going to make 3 or 4 more layers, depending on the size of the bowl, finishing with a layer of lemon cream.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Surprisingly fresh & tart taste of the berry mixture, great whipped cream and lemon layer, very good overall.

Holiday/ Main Dishes/ Poultry/ Thanksgiving

Brined Thanksgiving Turkey

Turkey is one of my favorite meats. It has fewer calories than beef or even chicken, and no saturated fat. So when you’re stuffing yourself at holiday time, you won’t feel as guilty. I always make a whole turkey even though my family are “white meat only” eaters, as a whole turkey makes such a pleasing presentation when brought to the table. Brining in my opinion is a must when making chicken, turkey and even pork chops. The meat is much more flavorful,  juicy and tender, no question. A brined turkey also takes a slightly shorter time to cook than a turkey that is not brined. In the case of a Thanksgiving Turkey, I always start with a high quality turkey such as a Bell & Evans. I brine with a solution of 1/2 cup table salt to as gallon of cold water. I put the turkey in a zip top brine bag and sit it into a pan vertically. I fill as much as possible with the brine and put in the fridge Wednesday morning. Take out of the brine Wednesday early evening. Dry off the turkey and leave in the fridge uncovered so it is nice and dry. This ensures the skin will get nice and brown when roasting. Make sure to keep a temperature of below 40 degrees when brining. If you cannot fit in your refrigerator, put in a cooler and ice pack. It’s also important to use a probe thermometer… opening the oven continuously only cools off the oven and slows the cooking time, not to mention the constant poking with an instant thermometer releases the juices from your turkey, the very thing the brining process is trying to enhance.

This year I did just that. I do not stuff the turkey as I usually cook a very large turkey and that will only add more time to an already long cooking time, not to mention the risk of the stuffing falling into your gravy broth is eliminated. I put the turkey into an oiled v rack. I add cut celery, carrot, onion & thyme to the cavity of the turkey. In the roasting pan, I add some onion, carrot & celery and about an inch or so of low-salt chicken broth. Add some thyme, parsley, pepper and basically any seasonings you would like (I do not season with salt as the brine has salt and so does the broth). Cover with foil and bake at 325 degrees (National Turkey Federation does not recommend cooking below 325 degrees), until an hour short of time for your size turkey. Take off foil and bake the rest of the time until the skin browns and a instant meat thermometer reads 180 degrees for thigh meat and 170 degrees for breast meat. Make sure to watch the broth mixture at the bottom so as not to dry out. Add more chicken broth if necessary.

The Verdict:
I will say, this years turkey was the most flavorful, tender and juicy turkey I have had. And that was the consensus of my family as well.