Thanksgiving Turkey Innovation

Innovative Turkey Thanksgiving

I have always been a “guest” for Thanksgiving, but as we get older, we tend to want to travel less after eating. lol.  We have been opting to host Thanksgiving at our house due to the fact that my husband’s birthday falls on or around Thanksgiving.  Instead of traveling twice at the holiday time, we have combined activities.

Since we have been hosting Thanksgiving for the last 2 years, I have been researching on different techniques for cooking my turkey.  Cooks Illustrated seems to make it work every time, but with the hassle of flipping the bird while cooking.

I was presented with a turkey-in-a-bag option from my friends at Jennie-O Turkey Store* this year.  The turkey comes inside a bag, frozen, called Oven Ready Whole Turkey. When the big day arrives, all you need to do is pull the turkey out of the carrying bag, remove the large gravy bag, and place the FROZEN turkey still in its roasting bag in the pan! Really?  Can this be? No 4 days or more to thaw the turkey and then sometimes its not thawed on the “Big Day!”  This can’t be.  I was excited and afraid at the same time. lol.  I had grown up believing that Thanksgiving was a long day cooking for family and friends.  Dare I actually dream to sit with family and friends and socialize? Oh my.

Jennie-O Turkey Store

Needless to say, we were hosting trick or treat at our home this past weekend.  I was going to make some crock pot soups for my crowd of 15.  About the same as our Thanksgiving party size.  I decided I would try it out on them, and if all went well, my day would be spent socializing and not stuck next to the oven “basting the bird!”

When the day arrived, I pulled out the bird around 10am because the bag said allow about 4 hours to cook and 15-30 minutes to set.  I have to say, I was very excited about not having to baste the turkey.  I opened the bag, put the gravy on the side, placed in my pan and set the timer for 4 hours.

When my guests arrived, we actually went outside and started a bonfire.  My guests thought I was crazy with this Jennie-O turkey-in-a-bag.  We all peaked in on the bird half way through cooking to check on him. The coating on the bird turned into this awesome boiling juice that was also steaming the turkey.  What a great concept.

 Jennie-O Over Ready Turkey

Look at that yummy frozen bird

When the turkey timer went off, I noticed the little pop up timer was half way up.  The bag was pulled across preventing it from popping up all the way.  The turkey was done before the 4 hours was up.  I pulled the turkey out and let it set for about 25 minutes before I started to carve it.

Some of our guests stole pieces, which is why you see a picture of my turkey all cut up. Our guests could not keep their paws off before I had a chance to take a picture of the beautiful brown bird!!  Sorry.  At least I got the picture!

I served this turkey with buns, cranberry sauce, gravy and potatoes.  We made sandwiches.  Another thing I noticed was that the included gravy bag wanted you to mix 1 1/4 cup of water into the gravy and warm up.  I added 1 1/4 cup of the bag juices and put the rest into another gravy boat.  So we had thin gravy or thick gravy, whatever your preference.  I think the bag gravy could also be mixed with your stuffing intead of the brown gravy since there is not a way to stuff your bird.

Either way, this turkey was amazing! It was moist, done to perfection, browned, crispy, everything you want in a turkey completely obtained without your constant hovering.  I was able to sit with my family and friends by a bonfire and catch up with everyone’s stories.  Jennie-O did more than provide me with a turkey, they provided me with cherished momories I will have forever.  We all know, memory building with family and friends is my thing, which will now happen for the rest of our hosted Thanksgiving dinners at home. We did convert our guests to this new technique for cooking a turkey! Yeah!

Good points of this Thanksgiving Turkey Innovation:

  • Cook from frozen, no thawing!
  • Comes in its own roasting bag
  • Comes self-basting and seasoned
  • No basting or turning the bird
  • No pan mess
  • Comes with yummy brown gravy
  • More time with family and friends
  • Gluten Free

Some things you need to watch:

  • Make sure bag is pulled away from the popup timer
  • Use the left over pan juice to mix in with gravy or use to make stuffing
  • Biggest size 13 pounds
  • Will not have any left overs because it is so good

*I was so fortunate to be selected to try this great turkey product from Jennie-O.  I can’t wait to cook one for Thanksgiving, maybe even making a small one for Christmas too.  I hope this will enable you and your family to create some awesome memories this holiday season!

Chalk Painting An Antique Table

I know, a beautiful solid wood table painted? I have heard all about it from many “male” friends about what was I thinking?  Well, I am a busy mom and I don’t have time for stripping or sanding the table.  I found this very cool and ornate oak table at a second hand store for $60.00.  It was such an awesome find.  I wanted a quality white (or soft white) table for the kitchen and just could not find one in a store.  Well, find one in a store under $2000.00.  I have children, nieces and nephews, it is just not practical for a family home. Enter – solid oak table for $60.00.

chalk painting a wood table


I kept hearing about a paint that could go over just about anything without sanding or stripping.  I felt this was the project to test that!  So I located a paint called Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  I read the reviews and felt I would start there.  I could always make my own, once I knew what it was like to work with.  Then when I seen all the colors, I started second guessing my color choice of just soft white.  To top that off, the stores which sell Annie Sloan paint, typically offer classes on using the chalk paint in different ways.  What a can of fun worms that turned out to be!  Chalk paint is reputed as having the ability to cover wood, metal, and fabric.  Crazy baby!  Just like me.

Anyway, I stayed focused on the white paint and picked up a quart ($40.00).  I know crazy price right, but if it does what it says it can, isn’t saving time worth it? So, I dragged the table in the kitchen, wiped it down with a vinegar and water mix, and let it dry.  I wanted to get this done before having to pick up the kids at school.

I painted the whole table in about 45 minutes. I supposed being a little more cautious than need be.  I waited about 2 hours, lightly sanded and re-painted it.  I did not want to see my brush strokes so I sanded them out.  It was so fast.  I sanded the whole top in 10 minutes, if that.  Easy peasy. I sanded in-between each coat, applying 3 coats, just because it was a kitchen table being used heavily by children.

I also found a lot of reviews on how to seal the chalk paint.  There were things like paste which was a lot of buffing or sealers that would change the color, or leave cracks like a crackle paint.  I did not want any of those things.  The store where I bought the chalk paint from, suggested a sealer called Artisan Enhancements Top Coat.

I figured I would try this top coat and if I did not like it, I could just paint right over it with another coat of chalk paint.  This is the awesomeness of chalk paint!  I applied 3 coats to the table and it did not change color or crackle.  It did add a nice satin finish to the table which I preferred over the flat finish.  Within a week, my kids had water marks on the table.  I lightly sanded it and put another top coat.  Artisan Enhancements also offers a sealer, so I was thinking if the problem keeps occurring, I would try putting the sealer over the top coat.  The table is beautiful, and honestly the painting was so fast and fun that I do not mind having to tweak it until it works for our family.  This is the table with 3 coats of a the satin top coat and a little bird egg blue rubbed into the side and legs of the table.  I have gotten so many compliments it has inspired me to paint the pieces in my home that I was going to get rid of!!

What Veggies to Plant in April

VEGETABLES Photo

What Veggies to Plant in April

My kids have been getting pretty stir crazy with our yo-yo weather so I was trying to think what we could do to get rid of their excess energy.  I came up with vegetable gardening.  It always makes me feel like I have accomplished something and helps me sleep well!  I know, most kids aren’t so keen on planting, but when we go to the store to pick up our veggies, I let them each pick out a veggie to plant.  It makes them feel a little more in control of what they grow and eat.  I can usually get them to do some follow-up care too! lol

Our weather is still pretty cool but I opened my garden journal to view what we could plant and realized I am behind schedule.  Whoops.   I thought I would share the list in case someone else decided that this week was a good time to get the kids out in the yard working, and falling asleep earlier!

We live in the midwest so it’s mild days with cold nights still.  You can start planting cool season plants in your garden anywhere using row covers if necessary.  I started a list so you can tweek it to your situation and area.  This is for outside sowing.

SEEDS

  • Beets
  • Fava beans
  • Brussel sprouts late varieties
  • Autumn cabbages
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Chard
  • Early kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Chives
  • Dill
  • Lemon balm
  • Onion (if not too wet)
  • Asters
  • Calendula
  • Cosmos
  • Nigella
  • Sunflowers
  • Sweet William

PLANTS

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Summer Cabbage
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce
  • Onions, from seed
  • Oriental variety salad greens
  • Second early potatoes – early in the month
  • Maincrop – later in the month
  • Marjoram
  • Thyme
  • Asters
  • Sweet Peas