Friday, November 22, 2013

A golden brown, herbed turkey, casserole dishes of cheesy green beans and dressing and five pounds of cream cheese-enriched mashed potatoes.

These were just some of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes I made last Sunday for my family in Nebraska. We celebrated our first Thanksgiving meal on American soil since 2009 with my mom, dad, brother, aunt and uncle. I had the menu all planned out and found it went off without a hitch minus the 12-pound turkey taking a bit longer to cook.

Since my dad’s health isn’t the greatest, I modified my normal recipes by using reduced-fat cheese and fat-free sour cream for my cheesy green bean casserole dressed with panko bread crumbs instead of fried onions. To make the potatoes richer, I used low-fat cream cheese instead of butter and heavy cream. For the dressing, I only used chicken stock in place of butter to make the dish more moist.
Then, I rubbed down the turkey with lots of garden-fresh herbs, freshly ground black pepper and some Smart Balance as well as filled the cavity with more herbs, onions and celery. The end result was still a moist and golden brown turkey.
I have to say you wouldn’t have noticed a difference!

Even for my Thanksgiving baking, I lightened up my recipes. Instead of my normal buttery pastry crust for pumpkin pie, I used ground gingersnap cookies and graham crackers mixed with a little apple cider and corn syrup. The crust was a little sticky and more rustic looking, but most importantly, it tasted great with the pumpkin pie filling.

Then, instead of an apple pie, I decided to make a low-fat apple cake for our second dessert. I found a recipe in one of my mom’s old issues of Light & Tasty magazine and made it even healthier with some substitutions below. The cake was moist and tasted like fall with the addition of ginger and cinnamon spices. I knew this cake was going to be a winner as soon as I tasted the spiced cake batter!
Our Thanksgiving desserts!
Though we’ve celebrated the last three Thanksgivings abroad in Istanbul, it certainly was nice being surrounded by my family members. We toasted each other with wine or sparkling cider and shared stories about our new expat life in Warsaw. My aunt and uncle filled us in on our other relatives living in the Midwest. It was wonderful to be “home.”
Family pics from Thanksgiving 2013.
Next week, we will be celebrating a second Thanksgiving dinner with more than 20 members of my husband’s family on the East Coast. More food is definitely in store for us!

Wherever you may be this holiday season, I hope it’s a happy one filled with plenty of good food!

Happy (early) Thanksgiving!
Low-fat apple cake topped with Cool Whip, of course!
I'm ready to serve desserts!
Low-fat Apple Cake for Thanksgiving
Adapted from Light & Tasty magazine
Yields: One 9-inch metal springform pan

3          Tablespoons    melted Smart Balance or butter
¾         cup                  granulated sugar
¼         cup                  Egg Beaters or 1 each large egg
1          ea.                    egg white
1          cup                  low-fat vanilla yogurt
1/3       cup                  unsweetened applesauce
2          Tablespoons    vegetable oil

2          cups                 all-purpose flour
½         cup                  golden raisins
1          teaspoon          baking powder
1          teaspoon          pumpkin pie spice
½         teaspoon          ground ginger
½         teaspoon          baking soda
½         teaspoon          salt

2          ea.                    peeled, diced Gala apple
3          Tablespoons    chopped walnuts
1          Tablespoon      brown sugar
½         teaspoon          ground cinnamon
1/8       teaspoon          ground allspice

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until crumbly, about 2 minutes.

Add the egg, egg white, yogurt, applesauce and oil. Mix together.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.

Combine the dry ingredients with the yogurt mixture, stirring just until moistened.

Spread the cake batter into a nonstick pan lined with baking paper. Using a pastry brush, brush the pan with sunflower oil.

In a separate bowl, toss together the apple, walnuts, sugar and spices. Spread this mixture on top of the cake batter. 

Bake the cake at 350 F/175 C for about 45 minutes or a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Our final Thanksgiving table shot.

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jaz@octoberfarm said...

hi joy! that photo of everyone around the dining room table looks like it was painted by norman rockwell!!! what a wonderful thanksgiving!joyce

Alex, Speaking Denglish said...

It looks absolutely fantastic! I am cooking up Friendsgiving on Sunday, we are pretty nervous about trying to pull it off for 16 people!

Joy said...

@Joyce, sweet of you to say that!

@ifs ands butts, good luck w your big meal! Delegate some of the work! ;-)

BacktoBodrum said...

That looks a fantastic spread - do tell what pumpkin pie spice consists of.

Anonymous said...

Wow that was odd. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but
after I clicked submit my comment didn't show up. Grrrr...
well I'm not writing all that over again. Anyways, just wanted to say superb blog!

Feel free to visit my web site ... terry bandy

Joy said...

@Annie, thank you! In the U.S., you can find pre-packaged pumpkin pie spice blends which usually include: ground cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Sometimes mace (the outside of the nutmeg) is included as well. It was just easier to use vs measuring out a 1/2 or 1/4 tsp. of the separate spices. :-)

Unknown said...

I was looking for your cranberry sauce recipe for a friend and found this lovely Thanksgiving post instead!! It all looks delicious, Joy! How lovely to be with your family this time xx

Ozlem's Turkish Table said...

Such a lovely post Joy, enjoy Thanksgiving at home; nothing like with being family and friends! Happy Thanksgiving!:) Ozlem x

Joy said...

@Claudia, thank you dear! And thanks again for sharing my cranberry sauce recipe with everyone! :-)

@Ozlem, yes, it has been good but exhausting being home with everyone too!

Anonymous said...

Happy Thanksgiving Joy! Your spread looks delicious (can't say I'm surprised).

Joy said...

@Rachel, hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving as well (in Istanbul?)! And thanks for your sweet comment! :-)