Decadent Sweet Potatoes (not your grandmother's recipe!)
Ingredients
I like to use fresh sweet potatoes or yams but canned are alright as well. 
8 large yams and/or sweet potatoes (prepared as below)
                             or
3 large cans of canned yams

1/2 stick of real butter (cut into chunks)
1 cup of brown Sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of sea salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Directions
preheat oven to 400 degrees
If you are a nut fan you can add chopped pecans or walnuts to this dish when you add the brown sugar mixture 

In a bowl toss brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and sea salt. Place the yams and/or sweet potatoes in a baking dish. Cover with the heavy cream and vanilla mix. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture and sliced butter all over the top. Cover with foil and bake about 30 minutes. Remove tin foil and bake 10 more minutes. Serve immediately. 

Directions to cook Fresh Sweet Potatoes or Yams to prepare for recipe
If you use fresh, wash, peel and slice into medium sized pieces. Place in sauce pan with the 2 cups of milk and water. Bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and allow to cook for 10 minutes until almost soft. Strain and set aside. 

A blog viewer named Carolyn writes: "Just a note, I find peeling them is much easier if they are boiled whole with the skins on...let cool & the skin just slides off...cut as desired & continue with any old or new Sweet Potatoe Recipe"I'm going to try this when I make these this week! Thank you Carolyn!
 
 
Traditional Southern Brown Turkey Gravy
(Gluten Free)

In my opinion, gravy should be simple and not overly spiced or flavored. It should enhance the flavors of the food it is covering, not over power or change. 

Take the drippings (even the brown bits) from your freshly roasted turkey pan and place in a large sauce pan. In a measuring cup mix 3 tbsp of corn starch with 1/4 cup of chicken stock. Blend thoroughly. Whisk into the sauce pan holding your drippings. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly. As it thickens, slowly add chicken stock until the amount with the drippings reaches about  5 cups. Continue to whisk as the gravy thickens. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. 
 
 

 ROASTED GARLIC MASHED POTATOES
(Vegetarian and Gluten Free)
Mashed Potatoes is a very traditional and easy side dish to make for any Holiday gathering. I like to mix things up every once and a while and serve these amazing potatoes! I cook for a large family, so many of my recipes serve larger amounts of people. I actually double this recipe to feed my crew! You can cut the recipe in half for a smaller group of people but left overs are always great in my book!

Ingredients:
2 heads of garlic
Olive Oil

4- 5 pounds of potatoes peeled and chopped into small cubes ( I prefer red and leave the skins on, but you can use any potato you wish and even peel them.)
1 stick of lightly salted butter
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream ( if you are concerned with fat content you may substitute any milk of your choice. Cream makes this recipe...well creamy! I go all out for the Holidays) 
Sea Salt (to taste)
White Pepper (to taste) 

Roasted Garlic
Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Carefully slice of the very top of the head of garlic with a sharp knife. Drizzle the open top of the garlic head with Olive Oil. Wrap each head of garlic in foil. Place on a cookie sheet and bake until the cloves are very tender. This takes roughly 30 - 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool until they can be easily handled. Squeeze out the cloves into a bowl and mash with the back edge of a spoon. 
Set aside. 

Mashed Potatoes
Place cut potatoes in a large stockpot and cover with water. Add a pinch of sea salt and bring to a rapid boil. Cook until the potatoes are tender (but not mushy) Drain. I prefer to mash my potatoes in the pot with a hand mixer. I add the stick of butter, mashed roasted garlic, and a small amount of the cream to begin blending. Continue to add cream until you reach the desired creamy consistency. Add sea salt and white pepper to taste. Transfer to a large serving bowl. Place one slice of butter on top.  Serve immediately! 
 
 
Winter Squash with Wild Rice and Cranberry Stuffing 
vegetarian and gluten free
* I will add pictures after Thanksgiving :)

Squash Preparation

There are several ways you can incorporate this dish into your Holiday meal. You can choose small acorn or delicatta squash to stuff (one half for each guest attending), several medium squash (such as butternut), or One large squash (such as a blue or orange Hubbard) You can even use a pie pumpkin such as a Cinderella or White. 

You will need to prepare the squash and how is dependent upon the type of squash. 

For the Acorns, Delicatta,  or Butternut: 
Carefully cut lengthwise in half and remove the seeds. Place the squash, cut side down in a greased baking dish. Cover and bake in the over at 350 degrees for 35- 45 minutes or until tender. Test back side with a fork. When it inserts easily, they are done. Place Squash right side up and loosely stuff with stuffing mix. Bake an additional 20-25 minutes. 

For the Hubbards or Pumpkins 
Pumpkins: carefully remove the tops and seeds as if you were planning to carve. You want the top to fit like a lid :)
Hubbards: Lay Hubbard on it's side. Carefully cut a large oval whole in the top. Remove all the seeds. I cut at a slight angle inward so it fits back in like a lid and does not fall through. 

Stuff the Hubbard or Pumpkin with the Rice Stuffing Mixture below. Bake  in a greased baking dish @ 350 degress until the hubbard or pumpkin is tender when poked through the outside with a fork. Approximate baking time varies but is generally about an hour. 

Winter Squash with Wild Rice and Cranberry Stuffing 
Ingredients
Choice of Winter Squash as described above.
5 cups (cooked) short grain brown rice
1 cup (cooked) wild rice
1 stick unsalted butter 
1 bag of dried Cranberries (Craisins)
4 - 5 apples chopped ( I like fuji)
4-5 celery stalks chopped
1 large onion finely chopped
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tsp sea salt
1/8 cup fresh sage finely chopped (can substitute dried)
Few sprigs of Rosemary finely chopped (or 2 tsp dried)
Few sprigs of Thyme finely chopped (or 2 tsp dried)
 I prefer fresh herbs but dried is ok
5-6 cloves of minced garlic

Directions
Cook Rices according to package directions to end up with the finished amount. Set aside in a large bowl. 

In a large skillet, combine butter,herbs,  apples, onions, garlic, and celery and cook on medium heat for a few minutes until they are completely coated in the butter (For the smaller squash, cook until the onions celery and apples are just tender. They will cook the rest of the way in the squash in the large squash so leave them slightly firm for those) Add all the cooked ingredients to the large bowl of rice. Add salt, herbs, and dried cranberries and mix. Add up to one cup of broth until the stuffing is the desired consistency. Loosely Stuff the squash and follow the directions above according to the type of squash used. 

Place any left over stuffing in a baking dish. Cover with foil Bake in an oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Then continue to bake uncovered another 20-25 minutes. ENJOY!
 
 
* Will post a picture after Thanksgiving (when I have one)
Oven Roasted Herb Turkey
Ingredients
1 20- 25 pound turkey (giblets removed) 
 15 large Sage leaves
Parsley
Garlic (thin slices)
1 Tblsp olive oil

Wash your turkey inside and out and dry it. 

Directions
I like to gently pull up the skin of the turkey and strategically place sage leaves and garlic :) First , very carefully slide your hand underneath the skin of the turkey to separate it on each side of the backbone. Baste the breast with olive oil using your hands. Then strategically place the sage and garlic under the skin. To do this,  careful place parsley on each breast as far back as you can get it. Then place sage leaves along the sides and top of breast along with the sliced garlic. Be creative!

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. 
Stuff your bird with your favorite recipe or the one below. Don't forget the neck cavity. Tie the drumsticks with kitchen twine, secure the neck flat with toothpicks (just don't forget to remove them) and carefully tuck the wing tips under the wings. 
Place bird in a deep roasting pan and place in oven. Baste your turkey after 15 minutes and continue to bake at 425 degrees for 15 more minutes then turn the temperature down and cook according to package directions of until the Turkey cooks to a safe temperature of 180 degrees ( insert meat thermometer in thickest part of the thigh meat while avoiding the bone) Stuffing should reach a temperature of 165 degrees. 

Tip: If it looks like the skin of the turkey is getting dark too quickly, you can place a tent of foil over the turkey to prevent this.  Let your turkey sit at least 15 minutes before carving. Use the juices for gravy :)

Wild Rice and Cranberry Stuffing 
(optional Italian sausage)
Ingredients
5 cups (cooked) short grain brown rice
1 cup (cooked) wild rice
1 stick unsalted butter 
1 bag of dried Cranberries (Craisins)
4 - 5 apples chopped ( I like fuji)
4-5 celery stalks chopped
1 large onion finely chopped
1 cup chicken stock
2 tsp sea salt
1/8 cup fresh sage finely chopped (can substitute dried)
Few sprigs of Rosemary finely chopped (or 2 tsp dried)
Few sprigs of Thyme finely chopped (or 2 tsp dried)
 I prefer fresh herbs but dried is ok

5-6 cloves of minced garlic

Directions
Cook Rices according to package directions to end up with the finished amount. Set aside in a large bowl. 

In a large skillet, combine butter, apples, onions, garlic, and celery and cook on medium heat for a few minutes until they are completely coated in the butter. (They will cook the rest of the way in the bird. If you are using the optional Italian Sausage, cook 1 1/2 pounds in a separate skillet. Add all the cooked ingredients to the large bowl of rice. Add salt, herbs, and dried cranberries and mix. Add up to one cup of broth until the stuffing is the desired consistency. Loosely Stuff the bird (don't forget the neck cavity. Place any left over stuffing in a baking dish.Cover with foil Bake in an oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Then continue to bake uncovered another 20-25 minutes. ENJOY!