Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Thanksgiving with Pioneer Woman

I've made a bunch of recipes from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays. Most of them are from the Thanksgiving section, but not all of them are.

First up, Drop Biscuits (pg 346, the Christmas section). I brought these over to a friend's house a few week's ago. She made soup and mulled wine. I made biscuits and dessert. I've had a hit-or-miss relationship with biscuits in the past. I always blame my failures on my Yankee-dom. These Drop Biscuits are simple to make (put the ingredients in the food processor. Whir. Scoop spoonfuls on to a baking sheet. Bake.) and turned out to be delicious. I need to make biscuits more often.
Conclusion: Loved them.

Matt and I haven't been overly impressed with our Thanksgiving stuffing for the past few years, so we decided to mix it up this year and use Ree's Basic Thanksgiving Dressing (pg 258). This uses three types of bread: cornbread, Italian bread, and ciabatta, and a host of standard stuffing flavors: celery, onion, parsley, thyme, rosemary, and basil. She uses dried herbs. In the future, I'd like to try it with fresh herbs. I think this was a good starting point. I felt it needed a bit more flavor, but I'm not totally sure what to do to it. I liked that the cornbread practically turned to breadcrumbs and coated all the other breads. There was a lot of different texture.

Conclusion: Liked it, but it needs some fiddling. We didn't salt it enough this time. Needs more oomph.

For the dressing, I made Ree's recipe for Skillet Cornbread (pg 268). This was easy to make, and it worked fine in the dressing, but I don't like it on its own. The cornbread is VERY salty and gritty. This may be why Matt undersalted the dressing--I warned him that the cornbread was salty. I like sweet, wet cornbread. This was the opposite. Different strokes for different folks.
Conclusion: Disliked, but it worked fine for the dressing.

I almost forgot about the Giblet Gravy. Matt is the Bird-meister, so he made the gravy. I was uninvolved, so I have no input regarding the process. All I can say is that it was deeeeeeelicious. I can never be without it again.

Conclusion: Loved it. 

I'm roasting a chicken tonight to use up our leftover dressing. For a side, I decided to try Ree's Cranberry Sauce (pg 256). This was a last-minute decision, and so I don't have the orange zest and juice that I'm supposed to. I threw in a splash of mandarinetto instead. Figured it couldn't hurt. I normally make a basic cranberry sauce with sugar, orange zest, and juice. The difference here is that, instead of sugar, Ree uses a cup of maple syrup.

I'm torn about what to think. I love the smokey maple flavor that the syrup gives to the sauce, but it's too sweet. It's possible that the orange zest and juice might have cut the sweetness a bit. I'm not sure. I may continue to play with this, cutting back on the amount of syrup used until the balance tips over a bit in favor of cranberry tartness. It's cranberry sauce. I want to taste the cranberry!

Conclusion: Liked it, but it needs tweaking.


  1. I'm fairly certain that you, like me, could just put on a pair of shoes, step out the door, and find an orange before you've traveled 100 ft. But with that aside, you have convinced me that I need this book. Santa, considered yourself informed.

  2. What are you nuts? I'm pretty sure that my grove is a muddy pit right now, with the amount of rain we had today. It wasn't worth getting drenched just to grab a few mandarins.