Friday, November 16, 2012

Turkey Stuffing or Dressing?

Do you call it stuffing, or dressing? It really doesn't matter as long as you have plenty of it and lots of gravy. Since Thanksgiving is one of my all-time favorite meals. I always looked forward to my mom’s traditional stuffing with meat in it as a side dish. 
Stuffed Turkey
My wife made her stuffing without meat and a distinct flavor of sage in it. I now prefer it over mom’s stuffing with round steak in it. Sorry mom! There is still a great debate over the stuffing should be cooked inside of the turkey or outside. I prefer some of the stuffing cooked in the turkey and extra on the outside. It’s really up to you. If you do cook the stuffing inside of the turkey, you must make sure that stuffing reaches an internal temperature of 160°F in the center of the stuffing.
Turkey is done baking
Turkey carved and ready to eat
INGREDIENTS (enough for a 12 lb. Turkey)
9 cups white bread*, stale, cubed
1 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup onion, diced
1-1/2 cup celery, diced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sage
1 tsp. celery salt
2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
3/4 cup turkey or chicken stock
1 whole egg, slightly beaten
NOTE: *I prefer a solid white bread like Breadsmith's Honey White, or Rustic Italian. 
Extra stuffing
Cut the bread into 1/2" x 1/2" cubes and set to the side. Chop the celery and onions and set them to the side as well. In a large skillet melt the 2 sticks of butter, and sauté the onions and celery until soft and tender, but not browned. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the seasonings and the parsley. Add the chicken or turkey stock and heat. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Slowly add a couple of spoonful’s of the hot liquid into the beaten eggs, whipping constantly so that the eggs do not cook. Pour this mixture over the bread cubes until well mixed. Do not add the stuffing to the turkey until you are ready to bake. If you are adding the stuffing to the turkey, fill the cavity loosely and tie the legs together. Fill the neck end as well. Thirty minutes before the turkey is finished cooking, place the remaining stuffing in a casserole dish and bake until the turkey is finished cooking. Allow the turkey to rest before removing the stuffing. The internal temperature of the turkey should be at least 165°F in the center of the stuffing. Enjoy! 
Dinner is served no room for vegetables is there?

© TMelle 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Traditional Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner

I just can’t believe that fall is here again. It wasn’t too long ago that we were suffering through a heat wave. I really love this time of the year, especially Thanksgiving. It is also the official start of Kartoffelklösse season.
I’m talking about turkey and everything that goes with it. These are just a few of my favorite things; stuffing, or a.k.a. dressing, lots and lots of home-made turkey gravy, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cauliflower casserole, corn bread casserole, black olives from a can,  and let’s not forget sour cream cucumbers. You’ve just got to have apple or pumpkin pie and some coffee to wash it all down.
I'll come back for the vegetables
For a holiday appetizer, my family really enjoys celery, stuffed with Philadelphia cream cheese and Kraft Foods® Roka Blue cheese spread, and sprinkled with paprika. Mom always made this appetizer and we all loved it. When planning a Thanksgiving menu we never gave it a second thought. It was always there. Tradition!
Peel celery strings
Then it happened. Several years ago, about 2009 I think, I went to the grocery store to get a couple jars of Roka Blue. I couldn’t find any. I asked the store manager if it was moved to a Thanksgiving display area in the store. He said that they didn’t get any this year. I called many stores and asked why they didn’t have it. They always had it over the holidays. I was told by one store manager that Kraft stopped making it. How could this be? I wondered. Everybody buys it for the holidays. There was suddenly a crack in my culinary universe. Somebody was messing with tradition!
My next stop was to the Internet. Apparently I was not the only one deeply upset with being unable to find my “Roka Blue.” One site had a comment thread titled “Kraft Discontinues Roka Blue Cheese Spread. Consumers Just Now Find Out Their Thanksgiving Cheese Ball Traditions Are Ruined. Masses Go Ape-shit on Kraft's Message Board.”
A couple of years passed and I just never thought to call Kraft. When I finally did, I was told that they received so many complaints about discontinuing Roka Blue, that Kraft posted a “KRAFT ROKA Blue Spread Substitute” recipe. You can find that recipe at
There were many comments attached to this substitute recipe. Many of them told stories about what people did with the 5 ounce glass jars once they were empty. I used them to cut perfect circles in bread to make “eggs-in-the-nest.” Some people recycled the jars and used them as juice glasses. Many people were angry, and some threatened to stop buying any of their products. 
Does this make me a hoarder?
Then it happened, Kraft brought back “Roka-Blue.” They are going to produce it for the holidays again. I called my local grocer and sure enough he was getting it this year (2010). I went to the store just before Thanksgiving and there it was, nestled between the 5 oz. jars of Kraft Old English and Pimento Cheese Spread. I bought a case and gave them out as gifts for Thanksgiving.
So you see, just like our political elections people can make a difference. For the Presidential election this year we just had the largest voter turnout ever. So you see, your vote does count.
Making Mom’s stuffed celery:
1-8 oz. pkg. Philadelphia cream cheese
1-5 oz. jar Kraft Roka Blue cheese spread
8 stalks celery, cut into 2”–3” pieces
as needed Paprika, for garnish
Allow the cream cheese to come to room temperature to soften.
Wash celery thoroughly. Using a potato peeler remove the strings from the outside of the celery stalks. Cut  the celery  into 2-3” serving pieces and chill.
Mix the softened cream cheese and the Roka-Blue together well. Spread the mixture on celery and then sprinkle with paprika to garnish. Serve very  cold.
NOTE: This recipe doubles easily. You can also spread this mixture on 1/4"slices of fresh cucumbers if you like. 

© TMelle 2012