I've become a regular reader of CafeMom blogger weelicious. She writes about making fresh, easy, homemade food for babies, toddlers, and big kids.
I asked weelicious to share some kid-friendly recipes for Thanksgiving. Check out what she and her son, Kenya, have cooked up for us.
Find these kid-friendly Thanksgiving recipes and more at weelicious.com:
Kid-friendly Thanksgiving Dinner by Weelicious
The Best Brined Turkey
If you've never had a brined turkey, trust me, you are missing out. And once you try it, you'll never go back. This recipe is the piece de la resistance of our Thanksgivings. I have to say, if I was going to have a last meal, this would be it. When I make a turkey, even if I'm only serving four people, I always make one to serve 12. Turkey is the perfect leftover meat because you can keep it in the fridge and turn it into so many other dishes like sandwiches, turkey hash, turkey pot pies and so on. In our house you never have to worry about it going bad because it's all gone before that can even happen. It feeds us all for a week: lunch, dinner...sometimes even breakfast!
The best brined turkey
I've been brining turkey for several years and I have to say it's THE trick to making a perfect turkey. It makes turkey extra juicy and imparts the perfect flavor. I like to use cloves and bay leaves as aromatics in the brine, but you could also toss in some onion, cinnamon stick, apple, celery, or basically any flavors you love. I brought a turkey to our regular "kids dinner party" last night and everyone devoured it. At the same time, though, most of the mothers were saying "I couldn't EVER roast a turkey". Don't be intimidated, it's really easy.
After making the brine and placing it in a large pot with the turkey, I cover it and leave it outside overnight. Yep, outside and overnight. First of all, I don't know anyone with a refrigerator large enough to hold a gigantic pot and second, it's usually 55 degrees or lower in most of the U.S. this time of year, so it's the perfect temperature to brine in—certainly as good as your fridge, if not better. Besides the cooking time, this recipe is reasonably economical, super easy and everyone in the family will love it! Even the tiniest members.
The Best Brined Turkey Recipe (Makes 8-10 Servings)
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Salt (preferably kosher)
1 10-12 Pound Turkey, defrosted if frozen
4 Bay Leaves
1 Tbsp Vegetable or Canola Oil
1. Place the sugar and salt in 4 cups of hot water. Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve.
2. Place the brine in a large stock pot with a gallon of cold water, cloves and bay leaves and a handful of ice to make sure the water is cold. Stir to combine.
3. Wash the turkey inside and out and place breast side down in the stockpot with brine (you want the water to just cover the turkey).
4. Refrigerate 18-24 hours (or set it in a cool safe place outside as long as it's below 55 degrees outside).
5. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
6. Take the turkey out of the brine and rinse inside and out with cold water, discarding brine.
7. Place the turkey on a roasting rack inside a wide low pan and blot the turkey with a paper towel.
8. Tuck back the wings and rub the skin of the turkey with the oil.
9. Roast on the lowest rack of the oven for 30 minutes and then place a piece of foil just over the breast of the turkey to cover (the breast cooks faster then the legs and wings so this process helps it to cook more evenly.
10. Pour 1 cup of water in the pan and continue to roast 1 hour.
11. Remove the foil from the breast and cook another 15-30 minutes. Insert a meat thermometer into the deepest part of the thigh (avoiding the bone) to reach a temperature of 160-165 degrees. The turkey will actually continue to cook a little even after you take it out of the oven (the total cooking time will be 1 hour 45 minutes-2 hours).
12. Let the turkey rest for 20-30 minutes (this is an essential step to allow the juices to redistribute and settle).
13. Slice and serve and enjoy!
Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Lemon & Poppy Seeds
I think I was the only kid in the world that loved Brussels sprouts. I loved biting the leaves off the tiny cabbages one by one. Somehow these little green orbs are known as the bane of kids' dinner plates everywhere, but I guarantee this healthy and delicious recipe will change their tune.
Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Lemon & Poppy Seeds
Brussels Sprouts are high in fiber and vitamin C which aid in healthy skin and immune function and those yummy little poppy seeds are a fantastic source of calcium.
This dish only takes minutes to prepare, especially if you have a food processor to quickly chop the Brussels sprouts. You can even prepare most of the ingredients ahead of time and just cook the dish at the last minute.
Even your little one (or your big child, a.k.a your spouse) who always declares "I don't like Brussels sprouts," will come back for seconds and thirds for this scrumptious
Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Lemon & Poppy Seeds Recipe (Makes 6 Servings)
1 Lb. Brussels Sprouts, stem ends trimmed
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Oil
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Lemon Zest
2 Tsp Poppy Seeds
1/4 Cup Chicken Stock
1. Finely chop the Brussels sprouts with a knife (or in a food processor) and into small pieces.
2. Place in a bowl with lemon juice and toss to coat (this should prevent the leaves from losing their bright color). At this point you can cover the Brussels sprouts and refrigerate for several hours until your ready to cook them.
3. Heat butter and oil in a saute and pan over medium heat. Saute the Brussels sprouts for 2 minutes. Add the salt, garlic, zest and poppy seeds and continue to cook an additional 2 minutes.
4. Pour in the chicken stock and cook 1 more minute.
Sweet Potatoes in Orange Cups
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I tested this recipe out on several little guinea pigs. I made these for a recent "kids dinner party" that me and my friends do every week and I can't even tell you how hard I laughed when I pulled these sweet potatoes out of the oven and three of the kids simultaneously yelled "cupcakes"! No matter what we said they decided the orange and white "cupcakes" were a holiday treat and scarfed them down. The only "oops" moment came when one the little girls looked at me with a huge hunk of orange peel in her mouth and said, "I don't like the wrapper". Whoops!
Sweet Potatoes in Orange Cups
Sweet Potato Cups
These heavenly treats only take minutes to prepare, and they made quite a visual and edible impact on the kids and adults alike. I'm a big fan of cooking this dish with evaporated skim milk because it makes the potatoes really fluffy without the added fat of heavy cream. I usually don't like to use foods that have a ton of sugar, but just a few mini marshmallows really takes this recipe to the next level for kids and makes it fun for them. After all, it's the "icing"! They're not essential to the recipe, so you can easily leave them out.
This recipe is also a time saver when you're cooking Thanksgiving dinner, because the orange pulp that you scoop out goes right into the weelicious cranberry sauce recipe! A green vegetable, some succulent turkey and you have a perfect meal for the entire family with a few leftovers for the next day.
Sweet Potatoes in Orange Cups Recipe (Serves 6 Big Kids)
2 Lbs. Sweet Potatoes (you want to use potatoes that are really orange, also known as yams)
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1/2 Cup Evaporated Skimmed Milk (you can substitute it with regular milk)
1/2 Tsp Kosher or Sea Salt
3 Navel Oranges
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Poke the yams several times with a fork or knife to pierce the skin.
2. Place on foil or a sheet tray in the oven and bake for 1 hour.
3. Let yams cool for several minutes, cut in half and scoop out the fluffy insides (I love eating the high fiber skin as a snack).
4. Mash the yams with butter, maple syrup, evaporated milk and salt until creamy and fluffy.
5. Cut the oranges in half and slice a very thin disk from the bottom so they rest flat. The skins are actually going to be the "bowls".
6. With a pairing knife cut around the inside rim of the orange removing the orange sections and pulp. Place any of the orange juice and pulp in a bowl and discard the white membranes and seeds. Save the juice and pulp for cranberry sauce recipe or just enjoy as a snack.
7. Fill each orange cup with 1/4 cup of puree and top with several mini marshmallows (you can cover and refrigerate these overnight).
8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
9. Place on a sheet tray and bake for 20-25 minutes.