Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

My First Thanksgiving Turkey


This year, the responsibility of hosting the annual family Thanksgiving dinner landed on my shoulders… two days before the big day (don’t you just love family?). I picked up a frozen Butterball turkey on the Saturday, and crossed my fingers that it would thaw out within the next 36 hours so that I would have time to prep it before putting it in the oven.

Despite my love of cooking, this marked the very first time that I prepared a turkey from start to finish on my own. I had to defrost it as quickly as possible. Ideally I would’ve left it in the fridge for a couple of days, but with dinner a little more than a day away I needed it to thaw out fast.

I didn’t want any chance of bacteria growing, thus giving my family food poisoning, so I knew I had to thaw it correctly. So I opted to put the big guy in a large pot of cold water, making sure that I replaced the cold water every couple of hours. Because this sucker was so big, I had to keep on rotating it in the wok I was using to thaw it out, but it worked: it was thawed out completely within 6 hours.

After removing the giblets and neck, I rinsed the turkey under cold water. Then it was on to the first flavouring step: a brine.

Turkey Brine Recipe

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp of whole black peppercorns
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp dried sage
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried onion flakes
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 3 cups water

I boiled all the ingredients together for a few minutes of minutes (until the salt and sugar dissolved), then took it off the heat to cool down. Once completely cool, I added the brine to about 4 litres of cold water. This was the “turkey bath”. I left the turkey to brine in the refrigerator overnight.

Turkey in Brine

After I took the turkey out of the brine, I patted it dry.  I purchased a turkey baster that came with a flavour injector needle at the last Kitchen Stuff Plus warehouse sale. So I mixed together the following ingredients and injected it all over my turkey (concentrating on the “meaty” areas” then let it sit for an hour in the fridge:

Turkey Injection Marinade

  • 1/4  cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp each of paprika, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper

Buttered and Injected Turkey


The final step for my flavourful turkey project was the rub. I used a spatula to slide inbetween the skin and the meat of the turkey, so that I could make some room to add pads of unsalted butter. I also used some melted butter, along with some olive oil, to rub on the outside skin of the turkey (so that the rub had something to adhere to).

Turkey Rub Ingredients


Note: I decided not to stuff my turkey, but make the stuffing separate. It helps speed up the cooking time. I just stuffed the cavity with a couple of halved onions, a few garlic cloves, and some slices of lemon.

Turkey Rub Recipe

  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp of 5 peppercorn blend (green, pink, white and black peppercorns, and Jamaican allspice), crushed
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds, crushed
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

Once the turkey was basted with the rub, I rested on a rack in the roasting pan, added some chicken broth to the bottom of the pan, and popped it in the oven, loosely covered with foil.

Turkey ready for the oven


I had preheated my oven to 425F degrees. Then after cooking the turkey for 30 minutes, I lowered the heat to 350F. I basted every hour, taking the foil off during the last hour of cooking, and raising back up the heat to 425F, so that it can create a nice crust. 4.5 hours total baking time for this 12lb turkey.

It came out so flavourful, moist and delicious. If you’re trying to make a turkey (or whole chicken) and want to make sure that it doesn’t come out dry and tasteless, try using the previous three steps in order to roast a great turkey.

Finished Thanksgiving Turkey


An Anti-Valentine’s Day Dinner Party


Like a lot of people out there (notably single) the over-commercialization of Valentine’s Day just grinds their gears. The over-priced heart-shaped chocolates, the fluffy teddy bears, the couples sitting down to a romantic meal in a restaurant, seeing your co-worker getting a ginormous bouquet delivered to her in the office by her significant other… you know the deal. Well this year I decided to have an Anti-Valentine’s Day Dinner to celebrate with all my single friends.

On the menu was:

Spring Salad

“Can’t Wait ‘Til” Spring Mix Salad and Avocado with a Creamy Vinaigrette

Making your own salad dressing is a big money-saver. For this one I used some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a dab of mayonnaise, some lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper.

Shrimp Dumplings

“Stuff You” Steamed Shrimp Dumplings

I admit, this is from a store-bought package, but they tasted delicious!

Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus

“Spear My Heart” Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus

So yummy. My first time trying anything wrapped in asparagus.

Jerk Chicken with Penne Pasta in a Cream Sauce

“He’s A Jerk” Chicken with Penne Pasta in a Cream Sauce

I marinated some chicken breasts overnight in a home-made jerk sauce (could’ve used more “jerk” though). Next time I’ll be sure to add some scotch bonnet peppers.

Chocolate Lava Cake with Ice Cream

“Dark Hearts” Chocolate Lava Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream

I meant to make the cake (and even the Ice Cream) from scratch, but was running out of prep time (had to go salsa dancing later that night!). Not as “lava-ey” as I hoped (I think I left them in the oven too long), but still quite tasty.

Chocolate-Caramel Apples

And my girl Colleen brought some fan-freakin-tastic chocolate-caramel covered apples for post-dessert! Courtesy of The Real Canadian Superstore (who knew?).

Dinner went wonderfully, and my lovely friends definitely enjoyed all the food (thank you for coming!). Who knows? Maybe I’ll make this an annual thing… we’ll see what cupid has in store.