Thanksgiving Simplified

I tend to be VERY casual when it comes to cooking for Thanksgiving. The emptier my nest becomes the less I become like my cooking buddies Connie who spends hours making a creation called a turducken (cramming a boneless chicken into a boneless duck, which is stuffed into a boneless turkey

a process that takes several days and what seems like millions of ingredients and several hundred of dollars) or Jerry who uses what is quite possibility the first atomic powered deep fryer. Both of these talented chefs create memorable meals using LARGE birds and feed LOTS of people. I’m at that point where I’m pulling strangers in off the street to help finish the appetizers.

            I’m opting for using parts of the turkey this year. Less mess, less fuss and quite frankly, more opportunity to create several really memorable recipes. The following recipes all utilize turkey legs, breasts, or wings, all parts that are readily available at the store. In the event you want to buy a small turkey and utilize the leftovers for the next couple of weeks know that you can use most of the glazes and sauces and techniques in these recipes for a whole bird.


6 to 7 pounds bone in turkey breast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (12-oz) can frozen orange juice concentrate; thawed and undiluted
1 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 (8-oz) can pineapple chunks drained
1 (2-oz) pkg slivered almonds
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup currants
cooked wild rice
3 tablespoons Cornstarch
1/4 cup water
Rub turkey breast with salt and pepper and then brown it on the cook top in a large Dutch oven. In a bowl combine the orange juice concentrate, 1 cup water, brown sugar, and cloves and curry, mixing well. Pour the mixture over the turkey breast. Add the pineapple, almonds, raisins, and currants to the pan. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 hours. Remove turkey, and place on a bed of wild rice.

In a bowl combine the cornstarch and 1/4 cup water; gradually stir into juice mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Serve sauce with turkey and wild rice.  Serves 6


6 pound turkey breast, boned, skinned and separated into 2 pieces
1 cup cranberry juice cocktail
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
3 cups frozen cranberries
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup coarsely chopped red onion
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried apricot halves
1/2 cup fresh cilantro or parsley leaves
2 large oranges, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
Place the turkey breast in a large heavy-duty, zip-top plastic bag. In a jar that has a tight lid combine the cranberry juice cocktail, orange juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and 1/4 cup cilantro or parsley. Cover tightly, and shake vigorously. Reserve 1/2 cup marinade, and chill. Pour the remaining marinade over turkey. Seal bag, and chill 8 hours, turning occasionally.

Using the knife blade attachment in your food processor bowl add the cranberries, honey, lime juice, red onion, peppers, apricots, 1/2 cup cilantro or parsley and orange pieces. Pulse until chopped, stopping once to scrape down sides (do not over process). Transfer cranberry mixture to a serving bowl; chill until ready to use.

Remove turkey from marinade, discarding marinade. Cook turkey, covered with grill lid, over medium-hot coals, about 15 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 180, basting occasionally with reserved marinade. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing. This can also be made on a grill pan on your cook top. Serve with cranberry mixture. Serves 4 to 6.


4 cups dry bread cubes
4 large stalk celery, minced
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground sage
 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 egg
1/2 cup hot water
2 turkey legs with thighs (with the thighs cut off)
3 tablespoons margarine or oil
 Preheat oven to 375. Place a large sheet of aluminum foil on a medium baking sheet. In a medium bowl, mix the bread, celery, cranberries, walnuts, onion, and garlic. Season with sage, marjoram, salt, and pepper. Stir in the egg and enough hot water to moisten. Arrange turkey legs and thighs on the foil sheet, and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the bread mixture around the legs, and dot with margarine. Tightly seal the foil around the legs and bread mixture. Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until the turkey leg meat has reached an internal temperature of 180. Remove from the oven, place the legs on a platter and serve the stuffing mixture in a separate bowl. Serves 4


These legs are delicious teamed with roasted potatoes and zucchini and a hot peach or pear half!

1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 Turkey legs, small
1/4 cup Corn oil
1/2 cup Barbecue sauce
1/2 cup Water
1 Chicken bouillon cube, crush

Preheat oven to 325. On a plate mix the flour with salt, chili powder and pepper; dredge turkey legs with flour mixture. Heat the oil in a large skillet; brown turkey, turning to brown all sides. Remove turkey from the pan and place them in a 13x9x2-inch pan. In a bowl combine the barbecue sauce, water and bouillon cube. Mix well and spoon the mixture over the legs. Cover the pan with foil place it in the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour.. Uncover and bake 1 hour, until turkey is tender, basting frequently. Serves 6.


2 turkey thighs
20-30 fresh mushrooms, cut in 1/2
8 red potatoes, cut in 1/2
1 onion, sliced
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
2 teaspoons pepper
4 or 5 cloves of fresh garlic
1/2 cup oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season turkey with 2 teaspoons of salt and 2 teaspoons pepper. Braise the thighs in a heavy skillet with hot oil until brown. Flip over and brown on the other side. Remove thighs from the skillet and drain the oil. Don’t wash the pan. Put the potatoes, which have been cut, the mushrooms and the onions in the bottom of the hot heavy skillet or a Dutch oven. Sit the turkey on top of the potatoes, onions and mushrooms. Cut the garlic into small pieces and sprinkle it over the turkey. Add the 1/4 cup of water. Bake for 1 hour. Stir the mixture and bake for an additional 1/2 hour. Serves 2.


1  3-to 4 pound bone turkey breast, with skin

1-1/2 cups soft bread crumbs (2 slices)

1/2 cup snipped dried apricots

1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

2 tablespoons apple juice or water

1 tablespoon cooking oil

1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 325.. Cut a horizontal slit into thickest part of turkey breast to form a 5×4-inch pocket. Set it aside.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine bread crumbs, apricots, pecans, apple juice or water, oil, rosemary, and garlic salt. Spoon stuffing mixture into pocket. Securely fasten the opening with water-soaked wooden toothpicks or tie with heavy cotton string. In another bowl stir together the mustard and water then set it aside. . Place turkey, skin side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.  Roast turkey, uncovered, in preheated oven for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours brushing with mustard mixture during the last 30 minutes of roasting. Let stand for 15 minutes before slicing. Makes 8 servings

Adapted from a from Better Homes and Gardens recipe


A bone-in turkey breast half is baked on a bed of spinach, onion, celery, bread cubes, walnuts, apple and nutmeg to create this fabulous meal

4 pounds bone-in turkey breast half,

2 tablespoons margarine, divided

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

3/4 cup turkey broth

3 slices whole wheat bread, cubed

1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted

1/2 cup coarsely chopped Granny Smith apple

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9X13 roasting pan and set it aside. Rub turkey breast with 1 tablespoon margarine, thyme and garlic. In large non-stick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon margarine and add the onion and celery. Saute for 4 to 5 minutes or until soft. Fold in the spinach, broth, bread, walnuts, apple, salt, nutmeg and pepper and mix until combined. Spoon the dressing into mound in center of the prepared roasting pan. Place the turkey, skin side up, over the dressing. Bake for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until meat thermometer reaches 180 and the juices run clear. Serves 6.


1 4/5 boneless pounds turkey breast, thinly sliced

1/3 cup unsalted butter

An onion, finely sliced

4 sweet red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, ribbed, and cut into thin strips

1/2 cup sliced pitted black olives

A dash of olive oil

3/4 cup dry white wine

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 pound cooked  small shell pasta

In a skillet saute melt the butter and saute the sliced turkey for  3 minutes. Remove from heat. In another skillet saute the peppers and olives in the olive oil for 2 to 3 minutes and then cover and simmer for 8 to 10 more minutes. Add the turkey and the wine and cook, leaving the lid off. Cook until the wine is almost completely evaporated, add the pasta, season to taste, stir until coated and serve immediately. Serves 6

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