Thanksgiving in June

Last week started out very, very hot. It got a bit better around Wednesday, but dinners were made of salad or smoothies- things which did not require us to generate heat during preparation. Then it rained again on Friday. It rained a lot. However, the cooler temperatures meant I could finally stand to cook something substantial for dinner. Further more, Mr. Food It Yourself bought me a beautiful new casserole dish for my birthday and I was eager to use it.

The main challenge was deciding what to make. I knew I had a package of ground turkey in my freezer, and a few frozen vegetables. I had a few carrots and celery ribs that really needed to be used up (I hate wasting food). Then it hit me- a Thanksgiving flavored casserole. Here’s how it all came together:

Step one was to sweat down the aromatic vegetables-celery, onions and carrots. I could have held off adding the carrots at this point, but Mr. Food It Yourself prefers his carrots cooked through.

After the celery and onion were looking translucent and starting to smell nice I added a pinch of salt, some ground black pepper, thyme, and rosemary. Then I plopped the block of frozen ground turkey into the pan. One of my favorite things about casseroles like this is you can cook your ground meat from a frozen state, thus avoiding the temperature related risks of thawing. I set the burner to medium heat and put a lid on the pan. This let the turkey thaw and cook gently and the carrots to continue to steam.

While that was happening combined two cups of broth with one egg and drizzled the mixture over a bag of herb-seasoned stuffing mix. The egg is not 100% necessary, but I like the texture it gives to the stuffing. It can be tricky to locate the stuffing mix at the supermarket when it is not thanksgiving. Try looking near the rice and noodles. You could also just use dry, cubed bread instead of buying stuffing mix. It is up to you.

After the turkey was cooked and crumbled and the carrots sufficiently cooked I mixed two cups of broth, some corn starch, and a dash of Gravy Starter Liquid.  While the starch was still suspended in the cold liquid I dumped it into the pan and raised the heat a little. I let the mixture boil just long enough to thicken the gravy. I used about three tablespoons of starch, you could add less if you like a thinner gravy.

Time to assemble the casserole.  Look at that lovely new baking dish! I spritzed it with some non-stick spray. First down was a layer of baby Brussels sprouts from the freezer. I did not want them falling apart in the pan with the other veggies so I just thawed them in the microwave.

Next in the dish went the turkey and veggies.

Finally, the delicious bread stuffing topping. I had very cleverly pre-heated the oven to 350°F. I cooked the casserole for one hour with the lid on, then another 20 minutes with the lid off to brown the top. Finally the moment of truth arrived.

The smell was about right for a Thanksgiving-related food. I do wish I had added sage, but I am currently out. (There is some growing in the Food It Yourself garden, though!) Mr. Food It Yourself and I both enjoyed it.  Improvements for the next time we make this will probably be:

  • Roasting the Brussels sprouts for added flavor.
  • Being a little more generous with the seasonings in the gravy.

Over all, I think this was a successful meal.  Why on earth do I not make bread stuffing more often? I love that stuff! What holiday foods have you worked into regular rotation in your house? Share in the comments!

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