I did not advance to Challenge 8 of Project Food Blog, but I want to thank all of you for your tremendous support over the last few months. I had a great time preparing and sharing each and every entry post, and I am honored to have made it as far as I did. While I’m a little sad that PFB is over for me, I am relieved that I can get back to writing posts without the added stress that comes from being in a competition. I’m happy to watch from the sidelines from now on and wish the 24 remaining contestants all the best!

Now let’s talk Thanksgiving, shall we?

Thanksgiving is, without question, my favorite holiday to cook for. I enjoy doing most of the cooking on my own: I make a variety dishes infused with tradition and love for various members of my and my husband’s family. I find that time spent in the kitchen pretty much non-stop over a couple of days gives me ample time to reflect on how fortunate I am to have the life and the family that I do. It also gives me time to think about what I can do to make the world a better place for those around me.

I firmly believe that Thanksgiving, of all holidays, should be stress-free. So when it comes to my Thanksgiving menu, I prefer tried and true recipes that highlight the best local and seasonal ingredients over experimenting with complicated dishes.

Take the turkey, for example. I’ve liquid brined a few over the years and while I did get great results, I found the whole process to be a pain…storing the big pot with the brining turkey was a real challenge.

So last year, I made this Sage Butter Roasted Turkey recipe that utilizes the dry brining method. It is so much easier, and yields a very moist and flavorful bird. I’m making it again this time around- I know it will be delicious and I really cannot wait.

For the healthiest and best tasting turkey, look for Eberly’s or a similar brand of organic, free-range turkey, or order one from a local farm that sells pastured birds. Heritage turkeys are also fantastic.

Organic Roast Turkey with Sage Butter

adapted from the recipe for Sage Butter Roasted Turkey in the November 2009 issue of Bon Appetit Magazine

Ingredients:

*3 tablespoons coarse sea salt
*1 tablespoon dried rubbed sage
*1 whole organic, pastured turkey (approximately 14 pounds), neck and giblets removed
*1/4 cup organic butter
*1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
*1 small apple, halved
*1 onion, quartered
*4 fresh thyme sprigs
*2 medium yellow onions, chopped
*4-5 large carrots, chopped
*3 ribs celery, chopped
*5 cups vegetable or chicken stock, preferably homemade
*3/4 cup apple cider
*sea salt and fresh pepper- to taste

Directions:

1. 1-2 days before you are going to cook the turkey, mix salt and dried sage together in a small bowl. Sprinkle turkey all over with sage salt and place in a large brining bag. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place rack in lowest position of oven. Pat turkey dry. Stuff turkey cavity with apple, onion, and thyme sprigs. Do a simple truss by tying the turkey’s legs together. Tuck wing tips under.

3. Scatter carrots, onions, and celery in the bottom of the roasting pan, and pour 2 cups of chicken or turkey stock over the vegetables.

4. Stir butter and chopped sage together in a saucepan over low heat until butter melts. Rub the skin with the melted butter/sage and and sprinkle with pepper. Place the turkey in the roasting pan and cook for 1 hour. Baste the turkey with the pan drippings. If the bottom of the pan starts to look dry, add more stock or water (1-2 cups at a time).

5. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. and continue to roast for 45 minutes. Pour the apple cider over the turkey. Continue to roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165°(about 1 1/4 hours longer), basting and turning the pan to ensure even cooking, if necessary.

6. Transfer the turkey to a large serving platter, tent loosely with foil, and let stand about 30 minutes before carving.

7. Remember not to discard your turkey bones- save them to make your own stock.

While the turkey cooks, we’ll be having an assortment of olive, cheese, crackers, and this Edamame Dip as a snack. When we sit down to our meal, we’ll have this salad, these mashed potatoes, this cranberry chutney, a giblet gravy I make with the turkey pan drippings, and apple pandowdy which I’ve made a couple of times and love, served with homemade cinnamon whipped cream.

I’ll also make a couple of new recipes: I’m thinking Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranates and Vanilla Pecan Butter and this Herbed Cornbread Stuffing. Pumpkin souffles will also be on the dessert menu: I’ll post that recipe tomorrow.

If you are still on the fence about what to make, I dug into my archives and came up with this list of seasonally appropriate recipes. Most of these have appeared on my blog, but a few are recipes of mine from past food52 contests, and a few are from the twice weekly blog I write for eHow. Maybe one or two will catch your eye.

Perfect Fall Salad
Brussels Sprouts Salad with Fennel and Radicchio
Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pears
Cranberry Pomegranate Compote
Cranberry Chutney with Dried Apricots and Spices
Easy Homemade Pumpkin Puree
Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic and Cream Cheese
Roasted Sweet Dumpling Squash with Fennel
Roasted Beet Salad with Greens and Candied Pecans
Arugula Salad with Pomegranate, Avocado and Goat Cheese
Roasted Vegetables with Cardamom
Spiced Sweet Potato Puree
Pumpkin Gingerbread Stuffing
Parsnip and Apple Soup
Celery Root, Kale, and Wild Rice Soup
Sweet Potato Indian Pudding
Pumpkin Clafouti
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Spiced Maple Butternut Squash Pie
Pumpkin Seed Toffee

And after Thanksgiving? Don’t forget about my turkey pho! It makes a great meal any time of the day and is extremely healthy and delicious.

Want to join in the Thanksgiving blog hop?