Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Turkey Day and a Chanukah Giveaway!

Thanksgiving prep has us beat. 

Oh Thanksgiving. I have such love-hate relationship with you. In truth, the "love" part is the Green Bean Casserole. The "hate" part is all of the other food. I'm not a big crazy indulge meal kind of person. Wait, how did I become an Orthodox Jew with that type of meal twice every week on Shabbat?!

I digress. (On that note, if you're curious why some Jews don't celebrate Thanksgiving, read my article.)

This year, oh this year my parents are coming to town, and I'm making my first solo Thanksgiving ever, without the help of a husband at home. Add to that Asher breaking out with some illness and a fever yesterday and boy oh boy it's been tough cookies around here.

Here's the menu, and before you ask, no, I'm not not making stuffing because I'm gluten free. No, I hate the stuff. It's disgusting.

Kosher Turkey a la Trader Joe's
Gluten-free Green Bean Casserole
Streuseled Sweet Potato Casserole
Deviled Eggs (mom is supposed to make these)
Pistachio Salad 
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie
Udi's Gluten-Free Dinner Rolls

Yes, you can see there is some heavy prepackaged goods going on here, but the gluten-free green bean casserole is itself quite the undertaking. I make my own mushroom soup/gravy and my own fried onions. Basically, I do everything but grow, pick, and prep the green beans. (Thank you Target and your Del Monte discount on the Cartwheel app!) These recipes will be posted up, but after Turkey Day. Sorry! At least you can plan for next year?

The Pistachio Salad is an Edwards Family standby. However, for the first time ever in my life making it, I noticed the recipe on the Jell-O Pistachio Pudding box is our family recipe and that it's actually called "Watergate Salad." Secret family recipe bubble burst! I did have to get creative, however, because Cool Whip is dairy and turkey is not! Luckily, I found a new non-dairy whipped topping product by SoDelicious called CocoWhip. Now, I wouldn't suggest plopping this on your pumpkin pie because it's potently coconut flavored, but in something like Pistachio Salad? Perfectly dreamy!

The Pumpkin Pie got help from Wholly Wholesome's gluten-free and parve pie crust. Although it didn't get very crispy and the pie filling appears to have separated from the crust, it looks like Pumpkin Pie, and that's what matters.

The big sticking point for me here is going to be the turkey. Yes, it's pre-brined thanks to the kashering process, but there's still the whole need to cook and baste and perfect the turkey. I've never cooked a turkey in my life. I've watched plenty of them being made, but I've never had to do one myself. And, thanks to my hatred of stuffing and Alton Brown's crusade against stuffing your bird, I'm anxious about a hollow turkey cooking right. When to start? When's it done? Do I season it? Do I put anything in the spacious cavity? I've become a monster on Facebook and Google owns me.

But I'm sure it's all going to turn out okay. After all, the worst that can happen is my non-Jewish, non-kosher parents will look at my gluten-free, non-dairy kosher Thanksgiving, smile and head out to McDonalds whenever it opens. I honestly don't know how non-Jews feel about parve substitutes, let alone how carb-loaders feel about gluten-free fried onions (a classic) and pie crust (so tasty when it's chock full o' gluten).

Amid the stress, the love-hate balance, and attempting to cook with a sick babe, I have to say a big thanks and hallelujah for Manischewitz. Yes, I don't imagine you suspected this post to end with a big "Whoo Manischewitz!" plug, but here we are. The truth is, I did them a huge disservice. They were kind enough to send me their naturally gluten-free Vegetable Broth, Chicken Broth, and a can of Turkey Broth, and I was going to write an elaborate post with the recipes for my Thanksgiving goodies. Unfortunately, life got the better of me and here we are, the evening before Turkey Day and I'm finally saying "these products have made my life so much easier."

The Vegetable Stock actually made its way into some quinoa for Shabbat when we partook of more Terra Chip Tilapia with Roasted Mushrooms and Popcorn Cauliflower. The rest of the stock made its way into the gravy for the Green Bean Casserole, along with some of the Chicken Broth. The rest of the Chicken Broth and the Turkey Broth are going to be the basting goodness for my hopefully successful 14.5-pound beast in the fridge.

Without these broths, I probably would have defaulted to water like usual. I just don't keep broth or stock in the house anymore! Color me convinced that Manischewitz has a good thing going with their broths. It's an easy way to pack something full of flavor, and I'm sold!

Also from Manischewitz? The Do-it-Yourself Chanukah House! Okay, I thought I was way ahead of the curve and super progressive back in 2008 when I made my first Gingershul, but the Chanukah House has really upped the ante. Yes, you could go out and (like I did back then) buy a kosher-certified Gingerbread House kit, but the colors would be a little unfestive for Chanukah.

The Manischewitz kit has festively colored frosting and sprinkles, and it comes with a magen david, too! Talk about the kit with everything you need to make a real Gingershul.

I'm schlepping mine to Israel in mid-December when Ash and I go visit Mr. T (thanks to my gracious inlays) or else I'd show you my amazing constructing skills (oh, there will be pictures, but I won't be eating any because it isn't gluten free). But wouldn't you love to make one of your own?

Well, I'm giving away a Do-it-Yourself Chanukah House kit! The best part of this giveaway is that after you win the kit and build your own, you can snap a picture and enter a contest to win up to $500 (find out more below the giveaway)!


After you've designed your own Chanukah House (or Gingershul), snap a pic and upload the photo between December 9 and 23, 2014, to Manischewitz's Facebook page. The grand prize winner will receive $2,000, second prize gets $1,500, and third gets $500!! $500, second prize nabs $200, and third prize will get $150.

(Rules: You must be 18 or older to enter. Minors can submit their entry with parental permission using a parent's or guardian's email address. Additional materials like sprinkles, frosting, cookies, or candy can be used to enhance the design.)