Recession. Just the thought of it is enough to strike panic in the pocketbook. But don't worry: Here's an easy Thanksgiving feast for 8 that costs about $25.
To conserve funds for the upcoming holidays, stick with fresh and seasonal foods. One way to trim your budget: Buy fruits and vegetables seasonally--those in season cost less--with a 49- or 59-cent-per-pound limit. When mixed with other foods, higher-priced items such as papaya and mushrooms can become a part of the meal. You needn't be Julia Child to execute this meal but, like Julia, do use fresh ingredients. The simplicity of the menu keeps preparation time down and highlights the basic flavors of the food.
The Menu Gingered Carrot Soup Roasted or barbecued turkey with mushroom gravy Stuffing Restuffed baked potatoes with artichoke hearts Vegetable Papaya-cranberry salad Pumpkin custard Cost (Prices may vary slightly, depending on where you shop.)
1 (10- to 12-pound) fresh turkey at 99 cents per pound: $11
Carrots, fresh 4 pounds: $1
Celery: 69 cents
Ginger root: 25 cents
Potatoes, 10 pounds russets: 99 cents
Onions: 50 cents
Mushrooms, 1/2 pound: 60 cents
Parsley: 25 cents
Cara Mia artichoke hearts, 6-ounce jar: $1.25
Cranberries, fresh: 89 cents
Oranges, 2 to 4: 59 cents
Apples, 2: 59 cents
Vegetable, 2 pounds (59 cents per pound or less): $1
Milk: 59 cents
Pumpkin, 1-pound can: 89 cents
GINGERED CARROT SOUP
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 pounds carrots, scraped and cut into small pieces
8 cups water or chicken broth
2 tablespoons uncooked rice
Small piece ginger root, freshly grated, approximately 1/2 teaspoon, or to taste, or 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon or orange
Dash curry powder, optional
Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add and saute onion until tender, about 2 minutes. Add carrots, water or broth, rice and 1/2 piece ginger. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain carrot mixture and reserve cooking liquid.
Puree carrot mixture in food processor or blender, adding cooking liquid as mixture purees. Return to pan and heat through.
Just before serving add lemon juice and zest, remaining ginger and curry powder, if using. Correct seasoning to taste. If desired, top with small dollop sour cream or low-fat plain yogurt. Sprinkle with chopped parsley (if not used in soup) or finely chopped green onion tops. Makes 8 servings.
FRESH PAPAYA-CRANBERRY SALAD
2 green apples, cored and chopped
1 papaya, peeled, seeded and diced
1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries, chopped
1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar, or to taste
1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped, optional
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Peel 1 orange, remove seeds and dice. Finely chop second orange, including peel.
Combine both oranges, apples, papaya, cranberries and sugar in large bowl. Cover and chill at least 8 hours. Just before serving, mix in walnuts and sprinkle chopped parsley on top. Makes 8 servings.
UNDER THE SKIN TURKEY
1 (10- to 12-pound) whole turkey
1 handful parsley, finely minced
2 to 3 large cloves garlic, finely minced
2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon mixed herbs (Italian, Mexican, oregano or your favorite)
1 orange or lemon, thinly sliced, optional
Take turkey and gently run hand under breast skin to loosen it from meat. Do not remove skin, simply make pocket.
Mix parsley, garlic, olive oil and herbs together in bowl. Dip orange or lemon slices (if using) in mixture to coat, then gently shove under skin. Otherwise, gently spoon mixture under skin and spread around with fingers. Bake or barbecue in moderate heat, about 350 degrees, 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until meat is firm to touch and juices run clear, not pink. Makes 8 servings.
2 tablespoons degreased pan drippings
1/2 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 to 1 1/2 cups water, turkey stock, wine or a mixture
Use turkey pan for sauce. Pour off grease, leaving about 2 tablespoons drippings. Add water to loosen bits off bottom. Add mushrooms and saute 8 to 10 minutes on medium heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 8 servings.
2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil or butter
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 large onion, diced
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
4 cups soft diced white, whole-wheat or corn bread
1 tablespoon sage, oregano or favorite herb
1/2 to 1 cup turkey broth, water or milk
Heat olive oil and saute celery and onion 1 minute. Remove from heat. Combine bread with parsley and herbs in large bowl. Add enough broth to lightly moisten. Add vegetables. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool. Stuff turkey or use as side dish. Makes 8 servings.
Note: Other ingredients can be added such as mushrooms, giblets, fruit, nuts or sausage.
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spices, or mixture of ground cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg
Combine eggs, milk, puree, honey, pumpkin pie spices in blender. Puree until smooth. Pour into 8 buttered custard cups. Place cups in pan and fill with enough hot water to reach 1 inch on cups. Bake at 325 degrees 20 to 25 minutes or until custard is set and knife inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from water and cool in refrigerator. Makes 8 servings.