You probably know Kissing Trees New Home Counselor Kevin, but do you have his secret turkey recipe (hint: his secret is all about the brine for a juicy bird!). You might know our Digital Marketing Coordinator Kelley, but has she shared her family’s Sweet Potato Casserole recipe? We polled our employees for their Thanksgiving favorites for the latest edition of Kiss and Tell!
Kevin – New Home Counselor – Roasted Turkey
“My favorite Turkey Brine and Roasting recipe. It’s all about the brine to ensure a super flavorful and juicy turkey every time. Roasted in the oven or smoked on the Big Green Egg.”
- 2 gallons water
- 2 cups apple juice
- 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 5 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 5 bay leaves
- 4 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
- 3 oranges, peeled, white pith removed, skin roughly chopped
- 1 (20-pound) fresh turkey
- 1 1/2 sticks softened butter
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
- 3 tablespoons chopped orange zest
- Combine the water, apple juice, salt, sugar, garlic, onions, bay leaves, peppercorns, dried rosemary, and orange peel in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat immediately, cover, and allow mixture to come to room temperature. Cool mixture in the fridge until you’re ready.
- To brine the turkey, remove the turkey from wrapper, remove interior bags (set aside; refrigerate), and rinse turkey thoroughly under cool water.
- Place the turkey into a plastic brining bag or a very large pot.
- Pour the cooled brine mixture over the top, adding extra cold water if you need more to completely cover the turkey. Seal the bag or cover the pot and allow the turkey to brine in the refrigerator for 16 to 24 hours before roasting.
- Before roasting, remove the turkey from brine and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Then soak in a sink full of fresh water for 15 to 20 minutes. Pat dry. Discard brine. (This soaking process will decrease the likelihood of too-salty gravy).
- Preheat the oven 275 degrees F.
- Truss the bird and place it breast side up on a rack in a large roasting pan. Cover the turkey tightly with heavy-duty foil. Make sure it’s entirely covered (cover over the bottom edges of the pan). Place in the oven and roast for about 10 minutes per pound (a 20 pound turkey will roast for about 3 1/2 hours).
- Remove the turkey from the oven and increase the temperature to 375 degrees F. Remove the aluminum foil and set aside. Mix the softened butter with the rosemary and orange zest and rub all over the skin of the turkey, covering every single inch of the skin. Insert a meat thermometer into the thigh, near the hip joint. Place the turkey, uncovered, back into the oven. Continue roasting the turkey, basting with butter every 30 minutes, until the thermometer registers 170 degrees F and until the juices are no longer pink.
- Remove from the oven and cover with foil until you are ready to carve and serve. Reserve pan juices to make gravy.
Tricia – Customer Guide – Apple & Brie Crostini
“Every year I make an apple & brie crostini or peach & blue cheese crostini – sometimes both!! . It’s a huge hit with my family & friends and they are both the easiest things ever!”
- 1 baguette (HEB will slice it into ½” slices for you)
- 1 jar of apple butter
- 6 oz Brie (thinly sliced)
- 2 large apples (we like honey crisp)
- 1 lemon
- ½ cup candied pecans, chopped
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Thinly spread apple butter on one side of each slice of the baguette, place on cookie sheet
- Place a slice of brie on each baguette
- Bake for 5-7 minutes, until brie melts
- While baguettes are in the oven, slice apples into thin slices and squeeze a small amount of lemon juice on apples to keep them from browning.
- Remove baguettes from the oven and top with apple slices. Sprinkle with candied pecan and drizzle with honey.
- Serve immediately.
Tricia – Customer Guide – Peach & Blue Cheese Crostini
- 1 baguette (HEB will slice it into ½” slices for you)
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic (fresh)
- 1 – 2 peaches, pitted and sliced into thin slices
- 8 oz blue cheese, crumbled
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Rub each baguette slice with a little raw garlic and place on baking sheet
- Drizzle or brush a small amount of olive oil over each baguette
- Bake for about 5-7 minutes, until golden (I usually do 5 min.)
- Remove from oven and place 1-2 slices of peach on each baguette, sprinkle blue cheese over peaches
- Put back in the oven for about 5 minutes, until cheese is melting/soft
- Remove from oven and drizzle with honey.
- Serve immediately.
Kelley – Digital Marketing Coordinator – Traditional Sweet Potato Casserole
“This is one of my family favorites!”
- 2 ½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup finely chopped pecans, divided
- Cooking spray
- 2 cups miniature marshmallows
- Step 1
Preheat oven to 375°.
- Step 2
Place the sweet potatoes in a Dutch oven, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until very tender. Drain; cool slightly.
- Step 3
Place potatoes in a large bowl. Add sugar and next 3 ingredients (through vanilla). Mash sweet potato mixture with a potato masher. Fold in 1/4 cup pecans. Scrape potato mixture into an even layer in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup pecans; top with marshmallows. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until golden.
Katie – Social Media & Events Coordinator – Roasted Green Acorn Squash
“So easy and delicious and the natural sweetness of the acorn squash is ahhh-mazing!”
- 1 Medium Green Acorn Squash
- Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Chefs Knife/Sharp Knife
- Roasting Pan or Baking Sheet
- Heat Oven to 375
- Cut the squash in half from stem to tip. Place the squash on a cutting board. Using a chef’s knife, start on one side of the stem and cut straight through until the knife stops hitting resistance and you’ve cut through to the hollow middle. Continue cutting around the acorn, through the tip, ending up on the other side of the stem. Do not try to cut through the stem.
- Break the squash in half. Put down your knife and hold the squash in both hands. Pull the two halves away from each other, cracking the shell at the stem. The stem will stay with one half and leave the other half clean; you can trim away the stem if you want, but I usually leave it in.
- Scoop out the seeds. Use a sturdy spoon to scrape out all the seeds and stringy bits from inside both squash halves.
- Cut the halves into Slices (similar to a cantaloupe shape!)
- Set the pieces on a roasting pan (I put foil down first so they don’t stick to pan!)
- Drizzle with olive oil
- Sprinkle Salt & Pepper
- Roast for 30-40 min or until soft and caramelized
- Some like it sweeter or spicier– drizzle a honey glaze for the sweet or some chili jam for an extra kick!
Diane – Customer Guide – Pumpkin Walnut Cheesecake
“This is one of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes!”
- 1 ½ cups crushed vanilla wafers
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons melted butter
- Combine ingredients. Press firmly onto bottom and halfway up sides of lightly greased 9” springform pan.
- 3 8-ounce packages cream cheese (room temperature)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
- 5 eggs
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 pound pumpkin (canned or freshly cooked)
- To make filling, cream the cheese, add sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in cream, spices and pumpkin. Pour into prepared cheesecake pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
- 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- While cheesecake bakes, prepare topping. Cream the butter with the brown sugar. Stir in walnuts. Gently spoon topping over hot cheesecake and return to oven for 15 minutes. Cool completely, then refrigerate overnight.
Karen – Customer Guide – Mashed Sweet Potatoes Brulee
“This makes 14 servings so cut it back if that’s too much for you!”
- 5 ½ lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and boiled until soft (6 cups cooked)
- ¾ cup milk
- 3 tbsp butter, softened
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ cup unpacked light brown sugar
- When the potatoes are cooked and soft, combine them with milk, butter, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl and mash or puree until smooth.
- Spoon into a 9×9 or 11×7 inch baking dish. Bake at 350 covered, until heated through, about 20 minutes. If making ahead, and baking from the refrigerator, add more time as needed until the center is hot.
- Preheat the broiler.
- Sprinkle ½ cup brown sugar evenly over the top.
- Broil about 6 inches from the flame until the sugar melts and becomes caramelized, careful not to burn. About 2 to 3 minutes. If your dish can’t go under the broiler, use a brulee torch instead.
- Let it stand until the melted sugar hardens (about 5 minutes). Serve right away.
Christian – Senior Marketing Manager – Texas Trash
- 1/2 Cup Butter
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire
- 1/4 tsp. Celery Salt
- 1/4 tsp. Seasoned Salt
- 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1/4 tsp. Onion Salt
- 1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
- 1 Cup Cheerios
- 2 Cups bite size shredded rice
- 2 Cup bite size shredded wheat
- 2 Cups corn chex
- 1 Cup Thin Pretzels
- 1 Cup Mixed Nuts
- 2 Cups Goldfish
Melt butter or margarine in large jelly roll pan or 10 cup roasting pan. Mix in Worcestershire. Mix cereals, nuts, pretzels, and goldfish. Pour into pan of melted butter. Stir to coat dry ingredients. Mix seasonings and sprinkle over cereal mixture. Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour. Store in tight container. Makes 10 cups snacks.
Sylvia – Customer Guide – Red Hot Jell-O
“This is one of my favorite from my family up North!”
- 1/2 cup cinnamon red hot candies
- 1 cup water
- 1 (3ounce) package of cherry-flavored gelatin (Jell-O)
- 2 cups applesauce
Dissolve cinnamon candies in water in a saucepan over medium heat. Mix in gelatin and allow to dissolve; remove from heat and stir in applesauce into mixture. Pour into serving dish and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.
Lisa – Customer Experience Officer – Easy Orange Bundt
“This recipe was told to me at a happy hour by my dear friend Tracy, years ago…. she mentioned she makes it to take to funerals, family functions and other events and it’s simple and a big hit.
I tried my best to remember the receipt later when I needed to take a dessert to a function, and it came out delicious. I get asked about it a lot and I change it up when I can’t remember it exactly.
Tracy was actually featured in one of the first Kissing Tree promotional video commercials and has sadly since passed away, so every time I make it, it brings back a smile to my face, I hope it brings you the same joy when you share it.”
- 1 Box of Yellow Cake Mix (follow cake mix instructions but, use orange juice for water and add box of vanilla pudding and dash of vanilla.)
- 3 – large Eggs
- 1 – cup Orange Juice (using this instead of water listed on box cake mix)
- 1 – small box of Vanilla pudding mix (3.5 oz.)
- 1/3 – cup vegetable oil
- 1 – dash of vanilla
* If you feel fancy, I sometimes mix in- shaved orange rind.*
Combine all the ingredients together. Mix with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes or by hand. Pour batter into greased or non-stick sprayed, Bundt pan.
Bake cake according to box instruction – bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes (or until toothpick comes out clean at check)
- ½ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ stick of butter
Simmer all three ingredients together in a small saucepan, mix well and set aside to cool slightly.
When cake cools…flip Bundt pan over onto a plate/serving dish and use a toothpick or fork to poke holes every inch on the top of the cake…. then pour the cake glaze over it.
Its ok and I even encourage there to be a small “puddle” of the sweet glaze in the middle hole.
* When the cake is saturated, dust top with confectioners’ sugar. *