Tag Archives: Turkey

Secret Family Turkey Recipe

 Brown Bag Turkey Header

Thanksgiving is here again which means it’s time to once again prepare our turkey with our secret family recipe. Does juicy, tender turkey falling off the bone sound good? Of course it does! There’s nothing worse than choking down dry, bland turkey. My grandmother actually is the one who got this recipe from a chef from the Waldorf Historia in New York and the secret is not so much the recipe itself, but actually the way the turkey gets cooked. Our family has been making turkey’s like this every year for the last 80 years! Paul, can I get a drum roll please? The secret is…………..

a brown paper grocery bag!

Yes, really. I know, you think I’m crazy, but we’ve already established that long ago. This recipe is really quite simple and the paper bag actually roasts the turkey making it golden brown and extremely juicy. You pop that bad boy in the oven and don’t touch it until it’s ready to eat! Seems too good to be true but it’s not. Let’s get into it.

Inside Bird Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 2 parsnips or carrots
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 large red apple
  • Fresh rosemary, sage and thyme

Seasoning/Cooking Ingredients:

  • Butter flavored Shortening
  • Poultry Seasoning
  • Brown Paper Bag
  • Roasting Pan (I prefer disposable)


Preheat oven to 350° degrees.

Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey, rinse inside and out and pat dry. Cut the apple, celery, onion, garlic, herbs and carrot or parsnip into large pieces and stuff into the bird cavity. (This is just for flavoring and will be thrown away after cooking.)

I usually put on a pair of gloves for this part. Rub down the entire turkey with butter flavored shortening while whispering sweet nothings. I’m just kidding about that second part, sort of. Also rub down the entire inside of a brown paper grocery bag as well, then set the bag aside. Sprinkle the entire turkey with poultry seasoning, then slide the turkey into the bag breast up. (If your turkey is very big, you may need a bag at both ends.) Now place the bag in a large roasting pan, close and tuck the end of the bag under the turkey. I then place the roasting pan on a cookie sheet that has sides. This is just to provide extra support when moving the turkey to and from the oven.

Place turkey in the oven making sure the turkey sits in the middle of your oven so it cooks evenly and does not touch any cooking elements. (don’t worry the oven is not hot enough to burn the bag.) Cook the turkey at 350° degrees for 15 minutes per pound.

Brown Bag Turkey

Do not open the bag at all during the cooking time, there is no basting needed with this method.  I mean it, no peeking! This cooking method will produce A LOT of juices. Your roasting pan will overflow if you don’t check on it, so peek in on it every so often and suck out some of the juice into a large pot with a turkey baster and use all that wonderful juice for your gravy. Don’t remove too much liquid though, the turkey needs it for the cooking process.

When your timer goes off, pull out the turkey insert a meat thermometer, the temperature should read 165-170 degrees. Let the turkey sit for 20 minutes. When done, pierce the bag near the bottom to allow any extra juices to flow out then, the big reveal…. tear open the bag and listen to the oooh’s and aaah’s! The turkey is so tender it will practically fall off the bone. Once you make your turkey this way, you may never cook it your old way again.

Don’t forget those juices! Take some turkey meat chunks and shred them up into the drippings and add cornstarch and simmer until thickened. Keep adding a little cornstarch at a time until desired thickness.

Oh, Paul is ready to serve it up, gotta go – Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Paul Carving


Thanksgiving in July!

Paul and I were sitting and praying one day for our family and discussing how blessed we feel to have such amazing family, friends and neighbors. The topic came up about how we should get everyone together for dinner to just spend some time with one another. Jokingly, Paul said, “let’s make it a big dinner, kind of like Thanksgiving”. Well, being the crazy people that we are, we ran with that idea. So, this past Sunday, we held our first ever “Why the Heck Not, Thanksgiving in July”.

We compiled the guest list and sent out our invitations. We of course got comments like, “What? In July?” and, “Weird idea, but we love it.”  I started on the menu planning and here is what we ended up serving:

        • Secret Family Recipe Turkey (I’ll share this recipe sometime soon)
        • Stuffing
        • Mashed potatoes (homemade by Kaela)
        • Gravy from turkey drippings
        • Baharat spiced carrots (Pinterest found recipe)
        • Dill buttered corn
        • Italian baked zucchini boats (Pinterest found recipe)
        • Homemade bread
        • Fresh fruit salad
        • Pickles and Olives
        • Cranberry Sauce

For dessert we had Pumpkin Cheesecake bars made by our daughter Amy and since we had 4 people coming whose birthdays were within the week, we needed a birthday cake. My mom made a homemade vanilla bean cake with Italian custard filling, buttercream icing and topped it with mini peanut butter cups.

We definitely were going to have to abandon our diets for the day!

After all the R.S.V.P.’s came back, we ended up with 24 people confirmed. Wow! Where were we going to put everyone? Since it is July, and this is Florida, the patio would be too hot. Yep, time to move some furniture. The day before, we ended up moving out most of the living room furniture and set up various folding and patio tables. After a lot of shuffling, we finally made everything fit like a charm.

We were set and ready to go for our out of the ordinary celebration. At this point, I just needed sleep since I had to put the 28 1/2 pound turkey in the oven at 3:30 am in order to have it ready in time. (As I said earlier, we are crazy.) Paul and I both slept horribly. Kind of like the day before you are ready to go on vacation and you keep thinking you forgot to pack something. Finally 3:30 rolled around, I put the turkey in and went back to bed for a few hours. In the morning when I got up, Paul took me out to the front yard and to my amazement, my neighbors, Kenny and Courtney fully flocked our yard with Thanksgiving decorations galore.

Thanksgiving in July was official!

I got so emotional when Paul told me he planned it with them and last night while I was sleeping they snuck in our yard and set the whole thing up. Oh, how blessed we are to have neighbors so sweet to do something like this for us.

Later in the day, everyone started rolling in and the house was quickly filled with hugs and laughter. We had the movie Elf playing in the background, the smell of roasted turkey was in the air, and everyone was having so much fun. You could have sworn it was November! The only thing that could have been better is if our families who live far away could have been there with us.

So here was the overall purpose behind Thanksgiving in July:

  • Don’t be too busy to not make it a point to spend precious time with people that mean a lot to you.
  • Don’t wait for an official holiday to show people how grateful you are for them in your life. It is true that life is short.
  • Thankfulness is not a feeling, it is a sense of being.
  • Remove yourself from time to time, and just serve others out of joy.

Gobble, Gobble!

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”
– William Arthur Ward