Updated: Monday, 12 Nov 2012, 11:55 AM CST
Published : Wednesday, 17 Nov 2010, 7:55 AM CST
This “feathered friend” is sure to be a hit at your next holiday gathering. No cooking is involved making it the perfect project for young helpers. Everything can be prepped 24-48 hours in advance and stored in plastic zip top storage bags leaving you precious time and refrigerator space leading up to Thanksgiving Day. You can change up the veggies to your liking and make the turkey as large or as small as you’d like. Cold cuts and assorted cheese slices can be added or even substituted for the veggies. Leftovers...not likely but if there are, the veggies can be diced, frozen, and added to the soup pot for a quick weeknight meal. The leftover cheese ball transforms into creamy, dreamy, cheesy hash brown casserole. The recipe that follows is for an extra large platter approx. 20”x 13.5”. Make as directed or use as a guideline for your own creative ideas. You can cut the recipe down by half or a third for smaller gatherings. I find that printing off a photo and using that as a guide is helpful. When traveling with your appetizer centerpiece it is a good idea to pack an emergency “fix it kit”. Bring along a small amount of cream cheese mixture, a few extra peppercorns, and maybe an extra piece of yellow pepper beak.
6- 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
3- 1 ounce pkgs Hidden Valley Ranch original dressing mix, (dry)
3 cups shredded cheese (sharp cheddar is great)
2-4. 3 ounce pkgs real bacon bits or cooked crumbled bacon to taste.
In a large mixing bowl mix cream cheese and ranch dressing mix until smooth. Fold in shredded cheese and bacon pieces. Remove about ½ cup to ¾ cup of mixture and store separately to use as vegetable “glue” when assembling breast and head. Line a large mixing bowl with plastic wrap; let the wrap extend up and over the sides of the bowl. Press the cream cheese mixture into the bowl using the plastic wrap to help form a ball. Cover the cheese ball with the wrap and refrigerate until ready to assemble turkey.
Romaine to cover the platter
3-4 Large Carrots, Cut into planks. Slice 1 end of each plank into a “V” shape for tail feathers
2- English Seedless Cucumber- Unpeeled, cut into planks
2- Yellow Squash- Unpeeled, cut into planks
1 head- Cauliflower- Break up into small flowerets
1 bunch Parsley
1 each- Red, Green, Yellow, and Orange Peppers cut into strips. Save a small piece of yellow or orange for the beak.
2 bunches Green Onion- washed, root end trimmed
1 bunch-Celery, cut into sticks
16 ounces Sliced Mushrooms
1 lg bunch Radishes- Sliced, save 1 whole large radish for the head preferably an oblong one.
2 Whole Black Peppercorns
2-3 Sundried Tomatoes dry for the waddle
2- 1 lb blocks of your favorite cheese cut into squares or rectangles
1- 3 ounce pkg cream cheese softened
Remove and open 3 ounce package of cream cheese from the fridge to soften slightly while you assemble the turkey.
Arrange romaine leaves so you have a frilly edge all around the platter, covering as much of the platter as possible with remaining leaves.
Turn the platter so you are looking at it front to back. You will start by working in horizontal rows across the width of the platter.
Starting at the back of the turkey with the tail feathers, place about 14-16 carrot planks with the “V” end pointing outward.
Slightly overlap the carrot planks with a row of seedless cucumber planks.
Continue working horizontally with yellow squash, cauliflower, and parsley.
Place the green onions and half of the celery sticks from center to outer edge to create the effect of the turkey fluffing out its feathers.
Add pepper strips over the top of the white part of the onions.
Move to the front of the platter and begin stacking slices of cheese and any remaining veggies needed to fill the platter leaving a small space open for the bottom of the cheese ball to settle in.
Once the cheese ball is in place fill the gaps between the cheese ball and veggies with the radish slices.
Apply a small amount of the plain cream cheese to each mushroom slice and apply slices to cover the cheese ball.
Cover the backs of the sun dried tomato slices with cream cheese and arrange in a waddle fashion. 2-3 should be enough.
Remove a small slice off of the back of the whole radish and apply cream cheese. Press into the cheese ball slightly overlapping the “waddle” for the turkey’s head.
Put a dot of cream cheese on each peppercorn and affix the eyes.
Slice small piece of reserved yellow or orange pepper into a thin pointy strip, apply cream cheese to the back of the pepper piece and apply to the radish head as a beak.
Stand back and marvel in your masterpiece!