Wow, I can’t believe another Thanksgiving is now behind us. I hope your holiday was as wonderful as mine!
I’m lucky that I have a family who’s fairly adventurous when it comes to food; they’re always willing to try new foods and new cuisines. But, when it comes to Thanksgiving, we lean heavily on the traditional side. Roast turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, corn, cranberry sauce, Jell-O salad, white dinner rolls, and pumpkin pie … yep, that’s us.
Although the big day is over, here are my favorite recipes from our Thanksgiving table!
As was the case last year, our 2010 Thanksgiving turkey came from Farrar Out Farm, a small family farm in Frohna, Missouri … no factory-farmed, frozen birds for us! Farrar’s pasture-raised turkeys are naturally juicy and (in my opinion) more flavorful than your average Butterball bird. Because of that, no fancy cooking techniques or recipes are needed; simply season with salt and pepper. For great tips on cooking a pasture-raised turkey, check out this article by Shannon Hayes, the author of The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook.
Each year, two types of dressing can be found on our Thanksgiving table. The first is my grandmother’s dressing, made with plain white bread, onions, sage, and lots of celery. I love my grandmother, but I hate celery (yes, I know, it’s in everything, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it) … and therefore I don’t like my grandmother’s dressing (don’t worry, my grandmother makes the best chicken & dumplings in the world, and I love those).
The second dressing that makes an appearance is my aunt’s cornbread dressing; not only does it not contain celery, it’s made from cornbread, one of my favorite. things. ever. So, without further ado, the recipe:
Aunt BJ’s Cornbread Dressing
- 2 boxes Jiffy Cornbread Mix, made one day prior, according to box directions
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 pound breakfast sausage
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cans chicken or turkey broth
- Rubbed sage, salt, and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350° (165°C). Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
2. In a large skillet, saute onion until lightly caramelized; remove from pan and set aside. Add sausage to skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Remove from pan and let drain on paper towels.
4. Crumble cornbread into a large bowl; add cooked onion and sausage. Mix in the rubbed sage, salt, and pepper.
5. Lightly beat eggs together; add to cornbread mixture, along with broth, and combine thoroughly. The mixture should be “soupy.” Use water, if necessary, to attain desired consistency.
6. Press the mixture into the baking dish. Bake 1 hour or until the top is golden brown.
THE SWEET POTATOES:
A quick search of this blog will show that the following recipe for my “famous” sweet potato casserole has been posted before. But, since this recipe is requested by my family every year (hence, the title “famous”), I’ll post it again for you. Oh, a word of warning … this sweet potato casserole does not call for marshmallows. I prefer the more subtle brown sugar/pecan topping.
Kimberly’s Famous Sweet Potato Casserole
- 5 pounds sweet potatoes
- 3/4 cup orange juice
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (+ 2 tablespoons) golden brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the sweet potatoes on a cookie sheet, and bake until all potatoes are tender, about 1 hour (may take another 30 minutes or so depending on the size og the potatoes). Remove potoatoes from oven, but maintain temperature. Scrape the sweet potato pulp from the skins and place into a bowl. Using an electric mixer, whip the sweet potatoes.
2. Add the orange juice, eggs, melted butter, sugar, vanilla, ground cinnamon, and nutmeg to the sweet potatoes. Beat until sweet potatoes are smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Butter a 13x9x2 glass baking dish. Spoon potatoes into prepared baking dish.
3. Combine the first three topping ingredients (flour, brown sugar, cinnamon) in a medium bowl. Add butter, and cut in until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in the chopped pecans. Sprinkle the pecan mixture over the sweet potatoes.
4. Bake for 60 minutes until a bit puffy. Serve immediately.
THE JELL-O SALAD:
Ah, the Jello-O salad. Who doesn’t love a good Jell-O salad? Well, actually, me. Unless it’s my mom’s shockingly pink Jell-O salad (affectionately known as “the pink stuff”) and then it’s on like Donkey Kong. The rest of my family adds a scoop of Jell-O salad to their Thanksgiving plate, along with all their other food stuffs. Me? I grab a big ‘ole bowl and fill it up.
My mom’s Jell-O salad is made with things I typically don’t eat the other 364 days of the year, but you know what they say … everything in moderation. So, try it … I promise you’ll like it. Oh, thanks for the recipe, Mom!
Mom’s Jell-O Salad, aka, “The Pink Stuff”
- 12 ounces 7- Up or Sprite
- 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
- 1 regular-sized package cherry Jell-O
- 3 ounces cream cheese
- 1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
- 1 8-ounce carton Cool Whip
1. In a large saucepan, heat the 7-Up or Sprite with the marshmallows until melted.
2. Remove saucepan from heat. Add the cherry Jello-O and stir until dissolved.
3. Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth, then add the pineapple and mix in.
4. Let mixture cool for about 2 hours until it starts to slightly set. Once set, fold in the Cool Whip and chill overnight.
As with most Thanksgiving tables, the traditional pumpkin pie graces ours … I think my Dad would have a fit if it didn’t. However, there are always a number of other desserts to be found. This year’s standout was the chocolate-pecan pie bars my Mom made. They were absolutely delicious, and as my husband said, “Your Mom can make these anytime.” Uh, hint, hint, Mom.
Chocolate-Pecan Pie Bars
1 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups sugar, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
- 1 package (8 squares) BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, divided
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1. Heat oven to 350°F.
2. Beat butter, flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt with mixer until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press into bottom of 15 x 10 x 1 inch pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
3. While crust bakes, microwave corn syrup and 6 chocolate squares in large microwaveable bowl on high 2-1/2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1-1/2 minutes; stir until completely melted. Add remaining sugar, eggs, and vanilla; mix well. Stir in nuts. Pour over warm crust; spread to evenly cover crust.
4. Bake 35 minutes or until filling is firm around the edges but still slightly soft in center. Cool completely.
5. Melt remaining chocolate squares as directed on package; drizzle over cooled bars. Let stand until chocolate is firm.