Many of us “new” parents are finding ourselves in the Thanksgiving hostess boat this year. Less willing to travel with children and all of the gear that comes with them, we are asking that people come to us. Which means we have to cook. Less than a week before the big event, I’m sure you all have your menus outlined, groceries list prepped, and maybe even have a few items pre-made. But… I’ve gotten a few emails from friends asking for some last minute menu suggestions. So, if you also could use a fill-in recipe or two, take a few from my tried and true family recipes, or a few that I’ve fallen in love with over the last few years.
Turkey – This year, we’re going the deep-fried route (we need the oven space and happen to brew beer in what I’ve been told is a turkey fryer.) Say a prayer for us. But, if you would like a more traditional recipe, I’ve used this one, and I’ve found it’s no-fail. Still concerned? Feel free to call the gals (I’m not being sexist. They were on the Today Show. It’s all women.) over at Butterball (1-800-BUTTERBALL) anytime on the big day.
Gravy – I like to sneak mushrooms into recipes wherever I can. Love ’em. If you do too, check out this easy to make Shiitake Mushroom gravy, from Bon Appetit.
Stuffing – Our Wild Rice Sausage Stuffing is a recipe passed down from my mother’s mother. It can be made a day ahead of time, and is worthy of making an extra batch just so you have leftovers. In my opinion, skip the stuffing-stuffed turkey. Too risky. (Find our family recipe at the end of this blog posting.)
Cranberries – if you don’t have a jello-mold/cream cheese recipe at your family gathering, what’s the point? In true-70’s fashion, we’ve had Cranberry, Pineapple and Cream Cheese “Salad” recipe at our Thanksgiving table for decades. Literally. (Find our family recipe at the end of this blog posting.)
Sides – We skip the yam/marshmallow dish for other savory sides… Scalloped potatoes are a requirement. So is a double-batch. Find our family recipe at the end of the blog posting. We also plan to include crock-pot balsamic root veggies (gets something else off of the stove and out of the oven), and slow-cooked green beans. Sub pancetta for the bacon… it’s the holidays. Time to go all out! If you’re in the mood for a light salad to compliment your dinner, this is the one I’m thinking about: Citrus Walnut Salad.
Bread – Parker House rolls. Confession… I haven’t made these before, but I thought, why not? You can make them days in advance and freeze them. If home-made bread doesn’t float your boat, pick up some Sister Schubert Parker House-style rolls in the tin pans found in the frozen section at the Teeter. They are standard fare at our table during the holidays, and they only take 15 min. in the oven!
Desserts – Chocolate Walnut Tart, Gingersnap Pear Cheesecake, and my sister’s apple pie. Don’t have the apple pie recipe, so you’ll have to call your momma for that one! But, the Tart and Cheesecake should both be made the day ahead, so it’ll take some of the load off!
Pre-meal Snacking – Not one that enjoys having hungry people hover over me while working in the kitchen, it’s always nice to have a few things made in advance for guests to nosh on while waiting the big meal. We keep it light enough that you don’t fill yourself up, but whatever you serve should have enough substance to not let the Champagne “sippers” get too out of control before the meal is blessed! I’m still deciding which of these to choose: Bacon-Wrapped Apricots with Sage (can be made up to a week in advance and frozen, Walnut and Blue Cheese Coated Grapes, Cheese Balls Three Ways (a personal fave), and Sausage Stuffed Mushroom Caps.
Wild Rice and Sausage Stuffing
– 1 box of wild rice (Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice Mix)
– 1 c. chopped celery
– 8 sliced of bread, toasted and cubed
– 2 cans condensed chicken and rice soup
– 1 chopped onion
– 2 tb. olive oil
– 1 lb. breakfast sausage
– salt and pepper
– 1 cube beef bullion dissolved in one cup water
Prepare wild rice mix according to package. Brown the sausage with oil, onion and celery. Drain. Stir into rice and add remaining ingredients. Put in a greased 9×13 dish. (Can be prepared to this step and refrigerated over-night.) Cover and bake at 350 degrees for one hour.
Cranberry, Pineapple and Cream Cheese “Salad”
– 1 13.5 oz. can crushed pineapple
– 2 3 oz. pkgs. of lemon jello
– 1 7 oz. bottle ginger ale
– 16 oz. can jellied cranberry sauce
– 1 2 oz. pkg. dream whip (not sure if this is still available. If not, whip up 1 1/2 cups whipped cream and add a little sugar and vanilla – this is a guess, make that amt. and use enough to make a smooth topping for the salad )
– 8 oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
– 1/2 cups chopped pecans
Drain pineapple, reserving syrup; add water to make one cup; heat to boil. Dissolve gelatin in hot liquid; cool. Gently stir in ginger ale; chill till partially set. Blend fruits; fold into gelatin. Turn into 9x9x2-inch dish; chill firm. Prepare topping according to package or whip cream. Blend in cheese; spread over gelatin. Toast nuts in one tablespoon butter at 350 degrees for ten minutes; sprinkle atop; chill. Serves nine. (I think it serves more.)
– 4-5 medium potatoes, thinly sliced (recommend a food-processor or mandolin)
– 2 small onions sliced paper thin
– 1/4 c. butter diced into small pads
– 1 tb. dried dill
– 1 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. pepper
– 1 1/2 c. heavy cream
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. In a buttered 2 qt. casserole dish, build up alternate layers of potatoes and onions, beginning and ending with potatoes. Dot each onion layer with butter and sprinkle with herbs, and salt and pepper. Once layers are complete, pour in heavy cream. Cover and bake 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 30-40 min., until potatoes are tender and almost all liquid is absorbed. Broil if desired to brown on top and serve. (Serves 4-6)