Monday, November 17, 2014

Recipe for a great holiday

The shadows have grown long.  The colors are falling from the trees.  Thanksgiving is in the air.  I can almost smell it!

Yes, I said smell.  That's because one of my favorite parts of the holidays is the food.  As a special treat this year, I'm sharing some of my family's should-be-famous recipes.

You can't have Thanksgiving without the dressing.  No, seriously.  I think it's a law in like 27 states.  My mom always cooks the dressing, not only for our gathering but she is also required to make the dressing for several of her friends' Thanksgivings, too!  Not sure if this is a secret family recipe, but I'm sharing it anyway.  Hi, Mom!

Cornbread Dressing
4 eggs / 6 tablespoons vegetable oil / 6 cups self-rising corn meal / 1 quart buttermilk / 16 slices white bread / 3 cups chopped celery / 2 large onions / 1 cup chopped bell pepper / 1/2 cup butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Combine eggs and oil; stir in meal; add buttermilk and mix well.  Pour batter into 2 (10 or 12 inch) iron skillets; bake about 35 minutes or until brown on top.  Cool cornbread on rack; crumble.  Cool oven to 250 degrees and toast white bread until thoroughly dry; crumble and add to cornbread.  Saute celery, onions, and pepper in butter; combine with breads.  At this point dressing may be frozen in 2 (1/2 gallon) containers.  When ready to bake, add the following ingredients to each 1/2 gallon of dressing mix.

1/2 cup butter / 4 tablespoons dried parsley / 3 teaspoons poultry seasoning / 1 teaspoon thyme / 1 teaspoon sage / 4 eggs, beaten / 3 tablespoons baking powder / chicken broth (approximately 35-50 oz)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; mix all ingredients well, using enough chicken broth to make a consistency of unbaked cornbread.  Bake for 35-45 minutes.

MOM'S NOTES:  She only makes one batch of this dressing, so she will half all the ingredients at the top except for butter.  She uses the full 1/2 cup to saute veggies.  She then freezes as explained.  The night before making, she takes out of freezer to thaw.  About an hour before serving she adds all the other ingredients (seasonings, butter, eggs, and broth) and bakes as directed.  This makes a 9 x 13 and a 8 x 8 casserole.  She always freezes the 8 x 8 after baking.  Such a nice treat to have dressing in March without all the hassle! 

One of Emma's favorite dishes is my mom's mashed potato casserole.  I have tried making this myself but I must not be doing something right because that girl can put some down when my mom makes it!  This also happens to be my brother's only request every Thanksgiving.

Mashed Potato Casserole
8-10 medium baking potatoes / 8 ounces cream cheese / 1 cup sour cream / salt and pepper / 2 tablespoons butter / paprika

Peel, slice, boil, and drain potatoes.  Mix with cream cheese, sour cream, and butter.  Beat until fluffy.  Season to taste.  Sprinkle lightly with paprika.  Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Next up is the sweet potato casserole.  I think I might introduce Baby Sage to some sweet potatoes before Thanksgiving so he'll be ready for this.  I know he'll thank me later.

Sticking with the casserole theme, I always have to have squash casserole, so I will be making that this year.

Squash Casserole Recipe
1 cup water  / 2 teaspoons salt, divided / 1/8 teaspoon sugar / 6 medium yellow squash, sliced / 7 tablespoons unsalted butter / 4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded / 8 ounces sour cream / 5 medium green onions, chopped / 1/2 cup parmesan cheese / 1 cup bread crumbs

Add 1 teaspoon salt and sugar to water.  Simmer squash over low heat, covered, 15 minutes.  Drain squash and return to pan.  Add 4 tablespoons butter and blend with squash.  Stir in cheddar cheese, sour cream, green onions, 1 teaspoon salt and parmesan cheese.  Pour squash mixture into a casserole dish.  Top with bread crumbs and remaining butter.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

All of the recipes up to this point have been in my family and on our Thanksgiving table for as long as I can remember.

One dish that has been added recently is pretzel salad.  Ann (known as AA by Emma) makes this, not just for Thanksgiving but for every holiday.  I had never heard of pretzel salad until I moved to Decatur.  But it is delicious!

Strawberry Pretzel Salad
2 cups crushed pretzels / 3/4 cup melted butter / 3 tablespoons sugar, plus 3/4 cup sugar / 8 ounces cream cheese / 8 ounces whipped topping /  2 (3 ounce) package strawberry gelatin dessert mix / 2 cups boiling water / 2 (10 ounce) packages frozen strawberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  For the crust, mix the pretzels , butter, 3 tablespoons of sugar.  Press this mixture into a 9 x 13 pan and bake for 7 minutes.  Set aside and allow to cool.

In a mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese and 3/4 cup of sugar.  Fold in the whipped topping, and spread over the cooled crust.  Refrigerate until well chilled.

In a small bowl, dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water, and allow to cool slightly.  Add the strawberries and pour over the cream cheese mixture.  Refrigerate until serving time.  

Oh, and of course there'll be turkey.  At least we hope there will be.  Sage is handling the turkey for the first time ever this year and will be smoking one on the Big Green Egg.

Well, there you have it.  I'm not sure if I was suppose to share all of those.  Guess I'll find out soon enough.

What are you most looking forward to this Thanksgiving?  What are some of your favorite dishes/recipes?