Growing up, I remember Dad rose on Thanksgiving morning long before the sun ever did. He made the bread cubes for his wonderful stuffing early on Thanksgiving morning. I can remember wandering down the dark hallway toward the kitchen, drawn in by the smell of bread toasting and the scent of sage.
Dad would be sitting at the kitchen table, enjoying his last leisurely cup of coffee of the day. There was so much to do before all the uncles, aunts and assorted extended family descended upon our house. Dad would pour me a cup of coffee (lots of cream and sugar, with just a splash of coffee) and we would sit together in the quiet of the coming day. As he sipped the last of his coffee, he would stand, give me a wink and then get busy. I can see him now, moving from task to task, with a kitchen towel draped over one shoulder to wipe his large, strong hands.
The house filled with the wonderful aroma of sage. The ranch-style kitchen glowed in a soft yellow light as Dad hurried about. His turkey was rubbed with a buttery mixture of herbs and paprika, then wrapped in a large kitchen towel and placed in the refrigerator until it was stuffed. The desserts (pumpkin and pecan pies) had been baked the day before. Now it was just a matter of making his giblet stuffing, stuffing the bird and roasting it in the oven until the skin was crisp and the meat was moist and tender. Dad cooked his turkey in a shallow roasting pan, tented with foil. He made an art out of folding the foil just so, without a wrinkle one. His bird seemed to require a great deal of attention, basting time and time again in its wonderful, buttery juices. Each time the oven door opened, a cloud of steam rose from under the tent and filled the kitchen with the smell of – Thanksgiving.
Dad assigned various duties to his daughters, based on age and skill. There were potatoes to peel, boil and mash. The candied yams (sweet potatoes) needed to be made, and eventually covered with min-marshmallows, then popped under the broiler until the marshmallows were a golden brown. Mom was usually in charge of the fruit cocktail salad, made with crisp chunks of apples, sweet oranges, sweet whipped cream and plenty of mini-marshmallows. Her salad was like having a bit of dessert in the middle of dinner. (I had almost forgotten to include this “old-time” recipe!) And then there were the baby peas, cooked up in plenty of butter. By the time Dad got around to making the gravy, whipping the potatoes and warming the dinner rolls, he looked like a man walking about on hot coals – jumping madly from task to task. More often than not, at least once Dad would pluck a hot lid from a pan, fling it into the sink and shout “Jesus Christ!” There always seemed to be a lot of “praying” involved in his Holiday cooking.
The final touches to our table were the strategically placed bowls of black olives and a small plate of sliced cranberry jelly – you know – the kind that comes in a can. For years on my own, I always included these final touches to my own table despite the fact that none of us actually ate the cranberry jelly. It was just something you had on the table – a tradition. It was there just because. Hubby asked me once why we always had the cranberry jelly on the table, only to toss it at the end of the night. It was then that I realized it was a silly tradition, a waste of food and money. We don’t include the cranberry jelly these days, although I do miss the look of that jiggling log on the table.
Gone from my dessert table is the pecan pie. I’ve replaced it with an Apple Spice Bundt Cake. While I don’t eat Pumpkin Pie, Kiddo and Hubby both love their pumpkin pie, so I bake up two. (That way, my guys are sure to have a pie all to themselves after all the guests have gone).
The turkey is no longer stuffed or roasted under a tent made of foil. Instead, the bird is roasted in a bag. And I guess we don’t have stuffing anymore. Stuffing is – stuffed. When baked in a casserole dish, it’s “dressing”. But then again, stuffing vs dressing is a confusing cultural-demographic argument for another day.
The buttery peas have been replaced by a cold pea and cheddar cheese salad. It seems to be more popular with the children. I think it’s the cheese and bacon bits that draws them in.
One tradition that remains is the gathering of family and a day filled with far too much food, with plenty of laughter to go around. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays filled with fond memories.
The “New” Traditional Thanksgiving Menu
Holiday Roast Turkey
Mrs. Cubbison’s Sausage Stuffing
Heat and Serve Dinner Rolls
Pea, Cheddar and Bason Salad
Old Fashion Fruit Cocktail with Mini Marshmallows
Apple Spice Cake
Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie
Holiday Roast Turkey
1 Butterball or Kosher Turkey (18-22 lbs)
1 Turkey Size Roasting Bag
1 tablespoon flour
1 Large onion, sliced
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
1 teaspoons chopped sage leaves
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Kosher Salt to taste
2 or 3 pears, sliced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, add 1 tablespoon flour to the bag and shake, this stops your bag from bursting. Place roasting bag inside large casserole dish or roasting pan. Place sliced onions in bottom of roasting bag. Set aside until ready to use.
In a small bowl, add butter and seasonings. Set aside.
Using hands, gently separate the skin from the meat of the breast. Rub a small amount of herb butter over breast meat, under skin. Rub skin with remaining herb butter. Sprinkle with smoked paprika for deep color.
Place sliced pears into cavity of turkey Tie legs together and tuck wings under breast. Place bird in roasting pan on top of onion slices. Close roasting bag and cut 6 slits in bag to vent. Make sure one slit is about 5 inches above the bottom of the pan to allow access to juice for basting.
Roast in oven for about 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Begin basting after 1 hour, baste every 30 minutes or so.
During last 30 minutes of roasting, draw out most of the juice to allow turkey to brown. Reserve juice for gravy. (If the turkey is not browning well, split open the bag).
Tent and let rest 10 minutes before carving. For a more dramatic presentation, carve table-side.
Mrs. Cubbison’s Sausage Stuffing
5 Cups Celery, finely chopped
3 Cup Onions, finely chopped
8 Mushrooms, chopped
6 Cloves Garlic, pressed
2 Lbs Jimmy Dean Sausage, cooked & drained
4 Boxes Mrs. Cubbison’s Cube Stuffing
4 Tablespoons Butter, melted
1 Teaspoon Thyme
1 Teaspoon Sage
1 Teaspoon Poultry Seasoning
2 Can Chicken broth
1 1/2-2 Cups Chicken Stock
Chop all vegetables, set aside until ready to use.
Lightly oil large frying pan and heat over medium-high heat. Crumble and brown sausage.
Remove sausage from pan, set aside. In the now-empty pan, sauté celery, onions, mushrooms and garlic. Once onions are tender and celery is pale in color, remove from heat. Drizzle with melted butter. Add seasonings to vegetables, toss to coat.
Return sausage to pan, stir to mix with vegetables and seasoning.
Add 2 boxes of Mrs. Cubbison’s Cube Stuffing Mix. Moisten with chicken stock. Use hands to blend bread with vegetable-sausage mixture. Continue to add bread crumbs and chicken stock until all the bread crumbs have been added and mixture is moist.
Cover and set aside until ready to bake. Place in oven for about 20 minutes to bake.
3 Lbs Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Cups WHOLE milk
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces (1 ½ cups)
1 Teaspoons Kosher Salt
2/3 Teaspoon Pepper
Peel and cut potatoes.
Rinse potatoes in a colander under cold water until water runs clear, about 1 minute; drain well.
Place in a large pot with enough water to cover potatoes by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and slow-boil until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat milk, butter, salt and pepper in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking until smooth, about 3 minutes. Cover and keep warm.
Carefully pour contents of Dutch-oven into colander, drain potatoes well, then return potatoes to pot. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until potatoes are thoroughly dried, about 1 minute.
Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip half of the potatoes into small pieces on low-speed, about 2 minutes Add half of the milk mixture in a steady stream until incorporated. Increase speed to high and whip until potatoes are light and fluffy and no lumps remain, about 5 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Transfer to a large, warm serving bowl and cover to keep warm.
Repeat whipping process with remaining potatoes and milk mixture.
Incorporated second batch of potatoes with first and serve.
Juice from Roasting Turkey
Enough Chicken Stock to measure 4 cups when combined with Turkey Drippings
1/4 Cup Flour
1/4 Cup Butter + 2 tablespoons
Salt & Pepper to taste
Place juice from roasting turkey into a 4-cup Measuring Cup. Add enough Chicken Stock to measure 4 cups. Set aside.
In a large skillet, blend flour and butter to create a roux base. Slowly add Turkey-Chicken Stock mixture, whisking constantly. Continue to cook until desired consistency is achieved.
Remove from heat, whisk in 2 tablespoons butte until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm until ready to serve. If gravy becomes too thick, add a little chicken STOCK to thin.
Heat and Serve Dinner Rolls
2 Package Dinner Rolls
4 Tablespoons Butter, softened
Heat oven to 400-degrees.
Place dinner rolls on a baking sheet and brush tops with butter.
Heat rolls for about 10 minutes.
Pea, Cheddar and Bacon Salad
1 Box (10 oz) Frozen Peas
½ Cup Cheddar Cheese, cut into small cubes
3 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
2 Green Onions, sliced
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
½ Cup Bacon Bits
Rinse peas under cold water to thaw. Break apart, and place in a large bowl.
Cut cheese into small cubes. Add to peas. Blend in mayonnaise and green onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Chill well until ready to serve. Just before serving, sprinkle the salad with bacon bits. Stir to blend, smooth top and serve.
Old Fashioned Fruit Cocktail Salad with Mini Marshmallows
2 Apples, cut into chunks
7-Up, enough to cover apples
1/2 lb Grapes, cut in half
¼ Cup Maraschino Cherries, cut in half
Additional Maraschino Cherries, left whole
1 Large Can or 2 small Cans Fruit Cocktail, well-drained
3 Bananas, peeled and sliced
3 Mandarin Oranges, peeled and sliced
½ Cup Mini-Marshmallows (optional – kids love them)
1 Pint Heavy Whipping Cream
1 Tablespoon Sugar
Place mixing bowl and whip attachment for STAND mixer in freezer to chill.
Slice apples into bite size pieces. Place in a bowl and cover with 7-up. (The 7-up will prevent the apples from turning brown and give them a light, sweet taste). Set aside.
Rinse grapes and cut in half. Place in a large glass serving bowl. Cut cherries in half, add to grapes. Drain fruit cocktail and add to grape mixture, toss to mix Peel and coin-cut bananas. Add to fruit cocktail mixture, toss lightly. Peel and “slice” oranges. Add to mixture.
In chilled mixing bowl, pour heavy whipping cream. Whip on low until foamy, about 1-2 minutes. While mixer is running, add sugar. Increase speed to medium-high and whip until firm peaks form, 3-4 minutes.
Drain apples and pat dry. Add to fruit cocktail mixture, toss to blend. Fold in whipped cream and mini-marshmallows. Add a few whole cherries on top for added color. Chill until ready to serve.
Apple Spice Cake
1 Box Spice Cake Mix
1 Can (21 oz) Apple Pie Filling
3 Tablespoons Sugar
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
Powdered Sugar, for Dusting
Fresh Whipped Cream for Serving
Preheat oven to 350-degrees
Grease a bundt cake or tube pan. Set aside until ready to use.
Mix cake mix, apple filling and eggs together until well blended.
Pour into prepared pan and bake 30-40 minutes.
Let cake cool in pan, about 1 hour. When cooled, shake pan to loosen cake, invert onto flat surface and carefully move to serving platter.
Cover with plastic wrap, store at room temperature until ready to serve. If desired, dust with powdered sugar and serve with a dollop of Whipped Cream garnished with a little cinnamon.
Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 can (15 oz) Libby’s Pure Pumpkin
1 can (12 oz) Evaporated Milk
2 Pie Shell (Pillsbury is a good choice if not making from scratch)
Cool Whip or Whipped Cream (optional)
If making a pie shell from scratch, use your favorite recipe and make the shell.
If using a packaged pie shell (such as Pillsbury), open pie shell and let come to room temperature before proceeding, about 20 minutes. Unfold pie shell and place in a 9-inch deep dish pie pan.
Crimp edges and refrigerate for 15 minutes. While uncooked pie shell chills, preheat oven to 350 degrees to blind-bake shell. (This will produce a better finish to the bottom of the crust).
Put a sheet of foil in the pie crust and add your pie weights. Beans work well. Place pie shells in the oven and bake about 30 minutes or until just beginning to brown.
Remove from oven and allow shells to cool to room temperature before filling.
Increase oven temperature to 425-degrees
Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.
Divide filling and pour into pie shells.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
Reduce temperature to 350-degrees; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.
Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. If desired, top with whipped cream before serving.
Wishing everyone an awesome Thanksgiving
Make every moment count.
The memories we weave today will warm our hearts tomorrow.