Hey ya’ll! It’s that time of year again! Time for turkeys, dressing, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, pecan pies, and shopping. Oh, and family too. 🙂 And football…. and hunting… and the list goes on and on and on and on. Around our house, Thanksgiving is a little different. My dad usually is out of town. I know… when is he home?!? He and a friend own a ranch in Southwest Texas and every year, his business partner brings his family out to the ranch. My dad takes them hunting and hires someone to cook for them and I usually send a little something for them as well. We usually either celebrate the weekend before or the weekend after with my dad and the day of with whoever wants to come. And we always have too much food but that’s pretty much par for the course at our house!
This time of year is always difficult for us though. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful time of year. It’s cold, there’s plenty of hunting to do, plenty of football to watch, lots of yummy food, Christmas is around the corner. But, it was my Mamaw and Papaw’s favorite time of year too and we always miss them so much. Mamaw’s favorite thing to do was go to the Bellringer sale on Black Friday. And Papaw would gorge himself on food and football until time for bed. My mom and my mamaw would stay up until midnight cooking and then wake up at 8 and start again. Now, my mom makes the dressing while I make pretty much everything else and she cleans up after me. Haha, she’s gonna kill me for saying that. It’s not that she doesn’t help. Believe me she does. I’m just a tornado in the kitchen. I run around mixing and chopping, pouring and measuring, stirring and shoving things in the oven. Mama comes in behind me adjusting temperatures (which drives me crazy and used to drive her crazy when Mamaw did it), wiping countertops, throwing stuff away, and mixing up the most amazing dressing that you have ever put in your mouth. We’re always about an hour late with lunch, we eat in about 15 minutes, then are too full and too tired to clean up until about 8 p.m. My mom usually starts decorating for Christmas while I put my feet up and take a Tylenol! And before you ask… No, I never help my mom with the Christmas decorations. I value my life and my time too much 🙂 she likes everything a certain way and I know that it would end up taking more time for me to help her than it would save her! So, what do ya’ll do on Thanksgiving?
Since it’s not Thanksgiving just yet, I don’t have any pictures for ya’ll but I do have some great recipes. Our typical Thanksgiving meal consists of the classics. Turkey, Ham, cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato pie, caramel pie, and pecan pie. I know, Hello Starchy Goodness! Since we cook a lot of these things for Thanksgiving & Christmas, I’m only going to give ya’ll some of the recipes. I’ll give ya’ll the rest for Christmas! I’m going to give you the super, duper simple recipe for my mom’s Turkey. The best cornbread dressing in the world, creamy and cheesy macaroni and cheese, and a yummy caramel pie. Go get those fat pants on! You’ll probably need them after this meal 🙂 First things first, we’ll start with the dressing. The dressing probably takes the longest time to make but it’s definitely worth every stinkin’ minute of it! First, you’ve got to decide if you’re going to put celery in it. I don’t mind the celery but my mom HATES it. So, she never puts it in there. If you want to put it in there it’ll be perfectly fine… Also, you need to decide on how much you’re going to need. We always make a TON! But, I’ll give you the smaller version. Start with your cornbread. I’ll give ya’ll the link for that recipe here too. Now, my mom likes to use the broth from the turkey to make it nice and moist. She also shreds some turkey up in it. If you want to make it the night before and you don’t have the turkey ready you can boil some bone in chicken with a little butter and salt. Pull some of the chicken off the bone and use the broth that you’ve created. Something really important to keep in mind is that this is not an exact science. The dressing is going to be good no matter what but a lot of this is based on preference. Anyway, back to the recipe. Here it is!
Mama’s Cornbread Dressing:
2 pans of Papaw’s cornbread– this recipe is for one pan, my mom usually doubles it and adds one onion and one can of corn to this recipe for dressing,
1 medium onion (2 if you don’t add it to your cornbread),
3 green onions,
1 can cream of chicken soup,
1 can cream of celery soup,
3/4 cup shredded turkey or chicken,
2 raw eggs (you can boil these too),
1 stick butter,
a couple dashes of salt,
Lots of broth and ground black pepper.
Start by making your cornbread. Let it cool while your chopping your onions, green onions, shredding chicken or turkey, and boiling your eggs if you want to boil them. Also, chop your celery if you want it. 2 or 3 stalks should do it. Once your cornbread is done, dump it into a big bowl and let it cool. Once it’s cooled, crumble it all up. Add the onions, green onions, cream of chicken, cream of celery, eggs, turkey, pepper, salt, and butter. It’s going to be hard to stir so while you’re adding all of that stuff, add the broth, a little at a time until it’s easy to stir. It needs to be about the same consistency as pancake batter. You don’t want it too soupy but if it’s too dry it won’t be good either. Keep in mind that when you put it in the oven it’ll be thin like pancake batter; but, when you pull it out it’ll be stiff like a cake. That broth will keep it moist but a lot of it soaks into the bread. You’ll bake it at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes. This is really versatile. You can use regular bread if you want but there’s just nothing like cornbread dressing! You can also add cheese or use a cornbread mix. You can use a rotisserie chicken and canned broth. Hard boiled eggs, raw eggs, cream of mushroom soup, less broth, more broth, sausage instead of turkey or chicken, mushrooms. The possibilities are endless! It’s pretty hard to screw this up! It’s pretty darn delicious and you’ll think me for it sometime! 🙂
Next up is the turkey. We like to put our turkey in the oven right before bed and let it cook until over night. This allows us time to carve it and get some little pieces and that broth for our dressing. It also frees up our oven for later! Now, raw turkey is pretty much disgusting. There’s no way around saying that. Putting your hand inside a dead, naked, raw, and slimy bird and pulling out it’s gizzards is absolutely the least fun of the whole Thanksgiving cooking experience. So let’s just get that out in the open right now. That being said, it’s also one of the easiest things you’ll make too. My mom will tell you that simpler is better. She doesn’t like the thing I’m about to tell you to do to this bird. She hates it in fact, but I think it makes it juicier. Which is difficult, turkey is very lean. You have to add a good bit of fat to it so it’s not too dry. I like to inject mine with Tony Chachere’s Injectable Butter. There are some flavors that are specifically for turkey and chicken but I just use the original. Mama says that I should just put butter under the skin of the turkey and on the outside. Anyways, this is how I like it!
1 large, raw, nasty Turkey 🙂
1 stick of butter,
1 jar of Tony’s injectable butter,
Salt, pepper, garlic powder.
Let the Turkey thaw for a couple days if its frozen. Cut the packaging off and wash it under warm water. Stick your hand all up in there (cringe) and pull out the gizzard bag. Throw that disgusting little bag away as quickly as possible. Let the stick of butter get really soft. Once it’s softened, rub the butter all over the outside and under the skin flap on the breast of the turkey. Take the needle off the injector, shake the butter, and fill the needle. Inject it strategically all over the turkey except for in the legs and wings. When you feel like there’s enough inside the turkey, pour the rest over the outside of the turkey. Now sprinkle generously with salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Roast according to directions on the packaging. It’s really easy even if it is quite disgusting. I like fried turkey too but these men around here won’t do it and I’m too busy in the kitchen to do it myself. Believe me, I would if I had time! I guess we need to have a talk with these lazy men around here! Mmmhmm Chance Hall…. 🙂 Haha, seriously though, Chance does smoke turkey sometimes and when he does that we usually just make a turkey breast in the crockpot for the dressing.
Macaroni and Cheese. Oh Macaroni and Cheese. The most delicious food ever invented. Creamy and cheesy and yummy. One of my favorite comfort foods. I used to love boxed macaroni. I loved the Velveeta Shells. And then, I ran out of the boxed stuff when I needed it the most. So, I invented this recipe and the rest is history. I like lots of cheese. Creamy velveeta mixed with cream cheese and sharp cheddar. MMMMMM!! Fabulous! I also do this in my Dutch oven, but you can do it in the crock pot or just in a regular casserole dish. But, the most important thing is the noodles. You can do whatever you want! You can have bow tie noodles, shells, egg noodles, rotini, penne… whatever you like! Also, it’s very important that your noodles taste good. The base of macaroni and cheese is the macaroni after all. So I flavor my water with… what else? Garlic salt… it’s seeping out of my pores by now, I’m sure!
Creamy, Dutch Oven Macaroni & Cheese
1 pkg. large elbow macaroni noodles,
1/4 cup butter,
8 oz. cream cheese,
15 oz. Velveeta,
2 cups sharp cheddar,
1/2 cup heavy cream,
1/2 tsp garlic salt,
Ground black pepper and salt to taste.
Boil the noodles with the garlic salt and butter. While they’re boiling, cut the cheese up into cubes and put the heavy cream in a sauce pan with the Velveeta, cream cheese, and cheddar. Allow the cheese to melt and season with salt and pepper. Drain the noodles and add the cheese mixture to them. Since I make mine in my Dutch oven, I usually just put the lid on at this point, turn the heat to low, and keep a close eye on it until I’m ready to serve. You can sprinkle some more cheese on top, put it in the oven, sprinkle some bread crumbs over it, add cottage cheese. Add bacon… the epitome of goodness in this world! Go crazy! But honestly… how much better can mac and cheese be? It’s sure hard to screw it up!
Next up… Caramel Pie! It’s very easy and it’s very simple. I make a graham cracker crust from scratch but you don’t have to do that. It simple but I dress it up and it’s always an argument over who gets the first and last piece. There are variations on this recipe all over the place but this is the simplest and fastest
1 can sweetened condensed milk,
1 cup heavy whipping cream,
1 cup sugar,
1 cup chopped pecans,
1/4 cup butter,
a dash of salt.
First, put the unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in a boiler and cover it with water. Turn it on high and allow it to boil for two and a half hours, keep an eye on it and continue putting water in the boiler as it evaporates. While that’s happening, make the crust from the link above… or from this link. Whip the heavy cream and sugar until it reaches a stiff peak. It’s best to use an electric or stand up mixer for this. Chop the pecans and lay them on a baking sheet. Put small pats of butter in different places on the pecans. Sprinkle with salt. Bake at 375 degrees for 7 to 10 minutes. Once the sweetened condensed milk is done boiling, allow the cans to cool. Open the cans and you have made CARAMEL!! You’re welcome! 🙂 Pour the caramel into the shell. Make sure the caramel is completely cooled. Top with the whipped cream and sprinkle the toasted pecans over it. You can also top with some melted chocolate or chocolate chips. Even white chocolate. Or some regular sweetened condensed milk. Super easy and that is the best way to go for these big Thanksgiving meals!
I guess that’s all I have for ya’ll today! Hope you enjoy! If ya’ll have any questions feel free to ask! Make sure you hug your loved ones a little tighter, watch the football game a little longer, thank God for the little things, and eat a bunch of good food!! Have a Happy Thanksgiving!