Category Archives: THANKSGIVING DINNER RECIPES

DRIED CORN CASSEROLE

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This recipe comes from my maternal grandmother. It was always one of the “sacred side dishes” served for both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner when I was growing up. And as a young adult starting my own traditions, I always served this dish or carried it with me if I was not the hostess. For one thing, the taste is completely unique. (I like that!) And truly, what’s not to like when you glance at the ingredients? And you’re right. My grandmother didn’t use Italian bread crumbs. But you know that most of the time I simply can’t leave a recipe alone, even if said recipe is a hand down from my own grandmother! (Doesn’t speak too highly of my character, now does it?) Anyway, character flaws aside, please trust me when I say that this corn dish is really, really tasty.

Drying the corn imparts a rich, nutty flavor to the corn. In essence, this casserole is a corn pudding. Easy to prepare and serve. Over the years I have made a couple of changes that I feel even make the casserole more appealing. I prepare the dish and then set it aside for a couple of hours to allow the corn to reconstitute a bit. This results in a more tender corn kernel and an overall softer finished product. I also don’t add extra salt to the dish. There is plenty enough salt in the bread crumbs and of course in the cheese.

Although the prep time on this dish is low, it’s best to dry the corn well ahead of when you will actually need it. Then all that’s left is a little cheese grating action and your casserole is assembled in no time flat. Set it aside, then bake it off, and you have yourself a delicious and totally different take on corn pudding. Thank you grandma Kléber for this recipe and for all the love you gave me as a child. (And yes, I know grandma can hear me even as I think about what I’m going to write. She almost always knew what thoughts were percolating in my brain before I did! Why should it be any different now just because she’s in heaven?)

  • dried corn (see drying instructions below)
  • ½ c. dried bread crumbs (I use Italian dried bread crumbs)
  • 2 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • roughly 3½ c. milk (your choice)
  • dried parsley
  • 1 T. butter

Lightly butter a 2-3 quart covered casserole dish. Pour half the dried corn in bottom of dish. Cover with half the bread crumbs and half the cheese. Layer remaining corn, bread crumbs, and cheese in same order. Pour in enough milk to cover all the contents. Sprinkle lightly with parsley and dot with butter.

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Cover and allow to sit for about 2 hours before baking in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Dried corn:

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Place 2 lbs. frozen corn kernels on 1 large or 2 small baking sheets (the kind with a rim) in a single layer. Dry the corn by baking it in the oven on the lowest temperature setting until there is no moisture left in the kernels. Turn occasionally. (It could take as many as 16 hours to dry out the corn completely.) When dry, the corn kernels should resemble grape nuts. (Different color, but you get the picture.) Store the dried corn in an airtight container. No need to refrigerate or freeze.

MINCEMEAT BARS WITH BRANDY WHIPPED CREAM

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So for Mr. C and me, nothing says “the holidays” like pumpkin pie, French Apple Pie (recipe on site) and either mincemeat pie or mincemeat bars. I usually make bars because it’s nice to serve a different type of dessert rather than just all pies. (Although in reality, there is nothing nicer than a grand assortment of pies.) But truthfully, I’m kind of lazy and mincemeat bars are really a lot easier to prepare than mincemeat pie. And in our extended family, almost everyone wants a little taste of all the desserts, so these bar cookies make a lot of sense in that regard too. (You can cut them into really small pieces.) And for all of you who love mincemeat, you know it can be a bit rich. (That is an understatement if I ever heard one!)

So this holiday season, save yourself a little bit of time. Try making some of your favorites in the form of bar cookies rather than into pies. On this site you will find recipes for Apple Pie Bars and Pumpkin Pie Bars that feature the taste you love in a pie, but are truly a lot easier to prepare and serve.

Now if you are the type who buys your pie crust, all bets are off! You win in the time category hands down. But if you usually build your own pie crust like I do, you will find that these bars are a godsend; especially if you are the lucky one chosen to “bring the pies” to your families holiday dinners.

Nothing is more stressful than trying to get a pie or two safely and structurally intact to a location other than the closest surface in your kitchen. Cars are simply not designed to protect your precious pie crust. In fact, experts agree. Cars hate piecrust. Cars will actually go out of their way to break off chunks of your pie crust even though your poor spouse is driving at 30 miles an hour in a 70 mile an hour zone! But when you present your car with a 9 x 13 pan of bar cookies, the car doesn’t have a ghost of a chance to destroy your efforts.

So enjoy the holidays, bake up a storm, and try these mincemeat bars and the other delicious bar cookies I referenced above. Oh, and don’t hate your car for its predisposition to hate pie crust. It was programmed that way at the factory! (It was also programmd to hate deviled eggs (thanks Ursala for that reminder), wedding cakes, and any dish with even a modicum of liquid!)

  • ¾ c. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1¾ c. flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1½ c. whole oats
  • 1 (28-oz.) jar Crosse and Blackwell mincemeat (do not settle for anything less!)
  • 1 pint whipping cream
  • 3 T. powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. brandy

Cream the butter and brown sugar together. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, soda, salt, and oats. Add to the butter and beat until small clumps appear. Pat a little over half of the mixture into a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. (Glass preferably.) Spread mincemeat over bottom crust and top with remaining crumb mixture, patting it gently into place. Bake the bars in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.

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Cool and cut into bars.

Meanwhile whip the cream to stiff peaks. Add the powdered sugar and brandy and beat just until well combined. When ready to serve, place bar on plate and dollop with brandy whipped cream. Ah yes, the only other thing needed – a lovely cup of coffee. Enjoy!

 

SAVORY TURKEY DRESSING

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Since we are trying to cut down on the amount of meat in our diet, I decided I better start by modifying my dressing recipe which normally contains either sausage or oysters. Because when you really stop to think about it, meat or seafood is kind of redundant in dressing. Good, but truly not necessary. I mean honestly, dressing’s only purpose in life is to justify slurping down great quantities of gravy anyway. And where does gravy come from? You got it in one – meat juices. So there really is a lot of protein action going on already without the addition of more meat in the dressing!

Now for those of you who are not gravy fans (all 2 of you), this recipe will probably not have enough flavor or be salty enough. But for those of us for whom gravy and heaven are synonymous, the seasonings in this recipe are not going to overpower the flavor of your gravy or be too salty in combination with the gravy.

So next time you want a good base for your turkey gravy, in addition to mashed potatoes of course, give this recipe a try. Just don’t over-bake it. All you really need to do is hot it up. Then sit back (after of course setting out the appetizers you plan to serve, slicing the turkey, mashing the potatoes, hotting up the green bean and sweet potato casseroles, dressing the salad, warming the rolls, opening the wine, and whipping the cream for the pumpkin pies) and enjoy a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with your family and friends. In fact, my advice would be that now would be a good time for a martini, Cosmopolitan (see recipe on site), or glass of wine. After all, who better deserves a reward for a job well done?

So here’s a toast to all of you who routinely provide your family and friends with wonderful and healthy food. Good food not only nourishes our bodies, it feeds our souls as well. And on this Thanksgiving eve I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for your support. I love hearing from you, so never hesitate to “Leave a reply”. And tell your friends about this site. Why should you be the only one in your group who has to put up with my nonsensical rhetoric?

  • ½ c. unsalted butter
  • 1½ c. chopped celery (stalks and leaves)
  • 1 lg. onion, finely chopped
  • 8 lg. or 5 extra lg. mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/3 c. chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 T. minced fresh sage
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 T. poultry seasoning
  • 1 tsp. savory, either powdered or dried leaves
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 16-20 oz. dry bread cubes (I use inexpensive sliced sourdough bread cut into cubes and toasted)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 c. turkey or chicken stock, or more as needed

In a large sauté pan, melt butter and add celery, onion, and mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme (sound familiar?), poultry seasoning, savory, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat. Place dried bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. Add the sautéed vegetables; mix thoroughly. Beat eggs in a separate medium sized bowl. If you are using stock that is simmering happily on your stove, vigorously whisk 3 cups of the broth into the eggs. (The hot stock will scramble the eggs if you don’t stir vigorously.) Pour the hot liquid over the bread cubes and gently stir. Add more stock if the dressing is dry. (Remember, this is dressing, not stuffing, and therefore is not going into the cavity of the turkey. So any moisture needs to be added while it is being prepared.) Taste the dressing and add additional poultry seasoning and/or salt if needed.

Place dressing in a buttered casserole dish, cover and refrigerate until ready to bake in a pre-heated 275 degree oven for 45 minutes or until hot. (I put mine in the oven when the turkey comes out.)

Note: recipe for Turkey Stock can be found under Herb Salted Turkey with Cognac Gravy on this site.

 

WILD MUSHROOM BREAD PUDDING

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I found this recipe in the Seattle Times several years ago and have been making it ever since. It is a perfect dish to serve with a holiday meal. It’s basically like eating a very rich and savory stuffing or dressing, but in my opinion is easier to prepare. The wild mushrooms are just delicious, but if you can’t find any, use crimini over button mushrooms. This recipe also has the advantage that it can be prepared the day before and simply refrigerated until about an hour before you plan to bake it in your oven. Better and better, wouldn’t you say?

So give it a try. Instead of stuffing your bird this Thanksgiving or Christmas, place this bread pudding on your holiday table. It will be a huge success.

  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 c. whipping cream
  • 2 large eggs, room temp.
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled
  • 2 T. chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ c. finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 c. packed cubed sour dough bread (1 or 2 day old chewy sourdough bread is best for this recipe)
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8-oz. coarsely chopped wild mushrooms

Combine milk, cream, eggs, salt, pepper, rosemary, and parsley in a medium sized bowl. Gently fold in bread cubes and set aside. Melt butter in a medium sized sauté pan. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is soft. Add mushrooms and cook until golden brown. Allow to cool and scoop into the bowl with softened bread cubes. Stir gently and pour mixture into a lightly buttered casserole dish. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Serve immediately.

 

 

SPINACH CASSEROLE

This is just a wonderful recipe from Ina Garten. The mixture of flavorful white sauce, spinach, and cheeses is just amazingly rich and delicious. This lovely side dish is just perfect for a holiday meal or whenever you need a little richness to offset other menu items that have been very simply prepared. Regardless of how or when you serve this delicious veggie casserole, you and yours are going to be glad you did. Try it this Christmas for a lovely change of pace from green bean casserole.

And I suppose, if you simply can’t imagine life without those canned crunchy fried onions that are such a part of the green bean casserole tradition, by all means sprinkle some on top along with the Parmesan and Gruyere. I don’t think it will matter much to the overall taste of the casserole. And if it makes you and yours happy, I say go for it! In fact, I may try adding them this year myself. After all, what’s a few hundred more calories among friends?

  • 4 T. butter
  • 4 c. chopped yellow onion
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 2 c. milk
  • 1 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 (10-oz.) pkgs. frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
  • 1/2 c. grated Gruyère cheese

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 15 minutes. Whisk in the flour and nutmeg and cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes. Whisk in the cream and milk and cook until thickened. Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese and mix well; add salt and pepper. Squeeze as much liquid as possible from the spinach and add the spinach to the sauce. Adjust seasoning. Transfer the mixture to a lightly buttered baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and the Gruyère. Bake for about 20-30 minutes in a pre-heated 425 degree oven or until hot and bubbly. Serve hot out of the oven.

 

 

 

COSMOPOLITAN

Most of you know I’m a martini drinker. But on occasion I leave the comfort of ice cold gin and go over to the wild side and have either one (and I do mean one) of Mr. C’s Margaritas in the summer or for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, one or two (never more than two) of his delicious cosmopolitans. (I couldn’t finish dinner preparations if I had more than two of these babies!)

Cosmopolitans are delightful served any time of year, but are especially wonderful served at holiday time. They look festive, reflect the cranberry flavor we have all learned to associate with “the holidays”, and the tang of the lime juice beautifully counter balances the sweetness of the orange flavored liqueur. Cosmopolitans are wonderfully tart and refreshing and perfect served with appetizers.

Mr. C usually combines the vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice, Rose’s lime juice, and fresh lime juice ahead of time. (Depending on how many guests we expect, he makes enough for one each.) Then when a drink request comes his way, he does the whole shaker with ice thing and serves up a freshly made drink. Yea Thanksgiving! I can hardly wait to make sure I still like these marvelous drinks. (Maybe I should ask Mr. C to make me one before the big day; you know, make sure he hasn’t lost the Cosmopolitan touch.) Oh, honey…….

  • 3 oz. vodka
  • 1 ½ oz. Cointreau or or other orange flavored liqueur
  • 4 oz. cranberry juice cocktail
  • splash of Rose’s lime juice
  • juice of ½ large lime
  • ice
  • 2 slices of lime, garnish

Pour vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice, Rose’s lime juice, fresh lime juice, and ice into a cocktail shaker. Shake well and strain into 2 chilled martini glasses. Garnish with a slice of lime.

CREAMY CARAMELIZED PEARL ONIONS AND PETITE PEAS

This is another perfect veggie dish to serve during the holidays. The peas and creamy rich onions combined are not only beautiful to behold but taste absolutely delicious together.

  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 c. frozen pearl onions
  • ¾-1 c. heavy cream
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1-2 c. frozen petite peas

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over fairly high heat. And the onions and stir fry for about 3 minutes, or until a deep golden brown. Reduce heat; pour in cream and slowly simmer until cream is thickened. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Just before serving, place frozen peas in a small colander and rinse under cold water to remove any ice crystals. Drain and gently stir in with the onions. Heat the mixture only until the peas are hot*. Add additional cream if necessary. Adjust seasoning. Serve hot.

*You don’t really want or need to cook the peas. They are much tastier when served just heated through. In fact, when I make Pea Salad (another wonderful Thanksgiving side dish by-the-way) I don’t heat the peas at all. They are basically right out of the freezer when I add them to the other ingredients.

 

CREAMY CARAMELIZED PEARL ONIONS

This is a perfect holiday veggie. Our good friend Jim first made this amazing and simple dish for one of our holiday meals, and it was the first food to disappear. Something you should know about Jim before I go any further is that he never makes a small amount of anything he prepares. (God love him.) So even my gravy (and I make fairly decent gravy if I say so myself) didn’t disappear as fast as these onions.

So if you want to serve a veggie that is so delicious that your family and friends will be declaring you the queen or king of the kitchen, add this recipe to your menu. But be advised, it is very rich. You might want to serve it along with another vegetable dish that is fairly simple, like my easy and make ahead recipe for Green Beans.

Any way you serve these onions, you are going to be very happy that you did. Thanks again Jim for the recipe. See you and Margo on turkey day. Don’t forget to add this dish to the menu. Hint hint!

  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 c. frozen pearl onions
  • ¾-1 c. heavy cream
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly ground nutmeg

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over fairly high heat. And the onions and stir fry for about 3 minutes, or until a deep golden brown. Reduce heat; pour in cream and slowly simmer until cream is thickened. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Serve hot.

 

SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

I found this recipe a couple years back on the Southern Living site. It looked so beautiful I just had to give it a try. Turns out it is not only beautiful to behold, it is absolutely divine to eat. So if you want to please all your sweet potato lovers this Thanksgiving, the ones in the marshmallow camp and the ones who believe marshmallows are only for children, give them all what they want. You will earn big points, I promise!

  • 4 ½ lbs. ruby or garnet sweet potatoes (sometimes labeled incorrectly as yams)
  • ¾ c. sugar (or part brown sugar)
  • ¼ c. whole milk
  • ½ c. (1 cube) butter, softened
  • 2 lg. eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 c. cornflakes cereal, crushed
  • ½ c. chopped pecans
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 1 T. butter, melted
  • 1 ½ c. miniature marshmallows

Bake sweet potatoes in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 1 hour or until tender. Let cool to touch; peel and mash with an electric mixer. Add the sugar(s), milk, butter, eggs, vanilla, and salt and beat until smooth. Pour mixture into a buttered 9×13-inch baking dish. *Combine cornflakes, pecans, brown sugar, and melted butter. Sprinkle diagonally over casserole in rows 2 inches apart. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle alternate rows with marshmallows; bake 10 additional minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

*If preparing casserole ahead of time, cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate before adding any topping. About 90 minutes before serving, pull the casserole out of the refrigerator, leave the foil on the casserole, and bake for 30 minutes. Then follow the above instructions beginning with “Combine cornflakes….”

 

WHITE CHOCOLATE DIPPED COFFEE BEAN SHORTBREAD

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I know that you know that I am nothing if not a copy cat! And these cookies were inspired by some cookies that Mr. C picked up on our last visit to Trader Joes. We don’t have a Trader Joes in our area so when we are in Seattle and have a little extra time on our hands we hit the closest TJs to load up on some of our favorites. (I love their 100% Greek Kalamata Extra Virgin Olive Oil by-the-way.)

I think I’ve told you before that Mr. C doesn’t have just one sweet tooth. He is blessed with several, so for him to place a couple of packages of cookies or candy in the cart is not uncommon. And usually the cookies or candy can happily sit in either the cookie jar or pantry forever as long as I’m concerned.

But this time, the cookies looked so interesting I just had to give one a try. (Empirical research you see!)

Well I am very happy that I made that decision, because my version of this amazing cookie is to die for. (And yes, I do want a gold star for this one!)

So if you adore coffee and buttery crisp not too sweet shortbread, you are going to love these cookies. And they absolutely could not be easier to make. Dipping the cookies in the white chocolate is a nice touch, but if you are in a hurry, or don’t want to mess around with melting this sometimes difficult ingredient, leave the cookies plain. They are still delicious.

Just be advised: these cookies are habit forming.

  • 1 c. (2 cubes) butter, room temperature
  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (if using unsalted butter, add ½ tsp. salt)
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. ground coffee beans (use the grind setting for a French Press)
  • 3/4 c. white chocolate chips or equivalent in bulk white chocolate
  • 1 scant tsp. Crisco

With an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and ground coffee beans. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture, mixing just until a dough forms. Place dough on a long piece of plastic wrap. Using your hands, wrap the dough into the plastic wrap gently shaping it into a square about 1 1/2-inch wide.  Refrigerate for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap log and using a serrated knife, slice dough 3/8 inch thick (if dough feels really hard, leave at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes). Arrange slices, about 1 inch apart, on parchment paper lined baking sheets. Bake until lightly golden around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 1 to 2 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. (Do not discard the parchment paper at this point.)

When the cookies are completely cool, combine the white chocolate and Crisco and slowly melt together in microwave. When fully melted, whisk together until creamy and smooth. Dip one third of each cookie in the chocolate and place back on the parchment paper covered baking sheet to harden. Store in a tightly covered container. Great with freshly brewed coffee.

Note: Working with white chocolate is not for sissies! When you are melting it, it can appear all smooth and lovely then suddenly form small lumps. It’s like the molecules just can’t bear to be apart. They re-unite faster than re-producing rabbits!