Sunday, November 30, 2008

Great Thanksgivings and to all good night!

We had two great Thanksgiving celebrations! We had around 45 crazy folks at Mom's on Thursday, and around 20 at our house on Saturday! That's two full houses! And all the food was plentiful and good.

Now, Scarecrow Soup is bowing out, and giving Pumpkins and Reindeer center stage...check in often over there, I'll be posting all kinds of stuff in the next 25 (gasp) days!!


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Thank God for your blessings today...and tomorrow...and every day after that.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

One Day to Go!

Tomorrow is the big day. Today is shaping up to be a busy one. I won't go into details, since I already did that...but I'll bet you really don't have much time either to read a lot of details-you're probably busy, too!

This punch recipe couldn't be simpler, and it's so pretty in a glass or crystal punch bowl. I like to freeze the cranberry juice in mini bundt pans or heart shaped pans. The idea behind it is that the cranberry juice cubes melting into the oj looks like a sunrise. Nice!

Thanksgiving Sunrise Punch
1 quart orange juice
1 quart cranapple juice cocktail or cranberry juice
2 litres ginger ale

Freeze the cranberry juice in ice cube trays or other molds a few days before serving. Put the orange juice in a punch bowl, then add the cranberry ice cubes a few minutes before serving. Just before serving, pour the ginger ale over the ice cubes and stir gently. Serve.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cranberry-Pineapple Cups

Tonight is our annual Thanksgiving service at church. I can't wait!

I mentioned yesterday that I'll be cooking on Friday in preparation for Lynn's family gathering on Saturday. I will make a cake, get the ham and turkey ready for the oven, peel the potatoes
and put them in water until tomorrow, and put together the relish tray. I'll put the green beans in the crockpot when I go to bed, then Saturday morning, all I'll have to do is roast the turkey, bake the ham and bake the dressing. Oh, yeah, and set the table. I'll try to have some photos of my tablescape up soon. Need to dry-run it anyway!

This is a new to me recipe that sounds so yummy...I'm going to give it a try this year. I think it would be good to substitute a can of mandarin oranges for the pineapple.

Cranberry-Pineapple Cups
1 can crushed pineapple in juice
2 pkg. raspberry flavored jello
1 can whole cranberry sauce
2/3 cup walnut pieces
1 apple, chopped

Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Add enough water to juice to measure 2 1/2 cups; pour into saucepan. Bring to boil. Pour over gelatin mixes in a large bowl; stir 2 minutes until completely dissolved. Stir in pineapple, cranberry sauce, walnuts and apple. Spoon into 24 paper lined muffin cups. Refrigerate 2 1/2 hours or until firm. Remove liners. Makes 24 servings.

This will look so festive on a relish tray. The kids might actually pick them up and eat them before they realize it has fruit in it! When Lynn's sister Gail moved she gave me (among a ton of other stuff) a beautiful crystal tray, which will hold our pickles, olives, cranberry cups and other relishes.

Next post: Thanksgiving Sunrise Punch. Oh, it's good, and it's a pretty punch. Stay tuned!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Just to clarify...

I got a message on my last post asking about if we eat at both events...I should clarify that.

We go to my Mom's, with the hordes of 40, on Thanksgiving Day to celebrate with my side of the family. Then, on Saturday after Thanksgiving, we host Lynn's side, usually between 20 & 30 people. So yes, we do eat both times...and we do eat the next week! LOL!!

Thanksgiving Week! And-a Breakfast Casserole!

It's finally Thanksgiving week! Yay!! I can't believe it's finally here. I've been planning this week for ages, and now that it's here, it's time to put the plans into action.

I have a full week ahead. The kids are in school today and tomorrow. I'm off today, but may have to work tomorrow. I'm not sure yet. So, today on the agenda is lots of cleaning...our bedroom is basically clean but needs a big de-cluttering...and our bathroom is pretty bad...but it's small, so it won't take too long. A little tidying up around the rest of the house and it should be in pretty good shape. Wednesday I'm sure I'll be helping Mom get ready for that massive crowd that comes to her house-usually around 40. I have about half that many at my house. I am making the dressing for both houses this year, so I'm planning on doing that on Wednesday. I'll also make the Pumpkin Ooey Gooey Cake on Wednesday. The recipe for that is from Paula Deen, and it is a keeper!! (You'll have to scroll down a little for the recipe) I'll also make the BLT dip and the cranberry spread on Wednesday so that the flavors can marry. Then, Thursday morning I'll pop the hams in the oven and get them ready. Shouldn't be too much for one day!

On Friday, when the rest of the world is shopping, I'll be cooking!! Details on this later!

Here's the breakfast casserole recipe. It's so good, and if you don't have homemade dressing left over, you can use the packaged stuff. It's really good with that, too.

Breakfast Casserole
Leftover dressing to fill the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish, or use a boxed mix, prepared according to package directions
1 pound breakfast sausage, crumbled and browned
12 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put dressing in the bottom of a sprayed baking dish, then layer the sausage and 1 cup of the cheese on top of the dressing. Add salt and pepper to eggs, then pour over the sausage and cheese. Top with the remaining cheese. Bake for about an hour, until the eggs are set. If the cheese on top starts to brown before the eggs are done, cover with foil and continue to bake.

Once you make this once, you'll think of all kinds of yummy variations...put a can of green chilies in the eggs and top with hot pepper jack cheese or Monterrey Jack. Or, use some Italian herbs, like basil and oregano, and top with mozzarella cheese. The variations are limited only by your imagination!

I like to serve this with biscuits or croissants, jelly and butter, and fresh fruit. Add some coffee and juice and you're set!

Next post: Cranberry Cups and the rest of my plans!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cornbread Dressing

I do believe I could eat cornbread dressing with every single meal. I love the stuff...and it's even better the next day, so I like to make extra. Sometimes I even make a small "extra" pan of it and keep it hidden until the next day...but don't tell anyone!

This is my own adaptation of a basic, old southern recipe. I rarely measure anything, but I'll guesstimate for you!!

Cornbread Dressing
1 small onion, diced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
2 T. butter
1 pan of cornbread, cooked, cooled and crumbled (cornbread recipe to follow)
5 slices of white bread, set out to dry a couple of hours, then finely crumbled
1 sleeve saltine crackers, finely crushed
4 eggs
1 quart chicken broth
2 t. poultry seasoning (or to taste on all seasonings)
1 t. sage
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
Butter for greasing the casserole dish, or use non-stick cooking spray

Saute the onion and celery in the butter until tender. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a very large bowl, combine the crumbed cornbread, the crumbled white bread and the crushed crackers. Add the eggs and use the chicken broth to moisten the mixture. Stir in the cooled veggies and the seasonings. Add more broth if necessary to get it to the consistency you like. I like mine just a little "soupy" when I put it in the oven, so that it stays nice and moist. Butter or spray a large casserole dish...I use a 10x13 baking pan. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees about 60-75 minutes. (Don't overcook or it will dry out.) This is good hot, but it's also good served at room temperature, so you can make it early in the day.

I'm sure you could stuff a turkey with this...we don't do that at our house, we just cook it in the pan. Also, this freezes like a dream, and actually seems to get better in the freezer. Freeze it before baking, just be sure to wrap it very tightly in plastic wrap and then in foil. Then, put it in the fridge the night before you want to bake it and let it thaw, then pop it in the oven the next day. It also freezes well as leftovers, if you happen to have any left over. We always eat it before I can freeze it.

My sweet neighbor, Cissy, doesn't put eggs in hers, and it works great. She's the one who introduced me to the freezing it idea. She makes her dressing for Thanksgiving and Christmas a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving then freezes both pans. Then during the busy cooking time, she has that much done. She's one smart cookie!!

Next post-a great breakfast casserole that uses up any of the leftover dressing you might have!


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Quick Old-Fashioned Corn Relish

I think this is a beautiful addition to a relish tray. I'm not sure if I'll be making the relish tray for my Mom's house, but I know I will for my house on Saturday. I think this will be so pretty in a small crystal bowl. When Lynn and I married we got a bunch of beautiful crystal bowls and platters. I use them for every holiday. I am not in favor of "saving" the good stuff-I never really understood what you're saving it for. If you can't use your pretty dishes on Thanksgiving and Christmas, when will you use it? I use mine for New Year's, Valentines, Easter, Memorial Day, July get the idea. I even use them for Tuesday night hamburgers at home sometimes. And if we have guests, I always use the nice stuff. Ok, enough lecturing. Here's that corn relish recipe...and it would even be pretty in a styrofoam bowl if that's your style!

Quick Old-Fashioned Corn Relish
1/2 c. vinegar
1/3 c. sugar
1 t. salt
1/2 t. celery seed
1/4 t. mustard seed
14 t. hot pepper sauce
15 1/4 oz. canned corn, drained
2 T. green pepper, chopped
1 T. pimento, chopped
1 T. onion, minced

Combine the first 6 ingredients together in a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes; remove from heat and set aside to cool. Combine remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl; add vinegar mixture. Cover and refrigerate. Makes 1 2/3 cups.

I hope you enjoy it!
Next post-Cornbread Dressing-oh, yeah, baby-now we're getting to the good stuff!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Grandma's Dressing

Well, ok, this is not my grandma's dressing, it's from Gooseberry Patch's Flavors of Fall book. I like it with a grilled or baked chicken breast. It would never work in our traditional family (both sides) as the "main" dressing, but it would be a nice side. Or, it would be great with left over turkey slices, if you have any left.

Grandma's Dressing
1 T. plus 1 t. salt, divided
3/4 cup long-cooking rice, uncooked
1/2 cup raisins or sweetened dried cranberries (or a combo)
2 onions, chopped
1 T. butter
1 t. sugar
1 t. pepper

Place water in a saucepan according to rice package directions and add one T. salt; bring to a boil. Add rice; return to a boil for 10 minutes. Stir in cranberries and/or raisins and remove from heat. Saute onions in butter until golden; mix into rice mixture. Add sugar, remaining salt and pepper. Stir well. Remove from heat and cool. Serves 4 (but is easily doubled or tripled).

Easy, peasy, lemon squeezie! Enjoy!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pumpkin Cobbler

Here's a great Thanksgiving recipe. It has all the flavors of a pumpkin pie, as well as the Pumpkin Ooey Gooey Cake I posted a while back, but with a slightly different texture. It's good!!

Pumpkin Cobbler
3 eggs, beaten
15 oz. can of pumpkin
12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 c. sugar
1/8 t. salt
1 t. ground ginger
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 T. vanilla extract
18 1/2 oz package yellow cake mix
1 1/4 c. margarine
1 c. chopped nuts

Mix the first 8 ingredients together; pour into an ungreased 13"x9" baking pan. Sprinkle cake mix over the top; drizzle with margarine. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes; top with nuts. Bake for an additional 15 minutes. Makes 15-18 servings.

This is good with vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream. Even Cool Whip is pretty good on it!

I hope you like it!


Glass mugs

I've had several questions about the glass mugs you see in the cider post. I shouldn't tell my secret source, but since it's you, I'll tell you...Dollar Tree. Yep. Dollar Tree, as in $1 each. See why I got 10?! Gotta love a good bargain!
What bargains are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Here's another great little appetizer that is so easy to do. I love this stuff, and have been known to even serve it for breakfasts and brunches. I've made it every Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve since I found this recipe!

1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayo
1 jar bacon pieces
1 can petite diced tomatoes or 1 diced fresh tomato, both seeded and drained
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder

Mix the sour cream and mayo together until well blended, then stir in the bacon, tomatoes and seasonings. Stir well, then put in a serving bowl and refrigerate until serving. I don't know why it's called BLT, because there is actually no L, but you could certainly shred some lettuce and sprinkle in...that would be good!

Serve with club crackers or chunks of French bread! Good stuff!

Next Post: Pumpkin Cobbler-oh, yeah, baby!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cranberry Spread

I wish I had a picture of this to share, but trust me when I tell you it's very festive and pretty, as well as good! I have to make this every year, or a certain cousin fusses (you know who you are, Bobbie!). And it's so easy there's no reason not to make it.

This is one of those "method" recipes rather than just a "recipe" recipe, if you know what I mean. Once you make it, you'll think of a dozen ways to alter it and jazz it up according to your tastes.

16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 bag dried cranberries
1 Tablespoon of orange juice (more if needed to make the mixture loose enough to stir)

Put the cream cheese in a mixing bowl and mash it up with a fork...when it's soft and loose, stir in the dried cranberries and orange juice. Use your clean hands and mold it into a ball on a serving plate. Serve with crackers, gingersnaps or vanilla wafers.

I think you could easily substitute savory things for the cranberries-olives, onions, artichoke hearts, even mushrooms would be good...

Next post: BLT dip, another perennial holiday favorite in our family!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hot Spiced Apple Cider

Do you like hot spiced apple cider? I really like it, but I don't like the instant powdered kind that you just add water to very much. It has a funny, artificial taste to me. I made a pot of the homemade kind for our family breakfast today.

I went to Dollar Tree and picked up the glass mugs and set out a tray of them along with some apple slices, cinnamon sticks and the cider.

Here's a picture of how it looked:

Very Southern Livingish, don't you think?

Here's my simple recipe for this yummy seasonal drink. My family thinks it's not Thanksgiving if I don't make hot cider!

1 gallon apple cider or apple juice-I usually use the juice, and sometimes I even use the frozen tastes just as good as the bottled stuff.

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 cup brown sugar (or more to taste)

Put the cider in a large saucepan or a crockpot. Stir in the sugar and spices, let it warm up and serve. That's it! Sometimes I use whole cloves and cinnamon sticks and tie them in a cheesecloth bag and let it steep...but most times I just dump the ground spices in!

Slice up an apple and put out a jar of cinnamon sticks to serve with the cider...very pretty!

Next post: my recipe for Cranberry Spread, a yummy and pretty appetizer for Thanksgiving or Christmas!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

First fire of the fall!!

Do you know what this is? Well, it's the first inside fire of the season at the Hamlet! I stopped by Wal-Mart and picked up a box of firestarters because it was cold and rain was predicted! And we had a little firewood left over from the Boo!Bash2, so we decided to put it to good use!

And here's a shot of how the fireplace looks with the little fall banner I made to jazz up the joint!

Cozy, huh?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Gratitude Saturday

Today I am thankful for a roof over my head, food in my pantry, a sweet, loving Godly husband and three little munchkins, who are snuggled in their beds sleeping like angels right now. I have to say that early, because I might not be as thankful for them later today!

What are YOU thankful for this Harvest season?

Friday, November 7, 2008

20 Days!

Only 20 days until Thanksgiving..I can smell the turkey and dressing already!

Today's post is about the menu. I like to keep the menu fairly traditional, but flexible enough that guests can bring family favorites that might not be on my list. If I haven't mentioned this 100 times already, let me just say that we go to my Mom's house for a family gathering on Thanksgiving Day, then Lynn and I host the Miller family on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This has worked out really well...I can often pick up a ham and a turkey on "Black Friday" (you know, the day after Thanksgiving) for much less than I could on, say, "orange Wednesday" or whatever you would call the day before Thanksgiving.

So, here's the menu I have planned right now. Of course, it could change!

Cranberry spread with crackers
Veggie tray with assorted dips
Thanksgiving Sunrise punch-this is orange juice with cranberry juice ice cubes, with ginger ale pour over! Looks like the sunrise!
hot spiced cider

Main dishes and sides:
Turkey and cornbread dressing
Potatoes (mashed this year, I think)
Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans
Relish tray with pickles, olives and cranberry sauce

Desserts are assorted, but I usually try to make something pumpkiny...usually Paula Deen's Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake..the recipe is on this blog, several posts down! Try it-it's so good!

Drinks are usually tea and coffee, with assorted sodas available.

This is just part of the menu, because everyone who attends bring things too. I like to make these basics myself, that way everyone else can bring those family favorites I mentioned earlier.

I can't wait to eat!



Thursday, November 6, 2008

Harvest Cake

This is a good recipe that I sort of created a couple of years ago. I call it "Harvest Cake".

I cheat and use a cake mix and canned frosting, but you can use homemade if that's important to you!

Harvest Cake
1 spice cake mix, with ingredients to prepare
1 cup applesauce
1 cup pumpkin puree
handful each of raisins, dried cranberries and chopped pecans
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
t tsp. ground cinnamon
cream cheese icing

Make the cake mix according to package directions, then stir in the applesauce, pumpkin, fruit, nuts and spices. Pour into a bundt pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for amount of time listed on the cake mix box for the bundt pan. When it's done, cool it on a rack and then ice it with the cream cheese icing. I like to put it on a pedastal cake plate and put dried cranberries around the bottom. Very festive and pretty!!

I hope you enjoy this's very moist and tender. However, due to the high moisture content, be sure you put the leftovers in the fridge.