Friday, November 21, 2008


Marriage makes for changes. As a part of a married couple, I am now beginning to create my own family traditions apart from those of my parents. This year was the first year I hosted a real, live Thanksgiving dinner in a home that is bigger than a postage stamp and has my name on the paperwork as an owner rather than a renter.

Dinner was scheduled for early afternoon with my parents, brother, and his family as the guests of honor (for a grand total of 11 of us eating). If I had been a little more proactive, my dining room furniture would have been refinished in time for the occasion. As it stands, if I had been a little more proactive, this blog entry would have been a little closer to the actual date of Thanksgiving, too, but the hustle and bustle of life and work seem to conspire to leave me less than motivated to wax eloquent about life in our corner of the world.

In a side note, as you look at the table, the china is a combination of dishes that both Russ and I brought to our marriage. When we were first getting to know each other, I mentioned that I should show him my china pattern. The Noritake Halifax was a pattern I selected in 1989 when I first got married. In the initial stages of our relationship, he and I happened to be unpacking some items he had gotten out of his storage unit in Sacramento, California. Lo and behold, the newly uncovered china revealed that he ALSO had the Noritake Halifax pattern. It has been discontinued; however, a couple of years ago I was able to find some incredibly good deals on it on eBay, so our china has been rounded out sufficient to entertain.

If the success of a celebration is measured by the people you enjoy leaving not much in the way of potential leftovers, this event could be deemed a success. I fixed two kinds of turkey breast for those in attendance, a cranberry sauce made from scratch, a stuffing suggested by my wonderful sister, Barb (whose culinary/hostessing activities are legend), mashed potatoes and gravy, a green bean casserole, and some peas and carrots in a honey glaze. It is a fine art to be able to have all the food prepared and hot for when everyone is ready to sit down and eat. It's something that my mother, Russ's mother, and other hostesses I admire seem able to do with ease. I came close--but that only means I need to continue the efforts in order to become more proficient. Mom Hardy provided TONS of delectable desserts.

There were a couple of people who asked for my recipes. . .so. . .for your cooking pleasure, here they are (and credited to those who contributed--all but the stuffing came from

Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Turkey (contributed by The Mad Russian)
5 - slices bacon
1 - 5.5 lb. bone-in turkey breast (skin removed)
1/2 t. garlic pepper
1 - 10.5 oz. can turkey gravy
2 T. all-purpose flour
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. dried sage

1. Brown bacon and crumble it
2. Spray a slow cooker with cooking spray. Place turkey in the slow cooker. Season with garlic pepper. In a bowl, mix the bacon, gravy, flour, Worcestershire sauce, and sage. Pour over turkeyin the slow cooker.
3. Cover slow cooker and cook turkey 8 hours on Low. (I put it on high and wound up cooking only a couple of hours before the turkey button popped and it turned out just fine--in fact, it was so tender it was falling off the bone.)

Cranberry Stuffed Turkey Breasts (submitted by Esther Nelson)
2 - boneless and skinless turkey breasts
1 - 12 oz. pakage herb-seasoned dry bread stuffing mix
1.5 c. sweetened-dried cranberries
1 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c. pecan halves
2 T. olive oil

1.Prepare stuffing mix according to package directions, set aside and let cool.
2. With a sharp knife, butterfly breasts open to lay flat. Place each breast between two sheets of waxed paper and flatten with a mallet.
3. On each breast, spread prepared stuffing to 1/4 inch of the edge. Sprinkle with most of the dried cranberries and all of the chopped pecans. Roll up "jellyroll" style, starting with the long end and roll tightly. Tuck in ends and tie in sections with string, about 4 sections around middle and one running the length of the roll to secure the ends.
4.Place the olive oil in an oven proof skillet and heat. Carefully brown rolls on all sides. Place skillet in oven, uncovered and bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 1 hour or until a knife inserted draws clear juices. Do not allow these to get overly dry. Allow rolls to set for 15 minutes before slicing into 1/2 - 3/4 inch circles. Leave one roll whole and slice the other for presentation. Stuffing will be spiraled into meat. Present on your prettiest platter on a bed for curly lettuce, garnish by sprinkling with the whole pecans and some dried cranberries.

Cranberry Sauce (submitted by Toni with variations by other contributors)
12 oz. cranberries
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. orange juice
1/2 c. pineapple juice
6 oz. raspberries
14 oz. crushed pineapple
1/4 c. Grand Marnier
1/4 c. crushed (or chopped) pecans

1. Boil cranberries, sugar, OJ, pineapple juice until the cranberries pop. (I added sugar until it tasted sweet enough for me--I think we wound up using about 2 cups total)
2. Add raspberries and mash.
3. Add Grand Marnier, pineapple and pecans.
4. Cook until thickened and refrigerate.
(I did this the night before)

Barbara's Stuffing
1 pkg. seasoned stuffing mix
3/4 lb. ground pork sausage
1/2 med. yellow onion
2 stalks of celery
1 can water chestnuts (chopped)
1 - 2 cans of chicken broth
1/2 c. pecans
1/2 c. dried cranberries

1. Brown the pork sausage.
2. Chop onion, celery, water chestnuts and add to the seasoned stuffing mix.
3. Add the pecans and cranberries to the seasoned stuffing mix.
4. Mix in as much chicken broth as you want so it is as moist as you like it.
5. Bake in a 9 x 12 inch pan for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Campbell's Green Bean Casserole (submitted by Campbell's Kitchen)
2 - 10.75 oz cans Campbell's Condesned Cream of Mushroom Soup (I used Cream of Celery)
1 c. milk (I used half and half)
2 t. soy sauche
1/4 t. ground black pepper
8 c. cooked cut green beans
2 2/3 c. French Fried Onions
1/2 can of water chestnuts* (my addition--but the idea came from Barb Miller)

1. Cook beans (don't overcook--you want them to be slightly crunchy still)
2. Stir soup, milk, soy sauce, pepper, beans, waterchestnuts and 1 1/3 c. onions in 3-qt casserole dish.
3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or until hot. Stir.
3. Top with remaining onions. Bake for 5 minutes more.

Honey Glazed Pea Pods and Carrots (submitted by Michele O'Sullivan with additions by others)
1 pkg. baby carrots
1/2 lb. trimmed snow peas
3 T. butter
1/2 t. cornstarch
2 T. honey
1/2 t. garlic salt
1/2 t. oregano (I used sage since I already had used that with the turkey)

1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add carrots and cook until tender crisp (10 - 12 minutes). Add pea pods and cook until tender crisp. Drain and set aside.
2. Melt butter in the same pan and stir in cornstarch. Return carrots and peas to pan and stir in honey. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until heated through.

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