We have so many sisters here now, that the table is too crowded for just one person to make a meal. So we’re making our own Thanksgiving dinner, and sharing it with you.
For some reason, about 5 years ago my family (it’s Xan by the way) decided that they are completely in love with canned cranberry jelly/sauce, dumped onto a plate in the shape of the can and eaten with slices. This. Makes. Me. Insane. The stuff is tasteless, watery and full of preservatives, not to mention being utterly contrary to everything I believe about food. Personally I think they do it just to make me crazy. I’m actually going to attempt my own cranberry jelly this year (which will go in the Adventures in Jelly Making post) but here’s the wonderful cranberry chutney that my sister in law taught me years ago.
World’s Best Cranberry Chutney
1 lb cranberries (these used to come in 16 oz bags, now they’ve reduced bag size to 12 oz, so just deal)
1 cup sugar or 1/2 cup honey
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. golden raisins
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp allspice
1 cup water
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped apple (Granny Smiths)
1/2 c. chopped celery
Simmer cranberries, sugar, raisins and spices in 1 cup water, uncovered, in a saucepan over medium heat, just until the cranberries release their juice (about 15 minutes). Keep heat low, and stir in remaining ingredients. Simmer until it thickens, about 15 minutes. Can be served warm or cold. I think it’s best when made the day before and stored in the fridge, then served at room temperature for the actual meal.
Here at Chiot’s Run Thanksgiving dinner features all local homegrown fare. My sister bring mashed potatoes, green beans, and corn from her garden. I buy a turkey from a local farm and roast it with homegrown sage and local cider. I also make homemade rolls, roasted sweet potatoes tossed with a little of our homemade maple syrup, pies from homegrown pumpkins. My favorite dish of all has to be the stuffing. Not the dry stuff from a box, or the stuff from inside a turkey. Mine is more like a savory bread pudding, crispy on the outside, warm and gooey on the inside. It’s made with dry bit and ends of homemade bread I’ve saved for a few months and has lots of homegrown sage, celery and onions.
RICH SAVORY STUFFING
1 loaf of stale bread (I prefer using sourdough)*
2 3/4 cups of chicken or turkey stock (or 2 cups of stock and 3/4 cup of cream)
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup real butter (use more if you like, I’ll use up to 1/2 cup)
1 large onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic diced
1 cup of chopped celery
2 teaspoons of dried rubbed sage
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon of sea salt (if your chicken stock is salted cut back on this)
Additional items to add for flavor if desired: cranberries, diced apples, cooked sausage, apple cider, chestnuts, raisins, pecans, etc.
Cut bread into slices or tear into large chunks. Layer in buttered tall casserole dish.
In saucepan melt butter and add onions and celery, cover with lid and cook on low for 5 minutes. Add garlic, return lid and cook until onions are translucent. Mix in pepper, salt and sage and cook for one minute, remove from heat. Mix in stock and eggs and stir until combined.
Pour the stock mixture slowly over the bread moving around the dish, work slowly so it is absorbed. Let dish rest for 30 minutes while preheating oven to 350.
Bake for 40-50 minutes until the top is golden brown and the custard is just set but still slightly wobbly (you can test with knife to see if it’s done). Serve while warm, preferable smothered in giblet gravy!
*Should equal 6-8 cups of bread chunks depending on size of pieces. If you don’t have stale bread you can tear in chunks and dry in a low oven or leave on cookie sheet on counter for a day or two. If you think about it start planning ahead and adding odd pieces & ends of bread to a bag in the freezer a month or two before Thanksgiving. Then you’ll have a good mix of different kinds of bread for the best stuffing!
I giggled when I read Xan’s story about the canned cranberry – My husband does the same thing “What’s that? (he knows what it is – it is just a show) Where is the canned cranberries with the rings on it?” I cringe, because I have great memories of picking fresh wild cranberries in a bog near our cabin. He loves cranberries, so we do eat them often, but never canned. He is just poking fun at me (Sincerely, Emily).
It has been many many years since I have spent Thanksgiving with my family, so we just make sure that we are surrounded with our local family during the holidays. Those get-togethers revolve around a meal. One dish that I make over and over, year after year is a Corn Casserole recipe that came from my Great Uncle Bob. If we are invited somewhere around the holidays, I will bring that dish. It is just a little different from the usual holiday dishes, and usually no one has ever had it before, so I also make sure I bring a few copies of the recipe with me because someone is bound to ask how to make it. The original recipe uses canned cream corn, but over the past few years I have been modifying it to use more fresh and local ingredients so that I feel better about the dish. Here is my version.
Uncle Bob's Baked Corn
Uncle Bob’s Baked Corn Casserole
- 5 1/2 cups of corn (about 42 ounces)
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup plain bread crumbs (plus a bit extra for the top if you want)
- 1 small-medium onion – chopped
- 4 T flour
- 2 cups milk or cream
- 1/2 T Thyme
- 1/2 T Sage
- 1/2 T Oregano
- 1/2 T garlic powder
I normally cream about half of the corn. It is up to you if you want to cream all the corn or just half of it. The original recipe used all creamed corn. If you want to cream all your corn, just increase your milk/cream by 1 more cup and add an additional 2-3T of flour.
- Combine flour and milk/cream in a sauce pan. Heat over medium heat and add about 3 1/2 cups of corn.
- Heat over medium heat. As the corn cooks the sauce will start to thick and “cream.”
- In a separate bowl whisk your eggs, then add the rest of your ingredients and stir to combine.
- Put in a buttered casserole dish
- I like to sprinkle more bread crumbs on top to get a nice crusty top as it cooks, but that is up to you
- Cook uncovered at 375F/180C for 1 1/2 hours.
One of the things i’m generally the most thankful for this time of year is my father in law’s delicious mashed potatoes! I’ll be missing out this year, as i’ve moved from my Austin Homestead back to the Pacific northwest. This year, i’m lucky enough to spend Thanksgiving with my dad, mama #2 and a bevvy of their closest friends. I won’t be missing out on the mashed potatoes, though: i’m bringing them myself! I’ve added my usual “miranda twist” to Ross’s recipe though, adding some cauliflower (farmer’s market) and a touch of yogurt (homemade) to reduce the starch and up the nutrition. I’ll also be using some purple potatoes from Gathering Together Farm to make my dish extra special. The only thing i worry about is not having enough!
MASHED “POTATOES” with CAULIFLOWER
- Potatoes, chopped into quarters or whatever fraction makes them evenly sized – use as many as will fill about 1/2+ your stockpot
– 1 head cauliflower, also chopped in evenish chunks
– 5 or more cloves garlic, minced or put through a crusher: the more garlic the better in my opinion!
– several pats butter
– 1/4 cup plain yogurt (can sub a splash of milk)
– salt, pepper and optional herbs to taste (rosemary, sage, thyme, etc)
Put the potatoes and cauliflower in a stock put filled either full or with several inches of water, you can choose to steam or boil the veggies. With either method, cook until all the veggies are soft, they should be easily stabbed with a fork. The potatoes generally soften first: i leave the skin on and the skin falling off is a good indicator they’re done. Make sure the cauliflower is soft enough or the mash will be gritty, you may want to cut the cauliflower chunks smaller than the potatoes to ensure they get well cooked. Drain off the liquid (reserve for baking bread or to feed the pigs if you’ve got ‘em) and put back over low heat. Add the butter, garlic and optional herbs and begin to mash! You can use an old fashioned masher, a hand mixer or an immersion blender. When veggies are crushed, add the yogurt and whip to your desired consistency. Add more salt or butter to taste and get ready to slather on that gravy!
Jennifer here! Every Christmas Eve my family celebrates my step-father’s Polish heritage with a traditional dinner. This week I started experimenting with making our own pierogies in hopes of finding one good enough to share next month. In the meantime, I have so many pierogi that we’ll be starting our celebration this Thursday.
Here’s the recipe for the cheese version I made this week:
FARMER’S CHEESE PIEROGI
- 1 pound farmer’s cheese (you can substitute ricotta, but it is slightly different)
- 1 tsp cane sugar
- 1 egg
Mix all ingredients together and keep in refrigerator until dough is ready to be filled.
recipe from Jeff Smith’s Our Immigrant Ancestors
- 2 cups sour cream
- 4 1/2 cups flour
- 2 Tbsp melted butter
- 2 eggs plus 1 yolk, whisked
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp light tasting vegetable oil
Mix all dough ingredients together and knead several minutes until it’s soft and pliable. Divide into two workable pieces and allow it to rest, covered, for 10 minutes.
Keep your surfaces lightly floured so that your dough doesn’t stick.
Roll dough out to about ¼ inch thickness with a rolling pin.
Use a glass, bowl, or a large mug to cut out circles 4-6 inches in diameter.
Add a small amount of filling to the center of each pierogi. If you put too much filling in, it will ooze out when you fold the pierogi, so adjust your measurement as needed.
Wet your fingers with water and brush around the edge of the circle. Fold the pierogi in half and crimp the edges closed.
Boil pierogi – gently so they don’t fall apart – for about 2-3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon or spider then sauté for several minutes with butter and onion. It’s nice if they brown just a bit, but don’t let them get tough! My mom bakes hers on a cookie sheet in the oven for our holiday gatherings simply because there are so many!
Top with sour cream and a good sprinkle of salt and enjoy!
For a dessert-style cheese pierogi, add 2 Tbsp sugar and 1 tsp vanilla to the cheese mixture and omit the onions when sautéing. Top with powdered sugar or a berry sauce instead.
(Here’s a family secret: A Polish monk recently told my great uncle that they sprinkle a bit of sugar in their butter before sautéing their pierogi – I’m definitely going to attempt it with these cheese dumplings!)
Pierogies freeze nicely, allowing you to make lots in advance or to keep some for the rest of the year! Just be sure that you freeze them individually on a cookie sheet to keep them from sticking to each other.
From “newbie” DeeDee…. I’m trying something new this year, and hoping it turns out well! We are blessed enough to live near most of our family, so we celebrate Thanksgiving with both my family and my in-laws. This year our day will begin at my husband’s grandmother’s house, and I’ve been asked to bring a green bean dish of some sort. Rather than doing the traditional “dumping the cans of mushroom soup & onions” on my already tasty green beans from the garden, I’m going to attempt an enhanced version (using a dutch oven) of my mom’s green beans with bacon (combined with some of Emeril’s ideas!). I’ll let you know how it turns out!
GREEN BEANS WITH BACON
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 4-6 slices crumbled bacon (more or less depending on your preference)
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1-2 cloves garlic (again, more or less depending on your preference, I tend to go for the more!)
- 3 quarts canned green beans (from the garden)
- about a cup of chicken stock or water
- salt and pepper to taste
Put the Dutch oven over medium heat, add the olive oil. Add the bacon and cook until well browned. Add the onion and garlic, cook while stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes. (*I will probably throw in some mushrooms as well, just because I LOVE them!) Drain some of the fat (to prevent a greasy mess later). Add the chicken stock/water, and increase the heat until it starts to boil. Place the lid on, and cook 5 minutes or so (I like very tender green beans, so I might actually cook them a few minutes more). Season with salt and pepper, cook a few minutes more, then transfer to a serving dish.
And so begins the time of year when I truly begin to appreciate (among many other things!) the late nights spent after work canning all of those green beans!
What would thanksgiving be without a fine dessert! Now I know everybody has their own personal favorites, but I wanted to share one that’s a little less common than the typical pumpkin, pecan or apple pies. I’ve been making this dessert since I was in college and each year it’s a little different but it’s an easy recipe to riff on. I honestly don’t remember where I got the recipe!
It’s become a commonly demanded dish at family and friendly functions for me, and it’s fun to alter the ingredients a bit just to see what improves it. It’s hard to go wrong with sweetened cheese, fruit and cinnamon!
It’s a little extra special this year since we have some of our own pears from the orchard that we live on. I had hoped to use goat cheese this year but my last batch of goat’s milk went into the simmering pot for cajeta, so I’ve used neufchatel in this recipe. I’ve also used mascarpone and ricotta cheeses in the past as other options for the cheese base. These keep well for a few days, so you can make them in advance. I love this recipe so much, I made six of them, as well as at least 50 mini tortes, for my wedding!
4 oz butter
7 oz sugar, divided
5 oz flour (I use whole wheat. Sometimes I add a bit of almond meal to my flour.)
8 oz soft cheese – cream, neufchatel, mascarpone, goat… I wonder if boursin would work here too.
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sliced almonds (blanched if you prefer)
Preheat oven to 425ºF
Cream butter and 3 oz sugar until light and fluffy, then add flour. Press onto bottom, and up sides of 9″ springform pan
Beat cheese, 2 oz sugar (in the same bowl if you prefer) and add the egg and vanilla. Pour or spread onto the bottom of your crust.
Slice your pears thinly and toss pear slices and almonds with cinnamon and remaining sugar. Arrange pear slices in a fan on top of the cheese and sprinkle the almonds, cinnamon and sugar over the top.
Bake 10 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 325ºF. Continue baking 25 minutes, or until center is set.
Refrigerate at least an hour before serving.
Unfortunately I seem to have lost the pictures of my tortes! You’ll have to take my word for it. They’re delicious. They’re something like a cross between an apple pie (but with pears, obviously) and a cheesecake. You can also use various other fruits with this torte base. I’ve done cherries, raspberries, apples and blueberries, with great success!
Do you have a ‘must have’ dish to make Thanksgiving dinner “Thanksgiving” ?
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