Thanksgiving is fast approaching and it’s a time to drag out your favorite recipes, plan a menu, and go grocery shopping. Sometimes it becomes stressful worrying if you will have enough food, who’s coming to dinner and will you get it on the table on time. Holiday meals should never become a chore but rather a celebration of family, friends and the fellowship you can share with one another.
Our family’s celebration for Thanksgiving is pretty traditional in the menu. However, it’s the contribution of each family member’s specialty that makes it more delightful and less complicated. Son—in-law, Scott Brown starts the night before by smoking a turkey that is falloff the bone tender and juicy. Everyone has their favorite part of the turkey and when my daughter-in-law came into the family, she would only eat drumsticks therefore they were reserved for her alone. The simple way to resolve this problem for the younger family members, who also liked them, was to purchase a package of nothing but drumsticks. Now everyone is happy!
Of course we have to have the traditional cornbread dressing which I make. Recently I have taught granddaughter Rachel how to make it and we usually do that together. When Don was alive I made two dressings; one regular and another with oysters which was his favorite. Kelly makes mashed potatoes and green bean casserole and of course we have broccoli rice casserole, which my South Louisiana grandkids refer to as “green rice”. Other items on the menu include a fruit salad, green salad, cranberry sauce, rolls, etc. For deserts Scott often makes a sweet potato pie and he or I have to have pecan pie with Jack Daniels in it. Now before you back away from that one, the alcohol cooks out and you are left with a delightful flavor. Kelly’s favorite is banana pudding and my niece, Janet Stanley, who is the carrot cake princess, always makes one for me. Sometimes I make 5 Minute Fudge however, my sister-in-law gave me a recipe for crock pot fudge that is so easy to make (as if the 5 Minute Fudge is difficult!). Another “must” is bread pudding with either a coconut rum or Jack Daniels sauce. Granddaughter Lauren is a wizard with cupcakes so she’s in charge of those and, sister, Judy Stanley introduced us to pecan pie muffins. Can you tell by the time the football games are on TV we’re in a sugar coma? Bring on the coffee with Kool Whip floating on top!
Now that your mouth is watering, thought I’d share a few of our favorite recipes with you.
Janet Hemperley Stanley’s Carrot Cake:
Mix together 2 cups sugar, 4 eggs, 1 ½ cup oil. Sift together 2 cups flour, 2 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1 tsp. salt. Fold in: 3 cups grated raw carrots and 1 cup chopped pecans. Bake 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Cream Cheese Frosting: 8 oz. cream cheese, ½ stick butter, 1 box powdered sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla. Mix until creamy and frost the cake.
Kookie Stanley Hemperley’s Easy Bread Pudding Large pkg. Day old Danish with pecans and raisins, 1 qt. heavy cream and 8 eggs. Break up bread and cover with cream and eggs mixing well. Let soak for a few minutes and then pour into baking dish sprayed with Pam and bake at 350 degrees until toothpick comes out clean (about 30-40 minutes). Sauce: 1 cup sugar, water to dissolve sugar, *orange or lemon juice to taste, vanilla, small amount of heavy cream and pecans chopped finely. Add all ingredients and cook down until thick. *You can substitute Cocoanut Rum, Jack Daniels or Grand Marnier. (Of course, cooking takes all the alcohol out but leaves a good flavor)
Velma Stanley’s Crock Pot Clusters
1-16 oz. jar salted dry roasted peanuts, 1-16 oz. jar unsalted dry roasted peanuts, 1-12 oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 bar German chocolate and 2-1 ½ lb. white almond bark. Layer all ingredients in a crock pot and set temperature to low and cook 3 hours. Stir at the end of 3 hours. Drop onto foil by spoonsfull and let set until hardened.
And last but not least:
Judy Stanley’s Pecan Pie Muffins
1 cup chopped pecans, 1 cup brown sugar firmly packed, ½ cup all purpose flour, 2 large eggs, ½ cup butter or margarine melted.
Combine first 3 ingredients in a bowl; make a well in the center of the mixture. Beat eggs until foamy and stir in butter. Add to dry ingredients stirring until moistened. Place in muffin tins (spray or coat with butter). Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Remove from pans immediately. Makes 8-0 muffins. We like these because you can eat them with your hand and don’t have to wash a dish!
As you can tell, our meal is collaboration from the whole family, which makes it more fun. And of course, each person around the table has to say what they are thankful for before we all dig in. That can be funny, sentimental or sweet. So, in closing, I’ll start this Thanksgiving season by saying, thank you Lord for family who sustain me; for friends who bring joy, for health; and for genealogy which brought me to Susie Higginbotham Reynolds who allows me to share a part of her world!