Saturday, November 22, 2014

A repost: "Tried and True Thanksgiving Favorites"

The lace accent on the right is from Little Birdie Blessings.  Recipe and photo are family heirlooms.
 With Thanksgiving coming up soon, I thought I would repost this from last year.  In this post, I  shared a few links to some of my older posts which are filled with recipes and tips for Thanksgiving dinner.  If you missed this post in 2013, you may want to check out these links this year.  I've added in a little new information, but mostly this is the same post as last year.  Here goes!

I posted the following in 2012, and it includes a lot of the same links I'm sharing today, but it might be helpful to someone:  A Gathering of Thanksgiving Tips and Recipes.

For pies, which are the most intimidating part of the meal for many people, I offer these Helpful Tips for Thanksgiving Pies.  If pie crust intimidates you (as it does many others), then don't stress about it.  I give you a recipe for an easy oil pastry, but if you don't want to go that route, then the sheets of refrigerated pie crust one can buy (I've even seen them in store brands!) work very well.  You can even buy frozen pie shells that aren't half bad.  Or if you just don't want to make pies, you can buy some very nice pies from bakeries that specialize in them.

Some of our Favorite Thanksgiving Pie Recipes are included in this post.  Maybe you will find a new family favorite!

But what if you are avoiding wheat, or a family member who'll be at your table is eating gluten free?  No worries.  This Gluten Free Pie Crust is easy to make and very good.  It's a simple press-in-pan crust and so it really won't work for a double crust pie.  But anyone who has lived without wheat for any length of time will be so happy to have a pie they can eat that they won't care if it's just a single crust pie.  It works perfectly for pumpkin pie, for example.

Probably the next most intimidating part of the meal is the turkey itself.  If you have, or are buying a frozen turkey, the rule of thumb for thawing it is to allow 24 hours in the fridge for each 5 pounds of the turkey's weight.  I find this not quite enough, so allowing an extra day would be my advice.  Invariably if I follow that rule of thumb, the giblets are still frozen in place.  I bought my frozen turkey (21 pounds) on Thursday and put it right into the fridge to start thawing.

Cooking it in an oven bag is my best advice on roasting a turkey.  It shortens the time considerably and produces tender, juicy meat.

For years, I stressed about gravy.  People love it and expect it, but making it at the last minute can be very stressful.  Usually there are other people in the kitchen, helping out with other things, and that complicates matters (even though they are truly trying to help when they watch over your shoulder and give advice).  So for a few years I then turned to canned or jarred gravy, transferring it to a saucepan and removing the evidence of the cans and jars well ahead of the guests' arrival.  That was great, but I found the gravy packets made even better gravy.  And finally I found this recipe:  Easy Turkey Gravy.  It truly is easy and it makes lots and lots of gravy.  If you are feeding people who think there is never enough gravy, try this.  For once they will be satisfied and there may even be some gravy left to serve with the leftovers or to make hot turkey sandwiches.

Stuffing, too, can be a source of discouragement.  I usually use a bag of Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix, prepare it with celery and onion as the package instructions suggest, and also add dried cranberries.  In my tips and recipes post (link at top) I detail how I cook it in a slow cooker.  Just don't leave it in there for too long, as it will burn and dry out.

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes are my go-to recipe for making mashed potatoes for a lot of people.  This year I was seriously thinking of using the Idahoan instant mashed potatoes, which are actually very good and are only $1 per packet, but my hubby won't let me because he loves the make-ahead mashed potatoes so much!

Sweet Potato Casserole is our family's favorite sweet potato recipe.  I've made it with canned sweet potatoes and it comes out just fine.

Broccoli Casserole is another great side dish that always goes over well.

I tend to skip serving rolls when there is so much other good food on the table, but if your family won't let you, then try these: Homemade Dinner Rolls.  They're a homemade crescent roll and are really delicious.

If your family insists on creamed onions (as mine does), here's the recipe I use:  Scalloped Onions.  It uses the frozen small onions.  Life is far too short to peel those little pearl onions.  I always buy the frozen (unsauced) ones and make my own sauce.  I just made a big batch of these for our church harvest dinner which is tomorrow.

Cranberry sauce or relish can be purchased and is just fine.  If you want to make your own, try the Taste of Home site for some good recipes, or you may be able to find one here.

For a memory of my childhood Thanksgivings, you might like to read A Thanksgiving Memory for a little nostalgia.

And if you enjoy vintage things, you might like to take a peek at this Children's Book of Thanksgiving Prayers.  This was actually sold as a greeting card, I believe. 

For more Thanksgiving posts, click on the "Thanksgiving" label in the word cloud of labels in the right sidebar.  You may find some surprises I've forgotten about!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

40 days until Christmas!

Graphic from Old Design Shop
Unbelievable!  I received an email -- I think from -- this morning that reminded me there are only 40 days before Christmas.  I am so not ready, but am proceeding fairly well with my handmade gifts for the grandkids.  8 down and 4 to go!

With the Christmas season approaching so fast, I'd like to invite you all to visit my Christmas blog, Mrs.T's Christmas Kitchen!  During the past week or so, I've put up several posts concerning some of my Pinterest boards, and have featured a few links you might enjoy checking out:

Advent Calendars and Christmas Countdowns; my post about this board is here.

 Handmade Gift Ideas;  my post is found here and

Crafting for Christmas (my post about this board is found here.

 In the days ahead, I hope to feature a few more relevant Pinterest boards to whet your baking and crafting inspiration appetite.  Happy browsing and crafting!

Friday, November 14, 2014

My "Thanksgiving" Pinterest board

Photo by Baptist Bible Hour
Can anyone believe that Thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away?  It is one of my favorite holidays, yet it always sneaks up on me.

If you could use a little Thanksgiving inspiration, you might like to check out my Thanksgiving Pinterest Board.  There are tons of ideas there for decorating, table settings, and even a few recipes.  

One link worth checking out is this one at Tip Junkie where you will find a wealth of Thanksgiving ideas.  Several of my pins came from Tip Junkie, and you won't believe the number of links she shares.

Now, here are a few other ideas I've pinned that you might like to take a look at:

This Thanksgiving blocks craft from Wait 'Til Your Father Gets Home might be a fun place to start.

Photo by Wait 'Til Your Father Gets Home
The sentiment she chose to use would actually be very appropriate all year round.

Another decorating idea is this “Thankful” banner by Centsational Girl.

Photo by Centsational Girl
I love seasonal banners, and this one is a real beauty.  I love the colors, and the interspersed leaves.

Printable art is always fun and easy for seasonal decorating -- you can just use the same frame and swap out the artwork.  Blooming Homestead has some lovelyThanksgiving printable art.  Here's one example:
Art by Blooming Homestead
Isn't it pretty?

And for another meaningful art piece, check out this idea: “Grateful” art at Catherina's Creative Corner.
Photo by Catherina's Creative Corner
I love this!  Believe it or not, she hand-wrote things she was grateful for to create the background.

For the table, here's a Thanksgiving tablecloth project from A Soft Place that looks not only gorgeous, but absolutely doable.
Photo from A Soft Place
It is made from a painter's drop cloth!

And lastly, to put on top of the tablecloth, here is a Thanksgiving tablescape from iCandy Handmade.
Photo by iCandy handmade
 Wait until you see how she created the pumpkin!  I can always use a little inspiration in this department, though soon enough any tablescape or centerpiece I create usually gets moved around to make way for the food!

Hope you have enjoyed this preview of my Thanksgiving Pinterest Board.  Happy browsing!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A lovely fall poem ~ Autumn's Appeal

The lovely graphic is from Baptist Bible Hour.
I came upon this lovely poem in an old issue of Country Woman magazine.  Even though the brilliant beauty of fall is past (at least up here), I thought I would share it with you all.

Autumn's Appeal

Swirling leaves of gold and crimson
Drifting on a chilly wind
Slowly settle in the meadow,
Heralding the summer's end.

Sunlight fades a little faster
With the passing of each day,
Crops wait ready to be gathered -- 
Nature's bounty on display.

Evening's song grows ever softer
As birds start their southern flight,
While the first fire in the fireplace
Warms a cold and frosty night.

Autumn days bring sweet contentment,
Time to slow life's hectic pace;
Time to linger in the beauty 
Of fall's majesty and grace.

Ruth Fiori Poynor
Boise, Idaho

Isn't that so evocative of fall?  Even though the pace of my life is still hectic, I can feel it slowing just a bit as the seasons change.  Hope all of you enjoyed reading this poem today.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

A delicious autumn supper ~ chicken stew and pumpkin biscuits

Photo from Taste of Home
This week I tried a couple of new-ish recipes and thought I would share, since they both came out well and we enjoyed them.

I am doing much more crockpot cooking these days as I try to get a lot of crafting done for Christmas gifts and try to keep my head above water with housework, caregiving, and all the rest.  For a few minutes' work filling the slow cooker, one can have a nice meal cooking all by itself.  If making a stew or soup, a loaf of bread baking in the bread machine at the same time gives you a complete meal!  This week I made a slow cooker meal for my dad, with plenty for our house as well.

Here's the recipe I tried: Chicken Stew.  The recipe calls for potato gnocchi but suggests one could also use rice.  I cooked some rice and added about a cup or a little more of the cooked rice to the finished stew.  I don't think I have ever cooked with parsnips before, but this recipe called for them and my dad loves them, so I did use parsnips in the stew.  Also, I didn't want to fiddle with bone-in chicken thighs (skinning them, then later deboning) so I used a couple of boneless chicken breasts.  (One large one would have been enough.  I ended up making the second, nicely cooked one into chicken salad.)  This stew turned out to be delicious and I will definitely make the recipe again.

To go with the stew, I made these: Pumpkin Patch Biscuits.

Photo by Taste of Home
Yes, they are made with a generous amount of real pumpkin!  I doubled the recipe because it said the yield was 6 biscuits.  With the double batch, I ended up with 16 biscuits!  But that was no problem because they were really, really good.  I only tasted part of one because they are not gluten free, but I think I will have to figure out a way to make them so.  These biscuits are not super sweet, nor do they taste like pumpkin pie (there is no spice in the recipe).  They are just slightly sweet, very moist and went very well with the  chicken stew.

Hope you enjoy these recipes if you try them!

Sunday, November 02, 2014

A Thanksgiving poem to set our hearts toward praise

I think I found this vintage image here: Vintage Holiday
In looking through some back issues of Country Woman magazine, I found a lovely poem by Elisabeth Weaver Winstead in the 1992 November/December issue.  I hope it inspires others as it did me!

Giving Thanks
When the frost has spread a silver shawl,
And the leaves have turned to gold;
When the fields of fruitful harvest
Are a glory to behold --

When dear friends and kinfolk gather 
For the feasting and the fun,
And the cheer of home and hearth fire
Fills the hearts of everyone --

Then it's time to count our blessings
For the wondrous gifts we share
Reflected in each joyous heart
With grateful praise and prayer.
~ Elisabeth Weaver Winstead
   Nashville, Tennessee

Isn't that lovely?  Our own Thanksgiving celebrations often include both dear friends and kinfolk -- and we find them even more meaningful because of that!

Saturday, November 01, 2014

November Goals

Graphic from
 A brand new month, and time to set some hopeful new goals!   Here's what I'm praying  to accomplish in November:

* Read through the November portion of the One-Year Devotional Bible.
* Finish questions for You Are Loved summer Bible study  -- I've already finished the daily Bible study, just need to finish answering the questions
*  Read 4 chapters in The Power of a Godly Grandparent
* Continue to implement some of the ideas from the above book
* Finish re-reading Say Goodbye to Survival Mode
* Begin to implement some of the ideas and strategies from the above book
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses and review some older ones.
* Add 4 pages to my "What Do I Know About My God?" Scripture notebook
* Keep up with my Sunday School study -- The Heart of a Woman Who Prays
* Exercise or walk at least 20 times.
* Get to bed by 9:45 pm each night.
* Limit sugar.
* Drink enough water each day.
* Keep up with Kelly's missions in homemaking zones of the week.
* Participate in our church's missions conference
* Post in both of my blogs as often as possible
* Reduce grocery bill by $5 per week consistently
* Spend several hours updating my A-store.
* Do research for setting up an Etsy shop (I've already joined Etsy)
* Finish 9 handcrafted Christmas gifts
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family.
* Clean church and set up for potluck meal
* Make gift tags from last year's Christmas cards.
* Plan and begin my Christmas baking
* Plan for and carry out plans for Thanksgiving dinner
*  Continue trying to help and encourage my elderly dad
* Sort out and declutter my dad's attic
* Do some baking for my expectant daughter's freezer
* Transfer important items to new computer
* Type some family history for my mother-in-law

NOVEMBER'S HEALTHY HABITS:  Walking/nurture creativity


And here's how October went:
* Read through the October portion of the One-Year Devotional Bible -- DONE!
* Finish questions for You Are Loved summer Bible study  -- I've already finished the daily Bible study, just need to finish answering the questions -- not finished, although I am picking away at it
*  Read 4 chapters in The Power of a Godly Grandparent -- not done
* Continue to implement some of the ideas from the above book -- not done
* Finish re-reading Say Goodbye to Survival Mode -- not done
* Begin to implement some of the ideas and strategies from the above book -- not done
* Memorize at least 4 Bible verses and review some older ones -- DONE!
* Add 4 pages to my "What Do I Know About My God?" Scripture notebook -- DONE!
* Keep up with my Sunday School study -- The Heart of a Woman Who Prays -- DONE!
* Exercise or walk at least 20 times -- managed about 14 times
* Get to bed by 9:45 pm each night -- not done
* Limit sugar -- did okay with this
* Drink enough water each day  -- could have done better, but not bad
* Keep up with Kelly's missions in homemaking zones of the week -- did okay with this
* Attend a couples' retreat with my hubby -- DONE!
* Post in both of my blogs as often as possible -- DONE! (albeit not as much as I would have liked)
* Reduce grocery bill by $5 per week consistently -- not done
* Spend several hours updating my A-store -- not done
* Do research for setting up an Etsy shop (I've already joined Etsy) -- not done
* Make 6 handcrafted Christmas gifts -- I managed 2, plus have a good start on 2 more
* Write at least 4 encouraging notes to friends and family -- DONE!
* Clean church and set up for potluck meal -- DONE!
* Make gift tags from last year's Christmas cards -- not done
* Finish ordering materials for grandkids' homemade Christmas gifts -- DONE!
* Complete handcrafted gifts for a November birthday -- DONE!
* Finish a baby gift -- DONE!
* Make 2 photo books -- DONE!
* Take a long weekend up north with my hubby -- DONE!
*  Continue trying to help and encourage my elderly dad -- DONE!
* Sort out and declutter my dad's basement -- not done, although I did some work down there
* Have some needed dental work done -- DONE!
* Attend a ladies' luncheon at church -- DONE!
* Do some baking for the freezer -- DONE!

OCTOBER'S HEALTHY HABITS:  Walking/nurture creativity -- did quite well with these

WORD FOR 2014: BALANCE  -- still working on it!

Hoping for a productive November!