Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Blessed Thanksgiving to All!


"Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.

Serve the LORD with gladness; come before His presence with singing.

Know ye that the LORD, He is God; it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.

For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations."

From our house to yours.... may you have a truly blessed Thanksgiving as you thank and praise our wonderful God for all of the blessings He has bestowed on you and your family.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Our Thanksgiving Menu

Our Thanksgiving menu will include:

Roast Turkey
Mashed Potatoes, Gravy
Sweet Potato Casserole
Pearl Onions (brought by guests)
Fruit & Nut Tossed Salad
Cranberry Sauce
Crumb-Topped Apple Pie
Pumpkin Pie
Key Lime Pie (brought by guests)

I suppose most of you already have your menu set and know exactly what recipes you'll be using. But just in case, I will share some of my tried-and-true recipes here.

For the turkey, I have tried a number of roasting methods. But the foolproof, best way I have found is to buy a turkey-sized oven bag and follow the chart and directions for roast turkey. Moist and wonderful every time. I roast it unstuffed.

For the stuffing, I buy a bag of Pepperidge Farm herb-seasoned stuffing and follow the directions on the bag, sauteing plenty of chopped celery and onion in the butter before adding it. Usually, I cook the stuffing in a crockpot on low, adding a little chicken broth if necessary from time to time to keep it moist. One can bake the stuffing in the oven, of course, but I like the crockpot better. And the oven is usually pretty full of other things, anyway.

For mashed potatoes, these are the best:


8 medium to large potatoes, peeled and cut up
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp. onion powder
Salt to taste
Parsley flakes

In large saucepan or dutch oven, combine potatoes and enough water to nearly cover them. Bring to boil; reduce heat, and cook, covered, 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain. Mash the potatoes, gradually adding cream cheese, sour cream, salt, and onion powder. Beat with electric mixer (or by hand if you prefer) until fluffy. Spoon into a greased 3-quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley.
Cover and refrigerate overnight. *
One hour before serving, remove potatoes from refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350º. Bake potatoes uncovered for 45 to 60 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings
* Potatoes can be baked immediately if you prefer to eat them the same day. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

This recipe is a must for Thanksgiving and other gatherings when large amounts of people will be eating mashed potatoes. For our Thanksgivings when we have 20+ people, I usually double this or make 1 1/2 times the recipe.

For years I struggled with making turkey gravy, often resorting to packets of mix or canned or jarred gravy. The following recipe, which I found online, is just perfect and so easy. And it makes a lot!


5 cups turkey stock with pan drippings
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 cup milk
1/3 cup flour

Bring the turkey stock to boil in a large saucepan. Stir in soup, and season with poultry seasoning, pepper, seasoned salt, and garlic powder. Reduce heat to low, and let simmer.

Warm the milk in the microwave, and whisk in the flour with a fork until there are no lumps. (Or shake the milk and flour together in a plastic shaker.) Return the gravy to a boil, and gradually stir in the milk mixture. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Be careful not to let the mixture scorch on the bottom of the pan.

Sometimes I make a squash dish and a sweet potato one. This year I decided to make it easy on myself and have just one orange vegetable.


2 large cans cut yams, drained and mashed*
1/4 cup margarine, melted
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup evaporated milk**
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour (may use whole wheat)
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup softened margarine (may use 3 Tablespoons oil instead)
Mix the first six ingredients in a large bowl; beat with electric mixer until well combined. Pile into a 2-quart baking dish. In another bowl, stir together topping ingredients. Sprinkle over top of potatoes. Bake the casserole at 325º to 350º for 35 minutes.
Makes 6 to 8 side-dish servings.
May be made ahead and frozen for future use. Simply thaw overnight in refrigerator and bake as directed.

* Or substitute about 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, cooked, and mashed.

** Or substitute evaporated skim milk or fat-free half & half.

This year, I think I am going to omit the topping and use mini marshmallows instead, just for a change of pace.

I wanted something green to add to our feast, but didn't want it to be a heavy broccoli or green bean casserole. I decided instead to use a favorite salad recipe.


1 large or 2 medium bunches romaine, torn in bite-size pieces
1 can (11 oz.) mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup seedless red grapes, halved
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted (I toast nuts in the microwave -- quick & easy)

1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tblsp. vegetable oil
3 Tblsp. sugar

In a large bowl combine all of the salad ingredients and gently toss together. Put all of the dressing ingredients in a small jar. Cover securely and shake to combine. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to coat ingredients with dressing. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

This is a delicious salad! It’s also very good served with a Mexican meal -- the light, fruity taste is a nice contrast to the spicy hot flavors. I think I will add a few dried cranberries for Thanksgiving, too.

For cranberry sauce, I am going to have a can of jellied sauce, but am also trying a baked cranberry sauce recipe from the new Susan Branch e-newsletter.

We have to have pie. Even for just a few people, I think it's nice to offer a choice of pie flavors. I am making these two and a friend is bringing a key lime pie.


1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
Unbaked 9” pie shell
6 apples, peeled, cored, sliced
Lemon juice
Crumb topping:
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Dash of salt
1/2 cup butter

Begin by mixing together the brown sugar and spices in a small bowl. In the pie shell, alternate layers of apples with the spice mixture. Sprinkle each layer with lemon juice before adding another layer. When all apples and spices are in pie shell, make the topping by mixing the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and dash of salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until crumbs form. Top the pie with the crumb topping.
Bake the pie at 450º for 15 minutes; then reduce the heat to 350º and bake 30 minutes more. Serve warm with cheddar cheese or ice cream on the side.

This excellent pie comes from Jane & Michael Stern’s wonderful cookbook, Square Meals. I have made this pie so many times that its page in my handwritten cookbook is freckled with apple juice and spices.


1 9-inch unbaked pie crust
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 425º. Combine all ingredients except pie crust in a large bowl and beat with electric mixer until well combined. Pour into crust.

Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350º. Bake pie for 35 to 40 minutes longer or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool pie before cutting or serving. Refrigerate leftovers.

I have never really cared for pumpkin pie, I must confess. A couple of years ago I found the above recipe on line and I have never looked back. This one is truly delicious and so easy. I am going to top it with a baked pastry cutout in the form of a turkey.

Hope these recipes, even if a bit last-minute, may enhance your family's Thanksgiving tomorrow!

Thanksgiving pie-making help...

Are you intimidated by pie crust? I always used to be, but an easy oil recipe made the difference. With Thanksgiving coming up tomorrow, I thought maybe people could use some pie-making help. So I decided to re-post some pie-making tips I shared here a couple of years ago.

As I mentioned, my very best advice on pie crust is to use an oil pastry. Here’s my tried and true recipe:

(for a 1-crust pie)

1 1/3 c. flour
1 t. salt
1/3 c. canola oil
3-5 T. milk

Stir together flour and salt in a small to medium. bowl. Measure oil into glass measuring cup, add milk to oil. Pour milk and oil into the flour/salt mixture. Combine with a fork till it forms a nice ball of dough. Take a wet dishcloth and wash off a section of your counter. Lay a large piece of wax paper on the wet area (so it’ll stick). Put the dough on the wax paper and lay another piece of wax paper on top. Roll out the dough to desired size and shape between the 2 pieces of wax paper. This works really well and saves you having to flour the counter!

For a double-crust pie, use the following:

2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup milk

Mix and roll out as above.

I have double or tripled this recipe with no problems. However, I do find that when doubling or tripling, I end up with an extra crust or two, so keep that in mind when figuring how much pastry you’ll need.

Many people think they wouldn’t like a pie crust made with oil. I always use an oil crust for my pies, and they always turn out well. I think an oil pastry is much less finicky than one made with shortening or butter; the dough is much easier to work with. And of course, a crust made with canola oil is healthier, too!

Other pie tips:

When making a double crust pie, after placing the filling in the bottom crust, moisten the rim of the bottom crust with a little cold water. Add your top crust and trim and seal as usual. The cold water helps the two crusts to hold together well.

When making a double-crust fruit pie, brush the top crust with a little cold water or milk, then sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar before baking. Don’t forget to cut some slits for steam to escape! This finish gives a pretty sparkly look to your pie.

A friend of mine always cuts a cookie-cutter shape, like a turkey, for example, out of leftover pastry and bakes it. Then she places it on top of her baked pumpkin pie. This makes a pumpkin pie look so special!

Later today, I hope to post my Thanksgiving menu and the recipes I'll be using. Stay tuned...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Show & Tell Friday for November 20

Here are more of my antique postcards, etc. This first one is quite interesting. I like the little "church in the wildwood" picture superimposed on the forest stream illustration. Unique!

A mountain scene with spray of flowers.

Two pastoral scenes framed in roses.

Roses and a sunset.

A pastoral scene with a scallop shell and pansies. Some of these combinations are so unlikely, but they are interesting.

Lastly, this pretty lady, along with roses and a robin, is pictured framed by a tambourine, of all things!

Hope you have enjoyed this look at my antique cards! To see what others have shared for Show & Tell Friday, head on over to My Romantic Home.

Happy Show & Tell Friday!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Menu plan for this week

Another grocery shopping day, another menu plan... Here are my thoughts on meals for this week:

THURSDAY: Broccoli Quiche, Breakfast Potatoes, Fruit Salad

FRIDAY: Vegetable Lasagna, Focaccia Bread

SATURDAY: Hot Dogs, Homemade Baked Beans, Coleslaw

SUNDAY: Pepper Jack Chicken, Brown Rice, Tossed Salad

MONDAY: Italian Wedding Soup, Easy Wheat Rolls

TUESDAY: One-Pan Potatoes & Pepper Steak, Tossed Salad

WEDNESDAY: Pizza, Corn Chowder

THURSDAY: Thanksgiving (I don't have the entire menu figured out yet, but it will surely include turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, veggies, cranberries in some form, and pies.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Show & Tell Friday for November 13

For Show & Tell today, I thought I would share one of my vintage cookbooklets. This is a Betty Crocker booklet from 1958 -- can that possibly be 51 years ago! -- titled Country Kitchen Cookies. I love the front cover and the little sampler on the stovetop encouraging the cook to "Bake a batch of happiness."

The recipes in this book mostly use mixes like gingerbread, macaroons, brownies, and date bars to create new cookie variations. This page has suggestions for sharing a cookie gift.

Lunch box treats and after-school treats are featured here. Those mint brownies sound good!

"Coffee time is cookie time" and "Cookies make the party!" How inventive those Betty Crocker home economists were!

Two pages of cookies for kids to make.

And my favorite -- Trim-the-Tree Cookies! Love the artwork on this page.

You may see this again on my Christmas blog!

And that's my simple Show & Tell for today. To see what others have shared for Show & Tell Friday, head on over to My Romantic Home.

Happy Show & Tell Friday!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Show & Tell Friday for November 6

For show & tell today, I thought I would share a sweet vintage Thanksgiving booklet for children. This was put out by Ambassador Cards and cost 50¢. My guess is that it is probably from the 1960s. I could not find a copyright date. The sweet drawings and the colors make me think it is from the 60s, or possibly the very early 70s.

Isn't the cover lovely? This is embossed so that the cornucopia, the children, and the fruit all stand out slightly and look real. There are touches of gold, too.

Aren't the drawings just precious?

Some of the pages are in black and white. I had to include this one because of the pilgrims. Sure wish this one was in color.

Since the prayers are for all year round, other seasons are included. I loved this little scene.

These are the last pages in the book. What beautiful childlike innocence and trust is portrayed here. If only all children in our world were allowed to enjoy childhood like the children in these pages...

And that's my Show & Tell for today. To see what others have shared for Show & Tell Friday, head on over to My Romantic Home.

Happy Show & Tell Friday!