Saturday, November 20


Thanksgiving has always been my mom's favorite holiday - she makes the best Thanksgiving dinner I've ever had.  I've posted a ton of our recipes to the blog and here is the "official" menu.  A lot of these recipes are almost 100 years old - family recipes from my Grandmother Peggy.  I'll make sure to add pictures after the holiday.

Simple Thanksgiving Turkey
Mom and Peggy's Thanksgiving Dressing
Turkey Gravy
Twice Baked Potatoes
Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes
Angel Biscuits
Roasted Veggies - no recipe here but roast brussel sprouts and/or asparagus to add some color to the table

Desert (serve both with fresh whipped cream!)
Sara and Peggy's Apple Pie
Pumpkin Pie

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends, family and really good food!

Peggy's Angel Biscuits

Makes 3 dozen.  Dough can be made several days ahead of time, and biscuits can be baked the day before though they are best hot out of the oven. 

5 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup Crisco
1 pkg dry yeast
2 cups buttermilk
2 tbsp melted butter

Mix together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.  Dissolve yeast into 2 tbsp warm water, then add buttermilk.  Add buttermilk and yeast to dry ingredients and stir together.  Cover and refrigerate for at least a few hours.

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thick.  Cut and re-roll scraps to create additional biscuits - can be done twice.  Place on lightly greased baking sheet and brush tops of biscuits with melted  butter.  Cover biscuits with wax paper and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours

Bake at 400 for 15 minutes until golden brown.

Sara and Peggy's Apple Pie

Our grandmother Peggy was the queen of apple pies (rumor has it she used to bake them fresh some mornings for my mom and uncles to have for breakfast before school).  My sister Sara has actually perfected this recipe (and I'm hoping she'll make corrections to this version if needed!) and taken over apple pie duties around the holidays.

Make the full Homemade Pie Crust Recipe - one will be used for the pie shell, and the other will be used to top the pie.  Do not pre-cook pie shell for this recipe.

12 apples of mixed varieties - granny smith, macintosh, and pink ladies are all favorites
2 tbsp tapioca
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 stick of butter - cut up in small chunks

Pre-heat oven to 425

Peel and thinly slice apples and set aside in large bowl.  Mix all dry ingredients in a smaller bowl and set aside.  Start layering apples in uncooked pie shell and cover each layer with dry ingredients mix.  Apples will be piled high - but they shrink when they cook so don't get nervous you are using too much!  Once apples are completely layered and used, dot with butter chunks.  Top with second pie crust - use whole or cut into strips to decorate as you see fit.  Place pie pan on baking pan to catch any juices that over flow.  Bake for 60 minutes until pie is bubbling and crust is golden brown.

Pumpkin Pie

A Thanksgiving favorite!

Pre-bake Homemade Pie Crust as described.

1 15oz can pumpkin
1 12oz can evaporated milk
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Pre-heat oven to 425

Beat all ingredients together until thoroughly blended.  Pour into pie shell and bake at 425 for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 325 and continue baking 45 minutes.  Pie is done baking with center is fully set - check by inserting a knife in the middle and if it comes out clean its done!

Serve with fresh whipped cream.  Pie will keep in fridge for several days so feel free to make ahead and save yourself some time on turkey day!

Homemade Pie Crust

So easy and it tastes WAY better than store bought!

Makes two 10-inch pie crusts

2 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup Crisco
8-10 tbsp cold water

Sift flour, and stir in salt with fork.  Cut Crisco into flour mix until large pearl size clumps form.  Stir in gently 8 tbsp water with fork until completely mixed in - add additional 2 tbsp of water if it seems too dry.  Using your hands, form a large ball of dough but do not over work the dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes.

Remove from fridge, and divide dough in two.  Roll out on floured surface until its about 1/8 inch thick.  Place rolled dough in pie pan and press down lightly so that it forms to pan - trim edges as needed and reform trimmings and roll out again for decorations if desired.  Or sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and bake as described below for a tasty treat.

If you have a recipe that you need to pre-bake the crust for, bake at 425 for 15 minutes until golden.

Turkey Gravy

I thought this was so gross when I was a kid but now I can't eat Thanksgiving Turkey and Dressing without it!

Neck and Giblets from Thanksgiving Turkey
Chicken Bouillon
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup flour

Cover reserved giblets and neck from turkey with about 5 cups of water in a large sauce pan.  Add 2 chicken bouillon cubes.  Cover and slowly simmer for several hours - add more water as needed.  Once the turkey is about ready, strain the giblets and reserve the stock.  Discard all the giblets and neck with the exception of the liver which you can dice up and add to the gravy if that's your thing

Wipe out the sauce pan and melt a stick of butter in it.  Stir in 1/2 cup flour to make a roux.  Gradually add back in 2-3 cups of turkey stock, stirring constantly.  Once gravy simmers and has reached desired thickness (its up to you how thick you want it - the longer you stir it the thicker it gets) add chopped liver (if desired), cover and turn off heat but keep on oven to keep warm until ready to serve.

Simple Thanksgiving Turkey

I read all sorts of fancy cooking magazines that suggest some of the most beautiful but also complicated ways of cooking turkey.  My mom has never done any of these complicated techniques and her version turns out perfect every time - so here it is!

Cooks one 12 - 16lb turkey - preferably fresh from your local butcher shop - takes 4 - 5 hours

Pre-heat oven to 375.

Remove giblets and neck from turkey and reserve for Turkey Gravy.  Smear turkey with one stick of butter inside and out and season well with salt and poultry seasoning.  Criss-cross two slices of bacon on top of the breast.  Place in roasting pan and cover tightly with heavy duty aluminum foil.

After 1 1/2 hours remove turkey from oven and stuff with Mom and Peggy's Thanksgiving Dressing.  Turn heat down to 350 and recover turkey and stuffing with additional aluminum foil if needed.  Place back in oven for 3 more hours until done (check with meat thermometer).  Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Mom and Peggy's Thanksgiving Dressing

This is the most amazing dressing/stuffing I've ever had.  We look forward to it all year long in my family.


Peggy's Cornbread - minus one or two slices
16 oz bag of Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned stuffing mix
2 sticks of butter
1 small bunch of celery - everything but the inside ribs
2 medium onions
1 large granny smith apple
8 oz package of mushrooms
1 tsp salt
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp Nature Seasoning

Crumble cornbread finely into a large bowl and mix with the whole package of Pepperidge Farm mix.  Heat two cups of water and two sticks of butter in microwave until butter has melted and fold into cornbread and breadcrumbs mixture. 

Slice celery, onions, apple and mushrooms into large chunks and finely chop using food processor.  Add to dressing mixture along with salt, poultry seasoning and Nature Seasoning and turn using hands to mix thoroughly. 

Dressing will be very moist, similar to a thick oatmeal texture.  Add broth if it feels too dry.

If cooking with the turkey, spoon dressing into and around the turkey after the turkey has been cooking for about 1 1/2 hours without packing as it will expand.  Rewrap the turkey with additional foil as needed and continue to bake at 350 until done.

If you do not want to cook this in the turkey, then bake in a well greased casserole dish at 350 until it is golden and crisp on top and fully baked throughout - about 1 1/2 hours. 

Thursday, November 18

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Another Turkey Day Favorite

Serves 12

6 medium sweet potatoes
6 slices of bacon, crisp and crumbled (potentially reserved from Peggy's Cornbread)
2 tbsp brown sugar
6 tbsp butter
1/4 cup sliced scallions (dark green part only)
3 tbsp whole milk
2 oz Gruyere, grated
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 375.   Bake potatoes for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and increase heat to 400.

Once the potatoes are cool, slice in half and scoop out meat into a large bowl.  Reserve potato skins on a baking sheet.

Combine potato meat with remaining ingredients until mixed but not entirely smooth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and fill potato skins with mixture evenly.  Place back in oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Garnish with left over bacon crumbles if desired.

Twice Baked Potatoes

A favorite Thanksgiving side dish.

Serves 12

6 large baking potatoes
1 cup sharp cheddar, grated
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup butter

Preheat oven to 375.  Bake potatoes for 45 minutes.  Remove potatoes from oven and turn heat down to 350.

Let cool, cut in half and spoon out meat of potatoes into a large bowl.  Reserve potato skins on a cookie sheet.  Add all ingredients to the bowl and mix until blended but not completely smooth.  Fill potato skins evenly with mixture.  Place back in oven for 20 - 30 minutes, until tops are slightly browned.

Potatoes can be made and stuffed a day ahead of time - just bake at 350 for 30 minutes and they are ready to serve!

Peggy's Cornbread

My grandmother Peggy made this cornbread, I think that her mom may have made this cornbread, and my mom now makes it every Thanksgiving.  It is the critical component of the Thanksgiving dressing!  Ideally you'd make this in an heirloom cast iron skillet but if you haven't got one I would recommend baking in a heavy bottomed Caphalon 12 inch skillet with deep rounded edges.

8 slices of bacon
2 cups white cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, slightly beaten

Pre-heat oven to 400

Heat skillet over medium high heat and place bacon in pan - fry until crisp and fat is rendered, then remove from pan and set aside for another use.  Reserve fat in pan and keep warm.

In a large bowl combine cornmeal through baking powder.  Stir in buttermilk and eggs and mix until smooth.  Pour majority of hot bacon fat into batter - leave some in the skillet to keep greased - and stir until mixed.  Don't worry if the batter sizzles when you pour the fat in - it does that.  Pour the batter in the skillet and bake for 35 - 40 minutes until top is golden brown.

Autumn Apple Cranberry Bake

Thanks to Carol for introducing me to this dish!  Ryan and I have an ongoing debate over whether this is a breakfast or dessert.  I argue that most items with fruit in it can be eaten for breakfast or desert (and any other hour between).  This includes but is not limited to apple pie, peach cobbler and carrot cake (yes the last is a veggie but it still counts).

Adapted from the Franklin TN Junior League Cookbook

Serves 6

Pre-heat oven to 325

3 cups chopped, peeled green apples
1 12oz package fresh cranberries
2 tbsp flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Toss apples and cranberries with flour, sugar and cinnamon and pour into greased 9x13 baking dish.

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped

Mix brown sugar, flour, cinnamon in a bowl.  Cut in butter and mix with fingers until crumbly.  Add walnuts and mix.  Spoon over apple mixture and bake 30-40 minutes until apples are tender and top is golden brown.

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