stuffing

Another Thanksgiving recipe to get us ready for the big day this week. Stuffing … my favorite part of the meal! And easy to make in the slow cooker, saving valuable space in the oven for the turkey and other sides.

food with pictures

I shall start by saying that I am fully aware the name of this should be “dressing” rather than “stuffing” since stuffing is meant to stuff inside the turkey, and dressing is meant to be cooked on the side. I have always called it stuffing and will continue to do so. That is my prerogative. And now to continue with the post. 🙂

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When I was in 7th grade I took Home Ec class. That would be Home Economics to you young people. Or what they now call Teen Living or FACS (Family And Consumer Sciences). In the fall of that 7th grade year we were in the kitchen section, and in the spring we went to the sewing room. I enjoyed both, but especially the times we cooked. No surprise there.

That fall, prior to Thanksgiving, the class was making all the components of a typical Thanksgiving feast…

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orange cranberry sauce

Once again, now that Thanksgiving is just days away, my favorite cranberry sauce recipe.

food with pictures

cranberry sauce


I was not a fan of cranberry sauce when I was young. Growing up, on our holiday table we’d usually have the jellied cranberry sauce that came from a can — you know, that popular unappetizing red blob. No thank you. I was happy with all the other foods on the table except for that one. But as the years went on, the can was no more and my mom experimented with cranberry sauce recipes. Unfortunately, I had no intention of trying any of them after experiencing that red blob for so many years.

Then I got married and my husband is a huge cranberry sauce guy. He prefers the whole berry cranberry sauce, and is used to the canned variety. Okay, not as bad as the jellied version, but still not anything I’d eat. So the can of whole berry cranberry sauce was part of our Thanksgiving table for…

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stuffing

I shall start by saying that I am fully aware the name of this should be “dressing” rather than “stuffing” since stuffing is meant to stuff inside the turkey, and dressing is meant to be cooked on the side. I have always called it stuffing and will continue to do so. That is my prerogative. And now to continue with the post. 🙂

~~~

When I was in 7th grade I took Home Ec class. That would be Home Economics to you young people. Or what they now call Teen Living or FACS (Family And Consumer Sciences). In the fall of that 7th grade year we were in the kitchen section, and in the spring we went to the sewing room. I enjoyed both, but especially the times we cooked. No surprise there.

That fall, prior to Thanksgiving, the class was making all the components of a typical Thanksgiving feast, and the teacher allowed us to bring in family recipes if we wished to. I was so proud of my grandmother’s stuffing and was excited to show it to the teacher, in hopes that she’d pick it for the recipe the class used. Well, when I wrote it out to give to her, I called it stuffing when it was actually dressing. Or vice versa. I can’t remember the exact details. But what happened next was one of the worst moments of my 7th grade year: The teacher converted the recipe to be the opposite of what it actually was. For example, there is more liquid in dressing than in stuffing, since when stuffing is in the bird the natural juices of the turkey add that extra necessary liquid, but when cooking it on its own, you need to have more liquid to start with. So I can’t quite remember if she added liquid or reduced the liquid in my grandmother’s recipe, but she did one of the two. I was quite a shy child and especially nervous around adults, so the mistake was never corrected. Consequently, when the class made our Thanksgiving feast, the stuffing was not what it should have been. It was not even close to my grandmother’s amazing stuffing.

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The following recipe is not my grandmother’s recipe. I’m sad to say I don’t have a copy of her original. What I have done is created a stuffing that I enjoy. And by “enjoy” I mean “love so much I could eat it and only it for meal after meal, especially on Thanksgiving day and the next morning for breakfast … and for snack”.

I usually make this without sausage, but while doing my Thanksgiving shopping this year, my local store had pork sage sausage sitting right there at eye level, calling my name. I like their sausage, since it has no fillers or strange ingredients.

So I decided to make two batches — one with sausage and one without. Due to limited space in the oven, I did the sausage-free stuffing in the crockpot while cooking the one with stuffing in the oven. This is the second time I’ve used my crockpot for stuffing, and it turned out wonderful! It’s also fast and stays warm without drying out. And it frees up much needed oven space.

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Stuffing

In a skillet melt:

  • half a stick of butter

Over medium/low heat, slowly cook in the butter:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped onion
  • 4 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • a few cloves of garlic, finely chopped (optional)

Add:

  • a few teaspoons of Bell’s seasoning or a few teaspoons sage (I’m usually very generous with this seasoning and add about 4 teaspoons)

Note: The day before Thanksgiving I prepped these ingredients by having them all chopped and put into a baggie with the butter and seasoning.

 

Stirring often, cook until the onions and celery are very tender.

 

 

In a greased casserole dish (or greased crockpot … I use butter to grease these), put in:

  • half a bag of cornbread cubes
  • half a bag of herb seasoned bread cubes
  • the cooked onion and celery
  • cooked chopped pork sage sausage, if desired

 

Stir the ingredients.

 

Now pour into the casserole dish (or crockpot):

 

Using a spatula or the back of a large serving spoon, press the mixture, making sure all of the bread gets saturated with the chicken broth. If you can see some of the liquid on the edges when pressing down on the bread and vegetables, you’re good. If not, add more liquid (broth or water).

 

 

In a 325F or 350F oven, cook covered for about 30 minutes, then remove the cover and continue to cook for about 15 minutes more (exact cooking time will depend on the size of your pan, and your oven).

Or…

In the crockpot, cook on low a few hours, or on high for a shorter time. (Note: I started mine on high for one hour, then changed it to the warm setting and kept it there all afternoon … tasting it often.)

 

orange cranberry sauce

cranberry sauce


I was not a fan of cranberry sauce when I was young. Growing up, on our holiday table we’d usually have the jellied cranberry sauce that came from a can — you know, that popular unappetizing red blob. No thank you. I was happy with all the other foods on the table except for that one. But as the years went on, the can was no more and my mom experimented with cranberry sauce recipes. Unfortunately, I had no intention of trying any of them after experiencing that red blob for so many years.

Then I got married and my husband is a huge cranberry sauce guy. He prefers the whole berry cranberry sauce, and is used to the canned variety. Okay, not as bad as the jellied version, but still not anything I’d eat. So the can of whole berry cranberry sauce was part of our Thanksgiving table for quite a few years, and he was the only one who ate it, until I realized I should try making my own. Somewhere, somehow, I came across the recipe below and made it for my husband. He loved it! Yahoo! Success!

The best part? While making it I tasted it, as you do, and all of a sudden I was a fan of cranberry sauce. Crazy! All those years of having turkey, gravy, dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans, and all those other typical Thanksgiving foods, yet never with cranberry sauce. The first time I added a nice big scoop of this orange cranberry sauce, well, there was no going back. It’s on my menu every Thanksgiving, and one of the foods I most look forward to.

My Thanksgiving meal isn’t complete now if I don’t have this sweet and tangy sauce on my plate. And the leftovers…. oh my, even better!

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Orange Cranberry Sauce

1/2 cup water

3/4 cup orange juice

2 cups sugar

4 cups cranberries (rinsed; bad ones discarded)

1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange rind

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In large saucepan over medium heat, combine ingredients. Cover. Bring to a boil.

Remove cover and lower heat.

Simmer on low, stirring often, until cranberries burst and it thickens. This may take an hour or more.*

Remove from heat.

Cool and chill before serving. Or, serve warm (I prefer it warm).

*Note: My mom says her cranberry sauce never cooks for an hour and thinks this is ridiculous. Okay, maybe she didn’t say ridiculous, but that’s what she meant. I say give it a try … cook it for an hour, slowly, over low heat, stirring often, and you will have a delicious cranberry sauce that is worth an hour of your time.

 

cranberries washed and ready

the zest from one orange was the perfect amount

liquids and zest, waiting for the cranberries

cranberries added to liquid

during the early stages of the cooking process

rather than keeping the lid completely off, I prefer to leave it like this

now I just need the turkey and sides!

sliced baked potatoes

I love potatoes. So does my daughter. She’s one of the only people on the planet that will not eat pasta. So when I serve pasta she’ll just toss a potato into the oven to have a baked potato with her meal instead.

The other day we were talking about other ways to bake it, and she asked if I’ve ever sliced it before baking it. I remembered that years ago I had, but not since. So we decided to do it again.

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This is so simple, yet takes the potato to a completely different level. It looks great and each slice is crispy on the outside.

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Wash the potatoes.

Using a large wooden spoon or spatula as a barrier (to prevent the knife from slicing all the way down, as I did on the first few slices) slice each potato thinly.

Place potatoes onto a foil lined baking sheet.

Drizzle with olive oil.

Rub in the oil so that it gets into each section.

Season with salt and pepper and garlic powder. Rosemary would also be nice. Or any herb or spice you enjoy.

Bake at 400F for about an hour.

*Note: Baking times vary due to size of potato and your oven!!!!*

Enjoy!

oven roasted sweet potato wedges

Earlier I posted my recipe for oven roasted potato wedges. I often make sweet potatoes at the same time, in the same way. The only difference are the spices and herbs used. I put herbs on the white potatoes, but not the sweet potatoes. For those I prefer a good amount of garlic powder and black pepper.

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Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges

2 large or 4 small sweet potatoes

olive oil

black pepper

garlic powder

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Heat oven to 400F.

Drizzle a decent amount of olive oil on a foil lined baking sheet or shallow casserole dish (if using a baking sheet, make sure it has a lip so that the oil doesn’t drip off).

Peel and cube the sweet potatoes. *Note: I prefer a 1-inch cube, but you can do a smaller cube, or cut them into larger wedges, or cut in strips for french fry size — the shape doesn’t matter. The important thing is to keep the pieces uniform in size, so that they cook evenly.

Place the potato pieces on the baking sheet and toss them gently in the oil. Spread the potato pieces evenly, so that they don’t overlap.

Sprinkle with black pepper and a generous amount of garlic powder.

Bake for 20 minutes (15 minutes if the pieces are cut smaller than a 1-inch size cube). Flip the pieces, then return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes. The outside will be firm and the inside tender. Delicious!

(Here are the potatoes ready for the oven.)