Family Favorites for the Thanksgiving Feast!

Everyone has those certain staple items that are family favorites for the Thanksgiving feast…and for Christmas! There are the items that have been on our family table for longer than I have been alive. I am sure the same could be said in your house.

For me, these are traditional, southern dishes that are ubiquitous to a lot of southern family dinner tables.

Deviled eggs, green beans with ham or bacon, pecan pie, million dollar pie, potato salad and or mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry relish. And dressing.

Old Traditions

Yes, dressing. NOT stuffing. 

Good, old-fashioned, Southern-style buttermilk cornbread dressing.

It isn’t fancy. It is very unassuming, but oh so delicious!

And it simply wouldn’t be a holiday feast without it. PERIOD.

When my dad was still living, my mom would make two giant aluminum pans full of this fabled dish for his holiday get-together at work.

And not one crumb would be left.

New Traditions

When my husband and I got married and his family tasted our family recipe, it became a standing request that my mom make the dressing from there on out.

It is that good.

Now, all that being said, now that I make the dressing, I have gussied it up a bit.

Nothing radically different mind you, but a few tweaks here and there that just up the flavor profile.

So, here it is in all of its glory.

Mama’s Southern Cornbread Dressing

Ingredients for the cornbread

1 large egg

1 3/4 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup melted unsalted butter

2 cups Self-Rising Buttermilk Cornmeal 

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp fresh parsley, minced

½ tsp fresh sage, minced

HEAT oven to 450ºF. Use non-stick spray or some butter to coat bottom and side of baking pan (8-inch round or square). Place in oven to heat for about 5 minutes.

WHISK egg in medium bowl. Stir in buttermilk, melted butter and corn meal mix until smooth. Batter should be creamy and pourable. If too thick, add 1 to 2 tablespoons additional buttermilk. 

ADD black pepper & minced herbs, stir to combine.

REMOVE pan from oven and pour in batter.

BAKE 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

When cornbread is done, turn out onto a cooling rack to cool.

Remaining Ingredients

1 TBSP unsalted butter

1 onion, diced

4-5 stalks of celery, diced

1 TBSP poultry seasoning

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp fresh parsley, minced

½ tsp fresh sage, minced

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, minced

1 pkg Pepperidge Farm Herbed Classic Stuffing

1 1/2 cartons low-sodium turkey stock (chicken stock will work if you cannot find turkey)

HEAT a skillet to medium heat. Add butter. Once melted, add diced celery and onions and cook until soft and translucent. (takes about 10 minutes).

REMOVE vegetables from pan to cool.

BREAK up the cornbread and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the cooled veggies, minced herbs, pepper and poultry seasoning. Add 3/4 of the Pepperidge Farm stuffing.

MIX dry ingredients to combine. Add ½ carton of the stock and mix again. Add remaining half of carton and mix well.

Now, this is where it can get tricky…you kind of have to know what the final mixture should look like.  It needs to be fairly wet, but not soupy.

If it appears too wet, add more of the stuffing mix. Too dry? Add stock.

I mix my dressing the day before and let it sit covered in the fridge so all of the flavors have a chance to marry.

The next day I take it out and assess if the mixture needs more stock. If it appears to have dried out a bit, I add stock ½ cup at a time and remix until I like the way the mixture looks.

I know, I know.  This isn’t exact science, but I’m telling you it is the only way to do it!

Family feast pin

Baking the Dressing

HEAT oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9 x 11 glass baking dish with some non-stick spray or butter. Pour the dressing into the pan and smooth out any lumps.

BAKE in oven for 60 minutes or until the middle is set and the top is golden brown.

Time to Eat!

This dressing has all of the Thanksgiving flavors you are looking for in it! And it is warm and comforting to boot!

Pair it with your favorite gravy or some homemade cranberry relish for a real delight. I’d love to hear what your family favorite recipes are!  Drop a note in the comments.

Relax, de-stress & take hold of God’s best

Can I be really honest here?  I am NOT good at de-stressing.  I don’t do REST well.

I’m really great at creating checklists, completing tasks and just getting stuff done.

Out the door by 6:30 a.m. to work, come home, cook, clean, run errands, play with the dogs, fall in the bed. Do it again tomorrow.

Why Not REST and DE-STRESS?

Just sit and be still for awhile. Admonishment from the hubby.

Take time to relax, go to the beach. Advice from my mom.

And she’s not wrong…I live 30 minutes to an hour from MULTIPLE beaches.

My excuse for not resting…for not unwinding and ridding myself of stress?

I have too much to do…I’m busy.

REST is as important as work.

One of the Core Values of our women’s ministry at my church is REST.  Therefore, as a leader I am earnestly working on improving in this area.

4 Things to help you de-stress and relax

Here are a few things I have found to be tried and true…to get me focused back on Him, settle myself into a place of calm, and just be.

  1.  PRAY. This always calms me down, no matter how out of control I feel.  Drawing close to my Father this way means peace in my heart. And sometimes that prayer is is simply silence. Just to sit and bask in His love for me is everything!
  2.  READ. Not just my Bible, although depending on what is stressing me, it is my first pick. But when I just need to zone and not think about things for a bit, I usually turn to one of three book types: faith-based, history (Civil War, Native American, Revolutionary War) or mystery books. Reading is my happy place – I have always, always loved a good book and even more I just love words.
  3.  GO OUTSIDE. Take a walk, or just sit on my patio. Take in nature. Consider all of the beautiful things the Lord has made. It never fails to calm me.
  4.  WATCH/LISTEN. Watch an uplifting movie (think Hallmark or inspirational films) OR listen to uplifting music. Taking my mind to a more positive place that allows me to decompress from stress. Inspirational music especially helps shift my focus from me and the busy I’ve allowed to cramp itself into my life. 

Relax, de-stress and take hold of God's best

Give God top priority

De-stressing and taking time to let go and loosen up reminds me that HE is the reason for everything and that all I do is to be done to His glory.

If too many other things are screaming for my attention it is time to let some of those things go. I only want to pursue His best for me.

And if I feel I cannot take relax time, de-stress, time, unwind and be with Jesus time, then He cannot give me those best things. I won’t have room.

I hope one of these will be helpful for you as you learn to de-stress better.  

Anxiety and God

Anxiety and God. This topic is one I’m trying to get more comfortable talking about. I’m learning how to define it in my life and how to normalize it for those around me.

And I’m learning how to cope with it.

I used to think that people who dealt with this particular issue just needed to get over it. Perhaps they needed to pray harder. I didn’t feel God and anxiety belonged together.

That changed when what I was not able to understand in others, began to happen to me.

Anxiety.

Though mine was triggered via a traumatic event, looking back over my younger years, I can see traces of it throughout my life. My introvert self has always been an anxious sort.

Anxiety’s Effects

Social anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety are the two types I deal with. It’s like being an introvert on steroids.

Add these to a list of other chronic illness issues and life can feel really overwhelming some days.

Just getting dressed and getting out the door can feel like an insurmountable task.

Two choices emerge here. Let anxiety defeat me and keep building walls. Or let my God help me defeat it!

God’s Power In Us

We must remember that the power of the Holy Spirit, the very power that raised Jesus from the grave…LIVES IN US!

No matter how hard the day gets, I know that He is able. His word stands. His promises are true.

And that is my landing place. The safest space I know.

Anxiety and God

Scripture To Beat Anxiety

Here are some of my go-to verses when the anxiety tries to displace the light:

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” ( 1 Peter 5:6-7 KJV)

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6 HCSB)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.” (Proverbs 3: 5-6 HCSB)

“But You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts up my head. I cry aloud to the Lord, and He answers me from His holy mountain.Selah” ( Psalm 3: 3-4 HCSB)

“I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, Lord, make me live in safety.” ( Psalm 4:8 HCSB)

Standing in the shadow of the cross, my world shines brighter.

Yours can too.

Letter to my 16 year old self

About Others

Letter to my 16 year old self. I sure wish I could tell you some things that would have made your high school years easier. You were so insecure, longing to belong, and had no idea just how beautiful and smart you really were.

I’d tell you that those sideways glances and whispered conversations going on around you…are not always about you. And that even if they are, you shouldn’t let it bother you.

Those people’s actions say way more about their character than it does about you.

I would tell you not to tell people that you thought were your friends about that date. In fact, I would tell you not to go on that date at all.

My 16 year old self

About Yourself

To my 16 year old self. You will wish you could take back some words that you say and things that you do. So don’t say them and don’t do them.

I would tell you it is better to be ridiculed for not doing the popular thing. And that being yourself, uniquely creative and bold, is the best way to be.

That those who cannot handle your uniqueness are not your people. Find a different circle where you are valued. Not used.

I would tell you not to be afraid of your gifts. To use your voice. To take that chance.

I would tell you to spend more time with your family. That in less than 10 years your precious Daddy would be gone and you would wish you had more time.

About God

Most of all, in this letter to my 16 year old self, I would tell you that you are so very loved. That no matter what you do or say there is a God that you speak of, yet don’t intimately know yet, that knows you very well. 

He loves you so much He died for you.

And if you will let Him in now, He will take all the burdens you carry away. You don’t need to be strong enough to bear it all. That’s His job.

And you can just be. Be a kid. Stop trying to grow up so fast. Relax. Love yourself.

You are going to be with you for a long time.

FREEDOM in the midst of Mental Illness

FREEDOM pin post

If you deal with mental illness of any type, you know that feeling of being trapped.  Chained. Locked up in your mind.

Which leads to being locked up in other areas of your life.

Your heavenly Father does not intend for you to be a slave to ANYTHING.  He has paid the price to ensure your FREEDOM!

Is Mental Illness in the Bible?

And yet, even in the Bible there are stories of those who dealt with anxiety and depression. David. Elijah. Naomi. Job. Jeremiah.  I mean, come on, he was known as the “weeping prophet”!

In Psalm 34:18, David writes “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed” and in Psalm 69 he writes, “my eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to act.”

When Naomi returned to Bethlehem she said, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?”

After having won a triumphant victory over the pagan Baal prophets, Elijah goes on in I Kings 19:4 to wish for his own death!

Imperfect people in an imperfect world facing trials, temptations and tribulations.

Just like me. Just like you.

Now, is where you might expect me to say “with Jesus you can overcome”, and while that is true, our human understanding of overcoming may not look like God’s understanding.

What do you do when “healing” doesn’t come?

Mental Illness is not like a cold, or the flu, or a stomach virus.  Often there is no 100% cure.  There is medication to manage the symptoms, counseling to manage the emotions and behaviors…but it is not a process that has an end.  It is a life-long journey for most.

So where does this “freedom” I  mentioned come from?  If you cannot be completely healed of this disease, how do you break away from the chains?

Here are 4 things I have found helpful in my journey:

  1. Worship in the whirlwind. Rather than focusing on the brokenness, focus on Jesus. Play your favorite worship music, sing to Him or simply sit in silence as you reflect inwardly on His goodness and grace.
  2. Stay in the Word. Reading your Bible is one of the best ways to combat feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and depression. Scripture reminds us of His promises, of His faithfulness. (Revelations 21:4 and Psalm 27:1 are two of my favorites!)
  3. Remember the battle is the Lord’s. He fights for us. And the fight is not just in the physical…it is spiritual.
  4. Talk about it. Not just to your counselor. To a trusted friend. To your pastor. To yourself…journal your journey. More people in the church need to hear about others struggling so we can get rid of the stigma around this.

Your FREEDOM is waiting!

God accepts you as you are. Jesus died for you while you were still apart from Him as a sinner. You. Are. LOVED.  Your mental illness cannot take that away from you.

And that love is where you will find your freedom. He can handle your pain. Your tears. Your anger. Give it to Him.  He will give you rest.

P.S. – Please get help if you are dealing with depression, anxiety and especially suicidal thoughts.  (National Hotline 1-800-273-8255)

If you have been diagnosed, please continue your treatments in addition to the tips given here. One is not a substitute for another. Work with your doctors, counselors and your Lord for your best results.