Family Favorites for the Thanksgiving Feast!

Thanksgiving and Christmas always have a few staple 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.

 

Letter to my 16 year old self

About Others

16 year old me. 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.

Don’t apologize for being beautiful, bold & brave..png

About Yourself

That 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

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.

 

Reminiscent Ramblings

Christmas Past

I remember Christmases long ago as a youth visiting grandparents playing with cousins, on swings, in the fields. Fireworks, running around waving sparklers one in each hand, laughing!

Gift exchanges, the fun of buying presents What would be in those packages?

Rummaging at the auction with granny picking out just the right thing for each grandchild. Or at Mamaw and Papaw’s opening Santa’s gifts Christmas morning.

A Strawberry Shortcake dollhouse, Easy Bake oven, Dukes of Hazard sleeping bag, Cabbage Patch Kids and Barbie dolls. Oh and Lego’s and Hot-wheels cars!

Part girly girl and part tom boy was I…

Traditions

I remember decorating the tree, Momma stringing her reindeer lights. Sissy and I throwing on the icicles.

Daddy putting lights up outside making a tree design on the porch wall.
Lights on the bushes…wrapping presents and putting them under the tree.

I remember caroling with school friends door to door, running in the dark because we heard a dog bark!

I remember piling in the car…sissy, cousins, Momma, my aunt, visiting the Hardy Boys property with all its wonderful decorations and lights.

I remember watching Christmas cartoons in pajamas, Momma baking fruit cake, granny’s pound cake and dumplings and chocolate cake with layer upon layer upon layer!

Childhood Memories

I remember Christmas parties at school. Room moms bringing in treats – homemade, not store bought!
Construction paper and Popsicle ornaments, learning Jewish holiday traditions from my third grade teacher, practicing for the Christmas concerts.

So many fond childhood memories, so dear so much fun we had!

Though Christmas is still my very favorite time of year, one of the most fun and exciting times, it now holds a touch of sadness as I long to share memories with those who have passed.

Sadness in the sacred

Just to hear once again my daddy’s chuckle, my uncle’s deep laugh…to talk with grandparents, be teased by my “brother”…to run and laugh those carefree laughs…

Though family and friends are scattered far and wide…memories remain near.

And I can remember and reminiscence…and smile through teary eyes.