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.


Thankfulness in a season of drought

When we think of being thankful, I feel most of us gravitate to those things that make us happy, bring us joy or give us peace.  It’s only natural to do so.
But what about when life is coming at you hard and fast and you feel like you cannot catch a break?  What about when you are tired and worn from fighting the good fight?  What about when you have lost everything you thought mattered in this world?
Are you still thankful?
Praising Jesus when everything is rosy is easy.  Praising Him when the storm is raging.  Well, that’s not something we are naturally wired to do.
To praise Him when everything looks bleak, is to find that deep joy and contentment He promises to us…the peace that passes all our understanding.
Doing that means you have to be close to Him…in His word on a regular basis to know His promises and to claim them as your own.  Praying regularly, so you hear His voice and know it.  
Fully resting on faith in Him.
Thankfulness in a season of drought makes the harvest time even richer!

12 Ways to Serve your Community and Give Back All Year

I love this time of year!  Cooler weather (well, for everyone but us here in Florida!), beautiful leaves (again, for everyone except Florida), and Hallmark Christmas movie time!!
The holiday season that begins with Thanksgiving is one of the joys of the year for me.  I truly love all the baking, cooking and serving food to those I love.  I enjoy the smells of the holidays, the cinnamon, cloves, oranges, and allspice.  The eventual Christmas tree smells that come with a beautiful, big live tree in the house.
And the opportunity to serve others through giving of food to local food banks, delivering toys for needy children, packing a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child or donating in the little red buckets for Salvation Army.
I love all of it.  And it starts next Thursday!!
Thanksgiving. One day a year where we all stuff ourselves as full as the turkey that was baked, watch football, and take naps.
Wait, what?  That is not really what it is all about is it? 
I know I briefly gave lip service to the opportunities available this time of year to serve.  BUT…shouldn’t we be looking for those opportunities all year long?
Jesus came to serve…his model was to teach us how to serve others.
How well are we modeling that back to the community around us?  Do they see Jesus when they see us?
Or do they see a bunch of church-goers, who talk the faith on Sunday, but don’t walk it the rest of the week?
If Jesus served…how much more so should we continuously look for ways to do the same.
Start a tradition this Thanksgiving.  When you ask for things your family is thankful for…ask for ways you all can serve your community better.
Create a list of practical ideas…one for each month of the year.  This makes it doable and not overwhelming.  They don’t have to be big things either.  Here are some ideas to get you started:
12 Ways to Serve your Community and Give Back All Year
  1. Pick up trash in a neighborhood park.
  2. Spend an hour putting shopping carts away at a busy shopping center.
  3. Pay for someone’s breakfast/lunch in the drive thru.
  4. Walk dogs at a local shelter.
  5. Serve food at a local food bank.
  6. Have your kids make “Have a happy day” cards for a local nursing home and deliver them.
  7. Offer to wash the neighbor’s cars.
  8. Babysit for a busy couple who rarely gets a date night.
  9. Make holiday cards to send to our troops overseas.
  10. Gather books and unused school supplies to donate to a library or local school.
  11. Have an elderly neighbor or otherwise home-bound neighbor (think new moms or someone dealing with prolonged illness)…volunteer to run errands for them or mow their lawn.
  12. Skip the daily lattes for a month and donate that money to a charity of the families’ choice.

Being the hands and feet of Jesus is a richly rewarding experience.  As the saying goes “Be blessed to be a blessing!”

The Holidays are upon us…is it Ho, Ho, Ho or just Ho Hum to you?

The approaching holiday season with Thanksgiving and Christmas has always been my favorite time of year.  I am reminded of childhood times at my grandparents homes, spending time with cousins, the aromas of all the food and the laughter that filled the air.  I am reminded of Christmas concerts, church socials and Christmas morning around the tree.

Of my Daddy sitting in his recliner sipping coffee and watching us with merriment in his eyes.

Of my first Christmas with my husband as we unwrapped all of our wedding gifts…we had been married just a few short weeks and it was such a glorious first Christmas together.

Blue Christmas…

For some though this time of year is especially painful because of the reminders of loved ones lost.  It may be painful because of recent diagnosis of illness, recent lost jobs, homes or divorce.  It may not feel like the most wonderful time of the year to them.

Whatever the loss, I am reminded of Matthew 5:4 – God hears and will comfort you.  It is promised.

Bah Humbug…

Still others may fret over this time of year because of all of the busyness that often accompanies it.  Parties at the kids’ schools, parties at work, the neighborhood block party, presents to buy, Secret Santa, Black Friday lines, UGH!  They may simply feel like they are slogging through and cannot wait for it all to just be over with.

If this is you friend, let these words bear you up:  God is waiting to provide rest for you…be still.  Listen.  Set aside time in the busyness to just be with Him.

There you will find peace in this season.  Matthew 11:28 assures us of this.

Comfort and Joy

Regardless of where you fall in this spectrum, giddy with anticipation for the season, sorrowful from your losses, or agitated before it even begins…God is here to comfort you…to bring peace and joy where there is none. 

We cannot manufacture this on our own…we need Him in us to bring that peace which surpasses all understanding.

Even for those of us who are excited about the impending holidays, we must not get swept up in the glitz and glimmer of lights, tinsel and bows.

It is the child in the manger which should have us shouting for joy!  It is His presence that should leave us in awe.  For He is who we are celebrating…enjoy your family, friends, parties and presents.  But please don’t forget the greatest gift that truly makes this the most wonderful time of the year!