My Thanksgiving All-Stars

I typically spend my Thanksgivings alternating between my grandma’s house and Blake’s family. And so while I haven’t hosted turkey day at my home but once or twice,  I’m usually making half a dozen sides to contribute to the meal and so I’ve acquired my favs over the years. My office also has an annual Thanksgiving lunch, and so I get another opportunity to try new recipes and perfect the tried and true.

Ever since I began eating cleaner and cutting out all the “cream of whatever” soups, I’ve been on a quest to find recipes that are just as flavorful, but truly made from scratch. So far so good. I’m still lacking a good green bean casserole, but I’ve got a couple of Pinterest ideas that I may just try next week – stay tuned.

So here’s the list… sorry don’t have pictures for all of them, but trust me, they look as good as they sound!

My Thanksgiving All-Stars:Butter and Bay Leaves Roasted Turkey (see below)

Sweet Potato Casserole

Squash casserole5

Creamed Spinach

Broccoli and blue cheese casserole2

  • Cauliflower Gratin with Gouda and Asiago (see below)

Cauliflower gratin

Mac n cheese

Green Beans

Pumpkin pie slice

  • Chocolate Pie (see below)

Recipes for some of the my unblogged dishes above:

Butter and Bay Leaves Roasted Turkey
Courtesy of my good friend, Glynis

1 turkey (any size)
2 sticks of softened butter
2 tsp salt
10 or more bay leaves

1.) Rinse turkey and pat dry with paper towel and set aside.
2.) In a small bowl, mix softened butter and salt.
3.) Rub the exterior and underneath the skin with butter and salt mixture. (I suggest you wear gloves for this, and you will have to do some work to separate the skin from the bird – but do not give up!)
4.) Arrange bay leaves in a decorative pattern underneath the skin.
5.) Bake according to the size of the turkey, basting often.

Cornbread Dressing
Courtesy of my grandma

2 10-inch skillets of homemade buttermilk cornbread
1 tbsp butter
1 large onion, diced
1 1/2 cups diced celery
2 or 3 hard boiled eggs, diced (optional)
2 tsp ground sage (or more to taste)
1 tsp ground pepper (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
6 to 8 cups turkey or chicken stock (enough to thoroughly moisten cornbread)
2 eggs

1.) In a medium sauce pan, melt butter over medium-high heat and add onion and celery. Sauté until onion is translucent. Set aside.
2.) In a large mixing bowl, crumble cornbread and add onion/celery mix, hard boiled eggs, sage, pepper, salt and stock until it is very moist (but not soupy). If you add too much liquid, you can always cook longer to dry out, but if you don’t add enough liquid your dressing will be dry! Do not add raw egg yet. Taste to make sure seasoning is good and adjust as needed. Once the taste is right, add raw egg.
3.) Pour into a greased 10″x13″ casserole dish and bake at 375 degrees until golden brown (about 45 to 60 minutes).

Cauliflower Gratin with Gouda and Asiago

2 lbs (or 1 large head) cauliflower, cut into florets
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
2 cups milk, warmed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded gouda
1/2 cup shredded asiago
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup seasoned panko

1.) Steam cauliflower for 5 minutes, then allow to drain in a colander for at least another 5 minutes.
2.) In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter and add flour. Whisk continuously for 1 to 2 minutes and then gradually add warmed milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Continue whisking until sauce thickens.
3.) Remove pan for heat and add gouda and asiago. Stir until cheese melts.
4.) In a large bowl, combine cauliflower with cheese sauce. Pour into a greased casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with parmesan and then with panko.
5.) Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 – 35 minutes, or until top is brown and sides are bubbly.

Chocolate Pie
Courtesy of Cooking Chef’s Grandma’s Chocolate Pie

½ c. cocoa
¼ cup cornstarch
3 egg yolks
1 ½ c. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix cocoa, cornstarch, beaten egg yolks; sugar and salt and vanilla, then add milk gradually, while stirring in a pot over med-high heat. Cook until thick, beating it smooth. Pour into a pre-baked pie shell (use this homemade version and bake it for 12-15 mins on 375). Put in the fridge to chill.

Rosemary Pork Chops with Mushroom and Herb Orzo

Last year my husband and I tired to grow herbs. Tried. We had no luck with cilantro, basil, parsley or thyme, but the rosemary has hung in there!  I have not given up hope that (one day) I will have a green thumb, but I realized that growing things that require being fed every day is like having another child or animal, and momma ain’t go time for that.  Rosemary, apparently, will survive on rain alone. So, since rosemary is my only free herb, I experiment with it occasionally.  One pairing that has turned out really yummy with my rosemary is pork chops.  Throw a little rosemary, garlic and olive oil together on some bone-in pork chops for the grill – delish!  On the topic of pork chops, I’ve found that bone-in chops are soooo much better than their boneless friends.  You get that gem of a tenderloin, the meat seems juicier and more tender, and it doesn’t have the strange texture that the boneless sometimes does when it is only cooked to medium.  I digress.  So I built my Sunday dinner around rosemary and the meal turned out great.  I also decided to make another pot of orzo.  Once I stumble across an easy and tasty way of cooking something, I replicate the heck out of it (why reinvent the wheel??).  This time I married it with mushrooms, rosemary and thyme; same grain as a couple of nights ago, but totally different taste.  We ate this with lemon and parmesan roasted cauliflower and it was a dinner that the whole family loved.


Rosemary Pork Chops

4  bone-in pork chops
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp fresh rosemary
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried minced onion
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1.) Combine all ingredients in a gallon Ziploc bag. Marinate for 30 minutes to overnight.
2.) Grill for 4 to 5 minutes on each side.

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Mushroom and Herb Orzo

1 1/3 cup orzo
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup diced sweet onion (about 1/2 a medium onion)
1 tbsp minced garlic
3 cups of mushrooms, coarsely chopped
2 tsp fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

1.) Cook orzo according to directions on box. Drain, toss with 2 tbsp olive oil and set aside.
2.) Heat 2 tbsp olive oil and butter in a skillet and sauté onion and garlic until onion is translucent. Add mushrooms, rosemary and thyme. Cook until mushrooms are soft, about 3 minutes. Add milk and sour cream, and cook until heated through.
3.) Pour mushroom sauce over orzo. Add parmesan cheese and parsley. Stir well until completely incorporated. Salt and pepper to taste.

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Lemon and Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower
2 tbsp olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1.) Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2.) Cut florets out of cauliflower head, and then cut florets into halves or quarters (depending on the size of the floret).
3.) In a gallon Ziploc bag, add all ingredients and toss until cauliflower is evenly coated.
4.) Pour cauliflower onto a baking sheet and arrange into a single layer. Turn individual cauliflower pieces so that they are laying flat side down on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until edges/bottoms are golden brown.

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