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.

A New Year’s Meal

My mom and brother came up to celebrate a late Christmas with us in Georgia, but since they are leaving New Year’s day, I fixed my traditional New Year’s meal two days early.

For me, a New Year’s meal means ham, collard greens, black eyed peas and cornbread. And then I add whatever else I’m in the mood for – which this year meant we had green beans and mac and cheese. Talk about a feast! Most times I use hog jowl or salt pork, but this year I lucked out with my hubby picking up some house-smoked bacon from a local butcher shop and so half of my dishes were laden with bacon. Nothin’ wrong with that. Most of these recipes are just a few ingredients and pretty simple. It’s a mission to make it all, but well worth it when you sit down eat.

New Year’s Menu:

Ham with Honey Mustard Glaze
Southern Style Green Beans
Collard Greens
Black Eyed Peas
5 Cheese Mac and Cheese
Buttermilk Cornbread

New Years Plate
And that, my friends, is a happy plate.

Honey Mustard Glaze for Ham

2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
2 tbsp yellow mustard

1.) Over medium heat in a small saucepan, combine all ingredients and heat until it starts to bubble.
2.) Remove from heat and pour the glaze over a fully heated ham. Place ham back in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.

Honey Mustard

Southern Style Green Beans

2 lbs fresh green beans, ends snapped off and snapped into 1″ to 2″ pieces
1/2 cup bacon, chopped (or you could sub with hog jowl or salt pork)
1/2 medium sized onion, diced
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp sugar

1.) Add green beans to a large pot and fill with enough water to just cover the beans.
2.) Add bacon, onion, salt, pepper and sugar and heat to boil. Reduce heat to medium low (or until it reaches a low simmer) and cook uncovered for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Most of the water should be gone by the time they are done cooking.
3.) Taste beans and adjust salt, pepper and sugar to your liking.

Green Beans uncooked

Green Beans
I forgot to take a picture of the cooked beans in the pot. And now I’ve eaten them all. Oh well, a super-cropped image from the plate shot will have to do.

Collard Greens
3 tbsp butter (I used reserved bacon grease from breakfast – highly recommend)
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup bacon, chopped (or you could sub with hog jowl or salt pork)
2 lbs collard greens
5 cups water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1.) In a large pot, heat butter and add onions to sauté. Add bacon and cook until onions are translucent. You don’t want the bacon to get crispy here.
2.) Add collards and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add water, salt, pepper, sugar and vinegar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer with the lid on.
3.) Cook for 1.5 to 2 hours or until they are as done as you’d like, and stir occasionally. Taste and adjust as needed.

Collards uncooked

Collards cooking

Collard Greens

Black Eyed Peas

1 lb dry black eyed peas, quick soaked (according to package)
6 cups water
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 cup bacon, chopped (or you could sub with hog jowl or salt pork)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1.) Place all ingredients in a large pot and heat to boil. Reduce heat and simmer with a lid slightly cracked for 1.5 to 2 hours. Do not stir often, as it will break the peas.

Black Eyed Peas

5 Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

1 16-oz box pasta (elbows or rotini work well), cooked according to package
1 cup shredded white cheddar
1 cup shredded gruyere
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup shredded yellow cheddar (divided)
1 cup shredded Parmesan
1 12-oz can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 stick of butter, melted
1 tsp salt

1.) Add all ingredients (except 1/2 cup of yellow cheddar) to a crock pot and mix well.
2.) Cook on low for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Add remaining cheese to top and cook until melted.

Mac n cheese uncooked

Mac n cheese

Adapted from’s Crockpot Macaroni and Cheese

Buttermilk Cornbread

Recipe found here.