Ah, Thanksgiving. Such a glorious time! In the past, I didn’t really dig Thanksgiving. My young taste buds weren’t crazy about sweet potatoes, dressing, pecan/pumpkin pie, or cranberry anything.

Thank goodness they’ve matured because Thanksgiving food is the bomb! And I love the family time! We spent a good portion of the meal discussing the various animals we had hit with our cars over the years (chipmunk, raccoon, deer, and even a squirrel that got caught around an axel – don’t ask), among other things. I hadn’t seen any of my dad’s side of the family since Labor Day and over that time span, my cousin grew even more! I’m freakishly tall for a girl (5’11”) and was taller than my cousin until two or three years ago…first he finally reached my height, then he was a smidge taller, and then today he was almost a whole head taller than me! I have to say, though, it was kind of nice not being the tallest cousin; plus, it makes for good picture posing.

Prior to college, I also didn’t have any interest in the cooking part of Thanksgiving. When the food bug finally hit, I began my Thanksgiving cooking with making our typical green bean casserole.

Sheridan Green Bean Casserole (aka, probably the casserole on the back of Campbell Cream of Mushroom Soup Can…)
Serves…A lot. Between 8-10.

– 6 cans French cut green beans
– 3 cans cream of mushroom soup (this is my dad’s rule…I could use two and be okay)
– 1 tablespoon garlic, split into 3 teaspoons)
– 3 shakes Italian seasoning
– Fried onion thingies, enough to coat the top of the casserole

Preheat oven to 375. In a casserole dish, pour two cans of green beans with one can of mushroom for the first layer. Mix together, along with a teaspoon of garlic and a shake of Italian seasoning. Repeat twice, then bake for 20 minutes. Top with however much fried onion you want, then bake again for 5 to 10 minutes. Easy, right? It’s really simple and nothing fancy, but I couldn’t imagine Thanksgiving without it. I felt really sophisticated and handy after making it my freshman year.

For Thanksgiving my junior year, I made the green bean casserole again, but this time I also helped my dad make his awesome dressing. I diced onions and celery, sauteed them, and browned the sausage. None of this was anything new, as I had already been making dinner for Kayla and Shelley at the apartment, but it still felt really cool to cook with my dad and say that I was responsible for more of the Thanksgiving feast.

Dad’s Dressing
Serves a lot. Probably between 10-12.

1 pie pan of cornbread, crumbled (hey, use my mom’s cornbread recipe!)
– 1 lb spicy sausage
– 2 cups Pepperidge Farm breadcrumbs
– 2 cups diced onion
– 1.5 cups diced celery
– 2 eggs
– 1 can low sodium chicken stock
– 1/2 tsp pepper
– 1 tsp dry sage

Dice some onion and celery into small pieces, then saute in a pan with 1 tbsp olive oil until translucent and soft. Dump the celery and onion in a large mixing bowl, then brown the sausage in the same pan, breaking it up into small chunks. Once browned, take out the sausage with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towels to catch the grease. Crumble the cornbread into the same mixing bowl, then add the two cups of bread crumbs. Once the sausage has cooled, add that in, along with two eggs, the chicken broth and the spices. Mix all of it together and press into a 9×13 baking dish. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.

My dad’s dressing is probably my favorite part of Thanksgiving. It’s like his Hoppin’ John black bean chowder that he makes on New Year’s – it’s his specialty and I’m glad that he shares it with me. Although, I wouldn’t say no to trying out some apple/butternut squash dressing along side his usual stuffing one day….

This year I really upped my game in the food prep department. Yesterday I made two pecan pies, helped my dad majorly with the dressing, made the green bean casserole, and also tried something new: homemade cranberry conserve, courtesy of Barefoot Contessa.

Let me tell you guys something – Ina Garten is my lady. If the rugged, outdoorsy side of me loves Pioneer Woman, then the refined, “good quality” ingredient side of me loves Ina Garten and all of her Hamptons/butter glory. She just oozes classiness. When I saw her make her cranberry conserve, I feel in love with it’s deep, vibrant pink color and it’s variety of textures. I was sure no one would really eat it (after all, we served the canned stuff every year prior to this one), but I didn’t care. I was too proud of how beautiful it was.

Is it weird that I say food is beautiful? I mean, how can you not call this beautiful?

Look at the gorgeous color and all of the different textures!! It was sweet, yet slightly tart as well as thick, but juicy and perfectly chunky. Best of all, it was really easy!

Barefoot Contessa’s Cranberry Conserves
Makes about 2 cups.

– 1 16 oz bag of cranberries
– 1.75 cups of sugar
– Juice and zest of one lemon
– Juice and zest of one orange
– 1 cup water
– 1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
– 1/4 cup of raisins

Pour the cranberries, water and sugar into a saucepan and heat over medium-low for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the skins on the cranberries start to split. Add the chopped apple, the zest, and lemon/orange juice to the pan. Continue to stir occasionally over medium low heat for another 15-20 minutes. By this time some of the cranberries will have burst, the apples will have turned pink and soft, and the mixture will begin to foam. Take the pan off of the heat, stir in the raisins, then let cool. Store in the fridge until serving time!

I was pleasantly surprised to see that my grandparents and my aunt dug the cranberry sauce! It was perfect over a dinner roll and I can’t wait to have it on a turkey sandwich tomorrow. Would it be weird to say that one of the reasons I made it was so that I could have a turkey/cranberry sauce sandwich the day after Thanksgiving? Because that’s seriously one of the reasons I made it.

Today I wrapped up my cooking spree by making one of my first blog recipes: Spiced Nuts!

Here are some of the other eats from today (but definitely not all of them!)

Turkey. Duh.

This picture doesn’t do them justice (at all), but up close is my grandma’s sweet potato casserole (with brown sugar pecan topping) and her homemade mac n’ cheese in the back.

I hope all of you had a glorious, food filled Thanksgiving with lots of laughs and family time. Thank goodness I managed to avoid an overfilled stomach; instead, I’m just incredibly sleepy! And for some reason I’ve decided to join my mom in some Black Friday shopping tomorrow (my first time ever!), so if any of ya’ll are braving that mess, good luck!


12 thoughts on “

  1. oh my gosh I hated Thanksgiving when I was a kid! I used to say "its just a holiday where people eat and eat too much, gain weight and feel guilty" I don't feel this way anymore. But yeah I didn't like most of the food that was on the table except for pumpkin pie and a white roll and mashed potatoes.

  2. You are absolutely beautiful! What a great picture of you and your cousins. :DI hear you on the whole being tall thing. I'm 5'8", which sends me above most girls (and some guys.) I've learned to love it over the years, but it's nice not always being the tallest one in the group…haha. ;)Everything looks delicious! 😀

  3. Thanks everyone! 🙂 Sarah – I've grown to love my tallness, too, but I still feel like a giant Amazon woman sometimes when I'm in a group of shorter people! 😉

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