Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Menu



I smell like onions cooking and I'm munching on extra ginger snaps.  Prep work is under way here in my little kitchen.  I am hosting a small dinner tomorrow (for 11-which isn't even double my normal dinner!) and I think I must say like most important things in life I have procrastinated.  I have this dang leak under the sink that we cannot identify and I am not about to turn off the water and pull out the plumbing when my sister is half-way here from Kentucky.  So I keep drying it and trying to catch the drips, that seem to change where they are coming from every time I get a container under there....geesh!
But on a brighter note, I do believe cooking Thanksgiving dinner is one of my favorite things all year.  Last year I cooked it in my sister's kitchen and did all of the traditional sides, but this year is a little bit different.  Since my sis is traveling here, where her hubs is from, then she will spend Turkey day with her in-laws and I will spend it with mine.  So to avoid repeating, I came up with an alternative menu for tomorrow.  It is still holiday-type food just not the norm in our families.

Roasted Citrus and Sage Turkey
My Grandma's Stuffing (from memory, recipe to follow)
Mashed Potatoes (nothing special..just lots of butter!)
Real Gravy
and More Gravy...is there really ever enough gravy?
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Caramel-Apple Cherry Pie (this was on the front cover of BHG this month)


I am excited to make my Grandma's stuffing.  I must admit, it isn't a real recipe, and better ones have probably been written.  I don't think she followed a recipe, and I don't even think she made it the same way every year.  But each year when I have stuffing with my husband's side of the family, the one dish so different is the stuffing, and I can't help but thinking back to my grandma's big table and our enormous Italian family dinners and her stuffing.  And my husband calls it "dressing"...what's that about?  He is so southern...it's stuffing in my book!
My grandma was a modern day saint.  She raised 14 children on a budget that would make a shoe-string gasp.  She put herself through nursing school after they all started school, and managed to help my disabled Grandpa...and she never missed a mass and I think she even did yoga.  It was probably what kept her from cracking all of those years.  I idolize her in my head, and I have since I had my 4 children in 5 years and my husband was sick for most of them.  Something in my soul felt close to hers, and something stronger than myself reminded me of her strength whenever mine was going to fail.  She passed from death to eternal life right after my littlest was born, and with my husband sick and my littlest still attached to me (literally) every 2 hours I didn't get to make the trip down to see her.  But tomorrow I will share a glass of wine with my sister and eat this stuffing and we will talk about the goodness and strength of our beautiful Grandma.

By Memory, Grandma's Stuffing
1 lb of bulk breakfast sausage 
1/2 cup of wild rice
2 apples, diced
4 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
2 onions, diced
1 cup of raisins
8 oz. of baby bella mushrooms, chopped 
1 bag of organic herb stuffing
1 loaf of sourdough bread diced (the drier the better)
Chicken stock about 4 cups
Sea salt
Fresh sage (optional, I have a ton on hand, so why not!)

Brown Sausage in non-stick frying pan.  Add onions and celery, cook until they become translucent.  Add apples and raisins continue to saute for 2 minutes.  Add mushrooms and 1 tsp of salt.  Meanwhile in a small sauce pan cover the rice with chicken stock or water and a little salt.  cook until the rice starts to split open a little, add to the sausage mix.
This can be made the day before.  When ready to serve, bring 4 cups of chicken stock to a boil in a large pot.  If you are using homemade (unsalted) stock add 1 1/2 tsp. of salt.  When boiling add meat mixture in, allow to return to a boil.  Add bread mixture in. It is important that you don't stir it too much, or the bread will not remain in pieces   Taste for salt.  Stir in fresh sage.  Serve then or put in a casserole dish and keep warm in the oven.  If it is too mushy just bake it uncovered for a little while.

Love and Butter,

Mishelle
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