Let’s talk turkey. Just kidding. Someone else is making the turkey.
Ain’t nobody (read: me) got time for that! Literally.
So let’s talk sides and dessert. That’s my forte.
And before that, let’s backtrack just a little. I want to paint my very fond Thanksgiving memories for you.
Thanksgiving was always one of my favorite holidays. Everything it embodied – the food, the fellowship, the family, the thankfulness. We used to travel to see my Dad’s family. They lived in the Deep South and the memories that were made in that old country house will live in my heart forever. When I think of Thanksgiving, this is what comes to mind:
Literally. And the dining room we ate in looked almost identical to this Normal Rockwell painting. My beautiful Grandma would have her long gray hair coiled into a bun, she’d wear a sweet little dress with stockings and slippers (it’s hard work cooking for so many!) and cover it all up with an apron that had seen many meal preparations. When she would see us, her whole face would crinkle up in a smile and she would always have this little sparkle in her eyes. My Granddaddy would always cry tears of joy when our family car would pull up that dirt and gravel-covered driveway. My Aunts and Uncles and Cousins would pour in through the tattered screened door in the kitchen, arms laden with covered dishes and hugs to hand out. My Grandma would be standing at the stove top, frying up her hoe cakes in her beloved old cast iron pan. There’d be field peas in a saucepan, a fried turkey, my Aunt Sue’s macaroni and cheese, shredded chicken and hard boiled egg dressing, and food for miles. And miles. Good Southern, comforting food. The dessert table always held the traditional pumpkin pies, cobblers, etc., but there was always something else that held my gaze. My Grandma would always make a multi-layered coconut cake. It always looked so tall from my shorter, younger (I’m tall, but my memories were made when I was young) stature looking up at it on the counter. It was iced with the most glorious white frosting, and then covered with stark, white coconut flakes, imitating that fresh first snow fall. I always ate a slice as big as my face. It was always my favorite. And my dear Aunt Sue’s macaroni and cheese. That is one of my all-time favorite recipes still. She passed that one on to me before she went to be with the Lord. While I never got the coconut cake recipe from my Grandma before she also went to be with the Lord, I did find recipes online that closely match these and my other heart-guarded dishes. I’d like to share some of these with you today. They may not be the healthiest or use the most “trendy” ingredients, but they are sacred in my heart. They equal hugs on my plate.
This is my dining room table last Thanksgiving. I prepared a few of my favorites. I made green bean and sweet potato casseroles (no favorite recipes here). The back right tray is my Aunt Sue’s Macaroni and Cheese and the front tray is my Shredded Chicken and Hard Boiled Egg Dressing.
Here is the recipe I’ve found that most closely resembles the dressing. I use only white meat (boiling chicken breasts or using a rotisserie can cut down on time), I make cornbread from Jiffy, and I do not make or use the giblet gravy or chutney.
Here is my dear, sweet Aunt Sue’s recipe. I make my own “cream of” soups now, but I cannot bring myself to change her recipe AT ALL. This is a highly simple recipe, and quite humble. Even though it is such, it is one of my most prized and loved recipes. Please feel the love my Aunt Sue had for all of us when you make and enjoy this.
1 8oz. pkg elbow macaroni, cooked
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 C mayo
1/2 C onions, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped and slightly cooked in microwave in a bit of water, drained
1/4 C pimento, chopped (or you can use canned, roasted red pepper)
1/2 lb. mild or sharp cheddar cheese
Combine the above ingredients and place in a buttered casserole dish. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes.
Hoe Cakes are cornmeal based…pancakes, for all intents and purposes. The closest recipe I could find to match my Grandma’s could also be found from Paula Deen…go figure. These would be piled high in a pie tin on each table at Grandma’s house. And we’d eat our weight in them as we were waiting for the “big” meal to start.
The closest recipe I can find to match my Grandma’s Coconut Cake is another Deen recipe (lol – Southern at best!).
After our afternoon Thanksgiving feast, we’d go out in the backyard and shoot aluminum pie tins with Granddaddy’s BB guns. My brother and I had a blast. We’d go for rides on the riding mower. We’d go “moo” at the cows in the back pasture and go for a walk through the cotton fields flanking that country house with a porch swing. We’d sneak into my Granddaddy’s barn and look at all his old fashioned tools and try to guess what they were used for. How we loved those Thanksgivings spent there. As we grew older, we’d STILL enjoy the same traditions. After Thanksgiving day spent there, we’d go to my Mom’s family and have a second Thanksgiving with them (in a different state). My sweet Grandmother had (still has) her own recipe for macaroni and cheese (a recipe for another day!) and an amazing cream cheese topped, jellied cranberry and nut salad. I am going to have to get that from her again this year, as I’ve lost the recipe. Sadly, much of my family on my Dad’s side has passed on and so we’ve had to change traditions. Whether we spend the holiday with my Mom’s family or with my Husband’s family, locally, I always make it a point to make these recipes that are so fond in my heart so that I can feel that love miles and miles away from where it started.
I’ve got two other recipes that I’d like to share with you today. One is a scone that would make for a lovely, festive breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. Imagine eating these little beauties with a cup of coffee or tea as you are starting to prepare your meal.
I got the recipe for these Harvest Pumpkin Mini Scones from King Arthur Flour.
And here is another dessert recipe, but for the more daring home cooks!
This Pumpkin Mochi Cake is REALLY good – not too sweet and sort of chewy in that lovely mochi way that I am so very fond of. I used Mochiko (glutenous rice flour) that I found at a local special store. I obviously didn’t use small molds for this, as the recipe calls for. I used an 8×10 dish and doubled the recipe.
PS – My husband is home with us now. God is good!
I hope you can use and enjoy some of these recipes. Have a very blessed weekend,