Thanksgiving Recipes to be Thankful For

Here’s what I got: recipes that are good enough to make a mediocre cook look good. Y’all, I am not Julia Child. I am not my friend Lauren, who can whip up 5 star meals with an almost bare cupboard. Nope, I’m the one who thinks the free samples at Costco constitute a great meal (who’s with me?) So I share the following recipes not because I am the chef you want to take notes from, but because that guy’s unavailable. But what I will say is that you cannot go wrong with these, and the people eating won’t know where they came from! You’re welcome.


Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing

This is a great make-ahead holiday side dish. Cook the cornbread (I use three boxes of Jiffy) and crumble it up. You can freeze the crumbs a few weeks out if you want. Brown the sausage and combine with all other ingredients except the broth, then bag up this mixture and save it aside. On Thanksgiving (or whatever day is lucky enough to serve stuffing), combine everything and bake. I have even baked this with still-frozen cornbread, adding little to the cook time.

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, small dice

3 ribs celery, small dice

1 pound spicy sausage

3 cloves garlic, minced

¾ cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts

1 ½ t. dried sage

3 t. dried rosemary

10 cups stale cornbread, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 cup dried cranberries

3 cups chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Coat a large sauté pan with olive oil, add the onions and celery and sauté on medium heat. Season with salt and cook until the vegetables start to become soft and are very aromatic. Add the sausage and cook until the sausage begins to brown. Stir in the garlic and sauté for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the walnuts, sage and rosemary and cook for another minute, then remove from heat.

In a large bowl mix together the cornbread, cranberries, and the sausage mixture. Add chicken stock and knead with your hands until the bread is very moist, actually wet. Taste to check for seasoning and season with salt, if needed and transfer to an ovenproof dish.

Bake the stuffing until it is hot all the way through and is crusty on top, about 30 to 35 minutes. MMMMM…stuffing!


Cranberry Sauce

This is a super quick and easy cranberry alternative. It gets rave reviews, goes well with turkey, and adds a sweet, moist counterpoint to a lot of dry and savory foods.

1 c. sugar

1 c. orange juice

12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries

Combine sugar and O.J. and bring to a boil. Add the cranberries, cover, and boil (carefully!) for 10 minutes, until the berries begin to burst their skins. This one boils over easily, so watch out!


Southern Living’s Coconut Cream Pie

½ (15-oz.) package refrigerated piecrusts

½ c. sugar

¼ c. cornstarch

2 c. half-and-half

4 egg yolks

3 T. butter

1 c. sweetened flaked coconut

2 ½ t. vanilla extract, divided

2 c. whipping cream

1/3 c. sugar

Garnish: toasted coconut

Fit 1 piecrust into a 9-inch pie plate according to package directions; fold edges under, and crimp. Prick bottom and sides of piecrust with a fork. Bake according to package directions for a one-crust pie.

Combine ½ cup sugar and cornstarch in a heavy saucepan. Whisk together half-and-half and egg yolks. Gradually whisk egg mixture into sugar mixture; bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil 1 minute; remove from heat.

Stir in butter, 1 cup coconut, and 1 t. vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap, placing plastic wrap directly on filling in pan; let stand 30 minutes. Spoon custard mixture into prepared crust, cover and chill 30 minutes or until set.

Beat whipping cream at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy; gradually add 1/3 cup sugar and remaining 1 ½ t. vanilla, beating until soft peaks form. Spread or pipe whipped cream over pie filling. Garnish, if desired.


Smoked Turkey Soup

Freeze your leftover turkey with some meat still on the bones. I always use the carcass of a turkey to make broth. But never has that broth turned into anything as magical as this soup! The secret is the smoke. I’m sure a roasted turkey would also turn into nice soup, but that smoky barbecue flavor is what makes this soup delish. You can make it a week later or pull the frozen bird out of the freezer months after the big event for a reminder of the holiday gone past. 

1 smoked turkey carcass, frozen

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped celery

1 potato, diced

1 small onion, diced

1 ½ t. salt

1 ½ t. pepper

1 ½ c. wild rice

1 stick of butter

2 T. flour

2 cans evaporated milk

Cover the turkey with water and heat to a simmer. This will take a couple hours on low heat. Pull out the turkey and, with a fork, remove any meat still on the bones. It should fall off easily once it’s been simmering for a while. Try to collect 1-2 cups of diced turkey. (Doesn’t have to be pretty!) Measure 12 cups of broth into a crock pot, and put the rest aside for another day. Add diced meat, veggies, salt, and pepper to the broth. Set it on low and let it go for about 4 hours. About an hour and a half before supper, add the rice to the pot. Melt butter in a saucepan and whisk in the flour. You may use more or less according to your preference for thickness. When this has turned into a thick paste, pour in 2 cans of evaporated milk and keep stirring until it has thickened. Pour this into the crock pot and stir it all together. 

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