Thanksgiving: 3 Family Recipes

Thanksgiving has climbed the ranks to my favorite holiday over the years. It didn’t used to be. In fact, as a kid, I very much disliked boring old turkey, mashed potatoes and that dreaded gravy, and especially stuffing. Stuffing is one of those foods (like meatloaf) that got ruined early on and therefore was obliterated from my palate until adulthood. Now as an adult, I love to cook, there’s no candy involved, no stressful gift giving, and best of all, it’s a day in which to take stock of our many blessings.

Like any holiday that involves food, there are traditions that make it to the table every year, come hell or high water. I don’t know about your family, but we don’t mess with recipes that have been handed down by generations. Except maybe the turkey gravy made from the giblets that my maternal grandma used to make. Giblets are the turkey equivalent to Bologna and who would even make gravy out of that? That right there is the reason I don’t do gravy; any gravy. Ever.

With the exception of gravy and green bean casserole (which are both of the devil), our family traditions include Raquel Elmore’s sausage stuffing, Grandma Lummie’s yams, and strawberry pretzel salad (which we still haven’t decided whether it’s a side dish or a dessert). Yes, we have all the other fixings of a turkey dinner, but the afore-mentioned are the pillars of the feast, other than the turkey. Just so you know, I now buy Kosher turkeys because a) they are killed humanely and b) there are no nasty giblets hiding in a bag in there..



Strawberry Pretzel Salad

2 cups crushed pretzels
1/4 cup melted butter
3 Tablespoons sugar
8 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
8 oz. Cool Whip (thawed)
1 6 oz. strawberry jello
2 cups boiling water
16 oz. frozen strawberries

Mix first 3 ingredients together and press into a 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Cool.
Beat the cream cheese, sugar and Cool Whip together and spread over pretzel crust. Chill for at least an hour.
Dissolve jello in the boiling water. Stir in strawberries and let set for 10 minutes. Pour over cheese/Cool Whip layer and chill at least two hours, if not overnight until ready to serve.
This is perfect to make ahead and refrigerate! One less thing to make on the actual holiday 😉


Raquel’s Sausage Stuffing

This recipe is from a good friend of the family’s who is not just a stupendous cook, but gives of her talent as well. She was the one lady in a large church where you would feign illness just so she would bring food. I’ve modified the recipe from the original, but this stuffing is what made me love stuffing again!

1/4 cup garlic oil or EVOO
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
10 oz. mushrooms
Mirepoix (1/4 cup each chopped carrot, onion, celery)
2 16 oz. packages turkey sausage
1 batch of homemade corn bread (I use Trader Joes mix)
1/4 cooking sherry (I use or local triple cream sherry)
32 oz. low sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning

In a large stockpot, sauté the Mirepoix, garlic and mushrooms in the garlic oil and butter until soft. Add the turkey sausage and cook, breaking up with a spatula. Add the sherry and cook until the sausage is in tiny crumbles. Pour in the chicken broth and add poultry seasoning.
Meanwhile, cut the cornbread into tiny chunks. Mine is baked in a 8×8 pan the day before.
When the sausage mixture is boiling, add the cornbread and mix thoroughly to allow the bread to absorb completely. Pour into a greased casserole and/or stuff turkey and bake at 350 until brown.

Grandma Lummie’s Yams

5 or 6 yams
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
12 oz. evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups raisins
1/2 cup pecans (or whatever nut you prefer)
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice

Scrub the yams and prick with a fork. Bake in a 350 degree 2 hours until they are extremely soft and juice is oozing. After they are cool, scrape the skins off and mash the yams. I do this part ahead of time and put the yams in a Ziploc until I’m ready to make the rest of the casserole.
Mix together the cooked yams, eggs, sugar, milk, raisins, nuts and spices. Spread the yams in a casserole dish and bake in a 350 degree oven for an hour.


Happy Thanksgiving from our kitchen to yours!



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Categories: Meals, Traditions


Diligent seeker of health and nutrition, Paleo follower, and creative culinary practicer...


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