Fakesgiving – Food and Friends to be Thankful For

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Back in the early 90s, living in Florida away from family was tough.  We couldn’t always take time off during the holidays, so we spent quite a few Thanksgivings and Christmases by ourselves.

We invented Fakesgiving as a way to celebrate when we had family or friends with us.  My dad and stepmom came down one year a month before Thanksgiving, and I was so excited to have the visit, we made Thanksgiving dinner.  We coined the term Fakesgiving, and have been doing it ever since.

Through the years, some recipes have been really successful.  Others, not so much.  We’ve had guests bring things that I can’t imagine not having on the table, even when those guests can’t be with us.  Below are some of the recipes that are always repeat guests o the table.  If you don’t see one you think you’d like, let me know.  I also do sweet potatoes with pecan topping, kielbasa and sauerkraut, stuffed mushrooms, and more!

broccoli casserole

Broccoli Casserole

  • 1 pound broccoli, cut into pieces (or one bag frozen – which is way easier)
  • 1 (10.75 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar
  • 1 stick (1/4 lb.) salted butter, cut into pieces
  • Pepper
  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed (1/3 of a 12 oz. box)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Mist a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Steam broccoli until crisp-tender, 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of ice water.
  3. Mix soup, eggs, mayonnaise, cheese, butter and pepper in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until melted and combined.
  4. Drain broccoli; spread evenly in baking dish. Pour cheese mixture on top. Sprinkle with crackers. Bake for 30 minutes.

creamed corn

Crockpot Creamed Corn

  • 3 bags (12 oz each) Green Giant™ Steamers™ Niblets® frozen whole kernel corn
  • 4 packages (3 oz each) cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  •  Spread corn over bottom of 3- to 4-quart slow cooker. Top with cream cheese cubes.
  • In small bowl, stir together remaining ingredients; pour over corn and cream cheese.Cover; cook on High heat setting 2 to 3 hours.
  • Stir well before serving. Corn will hold on Low heat setting up to 2 hours; stir occasionally.

sausage stuffing

Sausage Stuffing

  • 1 pound mild or sage breakfast sausage
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup) butter
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped celery
  • 10 cups cubed French bread or white bread
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried leaf sage, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • dash freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups chicken broth

Lightly butter a 9×13-inch baking dish. Heat oven to 350°.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage, breaking up and stirring frequently, until sausage is no longer pink. Use the same skillet and melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are softened.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the bread cubes with the herbs and seasonings. Add the vegetables with the butter and the drained sausage. Stir in chicken broth until well moistened, but not mushy. Pack gently into the prepared baking dish and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and broil for about 3 to 4 minutes, or just until browned on top.

Thanksgiving, Fakesgiving, Second Time Around Saturday – OH MY!

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As many of you know, I do not always do Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving day.  As your children get older and enjoy the holidays with their own families or in-laws; or when your own holiday is split among parents, grandparents, in-laws and siblings scattered all over the country, it may be necessary to do Fakesgiving, a holiday I can celebrate with my kids, no matter what their Thanksgiving plans are.

And planning is crucial!  Whether you eat your turkey on Turkey Day or another day that works better for your gang, it’s important to be ready without being stressed.  As always, FoodNetwork.com comes to the rescue!  The planning tips, menu suggestions, and fabulous recipes make planning Thanksgiving – or Fakesgiving – a breeze.  If you haven’t visited Food Network Thanksgiving Countdown Planner – you still have time!

photo courtesy of FoodNetwork.com

photo courtesy of FoodNetwork.com

Just a handful of FoodNetwork.com tips include:

1 Week Before: Shop for Nonperishables
Divide up your shopping list into perishables and nonperishables and get the latter out of the way now. Nonperishables include equipment, decor, paper goods and cleaning supplies – but could also include baking ingredients like flour, sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, canned pumpkin and cranberries. Wait until the day before Thanksgiving to buy fresh vegetables, seafood and bread. Take inventory of tableware, tablecloths and napkins in case you need to pick up anything extra, and make sure each recipe has a serving bowl or platter to be paired with.

1 Week Before: Prepare a Cooking Schedule and Create a Seating Plan
Being organized is the key to keeping stress at a minimum on turkey day. Review your recipes and create a day-by-day schedule for the week leading up to Thanksgiving as well as a day-of plan. Make place cards for your guests if you’ll be hosting a sit-down meal and figure out a seating plan.

1 Week Before: Plan Ahead for Leftovers
Make it easy on yourself (and guests) by having containers and bags at the ready. Leftovers will need to be wrapped up within a few hours of finishing your meal, so better to be prepared.

1 Week Before: Pick Up Your Turkey
If you’ve ordered a turkey, now is the time to pick it up so you can be prepped to defrost it. If you haven’t planned for your turkey yet, purchase a frozen bird today so it will be able to defrost properly in the fridge.

3 Days Before: Defrost Your Turkey and Buy Perishable Ingredients
Thawing a frozen turkey takes time and patience. The best way is to thaw the bird in the coldest area of the fridge with a pan underneath to catch any drips (not on the counter). If you plan on brining (a simple, hands-off way to infuse your turkey with flavor), Anne Burrell’s recipe maximizes taste but minimizes prep with a no-cook apple cider brine. Now is also the time to brave the crowds and pick up any perishable items from the store.

2 Days Before: Make Cranberry Sauce, Pie Crusts and Pie
Try fresh cranberries instead of canned this year, and buy an extra bag when you’re in the produce aisle; they keep in your freezer for up to a year. Cranberry sauce can stay fresh in the fridge up to 2 weeks because of its high acidity, so make it now and refrigerate it in a jar or bowl covered in plastic wrap. If you didn’t freeze your pie crusts ahead of time, make them today and wrap the dough to store in the fridge. If you’ve prepped items and kept them in the freezer, take them out to defrost. This includes any pie crusts or stock you made in advance.

1 Day Before: Prepare Reheatable Side Dishes, Prep Ingredients, Bake Pies
Start to make sides that will reheat well, like casseroles or creamed onions. Prep garnishes, toppings, salad greens and stuffing ingredients. Cook soups and let cool before storing in the refrigerator if you didn’t freeze any options in advance. If your stuffing recipe calls for stale bread, cut the bread now and set the cubes on a baking sheet to dry out. You can go ahead and make your pies, especially Ree Drummond’s Pecan Pie that needs to cool overnight for a natural do-ahead dessert.

Thanksgiving Day: Don’t Stress! Stick to a Day-Of Plan
Preheat your oven in the morning and get your turkey going. If you premade bread, let it defrost at room temperature. Put your wine or beer in the fridge to chill. While the turkey roasts, prepare your other side dishes since they can stand at room temperature for an hour or keep in the fridge. When the turkey is done, let it rest while you make the gravy, reheat side dishes and prep salads.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get started!  And yeah, I’m just getting started!

Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Fakesgiving, Happy Second Time Around Saturday!  No matter what you celebrate, as long as you have a loving family, good friends, and great food, you have a lot to be Thankful for!

Merry Christmas Poop-Poop

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Fakesgiving, followed by Thanksgiving, followed by two term papers.  That’s on top of the normal hectic pace of being a mom with three kids, two dogs, one husband, and a great gig with The Mouse.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

In the whirlwind that was the month of November, I decided to pick one of the busiest weekends to order my Christmas cards.  I started, got interrupted, and wandered off.  I came back, started again, and had to go feed someone’s hungry.  I tried again, loaded a few pictures, typed a word, and loaded a dishwasher.

Such is the life of a mom.

After three days with the website up on my computer in various stages of completion, I finally placed my order for my holiday cards.  They turned out so cute, and I was so proud of myself!  I was tickled when I got the email from Walgreens, saying my cards were done!

I opened the box, and just beamed with how cute my girls looked in their pictures.

Then I saw it.  My daughter’s name was misspelled.

Remember the box on the final page of the order that said “Did you preview your card?”  Yeah, I thought I had at some point over the weekend, and I clicked it. But I hadn’t.

Thank goodness it was the kid who’s name is most often misspelled by family and friends, so I doubt anyone would notice if I hadn’t blogged about it.  But yeah, there won’t be a mother of the year trophy on my mantle.  Again.

I’m just worried now that I also didn’t preview the t-shirt I ordered for Pop-pop…..

30 Days of Thanks – Day 17 – Thankful for Leftovers

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You know how you have a party catered, and you have just enough food to make everyone at your party satisfied, but very little left over afterwards to clean up?

Yeah, that never happens when I cook for a party.

I live in constant fear that a small island nation is going to shipwreck on my doorstep, and I will need to feed them in the middle of a party.  If they come any other time, I’ll throw a few cans of soup at them and see if they’re able to open them with those giant machetes they are carrying, but I just know they’re going to arrive during a party, so I make sure there is enough food to feed them.

With Fakesgiving last weekend, I didn’t have to cook a real meal through Tuesday.  We ate leftover turkey and side dishes, and we even had potato pancakes one night when everyone was tired of turkey.

When the turkey was past it’s usable prime, I moved on to using up the ingredients I bought to make other things that had to be chopped due to time constraints at the last minute.  The rest of the week, we enjoyed grape pizza, bacon and swiss dip, and sun dried tomato jelly with goat cheese on crostini.

Yum.  And it’s not even real cooking.

I am so thankful that I suck at properly planning how much food I’ll need to feed a crowd.  We’ve had an awesome week of party leftovers.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 10 – Fakesgiving

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The made up holiday, designed to allow my children to be home with me to celebrate “Thanksgiving” when they get older, while allowing them to spend the actual holiday “day” spending it where they’d rather be, has taken on a new meaning over the past couple of years that we’ve hosted.  Initially, it was just us, our family of five, fighting around the turkey, just like it really was Thanksgiving.  Someone was poking someone else; someone didn’t like peas; someone didn’t want someone else touching them; someone shouldn’t have hidden Mommy’s medicine that stops her eye from twitching.

A year later, with grandparents that hadn’t seen their college aged granddaughter since the summer, we decided to extend the invitation to grandparents.  All went well, no one got hurt.

This year, we included extended family and friends, and honestly, it just keeps getting better.

My mom, who has been so sick the past three years, came and saw my new kitchen for the first time since we redid it almost two years ago.  Neighbors from our old South Philadelphia neighborhood – that we hadn’t seen since 1976 – were here enjoying catching up on what’s transpired in 36 years.  Old friends that have become family and newer friends who we could not love more if they were family joined us in the stress free, no food fight Fakesgiving festivities, and it was awesome!

Day 10 of my 30 days of thanks is just that I am so thankful that we are surrounded by such amazing people.  The love and laughter that filled my house yesterday will carry me through the rest of the stress filled holiday season.