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!

30 Days of Thanks – Day 19 – Thankful for Potato Salad

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I asked my mother one day for her potato salad recipe.  It was the one she used, which was the one my grandmother used, and as far as I know, it could be a recipe that has spanned even more generations in my family.

One of the ingredients used in the recipe, according to my mother, was one capful of white vinegar.  This was for five pounds of potato salad.

Every time I made the salad, following precisely what my mother had told me to do, she would tell me there was something wrong.  I could never figure it out.  I used the same brands of mayonnaise and bacon she did.  I used the potatoes she recommended and sliced my celery so thin, it only had one side.  I sprinkled with celery seed.  What was I missing?

One holiday, my sister Bean was at my house, and yet again, I was giving my mother’s potato salad recipe a go.  I cooked, I peeled, I chopped, I assembled.  Then it was time for the cap of vinegar.  I carefully measured, not one drop more or less than exactly one capful.

Bean looked at me.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m putting the vinegar in the potato salad.”

“That’s not enough.”

“Yes it is.  Mommy said she uses one cap of vinegar.”

“Well, yeah, she uses the cap, but she pours the vinegar into the cap and lets it drizzle over the sides of the cap onto the whole potato salad.  She probably puts a good quarter of a cup in there.”

……….

You can see now why I will never be a good cook.

But aside from my failing to understand that “one cap” meant “one quarter of a cup”, I love the fact that I now know how to make this potato salad.  I hope one day, one of my kids will want to learn how to make it.

Food is one of the ways we stay connected to previous generations.  I consistently put onto my family’s table food that came from my mom, one of my grandmoms, or even an aunt or uncle.  And as I prepare it, I feel the connection.  I watch my hands chop onions for clam sauce, and I can almost see my mom’s hand, when I was a kid, doing it for her sauce.  As I mix my crab cakes, I can remember my Aunt Annie making her’s, and it sends a flood of memories of her over me, wrapping me up like a warm blanket.

Today, I am thankful for potato salad.  And for the women in my life who have shared this connections with me.

My mom, my cousin Dolly, my sister, and my daughters - along with my stepdad