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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Recipes for the Holiday a/k/a Helping Ava

Thanksgiving is still three weeks away, but it is never too early to start planning that perfect meal, especially if you happen to be Ava Stone.  If you are familiar with her past posts on LadyScribes, Tweets or FB comments, you will know that she does NOT cook.  Ava's idea of a perfect meal is usually listed on any number of take-out menus in her possession. However, this year she is cooking *gasp* Thanksgiving Dinner.
A Thanksgiving dinner is not a simple meal nor your ordinary dinner.  On this day it should be a bounty that leaves you wishing you had worn sweat pants to dinner because you are so uncomfortable after it is finished you are not sure you will ever eat again. Yet, you still find room for a piece of pie. It is Thanksgiving after all and it wouldn’t be complete without pie. You might as well take away football and the Macy’s parade if you aren’t going to eat pie, reducing it to just another day.

Thanksgiving is an American holiday to gather together and give thanks for everything we have. I call it blessings, other may have a different term.  Regardless of how you view this holiday, whether it be watching bowl games, parades or simply getting together with friends and/or family, it comes down to one important element – the meal.

So, to help Ava prepare, I’ve ask the LadyScribes to provide me with their favorite recipe for the holidays so hopefully, by the time you are done reading this, you and she will have an entire menu plan.

Jane Charles - The Turkey

I am starting off with the Turkey.  Many people shy way or are even fearful of cooking a turkey. They are afraid it won’t be done in time or it will be dry, or any number of problems. Since I can remember, my mother, and then me, has cooked the perfect turkey. Always moist and delicious. Of course, there was that one year (when we realized that mom's dementia was taking over after my husband went to my mother’s house to put the turkey in the oven because it was too heavy for her and it didn’t get done because she turned the oven off after he left, but we won’t discuss that).  I have the perfect recipe for a perfect turkey. I wish I could claim it for my own, but it is my mother’s, by way of Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. My copy dates back 20+ years and I think the copyright page has disappeared along the way. But, when cooking a turkey, this is the book I turn to. The picture and link is for the newer version but I can only assume (hope) this foil-wrapped turkey guide is still within the pages. Amazon Better Homes and Gardens

Put the turkey breast up in the center of greased, wide, heavy-duty foil. Cover it so that none of the turkey is exposed. I like to put it in the center of a large piece of aluminum foil (it is usually two pieces crossed) and make sure everything is wrapped and comes together at the top and no place else.  Double check that there is no gaps in the foil. The turkey needs to be completely sealed within.

Place it in a baking pan, cake pan, roasting pan or anything that fits, and check the book for the temp of oven, and length of time for the turkey.  The turkey I cook takes about 2 ½ hours (yes, that is the accurate time). I haven't compared it to cooking times without the foil, but I am fairly certain the cooking time is almost cut in half. During the last 20 minutes uncover the top of the turkey to brown it. I guarantee it will be a perfect turkey. I promise you that a foil wrapped turkey will be the moistest you have ever eaten. I prepared it this way for my mother-in-law one Christmas Eve and she was shocked I was taking the turkey out of the oven so soon and she was convinced it would not be done because I didn’t cook it long enough. But it was and claimed it to be the moistest turkey she had ever eaten.

Side note, make sure the turkey is thawed before cooking.

Christi Caldwell's Cranberry Sauce

This recipe has been passed down my family and is the only cranberry sauce I ever eat! It's super easy and quick...and delicious!

--2 bags of whole cranberries
--1 large orange with thinner skin
--1 bag of walnuts
--1 cup of sugar

1. Rinse cranberries, careful to remove any stems. Place all cranberries in a food processor.

2. Cut up orange (with peel still on) into small pieces. Add pieces into food processor.
3. Add bag of walnuts and cup of sugar to the food processor.
4. Use chop setting; five pulses. Then continue to use pulse setting until all ingredients have a relish like quality!

Deb Marlowe:  Sweet Potato Casserole

Being a Northern girl transplanted to the South, I discovered this traditional Southern dish soon after we moved to North Carolina.  It's a staple around here, but even my Yankee family loved it after I shared it with them!
  • 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • .
  • Topping:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup chopped pecans


Combine first 6 ingredients. Pour into a buttered 1 1/2 to 2-quart casserole dish. Mix remaining ingredients together and sprinkle over top. Bake at 350° for 30 to 40 minutes, until hot and browned.
Serves 6 to 8.

Jerrica Knight-Catania: Broccoli Casserole

My mom got this recipe from a cookbook when I was a little girl and it has been my FAVORITE ever since! I can't get enough of it, which is why I only make it twice a year: Christmas and Thanksgiving...otherwise, I'd be as round as I am tall! 

That's him on the left, next to my sweet potato casserole
And there he is on the right, between the corn and the potatoes
2 packages frozen chopped broccoli, thawed (my mom likes to mix in florets these days, but that's optional)
1 egg
1 cup mayo
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 package Saltines
1/4 stick butter
Set the oven to 350 and grease your casserole dish (I use Pam.) Combine egg, mayo, cheese and soup, then fold in broccoli a little at a time. Pour into casserole dish. Crush saltines and sprinkle over the top so they cover entire casserole. (I sometimes sprinkle a little extra cheese on top too.) Dab pats of butter on top of crumbled crackers. Bake for about an hour. 

Andris Bear: Pumpkin Fudge

You read that right--pumpkin. Fudge. It is amazing! Every bite melts in your mouth!

 Spiced Pumpkin Fudge


  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine
  • 2/3 cup (5 fl.-oz. can) evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup 100% pure pumpkin (canned)
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) white morsel chips
  • 1 jar (7 oz.) marshmallow crème
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract  


    LINE 13 x 9-inch baking pan with foil.

    COMBINE sugar, brown sugar, evaporated milk, pumpkin, butter and spice in medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 10 to 12 minutes or until candy thermometer reaches 234° to 240º F (soft-ball stage).

    QUICKLY STIR in morsels, marshmallow crème, nuts and vanilla extract. Stir vigoriously for 1 minute or until morsels are melted. Immediately pour into prepared pan. Let stand on wire rack for 2 hours or until completely cooled. Refrigerate tightly covered. To cut, lift from pan; remove foil. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Makes about 3 pounds.

    1 2/3 cups (11-oz. pkg.) NESTLE® TOLL HOUSE® Butterscotch Flavored Morsels for Premier White Morsels.
Jennifer Lohmann - Caramelized Pumpkin Trifle

I'm sure many people would consider this sacrilegious, but if you come over to my house for Thanksgiving, you are going to get the Caramelized Pumpkin Trifle (http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/caramelized-pumpkin-trifle) from Food & Wine Magazine, not a pumpkin pie. It's not my recipe, so I can't really reproduce it here on this blog, but as encouragement, let me tell you why this is awesome.
A trifle, for those of you who've never had one, is a dessert layered with a cake, pudding, and a fruit jelly of some sort, plus whipped cream on top. This delicious trifle replaces the cake with either a pumpkin or gingerbread, has a cinnamon pudding, and uses candied pumpkin (which I always replaced with sweet potato because it's easier to cut). The whole thing in all of its layered glory is then topped with whipped cream and candied ginger. The trifle has the classic flavor of a pie, with more spice and oomph to it. And it's pretty.
Not only is the trifle something you can make ahead and assemble, but I've always thought it was better the next day or even two days later, when the whole thing has gotten a little soggy and the flavors have mushed together (since the two-day old trifle is a bit gauche, saying the flavors has "melded" is too fancy).
Have a sold you on it yet?

Judi Fennell: Pineapple Soufflé

Here is my grandmother's pineapple souffle. We serve it warm on Thanksgiving and chilled on Easter. :)

Pineapple Soufflé
1/4 pound butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
5 slices white bread, cubed w/crusts on
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time beating until light in color. Add crushed pineapple and cubed bread. Pour into greased casserole dish, approximately 9-inch square, and bake uncovered for 45 minutes - a butter knife in the center should come out clean and dry when it is done. Serves 9-12.

Samantha Grace's Apricot Rosemary Parsnips and Carrots

6 T. margarine, softened
3 T. apricot preserves
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 pounds carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 pounds parsnips, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste

Process butter, preserves, and rosemary in a food processor until smooth. Toss carrots, parsnips, salt, and 3 Tablespoons apricot mixture in a bowl. Cover a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Spread carrots and parsnips on the pan in a single layer. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Stir and bake until tender. (Approximately 20 more minutes) Remove from oven, transfer to a serving dish, toss with remaining apricot mixture, and season with pepper.

Suzanne Johnson: Lane Cake

This is an Alabama favorite, and even featured in To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee lives not far from me, in fact). My mom made it every holiday when I was growing up, and I've tried to take up the cause! 


3 ¼ cups sifted cake flour
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1 – 16 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
8 egg whites
1 cup milk
*On wax paper sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla. Add egg whites, in four additions, beating thoroughly after each addition.
Fold in flour mixture alternately with milk; begin and end with dry ingredients. Batter should be smooth but look slightly granular.
Turn into 4 ungreased 9-inch round layer-cake pans lined on the bottom with wax paper. If you like a little more cake and a little less frosting, you can do three layers.
Bake in a 375-degree oven until edges shrink slightly from sides of pans and tops spring back when gently pressed with finger, or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean — about 20 minutes. Place pans on wire racks to cool for about 5 minutes.
Turn out on wire racks; remove wax paper; turn right side up; cool completely.
Put layers together (on a cake plate) with Lane Cake Filling, stacking carefully; spread filling over top. If you want the sides frosted as well, you can cover with a basic boiled icing or make an extra half recipe of the filling to coat the sides (this is what I do).

8 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
½ cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup seedless raisins, finely chopped
1/3 cup bourbon (Black Jack can't be beat)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 bag of marshmallows. 

In a 2-quart saucepan, beat the egg yolks well; beat in sugar and butter. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly until quite thick. Remove from heat; stir in raisins, bourbon and vanilla. Cool slightly and spread between cooled cake layers (don't wait too long or the icing will be too thick to spread; if that happens, hand-mix in some extra melted butter...or bourbon.

Suzy Grant: Candied Yams

This is a recipe that's passed down through my family over the many generations. It's tradition in my house. And it's simple. Even for people like me who hate to cook.

1 can of yams
1 egg
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 stick of butter
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

Preheat over to 350. Heat up the yams and then drain. Grease a round casserole dish. Combine ingredients and smash the yams in the mixture. Mixing well. Pour mixture in the casserole dish and flattened with a spoon. Bake for 25 minutes. Take out and add marshmallows, the bake for another 5 minutes until they are melted and browned. Lots of gooey deliciousness and the kids really love it.  

There are only two items missing that make up my usual Thanksgiving meal: Mashed Potatoes and Stuffing. But, since Ava will already be at her wits end with the above recipes, I suggest she simply buy a box of Potato Spuds and Stove Top Stuffing.  They are about the easiest thing you can fix and will round out the meal. Oh, and I also notice there is no "pie".  Those can be purchased from any bakery or even get one from the frozen section and cook it up.  I do have a confession. I don't really like pie and hardly ever eat it. However, if I attend a Thanksgiving meal and one is not included, it just doesn't feel like Thanksgiving.

There you have it!  Whose mouth isn't watering or has a grumbling stomach after reading this?  What is your favorite dish. Share your recipe with us and Ava.


  1. Yum! I may show up on your door at Thanksgiving Ava!

    Thanks for sharing recipes, everyone. Jennifer, yes, you convinced me. I do a Gingerbread and toffee trifle recipe for Christmas. Yours sounds wonderful.

    Sam--my kids would love your recipe. We sauté parsnips, carrots and onion regularly for a side dish. They love it.

  2. I'm excited about Thanksgiving this year. I usually do the pies. The best place for a pie recipe is Better Homes & Gardens 1942 cookbook. When making egg-based pies, follow the order of ingredients exactly. I can't stress this enough . Especially custard. For some reason, order matters more in this than it does in any other recipe that know. Anyway, it is just going to be our little family this year. I'm getting a small turkey and instead of traditional bread dressing, I'm going to make some rice. I'm looking forward to some very simple turkey and mashed taters. And only two pies :)

    1. Amanda,
      Thanks for the tip about following the exact order. I'm not a baker because things don't always turn out the greatest. I'm probably not doing it in the right order or exact enough. :)

    2. Amanda,

      I think my Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook is opened more than any other cookbook in the house. Pages have torn and been taped together, new circles around the holes (it is a binder type book), etc. I am too afraid to buy a replacement / newer version for fear the some recipes may be missing, or changed.

  3. I'm not sure what we will do for Thanksgiving, but last year my husband's brother and his wife hosted. They have always gotten together with her family and merged the two last year. This will be my first Thanksgiving since I gave up meat, so it should be interesting. I've always loved the side-dishes best anyway, but I'm pretty sure stuffing is made with meat broth. And I refuse to eat fake meat. It's unnatural!

    I want to make the pumpkin fudge!!!

  4. From the bottom of my heart... Thank you all for the great receipies. :) Now if I can just make them...

    1. Of course you can, and will. But, maybe you better put each of us on speed dial in case of a minor emergency ;)

  5. Replies
    1. Di,
      I've already printed them off and put them with my recipes. Can't wait to try something new.

  6. What delicious recipes! I’m keeping each and every one of them. Thank you so much!

  7. I'm waiting for someone to volunteer to cook all this and invite us over! We're, in true Southern style, having barbecue and fixin's the Sunday before Thanksgiving with the extended family. So Thanksgiving itself will be a lovely meal prepared by the gourmet chefs at...Publix!

    1. Suzanne, I'll be watching and waiting for that volunteer. Surely someone wants to invite us all over ;).

  8. I gained 15 pounds just reading this. ;)