Archive for the ‘Thanksgiving’ Category

How to Brine a Turkey 

This is my first year to brine a turkey.  I used the largest pot I have – it probably holds at least 3 gallons of water.  You can buy the brining bags at the grocery during the holiday season.  Since I think it’s ridiculous to pay the price Kroger was asking for theirs, I simply let my turkey soak in that huge pot that I used to make the brine.  

In huge pot add: turkey-brine-2

  • 2 gallons water (I filtered mine – but I’m an O/C type)
  • Zest of one orange + slices of remaining orange
  • Zest of one lemon + slices of remaining lemon
  • 1 package fresh rosemary (from Kroger produce section)
  • 1 package fresh thyme (from Kroger produce section)
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 apple cut and diced
  • 1 ½ – 2 cups of salt
  • Toss in a few peppercorns if you have them
  • 4-5 bay leaves 

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn off heat immediately, cover, and allow mixture to come to room temperature. Cool mixture in the fridge until you’re ready to brine (I’m always in a hurry and added some ice to the brine).

To brine the turkey, remove turkey from wrapper, remove gross bags, and rinse thoroughly under cool water. Place the turkey into a plastic brining bag OR a very large pot. Pour cool brine mixture over the top, adding extra cold water if you need more to cover. Seal bag or cover pot and allow turkey to brine in refrigerator for 8 to 18 hours before roasting.

Before roasting, remove turkey from brine and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Pat dry. Discard brine.

When you brine your turkey, the drippings are quite salty. For this reason, it is VERY important that you use a no-sodium (or low-sodium) chicken broth when you make the turkey gravy.

Many frozen turkeys are injected with a sodium solution—it’s best NOT to brine these turkeys! Brining fresh turkeys for best results


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Organic Pumpkin Bread (Wheat and Gluten Free)

Don’t be afraid to vary the kind of flour used in some recipes. This is my mother’s original pumpkin bread recipe, which I traditionally make around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Since I am trying to reduce inflammation in my body – I am eliminating wheat from my diet. The original recipe called for 3 cups of plain white flour. I substituted half oat and half spelt flour. I was amazed at the taste of the pumpkin bread – and I do not miss the wheat! I was able to find all organic ingredients too. However you can easily use plain white flour and regular ingredients if you cannot find the organic ones.

This recipe will fill 2 regular loaf pans. However, I like to make the mini loaves and give as gifts. The recipe will make around 8 mini loaves, depending on the size of the little pans.

Sift together in large bowl these dry ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ cup organic oat flour
  • 1 ¾ cup organic spelt flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 ½ teaspoons nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cloves

In another bowl mix these ingredients:pumpkin-bread-slice

  • 3 cups organic sugar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 4 organic eggs (slightly beaten)
  • 1 can organic pumpkin (or 2 cups frozen puree)

Add to liquid mixture:

  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 cup chopped dates

Now add liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir until well blended.

Bake at 350 degrees. The large loaves will take 50-60 minutes. The mini loaves will need at around 25-30 minutes. Bread is done when a clean toothpick insert in the middle comes out without batter on it.

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Pumpkin Gingersnap Cheesecake



In a food processor or blender add:

  • 1 pound package Gingersnap Cookies

Pulse or blend until cookies are crumbled smooth. Then add:

  • 1 stick real butter – melted
  • ½ cup pecan pieces
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • Dash of salt

Pulse or blend briefly.

Press into a 9” springform pan. Cover the bottom of the pan, and press crumbs up onto sides of pan too (saving a few for a garnish).

Chill crust while preparing the filling.


Pumpkin Pie filling:

In large mixing bowl cream well:

  • 4 8oz packages cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 2 cups sugar

Scrape sides of bowl and beat some more then add:

  • 1 15 oz can pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)

Then add

  • 4 eggs, one at a time, beating mixture until each egg is blended well.

Next add then blend:

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • Finally add and beat:
  • ¼ cup real whipping cream

Remove crust from fridge.

Pour 1 cup of caramel pieces over crust(Kraft makes these caramel ball pieces, unwrapped).
Add a handful of pecan pieces and sprinkle over caramels.

Pour pumpkin cheesecake filling over caramel and pecans. Smooth on top.

Bake 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on countertop. Best if refrigerated at least 24 hours before serving.

Garnish with caramel sauce, pecans, crushed gingersnaps and a generous dollop of real whipping cream. Eat, Faint, Repeat.

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Blue Ribbon Carrot Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease and flour a 9×13 pan or 2 round 9” pans. Set pans aside.

Sift together in mixing bowl

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt

In separate mixing bowl add and mix well:

  • 3 beaten eggs
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Then add and stir well:

  • Flour mixture
  • 1 8 oz can drained crushed pineapple
  • 2-3 cups raw grated carrots (I pulse mine in food processor to save my knuckles!)
  • 3 ½ oz (about a cup) shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (I don’t like walnuts, so I substitute pecans)

Pour batter into pan(s). If using round pans, test cakes after 30 minutes. If a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean – they are done. Cake batter put in a 9×13 pan will require up to 50 minutes to bake. Ovens vary – so rely on the toothpick test! Remove from pans when cake is cool. Then frost with Cream Cheese Frosting. Chill and keep refrigerated.


Cream Cheese Frosting:

In large mixing bowl, beat until creamy:

  • 1 stick real butter (room temperature)
  • 1 8 oz package cream cheese (room temperature)

Then add and beat until smooth:

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons orange juice or milk

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Best Broccoli Casserole Ever

Spray a 9×9” baking dish with oil, or grease with butter.

Preheat oven to 325.

Empty 1 16oz package frozen broccoli cuts into 9×9 baking dish.

In large bowl add:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped onion (or use dried flakes)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper (if desired)

Pour liquid mixture over frozen broccoli. Add topping. Bake for 30 minutes. Serves 8-10.


  • 1 cup Ritz Cracker crumbs
  • ½ stick melted butter

Melt butter in medium size bowl. Add cracker crumbs and toss to coat. Sprinkle evenly on top of casserole.

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 Corn Pudding

My Grandmother Armstrong always put up bushels of Silver Queen Corn. Oh, how we all loved her corn. For holidays and special occasions, Granny would whip up a dish of corn pudding. I never did get her recipe, but this one rivals Granny’s.

For this recipe, you can use canned whole kernel, and canned creamed corn. However, I use my cut off the cob, frozen Peaches and Cream corn from the garden. The frozen corn can be defrosted quickly in the microwave. I use about 5 cups – but the recipe is forgiving if there is a little more, or a little less.

 In small bowl combine and set aside:

  •  ½ cup sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Seasoned Salt
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon dried minced onion

 In large mixing bowl combine:

  • 5 cups garden frozen corn, or 1 can whole kernel corn plus 2 can cream style corn
  • 5 lightly beaten eggs

 Mix well and add the dry ingredients to the corn and eggs. Stir until blended.

 Then add and mix well:

  •  ½ cup milk
  • 1 stick melted butter

 Pour into greased 9×13 casserole dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour, stirring once while cooking.

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 Sinful Sweet Potatoes


  • 3 cups cooked sweet potatoes, mashed
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • ½ stick melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)


Beat all ingredients together and pour into a greased 2-quart casserole dish. Cover with topping and bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.



  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup flaked coconut


Combine topping ingredients and mix until crumbly. Sprinkle over potatoes before baking.

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