Every Thanksgiving, the great dressing vs. stuffing debate seems to emerge again. People all over social media have been debating the difference between the two, all month. My very simplistic (and unverified) answer is this: Both words describe a bread based side dish, traditionally served alongside poultry but "stuffing" is baked inside the bird and "dressing" is baked in a separate dish.
At the risk of offending the stuffing fanatics everywhere, I'll admit that I'm partial to dressing. My reasons have much more to do with logistics than they do personal preference.
1. Stuffed turkeys take longer to cook and honestly, who has extra time for cooking on Thanksgiving?
2. Since stuffing is exposed to uncooked poultry, I have to take extra measures to ensure that the stuffing is thoroughly cooked before serving it to guests.
3. And maybe the biggest drawback of all - stuffing tends to be soggy and I'm more of a crunchy dressing person. 😬
I credit my Ohio roots with my definition of a traditional Thanksgiving dressing: bread cubes, herbs, onion and thin slices of celery. I can't remember a Thanksgiving as a kid, where we didn't have this type of side dish. Then I moved to the south and my eyes were opened to all sorts of new kinds of dressings. Dressings with spicy peppers, oysters and cornbread!
I'm all for nostalgic - especially when it comes to Thanksgiving but, curiosity's gotten the best of me this year. The thought of a cornbread based dressing was just so intriguing that I had to try it. I'm not skipping the traditional dressing though. Never fear - this year, they'll be two options - a cornbread and a more traditional dressing. This will be a good test to see which one my guests prefer. (I'll update you on that after Thanksgiving.)
1 1/4 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoon fresh sage, minced
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Freshly chopped parsley, for garnish
This cornbread dressing is crazy good but it takes a LOT of pans. I felt like I was washing dishes for days. So my advice to you is this, find yourself a reliable dishwashing assistant before you make this yummy Thanksgiving side dish.
I think we can all agree that we don't serve canned cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving because of its exquisite taste.🤣It's about sensation of the jellied fruit. There's something simultaneously soothing and also a little disturbing about the sound that the congealed fruit makes when it slides out onto a plate. The wiggle, the jiggle, the tin can ridges, the sound - canned cranberry sauce is a delight for all the senses.
When I was a kid, canned cranberry sauce was a staple on our Thanksgiving table and I loved everything about it ... except the flavor. 😅 There's just something nostalgic about it though and even though I hardly ever eat it - my Thanksgiving table just seem incomplete without it.
I've tried replacing the canned cranberry sauce with a homemade version but, it's never quite the same experience. Spiced cranberry sauce flavored with rich brandy and the sweetness of orange and clove is amazing but it lacks the shape and jiggle of its canned counterpart.
So, why has it never occurred to me before to make my delicious, homemade cranberry sauce and put it in a can? 🤷🏻♀️ Now I can have my jellied cranberry sauce - and eat it too. 😅
Jellied Cranberry Sauce
2 cups cranberry juice
3 cups (12 ounces) fresh cranberries
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Unmold with fingers and invert jelly onto plate.
Full disclosure: My first attempt at canned cranberry sauce was a complete failure. It wasn't even salvageable so... I dumped it down the drain and started again. The second time I used half the juice and it turned out perfectly. If you follow my recipe - make sure that you have 2 empty cans ready because you'll have enough filling for more than one. Enjoy!!
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I want to know - What's your jellied cranberry sauce? My mom served jellied cranberry sauce, straight out of the can, alongside the turkey and stuffing every year. I'm not sure how this tradition every started but no one ever questioned the presence of that jellied mass that maintained the shape and ridges of its original container. As far as I can recall, no one ever commented on how delicious it was or how it had the perfect "jiggle." That jellied cranberry sauce was expected to be on our Thanksgiving table just as much as the turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes.
When, I got married and took over the responsibilities of making my own Thanksgiving meal, I didn't see the point in buying the jellied cranberry sauce in a can. I never really ate it anyway so I opted for a fresh cranberry sauce instead. In an unexpected plot twist, I really missed that strange, can-shaped jelly cranberry sauce when it was absent from the Thanksgiving table. Maybe it was the strange sucking sound that it makes when it releases from the can, or maybe it's just because I had never celebrated Thanksgiving without it, but our holiday meal just wasn't the same without it.
I truly believe that every family has a jellied cranberry sauce. What is yours? What is that food that mysteriously appears on your Thanksgiving table every year without question or invitation? Tell me about those odd Thanksgiving dishes that make your meal unique.
If you're on the hook for preparing the Thanksgiving turkey for your family this year - never fear - I'm here to help. 🦃 My first piece of advice is to try out your turkey recipe on a chicken first. Roasting a test chicken is a great way to try out a new turkey recipe and test your oven. It can take less than an hour to roast a chicken and it's a great way to work out the kinks before the big day. This Spice Cabinet Roast Chicken would make a GREAT Thanksgiving turkey recipe. 😉 Double the ingredients for the spice rub and increase the cooking time and you're ready to make a DELICIOUS Thanksgiving turkey.
Spice Cabinet Roast Chicken
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon pepper
1 whole chicken
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Serve sauce with chicken.
I'm happy to report that my Thanksgiving practice meal was DELICIOUS! Apparently, I can use all the meat carving practice I can get before I try and cut our Thanksgiving bird. 😂
Everyone has a favorite dish that makes or breaks a Thanksgiving meal. One year, I tried to replace the traditional bowl of mashed potatoes with an "Amy" version of twice baked potatoes. 🥔To sum up the responce to my swap - there was a Thanksgiving Day revolt that year. 😂 Just in case you're curious about how this meal ended: There was so much protest over the lack of mashed potatoes that I ended up delaying dinner for 30 minutes while I whipped up a batch of peace keeping potatoes. 🤷🏻♀️
Everyone comes to the Thanksgiving table with a different "must have" dish. I usually ask people to bring the Thanksgiving side dish they can't live without. It's saves me the hassle of trying to figure out if my guests like their sweet potatoes savory with streusel or covered in marshmallows for more of a dessert flare. I feel like people are as opinionated about Thanksgiving food as they are the football games that are played after dinner. 🏈
As for me, as long as there's turkey on the table - the rest of the meal is just "icing on the cake." I like to get creative with my side dishes. Don't judge me but I'm thinking about adding carrot souffle and baked avocado fries to our Thanksgiving menu this year. 😬
On Thanksgiving Day, I'm much more concerned with what is (and isn't) on the dessert table than the dinner table. (My loyalty lies with the sugar.) Pumpkin pie, pecan squares, apple pie and turkey sugar cookies are all Thanksgiving essentials in my book. I also like to sneak in pumpkin roll, mini pumpkin butterscotch cakelets, triple chocolate mousse and cheesecake squares. Yes, I've been known to over due it on the Thanksgiving dessert menu. (Are you really surprised?)
Every year, I add a new "must have" to our Thanksgiving dessert table. I'm going to have to start combining recipes before our dessert selection gets out of hand. This year, I'm going to combine three of my favorites (pumpkin pie, pecan squares and cheesecake) into one delicious Thanksgiving creation: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie with Pecan Streusel. How could any dessert with pumpkin, pecans and cream cheese be a fail?
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie with Pecan Streusel
1 pie crust
15 ounces pumpkin puree
10 ounces evaporated milk
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon + 1 pinch of salt
3 ounces cream cheese
2 Tablespoons milk
2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup flour
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Sprinkle filling over pie. Bake 15-20 minutes longer.
Cool at least 3 hours before slicing.
I want to know what Thanksgiving foods you absolutely "can't live without". Have you ever led an uprising over an improperly prepared green bean casserole or staged a protest over canned cranberry sauce instead of fresh? I want to hear about your recipe success stories and your Thanksgiving day disasters. 😉
I'm a self proclaimed over planner and the holidays are my Mt. McKinley. If you're a plan-a-holic like me - you know exactly what I'm talking about. November and December is when we thrive and shine. There's so much to plan and schedule and arrange and organize over the holidays - is better than going to Disneyland. (almost) 😂
Take Thanksgiving, for example, I don't feel like I'm adequately prepared to tackle this meal until I've got a detailed menu and itemized grocery list on the front of my frig. When I say "detailed" I mean extreme detail. I list beverages that will be served before, during and after the meal. I list all foods by course and I even specify the kind of butter that I'll be serving. (Any doubt that I'm a type A personality?) Every detail of the meal is planned and timed with military precision. I even draft a schedule for my oven so that everything gets baked, warmed and toasted at precisely the right moment so that it's all served at the proper temperature.
Any other over-planners out there who scrutinize their Thanksgiving menu as if it were a winning lottery ticket? The traditional Thanksgiving menu seems like a no brainer and I know that some of you are wondering - what's left to plan? Turkey, gravy, potatoes, cranberries, pie - done. (In case you didn't know, I'm kind of expert at taking the simplest tasks and making them exceedingly more difficult.😂) I contemplate the most trivial things like what kind of bread to serve and what kind of wine would best compliment my salad dressing.
Of course, I put as much thought into the desserts that I serve at the end of the Thanksgiving meal that I do into the dinner. I like to stick to traditional pies like pumpkin, apple or pecan and then add some non-traditional desserts like cheesecake, cupcakes or fruit tarts. This year, I'm throwing a Chocolate Pecan Pie into the mix. I feel like this pie walks the line between traditional and non-traditional Thanksgiving pies. Hoping it is received well.
Chocolate Pecan Pie
1 1/2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 Tablespoon butter, cold
6 Tablespoons ice water
5 Tablespoons butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
3/4 cup corn syrup
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped
1 cup heavy cream
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons bourbon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
Serve whipped cream with pie. The bourbon vanilla whipped cream is absolutely amazing on this pie so by all means - don't skimp on the cream.
Pecan pie freezes really well and this pie is no exception. I've got one of these tucked away in my freezer for Thanksgiving Day and I couldn't be more excited about that. Now I've just got to keep myself from eating it in the next two weeks. 😬
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