Saturday, November 22, 2008

For Music Lovers and Carb-Addicts

Emily is here visiting us this weekend and we have been having a wonderful time. Thursday night we went to a Christian music concert at our church. We saw a group called the David Crowder Band and a couple of other artists (Jeremy Horn and Tyler Bass). It was my first Christian concert and I have to say I loved it! The music was really inspiring and uplifting, but that isn't what made the concert so great. What I liked most about it was seeing so many people unified in Christ. People were dancing and singing and completely immersed in PRAISE. It was a fantastic experience and I loved everything about it.

But I digress...Emily and I had lunch with Ethan at school on Friday and we enjoyed a quiet afternoon and evening at home. Tonight we went to the evening service at church and are getting ready to challenge each other on the Xbox Scene It trivia game. Ethan is so sad that Emily has to go home tomorrow, especially since she is taking Daisy-Dog home with her.

I asked Emily what her favorite Thanksgiving dish was and she said stuffing and pumpkin pie. So I went to pull her mom's recipe for stuffing and realized that some of Faye's best Thanksgiving dishes are the yummy, starchy sides. So here are some of my personal favorites from Faye's kitchen. (Incidentally, this is the dressing that I *tried* to make for our Thanksgiving dinner a few years ago, but it did not turn out well at all - it was too soggy. Late in the afternoon, when we were starving and tired of waiting to eat, we decided to go ahead and eat dinner. So I turned off the oven and we enjoyed our meal without the stuffing. Worse than that though, we forgot to take the stuffing out of the oven and found it the next day...and it *STILL* wasn't dried out!)

Cornbread Dressing
Martha White Buttermilk Cornmeal Mix (plus ingredients to make cornbread according to package directions)
Onion, diced
Celery, diced
Poultry seasoning or Sage, to taste
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 cans chicken broth

Prepare cornbread according to cornmeal mix directions. Cool and crumble into a large baking dish.

Sauté onion and celery in butter. Add to cornbread crumbs along with cream of mushroom soup and seasoning. Add one full can of chicken broth plus additional broth until dressing reaches desired consistency. Bake for one hour at 350°.

Hashbrown Casserole
32-oz. bag frozen hash brown potatoes
1 pint sour cream
2 cups cubed Velveeta cheese or 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 Tablespoons grated onion
½ cup margarine

Pre-heat oven to 350°. Mix all ingredients together and pour into ungreased 9”X13” pan. Bake one hour.

Sweet Potato Casserole

5 sweet potatoes, boiled and skins removed
small can crushed pineapple, well drained
¼ to 1/3 brown sugar, to taste
2 to 3 Tablespoons butter
miniature marshmallows

Mash potatoes and mix with remaining ingredients. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes, until heated through. Top with miniature marshmallows and bake another 10 minutes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I've been busy!

I have been so busy these days! Someone should have warned me not to sign up as Ethan's room mom and to volunteer on the PTA. I didn't know quite how much I was committing to. It has been fun though. I have now published two PTA newsletters for Ethan's school and survived Ethan's fall class party. Now I am starting on my Christmas shopping, which is tiring as well! I have made three trips to Toys R Us in the past two days, and I need to go back again! 'Tis the season, eh?

I mentioned to many of you in a recent e-mail that our family joined our church earlier this month. Zachary was baptized and we were welcomed into Hope Presbyterian Church on November 1st. I never in a million years imagined joining a church as large and "contemporary" as this one, or one that was not Lutheran, but I have to say that I love it. I feel so at home here. Everyone goes out of their way to make you feel welcomed, no matter if you've been attending for 10 years or 10 minutes. Jason and I both feel comfortable there and have agreed that we take so much home with us from the worship service each week. The pastors have a way of relating the message to our daily lives, and I often think (sometimes out loud), "Hey, he's talking to me!" Right now they are conducting a series on finances (getting out debt & living on a budget), and how we are merely stewards of God's money. The series has included clips of the pastor's interview with Dave Ramsey, who teaches a class that Jason and I took called Financial Peace University. (Thanks to that class we are well on our way to being completely debt free, eventually including our house!) Ethan and Zachary enjoy their Sunday school classes, the preschool and the recreation ministries (soccer!!!). The church has so many other ministry and service opportunities as well; I love that it is such a service-oriented community. This week, their kitchen ministry unveiled a new Hope Church Chefs blog where they promise to publish budget-friendly recipes and answer cooking questions submitted by their readers. So cool. Anyway, whenever you come to visit Memphis, I would like to invite you to attend a service with us. It is unlike any church you've ever attended (in a good way). We look forward to going each week.

Back to cooking: Thanksgiving is only two weeks away and I can already taste the turkey & stuffing, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie! (Mom, don't forget the Cool Whip, please!) These are some of my holiday favorites. What are yours? Leave me a comment and let me know. If you've got the recipe handy, send me that too. Meanwhile, I'll be posting some of our family's traditional Thanksgiving recipes, starting with dessert first of course!

Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie
From the side of the can of pumpkin
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 (15-oz.) can LIBBY'S 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 (12-fl. oz.) can CARNATION Evaporated Milk
1 unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell
Whipped cream (optional)

Mix sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie shell.

Bake in preheated 425° F. oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F.; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.

Note: 1 ¾ teaspoons pumpkin spice may be substituted for the cinnamon, ginger and cloves; however, the taste will be slightly different. Do not freeze, as this will cause the crust to separate from the filling.

For 2 shallow pies: substitute two 9-inch (2-cup volume) pie shells. Bake in preheated 425° F. oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F.; bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until pies test done.

Classic Pecan PieFrom the Karo Syrup bottle
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1 cup Karo Light or Dark Corn Syrup
2 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ¼ cups pecans
1 (9-inch) unbaked or frozen deep-dish pie crust

Preheat oven to 350°. In medium bowl with fork beat eggs slightly. Add sugar, corn syrup, margarine and vanilla; stir until blended. Stir in pecans. Pour into pie crust.

Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.