Category Archives: Holiday Goodies

Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving was the first Thanksgiving we have ever spent at home without family or friends…..and without a lot of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes… I was getting a little depressed about it, but it ended up being a pretty good holiday over all!

A table decoration Jessica made with her babysitter before Thanksgiving.

We spent Thanksgiving morning watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in our PJs and munching on hoecakes (one of John’s new favorite foods)!! This is a huge deal to me because we were never able to watch the parade when I was growing up because we were always traveling it seemed! Actually I think I used to watch it at my grandmother’s house back when we did Thanksgiving at her house before she died….which might explain why it is so important to me….something else that reminds me of her, but I digress… I now have a Parade-watching buddy!!!!!!! John LOVED watching the Parade!!! He loves to label everything and got very excited when he spotted the Sonic the Hedgehog balloon!!

My little helper in the apron her grandmother made for her great-great-grandmother <3

It has become a bit of a tradition at our house for Jessica to help me make a Pumpkin Pie. I was a little concerned when she started talking about it this year because we are on such a limited list of foods that I wasn’t sure we could manage to make a Pumpkin Pie. Thankfully for Jessica, her mother is very creative and stubbornly dedicated to tradition! I had to replace at least half the ingredients and leave out the crust entirely, but I did manage to replicate my grandmother’s Pumpkin Pie recipe with it tasting very close to the original!!

Pumpkin “Pie”

1 cup Sugar in the Raw, 1 Tbsp Corn Starch (for the portion I made of Jessica I used Tapioca flour because she is allergic to corn), 1/2 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1.25 tsp cinnamon, .5 tsp nutmeg, .5 tsp ground ginger, .25 tsp ground cloves), 1.5 cups hemp milk (made by blending half a cup of hemp seeds with 3 cups of water and straining), 1+ Tbsp of Knox Gelatin (one package plus a little if you have it)

Mix dry ingredients. Add other ingredients except gelatin and blend until smooth (I had to divide the pie into several containers before adding the rest of the ingredients because Jess is allergic to corn and John is allergic to nutmeg and cloves…let me tell you that was complicated!!!!). Add gelatin to pumpkin pie mixture in a sauce pan. Let it sit for about a minute. Then heat the mixture while stirring for about 3 minutes until the granules dissolve. Pour into custard cups and bake at 375 F for about 15 minutes (I think) till firm in the center.

Jessica helping set the table for Thanksgiving Dinner.

Our Thanksgiving Dinner: Turkey, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans, “cranberry sauce,” and Pumpkin “Pie.”

Thanksgiving dinner went pretty well except that the turkey apparently had seasonings in it that John and I were allergic to. (Jess is allergic to turkey so she had chicken.) Thankfully, I caught it before John ate any and was able to replace his turkey with some of Jessica’s chicken. The sweet potatoes were just water and potatoes, but everyone seemed to like them.

“Canned Cranberry Sauce”

And now for my masterpiece: “canned cranberry sauce.” The kids LOVE canned cranberry sauce, but cranberries are not currently on their list of safe foods so I decided to create a “canned cranberry sauce” using purred cherries, organic fresh pressed black cherry juice, and Knox Gelatin. Basically, I took about half a can of leftover cherries and purred them. Then I added enough juice to make a total liquid amount of about 15 oz. Then I poured that into a sauce pan and sprinkled about 1 T plus 1 tsp of Knox gelatine on top and let it sit for a minute. Then I cooked the entire thing on low heat for about 3 minutes until the gelatin dissolved. Finally, poured it into a can and put it in the fridge. It turned out great! The next time I think I will use more purred cherries though because as you can tell from the picture the purred parts floated to the top so the bottom slices didn’t have as much texture.

And the traditional picture of my bird :-)

And a shot of the chef….and my new haircut! I had to get a lot of my hair cut off because now that my body is beginning to heal my hair is growing in much thicker and curlier so my hair was beginning to look really weird!!

For the rest of the weekend, David and I worked our tails off moving furniture around, touching up paint, etc so that we could switch the kids into separate rooms. They have always shared a room since John was 6 months old, but my mom suggested on a recent trip that John might sleep better if they were in separate rooms. We’ve been trying it out, and decided that we liked it, but we needed to do a lot of moving around to make things work….preferable sooner rather than later because we wanted Jessica on the backside of the house (she is my less trustworthy child…).

This is what the kids’ room looked like when we first set it up (before we had to “Jessica proof” the room.

And this is what it looks like now as Jessica’s “big girl room.” Aunt Katie is giving us a pretty bright bedding set to replace Jessica’s current bedding. Jessica has also requested that we paint flowers and butterflies on the walls, so after Christmas I am going to try and get Jessica’s babysitter to help her with that project.

Another angle….like I said still need to get the bedding and do something with the walls but not bad considering this was a last minute decision this weekend and it cost us nothing! :-)

This room was the guest room. I used it for guests, storing clothes the kids hadn’t grown into yet, rest time for Jessica, etc.

John’s new room! Still need to do something with the walls and need to clean out the closet (thankfully all his stuff fit in the shelves and chest), but again not bad considering this was a last minute decision and we didn’t spend any money doing it!

Another angle of the room

And one more shot.

That pretty much sums up our Thanksgiving holiday! I didn’t end up getting a shot of John with all of the hullabaloo of switching the kids’ rooms around, but I will try to snag one soon. Now to get the rest of the house back in order so we can finish all of our doctors appointments and set up Christmas decorations!

Holiday Goodies: Boiled Custard

Christmastime for many is a time for family, and each family has those holiday traditions that they pass down year after year from one generation to the next. This year I would like to share a special holiday tradition in my family with your family. The majority of my family immigrated to the New World in the 17th century from England to begin a new life. They traveled through Virginia and the Carolinas, finally making a new home for themselves in Tennessee. While they left many family and friends behind, they brought some of their holiday traditions with them as a way of remembering all they had left behind. One of those traditions was Boiled Custard, a holiday drink served at Christmastime (and sometimes Easter) with a dash of nutmeg often served along side a slice of coconut cake. This tradition harkens back to a simpler time when Christmas revolved around good food, hard candy, apples, oranges, nuts, and perhaps a homemade toy or sweater. Generations of women in my family have served Boiled Custard at Christmastime, and although there have been alterations to the recipe over the centuries, the recipe I use today is the same basic recipe used by my great-grandmother when my family went to visit her for the holidays. In the last 75 years, many things have changed, but if you close your eyes you might could see with your mind’s eye the Christmas of long ago and the joy that such a treat brought!


For those of you completely unfamiliar with Boiled Custard, it tastes like melted ice cream and can be found at the grocery store next to the egg nog but in only a few states (Tennessee being one of them). For the rest of us, you have to make it yourself. The old-fashioned from scratch recipes can be a bit time consuming and tricky; however, my great-grandmother had a quickie recipe when she wanted to make some up quickly. Below I have provided her quickie recipe as well as a from scratch recipes I intend on trying this year if time allows.

Quickie Boiled Custard
My Great-Grandmother
1 large package of vanilla pudding mix (I use Cook and Serve)
2 quarts of whole milk 

Make up vanilla pudding mix as directed. When finished, add the rest of the milk and refrigerate until cold. Serve and enjoy!

75 Year Old Boiled Custard Recipe
A Family Friend

1 qt. milk
3 or 4 eggs
1 T. flour
3/4 C. sugar
dash of salt
1 tsp. vanilla (add last)

Heat milk in double boiler until lukewarm. Don’t boil it…when you see steam rising up it is ready. Mix together flour and sugar first and then add the eggs to that. Add that mixture gradually to the milk mixture while stirring constantly. Cook until the mixture coats the spoon. Cook longer if you want thicker custard. Cook this on Med. or less….depends on the boiler. Cool completely, then refrigerate.

Favorite Thanksgiving Dishes

I absolutely love Thanksgiving food! I have a special place in my heart for Green Bean Casserole, Cranberry Sauce, Pumpkin pie, Pecan Pie, and Broccoli Cheese Casserole (…the way my mother used to make it before she tried to make the recipe more healthy and then proceeded to forget how she used to make it…..If you have a good Broccoli Cheese Casserole recipe please post it as a comment so I can try it out!!!). I do not have a recipe for any of those previous items that I absolutely think is better than any other recipe. However, there are a few Thankgiving recipes that I think are head and shoulders above all others, and wouldn’t you know that every single one of those recipes is a Traditional Southern Recipe???

My Mother’s Pan Dressing Recipe
While stuffing may be universal, pan dressing is a traditionally Southern dish. It is very moist and yummy when done right, almost completely different in taste from stuffing! 

6 cups Corn Light Bread crumbs
6 cold biscuits, crumbled
1/2 cup butter
1 cup finely chopped celery
2 medium onions, chopped
1 tsp black pepper
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
3 raw eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
2 or more cups chicken broth

Mix cornbread and biscuit crumbs in a bowl. Melt butter in heavy pan, add onion and celery. Saute until vegetables are soft. Add onions, celery, seasoning and other ingredients except liquid to bread mixture and toss until well mixed. Pour on enough broth to moisten cornbread (do not make soggy). Spread 2″ deep in greased baking pan. Bake 400 degrees until lightly browned and cooked through.

Easy Giblet Gravy Recipe
I threw this one in because you need a really good gravy to go with turkey and dressing, and this one is completely idiot proof!

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
chicken or turkey giblets, cooked and chopped

Mix and whisk together, stirring occasionally, on simmer after it comes to a boil.


My Mother-in-Law’s Deviled Eggs Recipe
No one makes better deviled eggs than my Mother-in-Law. This is an approximate recipe.

3 boiled-eggs cut in half with yolks separated
a little less than 2 Tablespoons of Mayonnaise (for texture)
a little less than 1 teaspoon of mustard (for taste)
a little less than 2 teaspoons of sugar (for taste)
salt and pepper to taste
paprika

Mash yolks. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Spoon or use a icing bag to put mixture into the holes left by the yolk halves. Sprinkle with paprika to make it look pretty!

My Mother’s Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe
I never really liked sweet potatoes until my Mom started cooking them this way!

3 cups sweet potatoes, mashed
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup milk
3 T margarine
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sugar

Topping: 3 T melted margarine
1/3 cup flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 finely chopped nuts (pecans are my favorite)

Stir together the first group of ingredients and spread in greased 9×13 pan. Stir topping ingredients together. Top casserole with toppping and bake 30 – 35 minutes at 350 degrees.

Constance’s Mom’s Sweet Potato Pie Recipe
I had never had Sweet Potato Pie until I moved to Mississippi and Constance’s Mom made me a Sweet Potato Pie! It is the other best way to eat sweet potatoes!!!

2 cups cooked Mashed Sweet Potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes)
1/2 stick oleo (what they used to call margarine)
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/3 cup milk
1 deep dish pie crust (I make my own using the recipe on the Crisco package. It not only tastes better, but it is also more fun because you can make all kinds of crazy designs on the edge of the crust!)

Mix ingredients together well and pour into pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour. If you are really savy, mold aluminum foil around the edges of the pie crust to keep the crust from browning.

Holiday Goodies: Apple Cider

I seem to be a little stuck on holiday drinks this week, but they are oh so good!! For this recipe, you can use either apple cider or just regular apple juice. Add 1 stick of cinnamon, 3 whole cloves, and 6 whole allspice to a mug of either apple cider or apple juice. Then heat and strain. Obviously the longer you let it steep, the better it will be! And that’s it! (Just so you know….I personally prefer using apple juice.)

Mmmmm!!

Holiday Goodies: Hot Chocolate

My absolute favorite part about this time of year is the food!!! (Well, and spending time with friends and family.) Hot Chocolate is a particular favorite around our house at this time of year! My husband and I often stargaze in the backyard after Jessica is asleep, and nothing will warm you up like a good mug of Hot Chocolate! Most of the time we use my homemade mix because it is the only kind of Hot Chocolate my husband will drink! Occasionally, I will make my mother’s stove top Hot Chocolate recipe, which is really quite good, but David still prefers my homemade mix. How sweet!

Amy’s Hot Chocolate Mix 

22 oz. Non-Dairy Creamer
30 oz Chocolate Milk Mix
16 oz Confectionery Sugar
2 lbs Nonfat Dry Milk

Combine all ingredients. Mix well. Use about 1/2 cup of mix per mug of hot water or milk. This recipe makes a lot! I have also known people to use it as coffee creamer! Note: Hot milk will release a neurotransmitter in your brain that will help you relax and sleep better. It is the same neurotransmitter that makes you tired after eating turkey at Thanksgiving dinner!

Mom’s Stove Top Hot Chocolate

1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cocoa
pinch of salt
3 Tbsp hot water
3 cups milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix sugar, cocoa, and salt in a saucepan; stir in water. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils; boil and stir for 2 minutes. Stir in milk and heat. Do NOT boil. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Serves 4. Note: This recipe will also release a neurotransmitter in your brain that will help you relax and sleep better.

Who knew something so yummy could be so good for you?!?!?!