Monday, November 21, 2011

Planning our Day of Thanksgiving

In looking over my Thanksgiving recipes, I chose not to repeat some, and add new ones. Sometimes it is good to make a variation on the old and mix it with something new. At some point, I put all my Christmas cookies into a binder along with my Thanksgiving recipes. Around Thanksgiving, we start to think about Christmas and it is easiest to have both holidays in the same spot, or I'd never ever find what I am looking for!!

Yesterday, I told you that I found this cute little cupcake recipe from Betty Crocker. I decided to make them for our church Thanksgiving dinner as there will never be time once we start making pies and what-nots. The children all loved them!! They were (of course) full by the time dessert came along, and so they exclaimed over these turkeys, picked the candy off of them, and licked the frosting. One seven-year-old boy took three plates of dessert and actually finished most of it!! 

I re-posted the Turkey Cupcake recipe below, and typed out my chocolate cake recipe that I have been baking for many years. I substituted the boxed cake and frosting with my recipe but if you choose to make these cupcakes do whatever you like best. Cooking from scratch is something I enjoy, but you may know how to do something I cannot do at all.

Mom's Chocolate Cake

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
5 eggs
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2  teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4  cups milk

350F for 40 minutes and about 20 minutes for cupcakes
Cool 10 minutes


1 cup butter
4 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoon vanilla
4-5 tablespoons milk

Mix all the sugars together in the mixer, then add the vanilla and egg yolks. I whip the egg whites until they peak, then add them to the batter. Mix all the dry ingredients together so that the baking soda and baking powder do not clump together in the batter because you were in a hurry and dumped them all in at once with the butter and sugar. As you add the dry ingredients, add the milk a little at a time. Be sure never to frost a warm cake!!  Maybe this is a 'no-brainer' to everyone but me!! If you knew how many cakes just didn't turn out picture purfect, you would know why I am saying this!!

Another staple on our Thanksgiving table this year will be my Cortland Potato Rolls. I think I found this recipe in some magazine around a zillion years ago as I remember making it the first time I had company back when we were newly-weds. I made one royal mess that wasn't cleaned up by the time my company arrived at our tiny cottage. After that, my potato rolls were reserved for Thanksgiving and Christmas....special times. 

Cortland Potato Rolls

3 medium sized potatoes, pared and quartered
2 tablespoons yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar or honey
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup veggie shortening
1/2 cup honey (or sugar when honey gets too expensive!!)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons salt
6 cups flour

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water 15 minutes or until soft. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the potato cooking water, then mash potatoes.

Place 1/2 cup of the very warm potato water in large bowl. Sprinkle yeast over water; add sugar and stir to dissolve yeast. Let stand 10 minutes or until bubbly.

Heat butter, shortening and remaining 1/2 cup of the potato water in small saucepan just until butter is melted. Cool to lukewarm. Stir into yeast mixture with honey, eggs, salt and mashed potatoes. Beat with electric mixer until well blended.

Add 2 1/2 cup of flour; beat with electric mixer for 2 minutes or by hand for 200 strokes (this recipe dates itself). Gradually stir in 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups  more flour to make a dough that holds together and leaves the side of the bowl.

Turn out onto floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place in large greased bowl, turning to bring greased side up. Cover; let rise in a warm place, away from draft, until double in bulk. About 1 1/2 hours.

Punch dough down; turn out onto lightly floured surface; knead a few times to press out air bubbles. Cut down in 1/2. Let rest 10 minutes.

Divided each 1/2 into 16 pieces. Shape into smooth balls, place in 2 greased baking pans. Cover, let rise.

Bake at 400F degrees for 25 minutes.  Makes 32 rolls.

Traditionally, in our family, I have stuffed my turkey for Thanksgiving. I have baked it right side up and upside down. I read somewhere, how you can bake it right side up and then turn it half way through the baking time for extra tenderness and juiciness. Another tip a friend told me yesterday was to put a whole onion in the cavity of the bird. Isn't it interesting how you can always be learning something new?!

I have made anything from a traditional boring stuffing to more exciting ones with anything from sausage added, to apples or cranberries. The cranberries look pretty but I don't know how to get away from the tart taste without a way to add sugar. Maybe if a bit of homemade cranberry sauce was added that would do the trick!! I have often used French bread in the stuffing but I think I will go easy this year and use one of those  cornbread packages. I'm into cornbread this year!!

Another favorite on the Thanksgiving menu at our house is the Green Bean Casserole. You can find this recipe on the sides of green bean cans, I believe, and on the French Onion container or bag. Of course, you couldn't make this when I was growing up because the French Onion Flakes hadn't been invented!! Now, we can't live without them!! Too bad the Pilgrims missed out on this dish at their feast!!

In case you are tired of your version...there are myriads of recipes through Betty Crocker that might fit the taste buds of your family. Just because the ingredients are found in a recipe doesn't mean that your family will find it delicious...tweak the recipe and adapt it to fit your needs. 

These are just a few of the things that we will be cooking up this year for Thanksgiving. We will also have sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, mashed potatoes, store-bought and homemade cranberry sauce, pickles and of course green olives, corn, always corn, and pies, lots of pies. 

Remember to be thankful this week as you prepare, shop, and cook, then eat the bounties that the Lord has provided for you. God is so good. His mercy is incomprehensible. I am so thankful for my wonderful husband and seven wonderful children. I am thankful for the salvation that the Lord has given me. 


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