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Planning & Hosting A Large Thanksgiving Feast

THK6

 

 

Every year I host a large Thanksgiving Feast at our home. It’s a tradition that started almost 7 years ago and it’s still going strong. We have family come in from all over the country to stay with us and help celebrate Thanksgiving. For the past few years we’ve had around 18-20 people at our annual feast but this year I think we’re going to approach the 30 people mark. I love to hostess and entertain but don’t get to do much of it during the year so I go all out on Thanksgiving! It’s a lot of work but over the years I’ve developed a system for making it all run smoothly. 

 

6 Tips For Hosting a Large Thanksgiving Feast

 

1. Make a guest list and get a firm headcount. I typically have my final head count by the first week of November and then I add 3 to my final count because we always end up with an extra body or two. Plus, it’s better to have too much food than not enough!

 

2. Plan your menu. I have a very established menu now but it took me a few years to nail it down. This is the part where you can reach out to other people for assistance if you want to. For example, my mom always brings the ham, the stuffing, and rolls. My sister is in charge of the turkey and the collard greens. That leaves the appetizers, the rest of the sides, and the desserts for me to prepare. I’m sharing my favorite recipes below!

 

3. Make a checklist. I break my checklist down by the week and I involve my family. Everyone has jobs to do. For example, I assign cleaning jobs to my kids the week of Thanksgiving. Matt is off of work the day before Thanksgiving so he has a job list too. Making a checklist is the only way to make sure you don’t forget to put clean sheets on the guest bed for any overnight guests. I’m a visual person, I need to see the list in order for everything to get done on time. 

 

4. Go disposable. Seriously, the last thing you want to do after a full day of entertaining is deal with dishes. I always use disposable plates, silverware, napkins, and cups. Now I don’t just grab the ugly generic stuff- I get the pretty ones but the point is I don’t have to wash dishes at the end of the evening. 

 

5. Start cooking the day before. There are quite a few things on my menu that can be made the day before. I will ** them down below beside the recipe so you know. All the pies are made the day before, the pumpkin crescent rolls, the cranberry sauce, the deviled eggs….it saves so much time on Thanksgiving Day. 

 

6. Create stations. In order to keep things flowing when the food comes out I create different stations around the kitchen and dining areas. I set up the plates, napkins, and silverware in one station for people to grab on their way to the food.  The food is laid out on the main dining table buffet style for people to serve themselves. Then I have the cups and beverages set up in another station for people to circle around to after getting their dinner. It keeps everyone moving in the same direction- like stations in a Kindergarten classroom. When dealing with a large crowd of hungry people it’s always best to have a system or it’ll become a free for all. 

 

 

THK7

 

My Appetizers

 

Bacon Wrapped Brown Sugar Smokies

 

1 pkg Hillshire Farms Lit’l Smokies

1 pkg thick cut bacon

1 cup packed brown sugar

 

Cut each bacon slice into 3-4 pieces. Wrap each sausage with piece of bacon; secure with toothpick. Place in baking pan. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes or until bacon is browned and sugar melts and forms sauce.

 

Cream Cheese Sausage Balls **

 

1 lb sausage, uncooked

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1 1/4 cups Bisquick

4 oz shredded cheddar cheese

 

Preheat oven to 400. Mix ingredients until well combined. Roll into 1 inch balls. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

 

Pumpkin Crescent Rolls**

 

8 oz cream cheese, softened

15oz can pumpkin

1 can sweetened condensed milk

2 T flour

2 T cinnamon

1 t pumpkin pie spice

8 pkgs crescent rolls

1/2 cup sugar

 

Preheat oven to 375. In mixer bowl, blend cream cheese, pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, flour and spices until combined and smooth. Unroll crescent rolls, separate and lay flat. Evenly spread 1 ½ T of pumpkin mix over dough. Roll into crescent shape and sprinkle top with sugar. Bake 11-13 minutes until golden brown.

 

Triple Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

 

48 medium white mushrooms

10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed

4 oz feta cheese, crumbled

2 oz cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

 

Using damp paper towel, wipe mushroom caps clean. Remove and discard stems. In colander, squeeze liquid out of spinach until dry. In bowl, mix spinach, feta, cream cheese and 1/4 t salt. Fill each mushroom with heaping t of spinach mix. top with parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

 

Sweet & Spicy Deviled Eggs**

 

12 large eggs

1/2 cup mayo

3 T apricot preserves

1 t curry powder

1/2 t salt

1/8 t cayenne pepper

 

Place eggs in large saucepan and add cold water to cover. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 12 minutes. Drain and run under cold water. Peel and cool completely. Cut eggs in half lengthwise and gently squeeze yolks into bowl. With fork, mash yolks with remaining ingredients until smooth. Spoom mix into white halves and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

 

Bite Size Crab Quiches

 

1 tube large refrigerated Buttermilk biscuits

1 can crabmeat, drained

1/2 cup shredded swiss cheese

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1/4 t salt

 

Separate each biscuit into 5 equal pieces. Press onto the bottom and up sides of 24 ungreased mini muffin cups (discard rest of dough). Fill each cup with 2 t crab and 1 t swiss cheese. In bowl, combine egg, milk and salt. Spoon 1 1/2 t into each cup. Bake at 375 for 15-20 min or until edges are golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes.

 

My Side Dishes

 

Corn Pudding Casserole

 

1 can cream corn

1 can whole kernal corn

2 eggs

8 oz sour cream

1 stick margarine

1 pkg sweet cornbread mix

1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

 

Melt butter in casserole dish. Add cream style and whole kernal corn. Add cornbread mix and sour cream. Beat 2 eggs with fork in bowl and add to mix. Stir well. Top with cheese. Bake at 350 for 1 hour, uncovered.

 

Cranberry Apricot Sauce**

 

2 bags fresh cranberries

1 cup orange juice

1 cup apricot jam

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 t ginger

1/4 lb dried apricots, finely diced

 

Stir all ingredients together in large pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until berries pop and sauce starts to thicken, about 8 minutes. Cool to room temp. Cover and chill.

 

Green Bean Casserole

 

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1/2 cup milk

1 t soy sauce

4 cups cooked, cut green beans

dash of pepper

1 1/3 cup French’s Fried Onions

 

Mix soup, milk, soy sauce, pepper, beans and 2/3 cup onions in casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Stir. Sprinkle with remaining onions. Bake 5 minutes.

 

Made Ahead Party Potatoes**

 

7 1/2 cups  water

12 T unsalted butter

2 t garlic salt

2 t onion salt

2 pkgs cream cheese, cubed and softened

1 can evaporated milk

16oz sour cream

1 pkg Hungry Jack instant mashed potatoes

bacon, cooked and crumbled

 

Heat water, butter, garlic salt and onion salt to boiling. Remove from heat. Add cream cheese, evaporated milk and sour cream, stirring until cream cheese is dissolved. Stir in potato flakes, mixing until all ingredients are well combined. Spread mixture into greased baking dish. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Top with crumbled bacon.

 

Praline Sweet Potato Casserole

 

3 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes

1/2 cup sugar

1 stick butter + 3 T

1 T vanilla

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 t cinnamon

 

Melt stick of butter in casserole dish. Mix cooked sweet potatoes, sugar, vanilla, eggs and milk together until well combined. Pour evenly into casserole dish. In small bowl, combine pecans, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add remaining 3T butter and rub in with fingers until mixture is evenly moistened and forms clumps. Sprinkle over sweet potato mixture. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until topping is browned.

 

Whiskey Glazed Carrots

 

1 stick butter

2-3 lbs baby carrots

1/2 cup whiskey

1 cup brown sugar

1 t salt

1/4 t pepper

 

Melt 1 T butter in large skillet over high heat. Add carrots in 2 batches, cooking 60-90 seconds each. Remove from skillet. Pour in whiskey and allow to evaporate for 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium and add remaining butter. When butter melts, sprinkle brown sugar over top. Stir together then add carrots to skillet. Cover and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Remove lid and add salt and pepper. Continue cooking for additonal 5 minutes until sauce thickens. Serve immediately.

 

My Desserts

 

Dark Rum Pecan Pie**

 

1 cup sugar

3 T butter, melted

2 cups pecan halves

3 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup dark corn syrup

2 t dark rum

1 frozen pie shell

 

Mix sugar and butter until well combined. Add pecans, eggs, corn syrup, and rum; stir until combined. Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Reduce temp to 350 and bake 35-40 minutes longer or until filling is set around edge but center jiggles slightly. Cool completely.

 

Pumpkin Streusal Pie**

 

1 can pumpkin

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 large eggs

1 t cinnamon

1/2 t ginger

1/2 t nutmeg

1/2 t salt

9″ unbaked pie crust

Streusal topping:

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup cold butter (no substitutes)

 

Heat oven to 425. Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in bowl until smooth. Pour into crust. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 350 and bake 30 minutes. Combine 1/2 cup packed brown sugar and 1/2 cup flour in bowl. Cut in 1/4 cup cold butter until mix resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle evenly over top of pie and bake an additional 10 minutes.

 

Sweet Potato Pie**

 

2 cups mashed sweet potatoes

4 oz cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup half and half

4 T butter, melted

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 t vanilla

1/2 t cinnamon

9″ unbaked pie crust

 

In bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat sweet potatoes and cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar and half and half; beat 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Add butter, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon; beat until blended. Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until filling is puffed and set around edges but center jiggles slightly.

 

Turtle Cheesecake **

 

Apple Crumb Pie**

 

7-8 medium apples, peeled & sliced

1/3 cup flour

3/4 cup sugar

pinch salt

dash of lemon juice

1 t cinnamon

9″ unbaked refrigerated pie crust

crumb topping:

1 stick butter, cold

1/2 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup flour

1 t cinnamon

 

Combine apples with flour, salt, sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice in medium bowl. Gently stir until apples are well coated. Pour into pie crust. Combine topping ingredients and mix until resembles coarse sand. Spread over top of pie. Bake at 325 for 1 hour 20 minutes.

 

 Of course, these are just the recipes for the dishes I prepare each year. For beverages we try to keep it simple- sweet tea, apple cider, red and white wines, and a few varieties of soda. I really do enjoy hosting our large gathering every year. It’s a lot of work but it’s also so much fun. It’s the one time of the year when both sides of our families come together in one place to celebrate. 

 
Shared with Craft-o-Maniac Monday, Motivate Me Monday, Monday Funday, Better Mom Mondays, Made By You Monday, Make the Scene Monday, Give Me The Goods, Project Inspired, Mix It Up Monday, Show Me What Ya Got, Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, From Dream to Reality, One Project At A Time, Tutorials and Tips, Tuesday Treasures, Whatever Goes Wednesday, The Inspiration Exchange, Thursdays Are Your Days, The Party Bunch, Link Party Palooza, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, That DIY Party, Inspire Me Please, Work It Wednesday, Nifty Thrifty Tuesday, Take a Look Tuesday, Live Laugh Linky, The Weekly Creative, Wow Us Wednesday

 

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Our Family’s Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

I love Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday because it’s the one time of the year when both sides of our family all gather in one place to celebrate. We always hold the celebration at our home because we are smack dab in the middle of our parents. My parents live 2 hours away in one direction and Matt’s parents live 2 hours away in the opposite direction. It never fails that we have a house full of people and I love it. Our home is full of laughter, and joking, and Football, and good food. Over the years I have created my menu for Thanksgiving and perfected my favorite recipes. My mom always does the Ham and my sister is in charge of the Turkey. My specialties are the sides, appetizers, and desserts. I wanted to share a few of my favorties today.

Cream Cheese Sausage Balls

1 lb sausage, uncooked
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups Bisquick
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400. Mix indgredients until well combined. Roll into 1 inch balls. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

 Bacon Wrapped Brown Sugar Smokies

1 pkg (16oz) Hillshire Farms Lil Smokies
1 pkg (12oz) Jimmy Dean thick slice bacon
1 cup brown sugar

Cut each bacon slice into 3-4 pieces. Wrap each sausage with piece of bacon; secure with toothpick. Place in baking pan. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes or until bacon is browned and sugar melts and forms sauce.

Cranberry Apricot Sauce

2 bags fresh cranberries
1 cup orange juice
1 cup apricot jam
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 t ginger
1/4 lb dried apricots, finely diced

 Stir all ingredients together in large pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until berries pop and sauce starts to thicken, about 8 minutes. Cool to room temp. Cover and chill.

Pumpkin Crescent Rolls

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 can (15oz) pumpkin
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 T flour
2 T cinnamon
1 t pumpkin pie spice
8 pkgs refrigerated crescent rolls
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 375. In mixer bowl, blend cream cheese, pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, flour and spices until combined and smooth. Unroll crescent rolls, separate and lay flat. Evenly spread 1 ½ T of pumpkin mix over dough. Roll into crescent shape and sprinkle top with sugar. Bake 11-13 minutes until golden brown.

Sweet Potato Casserole

3 cups cooked sweet potatoes, mashed
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick butter + 3T
1 T vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 t cinnamon

Melt stick of butter in casserole dish. Mix cooked sweet potatoes, sugar, vanilla, eggs and milk together until well combined. Pour evenly into casserole dish. In small bowl, combine pecans, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add remaining 3T butter and rub in with fingers until mixture is evenly moistened and forms clumps. Sprinkle over sweet potato mixture. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until topping is browned.

Dark Rum Pecan Pie

1 cup sugar
3 T butter, melted
2 cups pecan halves
3 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
2 t dark rum
1 pie shell

Mix sugar and butter until well combined. Add pecans, eggs, corn syrup, and rum; stir until combined. Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Reduce temp to 350 and bake 35-40 minutes longer or until filling is set around edge but center jiggles slightly. Cool completely.

Pumpkin Streusel Pie

1 can (15oz) pumpkin
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 large eggs
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger
1/2 t nutmeg
1/2 t salt
9″ unbaked pie crust
Streusel Topping:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup cold butter (no substitutes)

Heat oven to 425. Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in bowl until smooth. Pour into crust. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 350 and bake 30 minutes. Combine 1/2 cup packed brown sugar and 1/2 cup flour in bowl. Cut in 1/4 cup cold butter until mix resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle evenly over top of pie and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Sweet Potato Pie

2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup half and half
4 T butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t cinnamon
9″ unbaked pie crust

 In bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat sweet potatoes and cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar and half and half; beat 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Add butter, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon; beat until blended. Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until filling is puffed and set around edges but center jiggles slightly.

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving recipes?



SHOW US YOUR LIFE: THANKSGIVING RECIPES

I have been so excited for this week at Kelly’s Korner! Over the years we have perfected our Thanksgiving menu but new recipes to try are always a fun change. Matt and I host Thanksgiving every year- for a couple of reasons. The biggest reason is because we have the most kids and therefore the most difficulty making out of town trips. The second reason is that we are smack dab in the middle of both of our parents. Mine are 2 hours away to the west and his are 2 hours away to the east. Normally we also have my sister, her fiance, her gay boy bestie who is seriously the funniest person I have ever met in my life, Matt’s two brothers and their significant others and a random person or two that didn’t have anywhere to go. This year we’ll be joined by one of Matt’s co-workers who is new in town with nowhere to go for the holidays and an elderly neighbor who is medically unable to travel to see her family this year. It’s a big crowd and we make tons of food. My sister, The Momma and I split the cooking duties every year and The Mother Law usually brings a few things that have nothing to do with Thanksgiving. Sigh…

I always make a few starters to keep the masses happy while we cook the main meal. This year for the appetizers I am making:

Cranberry-Pineapple Minis
1 can (20oz) crushed pineapple, in juice
2 pkg (3oz each) raspberry flavor jello
1 can (16oz) whole berry cranberry sauce
2/3 cups walnut pieces
1 apple, chopped
Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Add enough water to juice to measure 2 ½ cups; pour into saucepan. Bring to a boil. Pour over gelatin mixes in large bowl. Stir 2 minutes until completely dissolved. Stir in pineapple, cranberry sauce, walnuts and apple. Spoon into 24 paper lined muffin cups. Refrigerate 2 ½ hours or until firm. Remove liners. Makes 24 servings.

Pumpkin Crescent Rolls8 oz cream cheese, softened
15 oz can pumpkin
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 T flour
2 T cinnamon
1 t pumpkin pie spice
8 pkgs refrigerated crescent rolls
½ cup sugar
Preheat oven to 375. In mixer bowl, blend cream cheese, pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, flour and spices until combined and smooth. Unroll crescent rolls, separate and lay flat. Evenly spread 1 ½ T of pumpkin mix over dough. Roll into crescent shape and sprinkle top with sugar. Bake 11-13 minutes until golden brown.

Triple Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms48 med. White mushrooms (about 2 lbs)
1 pkg (10oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
2 oz cream cheese, softened
½ cup finely chopped green onions
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt
Using damp paper towels, wipe mushroom caps clean; remove and discard stems. In colander, squeeze liquid out of spinach until dry. In large bowl, mix spinach, feta, cream cheese, green onions and ¼ tsp salt until well combined. Fill each mushroom with heaping teaspoon spinach mixture; top with Parmesan. Transfer to 15 x 10 jelly roll pan; bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and filling is golden brown.

Sweet and Spicy Meatballs1 can Rotel, untrained
1 jar (9oz) strawberry seedless jam
1 bag (16oz) frozen meatballs
Blend untrained tomatoes and jam in medium sauce pan; heat over medium heat until bubbling. Add meatballs; heat additional 10 minutes or until heated through. Place on serving platter.

Buffalo Chicken Dip
2 cans (10oz) Hormel chunk breast of chicken, drained
2 pkg (8oz) cream cheese
1 c ranch dressing
¼ cup pepper sauce
1 ½ cup cheddar cheese
Place cream cheese in shallow casserole. Microwave on 50% power until cheese is softened, 2-3 minutes. Stir in drained chicken, ranch dressing, pepper sauce and 1 cup cheese. Sprinkle top with remaining cheese. Microwave on 100% power 2-4 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Serve with crackers, tortilla chips or celery sticks.

For the main course, we try to split the meal according to the distance they have to travel to my house. I do the bulk of the side dishes but several of my dishes can be made a day ahead and heated up on turkey day. The Momma does the ham and my sister does the turkey because I do all the appetizers. The Momma also does the mashed potatoes, the deviled eggs, the biscuits/rolls, and the pumpkin pie. My sister does the stuffing, the collard greens and the fruit salad.
These are my recipes for my contributions to the main course:

Corn Pudding
1 can cream corn
1 can whole kernal corn
2 eggs
8oz sour cream
1 stick margarine
1 pkg cornbread mix
1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Melt butter in casserole dish. Add cream style and whole kernal corn. Add cornbread mix and sour cream. Beat 2 eggs with fork in bowl and add to mix. Stir well. Top with cheese. Bake at 350 for 1 hour, uncovered.

Green Bean Casserole1 can cream of mushroom soup
½ cup milk
1 t soy sauce
Dash pepper
4 cups cooked, cut green beans
1 1/3 cup French’s French Fried Onions
Mix soup, milk, soy sauce, pepper, beans and 2/3 cup onions in casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Stir. Sprinkle with remaining onions. Bake 5 minutes.

Sweet Potato Casserole3 cups cooked sweet potatoes, mashed
½ cup sugar
1 stick butter + 3T
1 T vanilla
2 eggs
½ cup milk
¾ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
½ t ground cinnamon
Melt stick of butter in casserole dish. Mix cooked sweet potatoes, sugar, vanilla, eggs and milk together until well combined. Pour evenly into casserole dish. In small bowl, combine pecans, flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add remaining 3T butter and rub in with fingers until mixture is evenly moistened and forms clumps. Sprinkle over sweet potato mixture. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until topping is browned.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 (12oz) packages fresh cranberries
Bring water and sugar to boil in saucepan. Add cranberries and return to boil. Reduce heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour sauce into bowl; cover and cool.

Honey Orange Carrots
16 oz pkg peeled baby carrots
1 ½ cups orange juice
2 T honey
1 T butter
¼ t salt
Combine all ingredients in med saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain gentle boil. Cook, stirring occasionally until carrots are tender and liquid has reduced to a glaze, about 20 minutes.

My favorite part of the meal, by far, is dessert. My thighs don’t lie people, I love my dessert. The Momma makes a killer pumpkin pie from scratch but I don’t have the recipe handy. We make a lot of desserts. A lot. And we never have leftovers, the vultures clean us out. I swear to you, I saw The Brother Law go back for a fourth peice of pie last year.

Pecan Cheesecake Pie
½ (15oz) refrigerated pie crust
8 oz cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs, divided
¾ cup sugar, divided
2 t vanilla, divided
¼ t salt
1 ¼ cups chopped pecans
1 cup light corn syrup
Fit piecrust into 9” pie plate according to package directions. Fold edges under and crimp. Beat cream cheese, 1 egg, ½ cup sugar, 1 t vanilla and salt at medium speed until smooth. Pour cream cheese mix into piecrust, sprinkle evenly with pecans. Whisk together corn syrup, 3 eggs, ¼ cup sugar and 1 t vanilla. Pour over pecans. Place pie on baking sheet. Bake at 350 on lowest oven rack for 50-55 minutes or until pie is set. Cool 1 hour.

Steamed Pumpkin Pudding1 T softened butter
15 oz can pumpkin purree
2 2/3 cup buttermilk
1 ¾ cups packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups flour
5 T melted unsalted butter
1 T pumpkin pie spice
1 ½ t each baking powder and baking soda
1 t salt
Heat oven to 400. Grease shallow dish with softened butter. In large bowl, whisk pumpkin puree, buttermilk, brown sugar, 4 large eggs, flour, unsalted butter, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well blended and smooth. Pour into prepared dish. Bake 45 minutes or until puffed. Let cool until warm. Spoon into dessert bowls and top with scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Creamy 2 step Cheesecake
1 pkg cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
8 oz cool whip, thawed
1 crust
In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese on med speed until fluffy. Add sugar. Beat until well combined. Fold in whipped topping. Spread in crust. Refrigerate 2 hours. Top with canned cherry pie filling.

Dark Rum Pecan Pie
1 cup sugar
3 T butter, melted
2 cups pecan halves
3 large eggs, beaten
½ cup dark corn syrup
2 t dark rum
1 pie shell ( I use Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts)
Mix sugar and butter until well combined. Add pecans, eggs, corn syrup, and rum; stir until combined. Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Reduce temp to 350 and bake 35-40 minutes longer or until filling is set around edge but center jiggles slightly. Cool completely.

Sweet Potato Pie2 cups mashed fresh or canned sweet potatoes
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
¼ cup half and half
4 T butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 t vanilla extract
½ t ground cinnamon
1 refrigerated pie crust (I use Pillsbury in the red box)
In bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat sweet potatoes and cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar and half and half; beat 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Add butter, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon; beat until blended. Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until filling is puffed and set around edges but center jiggles slightly.

That pretty much sums up our Thanksgiving day feast. For Christmas, we are much more low-key. Typically, The ‘Laws do not come for Christmas Day. My parents and my sister usually join us around mid-morning. A few years ago we decided that we did not want to do the traditional formal Christmas Day meal. Instead we began our own tradition of doing a Christmas brunch. My sister and I do all the cooking, it’s a day for my parents (especially my mom) to just sit back, relax and enjoy her grandkids. We have a few dishes that we make for Christmas brunch every year and they are so yummy.

Breakfast Bake
2 pkgs (16oz each) pork sausage
3 cups frozen hash brown potatoes
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup original bisquick mix
2 cups milk
¼ t pepper
4 eggs
Heat oven to 400. Grease casserole dish. Cook sausage in skillet until no longer pink; drain. Stir together sausage, potatoes and 1 ½ cup cheese in baking dish. Stir bisquick mix, milk, pepper and eggs until blended. Pour into baking dish and stir. Bake uncovered 40-45 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 1-2 minutes until cheese melts.

Baked French Toast Casserole1 loaf French Bread, cut into 1” slices
8 eggs
2 cups milk
1 ½ cup half and half
2 t vanilla
¼ t cinnamon
¾ c butter
1 1/3 cup brown sugar
3 T light corn syrup
Butter a 9×13 baking dish. Arrange bread in bottom. In large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour over bread slices, cover and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, preheat oven to 350. In small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar and corn syrup, heat until bubbling. Pour over bread mixture. Bake in oven, uncovered for 45-55 minutes.

This year I am also going to make the Pioneer Woman’s amazing Cinnamon Rolls. Yummy!! And they taste even better than they look if you can imagine that. I took her advice and I now give these to each of our neighbors for Christmas. I’m a very popular person on our street come Christmas time. It’s all about the bribery, my friends, all about the bribery. My sister also brings her fabulous Biscuits and Gravy but I don’t have her recipe. They are scrumptous though and even my most picky child will clean their plate!
So there you go. Our Thanksgiving and Christmas menus. This is why my jeans never fit come January 1st. I think I gained 10 pounds just typing these all out.