Friday, November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Feast

(this is a re-post of a previous post)

We had an early Thanksgiving at my house this year. My parents were in town this last weekend and my husband will be working on Thanksgiving day so we figured we should have our feast early. Every family has their own traditions when it comes to what food is served. Some of these foods have been in the family for generations and others are some you create with your own family. Here is what we had:

The turkey is of course the staple, unless you are a vegetarian. Ours this year happened to be a wild turkey my husband managed to get for us. I have never prepared a turkey before and since my mother was in town, I still haven't. So, I unfortunately can't give you any tips or advice on this. You can however look here to find out how to cook a perfect turkey.

It just wouldn't be Thanksgiving for my family without the Stove Top Stuffing. My Dad has never liked the taste of cornbread stuffing so growing up we always had Stove Top. My Mom would even prepare it when we were together with extended family and serve it right next to my Aunts homemade stuffing. I too prefer Stove Top so that is what we had. If you want to make homemade stuffing give this Southern Cornbread Stuffing a try.

I am not a fan of cranberry sauce but for some reason it just doesn't seem like Thanksgiving without it. My Mom loves the jellied kind so preparing it was as simple as opening a can and slicing it up. You can see a recipe for fresh cranberry sauce here.

With this meal we also had mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potato casserole, rolls, fruit salad, and pumpkin pie. I will provide the recipes for these in the following posts.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving day foods?

Family Holiday Fruit Salad

This is my Great Grandma's recipe and it makes a lot so you can half it for smaller groups. The nice thing about this salad is the fruit doesn't brown so it still looks nice for leftovers.
Family Holiday Fruit Salad

4 large cans fruit cocktail
2 Large cans pineapple chunks
4 small cans mandarin oranges
½ bag miniature marshmallows
5 bananas
16 oz of whipping cream
2-3 Tbsp. Corn starch

Drain all of the can fruit and reserve 2 1/2 cups of juice. Add about 2-3 Tbsp cornstarch to 1/3 cup cold water stir until lumps are gone. Heat the reserved juice to simmering. Once it is simmering, add the cornstarch mixture. As it comes to a boil stir until it is a thick consistency. If it doesn’t thicken add more corn starch mixture. Allow to cool completely. Whip the cream to a whipped cream consistency; add sugar and vanilla to taste. Mix it into the cooled fruit juice mixture. Place the drained fruit in a large bowl, add marshmallows and sliced bananas. Fold in the whipped cream dressing and serve immediately.
I chose to garnsh the top with more oranges and cherries.

Sweet Potato Casserole

I had never had sweet potatoes until after I was married. My husband's family always had them with their Thanksgiving. This recipe is one I got from one of my high school friends mom. It's so good it could be served as dessert.

Victoria's Sweet potato casserole

4 C. sweet potatoes cooked and mashed (2- 2 1/2lbs.)
1 egg beaten
6 T. firmly packed brown sugar, divided
6 T. melted butter or margarine, divided
2 T. orange juice
1/2 t. salt
2/3 C. chopped pecans (opt)
Miniature marshmallows

Combine potatoes, egg, 3 T. sugar and 3 T. butter, orange juice, and salt; beat until fluffy and light. Fold in 1/3 C. pecans. Turn into buttered shallow oven-proof casserole pan. Sprinkle remaining nuts, butter and sugar over top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Add marshmallows for topping last 15 min.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Surviving Black Friday

My favorite day to go shopping is on "Black Friday", the day after Thanksgiving. I can usually get all of my Christmas shopping done on this day. I love the excitement that you can feel in the air and of course the fantastic deals. Nothing can clear your head better than standing outside in the cold winter air at 4 AM waiting for the doors to open. If you are thinking about shopping on this day here are a few tips to help you survive Black Friday.

  • Make your gift list and review your holiday budget. If you want more information on creating a holiday budget look here.
  • On Thanksgiving day, while the men are watching football, lay out all of the ads that came in the paper. If you don't get delivery you can pick up the paper at any gas station or grocery store.
  • Search for the best deals on the gifts you want and circle them or better yet, write it down and list the price and what store it's at.
    Make a plan. Determine what store you want to go to first paying attention to the times they open.
  • I highly recommend getting a group together to go shopping. Divide and conquer. Have one person stand in the checkout line while the others do the shopping. Assign one person to go to electronics, another to toys, and another to clothing, etc.
  • Carry as little with you as possible. Take an ID and one credit card and a little cash and just put it your front pocket. The last thing you want is having your wallet stolen or misplacing your purse.
  • Be prepared to wait in long lines. That's why I recommend having someone wait in line while another does the shopping. Last year the line at Kohls was 2 hours long when my sister and I finally got in line. We didn't want to wait so we stashed our goodies under a table and came back an hour later when the lines were less.
  • Wal-mart price matches so if they carry a item that is advertised for less at another store and you don't want to drive all over to get your gifts, just take in the ad with the price and they will honor it.
    Most Wal-mart stores are open 24 hours so you can get there in plenty of time. However, the sale items are wrapped in paper or plastic until the designated time. So, I go around and gather my price match items and then position myself by the pallet that has my number one item on it and wait.
  • Never ever leave your cart unattended. I made the mistake of turning my back on my cart for a minute and when I turned around I realized someone had taken one of the items out that was sold out. My daughter did not get her Cinderella Barbie that year.
  • Please be courteous of others and use good manners.
  • Have fun!

Christmas Lights

I know what you are thinking, it’s still November, why are you talking about Christmas lights. Well, I'm talking about Christmas lights because most people put up their holiday lights the day after Thanksgiving and if you have your lights all boxed up I suggest getting them out now and making sure they all work. Untangle those wires and check every bulb. Should you come across any shorted lines, missing bulbs, broken bulbs, or just want more lights (I personally think you can never have too many) then save some gas and do your shopping at The Christmas Light Source. I recently got some of the multi colored ice cube shaped LED Christmas lights for my son’s room. I got tired of the white plug in night light and wanted something a little more fun.

The great things about these lights are:

  • They don't get hot to the touch like the incandescent ones so I don't have to worry about my children burning their little fingers.
  • They are also energy efficient so if I forget to unplug them (which happens often) they don't use up a ton of energy.
  • I also love how they have a hard plastic covering that won't shatter when, not if, they get stepped on.

Now, what do you do with your broken and old Christmas lights? You recycle them of course and The Christmas Light Source can help you do this. Recycling through the Christmas Light Source doesn't only help out the environment; it helps put books in the hands of children in need and saves you 10% on your next purchase. You can read about their Christmas light recycling program here.

Don't be left in the dark with broken or missing lights. Visit The Christmas Light Source and light up your house this Holiday season.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

No Peeler Required Potato Peeling

I got this video in an email. Love the idea. Haven't tried it yet but the next time I need to peel a lot of potatoes this is the method I'm going to try. I think I'll pass this little tip onto my sister who has volunteered to make mashed potatoes for 100 this Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I look around me at my friends, family, neighbors and even strangers and realize I'm surrounded by amazing women. The Grandmother on my street who has so lovingly adopted me and my family while we are both separated from our extended families. The stay at home moms who manage to run a house, raise kids, and still have time to serve those around them in need. The women who have to go to work to support there family only to come home and start their second shift as mother. I see women dealing with trials in their life that I wouldn't be able to handle with a 10th of the grace they do.

I recently was introduced to a blog of an ispiring Woman. Her name is Stephanie and she writes The NieNie Dialogues. Some of you may have seen her on Oprah a couple of months ago. On her blog she wrights about her life, her children, and her joys and sorrows. Just over a year ago her and her husband were in a fiery plane crash that left her severly burned over most of her body. Some of her posts are how she deals with her new appearance and her healing body. This post brought tears to my eyes. Her testimony of God and his love for her ring true for me too. To all you women out there, I want you to know that you are amazing and that God loves you. You are one of his special daughters. Thanks for being such an inspiration to me in my life.

Click the following link for an inspirational message.