Saturday, November 24, 2012

Giving Thanks

One of my favorite holidays has always been Thanksgiving, a time for our family to gather together and to cook together while laughing and carrying on.  My fondest memory and probably the one I hold most dear, is the last Thanksgiving I had with my dad, in 2001.  I have always adored my dad, there wasn't anything he couldn't do or make, whether it was in the kitchen or in the garage creating his stained glass works of art or duck carving, he could do it all in my eyes.

Dad was always the 'cook' in our house.  Mom would make dinner, sometimes, but Dad was always more "experimental", mixing different flavors together, never hesitating to try something (ok, well other than mac & cheese - he wouldn't touch that with a ten foot pole).

 The night before Thanksgiving was the night we would sit in the kitchen, prepping the ingredients for Dad's sage sausage stuffing.  I'd be at the kitchen table dicing up celery while he took care of the onion (cause I don't do onions) while the sage sausage would be frying on the stove top.  After the veggies were added to the frying pan we'd start cubing the stale white bread into cubes, tossing them into the roasting pan in preparation for our meal the next afternoon.

There was A LOT of taste testing going on those nights, pinching finger fulls of the sausage right from the pan, and the smell, was just amazing.  To this day, the smell of sage sausage brings me right back to that kitchen with my dad.

Now, Thanksgiving is a time for me to reflect on all the great times and memories I have of my father.  Each Thanksgiving I've continued the tradition and have made "his" stuffing, minus the onions, lol.  This week alone, I've made it twice already and it's only Saturday, needless to say, it's a big favorite in our house and the "boy" and the "big boy" can't seem to get enough of it.

I am so thankful for time I spent with my father and for the incredible family and friends that I have surrounding me.  I think about them often, but especially during this time of year and despite what may be going on in our lives, whether that's in Michigan or here in Maryland or beyond, they are always close to my heart.

I hope your Thanksgiving memories are as bountiful and as special as mine are this holiday season.

Moist & Savory Stuffing

Another one of my assignments for November was making Moist & Savory Stuffing, utilizing both Swanson's Chicken Broth and Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing.

I have never used the seasoned bread cubes before. I've always just used good old plain white bread, leaving it out on a cookie sheet inside the oven to get stale before using it in the stuffing recipe I was pretty much raised on, so this was totally new to me.

Other than the seasoned bread cubes, this recipe was really similar to the one I make year after year.  I did leave out the onions because as I've said before, I am not a fan.  I don't use them or buy them although the husband does but since I was cooking, the onions were left out, lol.  I also added a roll of sage sausage, sauteed that up and added that to the broth, celery, pepper and seasoned stuffing mixture.

The stuffing was really quick and easy to make, there was no time spent dicing up stale bread which saved some time, but I found the stuffing to be on the salty side.  I like to be able to season my homemade stuffing to my liking, adding sage and poultry seasoning as much or as little as I want, but while these flavors weren't overpowering in the seasoned stuffing mix, the salt was overpowering.

After looking at the Pepperidge Farm website and checking out the nutritional information, I found that the bagged stuffing has 600mg of sodium per every 3/4c portion.  With the "big boys" high blood pressure we really try and watch our salt intake and so while the stuffing was okay, I would rather make my own and eliminate a lot of the salt content.

To try Moist & Savory Stuffing, head over to Allrecipes!

Swanson's Ultra Creamy Mashed Potatoes

One of this month's Allrecipes requirements was to make the Swanson's Ultra Creamy Mashed Potatoes.  Having never made mashed potatoes using chicken broth, I was a little leery about how they would taste.  I've always just boiled my potatoes in water then mashed them with butter, salt and pepper and milk (or cream if I had it) and they've almost always turned out well.

I followed the recipe as directed and I have to admit, they were really, really good.  The chicken broth flavor was not overwhelming at all and I used heavy cream instead of the light cream since that was all that I had in the fridge.

The potatoes were nice and fluffy, full of flavor, sorta decadent with the heavy cream and butter.  I can't say I'll make them this way every time, but if I happen to have Swanson's Chicken Broth in the cupboard, I'll be using that instead of water.

I'm thinking the next time I make these I'll try using the yukon gold potatoes and see how they turn out, instead of using our usual russet potatoes.

To try this recipe, click here to try Swanson's Ultra Creamy Mashed Potatoes.