Today is my first blog on what I might call "Recipe Wednesday" (do you like the sound of that?). I thought I would blog about Thanksgiving meals, but then I realized that I didn't have any pictures of food that I had cooked for Thanksgiving. Well, that is not exactly right - I do have some of Thanksgiving dinner from about four years ago, but I don't have any of the individual dishes being prepared or the steps to prepare them. So, how am I going to share with you the recipe's if I don't have pictures to go along with the recipes? I haven't figured that one out yet, Dan just might be a Guinea pig in the next couple of weeks so I can have pictures (but I am sure he won't mind). However, before I do get to the recipe that I have done for today's blog I wanted to explain why I wanted to start the Wednesday Recipe segment.
Have any of your noticed the "menu's" being featured in all the magazines for Thanksgiving dinner? Okay, just in case you haven't let me give you some examples:
Goat Cheese-Pistachio Cheese Ball
Wild Mushroom Soup
Golden Roasted Turkey With Pan Gravy
Cranberry Apple Mold
Green Beans & Brussels Sprouts
Classic Mashed Potatoes with Green Onion & Chives
Checkerboard Sweet Potatoes
Roasted Cauliflower With Cheese Sauce
I promise you, that is the menu that is printed in a very popular magazine that you can buy at any register in any grocery store in the country (and I am NOT talking about some high end magazine - initials FC mean anything to anyone?). Now, maybe some of you are fancier cooks than I am, but the only thing on this "menu" that MIGHT find it's way onto my Thanksgiving table would be the "Golden Roasted Turkey with Pan Gravy".
Okay, just in case you think that this might be an exaggeration, here is another example:
Cream Cheese and Chutney Roulade
Sweet and Spicy Roasted Pecans
Maple-Glazed Turkey with Onion-Cider Gravy
Slow-Cooker Wild Rice and Mushroom Stuffing
Pomegranate Pear and Arugula Salad
Two Potato Gratin
Mulled-Cider Cranberry Sauce
Spiced-Apple Iced Tea
Fall Fruit Crumble for dessert
So, where did I come up with this one? How about that magazine that a lot of people buy because it has so many coupons in it. (Once again, not one that people consider a "fancy" magazine.)
So, what would one of the "fancy" magazines have as their Thanksgiving dinner? Well, they don't have just ONE dinner - oh no, they have several different options of how to prepare the "basics classic seasonal recipes" such as:
Creole Deep-Fried Turkey
Apple-Bourbon Turkey and Gravy
How about a
Citrus-Grilled Turkey Breast
Roasted Turkey with Bearnaise Butter
For Sides you have to choice of:
Creole Cornbread Dressing
Shrimp and Grits Dressing
Wild Rice and Mushrooms
Balsamic-Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
and they can't leave one dish alone - they have to mess it up with
Sweet Potato-Carrot Casserole
"They" even messed with the Cranberry Sauce by making it into Cranberry Salsa (really, Salsa?).
Now, I don't know about you, but these aren't any "classic" recipes of mine.
After looking at all this I started thinking (that is never a good thing) and I wondered - what happened to the good ole Traditional Southern Thanksgiving Dinner from our childhood? I wondered IF anyone even knows what comprises that anymore, or if we have gotten so used to someone else telling us what we are suppose to fix and eat that we are always trying to out do each other. Or we work so hard at trying to make that "perfect" Thanksgiving dinner that it can never lives up to what we dream about in our heads, and we have worked so hard at preparing it that we don't enjoy the day and our family which is what is really important.
So, what I had
thought about doing wanted to do was to write about what a Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner in my house was when I was a little girl, and what it evolved into when my girls were little and what I continue to prepare. I will admit that, yes, I have fallen into that "have to make it better" trap sometimes that we all read about in magazines and see on television - until, one day I realized - this isn't what is important. The being together, the traditions of the day, and the family recipes are what is really important. So, yes, I will share my family menu for Thanksgiving here (and guess what, it changed yesterday), but that's okay. Your traditions and your family is different than mine - and that's okay and the whole point of "Recipe Wednesday". I would like for you to stop and think about what is special to you and your family - and if you don't have any traditions yet - start some for your family. You might be surprised where they might lead.
So, what is my Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner? Well, this is the typical menu:
Roasted Turkey with Pan Gravy
Spiral Cut Ham
Macaroni and Cheese
Sweet Potato Casserole
Steamed Green Beans w/slivered Almonds
Honey Glazed Carrots
Cranberry Sauce (good ole Ocean Spray Jellied)
Desserts Vary, but you can bet on these always being there:
Sometimes we add a tossed salad and sometimes we add Ambrosia (but usually we save the Ambrosia for Christmas - don't ask me why because I can't answer that, but we do.) As you can see by the menu - it is NOT fancy - just a good ole basic meal - just a lot of food. I guess that is what makes it Thanksgiving. You might also wonder why I have two meats when none of the other "Menus" feature two meats and most people don't think of having two - well, to be real honest - one of my girls does not eat turkey, so when she was little I started out with just a ham steak - but as the 'family' grew to include in laws and other family members we have gone to a spiral cut ham.
wanted would like to do with Recipe Wednesday was is to take various items off "my" menu and show how I make it - and also give some variations - for those that are beginners and for those that are more experienced cooks (and believe me - I AM NOT AN EXPERT COOK - NO PAULA DEEN LIVES IN THIS HOUSE HOLD) but I might be able to help someone out there. If so, then it will be all worth while.
Now, while this may be the long range plan (meaning the next month - who knows, we might even do Christmas dinner - we'll see how this goes) -but, what about today? Well, I do have a recipe for you - but it won't be for Thanksgiving (but you might be able to use it for leftovers - instead of Chicken Salad you could make Turkey Salad).
The first thing you are going to do is cut up your chicken into bite size chunks. Okay, I can see some of you saying - Wait, Wait, where did you get the chicken? Well, this is where the stages comes in. If you are a beginner (or just don't have a lot of time) you have two options -
1. Buy a pre-cooked chicken from the deli and pull it off the bone and cut in bite size chunks.
2. Buy Tyson Grilled Chicken in the bag - it is already cut up into chunks for you AND all you have to do is pour it in the bowl.
Now, if you have the time, you have another option:
Take a whole chicken, season with favorite seasoning. Place in crock pot and cook on low for about 5 hours. Let cool and then pull off bone and cut up. (If you choose this option, I usually cook the chicken on the day before I want to make the salad)
Put cut up chicken in large bowl.
Cut up seedless grapes. You can use either black seedless, red seedless, or green seedless; whichever you prefer. This is not rocket science - so the amount you put in is also up to your taste. I usually do about a cup and I cut them into fourths.
Next step, cut up some scallions. Once again the amount you use is up to you. Dan likes a lot of onion in his chicken salad, my daughter doesn't - so IF I am making JUST for us I add more onion. If my daughter is coming over, I'll put in less. This is four scallions cut up. Add them to the bowl with the grapes and chicken.
Add mayonnaise, I put in about one cup (my daughter adds more, she loves her mayo), salt and pepper to taste. Fold together. Do NOT over mix, as this will break down your grapes, which you don't want.
I hope you enjoy this recipe - let me know how it turns out for you. I would love to hear from you with ideas on what you would like to see on "Recipe Wednesday". Also, if you would like to, drop me a line and tell me about what your Traditional Thanksgiving Menu consists of. I would love to know!