Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Grandma Brown's Fruit Salad With Jello And Whipped Cream

 This was more from my father's side of the family.   Grandma Brown made a big bowl of this for every family gathering.  She combined fresh cut fruit with canned / jarred fruit, for lots of variety and a fresh texture.   We loved the festive pink color made by the combination of whipped cream and jello, and that is the one our family is most familiar with.  Sometimes the whole thing would be pink.   Sometimes, we would see more distinctive chunks of jello, it all depended on the mixing.  But you can use other colors/flavors of jello, if you wish.  This was a cool, refreshing dessert we all loved!   

Grandma Brown's Fruit Salad With Jello And Whipped Cream

3 apples, peeled cored and diced (1/2-inch cubes)
2 cans (15 oz) fruit cocktail, juice drained
3 Bananas, peeled and cut in ½-inch slices
1 medium bushel (appx. 20 grapes) sliced in half
1 can mandarin oranges, juice drained
1 jar (10 oz) Maraschino cherries, juice drained
1 tub (8 oz) Whipped Cream
Strawberry or Cherry Jello (3 oz package) prepared according to directions in a LARGE bowl, and chilled to set


1.        In a very large bowl, combine the apples, fruit cocktail, bananas, grapes, mandarin oranges, and cherries.  Very gently mix them together until combined.  Try not to mash up the bananas, or the canned fruit, as they are very soft.  
2.       Mix the chilled jello with a spoon, until it breaks up into very tiny clumps.
3.       Stir the whipped cream into the jello, until thoroughly combined.  
4.       Add Jello mixture to the fruit bowl, and blend very well with the fruit, again being gently so you don’t crush any soft fruit.  Cover with plastic and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until ready to serve.  

Melissa's Green Bean Casserole

This is one of my favorite side dishes, whether its a holiday or not!  But I do often save it for holidays, just to keep it special.   My Mom taught me to add sour cream and butter to the recipe, even though many recipes don't have it.   I think it adds a great, extra-creamy taste and really brings out the flavor of the onions.  Also...   Its extremely simple.   Enjoy!

Melissa’s Green Bean Casserole

1 can (10 3/4 oz.) Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 cup sour cream
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups (or 2 cans, water drained) cooked cut green beans
1 1/3 cups French’s crunchy fried onions (or any brand you can find)

1.       Preheat oven to 350 degrees, F. 
2.       In a large bowl, mix together the mushroom soup, sour cream, milk, melted butter, salt, pepper, green beans and only 1/3 of the crunchy fried onions.  Combine well, but mix gently so the green beans don’t fall apart. 
3.        Transfer all the green bean mixture into a 1 ½ qt baking dish.
4.       Place dish in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.   Pull the oven rack out so you can stir the casserole mixture gently.   Then top with remaining cup of crunchy onions and bake an additional 5 minutes, or until onions are golden.   Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes.  Serve. 

Old Fashioned Turkey Stuffing

 Yes, you could always go the old easy, boxed stuffing route.   But if you prefer to do something that could create a family tradition to pass on, something that is "only yours" and cannot be bought in a box-- set aside some time for this old fashioned turkey stuffing recipe!   Its enough to stuff a pretty large bird, and can certainly feed a crowd.  You can stuff it into the bird, or make it in a separate dish.    Or both.  This recipe is moist and delicious, it will keep the stuffing lovers wanting seconds!

Old Fashioned Turkey Stuffing
30 slices of bread
1 large onion (finely chopped)
2 stocks celery (finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
2 cups chicken broth
2 tsp sage
½ tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste


** You will need to toast and dry the bread 1.5 days ahead of making the stuffing / doing your turkey.  The bread needs at least 24 hours to fully dry.  Otherwise your stuffing may come out to gummy and doughy.

1.        Start by toasting the bread slices.  Lay them out on cookie sheet, under your broiler.  Toast until golden brown.   Flip them over and toast the other side the same way.   Place them in a paper bag for a 1.5 days.
2.       Preheat oven to 325 degrees, F. 
3.       Lightly grease a 9x 13 inch pan (if you won't be stuffing a bird).  
4.       Cut bread into croutons, ½ inch thick/long.  Do this in batches.  Add the bread to a large bowl.  
5.       In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the onion and celery.  Slowly cook until the vegetables are soft.   Then remove them from the heat and set aside.
6.       Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl, and add them to the bread crumbs, mixing thoroughly.  Add the chicken broth, and mix to moisten all the bread.  The mixture should be moist, but not mushy.  Use more water, if bread is too dry. 
7.       Stir in the cooked onion and celery. 
8.       Season the stuffing with sage, poultry seasoning, garlic powder and salt/pepper to taste.  Mix the spices in well.
9.       Transfer stuffing into prepared baking dish (or stuff it into the bird if desired, you can also bake any leftover stuffing that wont fit int he bird). 
10.   Bake for one hour, until top is brown and crisp (or until your turkey is done).  Remove from oven.  Serve.  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Turkey Giblet Gravy

If you are in a hurry, you can always get turkey gravy in a jar or can…   But lets be honest—NOTHING  beats the taste of fresh, homemade turkey giblet gravy!  Its really not that hard, so if you have never done it, and aren’t sure what to do, I can walk you through it until you are a master.   My parents took giblet gravy on a holiday very seriously.  We never cut corners on this, we always made “the real thing”.   Giblet gravy is so much more than a sauce.  Its the very important, slow-cooked, pure essence of the entire roasted turkey itself!  It enhances the flavor of the meat, compliments it perfectly and captures the very best natural flavors the bird has to offer.   Although the bird itself is delicious, we often saw the gravy as the true star of the holiday dinner table.  We drizzled it over our meat, stuffing, potatoes…   Even dipped our bread in it.   No holiday meal is complete, without the gravy.  

Turkey Giblet Gravy

--Raw Giblets of one turkey (neck, heart, liver, etc.)
--Water (start with 6 cups, add more as needed)
--Drippings from roasting pan of cooked turkey (can be added gradually while cooking the turkey, saving some for basting, then add all of it after turkey is done)
--Extra salt and pepper to taste, if needed
--4 tablespoons corn starch or flour
--½ cup cold water

** Start making your gravy as soon as possible.  Preferably as soon as you put your turkey in the oven, or even right before then.  The longer you cook the giblets and gravy base, the more tender they will be and the better your gravy will turn out—it will also make your house smell wonderful!   This recipe was meant to be used while roasting a holiday turkey in the oven.   But if you are not roasting a bird, and you simply want to make this gravy, use 2 cups of chicken broth, in place of roasting pan drippings. 

1.        Place the raw giblets and 6 cups of water in a medium pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium.   Allow giblets to simmer until the last 45 minutes before your turkey is done roasting.  If the water in your pan gets low, add enough to bring it back up to the original level.   Or more, depending on how much you want to make. 
2.       As the giblets simmer, gradually steal bits of pan drippings from your turkey pan, and add it to your gravy water.   As the bird cooks, more and more pan drippings will drain from the bird.  Be sure to leave enough for basting your bird.
3.       At the last 45 minutes before your bird is done, remove giblets from the water pot.  Leave the water simmering.
4.       If you don’t like meat or giblet bits in your gravy, sip to the next step.  But if you do-- place giblets on a plate and set them in the freezer for 5 minutes or so, until they are cool enough to handle.   Once they are cool, peel all the meat off the turkey neck.  Throw away the bones.  Gather the meat into a small pile and chop it up very fine with a sharp knife.  Now chop the heart, liver, etc. (or any pieces you like and discard the others) into very small pieces as well.   Place finely chopped giblet pieces back into the water pot. 
5.       When your bird is done and resting on the counter, take all the remaining drippings out of the turkey roasting pan and add it to your giblet water pot.  Add any extra salt or pepper now, to your taste. 
6.       Place the 4 tablespoons of corn starch (or flour) in a cup and add the ½ cup cold water.   Mix very thoroughly with a fork until it is perfectly blended and there are no lumps.   Pour immediately into the giblet gravy pot (do not allow the corn starch/flour to settle in the cup).   Stir the pot quickly to prevent any clumps from forming. 
7.       Turn the heat up and bring the gravy to a boil for 5 minutes, to help it thicken.   If you want the gravy thicker, repeat step 6 with more water/cornstarch/flour mixture.  Wait an additional 5 minutes to check the thickness.   Stir frequently.  Remember, gravy will also thicken quite a bit as it cools.
8.       When gravy is as thick as you like, remove the pot from the heat.  Transfer to a gravy bowl/vessel and serve over your turkey and mashed potatoes.