By Linda Gilden, Crosswalk.com
"Text me your favorite dish so we can be sure everyone has their favorite foods on Thanksgiving." Our entire family received this request from my middle daughter. Because I had been recovering from surgery, my girls decided they would plan Thanksgiving and carry out the plan. The one thing she failed to mention in the text is that once you suggest a dish, you are responsible for cooking it and bring to the family dinner!
Needless to say, the list was long since there were 17 people on the other end of that text. So we had quite a feast plan – including turkey and the trimmings, as well as grilled cheese! We aren't going to have to eat for days!
Several items appeared on the list more than one time. The most popular at our house is Apples and Cheese and is expected on every holiday table no matter the time of the year. It's easy and freezes well, so you can make it ahead of time, and your dish will probably be scraped clean!
1. Apples and Cheese
The recipe can be easily doubled.
1 can of drained sliced apples (NOT pie filling, but they are usually near the pie filling. (You can use fresh, but why chop and peel if you don't have to!)
1/2 pound Velveeta cheese, grated
3/4 cup of sugar (some people use a little less)
1 stick of butter or margarine
3/4 cup of flour
Butter (or spray) deep casserole dish. Put drained apples in the dish. Melt butter and mix with sugar, flour, and grated Velveeta. I use an electric mixer, but elbow grease will work as well.
Spread mixture over apples. Bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes. Watch it at the end cause it can burn! It serves about 6 (unless you double it) if you have other dishes! Enjoy!
The second favorite on the texts list is Cheese Grits. You may think you don't like grits, but this recipe will change your mind.
2. Cheese Grits
1 cup grits
3 cups water
½ tablespoon salt
½ cup butter
1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese
1 cup heavy cream
Bring salt and water to a boil. While stirring water, pour in grits. Add butter and stir until melted. Simmer on low for 10 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Add heavy cream and cheese. Whisk until blended. If you are taking this somewhere, put the mixture in the slow cooker to keep warm.
It seemed after this, the texts shifted to the sweets section. Most families have a number of these on their lists.
1 cup peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips
2 tablespoons coconut oil, optional
Cream the peanut butter together with the vanilla extract. It works best using the paddle attachment with a stand mixer. However, you can use a hand-held mixer if you don't have one.
Add the powdered sugar and mix well on low. Be sure to scrape your bowl so that it gets mixed totally.
Roll into the size balls you would like, and place them on your baking sheet covered with parchment paper. The kids love to help with this. Just be sure to show them how big to make their buckeyes. When your baking sheet is full, place it in the refrigerator so they can firm up before you dip them in the chocolate. Leave them for at least 20 minutes.
Put chocolate and coconut oil in a bowl. Melt in the microwave at 50% power. Stir well. Then place in a shallow glass. They will be easier to dip and use all the chocolate that way.
Use a toothpick to dip the peanut butter balls into the chocolate. Leave a small amount of the peanut butter showing. Place on waxed paper to dry, and again, once the sheet is full, place in refrigerator while the chocolate firms. If your children or grandchildren are helping to dip, show them how to eliminate the access and how to twirl quickly, so the ball doesn't come off the toothpick.
Buckeyes will store for several weeks in the refrigerator or can be frozen for random snacking.
4. Peppermint Fudge
This is one of the most fun dishes to make with children.
1 or 2 peppermint poles (easily found at grocery stores or dollar stores.
1 or 2 packages of Candi-Quick or similar product, chocolate or vanilla or 12 oz. of chocolate chips
Get out a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. Spray lightly with nonstick spray or cover with parchment or waxed paper.
Take the peppermint poles and put them in a zippered bag. (You may have to break them to fit.) Give each grandchild a hammer. If the children are small, give them a plastic hammer. Put a towel down on a hard surface and the bag on top. Let the children beat the peppermint until it is in small pieces. This may take a while, and you may have to give extra assistance to some of the children.
Recently I was sharing the recipe with someone, and a third friend was with us. She spoke up. "I'll tell you what we do. I just double-bag the peppermint, place it under the back tire of the car and back up. It does a great job of crushing the peppermint!"
I hadn't thought of that method, but when the kids are gone, perhaps I'll try it!
Melt the chocolate in a large bowl in the microwave. Add a little shortening to make it smoother if you like. Stir well until all lumps are gone. Once smooth, add the crushed peppermint and stir well. Pour it onto the cookie sheet and spread out well. Don't make it too thin, but thick enough to break into bark-sized pieces when it is set.
Breaking it into pieces is fun for the kids as well. Put the pieces into an airtight tin and store in the refrigerator. Take out to serve and let come to room temperature.
5. The Most Important Side
The most important side of Thanksgiving is family. It is wonderful to have all our family together and to have an opportunity to tell them how thankful we are for them. The best recipe for a happy Thanksgiving is to love each other, respect each other, and encourage each other wherever they are in their life's journey. Many families haven't seen each other for months, and a big Thanksgiving gathering is just the place to catch up on everyone's news. You may want to go around the table and let each person share the most exciting thing that has happened this year. Or share a goal that was met during the last year. Or one they are looking forward to in the coming year. As you sit around the Thanksgiving table, catching up makes the best conversation.
Whatever the size of your family or whoever can show up for your gathering, be thankful for those who are there and those who couldn't come. Have everyone sign a card for those who couldn't be there. Let them know they are not forgotten but always loved as part of the family.
Happy Thanksgiving, full of family love to everyone!
Linda Gilden is an award-winning writer, speaker, editor, certified writing and speaking coach, and personality consultant. Her passion is helping others discover the joy of writing and learn to use their writing to make a difference. Linda recently released Articles, Articles, Articles! and is the author of over a thousand magazine articles and 19 books including the new Quick Guides for Personalities. She loves every opportunity to share her testimony, especially through her writing. Linda’s favorite activity (other than eating folded potato chips) is floating in a pool with a good book surrounded by splashing grandchildren—a great source of writing material!