As a kid, Thanksgiving dressing was never my favorite. Mom always made two batches–one with oysters and one without.

I’m not sure how the oyster tradition came to our family. I always took my obligatory dressing from the without pan.

Now I voluntarily put dressing on my plate. : )

Mom didn’t really have a “recipe” to give me. She just told me how to make it.

First-make a batch of cornbread. Rather vague instructions.

I use the recipe from the back of the Aunt Jemima Corn Meal package for my cornbread. I’m not sure if Mom uses the same one or not.

Cornbread recipe

I always make my cornbread in a cast iron skillet. I suppose it’s just is the Southern way!

cast-iron skillet

Sorry, no picture of its golden deliciousness.

After the cornbread has cooled, crumble it.

crumble the cornbread

I took the easy way out and gave it to the girls to crumble. They were so excited to have a break from school that they needed to do something!

dressing ingredients

Chop up a medium onion and 2-3 ribs of celery. I chopped my veggies early. I was so glad to get them out of the refrigerator. I could open the FREEZER door and smell onions!

sliced bread

Soak a couple of pieces of plain white bread in milk–

soak the bread

about “that much” milk.

I started smashing the bread with the back of a spoon. Apparently, that was wrong. Mom came behind me and squished it with her fingers. I think she just wanted to have the Thanksgiving experience too.

mix dressing

Mix the cornbread, veggies and soaked bread together.

Add two eggs and seasoning. We added about 1 tsp of Poultry Seasoning, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. It could have used a bit more of the poultry seasoning.

seasonings

Next, start ladling in the turkey broth. You can use chicken broth if you like.

turkey stock

I put in 8-12 ladles of broth. My ladle was pretty small though.

You want your dressing to be kind of wet looking.

mixed dressing

Spread it in a pan and bake for 20-30 minutes at 350˚.

dressing

This picture is before it went in the oven. I failed to get an “after” picture. Well, there is a picture of the whole Thanksgiving spread. It will come later.

The top of the dressing gets nice and brown.

It turned out pretty good. Chip said it had too much onion in it. Next time I will add more poultry seasoning though.

If it ends up a little dry, that’s okay. You can always smother it in GRAVY!

gc_givethanks_1Back in October, Mom and I started talking about Thanksgiving. For YEARS Thanksgiving was at my Mom and Dad’s house. Even after my husband and I got married (the weekend after Thanksgiving!) Thanksgiving was still at Mom and Dad’s. (For a long time, my in-laws lived out of the country making a Thanksgiving swap very difficult and costly.)

My sisters and their spouses and all the cousins would come. It was great–crazy, but great!

As the years have passed, things have changed. We no longer head out for Black Friday sales. With demanding jobs far away, we are not able to gather everyone together like we used to do. I wish it could be the same. I guess change is just part of life.

One year we all loaded up and went to Liz and Trey’s in Texas for Thanksgiving. Another year, flying out to Virginia to be with Nana and Bud was fun and different. A couple of years ago we all headed to Laura and Brent’s new house near Fort Smith, AR.

In the 22 years that Chip and I have been married, we have NEVER had Thanksgiving at our house! I’ve never even made much more than mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving. So, I asked Mom and Dad if they would come to our house this year and teach me how to “do” Thanksgiving. I invited the sisters, too. Remember those demanding jobs? Too bad they can’t come. : (

While Mom and I sat on the plane on our recent trip to Baltimore, I got all the low-down for Thanksgiving 101!

There will be several blog posts. Most of them will come after Thanksgiving, obviously. Be sure you save your favorites on Pinterest for next year or even for Christmas!

The Pies!

Yesterday I made my pie crusts. Here is the recipe I use. Of course, you can use store-bought if you like.

cubed butter

The hardest thing about making a homemade crust is hauling the food processor out of the closet!

Food Processor

I got to use my fancy pastry mat that my hubby gave me for my birthday.

pastry mat

The dough has to chill. That’s why I made it yesterday. Then it has to warm back up a little before you roll it.

roll pie crust

Perhaps it needed to warm up just a little more!

working hard

Gather all your ingredients–pie helper optional!

pie helper

Mom uses the Pumpkin Pie recipe on the back of the Libby’s pumpkin! Well, that’s easy enough!

Pumpkin Pie recipe

Mix the dry. Mix the wet. Mix together. Follow directions on the back of the can!

dry ingredients

dry ingredients mixed

eggs

add pumpkin

add wet to dry

add milk

Once you finally have your pie crust warm enough to be rolled, make sure it is all even-no lumps.

testing for evenness

Place the crust in the pan and crimp the edges. Of course you can get all fancy with your edges if you like. We chose regular crimping.

pie crust in pan

pie crimping

pie fluting

prepared pie crust

Then fill the pie crust with the Pumpkin Pie filling.

filling the pie shell

pumpkin pie filling

almost there

baking pumpkin pie

I know you will be SHOCKED by this…but this was my first Pumpkin Pie! Had I made one before, I would have known to use the deeper pie pan for the Pumpkin Pie. I also would have known how careful one must be when transporting the unbaked Pumpkin Pie to the oven! Almost didn’t make it!

My first pumpkin pie

Looks pretty good.

The Pecan Pie…well, it was my first Pecan Pie as well.

The Pecan Pie recipe is on the back of the Karo Syrup bottle.

Pecan Pie recipe

Check out this newfangled bottle. There is a measurement mark for one cup right on the bottle. I used it. I didn’t like it. I was afraid I would accidentally use too much. An easy way for less-mess-measuring is to spray your measuring cup with cooking spray prior to filling it with the sticky syrup.

easy measuring

So, we followed the directions on the bottle, mostly.

pecan pie filling

The directions said to stir the pecans into the syrup mixture. Well, we had recently been watching a cooking show where the guy made  lovely rings on top with the pecans. Oooo, yeah! Let’s make it fancy!

fancy pecan pie

That was all well and good and time-consuming, however, we had lots of leftover pecans. I didn’t want my first Pecan Pie to not have enough pecans in it!!!

So, I had the “bright idea” to chop up the remaining pecans and kind of poke them down in those empty spots.

Don’t do that.

more pecans

Our pie went from fancy and beautiful to looking like someone had already chewed it up!

ugly pie

It got a little scorched in the oven even though I covered it with foil. Not sure why part of my crust flopped over.

Fingers crossed that it tastes good!

cooling pies

So how do you make a Pecan Pie that looks all fancy and still has the right amount of pecans in it?!

Stay tuned…more Thanksgiving 101 to come. I’ve already chopped celery and onions and made the cornbread for the dressing.

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