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Thanksgiving- The Supporting Cast

Turkey will be the star of the show on most tables around the country tomorrow.  But we have some side dishes that make a great supporting cast!  We are talking about cornbread dressing and cranberry sauce.  We are not taking about the stuffing that comes out of a box and cranberry sauce that come out of a can, though we know there are many of you who love those because it is what you grew up eating.  That’s great if you love it.  But if you don’t or you are just ready to try something else, we have some mighty yummy side dishes for you today!

In the South, the “bready” side dish eaten with turkey is often referred to as “dressing” rather than “stuffing”.  Though they are made the same way essentially, when you don’t “stuff” the bird with the mixture, instead of calling it stuffing, it is called simply dressing.  There are some advantages to NOT stuffing your turkey.  The most obvious is that you don’t have the trouble of cleaning out the cavity of the turkey and drying it well so that you can stuff it.  The other major benefit is that there is far less chance of the turkey spoiling quickly if it does not have all that bread stuffed in it to foster the growth of bacteria.  The third, and maybe the best reason not to stuff your turkey, is that there are more pan juices to use for making gravy if the bread isn’t absorbing the majority of them inside the turkey.  You can still achieve a moist and very flavorful dressing by simply adding some of the pan juices to the dressing before baking it in the oven.

Southern Cornbread Dressing

1 recipe of biscuits, baked and crumbled
1 recipe of cornbread, baked and crumbled
1/2 loaf of bread, slices dried and crumbled
2 onions, finely chopped
2 green peppers, finely chopped
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 whole stalk of celery, finely chopped
1 bunch green onion, chopped
1 stick of butter
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
fresh sage, optional
fresh thyme, optional
fresh rosemary, optional
1 cup turkey or chicken broth (Trader Joes sells turkey broth but if you can’t find it use chicken broth)
3 beaten eggs

Bake the biscuits and the cornbread.  Allow to cool and then crumble along with the dried bread slices.  ( You can either toast the bread in a toaster, or place in a 250 degree oven for 10 minutes to dry it out).

Melt butter in a large pan. Add onion, peppers, celery, parsley, green onion and the seasoning.  If you have some or all of the fresh herbs listed, chop a handful and add to the veggie mixture.  If not, no problem.  Saute the vegetables until they are soft.  Allow to cool then add these to the bread mixture.  Stir to combine.  Taste and adjust seasoning adding more salt or pepper as needed.   Add the broth and beaten eggs and mix together well.  The mixture should be moist but not too moist, similar to what cookie dough looks like.  Turn into a well buttered baking dish.  You can make the dressing to this point and place in the refrigerator up to a day in advance. Before baking, you can drizzle some turkey drippings over the top if you like.  Bake at 350 degree for 30 minutes (40 minutes if it has been refrigerated) or until the top is slightly crispy and browned.  This is delicious!  We think you’ll never stuff your bird again.  This makes a lot of dressing so there is plenty for leftovers, or you can freeze half and save it for your Christmas dinner.

Cranberry sauce doesn’t have to be a red gelatinous blob.  It can (and we think should) be a sweet/tart tasty accompaniment to your turkey.  And it could hardly be any easier to make!

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

1 bag fresh cranberries
1 cup orange juice or water
1 cup sugar

Bring the juice or water and the sugar to a boil.  Add the cranberries and continue boiling for 10 minutes.  Turn off the heat.  Cranberries will have “popped” and the mixture will look very runny.  Pour the sauce into the bowl or dish in which you plan to serve it.  As it cools it will “set up” and become more the consistency of jam.  Refrigerate if you are making it the day before.  Remove from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temp before serving.

No matter what you are eating tomorrow, or where you are eating it, or whom you are eating with, remember that gratitude is riches!  Take the time to be ever so mindful of the abundance of blessings that God has bestowed on you.  Do that every day and you will be rich beyond your wildest dreams in all the ways that really matter and have an abundant life filled to overflowing with love and joy!

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