Can you believe that Thanksgiving is only 15 days away? Are you ready?
If you are, then you are much better off than I am. We don't even know where or with whom we are spending Turkey Day. Do we do the traditional family event even though we are no longer a traditional family? Or do we go off the grid and do something we've never done before?
Usually, I am in the kitchen making sides and desserts, but I have discovered over the last four months that my remaining family doesn't like enjoy the foods that I do. Take that to mean "green" foods. Brussels sprouts roasted with olive oil and balsamic vinegar with a touch of kosher salt are my favorite Thanksgiving side. Not so much my 23-year-old daughter and definitely not my 3-year-old granddaughter.
We do agree on one traditional side, my low-sugar sweet potato casserole made with fresh sweet potatoes. Funny how Elyssa and Lilly always like the starches and sweets.
For those in the planning or even buying stages for the big meal, I thought I would share some sides that might add a new twist to the Thanksgiving fare. Ann Maring of Bradenton, Fla., who is not a big fan of squash, has found a squash casserole that even she enjoys.
Yes, I know I've been writing about gourds and squash lately, but they are in season, which means they are less expensive vegetables now, making them a cost-saver. Grocery prices rise on each supermarket trip, so family
pocketbooks need all the help they can get.
"This is a wonderful recipe for the holidays," Maring said. "I hope your readers enjoy this. I have enjoyed using it for the past 20 years."
COUNTRY CLUB SQUASH
12-14 medium size yellow squash
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
1 beef bouillon cube
1 tablespoons grated onion
1 egg, well-beaten
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup bread crumbs or stuffing mix
1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
Chopped dill to taste; fresh is best
Cook and mash squash; add salt, pepper and butter.
Dissolve bouillon cube in 1/8 cup boiling water. Add to squash. Mix thoroughly, add onion, egg and sour cream. Sprinkle in dill.
Pour into a greased 2-quart casserole. Combine bread crumbs and grated cheese; sprinkle on top. Dust with paprika. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
-- Submitted by Ann Maring
One of my favorite New Orleans eateries is Dooky Chase's, and she makes the best stuffed mirlitons, which are also called chayote where I come from and vegetable pears in other locales. Guess what? They are gourds, but are easy to cook ones.
Most large supermarkets carry mirlitons.
Here's Chase's recipe for stuffed mirlitons.
6 large mirlitons
1/2 cup butter
1/2 pound smoked ham (ground)
1 cup chopped onions
1 pound shrimp (peeled, deveined and chopped)
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 cloves garlic (mashed and chopped)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon white pepper
1-1/4 cups plain bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Cut mirlitons in half and remove seeds. Place in pot of water; boil for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain off water and let cool.
Scoop out the pulpy inside of mirlitons, keeping shells intact; set aside.
Melt butter in pot. Add ham and onions, cooking until onions are soft. Add chopped shrimp and stir well. Add mirliton pulp to mixture, mashing as it is added. Add green onions, garlic, salt, parsley and white pepper. Let cook for 20 to 30 minutes. Mixture might be a bit watery at this point. Tighten mixture with 1 cup of the bread crumbs. Fill the mirliton shells with the mixture.
Toss together the remaining1/4 cup of bread crumbs and paprika. Sprinkle this mixture over each filled shell. Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Yield: 12 servings.
-- From "The Dooky Chase Cookbook"
Another traditional Thanksgiving side is corn, and my family loves corn. While combing through some old cookbooks, I found the 1965 Biloxi edition of "The Southern Cookbook of Fine Old Recipes." I decided to try the fresh corn pudding in the book. It's a winner.
This recipe calls for celery, and you readers know I don't do celery, so I omit it and add red or yellow bell pepper instead. I usually use yellow bell pepper so Lilly doesn't know it is there.
FRESH CORN PUDDING
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped celery (I use bell pepper)
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 cup milk
2-1/4 cups fresh corn kernels
2 tablespoons snipped parsley
2 eggs, well-beaten
Heat butter in skillet. Add onion and celery and cook until onion is soft. Blend in a mixture of next 3 ingredients; heat until mixture bubbles. Add the milk gradually, stirring constantly. Bring rapidly to boiling, stirring constantly; cook 1 to 2 minutes longer.
Mix in corn and parsley. Fold in the beaten eggs. Turn corn mixture into a buttered, shallow 1- 1/2-quart baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until a knife comes out clean when inserted halfway between center and edge of dish. To serve, cut into squares. Makes 6 servings.
-- From Biloxi edition of "The Southern Cookbook of Fine Old Recipes"
Readers, if you have a favorite Thanksgiving side dish, send me the recipe, but quickly please. The holiday is fast approaching and then comes Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year's. The year is speeding along.
Upside down cake
A few weeks ago, Lynette Faul tried the strawberry upside down cake recipe that appeared in this column and liked it. She decided to try other fruits. She made the cake with pineapple and said it was "yum-yum."
"I tried a pan used for pineapple upside down cake, but it did not work well, so back to the basic pan," she said. "Next, will try pear."
The strawberry upside down cake calls for a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan.
Créme brulee cheeseball
Terry Turan asked for a créme brulee cheeseball recipe, and readers have not shared one. A friend suggested that she try Wind & Willow's créme brulee cheeseball mix. She said it is really good. Several stores in South Mississippi and Bradenton, Fla., area sell Wind & Willow products. Check out the locations at windandwillow.com.
Crabmeat au gratin recipes
Two readers want crabmeat au gratin recipes from Lookout in downtown Gulfport, and the now-closed Vrazel's, which was located on U.S. 90 in Gulfport.
Problem with recipe
Sue Gomes had problems with a pumpkin crisp recipe that appeared in Oct. 14 column. First, she could not find a butter-flavored cake mix. She also could not find an 18.25-ounce cake mix.
"After baking it, the pumpkin was the consistency of mashed sweet potato and was really sweet," she said.
Perhaps Linda Hook of Ocean Springs, who sent in the recipe, can tell Gomes what went wrong. Any suggestions, Hook?
Pillsbury makes a butter-flavored cake mix. I have used it, and it is good. After looking at the recipe, adjustments could be made by reducing the amounts of evaporated milk, sugar and butter.
I am re-publishing the recipe in case other readers missed it and for others who may have made the recipe.
Hook found this recipe in the November 2005 issue of Southern Living.
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 (18.25-ounce) package butter-flavored cake mix
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup butter, melted
Whipped cream, optional
Ground nutmeg, optional
Stir together first 5 ingredients. Pour into a lightly greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle cake mix evenly over pumpkin mixture; sprinkle with pecans. Drizzle butter over pecans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour and 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream, if desired. Sprinkle with nutmeg, if desired.
-- Submitted by Linda Hook
Dressing or stuffing?
What do you call it: dressing or stuffing? Do you like the side made with bread or cornbread? Or do you prefer oyster dressing? Let me know quickly. Thanksgiving is at hand.
Sweet potato bread pudding
"Could you find out the recipe for sweet potato bread pudding that is served at Lookout in Gulfport?" said Pam Taylor of Gulfport. "My friend Beth would love the recipe."
Rob Stinson, two different readers want two different recipes from Lookout. Could you share these?
Readers, if you do a bread pudding with sweet potatoes, please send me the recipe to share others.
Andrea Yeager, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.