Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and how many cooks are scurrying around with last-minute preparations or side dishes or desserts?
Don't panic. There is still time to do sweet potatoes, baked or in casseroles. A reader offers two squash recipes, a cake and stuffed squash. More importantly, is the cornbread baked for the dressing or has the bread, if doing a bread stuffing, been allowed to dry out?
Hostesses can handle all these things today. If the turkey is troublesome, call the Butterball Hotline at 1-800-BUTTERBALL (1-800-288-8372) or go to butterball.com/turkey-talk-line/. The experts are willing to help.
Below the Mason-Dixon Line, the must-have side is called dressing, whether it is stuffed in the turkey or baked by itself, but reader Jean Norton has the answer.
"I was under the assumption that stuffing was 'dressing' cooking inside the bird, i.e., stuffed in the bird," she said. "If cooked outside the bird, it was called dressing."
It is an old battle, stuffing vs. dressing. Whatever it's called, it makes a Thanksgiving turkey.
"Growing up in Alabama, it was always dressing," said Tina Crawford of Bradenton, Fla. "We didn't stuff the bird but put our dressing in a large Pyrex dish.
"It was (and still is) made with day-old French bread (half loaf), cornbread (I make buttermilk cornbread), a good white ground meal; baked in an iron skillet."
Here's Crawford's dressing recipe:
1/2 loaf day-old French bread
2 cups of meal for the bread, no sugar added and baked according to favorite cornbread recipe
Half bag Pepperidge Farm Stuffing mix
Mix bread, cornbread and stuffing mix with heavy broth made by boiling giblets with onions, celery and lots of black pepper. Mix well with lots of melted butter, chopped green onions. We like our dressing moist, not dry. When turkey comes out, spoon about 3 or 4
tablespoons of drippings over dressing. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Better than the turkey.
-- Submitted by Tina Crawford
"We always called it dressing, made (with) white bread and bulk sausage," Lea Saucier said. "We make it every year, and it brings back memories of enjoying it with long-gone parents and siblings. What a pleasure to share it now with my children and grandchildren."
Saucier said she made Ann Maring's Country Club Squash that appeared in this column recently.
"It is superb, the best squash casserole I've ever made or had," she said. "Thanks for sharing all the recipes."
More on squash
Peggy West of Long Beach and I have been corresponding for years and friends on Facebook but never met until a few months ago. She takes her preschoolers to the Long Beach Library, and I take my granddaughter. Of course, we started talking recipes, and she asked if I had ever had a squash cake. I hadn't, but it sounded interesting. I like squash just about any way cooks can prepare it.
"I'll bring you some," she said.
When she brought it, we were not at the library that day. Last week, she brought me the recipe plus a stuffed squash recipe along with a bag of frozen squash from her garden and frozen okra. I turned the okra into okra and tomatoes -- so good.
Here are her two recipes that work well for Thanksgiving or any time. There's still time before tomorrow's feast to make these.
2 cups self-rising flour
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cinnamon
2/3 cup oil
1 cup blanched yellow squash
Mix ingredients together and pour into prepared 9-by-13-inch baking pan or 8-by-11-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown.
-- Submitted by Peggy West
This recipe is from West's Grandma Mary Carver, some of whose recipes were published in a Girl Scout cookbook from the 1950s.
5 medium yellow squash
1 pound ground round
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 to 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese (optional; West uses the cheese)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce with mushrooms
Boil squash in salted water until easily pierced with a fork. Cool, split lengthwise and scoop out pulp. Save the pulp. Sauté the meat with onions and celery. Add squash pulp, bread crumbs, 2 to 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and Mexican blend cheese, if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Stuff squash shells with the dressing. Put in an oven-proof dish. Pour tomato sauce over squash. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. West also sprinkles a little Mexican blend cheese over top, too. Bake at 350 degrees about 35 to 40 minutes. This can be made early in the day. Good as a meat or vegetable.
Note: West adds Mexican blend cheese to the stuffing mixture and also on top of the stuffed squash.
-- Submitted by Peggy West
Vrazel's Crabmeat au Gratin
Jackie Crawford reminded me that Vrazel's Crabmeat Au Gratin recipe appeared in this column in late February or March. At that time, Pamela S. Stone and Crawford sent in Chef Bill Vrazel's famous dish.
Homer Dedeaux asked for the recipe. These two ladies have the answer.
Stone found hers in "Mississippi Coast Restaurants Post Katrina," and Crawford found hers in "Feeding the Faithful: Cursillo Movement of South Mississippi," which was published in 2010 or 2011.
"This is a very good cookbook," Crawford said. "Mr. Vrazel has several of his recipes in it."
VRAZEL'S CRABMEAT AU GRATIN
1 pound crabmeat
6 ounces butter
6 ounces flour
1 quart half and half
1 egg yolk
1- 1/2 cups medium diced onions, sautéed in 6 ounces butter)
Salt and pepper to taste
6 ounces Parmesan cheese
Melt butter and flour on medium heat, stirring for 5 minutes, but do not brown. Add half and half and bring to just a simmer. Turn heat off.
Place egg yolk in a bowl and add 3 to 4 ounces of hot cream sauce and mix well. Repeat this step with 3 to 4 more ounces of cream sauce. Add remaining cream sauce and blend well.
Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in onion and crabmeat. Place in a casserole dish and top with Parmesan cheese. Bake in 375 degree oven until lightly browned and bubbly. Serves 4.
-- Submitted by Pamela S. Stone and Jackie Crawford
Sweet potato bread pudding
"Could you find out the recipe for sweet potato bread pudding that is served at Lookout in Gulfport?" Pam Taylor of Gulfport said. "My friend Beth would love the recipe."
Lost: Praline recipe
Rosie Grace-Lewis of Biloxi needs a good recipe for pralines. She has misplaced hers. Readers, can you help her? If so, send me those praline recipes.
Andrea Yeager, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.