Supporting Roles in the Thanksgiving Show

The turkey might be the star of the show, but the supporting characters are extremely important! In fact, some people might say they are the true stars because this is where you can really get creative!

Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy family and friends and also to enjoy memories of your childhood holidays. So, I always prepare some healthy options, and then include some old-fashioned, not-so-healthy recipes from my parents and grandparents. This is not a time to feel guilty, but you still might want to use a little restraint! :)

This year, I pulled out my grandmother’s recipe for stuffing and tweaked it a bit, based on current tastes and after perusing a number of stuffing recipes. I wanted it to have a little southwestern twist, so I added pecans and peppers. There’s one important thing to remember: if you don’t always use the same cornbread and biscuit recipes, the stuffing will vary considerably. So, find a recipe you love for these and stick to it. I was short on time this year, so I just bought the biscuits. Thankfully, my dad made cornbread for me and dropped it off. I didn’t take into consideration that he does not make sweet cornbread, which is what I’ve used in the past, so the flavor was a little different. I don’t like my stuffing to be too runny, so I go lighter on the broth than my grandmother did. Seasoning is always tricky, and it’s important to consider if you’re using salted broth, salted butter, and as I’ve already mentioned, the taste of the breads. It’s not really appealing to taste this mixture before it’s cooked, but I suppose you could taste it BEFORE you add in the eggs. Maybe I’ll try that next year. I’ve made some slight changes to reflect what I learned after making the stuffing this year.



8 cups crumbled cornbread

6 cups crumbled biscuits (about 6 biscuits)

2 sticks salted butter

2 cups chopped onions

2 cups chopped celery

2 cups loosely packed parsley leaves

1 cup loosely packed fresh sage leaves

2 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed

4-6 cups broth

3 well-beaten eggs

2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Salt to taste (depends on breads and broth, but I used about 2 tsp. It could have used a little more)

Pepper and/or Tabasco

if desired

1.Crumble up the breads and let them sit out to dry (or place in a low oven until dry). It’s best to make them a day or two early.


2.Toast the pecans and saute the onions and celery in the butter

3.Chop all of the herbs in a food processor or by hand.


4.Mix it all up and put in a greased baking dish. I do not stuff my turkey, but bake it separately. If you can, add some turkey drippings to the stuffing when there’s about an hour left for the turkey. You will want to bake the stuffing at 350F for about 45-60 minutes, depending on how deep the pan is that you’re using. If you have another oven to bake the stuffing, this works well. I actually sent the stuffing to my parents’ house to bake and bring with them since I only have one oven, so there were no turkey drippings in it this year.


Of course, the cranberry sauce is also important! We always get creative here. There’s just no reason to buy prepared cranberry sauce. It’s easy to make and fun to experiment with. Here’s what my mom made this year:

Cranberry Chutney

1 cup water, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 (12 oz) pkg fresh cranberries, 1 cup apples – peeled, cored and diced, 1/2 cup cider vinegar, 1/2 cup raisins, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp  ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground allspice, 1/8 tsp ground cloves.

In a medium saucepan combine the water and sugar.

Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat. Add the cranberries, apples, cider vinegar, raisins and spices.

Bring to a boil again, then simmer gently for 10 minutes stirring often.

Pour mixture into a mixing or serving bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a lid.  Cool to room temperature and serve or cover and refrigerate. If refrigerated, bring chutney to room temperature before serving. This is a great make-ahead dish for the meal!


And finally, here’s my grandmother’s recipe for the Pink Stuff:

MaMa’s Pink Jell-O

1 large box strawberry Jell-O, 2 cups boiling water, 1 – 16 oz frozen sliced strawberries (do not thaw), 1 pint whipping cream, and 1 cup chopped pecans.

Mix together the Jell-O and boiling water, then stir in frozen strawberries until they are all separated (Jell-O will be partially congealed).

Beat cream until stiff, add Jell-O mixture  beating in with mixer.

Add 1 cup chopped pecans and serve.

Print Friendly and PDF

© Bobbi Mullins 2011, All rights reserved. FOOD FITNESS FAITH™