Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Catching Up

Nathan-Calendar-1

Nathan’s 2014 Calendar – I love these calendars the kids make at school and will be so sad when the year comes that they are all too big to make them anymore.

I’d say it’s about time we do a little catching up.

No, I have not given up blogging.

No, I was not kidnapped by Aliens.

No, I did not move to the south of France to hide away from the world. Although some days, that is still on the table.

We have had a pretty challenging couple of months with some big losses in our family and my heart has been processing it all. Throw in a couple big holidays and a birthday and this unprepared lady just had no time to write or visit my favorite blogs.

I’ve missed you guys.

In early November, we received a call that my father-in-law, who had been battling cancer for last 10 years, was being moved to Hospice care with only a few days to a week before it would be his time. My husband immediately hopped on a plane to be by his dad’s side. Proving that he is absolutely the toughest guy I know, dad fought to live for another three weeks. I am so thankful my husband was able to spend most of that time by his dad’s side. After dad’s passing, our whole family flew out to say goodbye to grandpa. Well, goodbye for now anyway. We know he’s saving us a place at the best fishing hole around.

We stayed with our family in Indiana for a bittersweet but very blessed Thanksgiving.

While in Indiana, we were also able to squeeze in a trip to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis…

Sara was off with her cousins so I only have boy pictures and boy did they have a great time! True to their nature, David loved the history and “fact” finding opportunities and Nathan was all hands on energy. We only lost him once. He knew where we were and was evading. Nearly every gray hair I have is his doing. Nearly. They aren’t all his fault but I’m still sending him the cumulative salon bill someday anyway.

It was hard to leave grandma Judy and the family, the big blue Victorian house, the crisp fall air, the falling leaves, the warm fire and the quiet time.

We love you grandpa and we will miss you everyday. Until we meet again.

After getting home from Indiana, there was not a moment to waste getting ready for Christmas. Christmas cards and letters, decorating, shopping, baking, teacher, neighbor and co-worker gifts, brunch, parties and even a Women’s Ministry event thrown in for good measure! Thankfully, my trusty staff was on hand to help – see picture below., way below.

Oh, and a Birthday to celebrate too!

Happy Birthday, Sara!! One year from now,  we’ll have a teenager. Actually, less than a year from NOW.  Gulp.

Sara's-Birthday-2

We try very hard to keep her birthday separate from Christmas and just celebrate her. With all that had gone on and all of the “Christmas catch-up” I had to do, Sara was very gracious about having a simple, low-key celebration this year. Low-key was officially supposed to come next year as the last of the “big” parties is sixth grade; says the parental management team. With the exception of Sweet 16 of course.

Instead of a big party, we decided it would be just as much fun to take her and as many friends as I could safely fit in the van to Jump Street where they could trampoline themselves to their hearts content.

Fun. Did I say fun? Oh my will I have to tell you all about it some time. For now, I will just let you imagine a half an hour in a car with six 11-12 year old girls, too many cell phones, too much perfume, lip-gloss and nail polish (all of which were opened, sprayed, dripped and gooped in my car at least once) and far too many pre-teen hormones. They are fun in groups of three or less. Anymore than that and a pack mentality seems to set in. A half an hour EACH WAY. Did I mention that.

Sara's-Birthday-1

We do have a special birthday tradition just for her that we never miss. Every year, on her birthday, we take her out to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and give her all of her gifts from the family. It is always a special evening and she loves it.  This year’s coveted birthday items – crazy knee socks, floral combat boots and anything with a moustache print on it.

Sara's-Birthday-3

Nope, I wasn’t kidding. Don’t ask me?? If it is safe, appropriate and makes her happy, I don’t question.

One day soon, I will do a series of posts on some of the kids’ past parties. We’ve had some fun ones! For now you can check out the two I have posted; David’s Duck Dynasty Bash and Nathan’s Despicable Me Party.

In other news, Noodles the Elf on the Shelf was back for the Christmas Season so there was much Elf Management to be done …

The Elf Management team wasn’t quite as creative as last year but we got the job done. Mostly. When you have a six year old who misses nothing and wakes up instantly hyper-focused on a mission to find the elf, it can be complicated if the elf has not in fact been moved because management was dragging into bed at 1am and … gasp … forgot. “Oh, no someone must have touched the elf” came in handy more than once.

And then, all too soon, it was Christmas …

I love Christmas. Everything about it. Next year, my goal is to have posts ready ahead of time so I don’t miss sharing this wonderful season with my blogging friends. Unless you are prepared in advance, It is just too hard to write and keep up with all of the “busy” while desperately trying maintain focus on what truly matters. Lesson learned.

Desperately busy. Which leads me to December 26th and hibernation. I am an extrovert who becomes an introvert for about two weeks a year; December 26th until the day the kids go back to school.  I’m done. Finished. Spent. Turtle in her introverted shell. I may stay in my PJs all day. I may watch movies with the kids all day. In my PJs. ALL DAY. For many days.

Needless to say, I am not a New Year’s party girl. Well, I’m not really a party girl at all (anymore – for any of my college friends who might be reading) unless it is a dinner party or a birthday party or there’s cake. You know what I mean.

New Year’s Day consisted of bike riding and a picnic out back oh, and we did share the week with one very special and adorable house guest “Buster” or “Sassy McNoodle” as we like to call him.

And New Year’s Eve?

Nathan-Chillin'

Well this is about as exciting as it gets around here folks! H.I.B.E.R.N.A.T.I.O.N. Only one kid made it to midnight. I’ll give you one guess. Yup. The youngest. Party animal – just look at that face.

JanuaryAnd so, here it is the middle of January and sadly, 2014 has not had an easy start. We just returned from Oklahoma after saying goodbye to Gary’s incredible cousin Mike who passed away just after the New Year. I will tell you about Mike sometime as I will tell you about dad. For now, I will just share this from a card that was sent to us by Gary’s uncle Chuck after dad’s passing …

My prayer for you is a little light in the midst of this darkness. “We will never be the same as we were before this loss, but are ever so much better for having had something so great to lose.” – Leigh

Cousin-Mike-1

Indeed we are. And we are grateful to the God who loves and sustains us and we praise Him in all things. We trust in Him an look to Him for comfort even when we can’t find understanding.

Boomer-Sooner!

This one’s for you cousin Mike – Boomer Sooner!

Yes, it has been a difficult and busy few months for our family but we are moving forward and I am so glad you and I are finally catching up. Thank you for hanging in there with me and for your readership and friendship. A special welcome to the new visitors who have stopped by and the readers who have so graciously followed Welcome Company. I have a long list of recipes, ideas, plans for the Hacienda, stories to share and adventures to come.

I am looking forward to all that 2014 will bring.

I hope each and everyone of you had a wonderful holiday and got some time of your own to “hibernate” with those you love most. May 2014 be a year of blessing, adventure, friendship, family and fun. And may we be thankful to the God who loves us in all that may come.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13

Blessings my friends!

 

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Making Ravioli and Memories out of Leftovers

A few days after Thanksgiving I found myself thinking all of these leftovers, what is a girl to do?

Roasted butternut squash and zesty carrots. Soup and ravioli, that is what I’ll do.

So, that is what I made. Soup and ravioli. As it turns out though, I made some pretty good memories too.

Nathan, my 5-year-old, has a sixth sense for when I’m about to do something big in the kitchen and he always wants to be a part of it. My older two like to cook with me as well but have other things going on a lot of the time now that they are “big”. Nathan, however, always has the time to be with mommy in the kitchen and when he saw the mixer and the pasta maker come out, he was on his stool ready to go.

Pasta dough, what could be simpler. Flour. Eggs. Salt. Olive Oil. And in Arizona, water – it’s dry here, everything needs water.

Rested and ready to go.

A little kneading. “It’s like play dough, mommy!” A little bit, but it tastes way better!

A little rolling, flattening and stretching. When my husband first saw these pictures, he pointed out that Nathan’s fingernails were dirty and look kind of gross. So, I am including the following fingernail disclaimer: Nathan’s fingernails are dirty and gross, a lot. He’s five. He plays in the dirt, a lot. He did wash his hands before helping, even though it doesn’t look like it. None of his pasta dough actually made it to final production as it hit the floor at least three times in the kneading process. It is safe to eat at my house. There, now the legal department should be happy.

Kneading, smooshing, pounding, smashing and pulverizing are great but this? This is five-year-old kitchen gadget bliss! I should have edited out the garbage can. Sorry. Where was the legal department on this?

He has made pasta. He has worked pasta into submission. He has conquered pasta. He is so proud. So is his mom. She must be if she is willing to post a picture that clearly shows what a disaster making pasta has made of her kitchen.

Wow! He’s good. Just kidding, that’s mine. Incidentally, it is difficult to roll out past and photograph it at the same time. I need a staff. Correction, I need a staff that is over the age of five.

A little bit about the filling. One of my Thanksgiving side dishes was Zesty Carrots (if you are interested, you can find the recipe here). I had quite a bit left over (my husband would tell you that is because they are awful, they’re not) and decided to get creative. I threw them into the food processor with a little bit of turkey stock (freshly made from the turkey carcass – more on that tomorrow), took them for a little spin and voila’ – ravioli filling. The bread crumb topping acted as the perfect binder and the consistency was great. As this was an experiment and my husband and kids are not zesty carrot fans, I made a ricotta and parmesan filling as well.

Note to self, do not pile uncooked ravioli together on a plate. Raw pasta dough is sticky. Sheet tray. Parchment paper. What was I thinking.

Thankfully, all was not lost, I was able to salvage most of the ravioli and there was the sage brown butter sauce. Things are always better when there is sage fried in butter. And wine. Wine makes things better too. In moderation of course; there’s that legal department again.

The finished product was pretty good. I think I am onto something but it needs a little tweaking. The zesty carrots have a horseradish sauce on them, which is delicious but strong and a little overwhelming for ravioli. Especially when what I really wanted to taste was the brown butter sauce and sage and have the filling be more subtle and secondary. Still, all in all, pretty tasty.

In the interest of full disclosure, this was the cheese ravioli which I served with a jarred four cheese alfredo sauce; evidence that it is always a good idea to have a backup plan.

I almost forgot about the butternut squash soup, although I’m not sure how that is possible as it was delicious. I put my left over roasted squash into a pot with enough turkey stock to warm it and give it a good consistency and then puree’d it with the immersion blender.

Simple but yummy.

Thinking outside the box and experimenting in the kitchen is always fun and rewarding. Spending a Sunday afternoon with your five-year-old making memories is joyous. Dirty fingernails and all. You thought I was going to say priceless, didn’t you? It’s that too.

The Traditions of Thanksgiving Day

It is 5 a.m., Thanksgiving morning (actually, it is currently Friday afternoon – you didn’t really think I had time to write on Thanksgiving morning did you? – but I am sharing a memory so please bear with me) the house is peaceful and the joyful madness in the kitchen is about to begin. But first, a cup of coffee and a little breakfast and a moment to enjoy the quiet and the still of the early morning.

A perfect pear and the stuffing will never miss that little crust of bread. Sighhh, I wish I could have truffle butter every morning.

My quiet moment is just that, a moment. There is a lot to be done. This year I will be feeding six adults and eight kids. Not the 25 I fed last year but I love the smaller more intimate gatherings just as much. The people who are coming to spend Thanksgiving with us are special. People I love being with and am looking forward to making a meal for. Friends who have become family. Friends that we have created tradition with. As so many military families do. We started having Thanksgiving together more than 10 years ago, before any of us had children. Now, as I plan the table settings, I realize, we are officially outnumbered. My how we have grown together and how thankful I am for them.

I’ve finished my breakfast and licked any remnants of truffle butter off of the butter knife so, I guess it is time to get started. First on the agenda, stuffing. My favorite. I prep and put together many of my side dishes the day before but I always save the stuffing for Thanksgiving morning. Just one more tradition on a day of many.

I love the smells that fill the kitchen as I make the stuffing, smells from my childhood. Sausage sputtering away in a hot pan and onions and celery sauteing in a sinful amount of butter. I remember waking up to those smells in the morning as a kid and I want my kids to remember it too.

It isn’t even baked yet and it is irresistible. Just a little nibble for quality control. Ahhh, be still my heart. If you’d like to try it, you can find the recipe here, Sausage and Herb Stuffing.

Next, prepping the turkey and starting the stock.

A simmer pot of stock is a must for making gravy and warming up the turkey after it has been sliced and arranged on a serving platter. I throw the turkey neck and giblets into a pot with water, the celery ends, a few small onions and a few sprigs of fresh herbs (sage, thyme and rosemary). When I am ready to use it, I strain it and keep the broth warm on the stove top.

The turkey, the star of the show. I am a briner. Not everyone is. I say whatever works for you but I love how moist and flavorful my turkey comes out after 24 hours of bathing in a salty brine. There are a lot of brining recipes out there. I just buy a package of brining mix from World Market or Williams Sonoma and brine my turkey in a large stock pot in my extra fridge. You can put your turkey in a bringing bag and then brine in an iced cooler if you don’t have the fridge space. Works like a charm.

She isn’t much to look at yet, but she will be … or he, I’m not really sure, I didn’t check.

You can make yourself crazy reading all of the different ways to cook a turkey. Here’s what works for me; brining for 24 hours followed by a good rinse and pat dry, then a rub down with 2 sticks of butter combined with chopped fresh rosemary, thyme and sage (I gently lift the skin and rub it directly on the breast meat as well) and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. I tuck the wings under and fill the cavity with a quartered lemon, a quartered onion, and a few sprigs of thyme, rosemary and sage. I put a cup of stock, a cup of white wine and two chopped onions in the bottom of the roasting pan, insert a probe thermometer into the meaty part of the thigh and roast at 325 degrees until the thermometer reads 165 degrees (approximately 3 hours for a 14-16 pound turkey). I do cover the breast with foil if it is getting too brown and I baste 3 or 4 times, or once an hour-ish, during the cooking process. When the turkey comes out of the oven, I tent it with foil and let it rest while my side dishes bake and I make gravy from the pan drippings.

Now for setting the table(s). I hate to iron. I love to iron my table linens. My only explanation is that ironing table linens is easy, even relaxing, and I find it enjoyable because it has to do with food and eating. And I love anything that has to do with food and eating.

Last year, we had so many people for dinner that we had to bring our giant picnic table in from the back yard; which actually worked out great. Benches hold a lot of bottoms!

Thanksgiving 2011

This year, with fewer people, I could get a little more creative and decided to go tan and white with my dishes and linens. I love white dishes but enjoy using a different color salad plate to add some interest. An added bonus is that you can have variety without taking up the storage space that having multiple sets of dishes would. I am always on the lookout for beautiful and interesting salad plates.

A tradition I started a long time ago is to put an ornament at everyone’s place. For me, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the Christmas season and I want my guests to leave with something for their tree and a remembrance of the day.

This year I found these adorable wooden woven hearts (at Target – where I find so, so many things) which came in white and a beachy whitewashed wood. Lovely.

Someday, my dream of having a 20 foot (or so) long dining room table will come true but for now, I serve all of the food buffet style, because there is just too much of it to put on the table. I do, however, put the salad and a bread basket and butter plate, cranberry sauce, cheese for the salad (this year it was a delicious applewood smoked bleu cheese) and a gravy boat at each end of the table (the gravy doesn’t go on until just before we eat – but I’m sure you already knew that).

For the kid’s table, I found an adorable paper table-cloth (at Target – are you sensing a theme here) with coloring activities, word searches, tic-tac-toe, etc. so the kids had something fun to do while getting settled for dinner.

My daughter is a leftie.

Each of the kids got an ornament too. This year, sweet fabric animals for the girls and colorful dinosaurs for the boys (Target).

The tables are ready.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is on – gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “parade rest”, doesn’t it?

David has donned the coat from his pirate costume and a straw hat and proclaimed himself a pilgrim.

Our guests have arrived and the kid’s table is a hit.

The turkey is done (I told you she’d be pretty) …

and carved.

The sides are out of the oven. You can find my recipes for Sausage and Herb Stuffing, Sweet Potatoes and Zesty Carrots here. And the recipe for Aunt Peggy’s Corn Casserole here. Enjoy!

It looks like the only thing left is to sit down together, say grace and enjoy the good food and great company the Lord has blessed us with.

I am thankful for …

My Lord and Savior who continues to work in me, pushing me further than I could ever go without Him. A kind and gentle husband who loves me. My children who are such a gift. Family. Friends who have become family. Health and healing. Treasured and beautiful traditions. The home that God has given us, which is so perfectly suited for welcoming company. The sweet faces that are gathered around our table; happy and healthy and loved.

Does anyone have room for dessert?

I’ll give you one guess where I found these adorable cupcakes. You got it, Target – you are paying attention! The beautifully frosted sugar cookies came from A.J.’s – a lovely specialty grocery store that we have here in Arizona.

And the pumpkin pies came from a wonderful little Pie Shop just down the street called Piefection. I can bake. I love to bake. I am not super woman. And, as Ina Garten (who I am also very thankful for) says, “no one has more fun if you make dessert yourself.”  Yes, I know that you can buy gargantuan pumpkin pies at Costco for about $5.00 and I have done that. These pies cost a little more than that and are worth it for two reasons. First, they are handmade with the best ingredients and are delicious and second, I will always support a gal who is brave enough to do what she loves and start her own pie shop. If you are in the area and want a fabulous piece of pie, here is where you can find one:

Piefection, 6731 E. Brown Rd., Suite #104, Mesa AZ, 480-218-PIES(7437), http://www.piefectionaz.com

Did someone say dessert? What timing. We’re just glad Uncle Mark made it and that Thanksgiving dinner re-heats well. The life of an airline pilot, you work a lot of holidays.

Another wonderful Thanksgiving and so much to be thankful for.

This year, I am also thankful for the people who inspired me to write and to start my own blog. I absolutely love writing it and am so thankful to those who have taken the time to read it, like and comment on my posts and support me. I appreciate you so much. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving in the company of those who mean the most to you.

Oh, I almost forgot, I am also thankful for truffle butter; very, very thankful.

A Few of my Favorite Sides

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite Holidays. Which is not surprising considering how much I love food and feeding people.

Each year, even though I promise myself I won’t, I usually buy at least three magazines (okay five) with Thanksgiving recipes. I already have more recipes than I will ever need, use or even read all the way through. And, truth be told, I usually end up making the same things every year anyway because, well, I love them, they are family recipes and they are … tradition. But I still buy the magazines because you just never know and because I have a serious magazine problem.

Here are a few of my favorite family sides, tried and true, made year after year (despite my intention of trying something new).

Sausage & Herb Dressing/Stuffing

This stuffing (or dressing because I like it baked separately, not stuffed into the turkey cavity) recipe is really the one recipe I never deviate from. I can’t. Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it. I have changed it up a little from my mom’s original recipe (a fresh herb option, etc.) but for the most part this is the stuffing I have had every year for as long as I can remember.

  • 3 Quarts Diced White Bread (I like crusty artisan bread but I trim off a little of the outer crust if it is too chewy or hard. You can use any white bread).
  • 2 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Rubbed Sage (or 10 fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced)
  • 2 tsp. Dried Thyme (or 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves)
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Flat Leaf Italian Parsley
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 Cup Butter + 2 Tbsp. to dot the top of the stuffing
  • 1 Cup Chopped Onion
  • 3 Cups Chopped Celery
  • 1-2 Cups Low-Sodium Chicken Stock
  • 1 pound of sausage – browned and cooled (you can use hot or sweet Italian sausage or a half pound of each or whatever sausage you like).

The night before: dice the bread and let it sit out on a baking sheet to “dry-out” over night, or you can toast it in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes the next day. However you do it, it needs to be dry (not hard but dry).

Place the bread in a LARGE mixing bowl. Mix the salt, paprika, nutmeg, pepper, sage, thyme and parsley together and then sprinkle over the dried bread cubes. Beat the eggs and add them to the mixture. Stir and set aside. Saute’ the onion and celery in the butter until soft and transparent (5-8 minutes), add a pinch of salt to help “sweat” the onions & celery rather than brown them. Cool slightly and then add to the bread mixture. Add enough stock to generously moisten the bread (approximately 1 cup – but it may need more depending on the bread you use). Add the browned and cooled sausage to the mixture. Stir until everything is well incorporated. Put your mixture in a buttered 9×13 casserole dish, dot the top with the remaining 2 Tbsp. butter, cover with foil and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 20 minutes until golden brown and crusty on top. Serves 8-10

Sweet Potatoes and Walnuts

Forget the marshmallows! If you love an ooey gooey sweet potato dish then this one is for you. All of my childhood Thanksgivings included this dish and I love it but I have to be honest, I really LOVE roasted vegetables and this year, I am going to serve a roasted sweet potato and butternut squash combo. But here’s the ooey gooey one in case you want to try it, I promise you won’t be sorry (but you will need to work-out the next day).

  • 2 1/2 Pounds of Sweet Potatoes (or yams)
  • 1/2 Cup Broken Nut Meats (walnuts or pecans, whichever you prefer)
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Butter, melted
  • 1/2 Cup Orange Juice

Steam the sweet potatoes until just fork tender (20-30 minutes) and let them cool completely so you can handle them. Peel and cube the sweet potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Place the sweet potatoes into a buttered 2 quart baking dish. Scatter the broken nut meats over the sweet potatoes. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt and sprinkle over the sweet potatoes. Combine the melted butter and orange juice and pour over the sweet potatoes. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. Serves 6-8

Zesty Carrots

Warning: my husband hates these; but that is just because he’s weird and doesn’t like any sort of casserole. Have you ever heard of a mid-western boy who doesn’t like casserole? I know, crazy. His idea of a Thanksgiving vegetable is a can of corn warmed up in the microwave – where’s the fun in that? Unless you leave it in the can when you warm it in the microwave – that could cause a little bit of “fun”. I am not recommending that, I’m just saying it would be interesting.

  • 6 large carrots – cut into quarters or thick “pennys”
  • 1/4 cup water reserved from cooking the carrots
  • 2 Tbsp. grated onion (or 1 small grated onion)
  • 2 Tbsp. Prepared Horseradish
  • 1/2 Cup Mayonnaise (or May Mays as my son says)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Crumb Topping:

  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs (I use Panko)
  • 2 Tbsp. Melted Butter
  • Paprika

Cook Carrots in water until they are tender crisp (about 8-10 minutes). Drain the carrots, reserving 1/4 of the cooking water. Arrange the carrots in a shallow baking dish. Combine the onion, horseradish, mayonnaise, reserved carrot water, salt and pepper and pour over the carrots. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and butter and sprinkle over the carrots. Lightly sprinkle the top with paprika. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Serves 4-6

So there you have it. Three amazing side dishes my mom spoiled us with. I apologize that I don’t have pictures – I will post them after Thanksgiving when I’ve made the recipes (I guess I’ll have to make the sweet potatoes after all – oh, darn). Give them a try and let me know how you like them. And don’t forget about Aunt Peggy’s Corn Casserole that I posted yesterday.

Since you were kind enough to read all the way through, I am going to let you in on a little secret. The BEST green beans EVER are at Target. The Archer Farm’s steam in the bag green beans. Throw them in the microwave for sixish minutes, toss them with some olive oil and a good pinch of kosher salt and you will be a star! Fresh tasting, crunchy, perfect green beans just like that – or use them in your green bean casserole; if you don’t have a weird mid-western non-casserole eating husband.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Aunt Peggy’s Corn Casserole

When I got married in January of 1996, I was not only blessed with a terrific husband but also with an incredible new family. He comes from some really great people. One of those people is Aunt Peggy. I fell in love with Aunt Peggy when I first met her when she flew in from Oklahoma (I just had to pause and sing the song in my head for the correct spelling … where the wind comes da da da da da) for our wedding.

Aunt Peggy

I felt at ease and connected with her from the start. She has “a way about her” and is just one of those people who makes you feel loved and special. She is beautiful inside and out. She is a true lady, classy and always fabulously pulled together and she is warm and welcoming. I so enjoyed the time I got to spend with her then even amongst the wedding craziness and busy festivities, I got to know her a little bit and was (am) very happy to have her in my life.

Shortly after our wedding, my husband learned that the Air Force was transferring us to Altus, Oklahoma. That fall, I would be leaving everything that was familiar and everyone (almost everyone) that I loved. I remember being excited about the new adventure but apprehensive about moving away from my family.

I had a hard time at first as we settled into our new home (our first fixer upper – I’ll tell you all about it sometime). I loved being married, I loved working on our home and I was making some really great new friends. But I missed my mom and my sisters and my old friends. Thankfully, Aunt Peggy and her husband Uncle Milt were only about 45 minutes away and they became my “home away from home”. But, I haven’t told you about Uncle Milt yet.

Uncle Milt is the best and I took a shine to him right away. He always called me “that girl”. I would walk in the front door and he would say “oh, here comes that girl” but he said it in a way that was endearing and let me know he was happy to see me. He caught on that I love banana pudding – the kind with the vanilla wafers, chunks of bananas and mounds of whipped cream … heaven! – and would always run over to the all you can eat buffet in town and pick some up so there would be a styrofoam container of affection waiting for me in the fridge.

Some of the best memories I have of our time in Oklahoma are of the cribbage matches between Aunt Peggy and I and Gary (or Doug as his family calls him) and Uncle Milt; girls against boys. Gary and I always had fun going out to the Officer’s Club or two-stepping at “Boot Scooters” with friends. But I had just as much fun (if not more) spending a Saturday night around the dining room table whipping the pants off of those boys – well that’s how I remember it anyway.

I also remember that first Thanksgiving in Oklahoma, my first Thanksgiving as a married lady and my first Thanksgiving away from my family and traditions. It could have been hard. But instead, it was a Thanksgiving with the new family I was coming to love so much and the beginning of new traditions and it was wonderful. It was also the first time I had Aunt Peggy’s corn casserole.

She called it “Mickey’s Corn Casserole” at least that is how I have it written down but I don’t know “Mickey” or why it might be called that. I think of it as Aunt Peggy’s. She made it for me, well she made it for everyone but it felt like she made it just for me, and it made me feel happy and loved. So I am calling it “Aunt Peggy’s Corn Casserole”.

I can’t share my Aunt Peggy with you, I wish I could and I hope that you have an “Aunt Peggy” of your own, but I can share this simple but wonderful recipe with you.

Aunt Peggy’s Corn Casserole

  • 2 – 15 oz. Cans Creamed Corn
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Box Jiffy Cornbread Mix
  • 1 Tbsp (or 1 small) Grated Onion
  • 1 Cup Grated Cheddar Cheese

Mix all of the ingredients together, pour into a buttered casserole dish (9×13) and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. The casserole will be slightly soft to the touch. Let it rest and “set-up” for at least 15 minutes before serving. Scrumptious! The consistency is somewhere between cornbread and polenta and grits – although I am a Northwestern girl and am somewhat confused by grits so I might be a little off here. Regardless, it is soft and creamy but just firm enough to hold its own.

Aunt Peggy’s Corn Casserole Printable Version

Just a few days ago, I made ribs and served them with the corn casserole and my favorite green beans (I’ll tell you about those some other time).

Oh, that was a happy day! Delicious!

Aunt Peggy and Uncle Milt

Come January, Aunt Peggy and Uncle Milt will celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary. Their love story is an inspiration, as is the family they have built. They have four kids (three sons and a daughter) who, along with their spouses, kids and grandkids, are a testament to the bonds of family. This casserole is a family recipe and is part of a legacy (Jiffy Cornbread Mix and all). I hope you will try it and that you will feel happy and loved too! Let me know what you think and please, someone explain grits to me.