Entertaining, Family Fun, Family Reunion, Feast on This, Fun with Friends, Holidays, Hospitality, Recipes, Thanksgiving Dinner

A Native Thanksgiving

Originally featured in my book, Come for Supper, the memoirs of a reluctant hostess, this is one of my very favorite meals. Not because it is top shelf gourmet, for in fact it is probably closer to just being sustenance on that scale; mostly made with government commodities, or what can be scavenged in the wild, using few and extremely inexpensive ingredients. Not to say these aren’t all very yummy dishes though, don’t be scared, just probably not cheffy food, if that’s what you were looking for. The beauty of this meal for me is in savoring the foods of another people. Cultural differences can sometimes separate us, but I am enchanted by the brotherhood of the table and the fellowship of food. Eating modest foods also makes me very thankful for the things that I have, and the extravagant meals I have been blessed to enjoy. In a world where some have the luxury of living-to-eat, this is a great reminder that many many people on this planet eat-to-live, and even with the little that they have, are incredibly generous.

Nature Collage

I am drawn to and have a deep affection for the American Indians. I think we all do. Most of us played cowboys and Indians when we were kids. Many of our grandparents told tall tales about having native blood in our lineage. It is the raw deal, and unfair treatment of our native people by our government, that gives us (me, at least) a huge mistrust of the federal government. And although they’ve been tucked away, they have never been forgotten. We admire their courage and bravery, so much so that many of our sports teams have been given names like, “Chiefs” “Braves” “Redskins” and “Indians.”  Many towns (and counties) in my native state have Indian names: Sundance, Shoshoni, Meeteetse, Ten Sleep, Crowheart, Chugwater, Arapahoe, Wapiti, Cheyenne, Osage, etc.  Movies like Dances With Wolves, Son of the Morning, and Windtalkers reinforce the love affair. Even so, how many of us truly know our native brethren? Or, know anything about what their life is like today (myself included)? Most likely the closest we ever come is visiting a local gambling casino, or reading about some misfortune in the newspaper. By bringing us to a table to celebrate some of their best dishes, I hope to change that a little. This is an interesting article that I really wanted to save for myself, and share with you, as we consider honoring these interesting people with a Native fall feast for our family and friends.

Native American prayer
Meal Blessing

11 Native American Supper




WATER CRACKERS (Wind River Reservation)


1 lb Commodity flour (about 3 cups of all-purpose flour)

Powdered milk and water to equal about 2/3 cup liquid

1 Tbsp Vegetable shortening

1 tsp Baking soda

1 tsp Salt


Mix all ingredients except powdered milk together. Add milk to other ingredients to form a dough and beat it up. If the dough is too sticky to roll out, add a little more flour. Roll it very thin on a flour dusted cutting surface, cut it into pieces with a pizza cutter, lay the pieces on a parchment lined cookie sheet, prick each piece with a fork, and bake it quickly in a 350 degree oven until toasted golden. Try these crackers the traditional way first, but the next time you make them you might wish to substitute fresh whole milk for the powdered milk, 2 Tbsp butter for the shortening and a splash of olive oil, and perhaps sprinkle the dough with a mixture of seeds, or some parmesan cheese, or some finely chopped italian herbs before cutting and baking. These are also nice served with an assortment of cheeses.


3 sisters

THREE SISTERS SOUP (the 3 sisters are beans, corn, and squash)


1 lb beef stew meat

8 cups water

3 spring onions with tops

1 tsp minced garlic

1 can kidney beans and liquid

Half gallon size bag of fresh green beans, sliced (may substitute frozen or canned)

3 ears fresh corn (may substitute frozen or canned)

3 summer squash, cubed

½ tsp oregano (or 3 mint leaves)

2 tsp salt

5 lg squash blossoms

Black Pepper


Cook the stew meat in water until tender. Cut corn from cob, chop spring onions, and add all vegetables to water and simmer until tender. Add seasonings, and squash blossoms; simmer 15 minutes. (For vegetarian version omit meat).

This is a mostly authentic recipe, and doesn’t have much flavor, especially if canned vegetables are used, which are most likely. The next time you make it you will want to use beef broth in place of the water, and leftover beef roast, pulled apart. I always prefer fresh vegetables. I also added 1 packet of beef gravy mix and 1 packet of Lipton Onion Soup Mix to my pot. I also added a small can of Rotel Tomatoes, 1 large potato diced, 1 large carrot chopped, a handful of frozen peas, 2 tsp. minced garlic, to the other vegetables, and about a ¼ tsp. of Cayenne powder. Salt and pepper to taste. Delish!




Serves 4 to 6

Salads were much liked in the spring when new, tender greens appeared. A great variety of mixtures was used. Since salt was uncommon or not used at all, salads were flavored by herbs, oil pressed from seeds, and especially with vinegar made from fermented, evaporated, uncooked maple sap (which we can’t make or get). So this is an approximation of the spring tonic salads beloved by all woodland people after the long winters.


1 cup watercress leaves and (only) tender stems

1 cup lamb’s ears, quarter new leaves (or use small spinach leaves)

1 cup arugula lettuce torn (not cut) to bite-size pieces;

can also use Bibb or less expensive leafy (not iceberg) lettuces

1 cup Dandelion leaves

1/2 cup tender nasturtium and violet leaves torn up

1/2 cup nasturtium and violet flowers (in season)

1 Tbsp honey

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/3 cup salad oil

As much tender mint leaves as you like in the salad

2 tsp fresh mint chopped fine and bruised

2 tsp chopped tarragon (fresh) or 1 tsp dried if necessary

optional: salt and pepper to taste


Combine honey and vinegar, whisk in oil and crushed mint. Season to taste with small amount of salt. Pour over greens and flowers in large bowl, and toss for about 3 minutes to coat everything with dressing. Serve immediately.

If you cannot find the greens and flowers listed, you can use a “spring mix” salad from the produce department and add to that whatever edible flowers and greens that you can find, perhaps look at your local garden center, nursery, or fresh herb store.


Native Supper


serves 4 – 6


2 dozen large squash blossoms

(4 dozen of the smaller pumpkin blossoms)

4 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cumin powder

2 – 3 cups finely ground cornmeal (masa harina)

Oil for deep frying


If you’re a gardener or truck farmer, you can make this dish easy; otherwise you’ll need to visit with a farmer at a Farmer’s Market about getting some blossoms. During the growing season farmers thin the blossoms of their vines, because the vine can’t support but only a couple of pumpkins or a few squash. At season’s end there will be an abundance of flowers, as the fruit will not have time to finish before winter.

Rinse and pat blossoms dry. In a shallow bowl, beat eggs with milk, chili, salt, and cumin. Dip blossoms in egg mix, and then roll gentle in cornmeal. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes to set coating. Heat 2 inches of oil in a deep saucepan to about 375°, hot but not smoking. Fry blossoms a few at a time until golden, drain on paper towels. Keep warm in 250° oven until ready to serve.

Only in the southwest are the blossoms of squash and pumpkin important as a religious symbol, as well as food. They appear as sacred symbols in many Pueblo ceremonies, and gave rise to a popular design worked in silver.

38016ada1e3f4e7fc10fa388363291ce-american-dolls-american-artThere is a Hopi Squash Kachina (Patung). He is Chief Kachina (wuya) for the Hopi Pumpkin Clan. He runs with men of a village in spring ceremonial dances to attract rain clouds.

The Hopis and Pueblo farmers gather large quantities of squash and pumpkin flowers at the end of the growing season, when these flowers cannot make fruit; that’s the time white farmers harvest their curcurbitae and pull up or plow under the still-flowering vines.

OR, you may like to try this stuffed blossom recipe….


fried squash blossoms1



2 doz. squash blossoms


8 oz. block cream cheese

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese

1 Tbsp chopped green onion


1½ c. flour

½ tsp salt

¾ to 1 cup dry white wine

cooking oil for frying


The authentic way is not to stuff the blossoms, but simply to batter and fry them, or just fry them naked in melted shortening. This is a recipe I stumbled across recently and enjoyed. Pick large squash blossoms in early morning just before they open. (I used my garden zucchini blossoms that had opened already and they turned out okay). Heat 1-2” oil in heavy Dutch oven. Meanwhile, stuff blossoms with a tablespoon of filling. Smooth peddles over filling, and make batter. When oil is ready (pops and crackles when a drop of water is added), drop each blossom into batter, turning to coat evenly, and then immediately into hot oil. Turn while frying to cook evenly on all sides, and remove with a slotted spoon when they have turned golden-brown. Drain on paper towels, and serve hot as an accompaniment for soup. Or, they also make a great appetizer with a spicy marinara sauce to dip them in.

Fry Bread (2)


This recipe makes 8-10 small ones or 5 big flat ones


2 cups flour

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup milk

Deep hot fat in fry pan or fryer


Sift dry ingredients. Lightly stir in milk. Add more flour as necessary to make a dough you can handle. Kneed and work the dough on a floured board with floured hands until smooth. Pinch off fist-sized lumps and shape into slightly twisted ropes — everyone has their own characteristic shapes.(Shape affects the taste, by the way because of how it fries). For Indian tacos, shape dough into a rather flat disk shape, with a depression — almost a hole — in the center of both sides. Make it that way if the fry bread is going to have some sauce over it. Smaller, round ones are made to put on a plate. Fry in deep fat (about 375°) until golden and done on both sides, about 5 minutes. Drain on absorbent paper. (My grandmother made what she called, “Squaw Bread” at least once a month when I was growing up. Her’s was made from regular yeast dough. It was one of my favorite things on earth!!!!)



Wojape (Wo-zha-pee), a pudding, a dessert. Wojape is traditional to the Sioux and other Northern Plains Nations and predates most of us living now. This is a berry pudding to eat with fry bread. It was made with fresh wild berries collected during that season and also dried berries, preserved for use through the winter. The berries were mixed with sugar when it became available, and also flour for thickener. Today is a different time and Wojape, like many other things, has adapted to the easy access of ingredients. However, it is just as delicious. It can be eaten after a meal as a dessert or as many “out there” know, as a main course maybe with a hot cup of coffee. She calls it modern because of using any kind of frozen berries, “We moderns often use government commodities gallon cans.” This recipe makes enough for about 20-30 people who have 1-2 fry breads.

Many thanks for this recipe go to: Ms. Stacy Winter of Crow Creek, Rapid City, South Dakota.


1 Bag (5 lb) frozen berries (blueberry, raspberry, cherry or a mix)

8 cup Water

2 cup Sugar

Cornstarch or Arrowroot


To a 5 quart pot (enamel or stainless steel) add all the berries and smash them with a potato masher. (If you are fortunate enough to have a food processor this would work fine also. However, stop just short of puree, you want fine pieces throughout.) To the smashed berries add the water and sugar. Boil (lightly) this mixture (Approximately 15 to 20 minutes) until everything is cooked. Thicken to desired thickness with cornstarch that has been dissolved in cold water. Serve warm and eat with Indian Fry Bread. Dip the bread into the Wojape and eat in this manner.

Wojape is also outstanding on French Toast, Pancakes, plain Cheesecake, over ice cream, and is excellent served over Angel Food Cake with a dallop of whipped cream.

Indian Fry Bread Tacos logo


6 servings

Frybread tacos are very much like the Elephant Ear tacos that we used to get at the carnival when the rodeo was in town.  Very easy and one of my favorite things to eat.  If I have leftover homemade chili I use it in place of the meat recipe here.  And when I can’t find Anasazi beans, and I’m in a hurry, I just substitute canned pintos.


6 pieces Indian Frybread — about 6” in diameter

1 lb hamburger

1 large onion minced

2 small cans tomato paste

1 big can tomatoes

1/2 tsp oregano

1 Tbsp chile powder

salt, pepper to taste

Fry onion and hamburger broken up loose. Sprinkle some salt and chile powder over it. Add tomato paste and 4 cans of water and the canned tomatoes and their juice — break up tomatoes and stir it around. Add basil and oregano. Taste for seasoning. If you want, you can use a taco seasoning packet in place of seasonings, and a mild tomato salsa in place of tomato paste and tomatoes. Simmer till meat and onions are done and sauce is thick, 30 – 40 minutes.


1/2 lb cheese grated coarse

1 1/2 c Dried anasazi beans, cooked

1 1/2 c Mache or arugula, washed & stemmed  (I’ve often substituted Cilantro, chopped)

1 lg Red ripe tomato, sliced

2 ea Ripe avocados, halved & sliced

1 ea Red onion, thinly sliced

1 ea Bunch red radishes, sliced

24 ea Golden yellow plum tomatoes halved

6 ea Green Anaheim (New Mexico) chiles, prepared (I’ve sometimes substituted Poblanos when Anaheims are out of season or unavailable)

1 lg Red bell pepper


To prepare the anasazi beans, soak overnight in water to cover. The next day, drain the beans and place them in a saucepan with fresh water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and let the beans simmer until the skins break, about 3 hours. It may be necessary to add water as the beans cook to prevent them from burning and sticking. After the beans are cooked, remove from the heat and set aside. You should have about 3 cups cooked beans. While the beans are cooking, roast, seed, and de-vein the chiles and the bell pepper. Leave chiles whole; slice pepper lengthwise into six strips.

To Assemble the tacos, place a layer of meat mixture, cheese, and 1/2 cup cooked beans on each piece of frybread. Add 1/4 cup greens per taco, followed by a red tomato slice. Add slices avocado and 1 thin slice red onion, separated into rings. Follow with radishes and 4 golden yellow plum tomatoes per taco, and top with 1 roasted green chile and 2 slices roasted red pepper. You can vary the toppings and the order in which the taco is built, and for a vegetarian version omit the meat sauce and cheese.

You may also wish to offer Sour Cream (I like the Mexican Crema) and salsa (favorite jarred, or refrigerated varieties).




1 servings

1 lb Pork

2 Cloves garlic, minced

1 lg Onion, diced

3 c Water

2 can (8 oz) tomato sauce

1 can (6 oz) tomato paste

1 lg can stewed tomatoes

1 lb Green cactus, peeled & diced



1/4 t. Cumin

Seasoning salt


Cube the pork; fry in a skillet with onion and garlic. In a large Dutch oven, add all ingredients, salt and pepper to taste and 1/4 tsp. cumin and seasoned salt. Cook until meat is tender. You might like to season this with an assortment of dried ground up chili peppers, like New Mexico red chilies, green chilies, chipotle chilies, and little chili pequine, to make it like a Chili Colorado. Very good with corn cakes, or the pinion squash bread featured below!

Cactus (fresh, small, thick pads): Remove spines with knife and peel, or purchase at market in a jar, diced and packed in its own juices. You can usually find it at Mexican markets; the cactus referred to is generally prickly-pear cactus. The juice from the prickly pear cactus is also useful in Native American craftwork, specifically painting with earth paints.




Makes One loaf, serves 6 – 8

Rio Grande Pueblo peoples traditionally served a variant of this sweetbread to parties of nut-pickers in September when piñon nuts were being picked from the mountain slope trees. Families would (and some still do) camp for many weeks in traditional areas reserved to clans. In the recipe you can use either cooking-type pumpkin (these have necks and thick, meaty bodies, not like jack o’ lantern pumpkins) or a sweet bright orange squash, like butternut.


1 1/2 cups unbleached flour

1 cup finely mashed or pureed pumpkin/squash

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)

2 eggs beaten foamy

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup pine nuts


Preheat oven to 350. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, spices. Stir in pumpkin, eggs, butter. Stir pine nuts into thick batter. Scrape into a greased 6 x 9 loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour or until knife inserted in bread comes out clean.

This sweetish, spicy bread goes well with soups, stews, and can also be a dessert, especially if you cut it apart and put yogurt or applesauce over it.


OR, this is a sweeter, less cinnamony version that lets the pumpkin shine through…

pumpkin bread


Makes 2 loaves


2 c Flour

1/2 c Oil

3 Eggs, beaten

1 1/2 c Sugar

1 teaspoons Baking soda

1 teaspoons Vanilla

3/4 c Milk

2 c Cooked pumpkin

1/2 tsp Salt

1 1/2 c Pine nuts, roasted


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a medium size bowl, mix eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Mix well, then add pumpkin. Mix well and folk into dry ingredients. Add pine nuts. Pour batter into 2 greased 5×9-inch loaf pans and bake for 45 minutes.

The pine nuts generally taste better if, before they’re added to the mix, you put them on an ungreased cookie sheet in the oven for about 10 minutes at about 350-400 degrees. It roasts them a little. But watch them carefully to make sure they don’t burn.




1 Graham cracker crust in 8″ spring form pie pan

1 lb low-fat cottage cheese

1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt

3/4 cup pumpkin puree (or 1 can)

1/4 cup flour

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice


Preheat oven to 325°. Put all ingredients into blender, a little at a time, alternating wet and dry. Process until smooth, then pour into crust and spread evenly. Bake for about 50 minutes. Let cool before serving. May be topped with yogurt, flavored with 2 Tbsp maple syrup. Take it up a notch drizzled over with caramel sauce, and sprinkled with chopped pecans.



A    TASTE     OF     CULTURE…

If you have kiddos, you can make this supper a lot of fun for them. This is also a great get-together for church, or a Senior Center, or a classroom if you are a teacher, or homeschooler? Below are the cornucopia of ideas I’ve collected over the years for either a dinner party, or you can use them as activities during a weekend or weeklong festival.

Background Music: Tribal Winds, Music from Native American Flutes; also cd Good Medicine by John Two-Hawks – American Indian Lakota flute player & musician. I actually have several CD’s that I love, shown below. (Not shown: Gathering of Shamen – Native Flute Ensemble, Medicine Man – Pete “Wyoming” Bender, The Stories of Red Feather Woman – also featuring the music of Andrew Vasquez, with special guest Rodney Grant – Windriver).


Host a Pow-Wow: American Indians, at least those I am familiar with (Northern Arapaho, Eastern Shoshoni, Lakota Sioux, and Utah Navajo ) have an annual party called a Pow-Wow. They set up teepees, do dances, trade and sell craft items, share food, pray, play games, pass the peace pipe, and tell stories. Thermopolis Wyoming is home to the annual Pow-wow of the Windriver tribes, the Gift of the Waters Pageant, and they tell the history/stories of the giving of the healing waters (see clip on Facebook).


Here’s a fun idea: ask your guests to bring “trade items” (things they have outgrown, don’t use, or don’t want any more) to trade with each other. All unwanted items can be donated to a local charity thrift store after the get-together.

img00008Hoop and Pole Game

Natives of different groups have their own special ways to play the Hoop and Pole game, but in all the games a person tosses a long dart of some kind at a circular hoop. In this version of the game the hoop is rolled along the ground, set into motion by a third player, while the two other playershoopandpolegamepg18s throw their pole as the hoop rolls in front of them. The score depends on how or if the pole falls on or through the hoop. Netted hoops are made by the Arapaho of Wyoming and other tribes.

Navajo tribes play a stick and dice game, and also a shoe game. Google them to see how they are played.


The Sun Dance, usually conducted once a year, is a custom of the Arapaho people. The Sun Dance is a sort of prayer ceremony. See more about it here.


Navajo Blanket collage
Navajo Blanket (given to me by my father-in-law) collage



As the sun sets, gather everyone around to sit “Indian style” in a circle in the center of the yard around a fire pit. Pass around a “peace pipe” with imaginary tobacco in it and let everyone take a puff. This ritual in Arapaho belief is supposed to bond friendships. Encourage the oldest men of the group to pass on some of their wisdom to the younger by telling interesting stories of their boyhood, what games they played, things they did with their parents, faith experiences, etc. Some can share lessons they learned from mistakes they made. Maybe dad or grandpa or Uncle Jerry has a “vision” for the family (or church, or group) or a weird dream that they had that they would like to share.


Make Bead Chokers
Make a loom and weave pot holders
Make Beaded Moccasins
Make a Dream Catcher

The following are items I made for my granddaughter’s teacher to use for a center in her Kindergarten classroom this year.

Garden Collage2mrsH
Make a “Pretend Garden” using an old wooden box covered in burlap, pantyhose filled with black beans for the rows of soil, and hand-stitched felt veggies.  Let the littles enjoy hours of play planting and replanting veggies.

Garden Collage

Dollar Store bows, with homemade quivers for the arrows, plastic Bowie knives in homemade sheaths, and and assortment of primative instruments – they look cooler with feathers tied to them!  Set up deer silhouettes and various parts of the yard and let the littles go hunting for food.  Also let them make music for dancing.
Cane Pole Fishing
Homemade Bamboo “Cane Poles” with string and child-safe hooks, and little fishes that they can catch with them.  Make a “pretend pond” and let the littles catch fish for supper.


When you were born, you cried

and the world rejoiced.

Live your life

so that when you die,

the world cries and you rejoice. — White Elk


We do not want schools….
they will teach us to have churches.
We do not want churches….
they will teach us to quarrel about God.
We do not want to learn that.
We may quarrel with men sometimes
about things on this earth,
but we never quarrel about God.
We do not want to learn that.

–Heinmot Tooyalaket ( Chief Joseph), Nez Perce Leader



“Behold I lay in Zion a Chief Cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” 1 Peter 2:6

Chief Cornerstone collage
(Photo of a Christian T-shirt from eons ago)
Feast on This, Holiday Memories, Thanksgiving Dinner

Mrs H’s Thanksgiving Dinner Cookbook

Fam & Friends Thanksgiving


 “Better is a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of feasting with strife.” 

Proverbs 16:33 


Is Thanksgiving a blessing or a stressful event at your house? Do you love or dread the gathering of family around your table?

I guess I am blessed that I rather savor, as much the smorgasbord of foods that everyone has pitched in to bring, as the colorful personalities in my family.  I appreciate the ones that do all the talking, because even though I can’t get a word in edgewise, and have forgotten what I was going to say 20 minutes ago  (trying to be polite and not interrupt until there was finally a lull), must confess that at least it’s never boring.  And when they all go home, the house seems sooooo quiet – sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a sad way, but most always in an entertaining way that lingers in my thoughts.

I am thankful for the scholarly brainiacs who bring up politics, money, and religion and have intelligent things to say.  Even though I have a hard time keeping up sometimes and my meager contributions aren’t well respected, they keep me abreast with what’s going on in the world, and entice me to later investigate some things I wasn’t aware of.  Plus they help me to form more solid opinions and develop my anger management and diplomacy skills, which are always good skills to hone. 

I could not be more grateful for the hovering ladies who congregate underfoot in my cramped kitchen as I’m trying to put the finishing touches on my dishes, for even though there are too many cooks in my kitchen, they are usually the ones who also help clean everything up after, and cheerfully put it all away. 

I tolerate the booming television and adore the maniac sports fans watching it, for they are usually fun loving and playful – the ones that grab me and put me in a headlock for no particular reason while I’m pulling a pan of cookies from the oven and being waaaaay too serious about things.  They help me keep my sense of humor. 

And the kids, while scurrying dangerously underfoot and needy of a million things when I’m a little bit stressed over the chaos already, are fun to interview over dinner and are always up for crafting and games.  They say the dangdest things that stay with me for years.  And as long as they realize they MUST use the coozies (with their names on them) that I gave to them, to identify their beverages, so that I don’t find a landfill of opened and half drank sodas all over my house later, we’ll be good to go.  Having a big garage with games and toys, and several things for them to do – where they can be a little loud without being disruptive, and are basically unable to really break anything, is also a sanity saver.

Unlike Christmas, and even Easter, which have evolved over the years from a blessed religious observance to a major shopping ordeal, Thanksgiving seems to have remained untainted from the time of John Smith & the Pilgrims, Honest Abe’s proclamation, and to our modern day.  I guess that is what I love most about it.  Gratefulness to God and eating with people are my most favorite things in the world.  I adore the simplicity of the holiday!  Especially when everyone shares the cooking and I’ve pretty much done all mine the day before and have only to reheat or drag out from the ice box.

Isn’t it funny how sooooo many hours of grocery shopping, cooking, scrubbing dishes, and decorating culminate in about 30 minutes of actual eating enjoyment, and then we’re right back in the kitchen washing dishes for an eternity and rearranging our refrigerators so all the leftovers will fit. And when we’ve finally finished with that, invariably somebody says they are ready to eat again, so we’re dragging it all back out for round two.

Honestly, November in our house is also anything but simple.  It is our family’s month of birthday and anniversary madness — at least two birthdays a week starting the last week of October and stretching into December, with anniversaries peppered in here and there.  The last Thursday in November is particularly crazy because my husband and I decided to be married on November 24th. We share our day with the birthdays of both my mom and his sister.  And then about every 4 years Thanksgiving lands on us too.  We must have been out of our minds.  Who gets married at Thanksgiving?  Two people, I guess, who desperately wanted to get out of Wyoming when the snow flies.  Consequently, between the grocery list and gift list, by the time Christmas has arrived we’re just flat, stinkin’ broke and feel like we’ve run a marathon!

This is where my sister comes in.  The coupon queen.  The bargain goddess.  The gal that can be counted upon to find a way (if there is one) to kill a dozen birds with one stone.  I’m not being sarcastic.  I marvel at her… even if I sometimes feel a little like an item on her to-do list.  She’s got this holiday figured out, for sure.  She and her husband tried for years to house hop and eat all day long to make everyone happy, but for a couple with ALL of their family in town it only took a couple of years to realize a person can’t eat that much food, or be in so many places at the same time.  So she decided to host the shindig at her house and invite all of us there.  She and hubbie provided the turkey and we all brought our favorite dishes.  It all worked out magnificently for us.  We each got to play chef but none of us were overloading our ovens.  It was very budget friendly.  And we all got to see each other.

My sister usually lays out snacks for all of us to nibble on until the meal is ready, and all the guests have arrived.  Then we form a buffet line around her kitchen counter, after first gathering to ask God’s blessing on our meal.  She clears her living room of furniture and sets up tables and chairs in the space, and we all sit together and stuff ourselves until we all look like a clan of Jabba-the-Huts or Fat B@$+@>)$ from Austin Powers – “Get in my belly!”  Karen and Steve always make some sort of bread to die for, and desserts that made your tongue want to divorce your mouth and just live with the pie forever.  I usually make a potato casserole and an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink stuffing.  Someone in our clan always brings mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and yams.  We always have turkey and gravy, fresh made cranberry relish, and a Watergate Salad.

After supper the men sneak off to watch the football game, while the women clean the kitchen and make TV dinners of all the left-overs, which we divvy up among ourselves. They all fit nicely stacked in my sister’s otherwise barren fridge.  I always bring a craft for us all to do – usually something that we can use at Christmas, like one year we made wreaths out of green-painted clothespins and red beads and wire clothes hangers bent into hoops and then adorned with a big fancy bow, to hang on the wall and pin our Christmas cards on – I still use mine to this day.  And one day I’ll tell you the story about how I hot-glued my finger to my bottom lip. I do not recomment hair removal by this method, by the way.


Another year we made peanut butter and birdseed ornaments with rice cakes and string, to hang in the trees outside, kind of like these: (We pressed a popsicle stick into our rice cakes and tied a string to the popsicle stick, then painted the ricecake with peanut butter, and rolled it in a cookie sheet that was filled with birdseed.  When we were done, we went and hung our birdseed ornaments in the trees outside.  


Another year we painted pots and planted narcissus bulbs in them that bloomed at Christmas.   I still have my pot, but have planted a different houseplant in it since.


Another year my daughter, grand-daughters, and I made picture ornaments of each of our family members to hang on their tree.  Their tree is entirely decorated with special ornaments that were given to them throughout their lives.  Each ornament has special meaning and each has a great story to go with it.  What a neat neat way to decorate a tree, eh?

Bulbs in hand

By the time we’ve finished with crafts the men are usually done with the TV football game and we all gather back around the tables to play party games.  It has become a hobby of mine to look for games at second hand stores and yard sales, and consequently I’ve amassed quite a collection.  We always spend a little bit of time muddling our way through the rules of our new games, and then after playing them we pull out favorites from past years.  People are always welcome to bring a favorite game for us to try.  In between games we eat dessert, or drag out leftovers to snack on.  My sister always keeps the veggie tray loaded, and the chip bowls full. 

Game Recommendations: Two years ago the hit game of the party was Education Outdoors Snipe Hunt Hide and Seek Game.  The kids had an abosolute blast trying to find the hidden snipes in the house, and also outside. The game went on for hours. We also played Hopla, Kings in the Corners, and Scene-It.  Farkel is also a good game to play with all ages. The cell phone app Heads Up game is a favorite also – especially around a backyard bonfire when the sun goes down!

When we’ve eaten everything, played everything, watched all the games on TV, and crafted till our fingers are tired, and we can’t keep our eyes open for another minute, that’s when we pack it up. We gather up our own leftovers from the fridge, if there were any left after round two and three, along with our crafts that we made, and games that we brought, and carefully head for home on usually not so nice roads, feeling very filled and fulfilled. 

And just when our tradition had become very predictable and comfortable, the Hoffman’s moved to Texas.  Bye-bye old traditions and crowded house.  Bye-bye pot luck.  Bye-bye craft party and family games.  Bye-bye cold and snow.  Bye-bye noisy, bustling house.  <sigh>

Our first Thanksgiving in Texas we went out for dinner, because we just closed on our house and all our stuff was still in storage.  We made reservations at Neals in Concan.  That’s not a bad tradition to have – except we decided that if we ever do it again we’ll order one dinner to eat there and one dinner to take home, so we can have leftovers.  The next year we were loath to have a *quiet house* Thanksgiving, so husband invited some of the orphans from his work whose families were still back in whatever state, who had to work the holiday and didn’t have any other place to eat when they got off.  We actually did that for the next several years, and a couple of the years the orphans were also Marines; and it felt really good to get to do something nice for them.

This was the first Texas Thanksgiving craft we did. I had planted an overabundance of cayenne and anahiem chilies in my garden and decided to make wreaths and ristras out of them. 

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

One of the first years in Texas, the growing-like-weeds, but still very young grandkids colored and made finger puppets of the Peanuts gang, and learned to play Yatzee with their granny, just like their grandpa used to play with his grandma every Thanksgiving!  And we snacked on popcorn, jelly beans, and pretzels while we watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on DVD.

As the kids grew our Thanksgiving crafts and games got more mature. We started playing games, like Apples to Apples, or Mexican Train dominoes, or we got a big jigsaw puzzle started that we could work on through the month of December.

Thanksgiving Recipes

There’s always a Veggie Platter on our table: (also showing in this photo, clockwise from top left: bottle of Pinio Noir wine, Pumpkin Pie, Pecan Cobbler, Salted Carmel Apples, Salted Caramels, Watergate Salad, Cranberry Relish, Ambrosia, and a Turkey veggie platter with individual cups of veggie dip).

Veggie Platter

And always deviled eggs:


We ALWAYS have TURKEY at Thanksgiving…but because the hubbie has never been a big fan of turkey, I change up how I make it every year.  My personal favorite is just the good old fashioned roasted buttery Butterball, golden on the outside and juicy on the inside, served on a platter surrounded with herbs and fruits, just like the Norman Rockwell painting, with a boat full of smooth and silky turkey gravy.  MMM…mmm…mmm.  While I die and drool, this is NOT husband’s favorite, sooooo…after burning him out on baked Turkey for several years, I decided one year to try stuffing the bird with fresh Herbs de Provence, garlic and onions, and an orange and apple (halved), and then I grilled it out on the BBQ grill, and you know what?  It was really a nice change of pace.  And I decided I liked change.  So, the next year after that we got a smoked turkey (ordered it from a local guy that did them), and honestly, who doesn’t love smoked turkey?  Another year we did a Cajun, deep-fried turkey. OMGoodness – YUM!  Who doesn’t love fried turkey?  After that, I brined the turkey, using Pioneer Woman’s recipe, and baked it in the oven as per her meticulously photographed instructions.  I even went so far as to order an organic turkey from the butcher at the grocery store, just to see it if made any difference – and yes, it was expensive, but holy cow was that fantastic.  We’ve done a Turducken, and another year sticky-smoky glazed turkey drumsticks – just the drumsticks; and another year I rubbed the whole giant bird down with a spicy dry rub, poked a few jalapeno slices up under the skin, covered it in a bacon lattice, and then roasted it in the roaster!  OMG, it was amazing.  And most recently we did “baby turkeys” (aka cornish game hens). That was a huge hit! And with that I may have exhausted all possibilities so we might have to just go back to the beginning and take a trip down memory lane.

Now I was not a big fan of the turkey drumsticks. They might have be better if they had cooked longer to be more tender.  They had a wonderful flavor and looked really pretty on a platter, but had a lot of cartilage and gristle that make them kind of difficult to eat.  I don’t think I will do that again.  BUT the SPICY DRY RUB JALAPENO STUFFED BIRD!  OMG!  Best Turkey I’ve ever made.  Super juicy.  Super Yummy.  Definitely have to do that again. And the little Rock Cornish Game Hens too. So I will share both of those recipes with you…

Mrs H’s Best Turkey Ever

First things first – When to buy the turkey

One week prior to Thanksgiving I purchased my 12 lb bird to feed the six of us.  It was a “Riverside” no frills, no big deal, store bought frozen turkey.  I put it in the fridge (Friday afternoon), and by Wednesday morning of the following week (5 days later) it was still sort of frozen in places.  I removed it from the fridge, cut the wrapping off, ran it under cool water in the sink for a minute or two, and was able to remove the neck and giblets package, so it was thawed enough.  I let it sit in the sink while I prepared the brine.


Warm 2 quarts of water in a large pot on the stove and stir in 1 cup of coarse ground Kosher salt.  Stir until salt is dissolved.  Add to this about 6 fresh Bay Leaves, 1 Tbsp coarse ground peppercorn, a few Chile Pequine, and the peels of about 4 large mandarin oranges.  Stir and remove from heat.  Let cool and then add 2 more quarts of fresh cool water.  Stir.

Brining Bag

Place turkey in a brining bag (a good, LARGE, heavy duty zipper bag).  Pour the brine solution into the bag and squeeze out all of the air, zipping, and then twisting the top so that the brine solution completely covers the turkey.  I taped mine and held it with a chip clip.  Place the bag into a roasting pan, and then place it on a shelf in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours.


At this point I Clorox everything in my kitchen where raw turkey juices might have gotten splashed (sink, faucet handles, countertops, floor, cupboard knobs, my hands, etc.).


Wednesday is when I like to prepare most of my sides (Stuffing, Potato casserole, cranberry sauce, desserts, relish trays, beverages, etc. – recipes below).  I won’t bake the sides until Thanksgiving Day, but I like to have them made and ready the day before.  It sure saves my sanity on Thanksgiving morning.  If I’m hosting at my house I also like to set my table, do some decorating, set up the buffet with beverage serving pieces, set out the craft that we’ll be doing, plus a few family games to play (this year 2017 I chose the games Hopla, Snipe Hunt game, Scene It, and Kings in the Corner, and the movies I picked for the kids to watch this year were two PBS Rabbit Ears selections: William Bradford and the First Thanksgiving, and Squanto).

 TURKEY continued…

Considering the baking time (13 minutes per pound) and the hour I planned for dinner to be served (noon), I figured my 12 lb. bird needed to be in the oven by 9:15 AM.  So, at a little before 9 AM I set my oven to preheat (450*F) and retrieved the turkey from the fridge, pulled it out of the brine, discarded the brine solution, and tossed the bag in the trash.

Brined Turkey

I rinsed my turkey and patted it dry with paper towels, and then set it on the rack in my roasting pan.  After sterilizing everything with Clorox once again, I sliced 2 large jalapenos (stems and seeds discarded) into slivers, half of a small yellow onion into thin slices, plus a stick of cold butter cut into 1 Tbsp pieces, and also opened my package of bacon (I always use a quality, hardwood smoked, medium sliced bacon).

Turkey companions

I pressed my hand up under the skin on the breast of the turkey and dislodged it from the meat as far back and down as I could.  I then began to stuff it full with the jalapeno slices, and then the onion slices, and finished with several tablespoons of butter.

Under the skin

Once that was done I scrubbed my hands again, and then sprinkled my spicy dry rub all over the bird.  It is basically just equal parts cayenne powder and ground black pepper.

Dry Rubbed

After that I began laying on my strips of bacon, in a lattice pattern, completely covering the breast, and also the tops of the drumsticks.


Washed up again, and as a last touch, sprinkled the bacon with coarse ground pepper and pushed in my pop-up thermometer (as directed on the package).

By 9:15 AM it was all dolled up and ready to go into my preheated (450*) oven.  I layed a piece of foil over the top (not totally covering and not sealed) and added 4 cups of water to the roasting pan, closed the oven door, and then turned the temp down to 350*F and set my timer for two hours, so I could start peeking in on my pop-up thermometer frequently at that point.  (It actually took my bird almost 3 hours to cook).

Now a person with two ovens is really blessed at this point, because that second oven can be used to bake the sides, and the whole shebang can then come out piping hot at the same time.  Imagine that!  I’m not so fortunate, so I either have to bake my turkey in an electric roaster, or bake my sides in the electric roaster, or send the sides to my daughter’s house to bake in her double ovens.  Hey, good idea!  And that’s just what I did!

And this was what the turkey looked like fresh out of the oven:


I pulled it out of the pan, wrapped it in foil tightly and let it sit for 15 minutes before I began carving.  (And those drippings in the pan made a magnificent gravy!!!!  Only the gravy I made with them I made the next day because there was no time at this point to fiddle with it.  I did make a turkey gravy a day ahead (see it in the mason jar in the background) using turkey wings cooked for several hours in a pot of water to make a nice turkey broth.  I left my actual turkey drippings in the pan, covered it with foil, and popped it in the refrigerator.  The next day the fat was easy to scoop off of the top.  I added to it an equal part flour and made a lovely roux.  To the roux I added the “jello” part of the drippings that remained in the pan and whisked it all smooth, and brought it to a bubble.  It was wonderful on our leftovers (stuffing and turkey)!


NOTE:  Brined turkey drippings do NOT need any extra salt, but you might like to add some ground black pepper.  I did.

Rock Cornish Game Hens


1/2 cup kosher salt

1/3 cup sugar

8 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

1 Tablespoon Peppercorns Melange

2 teaspoons ground mustard

2 teaspoons onion powder

5 quarts warm water

Mix all ingredients and then chill.

Pour brine over six hens in a large brining bag and chill in refrigerator overnight – 12 hours. Remove hens from brine and discard the brine. Pat hens dry with paper towels. Stuff the cavity of each with a lemon and orange wedge, a sprig of rosemary, and a clove of garlic. Tuck a pat of butter up under the skin on each breast. Also tuck a leaf of sage with the butter. Rub the outside of the bird with olive oil and ground black pepper. Truss the little feet together on each bird and arrange them on a baking sheet. Place in a preheated oven (400 degrees) for 25 minutes, then turn oven down to 300 and continue baking until a thermometer inserted reads 165 degrees F. Baste with the juices in the pan. Cover with foil if the birds seem to be browning too quickly.

Oh, and did you happen to notice the little pumpkin in the photo? I purchased these little pie pumpkins at the garden store and all you have to do to roast them is cut the top off and poke it with a knife a few times, scoop out all the seeds and membranes, replace the top and bake in the oven in a glass dish for about the same length of time as the birds. It is ready when the pumpkin looks like it has a nice tan and a fork inserted into the side meets with very little resistence. I put a stick of butter, a cup of brown sugar, and a teaspoon of pumpkin spice inside the pumpkin and let my guests scoop out their own portions. I also cooked a couple more of these pumpkins (without any butter, sugar, or spices) and scooped out the pulp into freezer bags and froze it to make pumpkin bread out of for Christmas. The seeds were also deliscious washed, salted, and roasted in the oven.

Thanksgivig Buffet2


Hashbrown Potato Casserole

2 lb pkg frozen hash browns

1 stick butter, melted

1 cup chopped onion

1 can cream of chicken soup

8 oz. carton sour cream

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Garlic Salt to taste

2 cups corn flakes, (plus ½ stick butter, melted)

In a large bowl mix hash browns, 1 stick butter, onion, soup, sour cream, and cheddar cheese, and garlic salt.  Toss until combined.  Spoon into large, buttered, oblong baking pan.  In a large Ziploc bag crush cornflakes and toss with melted ½ stick of butter.  Sprinkle over potatoes in an even layer.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. 

Loaded Potato Casserole

Some years I make a loaded potato casserole which is skin-on mashed red or yukon gold potatoes with a little chicken broth, salt, pepper, garlic powder, butter, and sour cream or ranch dressing stirred in. Sprinkled on top with cheese, bacon crumbles, and chopped green onion, and then baked in a 350 degree F oven until hot and bubbly.

Mom’s Texas Style Dressing

2 6 X 6 pans of sweet jalapeno cornbread (from the bakery), broken up into tiny pieces and dried on foil in a 170 degree F oven until totally and completely dried.

4 cups store bought stuffing cubes (plus the seasoning packet)

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped parsely

1 teaspoon pepper

1 stick butter, melted (1/2 cup)

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 large can Cream of Chicken soup

4 cups, or so, chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix all ingredients together, including the stuffing seasoning packet contents, in a giant bowl. Mixture should be extra moist, just this side of soupy. If bacon fat is available, use it to grease a large oblong baking pan. Carefully spoon dressing on top of bacon fat. Bake uncovered about an hour. Check for doneness – shake the pan to see if the center is set. If not, keep baking and checking, up to a total of 1 1/2 hours baking time. It may even need a little more.

Thanksgiving Buffet


Green Bean Casserole

1 large bag frozen green beans

2 Tbsp butter

½ cup chopped onion

2 cups sliced portabella mushrooms

1 can cream of mushroom soup, (I like Amy’s Mushroom Bisque)

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup gruyere cheese, shredded

½ lb crispy fried bacon, crumbled

¼ cup toasted sliced almonds

1 can Durkee French fried onions

Sauté onions and mushrooms in butter until mushrooms are tender and butter is absorbed.  Stir in soup, cream, and cheese.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in green beans and toss to coat.  Transfer to a buttered casserole dish.  Mix bacon almonds and French fried onions in a bag and sprinkle over green beans.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until green beans are tender and bubbling.


Sweet Potato Bake

4 sweet potatoes baked until tender and scooped out of the skins

1/2 cup sugar (may substitute honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup)

1/3 cup butter, melted

½ cup milk

2 eggs, beaten

2 tsp Vanilla extract

 Topping ingredients:

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup butter

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix sweet potatoes with remaining 5 ingredients.  Transfer to casserole dish.  In Ziploc bag mix topping ingredients and sprinkle over sweet potatoes.  Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned on top.

Turkey Gravy

4 Turkey Wings

2 medium onions, quartered

8 cups Turkey broth

¾ cup chopped carrot and celery

½ tsp Thyme

½ cup flour

4 Tbsp butter

Pepper to taste

Bake wings in oven (400 degrees) for 1 ¼ hours.  Put wings, onions, carrots, celery, and thyme into the turkey broth in a large pot on stove.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer for 1 ½ hours.  Remove wings and take meat off the bone, discarding skin and bones.  Set meat aside.  Strain broth and set aside.  Melt butter in a large sauce pan and as soon as it is foamy whisk in flour.   Cook stirring continuously until flour begins to turn golden, then whisk in the hot broth.  Stir continuously over high heat until thickened.  Taste, add salt and pepper, taste again, add shredded turkey wing meat, then remove from burner, cover it, and place where it will stay warm until ready to serve.

Jalapeno Poppers

1 dozen small to medium jalapenos

1 block cream cheese, softened

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 lb. crispy crumbled bacon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut jalapenos in half lengthwise.  Use a spoon to scoop out seeds and membranes.  Set aside.  In a small bowl mix cream cheese and shredded cheese together.  Spoon this mixture into jalapeno halves.  Sprinkle bacon crumbles on top of each jalapeno half.  Place on cookie sheet and bake in oven just until cheese becomes melty, about 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and serve. 

Cranberry Relish Mold

1 bag fresh Ocean Spray cranberries

½ cup chopped celery

1 orange w/ peel left on, cut into quarters

1 apple, seeded but not peeled, and cut into quarters

½ cup chopped walnuts

1 cup sugar (or more to taste)

1 large package cranberry Jell-O

Whirl first 6 ingredients in a food processor until minced into small pieces.  In separate bowl add hot water to Jell-O as directed on package and stir until dissolved.  Add cranberry mixture from food processor and stir to combine.  Place in a bowl, cover with plastic, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  If you desire to mold the relish, drain cranberry mixture in strainer or squeeze through paper towels before adding to Jell-O.  Spoon into a donut shaped Jell-O mold and chill for several hours until ready to serve.

Watergate Salad

2 small cans crushed pineapple with juice

2 small boxes Pistachio Pudding mix

1  9-oz carton Cool Whip

2 cups miniature marshmallows

2/3 cup chopped walnuts

Combine pineapple with pudding in medium bowl; add whipped cream, marshmallows and nuts.  Fold until combined.  Chill several hours or overnight before serving.

Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie

1 deep dish pie crust (homemade or store bought – I usually always cheated)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2 large eggs

1 can (15 ounces) Libby’s 100 percent pure pumpkin

1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk, preferably Nestle Carnation

Whipped cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Fit dough into a 9-inch deep-dish glass pie plate, pressing it into the edges. Trim to a 1-inch overhang all around. Crimp edge as desired. Prick bottom of dough all over with a fork; set aside.  (*I like to crush some pecans and scatter them on the pie crust, and then press them down in.)  

In a small bowl, mix together, sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and cloves. Beat eggs together in a large bowl. Add sugar mixture and pumpkin; stir to combine. Stir in evaporated milk until well combined.  (*I add a TBSP of Vanilla!!!)

Pour mixture into pie shell and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees; bake until filling is set, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 2 hours. Serve with whipped cream, if desired, or place in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Mrs-H’s Bourbon Pecan Cobbler

Cobbler Crust:

1 cup oat flour (1 cup regular oatmeal processed to a fine powder)

1 cup all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1/2 stick butter, softened

2 cups Buttermilk

2 eggs

Cobbler sauce:

2 cups light corn syrup

2 cups packed brown sugar

6 Tablespoons butter, melted

¼ teaspoon of salt

1 eggs, slightly beaten

¼ cup half and half

2 Tablespoons vanilla extract

2 Tablespoons of Bourbon

3 cups pecans, coarsely chopped


Pre-heat oven to 375ºF.  Generously butter a 13 X 9 inch pan. 

In a large bowl mix together all cobbler CRUST ingredients, and then spoon into buttered pan.  Set aside.

To prepare sauce, combine corn syrup, sugar, butter, and dash of salt in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring just until sugar melts; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes or until amber colored; remove from heat. Break the egg into the half-and-half and beat until mixed. Slowly drizzle egg mixture into sauce, stirring constantly with a whisk until fully incorporated. Add vanilla and bourbon; whisk until smooth.  Add pecans.  Pour over the crust.

Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until edges look crispy.  Allow the cobbler to cool for 20-25 minutes before serving.

Our Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, complete with popcorn, jelly beans, and pretzel bites


Abe Lincoln

I love the tradition that so many have of spending all of November proclaiming the things they are thankful for.  What if we only got to keep the specific things that we thanked God for? That’s something to think about for sure.  And on that note, I am soooo thankful for God’s extravagant generosity and love towards me in spite of my often ingratitude, and I pray that I be more aware of the things He does for me every moment of the day and night.  May I always thank Him for all the prayers He’s answered, and thank Him for all the plans He has for me, and all the plans He has for my family.  I thank Him too for the brave men and women who made the treacherous trip to this country on the Mayflower, many giving their lives in the hopes for a new opportunity here, and religious freedom.  I am thankful for the presidents we’ve had in this country that have loved and served and feared God, and led us with integrity and grit. I hope and pray that you, my dear reader (and new friend), have a big wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by friends and family who love you and are dearly loved in return, and that you will know the depth and width and breadth of God’s love for you.  IJN

Linus’ Thanksgiving Prayer

P.S. Got leftover ham?

Here are my two favorite things to do with it…


Ham & Potato Casserole

6 potatoes cut into slices or cubes as you prefer (or a bag of frozen hash browns)

2 cups diced ham leftovers

2 cups shedded cheese

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 stick of butter, melted

2/3  pint carton heavy cream

3 Tbls flour

1 jalapeno, diced

A sprinkle or two of spicy dry rub seasoning (basically just cayenne powder and ground black pepper)

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl and pour out into a large greased casserole dish.  Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 1 hour.  Remove foil, give the dish a good stir, return to oven and bake an additional 1/2 hour uncovered.  If it appears to be getting too golden on top, it is probably done.  My oven seems to take a little longer than other peoples.  This dish is a great way to get rid of several things you might have left in your fridge.  🙂

Deviled Ham (for sandwiches) 

These are my husband’s favorite!!!!  He will flat out gorge on them for two solid days in a row.  So I usually make all the deviled ham into sandwiches, lay them in a casserole dish, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap, and store it in his “mancave” fridge where he can just help himself until he is sick.  LOL!  P.S. I rarely measure my ingredients for this (although I did for you this time to make sure it would turn out), but I never have the exact same amount of leftover ham, so I’m going to say we start with 2 cups of ground ham and you can double or half the other ingredients in porportion to what you have, okay?


I grind my leftover ham in a hand-crank grinder (old school), and then to approximately 2 cups of ground ham I add:

1/2 tsp. ground pumpkin pie spice

1/4  tsp. ground cloves

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground pepper

1/3 cup minced onion (about a quarter of a large onion)

1/3 cup minced celery (about 1 rib of celery)

4 Tbsps sweet pickle relish

1 Tbsp Dijon or spicy brown mustard

Moisten with mayonaise until misture holds together and is slightly creamy.  I start with a good heaping serving spoon of Mayo, and then maybe a little more than that.

Mix together by tossing and stirring until everything is mixed well.  Cut the crusts off of your favorite white sandwich bread.  Spread slices with the deviled ham and cover with another slice of bread.  Cut sandwiches into quarters and poke a decorative toothpick through to hold them together.  Serve with whatever was leftover on the relish tray (carrot sticks, cream cheese stuffed celery sticks, green and black olives, deviled eggs, spicy pickled okra, spicy pickled jardinière mix, pickled asparagus, dilled green beans, little dill and sweet pickles, etc.), chips, or whatever you have.  These go great with cheddar cheese soup.  Check out my recipe in my blog post “Soups On.”



Got leftover Turkey?

We usually only have enough leftover turkey to make sandwiches the next that, and that is our favorite thing to do with it.  But I also love Chicken Spaghetti and turkey is a wonderful substitute for the chicken.  Here’s my recipe:

Turkey Spaghetti

6 cups left over turkey, diced

1/2 lb. Spaghetti noodles, cooked

3/4 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced

3 Tbsp butter

3 Tbsp flour

1 1/2 cups turkey broth (chicken broth will do)

1 cup heavy cream

1 scant tsp. dry mustard

4 oz. shredded Mexican cheese

1 lb. Ham, cut into small pieces

2 small pkgs slivered Almonds

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (the fresh, deli kind)


Preheat oven to 350*F.  Melt butter in a sauce pan and add the sliced mushrooms.  Saute mushrooms until tender.  Add the flour to the mushrooms and butter and let cook for a few minutes, stirring to fully incorporate it.  Add the broth slowly and cook until it thickens.  Add the heavy cream, dry mustard, shredded cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir until smooth.  Place speghetti, ham, and turkey in a large buttered casserole dish.  Toss to incorporate them.  Pour the sauce over the spaghetti and stir it around a little to make sure it gets all over.  Sprinkle with parmesan and the almonds, and a little dusting of paprika.  Bake in a 350*F oven, UNCOVERED, for about 45 to 60 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

“Let us enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.  Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.  For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and his truth endures to all generations.”  Psalm 100:4-5