Thanksgiving-y Foods

Hey, y’all! Sorry it’s been forever since my last post. I have a good excuse (really, I do). Around the middle of July, my husband and I learned we’d be expecting our first little one March 1. All-day sickness and sleepies hit me hard during the first half of my pregnancy, so I really didn’t cook much at all. I’m feeling a little better and doing a little more now, though standing to cook for a long period of time gets to my back (even with my anti-fatigue mats).

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve baked a lot. I don’t know if it’s because I was hungry for fall/Thanksgivingish foods, or I was just ready for Thanksgiving in general. Here are a few recipes I tried (sorry I don’t have pictures this time).

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

1 (15 oz.-ish) box spice cake mix
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
1 bag cinnamon chips

Mix dry cake mix with pumpkin and cinnamon chips. Divide into lined muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Makes approximately 20 muffins.

I got this recipe from my mom, who got it from a co-worker. Neither my husband nor I are big on pumpkin, but we loved these. When I made them, I made a double batch to split between our home and both of our jobs. All of our co-workers raved about them!

Pork Tenderloin with Apple Cranberry Sauce

(taken from Baked in the South)

2 lb. pork tenderloin (not in a marinade)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 T. cider vinegar
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 c. dried cranberries
3 peeled and chopped Granny Smith apples

Season pork with salt and pepper and add all ingredients to crock pot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours until pork is tender. Serves 6.

I made this on my birthday. Usually we’d go out, but my brother-in-law and his girlfriend were coming over to spend time with us. My husband was the only one who really didn’t care for it (in fact, he said “Please don’t make this again”). The rest of us thought the flavor was good, but the pork itself was really dry.

I also made brownies with canned pumpkin (mix a box of dry brownie mix with a 15 oz. can of pumpkin and bake according to the directions on the brownie box). These became a little more dense the longer they sat, but fresh they had the consistency of a very thick mousse. They were a hit!

And now for the Thanksgiving yums…

When my husband and I moved into our own place, I felt like I needed to start contributing to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. This is the third holiday season I’ve cooked something. And for some reason, this Thanksgiving, I decided to bake my first pie. Yikes! Luckily, I had a good recipe in reserve. My aunt, who, in my opinion, is one of the best dessert makers, sent me a recipe for an apple-cranberry crisp pie. I intended to make this two years ago for a pie contest at my husband’s work, but I never got around to it. The recipe has been sitting in my email for the past two years. Until this Thanksgiving.

Apple-Cranberry Crisp Pie

Use whatever crust you wish (I used a store-bought Pillsbury crust). Press into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate.

Filling:
3/4 c. sugar
2 T. all purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
5-6 c. thinly sliced, peeled apples (I did about 7 cups and used a mixture of Granny Smith and Honeycrisp)
1 1/2 c. cranberries (can use fresh or frozen, I used fresh)

Topping:
1/2 c. rolled oats
1/3 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. all purpose flour
1/4 c. butter or margarine, softened

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare pie crust as directed, using 9-inch pie plate. In a large bowl, combine sugar, 2 T. flour, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Add apples and cranberries; mix well. Spoon into crust lined pan. In a small bowl, combine all topping ingredients; mix with fork or pastry blender until crumbly. Sprinkle over filling. Bake at 425 for 35-45 minutes, or until apples are tender and topping is golden brown. Cover edges of crust with foil after 15 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning.

(Don’t forget to put the pie on a baking pan lined with foil to catch the juices if your pie filling runneth over! It saves you from having to clean a mess in the bottom of your oven.)

This recipe was a huge success! Everyone who tried it loved it. It even got my grandma’s seal of approval (my grandma is queen of pies in her area). My brother-in-law, who is nice to me even if I make something he doesn’t particularly care for, asked me if I had the ingredients to make another pie. I think he wants one all to himself…

And then there was the squash casserole. I made it for my dad, as he is limited on his carb intake. The casserole I made is adapted from Paula Deen’s Squash Casserole recipe.

Squash Casserole

6 c. diced yellow squash and zucchini
canola oil
1 onion, chopped (I used 2 c. frozen onion just because I don’t like chopping them)
4 T. butter
1/2 c. sour cream
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 c. grated Colby jack cheese
1 c. crusted Club or Ritz crackers (I used Club Multi-grain)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute the squash in canola oil over medium heat until it is slightly tender to the touch. Line a colander with a couple of layers of paper towels. Place the cooked squash in the lined colander and squeeze out extra moisture. Set aside.

In a medium skillet, saute the onion in butter until translucent. Remove from pan and mix with all other ingredients, except cracker crumbs. Pour mixture into a greased casserole dish and top with cracker crumbs. Bake 25-30 minutes. Used as a side dish, can serve 4-6.

Everyone really liked this too! My dad said that the squash wasn’t quite mushy enough for him, so I’ll definitely cook it longer next time.

And, yes, I think there will be a next time. Since the pie and casserole went over so well, I think I’ll continue to make them for future Thanksgivings!

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