Giving Thanks and Getting Cornbread Dressing

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It’s not about the presents, the candy, or the decorations; it’s about being thankful for what you already have.

The focus of Thanksgiving is love, appreciation, and family.  (And food, which is always a favorite topic of mine!)

Happy Thanksgiving; ceramic pie dish with pumpkin lid with squash and corn around it

Every fall I decorate with this ceramic pumpkin dish, and I bake a pie or put a special treat inside for Thanksgiving day.  This year, my husband has an extra-wide smile on his face because the dish is full of pralines, his favorite dessert!

I was looking back through old photos today and recalling fun thanksgiving memories and family traditions:

  • My daughter and I taking walks to gather pretty fall leaves to display down the center of our table.
  • Setting out homemade decorations like squash and corn from the garden and pretty fall images overlaid with scriptures about being thankful.
  • Spending time outside with our dogs and chickens and jumping into piles of leaves.
  • Gathering pecans in the yard, then cracking them in my Dad’s workshop near the toasty wood stove.  He mounted a heavy-duty nutcracker onto a homemade bench.  A quick flip of the handle, and the cracked nut falls into a container that hangs underneath — so easy!
  • Did I mention the traditional Thanksgiving meal?  Mashed potatoes.  Purple hulled peas.  Homemade pie.  It’s all so delicious!

One of my favorite Thanksgiving foods is my mother-in-law’s dressing.  Hot or cold, fresh or old, it’s so tasty I can eat it as a meal by itself!

People can have strong opinions about who makes the best dressing, but her’s is the one I prefer over all the others I’ve tasted.  She makes it slightly different each year because she doesn’t follow a recipe, but it always tastes great.

A few years ago she tweaked her recipe in an attempt to make it more healthy, and it was particularly delicious to me.  That afternoon, I sat her down while the process was still fresh in her mind and worked out the following recipe, which she is graciously allowing me to share with you.  It’s a little different than typical dressing because it does not contain sage (we have a family member who can’t eat sage).

“Healthy Cornbread Dressing”

Prepare cornbread and cooked chicken before making the dressing.

CORN BREAD:
2 cups white corn meal mix
1 large egg
1 cup milk

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine dry mix & milk, then add egg. Make sure the batter is thick, not soupy.  Put 2 Tbs. oil in 10″ iron skillet & preheat pan on stovetop until oil is hot. Add batter to skillet & bake about 20-30 minutes until lightly browned.

CHICKEN:
Boil 2-3 chicken breasts in plenty of water so you will have lots of broth. Season with salt, pepper, & a little Mrs. Dash Table Blend (contains: onion, black & chili peppers, parsley, celery seed, basil, bay, garlic, etc.)

DRESSING:
Mix:
1 10″ skillet of cornbread, crumbled small
2 Tbs. ground flax seed
1 Tbs. Mrs. Dash Table Blend 
3 large eggs
4 slices dry bread
Salt & pepper to taste

Then add:
Chicken or turkey broth — add enough to make it soupy (If you don’t have enough broth, add canned chicken broth.)
2-3 cooked chicken breasts, chopped

Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour, or until lightly browned.

 

Want some dessert to eat after your dressing?  Try my best friend’s New-York-Style Cheesecake recipe!  Such a sweet delight!

What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions or treats?

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