Oh yay! Thanksgiving is here!

groucho

Thanksgiving is here and you are in a panic! I can see it in your eyes…hear it in your breathing. You’ve got your kids coming home from college, in-laws staying for days, friends “stopping by.” Not only do you have to prepare a FEAST on Thursday, but there are the meals before and after that need to be planned. Oh, you didn’t think of that? Lucky for you, I have a few recipes that are easy. You can use disguised poultry for some of these meals. Don’t worry that you’re having turkey on Thursday. If you make my Tortellini sausage soup, you can use turkey or chicken sausage. Don’t tell anyone. Serve with some hot rolls (store-bought this time) and everyone will be happy! You can make this today and serve it tonight or tomorrow as your guests roll in. A hot pot on the stove makes a happy guest.

Another crowd pleaser, with disguised poultry, is my chicken enchiladas. Make it in the morning and serve it later. Buy the rotisserie chicken in the grocery store. No one will be the wiser. You have enough to do this week. This meal is quick and delicious. It can be mild or as spicy as you’d like. If anyone asks what’s in it, change the subject! “Look, is that snow?” or “I see deer in the yard!”

You’re tired and ready to collapse. You can prep a nice breakfast the night before if you make my breakfast souffle. A little bit of work at night makes for an easy breakfast in the morning. If you want to get fancy, buy some challah bread and make French Toast. You can make it and keep it warm in the oven while people wake up and stroll to the table. See, it’s easy! Check your syrup supply. Buy the bacon too!

Let me give you a few words of advice. ASK FOR HELP. I should listen to myself. You don’t have to do everything perfectly or yourself. If people ask if they can bring something, repeat after me, “Yes!” Do your best, not Martha Stewart’s best.  The holidays are about being with your family or friends, the people you care about. Everything else falls in place. Relax. Laugh. Eat. Create your own traditions.

Make a schedule of what needs to be done and when. While one thing cooks, another is prepared. Planning makes it easy.

One more thing, check your toilet paper stash. Oh, and coffee. Make sure you have enough coffee. You will make it through this week and have many happy memories-unless you run out of toilet paper!!

The holi-daze are here whether you like it or not. It won’t be long before you are suffering from frugal fatigue or host-traumatic stress disorder or making silly resolutions you will not keep. Enjoy the small moments.

Happy Thanksgiving…..breathe!!

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Cakey Cornbread for the soul…..

This cornbread is not a Southern cornbread. There. I said it. It’s sweet, cake-like, and moist. Add a pat of butter to a just-out-of-the-oven slice, and you will find happiness. I smile thinking about this. The recipe is simple and needs nothing more than a bowl and whisk. I use a cast-iron pan but these can be poured into muffin tins to make corn muffins. Muffins take less time to bake and freeze well. Wintry days are made for baking and enjoying the fruits of your labor by a roaring fire.

My “friend” has made this recipe. She once accidentally  used twice the amount of butter. Another time she forgot the vegetable oil. Both times it was still delicious. Obviously, it’s best if you follow the recipe. My “friend” sometimes hurries in the kitchen. So silly!

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. baking powder

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil

1/4 cup melted butter cooled slightly

Heat oven to 350 degrees. If using a  9″ cast-iron pan, lightly oil it and place in the oven to heat. If you’re making muffins, you can skip this step. Put papers in the muffin tin or grease them generously. I use oversized muffin tins. These tins make 6 muffins, a regular 12 muffin pan works also.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder.  You can reduce the sugar to 1/2 cup. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and oil. Don’t add the melted butter. Not yet!

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Add the melted butter and stir just until mixed.

Remove the cast-iron pan from oven. Place it on the stove. Careful. It’s very hot! Pour batter into hot pan and bake for 1 hour. I set the timer for 45 minutes and start checking for doneness.  If you are making muffins, depending on the size, they will take 20 -30 minutes. I always set the timer for 5 minutes less and start checking with a knife or toothpick. They should come out clean. The cornbread should also be slightly browned on top.

Sit back. Make a cup of tea, open your newspaper, and enjoy a slice of warm cornbread with sweet butter. You will forget your worries!

Enjoy!

Here’s the original recipe from East Coast Grill in Cambridge.