Thanksgiving Countdown Corner Nov. 23: The day is here!

Loretta Gillespie

Thanksgiving Countdown Corner Nov. 23: 


So, Thanksgiving Eve has finally arrived, our Countdown Corner has taken you through steps to ensure that you have the best, least stressful holiday ever. Here are a few more tips for making your morning and meal time even less stressful, and some reminders to help you with those little unexpected kitchen crises!

This timeline is written for noon meals, adjust accordingly if yours is served at a different time…

The night before: Make Sausage and Egg Casserole (see previous Countdown Corner for recipe) Do not bake. Do not add last two ingredients.

6 a.m. Thanksgiving morning- Add last two ingredients, then bake in 300 degree oven for one hour. This saves so much time when the family starts waking up, breakfast will be ready and on the table, in just one dish!

While casserole is baking, make cornbread for dressing if you haven’t already done so.

Sauté onions, garlic and celery in butter, slowly. When translucent, add poultry seasonings or rubbed sage.

Assemble dressing, adding previously shredded chicken and broth, cornbread, sautéed vegetables, cream of chicken soup, eggs and salt and pepper to taste.  (Note: if you haven’t got enough chicken broth, make some with water and bouillon cubes.)

If you have one oven, and you are using very large baking pan, start your dressing two hours before time to roast the turkey.  If using 9×13 casserole dish, start one hour before the turkey.

Chop fruit for fruit salad, refrigerate.


The night before:

Place completely thawed, brined turkey, beast side down, in a browning bag to which you have added one-fourth cup flour, several sliced onion rounds, several sticks of celery. Place bagged, seasoned turkey in refrigerator until time to roast.

You will need to save your giblets!

If your turkey has a pop-up timer, be sure to position it so you can see it.

Follow directions on browning bag for time according to size of turkey.

You want this to be the last thing out of the oven so adjust your timeline.


Giblet Gravy

I struggled with this for years before finding Paula Deen’s recipe, which is easy and delicious!

Prep time: 10 minutes

Serves 6-8

Cook Time; 3 minutes


Giblets from turkey (liver, heart, gizzard, and neck) cooked

4 cups turkey stock or broth, or chicken broth or stock

2 chicken bouillon cubes

2 teaspoons poultry seasoning

2 heaping tablespoons reserved, uncooked, cornbread dressing

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/3 cup cold water

Salt and finely ground black pepper

1 hardboiled egg, sliced


Chop the giblets and the meat that has been removed from the neck. Using a saucepot, bring the stock to a boil. Add giblets, bouillon cubes, poultry seasoning and the raw dressing to the mixture.

In a separate bowl, mix the cornstarch and water, and add to the boiling stock, stirring constantly, this is important! Reduce heat and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the salt and pepper, to taste, and add the sliced boiled egg.

Serve over cornbread dressing.


Other time savers for the night before any holiday:

Peel and dice potatoes for potato salad, creamed potatoes, etc. then cover with cold water and place in refrigerator.

Sauteé any vegetables that will have to be added to casseroles, dressing, etc. Place in sealed containers in refrigerator.

Mix homemade dressings or white sauce, place in sealed containers in refrigerator.

Leave out bread cubes for bread pudding, cover with dish towel so the air can get to it, you want it to become stale.

Prepare casseroles such as sweet potato, baked beans, potatoes au gratin and macaroni up to the baking point, then refrigerate overnight and bake first thing after breakfast casserole comes out of oven. Or bake the night before and simply reheat the next day.

Make tea and let steep, then refrigerate when you remove casseroles and other refrigerated dishes.

Hard boil eggs for salads, stuffed eggs, etc. peel and refrigerate until time to use. In the case of stuffed eggs, you can make the day before.


Extras to have on hand for emergencies:

Evaporated milk in small cans

Sour cream

Cream cheese

Eagle brand condensed milk


Cans of crushed, whole and chunk pineapple

Timer for making sure you don’t forget to take something out of oven or refrigerator

Corn starch

Lemon juice

Extra mayonnaise

Bell peppers

Extra eggs


Below are some extra recipes that you might want to try!


Cranberry Relish (This deserves five stars!)

This recipe has been a lifesaver! It is also a great gift, or a beautiful take-along dish. This recipe keeps well in the ‘fridge for several days.

Makes about 16 servings/ Prep time about 40 minutes

This is a lot easier if you have a food processor, but a chopper will do in a pinch.

1 pound whole cranberries, ground or chopped in food processor

2 large apples, unpeeled, finely chopped

2 ripe pears, unpeeled, chopped

1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple in juice, undrained

2 oranges, peeled, seeded and finely chopped

Peeling from one orange, grated

1 cup chopped pecans, optional (I always toast mine in a tiny bit of butter)

1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups sugar, to taste


Combine cranberries, apples, pears, pineapple and juice, oranges and orange rind in a large bowl. Add pecans if desired. Add enough sugar to suit your taste. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.


Baked Oranges (This got rave reviews at our house)

You will want to adjust recipe amount according to the number of servings you will need.

6 oranges

6 medium apples

1 (18-20 ounce) can crushed pineapple

1 1/2c ups sugar

½ cup chopped pecans, toasted

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

Cut oranges in half. Use a sharp paring knife or a grapefruit spoon to cut out center of each half, leaving a thin layer of orange inside each half. Peel and chop apples. Combine apples, oranges meats, pineapple and sugar, then cook together until very thick. Fill orange cups with mixture. Sprinkle top of each cup with pecans, then dot with butter. Place in baking pan lined with foil and add enough water in bottom of pan to keep oranges from burning or sticking. Bake in 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.

Note; You can also substitute your favorite sweet potato casserole recipe for the one above, using the orange halves as individual serving cups.


Orange Holiday Cookies

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup margarine, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

Grated peel of 2 large oranges

3 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice

Chopped unsalted almonds or pistachios, shredded or flaked coconut, colored sugar crystals, cinnamon sugar, decorated icing, etc. all optional

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. In large bowl, cream together margarine and sugar. Add egg, orange peel, and juice; beat well. Gradually blend in dry ingredients. Cover and chill 2 hours. Shape dough into 1-inch balls, logs (3 x ½ -inch) or roll dough into 1/8 –inch thickness and cut with lightly floured holiday shaped cookie cutters. Roll or sprinkle cookies with any of the optional ingredients. Place on parchment paper covered cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Remove and cool on wire racks. Decorate with orange icing.

Note: These make great gifts or ornaments. Cut out cookies and place on baking sheets. Make holes with a paper straw, cut into one inch lengths, then inserted into top of cookie. Remove straw, shake out dough from inside of straw, and reinsert into hole. Bake cookies and cool. Carefully twist to remove straw. Use ribbon or yarn to hang.


Harvest Rolls with Herb Butter

Using your favorite dinner roll recipe, or ‘store-bought’ rolls, place on cookie sheet, brushing tops with a beaten egg. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, sesame seed or caraway seed. Bake as directed. Serve with Herb Butter.

Herb Butter:

Combine 1/2 cup softened butter with 1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes, 1/4 teaspoon tarragon leaves, and 1/8 teaspoon thyme leaves and a little garlic.

Serve with extra herb butter.


White Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding with King’s Caramel Sauce

(NOTE: There are make ahead instructions in this one, be sure to read that you have to leave the bread cubes out overnight!) The following recipe comes from King’s Hawaiian Bread and is an often-requested dish at bake sales, and for the holidays. It’s a great brunch dish!


2 cups heavy cream

1 1/4 cups white chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 cups milk

2 eggs, beaten

3 egg yolks, beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups toasted pecans chopped

Ingredients for caramel sauce

1 1/3 cups sugar

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoons corn syrup

1 3/4 cups heavy cream

6 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

KING'S HAWAIIAN Original Hawaiian Sweet Round Bread (you can substitute one large loaf of French bread)


Step 1

Cut the bread into cubes the night before and leave out to become a tad stale.

Step 2

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat. Meanwhile, place the white chocolate chips in a large mixing bowl. When the cream comes to a simmer, remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour over the chips, whisking until the chips melt. Whisk the sugar into the mixture; add the milk, eggs, egg yolks and vanilla.

Step 3

Add the bread to the bowl, gently stirring to coat the cubes. Set the mixture aside to allow the bread to soak, tossing periodically (about 30-40 minutes or so).

Step 4

Toss the pecans into the soaked bread mixture, then pour into a baking dish (individual dishes can be used for single servings).

Step 5

Place in 350-degree oven for about 45 minutes. Test the bread pudding to make sure the top is golden brown and the inside is cooked (not too dry though).

Step 6

Remove from oven and serve with caramel sauce.

Step 7

Hawaiian Caramel Sauce Preparation

Step 8

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, water and corn syrup. Place over high heat and cook until the sugar dissolves and begins to boil. Note: Do not stir the sugar, as this could cause it to seize.

Step 9

While the sugar is cooking, combine the cream, butter and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Keep an eye on the sugar while heating the cream to keep it from scorching. Cook until the butter melts, stirring it into the cream. When the mixture comes to a simmer, remove from heat.

Step 10

Continue to cook the sugar until it darkens to a rich caramel color, 9 – 15 minutes. Swirl the pan as the sugar darkens – watch carefully as it can burn easily at this stage.

Step 11

When rich caramel in color, immediately remove the pan from the heat and add the cream mixture in a slow, steady stream. The sugar will bubble and steam as the cream is added. Stir in the vanilla.

Step 12

When the pudding is baked, spoon generous helpings into bowls. Drizzle the sauce over the portion and serve immediately.


Garnish with whipped cream and fresh berries, if desired.

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