Aunt Kelly's Bread Stuffing

Monday, November 29, 2010

Next to my Grandma's Noodle Gravy, this is my favorite part of Thanksgiving! Growing up I would go to my mom's side of the family Thanksgiving (famous for the Noodle Gravy) and then my dad's side of the family Thanksgiving (famous for my Aunt Kelly's Bread Stuffing). So now when I go to Thanksgiving with Justin's family I bring my grandma's gravy and aunt's stuffing. It's like the best of both worlds! Now if I could only get my Aunt Mina's mom's pie recipes... then I may just have the best Thanksgiving dinner possible!

On Thanksgiving we went to Justin's parents' house for dinner. Before I tell you what Abbott said you should know that we've never been hunting and we've never eaten game meat. Not that we have anything against hunting, we're just too lazy to get up that early in the morning... that and no one in my family could stomach the thought of killing something ,-)
So, while we were getting ready to leave for Thanksgiving, Abbott asked "who’s bringing the turkey"
I said "Grandma"
Abbott asked "Did she hunt it?"
"No" I said
"Oh Crap! It tastes terrible when someone didn’t hunt it!" exclaims Abbott
"Well grandma bought it from someone who hunted it (meaning the store)" I say
"Oh phew! I am glad she bought it from someone. The hunted kind tastes so much better than the kind you buy at the store!" Abbott said

So... weird fact about Abbott #1,836- Abbott thinks hunted turkey tastes better than store bought turkey.
Weird fact about Abbott #1,837- Abbott's under the false impression that he's eaten a hunted turkey before.

2 loaves of sandwich bread, aired out for a few hours to get stale and crusty
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cans chicken broth
2 eggs
1/2 cup white onion, minced
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the butter, onion, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper.

Slice up the celery stalks and add them to the pan (I stir in each celery stalk after I cut it).

Once all the celery is cut, add 1 can of chicken broth and turn the heat to medium low. Cook for 8-10 minutes until celery is just soft. Then remove from heat so it can cool.

While the celery is cooking cut the 2 loaves of bread into cubes (or if you prefer you can cut the bread earlier in the day, I'm lucky because while I'm cutting and cooking celery Justin cuts up the bread).

Whisk 1 can of broth and 2 eggs together. Slowly pour the egg broth over the bread, stopping to toss the bread (with your hands) in-between drizzles. You don't want to soak the bread, just spread the egg broth around evenly.

Now, hopefully your seasoned celery broth is cooled to just being warm (you don't want to scramble your egg with boiling broth). Using a spoon (or in my case a measuring cup), ladle on the celery and broth.

Toss the bread after every couple ladles, (so the bread doesn't get too runny) you want to evenly distribute the celery and seasoned broth.

Spoon on more celery and broth and toss. Repeat until you're out of seasoned celery broth.

Put the stuffing in a baking dish and smash it down. I prefer a deeper dish to keep the stuffing really moist (I used a 2.5 quart cast iron pot), but a 9x13 works fine... it's just a little more dry.

Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover for 15 minutes or so until nice and browned on top.

Grandma's Noodle Gravy

Friday, November 26, 2010

This is my grandma's recipe for her famous noodle gravy! We have it for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Everyone lathers it on their turkey and mashed potatoes and it's the best part of the holiday dinner! After Thanksgiving 2003 I called my grandma (while the Thanksgiving preparation of noodle gravy was fresh in her head) to get detailed directions for her noodle gravy. I've made it a few times since then and it's spot on every time! Since we have multiple families to visit I don't always get to go to my grandma's, so I bring this gravy to whatever dinner we're going to! The best part is that this gravy can be prepared without a turkey! Just cook up a couple chicken legs or thighs to get a little drippings, then use a couple cans of chicken broth!

De-greased turkey or chicken pan drippings, supplement canned chicken broth if you don’t have enough drippings (you need around 6 cups total. I used 1 cup of drippings and 4 cans of chicken broth)
1/2 cup diced turkey or chicken meat
1 can cream of chicken soup
3-4 tablespoons of flour
2 diced hard boiled eggs, minced
Homemade egg noodles
2 cups flour
3 egg yokes
1 egg (yoke and white)
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt

The day before, bake some chicken legs and/or thighs for dinner. Save the chicken drippings and the meat of one leg/thigh. Keep the drippings and meat in your fridge over night so you can scrape the fat off in the morning (throw away the fat that gathers at the top).
The day of, warm the drippings, meat and canned chicken broth in a large pot over medium low heat. You'll want around 6 cups of liquid total.
While the liquid warms on the stove, prepare the noodles. Put flour and salt in a mixing bowl, make a well in your flour and add the 3 egg yokes and 1 egg.
Drizzle in the 1/2 cup of cool water. Start stirring with a spoon but once the dry ingredients are sufficiently moistened I press it by hand.
Keep pressing the dough until you can get it to hold in a ball (you may need to drizzle in an additional 1/4 cup water).
Once you have the dough formed into a ball you will cut it into quarters. Sprinkle flour on your counter (or a cutting board) and roll a quarter of the dough out with a rolling pin. As you flip and roll the dough sprinkle more flour on it. You don’t ever want sticky dough; it needs to be dry and dusted with flour. When it is thin, use a pizza cutter to cut small noodles.
When all the noodles are cut and ready, add them to the chicken broth and chicken bits. Turn the heat up to medium and let the noodles cook for 15 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes. After 15 minutes spoon out around 1 cup of broth and whisk in 3-4 tablespoons of flour, then pour the broth/flour mixture back into the pot (this will help thicken the gravy). Add the cream of chicken soup and minced hard boiled eggs to the gravy. Let the gravy cook another 5-10 minutes and it's done! You can serve immediately OR you can hold the gravy for a couple hours by pouring the gravy into a crock-pot and keeping the crock-pot on the warm setting (this is what I do since I take the gravy to our family dinners.

Cream Cheese Chicken

Monday, November 22, 2010

We've made this recipe a few times in the last couple weeks, it's cheap and easy but most importantly, it hits the spot! It's very similar to Creamy Italian Chicken and Pasta but I like this version with rice better. We spoon the sauce onto the rice and it's so yummy!

We're putting our Christmas tree up on Wednesday and I can't wait! Christmas is our favorite time of year! The boys made a Christmas movie advent calendar, so this year we'll split up our 30 Christmas movies and watch 1 every day! We'll snuggle up, watch Christmas movies, with our fireplace blazing, and twinkle lights shining! There isn't anything better in the whole world! What's your favorite Christmas movie? Justin's favorite is Christmas Vacation, my favorite is Love Actually, Andrew's favorite is Elf, and Abbott's favorite is Home Alone! I can't wait!

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed (it's ok if they're still a little frozen)
1/4 cup butter
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 packet, Italian dressing mix (I use Good Seasons Brand)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
Serve with white rice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
In a 9x13 glass casserole dish, warm the butter and cream cheese in a microwave. I put it in for 30 seconds, stir, and then 30 more seconds. When the butter and cream cheese are soft you'll stir in the package of Italian dressing mix and cream of chicken soup. Stir in the cubed chicken breasts, coating the chicken with the sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 60 minutes in the preheated oven. Serve chicken and sauce over white rice.

First Girlfriend Pie

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

We try to celebrate the small things, and I especially like to celebrate the boys "firsts" with pies! Last year I posted Andrew's First Concert Pie and Abbott's First Kiss Pie... both were delicious! Well, today Andrew got his first girlfriend! Her name's Kerri (pronounced Carrie, same as my name)! So we had to celebrate with a "First Girlfriend Pie"! Andrew and Kerri have been flirty with each other for awhile now. Last year Andrew told us a story about an indoor recess where Kerri leaned on him while talking to their friends. Andrew said the whole time Kerri was leaning on him he was thinking "...ok, this isn't awkward"! It was too cute because as Andrew told the story his body language perfectly described how awkward he must have felt.

So, Andrew says Kerri wrote him a note yesterday asking him if he liked her. Andrew wrote back admitting that he liked her and asked if she liked him, then Kerri wrote back saying that she liked him too! Andrew said Kerri's friends begged and pushed for him to ask her out, so today at lunch Andrew asked Kerri to be his girlfriend! She said yes! I knew I'd like this girl when Andrew said that Kerri asked if she could pick him up for Wednesday night youth group... she goes to youth group too?!! SCORE!

First girlfriends are special and it's something to celebrate! Justin's first girlfriend was Cheryl Hudson when he was in 5th grade. I can't remember who my first boyfriend was, I was more like Abbott... I think I had my first kiss before I had my first boyfriend. My first kiss was in 5th grade, we were on a God's Kids tour, playing truth or dare, and my cousin Brett Rains dared me to put a Spree candy in my mouth and for Nathan Evans to kiss me and get the candy. First's are so special because they can't ever be repeated! We don't ever remember who our second girlfriends or kisses were, just our first. There's a GREAT movie all about that first middle school girlfriend, it's called "Little Manhattan" and it's one of our favorites! If you haven't ever seen it you must rent it immediately... and make this pie to eat while you're watching it :-)

So, congratulations Andrew on having your first girlfriend! You are one step closer to becoming a man, and what an amazing young man you are. We are so proud! Your "First Girlfriend Pie" was outstanding! It was fluffy, smooth, and so rich! I can't wait to make this pie for you, your wife, and your family some day! It will always make me smile remembering the grin on your face as you beamed with the pleasure of having your first girlfriend!

9-inch deep dish pie crust, baked
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup water
1 (4 serving) package chocolate pudding mix (not instant)
1 (1 ounce) square unsweetened chocolate
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large (16 ounce) tub of Cool Whip
Optional- Hot fudge topping

In large saucepan, combine condensed milk, water and pudding mix; mix well. Add chocolate and salt. Over medium heat, cook and stir rapidly until chocolate melts and mixture thickens (it won't thicken until it starts to boil). Remove from heat, whisk until smooth, and cool in the fridge. When it is thoroughly chilled, fold in Cool Whip and pour into prepared pie crust. Chill 4 hours until set. Use a pastry bag and tip to pipe on the hot fudge topping into a heart shape. Don't warm the hot fudge topping, it needs to be cool or room temperature to hold the shape of a heart.