Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Thankful for New Traditions

Thankful for New Traditions

My husband and I were middle-aged divorcees when we married. Trying to mesh two worlds of traditions presented some challenges, but nothing too difficult. However, at one of the first Thanksgivings while dating, Austin not only ruffled my feathers, but also those of my two sisters when he tried to introduce something new to our well-established menu.

We have gathered for Thanksgiving at the family ranch in Central Texas since 1979. Dad used to be the chef for our traditional feast—he wasn’t very good at close relationships and interacting with the family, but he was a master in the kitchen. After he became ill (and later passed), my sisters and I took over. Before long, we had a scrumptious set-in-stone menu.

When anyone else offered to bring something, we gave them a simple task, such as a dessert or condiment, but nothing that interfered or competed with any of our dishes. When Austin said he was going to bring some dressing that first year, I tried to discourage him. My sister Rhonda prepared that side dish and my family loved hers. We didn’t need a new recipe introduced.

Austin’s wasn’t just any dressing—it was oyster dressing! Ugh! I knew that no one in my family would eat it, but if it was so important, he could bring a small dish. Rhonda still prepared her recipe and we reluctantly accepted his addition to our perfect menu.

We obviously had a different idea of what constituted “small,” and he prepared a 9 x 11 pan of it. I was right. No one else in the family touched it. Oysters at Thanksgiving?  Not in my family. When it was time to go home, he insisted on leaving the leftovers with my sister Nancy (who lived at the ranch), and she was anything but thrilled to have that yucky stuff in her already jam-packed refrigerator.

The following year, I was asked to kindly persuade Austin not to bring his oyster dressing. He abided by my request and never fixed it again—until Thanksgiving last year, over ten years later. It had been part of his family’s traditional meal before meeting me, and my sisters and I had shamed him into never bringing it again. Austin decided that even though no else liked it, there was no reason he should continue to go without.

When we walked into Nancy’s kitchen, I told her what Austin had prepared. She thought that fiasco was a one-time thing. Nope. He did it again. But to our amazement, others actually ate it! My oldest son, who now loves oysters, thought it was wonderful. I actually tried some myself. And when it came time to pack up the leftovers, my mother, of all people, asked to take some home.

For years we had lovingly joked about that dressing, and Austin had been a great sport. But this time when it reappeared on the table, we were all more receptive. Considering all the changes that have transpired in our family, a little pan of oyster dressing was really no big deal.

Even taste buds change over time. Now oyster dressing is considered an acceptable addition to the Thanksgiving menu and it will be served again this year. How silly that my sisters and I got so hung up on “our” traditional meal that we weren’t very opened-minded to a minor deviation in the menu.

A change in the menu is one thing, but for younger moms, how will you cope that first holiday your college student doesn’t come home? What happens the first time your son goes to his new wife’s family for Thanksgiving or your daughter wants to go visit the boyfriend’s family? Are we ready for those deviations? As moms, are we ready to let our kiddos go and make their own new holiday memories? I am so grateful God prepared my heart for those changes differently than that first oyster dressing incident!

As our children continue to grow the family through marriage and babies, when we move and loved ones pass on, family gatherings start to look different. When adjustments to holiday traditions must be made (not if, but when), be prepared to listen as God calls us to something new.

Looking back over the years, I can certainly acknowledge that “something new” can be a good thing, specifically the dramatic transformation of my own life. I have so much praise to offer up to Jesus for His power of redemption and salvation, and am overflowing with joy for that gift.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV).

Thanks be to God that I listened, allowed Him to change my heart, and accepted His invitation to that “something new.”

It’s not the date on the calendar or the traditions or rituals that make Thanksgiving special. The attitude of love in our hearts makes a holiday—and every day—a blessed gift from God, worthy of offering Him our gratitude and adoration for everything He has bestowed upon us.

Holiday gatherings and feasts may be subject to change over the years, but hopefully words of thanksgiving and praise will always be a staple on my prayer menu. Let us embrace the new that might challenge the status quo of the old, but also exalt the one and only constant in our lives—the One who never changes.

Let’s sing and make music in our hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:19-20)—the One who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Jellied Cranberry Sauce and Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Bananas and Honey


Just one day before Thanksgiving, and if you still need some ideas for your table that are easy, tasty and attractive, read on.  Both these recipes are for sides since I’m assuming you have the turkey, or main dish, covered.

I usually make a cranberry-orange relish for Thanksgiving, using the classic recipe found on the back of the Ocean Spray cranberry bags. But this year, I wanted to try something different; so when I found this Cranberry sauce recipe on the Kitchen Daily blog, I was delighted asI have never made a “cooked” sauce before. With an investment of only 20 minutes and a little stirring, you can have a bright and delicious side dish!

Cranberry Sauce with Fuji Apples


Diff: Easy Time: 20-25 min. Serves: 12


1 12 oz. bag fresh cranberries

1 Fuji apple, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice

1 cup sugar

¾ cup water


  • In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries with the apple, sugar and water. Bring to a boil and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently until the cranberries are completely broken down and the sauce is very thick, about 15-20 minutes.



  • Scrape the cranberry sauce into a serving bowl and refrigerate until chilled, about 3 – 4 hours.

  • Or, if you’re brave, put sauce into a 8 x 4 loaf pan lined with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with Pam. When chilled, invert onto a rectangular serving dish.

  • Before serving, garnish with fresh cranberries and rosemary sprigs, if desired.  (I just love having a big old rosemary plant in my front window so I can just cut off a sprig anytime!)


Whipped Sweet Potatoes and Bananas with Honey

This next recipe is also a departure from my usual routine. I have, for years, made my mother’s Sweet Potato Souffle, but this year, again, I wanted to try something different. When I saw this unusual combination of sweet potatoes and bananas created by Tyler Florence of the Food Network, I just had to try it. If pressed for time, (and who isn’t at this point?), this recipe can be made in three steps; the potatoes and bananas can be roasted ahead of time, then when you have a few minutes, puree these together in a food processor with the honey and one stick of butter. The topping also can be made ahead, put in a container and placed on top just before putting the potato mixture into the oven.

Note: I would recommend using only 2 bananas for a more subtle banana flavor.

Diff: Easy Prep Time: 20 min Cook Time: 1 hr 25 min Serves: 10


5 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed well

2-4 bananas, unpeeled

1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

¼ c. honey

Kosher salt

½ c. all purpose flour

¾ c. dark brown sugar

1 ½ c. pecans, chopped


  • Preheat oven to 375 F.  Prick potatoes all over with a fork,  then put them in a roasting pan and roast for 45 min.


  • Add bananas to pan and continue roasting for 15-20 minutes, until both the bananas and the potatoes are very soft! (Very important: Make sure they’re soft and completely cooked!  Also, if you’ve never cooked bananas before, the skins will turn black!)


  • Remove pan from oven but leave oven on.

  • When potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh into bowl of a food processor. Add the peeled bananas and one stick of butter and honey.


  • Season with salt and process until well-combined.


  • Spoon into a oven-proof serving bowl and smooth out the top.

  • In a separate mixing bowl, using your fingers or a flat wooden spoon, rub together the remaining stick of butter, brown sugar, flour and pecans until the mixture is consistency of coarse crumbs.


  • Sprinkle crumb mixture over the sweet potatoes and return to oven.


  • Cook for 20 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden.  (You can see I had a little extra just for me!)  Serve hot.


I hope that one of these recipes make it onto your holiday table, and are enjoyed by all!

Until next week, wishing you and all your family a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving full of the love and comforts that only family can bring, all of God’s blessings, good health, and happy eating!

Blessings and Smiles,


Glorify through Thankful song

Glorify through Thankful song

“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.”
Psalm 69:30

songbirdI like to sing in the shower; when no one is around of course. Music makes my heart soar to new heights, and in that moment I am a songbird, melodic and beautiful. Unfortunately, God and I are the only ones who think so! The thought of anyone but the Father hearing my tuneless crooning makes me cringe, but when it is just He and I – I am brilliant!

I certainly am not thankful for my crappy voice, but I am thankful for the opportunity to use it to glorify my God – even if it is for an audience of one.

 Most of the time I sing out of gratitude.

  • Gratitude for the love He shows me every day, simply by being by my side.  

  • Gratitude for coming into my life and forgiving all of the wretched things that have defined my past.  

  • Gratitude for giving me a heart for what is true, and worthy, and beautiful.

But it is when I sing simply because of who He is – the Creator of the universe, that I believe I glorify Him most. He is so big that a song can barely contain all that is our God. All powerful. All loving. All merciful. The heavens and all of nature declare His glory, and I join in; singing my tuneless song, perfect in all its glory – to Him.

For Him.

About Him.

Let’s make this Thanksgiving a time to remember all that God has done in our lives, especially the small things that often go unnoticed. Thank Him each day by expressing  your gratitude for who He is and what He has given you.

Even if it is a simple tuneless song, just between you… and He.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Thanksgiving Countdown and Pumpkin Parmesan Biscuits


Thanksgiving is barely a week away and time to start thinking about what you’ll be making and how to best organize your time for easy and efficient preparation. Having a plan makes getting ready for the feast so much easier. Once you’ve determined what family favorites you’ll be making, draw up a timeline for what you need to do and when you need to do it by. Make sure whatever can be done ahead of time is done. Chop vegetables for your recipes and store in plastic bags, wash and shine glasses, get out your company china, and make sure you have enough plates and pieces for serving.

Enlist your spouse and children to help with preparations; and if they balk; tell them they’re planning on eating Thanksgiving dinner, right? Nuff said! If you have creative or crafty kids, have them create a lovely centerpiece for your table. Perhaps you have a daughter or son that can help in the kitchen? Extra hands, what a blessing!

But what I’d really like to share is this (slightly modified) handy timeline published by the Family Dollar Store. It might prove helpful to the many of you that are trying to do too much during this busy time of year!




  • Clean out your fridge to make room for Thanksgiving food

  • Wash and iron tablecloths and napkins

  • Organize Serving Platters: Decide which platters will be used for certain dishes, label them if necessary on bottom of dish

  • Make and freeze side dishes, breads, casseroles or pies


  • If you have a big bird, start thawing your turkey! (Especially if you intend to brine)


  • Thaw any frozen pre-made dishes

  • Clean your home (enlist your kids) starting with the rooms your guests will see first

  • Take care of the small details like batteries for the remote, replace light bulbs in bathrooms and hallways


  • Make stuffing and casseroles, then cover and refrigerate until baking tomorrow

  • Make and refrigerate pies and any other fabulous desserts you have planned

  • Set your table with your finest china and crystal and don’t forget that fabulous centerpiece your kids made! (They did make one, didn’t they?)


  • Prepare the meal-cook the turkey, warm the side dishes. Whip cream for pies. Prepare and set out appetizers and snacks.

  • Use your slowcooker to make an extra side dish, dessert or soup

  • Enjoy a wonderful meal, prepared with love and shared with the one’s you love most. Linger over your pie and appreciate all of God’s bounty and all the blessings in your life!

So, with the above in mind, today’s offering is going to be one of those make ahead items. These are so simple, don’t require any special ingredients, and you can freeze them for up to a month. I made up a batch today, and, wouldn’t you know it, one of them disappeared before I was able to put the rest in a freezer bag! Hmmm, I wonder who snatched it? In any case, my thanks to the good folks at the Food Network Magazine for sharing this recipe (which I modified just a little)!

Pumpkin-Parmesan Biscuits


2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 T. baking powder

1 T. sugar

1 t. kosher salt

¼ t. nutmeg

6 T. grated parmesan cheese

1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced + 1 T. melted butter

½ cup canned pure pumpkin

¼ c. heavy cream or half and half

Diff: Easy      Prep: 30 min

Cook: 20 min     Serves: 11-16


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line baking sheet with parchment. (Frugal me, I reuse my parchment …)

Whisk the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl. Whisk in the parmesan.


Add the diced butter and work it in with either a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.


Mix the pumpkin and cream (or half and half) in a small bowl and pour over the flour mixture.


Mix with your hands or with a fork to make a soft dough, making sure all flour is incorporated.


Turn dough out onto a floured surface and roll into a ¾ inch thick rectangle using a floured rolling pin.


Cut out biscuits using a 2 inch biscuit cutter. You will need to re-roll dough (gently) several times to use it up.



Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining parmesan.


Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to a rack and let biscuits cool slightly before serving or cool completely and freeze.


IF MAKING AHEAD: Freeze biscuits in a resealable bag once they have cooled completely. To reheat, arrange on a baking sheet, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F until warmed through, about 10 minutes.

Now, I bet you were so sharp that you noticed I only made 11 biscuits from my dough. That’s because my biscuit cutter was ½ inch larger than the recipe called for. I would also recommend using the heavy cream rather than the half and half as this makes a more tender biscuit.

I hope you enjoy these biscuits; they’re a different twist on the classic. Served warm with butter (and/or honey), they’re tender and delicious!

Until next week, don’t get frantic, there really is enough time to do it all! (We do manage, somehow, don’t we?) Wishing you all of God’s blessings, good health and happy eating!

Blessings and smiles,


A Thankful Heart!



  This week many of us will be traveling to see family in other places or inviting them to spend time in our homes for the holiday.  Preparations will consume our thoughts and our time, as we get ready to entertain family and friends. It is amazing the amount of time that we spend preparing for a feast or for company. We clean our houses, shop for food and put our best foot forward to impress those that will share the day with us.

I wonder if we spend as much time preparing thankful hearts…thankful for God’s blessings, for all that we have and all that we are.  This particular holiday is supposed to be focused on what we have to be thankful for, yet much of what is supposed to be has been lost. We spend so much time in the preparation to be thankful, that we forget….to be thankful!

1 Thessalonians 5:17-19 says: pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. We are to pray continually, everyday, not just 1 time a year but every day that we are here.  In order to have a thankful heart, like getting ready for the holiday, we must prepare.  We must spend time in purposeful thought examining the blessings that we receive daily yet take for granted as though we deserve them.  It is when we stop recognizing the blessings in our lives that they are taken away from us.

This week, as we plan for the Thanksgiving Holiday, let us make ready our hearts to be thankful for all of the blessings that we have already received, and the ones that we know our faithful Lord will bring our way.


 Here is day one of preparing a thankful heart:


            Make a list of all of your family members…extended family too if they are directly involved in your life. After each members name, write one attribute of theirs that you are thankful for, even if they are not someone that you particularly get along with. There is at least one thing that you can be thankful for…find it!  Keep this list with you all day today and refer to it often, meditating on the positive attributes of those people in your life.

For instance, if you don’t really get along with your Aunt Gertrude because she is judgmental or picky, but you love how she makes bread pudding, you could write:

Aunt Gertrude – Wonderful Cook!

As you concentrate on her positive characteristic, she will occupy a more loving spot in your heart.  Continue this with ALL of the rest of your family members…even the ones that you don’t like.  Some will be easy, others you will need to be more creative….make the effort…it is worth it!


Tune in tomorrow for day two of a Thankful Heart!

Blessings for a thankful week!



For those of you that are doing the 31 day fall challenge, here is the link for this weeks topic…How did the music go last week?  Personally, I am still burning my candle …. Apparently I am stuck on 1!!!