Thanksgiving has to be one of my most favorite holidays of the year. So much so that I kinda get upset when Christmas tends to overwhelm it. So in my house, there is no talk of Christmas until the day after (and then we hit it hard, of course, because “THERE’S ONLY A FEW WEEKS LEFT! YIKES!”)
But I love the idea of the family getting together to celebrate with a big meal. I love the traditional foods of turkey, cranberries, green beans, sweet potatoes, PIE… and I love scanning recipes for different foods to experiment with. So when I was asked to bring a side dish, I was pumped.
Of course, I couldn’t settle for just one dish, because there were many I wanted to try. But I did force myself to keep it to two side dishes (and the one dessert that my daughter wanted to make). My first dish was the baked hushpuppies. I found the idea on foodnetwork.com, but then visited many other sites for variations of the recipe. I kept the foodnetwork recipe as the main one, but added some spices and onions that I’d gotten from other sites. The results were delicious!!
Okay – these aren’t really mine, but they look very similar.
Then I threw together an easy green bean recipe. This came about after the Thanksgiving potluck meal we had at the hotel I work at. I had loaded up my plate with these yummy looking green beans (cuz then I wouldn’t feel bad about the pumpkin roll and ice cream I was going to eat for dessert). The beans had onions and other spices that I couldn’t put my finger on, but they were awesome! So I asked around, and it turns out one of our maintenance guys – a young bachelor – had made them. I cornered him for the recipe, and he looked at me sheepishly…. “I just dumped 4 cans of green beans in a pot and added Lipton Onion Soup Mix”. Really? I had been perusing recipes for a healthy way to spice up green beans, and all I needed to do was add onion soup mix. Yippee!
And since the green beans were that easy, I was able to help Maria with her idea for S’Mores cupcakes. Earlier in the week, she and I went looking through different cupcake sites to get ideas. She thought the best way would be to have a yellow cake mix with marshmallow creme filling and chocolate icing topped with graham cracker crumbs and a marshmallow. I know from experience how difficult marshmallow fluff is to work with, so I looked for a marshmallow creme recipe that had what I thought would be the best consistency and taste. Then I went to work searching for an easy, but tasty, chocolate ganach recipe. Armed with my computer and all the ingredients and necessary tools, and the St. Louis Thanksgiving Day parade on in the background, we were finally ready to begin.
She baked the cupcakes and then began helping me with the marshmallow creme filling. The recipe called for a double boiler, which I don’t have, so we assembled a make-shift one, and got to work beating egg whites and sugar til they were fluffy. We took turns beating, switching when we felt like our arms were going to fall off. Once they were fluffy, we added the cup of marshmallows and the vanilla, and beat some more. The end result was SO WORTH IT! By this time, the cupcakes were done, so Maria began scooping out the center of the cupcakes. She scooped, I filled, and she replaced the the top. Once these were assembled, we used the “double boiler” to make the ganache. It sounds extravagant, but we really just melted semi-sweet chocolate chips with heavy cream, then let it sit for a while before drizzling it on top of the cakes. She put on the final touches of graham cracker crumbs and decorated them with a marshmallow and graham cracker square.
It wasn’t until after the meal, that we would actually taste the dessert as a whole. (We did much sampling of the parts.) I was shocked at how delicious it was. The cake was very moist, the marshmallow creme was smooth and soft, and the chocolate ganache reminded me of a chocolate covered long john donut – incredibly yummy!
We were just finishing these up, when the Mater Dei High School marching band came on the TV. We dropped everything and ran to listen. My 17 and 15 year old boys are in the band, so we are always excited to see them on TV. We were able to pick them out, and I did my best to take pictures of them. (The next best thing to being there I suppose.)