Have Plenty of Good Food for Thanksgiving Weekend

Plan to have plenty of good food on hand for Thanksgiving weekend, including tasty dishes for watching the Auburn- Alabama football game on Saturday. Fancy Pimento Cheese and Green Salad with Pears, Cranberries and Walnuts are among the dishes Jennifer Jones enjoys preparing for her family. PHOTO BY ANN CIPPERLY


After savoring a bountiful Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends, this weekend will include numerous events, including watching the Auburn-Alabama football game on television, if you are not making the trip to Tuscaloosa. Be sure to plan plenty of good food for the entire weekend.

Jennifer Jones is a gracious lady who enjoys cooking for her four children and six grandchildren in her lovely restored antebellum home that was originally located on Railroad Avenue in Opelika. The house and adjoining cottage were moved in 1971 to Blackhawk and restored as one house. Leaded glass and mantels in the living and dining rooms are from the J.M. Burt home, which was once the popular Townhouse Restaurant.

Jennifer learned a great deal about cooking from her mother, who was an excellent cook. Fancy pimento cheese, baked brie with cranberries and apricots, as well as green salad with pears, cranberries and walnuts are three of Jennifer’s scrumptious recipes.

For a hearty seasonal soup this weekend, try Chef Miguel Figueroa’s pumpkin or butternut squash soup with mushrooms. Figueroa, who is a former chef at Amsterdam Café, prepares the soup with chunks of pumpkin or butternut squash cooked in stock and embellished with sour cream and mushrooms.

Pumpkin Pecan Pancakes by Chef Christian Watson of The Waverly Local are a special breakfast treat. They can be served with your favorite syrup or the chef’s cinnamon maple syrup.

At our home, we always have plenty of turkey and ham leftovers. These leftovers can be used to create a variety of delicious dishes over the weekend, including sliders, pot pies, pasta dishes, salad and many others.

We save the bones to boil with onions and celery for a rich stock. This can be frozen for making delicious cornbread dressing at Christmas or used to make soup. Brown or white rice cooked in the stock with chunks of leftover turkey makes a hearty, comforting soup.

While Thanksgiving weekend and the Christmas season are joyous times for many, it can be a difficult season for many with empty chairs at the table where loved ones once sat, a sickness in the family, financial problems or feeling sad when family members are not able to visit.

This year, become more aware of those in the community who are lonely or unable to prepare a meal for themselves. Just as at the first Thanksgiving, we can prepare what we have, share it with others and be thankful to God for what we have survived and for things we take for granted every day.

A few years ago, we visited Plymouth Rock and saw a full-scale replica of the Mayflower. We listened to stories of how difficult the voyage was for the families. They struggled to survive and to find a land where they could be free.

With high ideals of purifying the church and society, the Pilgrims sailed from Plymouth, England, in early September. After a weary voyage on the Mayflower, the Pilgrims’ sacrifices and hardships were only beginning.

The Pilgrims stepped ashore in the New World in the middle of November. Being mostly townsfolk, they knew little of coping with the hazards of pioneer life. The first blustery winter was brutal. Half of the colonists starved or died from the cold and pneumonia. Only five of the original 17 women survived.

The following spring, survivors discovered several bushels of seed corn left by a Native American tribe. A friendly Native American named Squanto taught them farming and how to plant corn. During spring and summer, they built warmer cabins. Their first crops were bountiful.

Those who gave so much to seek freedom set aside a time to give thanks to God. Gov. William Bradford declared Dec. 13, 1621, as a day of feasting and prayer. About 90 Native Americans arrived with wild turkeys and venison. Corn was prepared, and pumpkin was cooked in maple sap. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in prayers with grateful hearts.

While we enjoy this weekend with family and friends, let’s not forget the true reason for Thanksgiving. Our American holiday is a time for giving thanks for our blessings and remembering our heritage.

Check the recipes for last-minute ideas for enjoying your Thanksgiving weekend.

Crock-Pot Apple Cider

1 gallon apple cider

1 cup brown sugar (more or less to taste)

1 tsp. whole cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

1 orange, sliced

Pour apple cider in a crock-pot. Add sugar and stir. Put whole cloves and cinnamon in a tea ball or cheesecloth and place in pot. Add orange slices. Simmer covered on high until hot, stirring occasionally. Once hot, lower heat to low to keep warm.

Fancy Pimento Cheese

Jennifer Jones

4 oz. cream cheese, soften

½ cup mayonnaise

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

3 Tbsp. grated onion

4 oz. jar chopped pimento, drained

Two 8 oz. blocks sharp cheddar cheese, grated

½ can mild Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies, drained (May add entire can of Rotel if desired.)

Mix all ingredients together. It is better to use blocks of cheese and grate your own rather than using bags of grated cheese. Chill overnight before serving.

Serve with assorted crackers or small bread slices.

Baked Brie with Cranberries, Apricots and Walnuts

Jennifer Jones

6-8 inch Brie wheel

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup dried apricots

½ cup dried cranberries or cherries

½ cup apricot jam

¾ cup toasted walnuts, chopped

Mix ingredients and place on top of Brie. Bake at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

May take a round loaf of bread and take a thin top off. Remove inside of bread and cube. Press brie with mixture on top down into round bread. Bake about 30 minutes, Serve with crackers and bread cubes.

Green Salad with Pears, Cranberries and Walnuts

Jennifer Jones

2 pkgs. spring mix

¼ cup red onion, chopped

1 cup dried cranberries

½ cup toasted walnuts, crumbled

1 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

4 pears, thinly sliced with peel

Combine ingredients except pears. May drizzle a small amount of dressing over sliced pears. Do not add pears to salad until ready to serve. Add pears and dressing just before serving.


1 cup olive oil

½ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup sugar

Combine ingredients.

Pumpkin or Butternut Squash Soup with Mushrooms

Chef Miguel Figueroa

5 lbs. pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks

3 quarts chicken stock or vegetable stock

Salt and white pepper to taste

3 cups sour cream

2 oz. butter

Sautéed mushrooms

Fresh chives

In a pot, combine pumpkin or butternut squash, stock, salt, pepper and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 20 minutes or until pumpkin is very tender. Turn off heat and add sour cream.

Bring to simmer. Take off heat and blend until smooth.

Finish with sautéed mushrooms and fresh chives.

Pumpkin Pecan Pancakes with House-made Cinnamon Maple Syrup

Chef Christian Watson

The Waverly Local House-made Cinnamon Maple Syrup:

4 cups maple syrup

1 Tbsp. light corn syrup

¼ cup light brown sugar

2 sticks cinnamon

2 Tbsp. water

Place all ingredients in medium pan and reduce by half on low to medium heat.

Remove cinnamon sticks before serving.


1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup muesli with pecans

2 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

2 eggs, beaten

1½ cups milk

2 Tbsp. melted butter plus more for cooking

1 tsp. vanilla

Combine flour, muesli, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

Mix in eggs, milk, butter and vanilla. Stir until combined. Allow batter to rest for 10 minutes.

While batter rests, preheat frying pan or griddle to medium heat.

Add a small amount of butter to pan, then ladle 1/3 cup portions for each pancake. Cook until bubbles form around the edges, then flip and cook until golden brown.

Serve with cinnamon maple syrup.

Cranberry Orange Sliders

Rhonda Hughes, Jefferson County

State 1st Place Winner in Heritage Cooking Contest

While the sliders call for deli ham and turkey, you can make these with leftover ham and/or turkey.

1 lb. deli ham

1 lb. deli turkey


8 slices Swiss cheese

8 slices sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 cup cranberry sauce

¼ cup orange marmalade



8 slider buns

Fry bacon, set aside. Slice open slider buns and begin to build with mayonnaise, orange marmalade, Swiss cheese, ham, bacon, cheddar cheese, turkey and lettuce. Spread cranberry sauce on the top piece of bun before closing. Enjoy!

Turkey and Rice Soup

Turkey bones

2 to 3 onions, halved

1 bunch celery, coarsely chopped

Salt and pepper

1 cup brown rice or more (can use white rice)

Sliced mushrooms, optional

Place turkey bones in Dutch oven; cover with water; add onions, celery and salt. Bring to a boil; lower heat to simmer for about four hours. Remove bones, saving some pieces of turkey, and strain broth.

Bring broth to boil. Add pieces of turkey, brown rice and mushrooms, if desired, and simmer until rice is cooked, about 40 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Creamy White Turkey Chili

1 Tbsp. oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced or 1 tsp. garlic powder

2 cans (15 1/2 oz. each) Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained

3 cups cooked, chopped turkey

2 cups turkey or chicken broth

2 cans (4 oz. each) chopped green chilies

1 tsp. ground cumin or to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp. flour

1/2 cup whipping cream, half and half or milk

1 cup sour cream


shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, chopped avocado, sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, optional

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat oil; add onion and sauté until tender. Add garlic and sauté for a minute or two, being careful not to burn.

Add beans, turkey, broth, chilies, cumin and salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Add 2 Tbsp. flour to the cream, half and half or milk; stir until blended. Add to chili and cook five minutes more until mixture thickens.

Remove from heat; stir in sour cream.

Serve with assorted toppings, if desired.

Sweet Potato Pound Cake

Good way to use leftover sweet potatoes.

½ cup shortening

½ cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

6 eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup cooked pureed sweet potatoes

1 tsp. vanilla

¼ cup chopped toasted pecans, optional

¼ cup flaked coconut, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream shortening and butter; add sugar, beating well. Beat in eggs one at a time. Combine flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in sweet potatoes and vanilla.

Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan; sprinkle with chopped nuts and coconut (optional topping). Pour batter into pan. Bake the cake for about one hour and 10 minutes, testing for doneness.

Turkey Pot Pie

6 Tbsp. butter

6 Tbsp. flour

2 cups turkey or chicken broth

1 cup whipping cream, half and half or milk

Salt and pepper to taste

2 to 4 cups cooked turkey, chopped

1 cup peas, cooked

1 cup sliced carrots, cooked

1 Pillsbury rolled piecrust

Preheat oven to 425. Put chicken in a deep casserole; cover with vegetables.

Melt butter in saucepan; stir in flour and cook stirring for 2 minutes. Slowly add broth, cream, salt and pepper; cook 5 minutes until thickened and smooth. Pour over turkey and vegetables. Stir carefully.

Place piecrust over pie and crimp edges. Cut vents. Bake 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Can prepare ahead and bake the next day.

Fresh Cranberry Relish

Jenny Clary

This is not only good with turkey or ham, but also with turkey casseroles after Thanksgiving.

1 large orange, quartered with peel

1 lb. cranberries

1 ½ cups white sugar

½ cup apricot preserves

8 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Finely chop orange in a food processor. Combine cranberries and sugar in a heavy saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until cranberries begin to pop, about 10 minutes.

Transfer cranberries to a bowl; add apricot preserves and mix until melted. Stir in pineapple, lemon juice and chopped orange.

Chill until ready to serve.

Turkey or Ham Tetrazzini

6 Tbsp. butter, divided

1 onion, chopped

½ lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced

3 Tbsp. flour

1 cup cream, half and half or milk

2 cups turkey or chicken broth

2 Tbsp. sherry, optional

1 lb. angel hair pasta, cooked according to pkg. instructions

3 to 4 cups cooked, chopped turkey or ham or a combination of both

½ cup or more Parmesan cheese, grated

Melt 3 Tbsp. butter in skillet. Add onion and mushrooms; sauté until tender. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Melt remaining 3 Tbsp. butter in the same skillet and add flour over low heat. Stir until well blended. Slowly add cream. When thickened, add broth; stirring until well blended. Add sherry, if using, and onions and mushrooms. Cook until thickened slightly, stirring frequently.

Spread pasta in bottom of greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Top with turkey and pour sauce on top, covering chicken and pasta. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Can prepare ahead.

Turkey, Grape and Pecan Salad

4 cups cooked turkey, chopped

1 ½ cups red grapes, halved

1 cup chopped pecans

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup sour cream

2 Tbsp. honey

1 tsp. poppy seeds, optional

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine chicken, grapes and pecans. In bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Fold into chicken mixture. Chill until ready to serve on lettuce or in sandwiches.

Creamy Turkey Enchiladas

8 to 10 flour tortillas

3 cups cooked turkey, chopped

3 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

¼ cup butter

¼ cup flour

1 tsp. salt or to taste

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup sour cream

4 oz. can green chilies

Layer each tortilla with chicken and Monterey Jack cheese. Fold sides over and place seam side down in greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, stirring constantly. Mix in chicken broth to make thick sauce. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream and green chilies, stirring until smooth. Pour over tortillas.

Store in refrigerator. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until hot.


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