Thursday, November 12, 2009

Family Traditions and Holiday Recipes

For years, I have made three casseroles for Thanksgiving and Christmas family gatherings that have become part of our holiday tradition. My husband and nephew, Will, can eat their weight in my Sweet Potato Casserole. My sister-in-law, Pam, loves my Broccoli Casserole. And I think almost everyone in the family saves a special spot on their plate for a serving (or two) of my Hash Brown Casserole.

About a month before Thanksgiving, I start hearing little "reminder" comments from various members of the family, making sure that I don't "forget" their favorite! This Thanksgiving, my brother and his family will be spending the holiday with Pam's family in Alabama. Will has already made a request, by way of my mother, for Aunt Vicki to make a "small" Sweet Potato Casserole for him to take along on the trip!

Here are some photos of my family sitting around the table after enjoying last year's Thanksgiving dinner:

I hope that your family enjoys some special food traditions also. If not, here are some time-tested favorites from my kitchen to yours--it's never too late to start your own traditions. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Casserole
Fresh sweet potatos, enough to fill a cookie sheet, baked, pealed and mashed (about three cups)
Two eggs
One cup sugar
One teaspoon vanilla extract
One quarter cup milk
One third cup melted butter

Mix the above ingredients and spread evenly in a greased casserole dish. Mix the following ingredients to make the casserole topping:

One cup shredded coconut
One cup chopped pecans (I've used walnuts in a pinch!)
One cup brown sugar
One third cup plain flour
One Third cup melted butter

Sprinkle topping mixture over sweet potato mixture. Cover the surface as evenly as possible. Bake the casserole for approximately one hour at 350 degrees or until bubbly and golden brown on top.

Hash Brown Casserole
Two cups (or more) shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
One can cream of chicken soup
One cup (or more) sour cream
One cup (or more) chopped white onion
Melted butter or vegetable oil
Freshly ground black pepper
One 32 ounce package frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cheese, soup and sour cream. Mix well. In a large skillet (I use a Dutch oven because stirring is easier and less messy), lightly saute the onions in the butter or vegetable oil. Add the thawed potatoes and mix. Let the potatoes heat through and brown slightly, stirring ocassionally. Add salt and pepper as desired. Remove from heat and add the cheese/soup/sour cream mixture. Mix well. Turn mixture into a grease casserole dish. Mix the following ingredients together for the casserole topping:

One cup (or more) crushed corn flakes
Enough melted butter to coat the amount of corn flakes you use

Sprinkle topping over the potato mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately one hour or until the casserole is bubbling hot and the topping is golden brown. TIP: To prevent the topping from over browning (aka burning!), bake the potato mixture for 30-45 minutes without the topping. Add the topping for the last 15 minutes of baking. ANOTHER TIP: I have found that it is difficult to use too much cheese or sour cream in this recipe.

Broccoli Casserole
Large bag of frozen brocolli florets, thawed
One large white onion, chopped
Shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
Cream of mushroom soup
One or two small cans mushroom stems and pieces
Slivered almonds
Freshly ground black pepper
Dash garlic powder
Melted butter or vegetable oil

In a large skillet or Dutch oven (my preference), saute the onions in the melted butter or vegetable oil. Add the broccoli and allow it to heat through. Add the remaining ingredients (salt and pepper to taste). Stir to thoroughly combine. Transfer mixture to a greased casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately one hour or until bubbly and golden brown.

FINAL TIP: Unlike baked goods, exact measurement of ingredients in casseroles is not required. As you may have noticed, I didn't give exact quantities for all ingredients. Feel free to use a little more of this or a little less of that to make these casserole dishes your own!


Anonymous said...

Sometimes I really wish we had Thanksgiving in UK. Everything seems so warm and homey. The recipes sound so good! :D

Vicki said...

Nem, Start your own personal Thanksgiving!

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