Taffy Apple Salad

Since Christmas is almost here I should probably backtrack to Thanksgiving and share with you what my contribution was to one of the Thanksgiving celebrations that we attended this year. I love the combo of apples and chocolate.

Taffy Apple Salad
Source: Illinois Farm Bureau Cookbook

6-8 large apples, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
6 snickers bars, chopped
1 container of Cool Whip
1 box (3.4 oz) of instant vanilla pudding
2 cups milk

Chop the apples and candy bars and place in a large bowl. Prepare the instant pudding with the milk then fold the cool whip into the pudding. Pour that over the apples and candy. Stir to coat. Chill until ready to serve.
Best if eaten within 24 hours.

Thanksgiving 2010 Recap

Oops, I better get this recap out before Christmas!

I was very happy to be able to host Thanksgiving again this year.  We had a total of seven people including T and me, my parents, and grandparents.  Since our formal china is an heirloom from Tim’s family, he really enjoys hosting an occasion where it is suitable to use it.  And I just love using our other fancy serving items that were wedding gifts which we seldom use.

Again this year, our guest arrived around noon and we ate around 1:00.

Here’s what I posted last year and it was a nice reference for this year too.

This year’s menu:

various appetizers – cheese, crackers, sausage, brie en croute, grapes, etc

roasted turkey

mashed potatoes



apple salad

cranberry sauce

green bean casserole

rolls with honey butter

dessert – apple pie, pumpkin pie, custard pie, cinnamon ice cream, pumpkin ice cream, angel food cake and strawberries.

drinks – water, coffee, hot cider, wine, etc…  I had eggnog but totally forgot to serve it.  Curses!

Just for future reference, this is roughly how I managed my time and preparation in the days leading up to Thanksgiving this year:

Saturday & Sunday – grocery shop, de-clutter and clean the house/furniture, begin to locate & wash special serving dishes & utensils, roasting pan, etc.  Make brine and store in fridge.

Monday evening after work – make homemade cinnamon ice cream base, prepare pie dough and refrigerate it, make compound butters and refrigerate, and make cheese spread appetizer.

Tuesday evening – make cornbread, churn ice cream.

Wednesday all day (I was off work) – cube & dry bread for stuffing, make 3 pies, chop vegetables for stuffing and aromatics for the bird’s cavity, brine turkey, clean the house some more, and set up the table.

Thursday – in the morning drain the brine, rinse, fill the bird’s business end with aromatics, spread on herb butter, roast turkey; finish setting the table; make hot cider (big crock-pot); make mashed potatoes and keep warm in medium-sized crock pot; set out appetizers; set out butter so it’s soft when needed.

When turkey was done and resting covered in foil, bake the stuffing, heat up the green beans, and make gravy (thank you mom).  Then carve the bird (thank you grandma), warm up the rolls, fill drink glasses.  Etc…


Overall, it was a great day and the food was delicious!  Thank you family!  I wish I took more pictures!


Bob Andy Pie (custard pie)

I wanted to make a new pie recipe for Thanksgiving this year, possibly even an unusual or nontraditional pie.  That’s when I remembered the custard pie that was served at the restaurant that I worked at for (too) many years.  I went in search of a similar recipe and found one on Tasty Kitchen.  I have no idea where the name came from, but I guess it has something to do with the Amish??

It was pretty good, but not exactly like the one from the restaurant.  Next time I’ll reduce the amount of cinnamon and probably add a dash of nutmeg.

Bob Andy Pie

  • 3 whole large eggs
  • 9 Inch unbaked pie shell
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon – I will probably just use 1 tsp next time.
  • ½ teaspoons salt

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Crack eggs in a medium bowl; brush pie shell with a little of the egg whites. Whisk eggs until thoroughly mixed; whisk in milk. Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a separate bowl, then whisk into milk mixture.

Set pie shell on oven rack and pour filling into shell. Bake until custard has set and crust is golden, about 50 minutes.  {I baked it for 60 minutes and it was still jiggly, but it set up once it had cooled.}

Cool and serve room temperature or chilled.

Turkey Brine

I strongly believe that a brine is essential to a delicious and moist turkey.  I’ve done it twice now and will never look back.

Here’s my recipe which is definitely enough for a bird that’s in the range of 15 to 25 pounds.  The first time I used it on a 24 pound bird and the second time was on an 18 pound bird, and it worked great both times.  If you need to, just adjust the amount of water that you use for a smaller or larger bird but keep everything else the same.  You don’t have to be really precise here – the salt and liquid are the most important ingredients, the spices and everything else just add additional flavor.  If you have concerns about the salt use 1.5 cups of salt, but 2 cups is recommended.

In my experience, I saw no reason to heat all the liquid up just to cool it down again.  So, I only heat the cider with everything else, then I add the water to the cooled mixture.

And another note  – I feel that it is a two person job to pour the brine into and out of the bag.  The first year that I did it, Tim was on second shift and I had to do it by myself and I ended up with a river of brine flavored turkey juice running down my counter and onto the floor.  Needless to say, I was pissed and almost cried.  And you better believe I let the profanities fly…..and then I sanitized my whole kitchen.  This year, Tim helped me and we still laughed that it would be nice to have an extra set of hands to hold the bag open!  Good times!

Turkey Brine

source: adapted from Pioneer Woman

Ingredients {again, they are approximate, eyeball the peppercorns and cloves}:

2 cups apple cider or apple juice

1.5 to 2 cups kosher salt

2 cups brown sugar

peel of 2 whole oranges – peel only, no white part

5 dried bay leaves

1 Tbsp dried thyme

1 Tbsp dried rosemary

2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half

3 Tbsp peppercorns

2 cloves of garlic, smashed

10 whole cloves

~1 gallon of water

You’ll also need a large bag {or two if you want to be extra safe and double up to prevent leaks}.  Sometimes these are sold as oven bags, turkey bags, or brine bags.  You can usually find them in any grocery store in the Ziploc storage bag aisle.


In a large stock pot over med-high heat, combine everything but the water.  Stir to combine and bring to a boil.  Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve.  Allow to completely cool, then add the water, and store in the fridge until needed (3-5 days before is fine).

When you are ready to brine, remove all packaging from your turkey, check the cavity for the neck and giblets and remove them.  Rinse the bird and look it over for any feathers, remove any that you find. {Clean your sink well after the turkey has been in it.}  Place the turkey in the large bag and then place the bag in a cooler or other storage vessel.  Pour in the brine and add additional water to cover the bird.  Close bag, cover with ice if using a cooler and let set for 8-10 hours/overnight.  I have heard you can leave it for 12-16 hours+, but 8-10 hours has worked for me.  If possible, turn the turkey at least once during brine time.

Once brine time is up/in the morning.  Pour off and discard the brine, rinse the turkey and pat it dry, place on roasting rack.  {Clean your sink again.}  Fill cavity with aromatics – I like to add a quartered onion,  1 or 2 celery stalks cut to fit inside, 1-2 carrots cut to fit, 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, bunch of fresh herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme, and parsley), and a quartered orange &/or lemon.  Rub the turkey skin with butter if you like.

Roast as directed for the recipe you are following, a rule of thumb is 20 minutes per pound at 350 degrees or until internal temp reaches 170 degrees.

Thanksgiving Stuffing

I have made this stuffing for the past 3 years and it is phenomenal!  I always get compliments on it.  It takes a little planning ahead, but it is super easy.  For Thanksgiving, I usually make the cornbread on Tuesday evening, then I cut the cornbread and sourdough bread into cubes on Wednesday morning (let them sit out all day and night to dry), and then make the stuffing the day of Thanksgiving.

Cornbread Stuffing

Source:  Pioneer Woman


  • 1 whole pan of cornbread
  • 1/2 loaf sourdough bread {or French bread}
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cups celery (leaves and stalks), chopped
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoons dried basil
  • ½ teaspoons ground thyme
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cups fresh parsley, chopped
  • S & P to taste
  • I have also added a pinch of poultry seasoning and/or a pinch of dried sage before, delicious but optional.

Preparation Instructions

Chop the cornbread and loaf of French bread up into 1-inch cubes. Spread them out on two baking sheets and let them dry for approximately 24 hours.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add one stick of butter. When it’s melted add the onion and celery and cook for a few minutes until onions are almost translucent. While it’s cooking chop up any fresh herbs you will be using.

Add 4 cups of chicken broth to the skillet and bring to a boil. Add ½ a teaspoon of basil, ½ teaspoon of ground thyme, and ¼ cup of chopped fresh parsley {and any other herbs you want to add}. Stir until combined.

Place all of your dried bread cubes into a large bowl and mix them up a bit. Gradually ladle the broth mixture into the bread, tossing lightly as you go. Keep gradually adding the broth mixture, tasting as you go and adding more seasoning and herbs if needed. Add salt carefully. You don’t want to over salt your stuffing.  Add the beaten eggs and mix well. If the mixture is not quite moist enough add a bit more chicken broth and stir.

Either stuff the bird and bake according to turkey directions or place in a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Thanksgiving Prep 2009

Here’s my prep list/schedule for Thanksgiving.   I hope it is helpful to you!

At least one week in advance {the earlier the better}, I start off by planning the menu and then look up all the recipes that I will need.  I hosted Thanksgiving last year, so I’m pretty much repeating that.  Once I have all of the recipes pulled, I survey what ingredients I have on hand and make my grocery list.  Then I decide what bowls, pans, etc I will need and make a list of them.  A couple of days before Thanksgiving, I pull out all of the dishes that will be used and wash them, set the table, label platters, etc…

We are hosting my parents and one set of my grandparents {6 people total}.  I’ll tell them to arrive anytime around/after 11:00.  We plan to eat at one o’clock.  Thankfully I have the day before Thanksgiving off of work. Unfortunately, I have to work the day after and on Saturday.  Kill.me.now.



stuffing/dressing {Will not be cooked inside the bird}

corn casserole

2nd vegetable dish – green bean casserole or whiskey glazed carrots

mashed potatoes


cranberry sauce


dinner rolls

dessert – 2 homemade pies, one pumpkin and one pecan

apple cider punch and other beverages


My Thanksgiving game plan:

  • My Grandma is bringing a pecan pie.

My Mom is bringing the following:

  • dinner rolls
  • corn casserole {picture and recipe might be posted later?}
  • salad of some kind
  • cranberry sauce
  • possibly sweet potatoes?
  • electric carving knife

I’m providing:

  • beer, wine, and other assorted cold drinks
  • coffee
  • hot apple cider punch in crock pot {recipe will be posted later}
  • ice – start stocking up from our ice maker about 4 days ahead.  Ice will be needed for storing turkey in the brine overnight in cooler as well as serving drinks.
  • turkey – probably 15-20 lbs max.  Make brine 2 days ahead, cool and refrigerate until needed.  Place turkey in brine the night before {needs to brine at least 8 hours}.  Place slices of compound butter under skin right before roasting – make several days ahead and freeze.  {Method, directions, and pictures of turkey prep/cooking hopefully coming later}
  • gravy
  • mashed potatoes – I’ll probably scale back on the linked recipe.  Make 1 day ahead and refrigerate overnight, pull out of fridge approximately 2 hours before baking.
  • small green bean casserole – We could do without this, but Tim loves it.  I plan to bake it in my toaster oven. {recipe will be posted later}  OR, if Tim can survive without green bean casserole, I will make whiskey glazed carrots.
  • stuffing – Make cornbread 2 days ahead.  Cut into cubes and dry out cornbread and store-bought french bread 1 day before.  Chop onion and celery in the morning, place in Ziploc bag in fridge until needed.
  • pumpkin pie – Make pie dough several days ahead and freeze.  Make pie 1 day ahead.
  • appetizers – I’m not completely sure here, we won’t need much for the 2 hours between when guest arrive and dinner is served.  I’m afraid the meal may hit the table a little late though {it always does right? Right?!?}, so I want to have a few things on hand – cheese spread and crackers, assorted olives and pickles, fruit and veggie tray.  I also want to set the apps out again several hours after the meal {approx 5 or 6:00} if guest are still there and feel snacky for some lighter fare.

Things I need to wash/iron/set out/etc:

charge camera battery

cloth napkins & rings


wine glasses and other nice drinking glasses


formal silverware

large clear glass pitcher for ice water

coffee carafe

Heirloom china

butter dish

2 tier decorative pie holder

basket(s) for rolls

pie server/knife

serving bowls, platters, casserole dishes for stuffing and green bean casserole, divided appetizer dishes, cheese spreaders, appetizer forks

snack plates and matching cups for dessert {I have this set}

mugs for coffee, sugar bowl and cream pitcher set

crock pot for cider

extra chairs

put 2 leaves in table

ice bucket and tongs

bag to brine

containers to send leftovers home with guests

clean the house

Grocery list

meat thermometer



apple cider – 2 gallons, one for brine and one for drinking

1 loaf of french bread for stuffing/dressing

assorted cheese for appetizer plate

3 cream cheese blocks, one for mashed potatoes and 1 or 2 for cheese spread or other appetizer dips

wine and beer



carrots – only need if I decide to make whiskey glazed carrots

veggies and fruit for appetizer plate, definitely oranges to garnish punch and grapes

lemon for lemon juice in punch

Is anyone still reading this?

I already have on hand:


chicken stock

ingredients for pumpkin pie and crust

canned green beans, condensed soup, and French’s fried onion rings for green bean casserole

appetizers – crackers, pickles and olives

dried spices and seasonings for everything that requires them {cider, pie, brine, stuffing}

ingredients for corn bread

That’s all folks!

Am I forgetting anything really obvious? ? ?