Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe

It’s that time again – Thanksgiving. Time to start shopping for all of the great food you’re going to over-eat. Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce or relish, sweet potatoes, salad, cake, cookies, pastries; the list goes on and on.

In our family, Thanksgiving was an all-day affair. When we lived in Brooklyn and then in Brentwood, NY, we’d all gather at Nana’s at 12:00 in the afternoon; and we wouldn’t leave the table until nearly 8:00 that night. Usually, Uncle Tommy was the first to push himself away from the table to get himself, aunt Fran and my cousins ready to go back to his house.

Anyway, we’d sit at the table at 12:00 or 1:00 pm and start with the antipasti. That included all of the traditional Italian cold cuts, sausage with mushrooms, caponata, olives, bread, etc. Next came the pasta with sauce, meatballs, sausage, braccioli, bread, etc.

After the pasta, we’d take a 30 minute intermission so uncle Tommy could carve the turkey and all of the women could start dishing out the rest of the food for the table. This main course usually had turkey, baked white and sweet potatoes, 2 bowls of vegetables, stuffing, salad and anything else Nana made that day.

After the main course, Nana brought out the fruit and nuts. After the fruit and nuts, out came the dessert with regular coffee and espresso. And, let’s not forget the vino!

Sometimes it seemed like the feast was never going to end.

The entire day consisted of the entire family at the dinner table talking, laughing and eating.

Nana’s stuffing was the best stuffing I’d ever had. Unfortunately, I never got her recipe, but I do have a stuffing recipe that I’ve used that has never let me down.

Preheat oer to 350 degrees

INGREDIENTS
2 cups finely chopped celery
1 small finely chopped onion
4 cups herb-seasoned stuffing croutons
3 cups cubed cornbread (trust me-it’s good!)
2 tsp. sage
2 tsp poultry seasoning
3 eggs – beaten
1 large container (14-16 oz) chicken broth (I use low-sodium)
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup melted butter (I use unsalted)

CONSTRUCTION:
Saute celery and onion in the butter until tender
In a large mixing bowl, combine herb-seasoned stuffing croutons, sage, onion and celery
Next, pour the beaten eggs and chicken broth (a little at a time) over the mixture.
Now, add the cornbread and gently fold it in, making sure all of it is moist (you may need to add more broth)

Pour mixture into a 9×13 greased pan (I usually do it with butter)
*NOTE: You can also use two 8×8 pans and bake them for 25-35 minutes
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes

Happy Thanksgiving!

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String Bean Salad for 4th of July

July 4th signifies an important day in American History – It’s known as Independence Day, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia, PA and declaring independence from Great Britain.

I was recently asked if Independence Day is celebrated in Italy. The answer is NO. It IS an American Holiday.

That doesn’t mean that my family didn’t celebrate; we did. We ate hot dogs, hamburgers and potato salad; but we also ate sausage and peppers, pasta salad, string bean salad, followed by Italian pastries, such as cannoli and drank espresso.

Growing up in Brooklyn, NY was especially fun because of the different nationalities living on my block. As children, we had sparklers; our parents set off fireworks on the street, and we ran through the water from the fire hydrants. It was a happy and simpler time.

If you’re planning on having a barbecue this year, I’d like to suggest something Italian to add to your menu.

Italian String Bean Salad

Ingredients

1lb. fresh string beans – be sure to remove the ends.
2 cloves finely chopped fresh garlic
1/2 finally chopped small onion
1small can of pitted black olives
1 tbsp. fresh chopped basil
1 tbsp. oregano
Salt and pepper 
to taste
1/4-cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2-cup balsamic vinegar

Pinch of sugar

Preparation

Rinse fresh string beans to remove any dirt.
Fill a 10 qt. pot halfway with water and place a metal steamer in bottom of pan.
Layer string beans on the steamer.
Turn heat to a medium setting.
Steam until slightly crisp, and bright green in color (7-10 minutes).
Remove steamed string beans from pot and plunge into very cold water (5 minutes).

Construction

In a large bowl, add finely chopped garlic, onion, oil, vinegar, basil, oregano, salt, pepper and sugar and whisk vigorously.
Add string beans and mix together.
Add olives and mix again.
Place string bean salad in the refrigerator and let it cool about 30 minutes, taking it out to mix again before placing it back in the refrigerator for a final 30 minutes.
Be sure to mx it again when you take it out of the refrigerator to serve. 

* You can also substitute red wine or white wine vinegar for the balsamic.

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