Thanksgiving 2013

For Thanksgiving this year I decided to make a few yummy recipes sitting on my Pinterest boards that I had yet to try.  My grandmother was in charge of making the turkey and stuffing because hers always turns out best 🙂 and I volunteered to make a few sides. After combing thru my boards, I decided to make a sweet potato casserole, bacon wrapped smokies and some homemade creamy pecan pralines (one of my favorite holiday candies). After commissioning a little help from my mom, we decided to make the pralines the night before Thanksgiving and get the casserole ready to bake in the morning before heading to my grandmother’s. I have always assumed pralines were a difficult candy to make but it was actually pretty simple. I found a recipe for southern traditional creamy pralines over at louisianacookin, gathered the ingredients and we got to cooking while listening to The Rolling Stones. Here’s the simple recipe I used…. easy peasy!

Homemade Creamy Pecan Pralines

2ÂĽ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
â…› teaspoon salt
Âľ cup evaporated milk
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups pecan halves

1. In a heavy, medium saucepan, combine sugar, salt, milk, and butter.
Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. It was about 10 minutes for the sugar to completely dissolve.
2. Next, stir in the pecans and cook over medium-low heat, until mixture reaches soft ball stage (usually 234° to 240° on a candy thermometer or until pouring a bit into a glass of cold water forms a little ball). This took about 20 or so minutes for ours to reach this stage.
3. Remove from heat and let cool 2 minutes or until the mixture starts to solidify.
4. Stir mixture rapidly until it begins to thicken and lightly coats the pecans.
5.Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper and let them dry completely.

(*Note: When these pralines are fully cooled, you can store them in an airtight container for about a week)

While the pralines were cooling, we decided to whip up the filling to the sweet potato casserole and get it ready to throw in the oven in the morning. We already had about 5 large sweet potatoes baking in the oven for about an hour and they were soft and ready to go. The recipe I decided to use was one I found at chewoutloud for a sweet potato casserole with a brown sugar and pecan crumble topping. Not only did this recipe look absolutely delicious but it sounded perfect for a sweet side dish. We took the potatoes out of the oven and let them cool for a bit in order to peel and mash them. Then we added 4 large eggs, 3 T pure maple syrup, 2 T vanilla extract, 1 T fresh lemon juice, and 2 tsp table salt to the mixture to complete the filling. I wrapped it up with a plastic wrap and stuck it in the fridge overnight.

My mom and I woke up early on Thanksgiving morning to prep the bacon and little smokies according to Vince’s recipe over at cookingventures and have coffee while watching the parade. After awhile, we decided it was time for some mimosas so we got to mixing! My mom sliced tossed a slice of orange and a few frozen grapes in a cordial glass, then poured on the pink champagne followed by orange juice. Here’s a picture of our little Thanksgiving morning cocktail…

mimosa step 6
Pink Champagne Mimosa

Once we had our mimosas ready, we got the casserole together to bake. For the topping, I mixed 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, and 1/4 cup chilled butter in a bowl, crumbled it up and spread it across the top of the casserole topping in the pan. Then I sprinkled about 2 tbsp. of ground cinnamon on the top of everything.

sweet potato casserole pre bake
Casserole with crumble before baking

Put the casserole in the oven for about 1 hour and voila! you have a delectable sweet potato side your whole family will devour as did mine, I had to take the picture below before it was all gone! 🙂

sweet potato casserole half eaten
Sweet Potato Casserole with Brown Sugar Pecan Crumble

The bacon wrapped little smokies were a major hit and were so easy to make! We used two packages of little smokie sausages and one package of maple smoked bacon cut into thirds to make these little treats.

What we did:

Wrap each smokie with a little strip of bacon and poke a toothpick thru to hold it together. Then  I placed them in a single layer on a foil lined pan, placed a spoonful of glaze on each little smokie and then baked them in the oven at 350 for about 45 minutes. The timing really does depend on how you like your bacon, we all like crispy bacon so 45 minutes was just perfect but if you want it a little more chewy, try 30-35 minutes instead. We changed the recipe for the glaze a little bit because I do not like mustard at all and used a dash of Tabasco sauce for the acidity to compliment the sweetness. I was a little worried about changing up the recipe but they turned out absolutely delicious! Here’s what we used:

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup 100% pure maple syrup
1 tbsp Tabasco sauce

Maple Bacon Little Smokies
Maple Bacon Wrapped Little Smokies

We all had a great Thanksgiving day spending time with loved ones we are thankful for, the amazing food was just an added bonus! Can’t wait to try these recipes again. What are your favorite dishes to make for Thanksgiving?


Don’t forget to check out my prayers for Thanksgiving day!

7 Black Friday Shopping Tips
Top 10 Favorite Christmas Movies