October 23, 2017

Dishin’ with Dody – Thanksgiving

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dody-denman-fpDressing Cook Off and Sausage Balls
It’s Thanksgiving time in Texas!  This may be my favorite holiday.  I love spending time with family when the only pressure is making great food.  It is a large event in our family.  We keep people that come into our and they become part of it.  Everyone is invited to Thanksgiving dinner. The menu has been created and I am beginning to prep.
My daughter, Kristie, posted one of my favorite ever posts on Facebook today.  She said, “We just had thanksgiving lunch at work…today I am VERY thankful for my mom’s cooking. Come on Thursday!!!!”  Made my day and cooking that much more fun.
Food at Thanksgiving can become an emotional subject.  Wars have been declared over less than the question, “Is it dressing or stuffing?” Each person has a dish that is a must for this special feast.  This one meal is anticipated for an entire year.  I rarely roast a turkey, make dressing or cranberry sauce throughout the year.  Thus, my “almost famous” after Thanksgiving sandwich only makes an appearance the following Friday.
This passion I speak of was never more prevalent than one Thanksgiving many, many years ago.  My best friend Connie and I were planning Thanksgiving dinner together. All was going well until our daughters became involved.  The debate was over dressing. (Yes, it is dressing in the south. If baked in a pan it’s dressing.  If stuffed inside bird it is stuffing.  I don’t eat anything from a birds butt.)  Connie’s daughter, Brandi, insisted that her make the dressing.  My daughter firmly requested I make the dressing.  Each adamant that their ’s was the best and that Thanksgiving dinner would not be complete without “their” dressing.
After much discussion and debate the girls decided we would each make our own version for a “dressing cook off.”  Connie and I agreed, knowing we each made great dressing.  Now the fun begins.
I make my cornbread and croutons, letting them slowly bake in low oven until nice and dry.  Then I hand chop all the vegetables, celery, onion, green onion, sautéing them to perfection in lots of butter.  I also simmer homemade stock. Putting all this together with herbs and spices makes for some memorable and highly requested dressing.
Connie also makes her cornbread, but that is where the similarity ends. All of her vegetables are chopped in the food processor with no sautéing.  Raw veggies go into her cornbread and although I don’t know for certain, I would venture to guess her broth is not homemade.
The day of reckoning has arrived.  Both dressing are assigned a special place at the table.  The girls dive in and the verdict is announced.  THEY COULD NOT TELL THE DIFFERENCE!!!  Neither could select their mother’s dressing announcing that they were both delicious and both winners.  Connie and I knew they were equally great, but this was just funny.
There should have been a lesson for me in all this…like use the processor, don’t worry about sautéing, but I never changed my recipe.  I still lovingly hand cut vegetables into small pieces for sautéing.  Everything stayed the same and we both still make great dressing.  Connie just makes it faster!
You would think after all this “dressing” talk I would give you a recipe for that, but alas, I have never written a recipe.  I did create a new one that will be great throughout the holidays and beyond.  This is my take on Sausage Balls.  Sausage balls are always a popular appetizer at any gathering. The problem I had with them is they were often very dry.  While perusing new recipes I came across one that had pumpkin in it.  I knew that was the answer!
Now  before you make a bad face like my husband did, realize I am not talking brown sugar and pie spice.  The recipe I had found did have sugar and spices and I knew that was not my taste.  Pumpkin in itself. being a squash, will not be sweet, but will add moisture. Trust me on this one…you will not taste pumpkin.  I was excited and had to create a completely new recipe.  They are amazing and Mike loved them.  He was just wanting a side of gravy to dip them in.  That would be great, but so would taking cranberry sauce, mustard and hot sauce, as you desire, and heat until sauce is melted and all is incorporated.  Personally, they were so good I didn’t need anything to dip them in.
May God bless you this holiday season and if you celebrate Thanksgiving….happy eating!
Incredible Sausage Balls
Ingredients
1 1/2-2 lb. uncooked ground sausage (I prefer hot pork sausage)
3 cup baking mix (Such as Bisquik)
4 cup grated cheddar cheese (I use sharp)
1 cup canned 100% pumpkin (Not pie mix)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp. ground red pepper (May omit if using hot sausage)
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 cup milk
Directions
1) Combine all ingredients, except milk, in large mixing bowl. Stir until everything is combined well.  There will probably be a bit of flour still in bottom of bowl.  Add milk around the inside of bowl.  Continue stirring until all is incorporated.
2) Roll into small bite size balls about 1-11/2″ in diameter. I use a small cookie scoop to make the balls of equal size.  Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or silicon pad.  These will stick otherwise! Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. You want them brown, but do not overcook or you will end up with dry balls! They will continue cooking as they sit.
Cooks Note:  If you want to make these ahead and freeze, after placing on cookie sheet put in freezer until frozen.  Place in freezer bags and use as needed.  If baked from frozen state about five more minutes.
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