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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Preparing for Thanksgiving

By Sherrie Norris

We’re just days away from my second favorite annual observance, with my first following soon afterward. It’s no surprise, however, that neither Thanksgiving nor Christmas 2020 will look or feel the same for many of us as they have in the past.

Thanks to the corona virus, the toll it’s taken on many families— and its associated restrictions — so much about how we do life these days has changed. But, in the midst of all our uncertainties and pain, we need to try to stay focused and realize that we still have much for which to be thankful.

Thanksgiving was first celebrated in 1621 and has, for about 157 years, been observed on the fourth Thursday in November,. History tells us that Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony appointed a day for feasting and for giving thanks for all that had been bestowed upon the colonists.

The first Thanksgiving Proclamation was issued by President George Washington in 1789. More and more states began to celebrate the holiday, and in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln set the official day for Thanksgiving Day.

As one of the true American holidays , Thanksgiving has been a special time for gatherings among families and friends, and, as we all know, a time for good food.

It’s also been a time for many American cooks to showcase their culinary talents. Accounts of the earliest recorded Thanksgivings include turkey, as well as roast pork, goose, deer, and seafood as main entrees.

Sweet potatoes, homemade stuffing, gravy, Brussels sprouts, green beans, cranberries, pumpkin pie and similar dishes continue to receive honorable mention on the holiday menu in most homes.

As cooks, we need not be the world’s greatest gourmet to produce a Thanksgiving meal that will acquire rave reviews. As in most culinary functions today, there are shortcuts to be enjoyed!

I have discovered the easiest and most efficient way to prepare a turkey is to place one thawed bird into an appropriate sized purchased baking bag and follow directions. It might be cheating to some, but the results will ease any pangs of guilt. Your turkey will be moist and delicious, I promise.

Regardless of our current situation in America, it is my hope and prayer that we unite with grateful hearts. As my grandmother once said, “It could always be worse.”


Holiday Orange Nut Salad

3 to 4 cups green and/or red loose-leaf lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces

1 (15 oz.) can mandarin oranges, drained

½ cup walnut pieces, toasted

½ purple onion, sliced

Toss all ingredients together, set aside while mixing dressing:


Raspberry Vinaigrette:

11/3 cups raspberry jam

11/3 cups raspberry vinegar

1½ Tbsp. coriander

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

3 cups olive oil

Combine first 5 ingredients in an electric blender on high, gradually adding oil; chill, Toss salad with dressing, Serve.



Sweet Potato Puffs

2 lb. sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed

1/3 cup orange juice

1 egg, beaten

1 Tbsp. grated orange peel

½ tsp. ground nutmeg

¼ cup chopped pecans

In a bowl, combine mashed sweet potatoes with orange juice, egg, orange peel and nutmeg. Mix well. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon potato mixture onto baking sheet in 8 mounds. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes, or until hot in the center.


Pumpkin Pie Bars

1 box yellow cake mix

½ cup butter or margarine, melted

4 eggs

1 large can (3 cups) solid pack pumpkin

1 cup sugar, divided

½ cup light brown sugar (firmly packed)

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1½ tsp. cinnamon

½ cup chopped walnuts

¼ cup butter or margarine, softened


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Reserve 1 cup of the dry cake mix. In small bowl, lightly beat 1 egg. In large bowl, stir together remaining cake mix, melted butter and beaten egg. Press into prepared pan.

In large bowl, lightly beat remaining 3 eggs. Stir in pumpkin, ½ cup of the sugar, brown sugar, evaporated milk and cinnamon.

Pour over cake mixture in pan.

To the 1 cup of cake mix, add remaining ½ cup sugar, walnuts and softened butter; mix until crumbly. Sprinkle over pumpkin mixture. Bake 50 to 60 minutes. Serve warm or cool.


Old Fashioned Stuffing For Turkey

1 ½ cup finely chopped onion

1 ½ cup finely chopped celery

1 stick butter or margarine

4 cups crumbled cornbread

6 cups dry bread cubes (approximately 8-10 slices of toasted bread)

1 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. poultry seasoning

1 Tbsp. sage or more to taste

½ – ¾ cup chicken broth

2 eggs, well beaten

Cook onion and celery in butter until tender. Add mixture to cornbread and bread cubes in a large pan. Combine seasonings and sprinkle over stuffing mixture. Toss lightly to mix. Pour combined broth and eggs over stuffing. Toss to mix again. Use to stuff turkey and bake as directed or bake separately at 325 for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned.


Sweet Potato Pound Cake

3 cups cooked sweet potatoes

1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

3 cups plain flour

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. vanilla

½ cup chopped walnuts

1 cup coconut

Cream butter and sugar; add eggs, one at a time, beating until light and fluffy. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, soda, cinnamon and nutmeg together; add to butter mixture, along with vanilla and sweet potatoes. Fold in nuts and coconut. Bake in greased and floured tube pan at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until tests done. This makes a large pound cake.