Bless Your Spoon: Doodie’s Thanksgiving and holiday menu

Published 3:00 pm Tuesday, November 21, 2023

By Stephanie Williams Dean

In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas, there will be parties, holiday birthdays and other celebrations of the season with family and friends at our tables.

Prepare your menus ahead of time by choosing your entree with a selection of sides that unite tastes, flavors and colors. You might even plan a formal dinner with courses served in an orderly fashion, and in keeping with the holidays, raise a glass with a celebratory toast of gratitude.

For this week’s inspiration, I went to Aunt Doodie’s recipe collection that my first cousin, Bobbi Jeanne, had entrusted to me. Doodie’s husband, my Uncle Felix, was the register of deeds in Nashville for over 30 years and his job came with many social obligations. Among my aunt’s collection were scores of preplanned, written menus for all occasions including holidays.

I found a vintage Knights of Columbus fall party invitation with a dinner menu. With the theme “Good Fellowship — Kosher Food” the night began with a social hour at 7 p.m. and live band, the Fuzzy Orange Band, followed by dinner at 8 p.m. I love reminiscing about the old days of lavish and elegant entertaining — those with a seated, plated dinner accented by big band sounds for after-dinner dancing. Live music adds that wow factor to any occasion — it’s just so posh.

There was another written menu for my cousin, Little Felix’s birthday, as his party fell smack-dab in the middle of the holidays. I also included a between holiday, winter weeknight dinner — as some of us will be hosting out-of-town guests.

The culinary arts include so much more than cooking. While it does include food prep, it also includes table design, place settings, buffet layouts, grocery listing, menu planning and the art of taste — knowing what foods unite well with others according to taste and color.

Knights Of Columbus fall party

Chicken Cordon Bleu

• 6 skinless, boneless whole chicken breasts

• ½ pound thinly sliced ham

• ½ pound thinly sliced Swiss cheese

• 1 stick salted butter

• 1 ½ cups bread crumbs

• 1 ½ tsp. each salt, pepper, paprika

Make a pocket in each chicken breast. Place 1 slice of ham and cheese in each pocket. Roll up and secure with toothpicks. In a pie plate melt butter. In a bowl, combine bread crumbs, salt, pepper and paprika. Roll each stuffed chicken piece in butter and then in crumbs. Place in a butter-greased baking dish and refrigerate for 3 hours. Bake uncovered in a preheated 400-degree oven for 40 minutes. Drizzle with chicken gravy when serving.

Wild Rice Supreme

• 1 stick melted, salted butter

• 3 cups chicken broth

• 3 tsp. chopped green pepper

• Small can drained sliced mushrooms

• ½ cup toasted slivered almonds

• 1 cup long grain and wild rice

In a heavy saucepan, melt butter. Add chicken broth, chopped green pepper, mushrooms, toasted almonds and rice. Cook while constantly stirring until rice turns yellow. Then pour everything including broth into a 2-quart casserole dish. Cover tightly and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 1 hour.

Broccoli with Cheese Sauce

• 12 ounces frozen chopped broccoli

• ½ cup cream of mushroom soup

• ½ cup premium mayonnaise

• ½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

• 1 egg

• 1 Tbsp. grated onion juice

• 1 cup crushed butter crackers

In a bowl, combine mushroom soup, mayonnaise, grated cheese, egg and onion juice. Mix well and set aside. Cook broccoli according to directions and drain well. Place drained broccoli into the bottom of a butter-greased baking dish. Evenly pour the cheese sauce mixture over the top. Top with crushed crackers.

Key Lime Cheesecake with Sauce

• 2 cups graham cracker crumbs

• 1/3 cup sugar

• ½ cup melted, salted butter

• 16 ounces softened cream cheese

• 8 ounces softened Neufchatel cheese

• 1 ¼ cup sugar

• 3 eggs

• 8 ounces sour cream

• 2 tsp. grated lime rind

• ½ cup key lime juice

• Whipped cream

Berry Sauce

• 1 ¼ cup whole, small strawberries

• 2 Tbsp. water

• ¼ cup sugar

• 1 ½ tsp. lime rind

In a bowl, combine cracker crumbs, sugar and butter. Firmly press into bottom and up sides of a butter-greased 9-inch springform pan. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 8 minutes. In a mixer bowl, beat cream and Neufchatel cheeses until fluffy. Add sugar gradually. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in sour cream, lime juice and rind. Mix well. Pour batter into crust. Bake in a preheated 325-degree oven for 1 hour. Turn off oven. Partially open door and allow to stand for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and run a knife around edge of pan. Allow to cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours. Garnish with whipped cream. For the sauce, in a saucepan, combine small berries, water, sugar and lime rind. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat and cool. Place some sauce on plates. Place cheesecake slice on top. Top the slice with whole small fruits and dollop of whipped cream.

Little Felix’s Birthday Dinner

Peachy Pork Chops

• 4 1-inch thick, pork chops

• ¼ tsp. seasoned salt

• ¼ tsp. onion powder

• 16 ounces undrained can sliced peaches

• 2 Tbsp. brown sugar

• ¼ tsp dried basil

• 2 Tbsp. salted butter

Place pork chops on a lightly greased broiler pan. Sprinkle with seasoned salt and onion powder. Broil 4 inches away from heat for 7 minutes on each side. In a saucepan, combine peaches, brown sugar, dried basil and butter. Cook uncovered over low heat for 10 minutes while stirring. Arrange chops on platter. Pour sauce over chops.

Turnip Greens

• 4-5 pounds fresh turnip greens

• 1 pound hog jowl

• 3 halved, hard-boiled eggs

Wash greens well. In a large kettle, place seasoned meat with 2-3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and cook 10 minutes. Lift the meat out of kettle and put greens into the kettle. Then put the meat back on top of greens. Cover and cook on high until greens begin to boil and then stir, reduce heat, and cover. Allow the greens and meat to cook for about 45 additional minutes. Lightly salt and pepper to taste for seasoning. When time to serve, lift greens out of kettle with a large slotted spoon and onto a platter. Garnish with halved hard-boiled eggs and sliced sweet onions. Have vinegar available for greens.

Corn Pudding

• 1 Tbsp. Wesson vegetable oil

• 1 cup chopped onion

• 1 cup chopped green pepper

• 2 eggs

• ½ cup softened, salted butter

• 8 ounces sour cream

• 1 small package sweet, yellow cornbread mix

• ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 1 cup cream-style corn

• 14 ounces drained, whole-kernel corn

• 11 ounces chopped cooked ham

• ½ tsp. salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a skillet, heat vegetable oil. Sauté onion and green pepper for 3 minutes. In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add onion, green pepper, butter, sour cream, cornbread mix, cream-style whole kernel corn, ham, salt and pepper. Pour into a butter-greased casserole dish. Bake uncovered in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or longer until middle sets.

Hot Candied Sweet Potatoes

• 1 cup Karo dark corn syrup

• ½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

• 3 Tbsp. salted butter

• 12 cooked, peeled, medium sweet potatoes

In a saucepan, bring dark corn syrup, brown sugar and butter to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Pour half of syrup into a large shallow baking dish. Add cooked potatoes that have been sliced into 1-inch widths. Top with remaining syrup. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 20 minutes while basting often with syrup.

3-Layer Coconut Cake

• 1 cup beaten Crisco shortening

• 2 1/3 cup sugar

• 3 whole eggs

• 2 cups cake flour

• ½ tsp. baking powder

• ½ tsp. baking soda

• ½ tsp. salt

• 1 cup buttermilk

• 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

• 1 cup flaked coconut (optional)

Marshmallow Frosting

• 2 ½ cups white corn syrup

• 4 stiffly beaten egg whites

• ¼ tsp. salt

• 2 tsp. vanilla extract

• 1 cup flaked coconut

In a mixer bowl, cream Crisco. Add sugar and mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix well. Add cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt while alternating with buttermilk. Mix well. Fold in vanilla extract, and add coconut if desired. Beat at high speed for several minutes. Pour into three well-greased and floured 8 or 9-inch cake pans. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until tests done. For the icing, in a saucepan, bring corn syrup to rolling boil. Slowly pour stiffly beaten egg whites while beating until stiff peaks form. Beat in salt and vanilla. Fold coconut into mixture. Mix well.

Holiday Weeknight Dinner

Yummy Beef Roast

• 6 pound beef rib roast

• 2 Tbsp. olive oil

• 1 chopped stalk celery

• 1 chopped carrot

• ½ chopped onion

• 1 bay leaf

• 3 fresh parsley sprigs

• ½ tsp. crumbled thyme

• 1 cup beef broth

In a heavy skillet, heat olive oil on high heat. Season beef with salt and pepper and brown on all sides. Transfer beef to roasting pan and set skillet aside. Roast meat in a preheated 450-degree oven for 20 minutes while occasionally basting with pan juices. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and cook until thermometer registers 120 degrees for rare meat or about 1 hour. Remove 4 Tbsp. drippings from the roaster to the skillet. Add remaining ingredients and cook 20 minutes. Transfer roast to cutting surface and allow to stand 20 minutes. Deglaze juice from roasting pan and add to the stock mixture in skillet. Bring to a boil. Strain sauce. Transfer roast to platter and slice. Serve sauce separately.

Three Bean Salad

• 15 ounces each, drained green, wax and kidney beans

• 1 finely chopped onion

• 1 finely chopped bell pepper

• 1/3 cup Wesson vegetable oil

• 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

• ¾ cup sugar

• 1 tsp. salt

• ¾ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Toss the drained beans, chopped onion and bell pepper, oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper together and mix well. Refrigerate. Make a couple days in advance to allow flavors to blend.

Spiced Peaches with Cottage Cheese

• ½ cup vinegar

• 6 whole cloves

• 1 stick cinnamon

• ½ cup sugar

• 6 canned peach halves

• Lettuce cup

• 1 ½ cups cottage cheese

• ¼ cup finely chopped walnuts

In a saucepan, combine vinegar, cloves, cinnamon and sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer 3 minutes. Pour mixture over peaches. Cool. Cover and chill for 6 hours or overnight. Drain peaches and arrange on lettuce leaf. Top each peach with ¼ cup of cottage cheese and sprinkle with nuts.

New Potatoes in Garlic Butter

• 30 small new potatoes

• salt

• 1 ½ sticks salted butter

• 4 pressed cloves garlic

• Freshly ground black pepper

• Paprika and garlic salt

• Chopped parsley

Peel potatoes Cook in lightly salted water to cover until barely tender. Drain well. In a large Pyrex dish, melt butter with garlic in a preheated 425-degree oven. Place potatoes in a single layer and sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake in a 425-degree oven for 20-30 minutes. Turn them in garlic butter often as they cook. They should look crusty on outside. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and paprika as they cook. Lift carefully to a service plate and garnish with garlic powder and chopped parsley

Chocolate Chip Pie

• 2 unbaked pie crusts

• 1 ½ cup chopped pecans

• 1 ½ cup chocolate morsels

• 4 beaten eggs

• 1 cup sugar

• 1 cup light corn syrup

• 1 stick melted, salted butter

In the bottoms of two unbaked pie shells, evenly divide the nuts and chocolate morsels. That’s ¾ cup of each per pie. Set pies aside. In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar and corn syrup and mix well. Add melted butter and mix well. Evenly pour mixture over the nuts and chocolate morsels of both pies.  Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 40 minutes or until center tests done. Makes 2 pies — one for you and one to gift. Serve with vanilla ice cream.