This year’s Thanksgiving journey was laid back and easy. I wasn’t trying out a menu full of new recipes and I wasn’t trying to create an entire Thanksgiving meal to travel via slow cooker. The meal I cooked this year was on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and it was for the girls ‘school dinner’.
I started feeling bad at the end of the week before Thanksgiving, when many people were talking about going to their children’s and grandchildren’s Thanksgiving dinners at school. Well, since my girls are homeschooled they don’t get Thanksgiving dinner at school. I decided to remedy that. Daughter Number 2 would be home from college already, so it would be great. That way we would be able have 3 girls at ‘school lunch’ and be able to go to moms for dinner on Thanksgiving. I would get to cook my own dinner and partake in hers! As the day got closer I talked to Daughter Number One; she has been off work for several weeks due to a surgery she had. I didn’t know if she would be able to drive because of her recovery, but I asked. She said if she was feeling up to it, she would love to come for ‘school lunch’. Then, Daughter Number 2 asked if she could bring her boyfriend to our school Thanksgiving dinner. The more the merrier!
My menu was going to be a traditional Thanksgiving dinner: turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, dressing, homemade rolls, pumpkin pie, and raisin sour cream pie.
I did have one new recipe to try out, and that was the dressing (unstuffed stuffing). I told my mom I would make dressing for her Thanksgiving dinner, but she requested it be “plain”: no mushrooms, no nuts, etc. I found a recipe that I felt pretty confident would work, but wanted to try it with my family first. I also chose to use a slow cooker so that I wouldn’t have to calculate that in to my timing of all of the other dishes.
The dressing was a huge success, and The Hubs and my mother both said that I needn’t try another recipe next year. This one is “the one”.
Another success was the fact that I had written out a timetable for the meal and it worked out to perfection. I have never cooked a large meal that was so perfectly timed. The time that it took to create the timetable was well worth it! The meats and sides were hot, the cranberry sauce and pies were cold.
The last success was the use of my convection oven! It assisted me in getting everything done in less time, and to perfection. I was able to cook all of my rolls at once, and cut the time for my ham and turkey. I did learn that sour cream raisin pie (meringue to be specific) does NOT work in a convection oven!
Below is the time table for my meal, followed by the dressing recipe. I made the cranberry sauce the day before, so it is not a part of the timetable.
5 am – mix and refrigerate pie crusts
5:30 – mix roll dough
6 – roll and bake pie crust for raisin sour cream pie
6:30 – mix pumpkin pie filling
645 – roll out pie crust, fill, and bake pumpkin pie
7 – work bread dough, roll out for 2nd rise
8 – bake bread
830 – put together dressing
9 – put dressing in slow cooker
9 – remove ham from fridge
920 – glaze ham with cola
930 – put ham in oven
11 – remove turkey from fridge, season
1130 – remove ham, wrap in foil, place in cooler to keep warm
1130 – put turkey in oven
1230pm – add sweet potatoes to oven
1 – put Yukon gold potatoes on stove top to cook for mashed
130-remove turkey ( ensure it is thoroughly cooked)
135 – bake green bean casserole
145 – bake raisin sour cream pie, slice turkey and ham
150 – mash potatoes
155 – set table
2pm – Eat Dinner!
Now, for the recipe!
Slow Cooker Stuffing
- 12 cups toasted, cubed bread
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup onion, minced
- ¼ cup celery, minced
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried sage
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried marjoram
- ½ teaspoon black pepper\
- 1 egg, beaten
- 4 cups chicken broth
Toast and cube bread to make 12 cups. Add cubed bread to a large mixing bowl. Take 2 pieces of aluminum foil and roll them length wise, like snakes. Place the foil in the crease of the slow cooker to create a ring. Spray the inside of the slow cooker crock, including the foil, with nonstick cooking spray. In a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter has melted add the celery and cook for a few minutes, then add the onion. Cook until the onion is translucent. Remove from heat and add the herbs and spice. Spoon the butter and vegetable mixture over the bread in the mixing bowl. Toss. In a small bowl, beat the egg. Add the chicken broth to the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour the egg mixture over the bread mixture and toss to coat. Pour the dressing into the slow cooker keeping it inside of the foil ring, and pile into the center, keeping it away from the sides. Cook on high for 15 minutes. Turn down to low and cook for another 2-4 hours until cooked through. Do not overcook.
It was an absolutely wonderful school dinner, and I was delighted that all of my girls (and one boyfriend) were able to attend! Now, that is an awfully lot to be thankful for!