Have you ever caught a whiff of something wonderful cooking and suddenly you are transported back in time? Food is a strong part of our memories, and that’s why there’s such an emphasis on it at the holidays. Recipes get handed down generation to generation and our grandmother’s cookbooks are family heirlooms.
In my family, chicken and dumplings are a holiday must-have.
To make our recipe, shred 2 cups cooked chicken or turkey into 6 cups chicken broth (64 ounces) in a large Dutch oven. Cook to a rolling boil. In a large bowl, combine 3 cups flour, a dash of salt, and 3 tablespoons shortening, then mix by hand until crumbly. Add 2 cups of the hot chicken broth, and carefully stir into the dough, adjusting ingredients as needed. The mixture will be slightly sticky. Drop by teaspoonful into the chicken broth, and cook until the liquid and dumplings have thickened. A shortcut version of this is to cut refrigerated biscuits into pieces and drop into simmering chicken broth.
Another holiday favorite is sweet potato casserole.
Cooked sweet potatoes (about four) are mixed with a couple eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, one-half to a whole cup of sugar, one-half cup milk and 2 tablespoons melted butter. Seasonings such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice can be added as well (about 1 teaspoon total). Place mixture in an 8×8 dish coated with cooking spray. The topping for this varies from family to family. A combination of 1 cup chopped pecans, 4 tablespoons melted butter, 1 cup brown sugar and one-third cup flour can be spread on top for a crunchy version. You can also top with mini marshmallows and nuts for a softer version. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes.
No holiday meal is complete without some form of cranberries, either straight from the can or jazzed up. Cranberry Nut Salad is easy to prepare and delivers a “Wow!” factor.
Drain the juice from a (15 ounce) can of crushed pineapple into a measuring cup, and top with water to equal 2 cups. Heat until boiling, then pour into a large bowl. Add two packets of your favorite fruit-flavored gelatin mix and whisk until dissolved. Stir in the pineapple, a (16 ounce) can of cranberry sauce, a (6 ounce) can of orange juice concentrate, and 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans. Mix well then pour into a 6-cup mold coated with cooking spray. Refrigerate until firm, then turn over onto a plate to serve.
As you’ve probably experienced, the “correct” way to cook a dish can spark numerous friendly debates over the holiday dinner table. So enjoy your time with your friends and family as you “discuss” the correct way to cook your favorite dishes.
By Tiffany Hughes, contributing writer and Acworth resident, who is an educator at Tellus Science Museum. She enjoys spending time with her family and furbabies. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.