Thanksgiving Stuffing

sausage stuffing

Growing up, I always had a pretty traditional Thanksgiving meal that included a cornbread stuffing with chopped hard boiled eggs. I am not sure what region or style that sort of stuffing (dressing?) is, but it was never my favorite part of our Thanksgiving meal (sorry TheRoomMomMom). My parents are from a small town in Kansas, and I know it is the recipe TheRoomMomGrandmom always made. After spending Thanksgiving with TheRoomDad’s family, I found a new stuffing that I love. Thankfully, TheRoomDadMom shared her recipe with me many years ago. It is now my favorite part of the meal.

I know I am posting this stuffing recipe too late for you to enjoy at this Thanksgiving, but I couldn’t get pictures for you before today. Be sure to file it for Christmas dinner and have a great Thanksgiving with your family, friends, and other loved ones!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1 c. chopped celery, leaves included
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork sausage meat (I like Jimmy Dean)
  • 1/2 c. coarsely chopped mushrooms
  • 8 c. unseasoned bread crumbs (from 1-2 loaves of pre-sliced Italian or other crusty bread)
  • 1 T. kosher salt
  • 1/2 t. ground pepper
  • 1 t. rubbed dried sage
  • 1/2 t. dried thyme
  • 1/2 t. dried rosemary
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 1/2 c. chicken stock (plus more– at least 1 c.)
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 c. chopped dried apricots

Directions

  • A day or two before you need the stuffing, cut sliced Italian bread into 1/4 in. chunks and spread in one layer on a jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned and toasted. It usually takes about 15 minutes or so. Move the bread around the pan several times during baking. Let cool and store in an airtight container or a Ziploc bag.

bread crumbs

  • In a skillet, saute onion and celery in butter until tender. Set aside in a large mixing bowl.
  • In the same skillet, cook sausage and mushrooms. Pour off any fat and add celery and onion mixture back into the sausage and mushrooms.

sausage and mushrooms add onions celery

  • Put bread crumbs in the large mixing bowl you used to hold the celery and onions. Pour sausage mixture on top and add all of the seasonings.

mix bread crumbs with ingredients

  • Moisten bread crumb mix with 1/2 c. white wine and 1/2 c. chicken stock. Mix thoroughly.
  • Add a little chicken stock to the beaten egg to thin. Add the egg and apricots to the sausage bread crumb mix. Stir well.

sausage stuffing mix thoroughly

  • Add more chicken stock if the mix seems dry. All of the crouton pieces should be moistened, but there should not be liquid in the bottom of the bowl. Do not over saturate.
  • Pour mix into a greased casserole dish. Bake uncovered at 325 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes. When the top is browned, remove from the oven.

Notes

  • If you can find pre-made unseasoned bread cubes, you can use those instead of making your own bread cubes/croutons.
  • White wine can be eliminated and replaced with chicken stock.
  • You can use fresh herbs or a combination of fresh and dried. Increase the amount if using fresh to taste.
  • I pour a little chicken stock on the top after the mix is in the casserole dish before baking.
  • I usually use 1/2 c. white wine plus one 15-oz can of chicken stock total by the time I finish prepping it all.
  • I like a round casserole dish with high sides like a 3-quart with a lid.

onions celery mushrooms

WordPress Friends and Family

wordpress-family-award3

21stcenturyrenaissancegirl, nominated me for a WordPress award. Basically, these awards are a way to share names of WordPress blogs that WordPress bloggers enjoy reading. Thanks to 21stcenturyrenaissancegirl, one of my earliest followers, for including me.

A handful of the blogs on my list are run by friends I had from my early grades in school or from my summer camp, and I would not have found these people again without this funny blogging world. The others on the list are blogs that just match my interests well or make me laugh.

  1. marthawills.com
  2. thejoyofteaching
  3. popcorntheblog
  4. oyestheydid
  5. deploymentdiatribes
  6. secondcareerteacher
  7. 365daybook
  8. olddognewtits
  9. shoesonthewrongfeet
  10. cafecasey.com

P.S. I apologize for the delete and re-post! Technical difficulties today.

4th of July Festivities

So, here is the download from our 4th of July neighborhood party. We have a fab neighbor who has a degree in recreational something and is a professional when it comes to organizing group events. She agreed to again coordinate a 4th of July family bash for our street. We followed the same basic format as last year and here are a few highlights. In case you are new to TheRoomMom’s world, you can read about last year here.

bike parade

The Parade, The Games, and the Prizes

  • Each family decorates bikes, scooters, wagons… This is the kick off to the party. Any participants ride up and down the street a few times to the cheers and shouts of the bystanders.
  • Following the parade, we are teamed up and compete in a sack race, dizzy bat race, egg carry, and other classic relay races.
  • Prizes for the winners awarded after dinner. I made this year’s “medals” with Mardi Gras beads, jewelry clips, and silver posterboard with a printed message glued to the top. They are not as nice as the Dollar Store trophies from last year, but I was under a time crunch.
  • After the races ended, a few adults wrote in silly award names like “Best Competitor”, “Most Confident Egg Carrier”, or “Best Spinner”.

DIY party awards

The Food and Drinks

  • There was lots of grilled meat and tasty (but bad for you) party food. One person did contribute a fresh fruit salad, but we mostly ate things with melted cheese in them.

pizza dip

  • I baked a pizza dip, which is a party dip that works for any occasion, any age, and any time of year. Click for the 4th of July Recipes 2013.

summer cocktail

  • I also concocted a blue drink for the adults. Be careful because it does look like Gatorade. I wanted to make the cherry margaritas for the crowd, but it takes time to pit all of those cherries, so I tinkered with the recipe for this blue drink and created the Dizzy Eagle (name is not finalized– please send suggestions if you have them). Click for the 4th of July Recipes 2013.

cake walk

The Cake Walk

  • This is everyone’s favorite event. Each family donates a sweet treat or two. Kids stand on a numbered square. An adult plays music. When the music stops, the child stops on a square. Our organizer draws a number. The child standing on the matching number gets to pick a treat from the table.
  • You can let adults play too, but we have it worked out so all kids win one item.

oreo truffle finished

  • This year I boxed Oreo Truffles. I had trouble melting my white chocolate, so they did not look as professional as I would like. The taste, however, was not compromised. Click for the 4th of July Recipes 2013.

paper plate masks

The Craft

  • Jackie knows how to cut a large white paper plate into 3 masks from a former job as a camp director. She cut an oval (football shape) from the center of the paper plate. The resulting 3 pieces are the 3 mask shapes. Then, two eyes are cut in the center of each shape. You can also do the football shape in the top half of the plate and create 2 masks from one paper plate.

DIY paper plate masks ribbons

  • I took over after Jackie cut the masks. I found red bamboo skewer sticks in the 4th of July section at Hobby Lobby. Using a piece each of red, white, and blue curly ribbon, I tied them together around the end of a stick in a knot. I hot glued the stick at the point where the ribbon knot is to the back edge of each mask. Once the glue cooled, I curled the ribbon.

paper plate mask finished

  • We had a table at the party with Elmer’s glue, glitter, sparkly stars, and markers. Kids could walk up and decorate a mask.
  • We set a big disposable roasting pan on the table with the glitter jars inside. Kids set the mask in the pan to glitter. It made clean up very easy.
  • FYI– this would be a great craft for Halloween parties and school celebrations.

How do you celebrate the 4th of July? Jackie was exhausted, and this may have been the last time she will be organizing a neighborhood event of this scale. Do you have any suggestions I can bring to her for consideration?

Deal Me In

a hand of cards

I know it may seem like I am not getting much accomplished now that I am on summer vacation, but I must be doing something because I am exhausted at the end of the day. Aside from the Cocktail Testing, my kids and I figured out that Cups Trick Thing, we go to swim practice in the mornings, and I unloaded the dishwasher and folded a load of laundry.

I have also been playing a lot of cards with my kids. My parents visited and kicked off this latest activity. We mainly play Crazy 8s, Solitaire, and War. I was “over listening” to Mr. Star Wars talk to himself during a recent game of solitaire, and it dawned on me how many skills are wrapped up in a card game.

** If you are unfamiliar with the rules of play, click here for Crazy 8sSolitaire, and War.

solitaire with kids

Grouping, Sorting, and Matching

  • In order to play card games, the player has to be able to identify and/or separate the suits and the numbers. In Crazy 8s, the player can switch between the suit and the number at each turn. Deciding if you want to use a matching suit or a matching number requires a little bit of strategy (see predicting and strategy below). Kids have to be able to group and sort like items. When a kid plays cards, he is practicing basic math skills and symbol recognition that is helpful for early readers.
  • The cards that the player holds in his hand can be grouped by like numbers and like suits (and then sub-grouped by numerical order). This reinforces organization and sorting.  

Counting, Ascending and Descending Order

  • The goal of many card games is to gather cards in numerical order. In Solitaire, the whole point is to create a stack of cards that count down and also move them to the ace piles and count up. In the descending order piles, you have the added skill of a red/black alternating pattern. The player also needs to know which number is next and anticipate that card appearing. If your child’s teacher mentioned extra practice with ordering numbers, play a few games of solitaire with him/her.
  • Players have to remember that a jack is lower than a queen, which is lower than the king. Depending on the game, the ace can change from less than the 2 to greater than the king. Kids translate the value of the face cards into a number value for ordering. Mentally renaming the card’s worth requires a multi-step thought process (i.e. critical thinking).
  • In the game of War, you have to know the difference between greater than, less than, and equal in order to play. How many homework assignments have you seen that practice this skill?

Predicting and Strategy

  • To win a game, there is a little strategy and a little luck involved. In Crazy 8s, you often hold cards in your hand that give you the option of putting down a matching number card OR a matching suit card– or you might even be able to play a crazy 8. Which do you choose? Well, if you are Miss Priss, you announce that you could do either (giving away what is in her hand), and you think through which one is the better choice based on what MIGHT be in the opponent’s hand. This is great processing on her part. She is not throwing down any old thing but is thinking about the alternative scenarios, the pros and cons of choices she makes, and the various outcomes of each choice.
  • The same thinking process occurs in Solitaire. Mr. Star Wars always points out when he has two choices for his next move like if he needs a black 5, and he has one on the top of a stack of unturned cards and one in the group of 3 cards he has in his hand. Which option is better? Being able to anticipate results and seeing ahead down a few paths is a great skill to practice. Children need to see the direct results of choices they make. On a small scale, a game of cards illustrates cause and effect well.

Taking Turns

  • Sometimes you have to wait for your turn especially if the other player is contemplating his move. It might require some patience. Taking turns involves a specific order of back and forth (just like a conversation). One person makes a move, the other person responds, the first person reacts to the second person’s action. It is important to learn how to take a turn, wait, assess, and respond. 

The Suits

  • The red cards are pretty easy to identify. Most kids know the diamond and heart shapes. In order to distinguish the black suits, we say that the spades (another word for a little shovel) look like a shovel. The club looks like a clover and both of those words start with the letter “c”. 

I caught TheRoomDad teaching the kids 5 Card Poker. Miss Priss told me that she doesn’t really know the rules, but she knows if she can get a group of cards in number order, that is good. If she can get a group of cards with the same number, that is good. If she doesn’t know what to do, she just keeps all of her highest cards. I have to say, I am fairly impressed with her strategy and have no doubt she would beat me in a game of poker.