A Few of My Favorite Things with Katina Holland

Quick and Easy Dinner

Well, another month has come and gone.  Halloween is over and it is now November.  Time to start planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas too.  Fall is here and the days are cool.  Nights are perfect for fires and cuddling on the couch. Pumpkin spice is prevalent in the stores as well, both as a scent in candles, etc. and in flavor in coffee creamer, cakes, etc.  Walmart has already brought out bins of nuts and have moved their baking ingredients out into the center aisle and the Christmas center was set up a couple weeks ago.  I know the stores kind of gloss over Thanksgiving and tend to go more from Halloween to Christmas, shoot some barely do Halloween.  But with Thanksgiving just a few short weeks away, I want to discuss the origins of Thanksgiving.

In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

While it is not known what exactly the full menu  served was, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow documented in his journal that the governor sent 4 men on a ‘fowling’ excursion and the Wampanoag brought five deer with them.  Turkey was certainly plentiful at the time and it may have been served, but it’s likely they came back with other fowl as well such as duck or geese or even swan. They were celebrating the pilgrim’s first successful harvest so corn was likely served in some manner on the table as well as beans, onions and carrots.  Fruits from the region would have included grapes, cranberries and raspberries.  

Pumpkin is very much a fall vegetable and may well have been served but it wouldn’t have been in pie form.  By now the sugar that was brought with them would have been running low or gone all together. Flour and butter would also not be in stock for the crust and they had no ovens for baking.  More likely it was served as a custard with milk and honey or a soup simply roasted over an open fire.  Potatoes are served on almost every table these days, but would not have been at the first Thanksgiving.  They were not native to America and the English did not favor them enough at the time to have brought them along for the trip.  They may have eaten turnips or other groundnuts in its place however.  

One thing that the original feast would most likely have had that is not seen much these days is shellfish.  Remember, they were located on the coast.  Mussels were bountiful and easily harvested as they would have been clinging to the rocks.  The colonists occasionally served mussels with curds for any meal, so it is highly likely they served it at Thanksgiving. Lobster, bass, clams and oysters might also have been part of the feast. 

We still celebrate Thanksgiving but today’s menu is far different from what the original pilgrims ate.  It doesn’t matter what is served on the table however.  The point of the day is to be thankful and appreciative of what the year has brought to you and your family, your yearly harvest so to speak.  So remember to reach out to your family even if you can’t be with them for Thanksgiving and count your blessings.  

Now, I am going to admit, I was not feeling great this weekend and I didn’t want to put in a lot of effort for Sunday dinner.  BUT just because I didn’t put out much effort doesn’t mean I didn’t provide a good meal for my family.  This week I am going to provide the recipes I used to put together a quick meal that was delicious.  Other than cooking the turkey, which was Crock Pot so I didn’t really have much to do there, this meal only took me about 30 minutes to put together.  Bonus: this meal could easily be used for Thanksgiving dinner.  The ingredients can all be adjusted easily if you need to go up for more people or down if it’s just two of you eating dinner.  


Drop Biscuits

These are so easy to make and bake up quickly.

2 ¼ cups Bisquik baking mix

2/3 cup milk

¼ cup sugar-this is something my family always added when I was growing up but is not in the original recipe.  You can leave this out if desired.  You can also add more sugar as the ¼ cup gives it a hint of sweet without being overbearing.  You can add up to a ½ cup but I wouldn’t go any more than that.  Remember, you are making biscuits not cookies.

Preheat oven to 450°F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Stir until incorporated.  Drop by spoonful onto baking sheet.  These are going to be pretty much the size they are when you drop them on the pan.  So if you want big biscuits, drop big spoonfuls.  If you want smaller biscuits, go with smaller a spoonful.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.  

Recipe adapted from the side of a Bisquik box many years ago.


Honey Glazed Carrots

These are a favorite in my house.  And they are super easy to make so I don’t mind making them often.

2 12 oz bags frozen carrots, thawed

1 cup honey, more or less to taste

2 tsp vanilla 

The carrots don’t absolutely have to be thawed beforehand, but if they are the cooking time is greatly reduced in this recipe.  Place carrots in medium sauce pan.  If your carrots are still frozen, you need to heat them until they are no longer frozen.  Once they have thawed, you can add the remaining ingredients.  If your carrots are thawed, you can add the other ingredients to the pan immediately and heat for 10-15 until heated through.  This is going to be to taste as well.  I still like some firmness to my carrots so I cook to heat and soften slightly.  If you like your carrots completely soft, you will need to cook these longer.  


Parmesan Herbed Noodles

1 bag wide egg noodles

2 Tbsp unsalted sweet cream butter

1 Tbsp olive oil

½ tsp dried basil

1/8 tsp dried thyme

Garlic powder to taste

Shredded Parmesan cheese to taste, I used about 2 cups

In medium saucepan, prepare egg noodles as directed on package.  Drain and return to pan or place in serving bowl.  Add butter and oil and mix well until butter is melted.    Add seasoning and cheese and stir well.  Now this recipe only called for a partial bag.  The only thing I increased was the egg noodles, the butter and the Parmesan.  If you are going to decrease the recipe, I recommend you add slowly and try a bite with every addition.  There is not much in seasonings to begin with so if you start trying to half the spices, you may not have much flavor left.  So, the key to having something you will enjoy will be to taste as you go.  

Recipe adapted from tasteofhome.com.


Rosemary Garlic Turkey

1 bone-in turkey breast (6 to 7 pounds)

4 fresh rosemary sprigs or 2 tsp dried rosemary

4 garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 cup water

3 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

Dash of salt

Place crock pot liner in slow cooker.  Place turkey breast, rosemary, garlic and water in a 6-qt. slow cooker. I placed mine breast down but rotated it every so often as it cooked so it would stay moist on the sides as well.  Mix brown sugar, pepper and salt; sprinkle over turkey. Cook, covered, on low 4-6 hours or until turkey is tender and a thermometer inserted in turkey reads at least 170°. 

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home 5 Ingredient or Less Cookbook.


Easy Stuffing

¾ cup butter or margarine

2 large celery stalks, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped 

9 cups soft bread cubes (about 15 slices)

1 ½ tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves or ½ tsp dried thyme leaves

1 tsp salt

½ teaspoon ground sage

1 tsp pepper, more or less to taste

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook celery and onion in butter 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Remove from the heat.  Gently toss celery mixture and remaining ingredients, using spoon, until bread cubes are evenly coated.  If it seems to be too dry, you can add some chicken broth for added moisture.  Grease 3-quart casserole or rectangular baking dish, 13x9 inches. Place stuffing in baking dish. Cover with lid or aluminum foil and bake at 325°F for 30 minutes; uncover and bake 15 minutes longer.

Recipe from bettycrockers.com


Candy Bar Cookie Squares

Now that Halloween is over, you have tons of candy right? Well maybe anyway.  I know some will raid the kids’ candy for your favorites and then leave the rest for the kids.  But let’s be honest, no one needs as much candy as the kids brought in on Halloween.  Here is a recipe you can bake to use up some of that candy.  Don’t feel like you have to eat it just because you made it.  Do like I do and take the pan to the office to share with coworkers or the church potluck.

1 package yellow cake mix

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup butter, melted

3 Snickers candy bars (2.07 ounces each), chopped (You can use any candy bar here.  I often use Snickers, Butterfinger or Heath bars.)  

Preheat oven to 350°.  Place parchment paper in 13x9 inch baking pan.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, brown sugar, eggs and butter. Beat on low speed for 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in chopped candy. Spread into prepared pan. Bake at for 25-30 min. or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares. You don’t have to make the bar.  If you would rather have cookies instead, drop cookies onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 9-12 or until golden brown. 

Recipe from 101 Things to do with a Cake Mix cookbook. 


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