A cooking and baking journal

Tried and True Recipe: Turkey Dressing


No, there is no turkey in this dressing. It just earned such a title because it is the perfect choice for a turkey dinner, or a pork dinner, or a chicken dinner. You'll be making up excuses to have this side make its way into the menu plan. The family had a turkey dinner the other Thursday (who said turkey is once a year?), so I jumped on the opportunity to whip out the camera and get a few shots of this tried and true recipe that goes back decades.

Tried and True Recipes (TNT) are those great, no-fail recipes you reach for again and again. I am doing a TNT series here on this blog where I will post one of my family's TNT recipes every other Sunday. See my previous posts:

When I was a kid and Thanksgiving came along, I didn't care much for the turkey part (save for the skin!), or the veggies. What I couldn't wait for was the dressing. Yes, it's true that I probably ate most of the canned cranberry sauce in Jell-o form, too, but dressing was my all time favorite. It still remains high on my list and the cranberry sauce? Canned is good, homemade is great!

As I said earlier, our dressing recipe goes back decades and was first introduced into the holiday food lineup by my grandmother, Gertrude. 

[ recipe binder that includes some of my grandmother's recipes ]

So want to see this dressing I've been raving about? 

The recipe starts off with you browning bacon bits, removing them from the pan and leaving most of the fat behind. Make sure you cut your bacon fine.

After chopping up an onion and some garlic cloves, you throw them into the pan and let them cook until translucent. Follow up with cup-after-cup of milk (6 in all!), eggs, and poultry seasoning. Next is the saltines, crushed and grounded until they resemble a tuna noodle casserole topping. Once the saltines have soaked up most of the milk and are looking more and more like oatmeal, you add in the bacon bits you rendered earlier. You cook this until most of the moisture is gone and the dressing is sticking to the bottom of the pan. Yes, stick. 

May look like the dishwasher will have a hassle later on but you can avoid breaking out the elbow grease. When the meal is done and no dressing is to be seen, add water to the pan and let it simmer for a few minutes (like 5). Come back and scrape up the sticky, dressing bits with a spatula. You'll be surprised on how easily the bits come off the bottom!

OK, onto the recipe!

Turkey Dressing
Serves: 6-8 
(for printable recipe click here)

20 slices of bacon
1 medium onion, chopped fine
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups milk
4 eggs, scrambled
1-1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
4 packs of Saltine crackers, crushed and grounded 
salt and pepper

Cut the bacon crosswise, into small bits. Try cutting partially frozen bacon, it is easier to handle. Add bacon to a large skillet or dutch oven and cook until browned. Remove bacon from pan. Drain away some of the fat if need be. Make sure you are left with 4 or so tablespoons.

Throw in onions and garlic and cook until translucent. Add in milk, eggs, poultry seasoning, and finally, crackers. As soon as the cracker mixture begins to look like oatmeal, add back in the bacon bits. Cook, stirring often, until most of the moisture is gone and dressing is sticking to bottom of pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

For easy pan cleanup: add some water to pan, let simmer for five minutes, and scrape stuck-on, dressing bits using a spatula.


See you on May 5th!


Tried and True Recipe: Mashed Potatoes


Rice, noodles, bread, and potatoes are my family's usual "starch choices" for a meal. Potatoes must rank as #2 in the lineup for I seem to be always scrubbing and chopping those spuds. So for this week's tried and true recipe I thought it was high time I showed you how we make mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes can be prepared many, many different ways. Cream or milk. Skinned or skin on. Red potatoes or russets. Whipped or mashed. OK, I think you get the picture!

Tried and True Recipes (TNT) are those great, no-fail recipes you reach for again and again. I am doing a TNT series here on this blog where I will post one of my family's TNT recipes every other Sunday. See my previous posts:

TNT Recipe: Chicago Style Pizza
TNT Recipe: Favorite Brownies
TNT Recipe: Blueberry Pancakes
Tried and True Recipes Intro

For our mashed potatoes, we keep things thrifty and simple. We use milk, butter, skin-on red potatoes (usually), and salt and pepper for seasoning. When it comes to the mashing part, we grab for either the "ye old" potato masher or the hand-held electric beater, it really depends on the cook.

There are a couple things you should keep in the back of your mind when cooking up a pot of mashed potatoes. First off, when boiling your potatoes, cut the potatoes in quarters; it will make them cook a lot faster. Also, make sure your potatoes are fork tender (fall apart when you stab them with a fork), before you drain and start mashing. Mashed potatoes with chunks of raw potatoes. . . Ek. Lastly, go a little adventurous with the salt. I've noticed that you need to use more salt than you initially think when it comes to this side dish. OK, let's get to the recipe!

Simple Mashed Potatoes
Serves: 6
(Click here for printable recipe)

2-1/2 lbs., or 16 medium-sized, potatoes (I often use red skinned potatoes)
6 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Wash and clean potatoes. Leaving the skins on, cut potatoes in quarters or halves, depending upon the size. Place potatoes in a 4 quart pot and fill with water until potatoes are covered. Put on high heat and bring to boil. Boil for 30 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender, (potatoes full apart when you stab them with a fork).

Drain potatoes and return to pot. While potatoes are still piping hot, mash with potato masher. Before the potatoes are fully mashed, add butter and milk. Add more milk if the mixture looks too dry. If you want, you can use an handheld electric beater at this time to whip up your mashed potatoes. Alternatively, you can continue using your potato masher. Finally, add salt and pepper to taste.


See you in two weeks!  Next TNT recipe will be posted on the 21st.