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Family favorites for Thanksgiving

  • Family favorites for Thanksgiving
    Copyright 2013
Published November 20. 2013 05:00PM

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I'm sharing several recipes this week. One is my own, for Caramelized Sweet Potatoes, a simple recipe, but with a hint of maple syrup to just give it a little something extra.

The recipe for Hot Bacon Dressing and Mem's Pumpkin Pie are both from new TIMES NEWS editor Marta Gouger, and they are both delicious! Marta gave me the recipes last week and I made both of them.

And if you don't believe me, I brought the pumpkin pies to the office and we had rave reviews all the way around, from the crust to the filling.

The recipe for Hot Bacon Dressing is from Marta's mother, the late Renea Zawaly of Palmerton, while the pie recipe is from her grandmother, the late Ethel Evans of Lehighton.

The fourth recipe is not mine either, but has become as much a Thanksgiving tradition in my house as my mother's stuffing and Sweet Potato Muffins. It's the brine recipe from Koch's Turkey Farm.

If we didn't brine our turkey, I think we would have a massive exodus from our holiday table.

We enjoy it so much that we don't just wait for Thanksgiving. We make a whole roast turkey several times a year, and every one gets brined.

Koch's Turkey Farm Brine Recipe

2 quarts apple cider

2 cups brown sugar

2 cups kosher salt

4 bay leaves

2 cinnamon sticks

1 teaspoon whole cloves

4 quarts dark beer

Combine cider, brown sugar, salt, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and cloves in a large pot or bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt. Combine the mixture with the beer in a 40-quart cooler or large plastic container.

Place the turkey in the brine and weigh it down to submerge. Cover for 24 hours.

Mom's Hot Bacon Dressing

4 heaping tablespoons flour

4 heaping tablespoons sugar

2 eggs

1 cup milk, or more if necessary

1-2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 pound bacon

One-half cup water, or more if necessary

Salt and pepper to taste

Fry bacon and drain all but about two tablespoons of the fat.

In a bowl, combine flour and sugar. Add eggs and beat with a fork. Add milk and combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir into pan with bacon and heat through, about five minutes until cooked and dressing has thickened. If dressing is too thick, thin it with water and additional milk until it is the right consistency.

Caramelized Sweet Potatoes

8 servings

4 large sweet potatoes

6 tablespoons butter

1 cup brown sugar

2-3 tablespoons maple syrup

Boil sweet potatoes whole for 25-30 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside to cool until they can be handled; peel, and then slice into 1 1/2-inch slices. Melt butter in a large frying pan. Place slices in the pan, then sprinkle with a quarter-cup of the brown sugar. Cook on low heat for about 10 minutes, until brown sugar has melted. Turn, then add another quarter cup of brown sugar. Simmer for 10 minutes and repeat until all of the sugar is gone. Drizzle with the maple syrup, then continue to cook slowly, allowing the sugar and butter to caramelize.

You can make these ahead of time and then freeze until Thanksgiving. Reheat in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until heated through.

Mem's Pumpkin Pie

Makes two, 9-inch pies


2 cups flour

Three-quarter cup shortening

1 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons ice water


4 cups fresh or canned pumpkin

1 cup flour

6-8 eggs

2 cans evaporated milk

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon, plus some for topping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare the crust by combining flour, shortening and salt with a pastry blender or forks until the mixture resembles small peas. Drizzle in ice water and stir with a fork until mixture forms a large ball. Divide in half and roll out each half between two sheets of wax paper, then turn into 9-inch pie pans. Flute or roll the edges.

Combine the ingredients for the filling, and beat with a mixer until well combined. Divide between the two crusts. Sprinkle additional cinnamon on top and bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

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