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Thanksgiving Prep in the Wilkinson Household

I chatted with my mom over Skype a couple of days ago to interview her about our family’s dressing recipe that we have had every year for as long as I can remember. While I was talking to my mom they were preparing for a snowstorm which in Texas means about a centimeter of sleet or snow and that everyone will go bonkers and buy everything in the grocery stores. Well my mom the ever preparer for Thanksgiving (we’ll get into that later), had gone to the store that morning to get all necessities that could be bought before the mad rush later in the week. Well with the snowstorm, wait, “snowstorm”, everything was gone. I received a report of the sad state of what remained from the ingredients they wanted to buy: three moldy yellow onions, one last bunch of carrots, and soft oranges. It was very sad. A grave situation with Thanksgiving just a couple days away.

Thanksgiving Dinner 2012

Preparations for Thanksgiving begin a month in advance in my family. There is a Thanksgiving recipe folder with years of meticulous magazine clippings and notes and a schedule to abide by. The table is decorated at the beginning of November with the sole purpose that then it can be enjoyed the whole month.

Thanksgiving Table 2012


A couple weeks before the fridge/freezer/pantry are cleaned out to make room for the ingredients needed for the dinner. Staples (flour, sugar, butter, etc.) that can last several weeks are bought at the beginning of the month. A grocery list is made with all ingredients needed and then divided up by what can be bought in advance and what needs to be bought at the last minute. The stores are absolutely crazy the day before Thanksgiving so we try to go two days before for any fresh ingredients including the Turkey. Then we still have the day of for any of those last minute- yikes! I forgot cream moments. haha! Because let’s face it, I ALWAYS forget an ingredient. Just one. But an integral one. Thanks dad for running to the store. :-D

Why not buy the Turkey earlier? Because it takes up a lot of space in the fridge, and the grocery store can keep it at a cooler temperature.


So that gets us to two-three days before Thanksgiving. Pies are always made the day or two before. My fav, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, can actually be made even further in advance and frozen. I wrote down the recipe for y’all last year. :-D

Thanksgiving Rolls 2013

The day before: Rolls are made and allowed to rise in the oven overnight. The turkey is brined. Cornbread and Biscuits for the stuffing are made and actually left out to dry out. Curious!

The day of: Turkey in the oven! Then we make the remaining recipes that weren’t made the days before! We usually eat about 4pm then take a little bit of a break and eat PIE! nom!

Cranberry Sauce- Thanksgiving Individual Green Bean Casseroles- Thanksgiving

Happy Pre-Thanksgiving Prep Days! :-D

All pics are from last years Thanksgiving in Texas!

26. November 2013 by Molly
Categories: thanksgiving | Comments Off on Thanksgiving Prep in the Wilkinson Household

Thanksgiving Recipes! Thanksgiving Links!

I’m busy thinking about Thanksgiving in Paris having celebrated it a couple weeks ago in all it’s awesome glory. I think I was recovering from a food coma while running an 8K… Bad decision- what? Never!

Thanksgiving is in full swing back at home in Dallas despite a doom inducing snowstorm of a possible 1cm ground coverage. It’s actually colder in Texas than it is in Paris right now. bahahaha!

Are you still looking for a Thanksgiving menu? Check out the menu of our Thanksgiving meal a couple weeks ago. The post contains links to different great recipes as well including a make-ahead gravy recipe and an entirely from scratch green bean casserole.

Also take a look at my Grandmother’s stuffing recipe. We’ve been making it for years and it is delicious.

Compilation of Thanksgiving Recipes/Ideas:

The Brown Eyed Baker’s 2013 Thanksgiving Menu

The Simplest, Easiest Method for Cooking a Turkey from The Kitchn

Curious how much Turkey to estimate per person?

Thanksgiving Recipes from the Pioneer Woman in all their Southern Glory

I even found a link on suggestions of what to wear to head the Food-baby bump. Completely serious. haha!

Love this idea from Occasions Online. Skewer cranberries, freeze, and add to a glass of champagne to keep it cold!



Step by Step (with Times) Thanksgiving Prep for a Make-Ahead Meal

Cute Cute DIY Place Card Holders. This one is by Almost Makes Perfect turkey-place-card

Treats for the big day? I stand by the pumpkin pie recipe on the Libby’s Pumpkin Puree can. :-) Make it triple easy and throw in a pre-made pie crust by Pillsberry. Blasphemy you say! ok ok- Pies are the way to go for Thanksgiving but you can do other things. I have quite the soft spot for pumpkin…

Maybe a Pumpkin Trifle from Dashing Dish?

A Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecake from Pastry Affair is also acceptable. :-D

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecake Pastry Affair

Love my friend Jen’s idea to make these pie bars from Food & Wine- pumpkin, pecan, or lemon cranberry! Easy to serve to large crowds.

And I’m completely in Love with this cake from Sweetapolita: The Autumn Delight Cake.

autumncake Sweetapolita

Last but not least- what to do if you drop that pumpkin pie? Thank you SousStyle Male Mondays. haha!!! This is for you Tina.

Check out my Thanksgiving~Gobble Gobble Pinterest board for more ideas. I’ll be adding to it throughout the week.

Stay warm!

26. November 2013 by Molly
Categories: thanksgiving | 8 comments

My Grandmum’s Dressing Recipe~

I called my mom on Skype last night to interview her about this recipe (beaming in all the way from Paris!). I was corrected within two seconds that no! It was not stuffing, but dressing! Pourquoi mommy dearest? Well! Because it is not cooked in the bird.

So there you have it folks:

Stuffing = Cooked in the Turkey!

Not to be confused with Dressing which is… you guessed it… not cooked in the bird!


The recipe has been passed down through three generations. My grandmother would actually make two 13×9 casserole dishes of stuffing. One for Thanksgiving, the other…. frozen for Christmas. ick! Not sure how I feel about that. Or was it a time-saving technique? hm.

My mom’s addition to the recipe: actual measurements! haha!

It’s actually unique in that it combines two stuffing dressing traditions in the US. Dressing and Stuffing are based in bread. The North typically works with a white bread that has been dried out. The South.. the most southern thing there is- Cornbread! nom! My family’s recipe combines the two: half cornbread/half biscuits. hm but I guess biscuits are rather Southern as well. :-D So perhaps a bit more Southern than Northern.

IMG_3259 IMG_3258

I called my mom about three weeks ago for the recipe, right before they were planning on flying to London. I wanted to make it for our Parisian Thanksgiving celebration that weekend. What I received was a recipe that was three pages long. In typical Molly-style, I started it the night before the get together at about 8pm. At about midnight, three glasses of wine in, the dressing was done and had a corner missing, strategically not pictured in the photo below. ;-) American Stuffing

Top Tips from the Madre:

– Make the biscuits and cornbread the day before if possible or dry out the cornbread in the oven for about 30 minutes at 200 degrees after it has cooled.

– Don’t overcook the onions and celery! Mushy.. onions… stuffing..

– The recipe is made with a dryer cornbread. Most cornbread is sweet and contains quite a bit of liquid which doesn’t lend itself to dressing.

– Toasting the sage ups the flavor. To do this pick the leaves off fresh branches of sage. Lay on a parchment lined baking sheet in one layer. Toast in the oven for 20-40 minutes at 200 degrees until leaves are completely dried out.

– Adding dried cranberries is a dynamite idea.

– We usually half the recipe! The full recipe makes enough servings for 12 people.


Tips for Making Dressing/Stuffing in France:

– Sage is hard to find- dried or fresh! Ask at the market. You might just find some hidden. :-) I actually did the whole recipe just using the sage sausage and it turned out just fine!

– Marks & Spencer’s has sage sausage which is perfect for this recipe.

– Cornmeal is also difficult to find. You can substitute with polenta- it’s just a bit grainier. Here’s a Polenta Cornbread Recipe.

– For buttermilk, use lait fermente found at the supermarket or add some lemon juice to regular milk and let it sit for 5 minutes before using.

– Use Type 55 flour. If using other types, add just a bit more to make up for the difference in weight.


The Wilkinson Family Dressing Recipe:

3 1/2 cups cornbread, dried out and broken into medium sized pieces (read notes above)

6 cups of biscuits, cooked then broken into medium sized pieces

4-8 tablespoons butter

2 1/2 cups celery, finely chopped

1 1/2 – 2 cups yellow onion, chopped

1/2 bunch of parsley, chopped

3/4 lb. sausage, sage flavored if available, removed from casings

3 eggs beaten

About 4 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon dried sage

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Make the cornbread, one 8×8 batch (see below for recipe). Make double the biscuit recipe. Allow the cornbread to dry out overnight or see note above about drying it in the oven. Break the cornbread and biscuits into medium sized pieces and measure the appropriate amount into a large bowl.

Saute the sausage breaking it into pieces. Drain on paper towels and set aside. (Try not to eat too much haha!)

In a separate skillet, melt about 5 tablespoons of butter and saute the onions, celery, salt, and pepper about 10-15 minutes until tender and translucent but not brown. Turn off the heat and stir in the dried sage. Let cool.

Add the sausage and onions/celery to the bowl containing the biscuits and cornbread. Add parsley and toss together gently.

Then add the beaten eggs, again tossing gently. Then the chicken broth starting with 3 cups and 3 tablespoons of melted butter. Stir together adding more chicken broth if necessary. The dressing should be moist but not wet and runny (very important).

Spoon into a large (13×9”) lightly greased pan. Cover with foil and bake at 325 for 40 minutes. Increase the heat to 425 and remove foil cooking another 5-10 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Serve with gravy.


Buttermilk Cornbread

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup yellow cornmeal

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup well shaken buttermilk

2 large eggs

1/2 stick (4 tbl) butter, melted and cooled

1/2 tsp finely chopped sage

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and butter an 8×8 pan.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir together. Pour into the prepared dish and bake until golden, about 25 minutes.

For the stuffing, make the night before, or once cool, break into pieces and dry out in the oven at 200 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Makes about 7 cups of coarsely crumbled cornbread.


Bird-Head Buttermilk Biscuits

Recipe from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook.

Makes about 16 2-inch biscuits (make 2 batches if you are making the full recipe of dressing)

2 1/4 cups cake flour or 2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces

2 tablespoons shortening (Crisco), cut into pieces

3/4 cup whole or lowfat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, salt). Cut in the butter and shortening using your hands or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few pea sized pieces.

Stir in the buttermilk until the dough just comes together. Turn out onto a floured surface and pat or roll into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Now we’re going to fold it into thirds to create those delicious layers.

Fold the rightmost third into the center and then the leftmost third over top like a wallet. Turn the dough a quarter turn and pat it out into a rectangle like you did before. Repeat these folds one more time then pat out once again.

Use a 2 inch biscuit cutter, or a knife to cut biscuits. Place about 1 1/2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet and bake about 15-20 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy this slice of heaven with lots of gravy. :-)

25. November 2013 by Molly
Categories: savory, sides, thanksgiving | 2 comments

A Truly Legit Thanksgiving Feast in Paris

You wouldn’t imagine the craziness that happens in the expat community in France come Thanksgiving. The big questions: Where to find pumpkin puree and a Turkey!?

Thanksgiving Table

Turkey aka dinde is actually pretty popular in France, but not the whole bird. I read a funny article the other day about a family that had ordered a turkey from their local farmer and instead of a turkey they got a note apologizing that the turkey population hadn’t faired that well this fall and he hoped they would be ok with a pheasant. Another story talked about a butcher that meticulously sewed on pieces of skin to the turkeys he had because they had come to him without all of their skin in tact. But that’s just gross. shudder

Let’s just say if you’re looking for a whole turkey- it’s difficult to find at a reasonable price. Then there’s the question of cooking it. Most people here have mini ovens that look a lot like toaster ovens. They’re great for small casseroles, a couple trays of cookies (more like several trays at 5 cookies a sheet), or even a quick slice of toast if you don’t have a toaster, but turkeys, well, I’m not really sure how that would fit.

How to solve both of these truly important questions! Well- turkey breast and legs of course instead of a whole turkey & bribe a friend from the US to bring over canned Libby’s pumpkin puree (Thanks Jen!)! et voila! Problem solved!

Thanksgiving Turkey

The usual bunch got together minus two awesome peeps, Tina and Vincent, but plus another awesome person- Ian of the Baking Chin. We had a pretty early Thanksgiving (Nov. 10), because one of us was going to the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade on Thanksgiving… JEALOUS!!!!

Un petit apéro or two.. to start. :-) Jess, you know the way to my heart! Poinsettias made with some bubbly, Cointreau, and cranberry juice.

Thanksgiving Apero

While we made a pumpkin pie- using the recipe off the can of course. Seriously the only way to go. Ian made the pie crust from scratch and… by memory. Me = impressed.

Pumpkin Pie Crust Pouring Pumpkin Pie Molly-Pumpkin Pie


Then there was the heat up shuffle before we all sat down to eat! Four things in the oven at once, gravy on the stove, mashed potatoes in the microwave!

Our amazing menu included:

Pain de Compagne & All American Dinner Rolls

English Sausage Stuffing

The Grandmother’s Dressing

Turkey Breasts wrapped in Bacon & Turkey Legs


Cranberry Sauce

Roasted Parsnips and Carrots with a Honey/Dijon Sauce

Sweet Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes

Green Bean Casserole

Pumpkin Pie

Now I’ve never had English stuffing before and it was delicious!! It’s so different from the stuffing I’m used to in the States. A lot more like meatloaf made with bread crumbs, sage, English sausages and several other things. Baked in the oven and then sliced.

English Stuffing Ian's Bread

I made my family’s stuffing passed down from my grandmother. It’s unique in that it uses both cornbread and biscuits, lots of sage, sausage, celery/onions/garlic, and eggs to bind. A lot more crumbly than an English stuffing and oh my goodness, heaven. I can’t believe I actually used to avoid this at Thanksgiving in the past!! I made both the cornbread (with polenta because corn meal is difficult to find) and buttermilk biscuits from scratch after an intense day of shopping with Jenni and Tina. haha!! Then combined it all into the awesomeness that is stuffing.

American Stuffing

Jess made the turkey, gravy, and green bean casserole- from scratch. No canned condensed soup here!! Here’s the recipe she used from Martha Stewart. It was a-mazing!!! Just a few changes to the recipe: zucchini instead of mushrooms, a little bit of gouda, and some crispy store-bought onions for the top. yum!

Jess - Turkey

Thanksgiving Plate Filling

I refused to think about the 8K I was running the next day. Full plate! Pile it up! nom!

Molly-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving Plate

Holy moly everything was amazing. I think we all had seconds and thirds. Then after a walk around the neighborhood we came back for pie! and a discussion about whipped cream in a can (creme chantilly) or as it was written on the can “creme gourmande”! And oh drank more wine and cider. Then we couldn’t walk but that’s what Thanksgiving’s are made of. :-D

Just a couple more days until Thanksgiving in the States! Maybe I’ll post my Grandma’s stuffing recipe? :-D

23. November 2013 by Molly
Categories: carrot, France, paris, pie, pumpkin, savory, sides, sweet potatoes, thanksgiving | 8 comments

Les Mustaches! On the Run!

Yesterday in the theme of November/Movember me and my friends ran a 8K in Paris called Les Bacchantes. The only requirement (well besides hopefully finishing the race) was to wear a “stache”. haha!

Found one at a Halloween store! And got a surprise mustache for Jenni… bahahaha – which knowing me should have been pretty easy to guess.

Found a Stache

We met bright and early (8:30) chez moi! and then after securely fastening our mustaches on, we headed out to the race! We’d celebrated Thanksgiving the day before and boy that was resting in our stomachs. oh and I had a scary blood shot eye. haha!

Jenni- sporting the… wait for it…. Western mustache I picked out for her. haha! If only there were handlebars too..

A couple warm up laps at the metro, some weird looks,  and trying on some accents to match our staches- mine ended up Russian for a bit and then there was Tina’s meatball comments. ..

We also decided that we wanted to be referred to as the “Three Mustacheers.”

iPhone Pics 11-12-13 074 iPhone Pics 11-12-13 077

We made it to the start and met up with the Frenchman and his friend! Who took a much better photo of us then my one handed attempts earlier in the day.

iPhone Pics 11-12-13 078

We’re ready!! Nope- warm up first! A little dancing, stretching and good to go! On y va!

The course was beautiful!! It started at Avenue Foch close to the Arc de Triumphe (we could see it in the distance) and then went through the woods called Bois de Boulogne that border the left side of Paris. The leaves are changing so just imagine running through the woods with bright reds and yellows and you’re there. :-) Pretty!

The race was fast! So fast that my mustache blew off in the first 2K. 47 minutes for us at a 9:40 min/mile pace. Woot! Go team!

After was- cake, tea, soup and then the usual oranges, apples, Goo chews and water. tehe! Then some post-race pics at the Eiffel, because why ever not!

iPhone Pics 11-12-13 085 iPhone Pics 11-12-13 086

After showers at my place we headed to lunch at a cafe down the street with the Frenchman and his friends. Tina was apparently drunk off of one glass of white wine. haha! There might have been mention of a bird sculpture and a very hard to pronounce word- janvier! I promise I’m saying it correctly now.. maybe? haha! Loved the mix of languages! The red wine was delicious! Bon choix! The liver.. errr not bad but not awesome? Very chewy? We decided to try frogs legs next. haha! So pretty much an awesome day start to finish. :-)

12. November 2013 by Molly
Categories: France, healthy, paris | Comments Off on Les Mustaches! On the Run!

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