My Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving, holiday dinner, Thanksgiving turkey


I hope everyone had a Safe and Blessed Thanksgiving.  I spent Thanksgiving with my daughter and her family and one of their family friends and his children. We spend the day cooking a turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, collard greens, greenbeans and corn, sweet potato casserole, sour kraut, macaroni and cheese, stuffing, cornbread and rolls.

Since we were serving both a turkey and ham, we went with a 15 pound bird instead of 20-25 pounds. Here she is golden brown and surrounded by Golden Delicious apples on a bed of fresh parsley.  As you can see I don’t stuff my bird,  I prepare my stuffing as a side dish. One because I don’t like overly moist stuffing and second it cuts down on the cooking time. 

This year I decided to marinate my turkey overnight in a brine of water, brown sugar, garlic, kosher salt, and vanilla.  I won’t do it again, with the exception of it being saltier I didn’t notice much of an addition to the flavor. I prefer injecting my turkey with a Cajun flavor or just allowing it to roast slowly and basting it often with butter.

What size turkey do you normally prepare and how do you add flavor to your turkey?  Share your Thanksgiving memories here


Tips To Plan Your 4th of July Festivities

4th of July ideas, food ideas for 4th of July


Planning your 4th of July festivities?  The 4th of July is one of the biggest summer celebrations for most of us. So, if you’re like me you want to serve great food, have plenty of drinks, play games, put on a great fireworks display. However, hosting family gatherings can get overwhelming.

I have learned over the years to plan my summer celebrations and make lists to ensure I don’t forget anything. Here’s a few other tips that have helped make my 4th of July festivities successful:

Plan Your Menu

Meats – First, if you’re serving food that will take longer to cook, start cooking those foods on your grill or smoker at least an hour before the guest are scheduled to arrive.  Also, burgers, hot dogs and sausages can be started shortly after guests start arriving.  Because they don’t take as long to cook, reserve them for later.  For my 4th of July festivities, you will always find these items on my grill/smoker:

  • Burgers
  • Hot Dogs
  • BBQ Chicken
  • BBQ Ribs
  • Sausages

Side Dishes – Next, I fix as many of my cold dishes the night before and refrigerate them.  Furthermore, I start anything that I can fix in the crockpots on low the night before too. The house smells great in the morning.  I love getting everybody excited about the day and their mouth watering for great food.  Here’s a few ideas for side dishes:

  • Potato Salad
  • Macaroni Salad
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Pasta Salads
  • Steamer Meat
  • Baked Beans
  • Corn On The Cob
  • Green Beans & Corn
  • Greens
  • Grilled squash and zucchini
  • Salad -(I set out various bottles of salad dressing for guests to choose from)
Veggies/Chips and Dip – Also, I make a dip for veggies and a dip for chips.  If I serve a salad, I don’t do a veggie tray.  But, I do make this Spinach Dip for my vegetable tray when I do make it.  It goes well with crackers too.

Fruits – Additionally, everybody likes something refreshing on a hot summer day. I love to put a fruit salad together or do fruit skewers.

Desserts – Berries are big in the summer.  As a result, I do several trifles this time of year using fresh strawberries.  Be as simple or elaborate as you would like.  But, I have been known to do a tray of brownies or cupcakes and little cups of ice cream too.

Drinks – It’s important that everyone stay hydrated.  Because liquids are important, make sure you have plenty of water and drinks.  If you’re serving alcohol, beer and cocktails, please have a designated driver for those indulging.


Plan Your Games – Also, I make sure I have plenty of activities for the kids and adults.  Here’s a few 4th of July ideas that I have used in the past:

  • Patriotic Crafts for the kids
  • Sack Races
  • Turn on the sprinkler
  • Have a water balloon fight
  • Use printables/coloring pages for the kids
  • Horseshoes
  • Badminton or Croquet
  • Bingo
  • Cards
  • Charades

Solicit Co-Hosts – Most importantly, I have learned that I can’t do everything and do it well.  As a result, I ask my family to help with keeping the food flowing, grilling, assisting with children’s crafts, games, music etc. Things go much smoother and it takes some stress off me when I have help.

Last, I like to decorate on a budget.  So, I head to the Dollar Stores to buy items that I didn’t pick up on clearance the prior year.  If your crafty make your own center pieces and luminaries to add festive touches.  Also, the Dollar Store sells festive plates, napkins, mini flags etc.  Don’t forget to head to Michael’s or AC Moore for paint and other supplies that you can’t find at the Dollar Stores for the kid’s activities.

Finally, I hope these ideas will help you remove some of the stress of entertaining.  And, I hope they help you plan a great backyard BBQ with family and friends.  What are some of the dishes you prepare or activities you use to entertain guests?

You may also like: 9 Kid’s Patriotic Craft Ideas

5 Reasons Family Is Important To Children

 importance of family

Family is important to children. We may not like some of our family members. but we can’t change who we are.  Our experiences with family have been different, I’m sure.  Some of us come from single parent homes, alcoholic homes, or two parent homes that were loving or not so loving.  We can choose to ignore, stay away from or disown our family.  However, we can’t get away from who we are.  That is a fact.  As a result, we should be teaching the importance of family to our children.

When I was growing up,  family reunions, backyard BBQs, and Sunday gatherings were a given. You never knew how the day would end, but we would all return eventually.  As children we spent time with siblings or cousins.  We played baseball, hop scotch, did cartwheels, or picking walnuts and berries for treats.  We still laugh about the good times that we had together as children.

Here’s 5 reasons why family is important to children:

Teaches Children About Who They Are
– Learning about your heritage is important to understanding who you are. What better way to learn than from great grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  Listening to stories from relative’s childhood can help teach children about who they are and who family members are.  Forming a bond with family members can last a lifetime, it teaches children that they will always have someone to turn to with family.

Teaches Children About Trust – Spending time with family builds a bond which can lead to trust. We must teach our children who to trust in the family.  Sadly, not all family members should or can be trusted.  We all have drug addicts, alcoholics, thieves, liars and a host of other negative traits.  It may be hard to admit it, but it’s important to guide your children on trust.

Provides Examples For Children – Spending time with family members gives children a first hand example of how other family members live.  Some family members will be doing better than others financially, have bigger and more beautiful homes, and be the most unhappy.  It also gives children an opportunity to see those that are not doing well, but are the happiest.  Seeing things from a different perspective is always good.

Helps Develop Self-Esteem – It’s important that children become comfortable with who they are and accepted. What better place to start building a solid foundation than with family. No matter what, family should love and accept your imperfections, strengths and weaknesses.

Gives Children A Sense of Security – Knowing that you’re loved by family gives children a sense of security.  Understanding the importance of family will help them feel safe and accepted. They can be free to be who they are.  When they not afraid of being who they are, their self-worth soars.

No matter what happens in life, family will remain.  Children should understand the importance of family. So many children yearn for the love of family, security, a sense of who they are and examples of how life can be.  If you have the opportunity to expose your children to extended family gatherings, I encourage you to do so.  Understanding the family tree is essential to learning who you are.