Of course there is always turkey with creamy mashed potatoes and gravy. There must be stuffing, sweet potatoes and corn. Everyone knows that. They are part of the original Thanksgiving Constitution. But, Thanksgiving dinner must also include all the side dish essentials that are personal to each individual family — the food that traditions are made of. I want to share two that our family would never imagine Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner without — Orange Salad and Cranberry Salad.
Years ago, when our oldest daughters were small I unearthed the orange salad recipe from an old Mary Kay cookbook. There has never been an Embree holiday meal without it, since. It’s creamy, cool and citrusy. It is sweet and delectable. The cranberry salad is born of my distaste for the typical quivering plate of canned cranberry sauce and combines bits and pieces of different recipes I have seen over the years. Aesthetically, it is lovely, with a deep crimson color to contrast with other holiday fare. Flavorfully, it is outstanding, a perfect sweet-tart complement to the turkey, and boasts a wonderful combination of textures. Both of these should be prepared the day before, but hurry, there is still time to make them both and you will be so glad you did! Your family will adore you, your tummy will thank you and a hush of peace will hover over the land. (Don’t get too excited, it’s just the turkey-induced nap, but hey, take a hush of peace wherever you can get it!)
Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!
(Right click on any image and select View Image to see it a little bit larger.
Images of finished salads will be added as soon as mine are set up.)
- 3 small boxes orange gelatin
- 3 small boxes cook and serve vanilla pudding
- 3 small boxes tapioca pudding mix (This is not straight tapioca. Jello makes it and it is a pudding mix on the shelf with all the other pudding flavors.)
- 3 small cans of mandarin oranges, drained
- 1 small tub of Cool Whip
- 6 cups of water
Empty all the jello and pudding mixes into a large stock pot or sauce pan. Add the water, and over medium heat, bring to a boil. Stir constantly, to avoid scorching. Once the mixture reaches a full, rolling boil, allow it to continue to cook until it has thickened. Remove from the heat and cool.
Pour into a covered container and refrigerate for at least 4 -6 hours – overnight is best. Remove jello mixture from the fridge and stir in the tub of Cool Whip and the drained mandarin oranges. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- (2) 12 oz. bags of fresh cranberries
- 5 or 6 medium-sized apples, peeled and diced
- 4 stalks of celery, minced
- 1 cup of walnuts or pecans (Though I usually prefer pecans in most recipes, I like walnuts best in this.)
- 3 small boxes raspberry jello
- 2-3 cups sugar, this is to taste
- 3 cups boiling water
Coarsely grind the cranberries. I do this in my blender. Fill the blender 2/3 full with cranberries and then add enough water to cover them. Put the lid on (this is critical – lol) and use the pulse button or if yours doesn’t have pulse, just cycle the blender off and on, off and on, until the cranberries are coarsely ground, but not mush. Pour the blender contents into your strainer and let the liquid drain while you grind the next batch and repeat the process until all cranberries have been processed. It is VERY important to drain all the liquid from the cranberries before proceeding.
Peel and dice apples. Add to drained cranberries.
Finely chop or mince the celery. Pieces should be quite small, not bite-sized. Add the minced celery to the cranberry-apple mixture.
Stir in the nuts and then add the sugar. Stir well and make sure the sugar has coated all the pieces of fruit. It will start to “sweat” a bit of syrup from the fruit, so don’t panic if you see liquid, now.
Dissolve the raspberry gelatin in the boiling water. (Do NOT add additional cold water as package directions indicate.)
Put your cranberry mixture into the bowl you would like to serve it in or for the very adventurous, your gelatin mold. Press it down firmly in the bowl. Pour the dissolved gelatin over the top and refrigerate until set.
So, what is the Thanksgiving essential at your house? What would it not be Thanksgiving dinner without? I’m looking forward to hearing about your own personal traditions.
Stay warm and be blessed. Happy Thanksgiving!