Halsey and Brooks Family Favorites

Halsey and Brooks Family Favorites

Our holiday dinners have always been shared with friends and family.  Jim and I have two daughters, Eireann, who has been studying for her law school entrance exam the week after Thanksgiving, and our older daughter and granddaughter.  My sister Sheri often joins us, along with her son Michael and daughter Pam.

The menu has evolved over the years to include new ethnic and regional dishes introduced by guests and by the changing preferences of family members.  The turkey is usually two birds...one is done on Wednesday and 'filleted' and refrigerated, and another one is reserved for the early morning of the big day.  This year, I've decided to add extra turkey breasts and a couple of extra turkey legs for Kaiti....how surprised she'll be to find her turkey has 4 legs this year!

Speaking of "early morning"...a Thanksgiving memory that still makes me smile....as a young mother many many years ago, we had gone to the home of my grandmother-in-law for Thanksgiving, and arrived a day early to her home in...I kid you not...Turkey, Texas <g>.  Being in new surroundings, I got up in the middle of the night to check on my firstborn....you remember how solicitous we were of the first one!  I noticed a light coming from beyond the hallway, so I sleepily peeked around the corner to see where the light was coming from..... 

There, at 3am in the blazing-bright farmhouse kitchen, was Grandma...all alone and cheerfully punching down the dough for dinner rolls!  Well, she was just delighted to see me up early to help her with preparations <g>, and quickly tied an apron on me...the rest of the family had to patiently listen all day to her praises of the newest daughter in the family who had been the o-n-l-y o-n-e who had gotten up early to help her with Thanksgiving dinner!!

In our family, the youngest child always says grace...I think Eireann was grateful when Kaiti was old enough to take her place, and I know Kait eagerly looks forward to her new dinner-duty.  She strays occasionally to include names of favored pets and friends for whom she is thankful...8-)  At the first Thanksgiving dinner after the World Trade Center tragedy, she asked that her daddy (in military special forces) be kept safe in Afghanistan.  It was over a year before she saw him again, and, unfortunately, he is back there again this Thanksgiving.

Thankfully, she has grown up being a real veggie-hound, and loves sweet potatoes even more since I started mashing them like you would regular white potatoes....butter, salt, and milk included.  I've been baking one lonely sweet potato for myself for 35 years, but now that I have another person in the family who loves them a special way, I'll only have them mashed!

Salads are never more than a light gelatin dish...I've included one that I adapted from a cranberry mold....oddly, no one in our family likes the taste of cranberry, so it now becomes 'Cherry Ambrosia'.  Dessert on Thanksgiving day will include one pecan, one cherry, and two pumpkin pies.  I usually make another couple of pumpkin pies on Saturday morning to tide everyone over the long weekend <g>.

I hope you will try some of our favorite holiday dishes.
From our home to yours,


Jim, LaRae, and Eireann


This dressing recipe is such a favorite -- even with the non-stuffing-eaters -- that I've been told not to bother making any other kind!  My mother always added apple and walnuts to her scrumptious dressing, so I've adapted a sausage recipe to taste more like Mom's...8-)

Sausage & Apple Stuffing

1 package herb stuffing mix
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped apple, unpeeled
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup butter, melted
1 pound bulk pork sausage, cooked and drained
2 cups chicken broth

In a large skillet, cook celery, scallions, and onion in butter until tender.
In a large bowl, combine the stuffing mix and celery mixture.

Stir in the apples, walnuts, and sausage.
Add enough broth to moisten, tossing lightly.

Bake stuffing in casserole 325 degrees for 60 minutes.


Fresh carrots have always been the veggie-of-choice at our house,
and this is a wonderful way to dress them up for a big family dinner!

Glazed Carrots
   6 cups packaged baby carrots
   1/4 cup orange juice
   1/2 tsp. nutmeg
   1/4 cup brown s ugar
   1 tsp. cornstarch
   1/2 tsp. salt
   1/4 cup butter
Cook carrots in a small amount of salted water
until tender and then drain water.

Combine orange juice, nutmeg, brown sugar and
cornstarch in a small sauce pan and mix until smooth.

Pour over carrots and cook over low heat
for several minutes until mixture thickens.

Add salt and butter and toss.


Potatoes, butter, salt and pepper...the best comfort-food in the world!!

Irish Potato Soup

6 medium potatoes
2 medium onions
6 cups milk and water mixed to your preference
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper

Peel and dice the potatoes and chop the onions.

Melt the butter and gently cook the onions and potatoes
in a covered saucepan until soft.

Add the liquid, adjust the seasoning to taste.
Serve in bowls decorated with a little chopped parsley.  Serves 6.


This deliciously cheesy veggie casserole has been a mainstay
on our holiday table for years...from Easter right through Christmas!

Vegetable-Cheese Casserole

30 oz. frozen vegetables
(carrots, broccoli, cauliflower -- California Medley)
1-13 oz. can evaporated milk
(helps to put extra milk in so it isn't too dry)
1 pound sharp cheddar cheese
5 slices white bread, buttered
& sprinkled with garlic salt

Cook and drain vegetables; grate cheese; cut buttered bread into cubes.
Mix everything together and put in 9" x 11" buttered casserole dish.
Bake 30 minutes uncovered @ 350


For appetizers, we put together some simple but simply divine
ham and cream cheese concoctions that go so quickly
there are never any leftovers!

Ham & Cream Cheese Rollups

Spread softened cream cheese on a strip of deli-sliced ham.
Lay a quarter of a dill pickle spear along one end of the ham slice.

Roll the ham over the pickle spear and continue rolling tightly to the other end.
With a sharp knife, slice through the roll at one inch intervals.

Arrange on plate with rolled pinwheels visible.
Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

(They get pilfered from the fridge if I don't hide them!!)


Cherry Ambrosia Salad

1 cup maraschino cherries, chopped
1 cup crushed pineapple,drained
1 cup apple, unpeeled, seeded and diced
1/2 cup walnuts,chopped
1 can mandarin oranges
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1 large pkg. cherry jello mix
2 cups boiling water
1 container of cool whip
1/3 cup sugar

Combine gelatin and boiling water with 1/3 cup sugar.
Let stand just long enough to cool slightly, but not set up.

Stir in all ingredients except the cool whip.
Mix well and then add the cool whip.

Stir together just until mixed
and refrigerate over night.