Preparing Thanksgiving Classics

Whether I like it or not, I prepare recipes that have been handed down from my mother-in-law for Thanksgiving. I’m not a “natural” cook (meaning, without a recipe in front of me, the kitchen becomes a disaster area and dinner becomes take-out). So, by preparing her tried-and-true recipes, I am able to reproduce the dinner that she brought to the table year after year.

You see, I firmly believe that if you can follow DIRECTIONS, that you can do anything. Armed with my stack of recipes (directions), I don’t stray very much. I definitely take the path of least resistance when it comes to Thanksgiving. Heck, I take that path EVERY DAY when it comes to the domestic arts (or my lack of them).

There are still times when I want to venture out into the vast unknown of cooking, trying a dish or two that is new to my family. This year I’ll be adding a NEW twist on some OLD classics, with the help of the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line experts.

You see, not only will Butterball’s Turkey Talk-Line help you with the dilemmas that you might face, but they are also a wealth of new recipes and ideas for creating a day that your family will remember all year long. 

Take Mary for example. Mary works at the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line and she sent me this INCREDIBLE recipe for her favorite Loaded Mashed Potatoes. By just adding a few everyday products, I’ll be able to WOW the family with Mary’s favorite Loaded Mashed Potatoes recipe: 


8 to 10 servings

4 pounds medium baking potatoes

1 cup milk

12 ounces (1-1/2 cups) French onion dip

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Asiago or fresh Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup crumbled cooked bacon


  1. Peel potatoes and cut into eighths.  Place in large saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 15 minutes or until tender.  Drain; return to saucepan.  Using potato masher, mash potatoes with milk.  Blend in dip, salt and pepper.
  2. Place potato mixture in shallow 2 quart baking dish.  Sprinkle with cheese and bacon.  Heat in 350ºF oven 20 minutes or until hot.


TO MAKE AHEAD:  Complete step 1 and place potato mixture in 4-cup glass measure or large bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate up to 2 days.  To complete potatoes, vent plastic wrap on container and heat in microwave on HIGH (100% power) 8 to 12 minutes or until hot, stirring several times.  Continue with step 2.

You see, you don’t need to go out and spend a fortune on overpriced gourmet ingredients.  You might even have these foods right in your cupboard or refrigerator. You can add a little extra OOMPH to your stuffing by using breakfast sausage (this is one of those ingredients that my mother-in-law uses in HER stuffing as well), and there’s no need to scour the aisles at the gourmet shop. Here is my mother-in-law’s recipe:

Turkey Stuffing
Serves: 10

1 stick unsalted butter
2 medium onions, chopped
3 medium celery stalks & leaves, chopped
1 pound Italian bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and dried overnight1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning)
1  teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoons pepper
1/4 cup fresh chopped flat parsley
1 lb. Butterball Turkey Sausage Links
1 1/2 – 2 cups turkey or chicken broth, as needed
In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, and celery leaves. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are golden, about 8 minutes.
In a separate skillet cook 1 pound of the Butterball turkey sausage over medium heat, breaking up with a spoon until cooked through. about 10 minutes.

Scrape the vegetables and butter into a large bowl. Mix in the bread cubes, parsley, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Gradually stir in about 1 1/2 cups of broth, until the stuffing is evenly moistened but not soggy. Add the sausage.. Use as a stuffing. Or place in a lightly buttered casserole, drizzle with 1/2 cup broth, cover, and bake as a side dish.

I’m very excited about having this new resource for all of my turkey day questions and can’t wait to surprise my family with my new-found prowess in the kitchen. Although, I kind of like having them think that I don’t know what I’m doing.  That way I will always be the girl who when asked what I’ve made for dinner, I can say “reservations.” It makes my Thanksgiving dinner that much MORE special.



  1. Posted November 12, 2010 at 9:28 am | Permalink | Reply

    Sounds yummy! And I def want to try the turkey sausage, great idea for stuffing. Have you tried it? I just posted a great recipe from Bobby Flay with the turkey leftovers – turkey sausage paella, I’ll try it with the turkey sausage!

  2. Posted November 12, 2010 at 10:21 am | Permalink | Reply

    My mother in law always used sausage in her stuffing. To make it healthier, I’ve switched from using pork sausage to turkey sausage. I now make it every year, because that’s what the family expects. It’s one of those food traditions that just got handed down and I suppose that when my son has a family of his own, that he will continue to use the recipe.

  3. Posted November 12, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

    We don’t use sausage in our stuffing/dressing, however I think I am going to make a second pan this year and try it out on our family! This sounds so yummy and easy that it is definitely going into my recipe box!

    • Posted November 12, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I like the idea of using Butterball turkey sausage, because not only does it enhance the turkey flavor in the stuffing, but it’s so much lower in fat.

  4. Posted November 12, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I am drooling!!!

    • Posted November 12, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

      No need to drool Gena, all of the recipes are easy to make. You don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving either. Those loaded mashed potatoes would be great with Sunday dinner!

  5. Posted November 12, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Okay, to stuff your Butterball – make homemade Pepperoni Stuffin’ – it is Y.U.M.

    • Posted November 12, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Oh Lisa – I’m coming to your house. I just printed out your recipe. It looks DELICIOUS! Thank you so much for sharing.

  6. Posted November 12, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I love potatoes! I like to use sour cream and butter. DROOL.

    My mom always makes sausage stuffing with apples. Such a classic in our family.

    • Posted November 12, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Kelly – you and me both. There’s nothing like fluffy, buttery mashed potatoes. YUM.

      Do you (or does she) simply add chopped apples to her stuffing? That sounds good.

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