There is something about the holidays that stirs up memories. Right now, I’m procrastinating starting the prep for stuffing balls. (scroll down for the recipe.) Usually, I do all the prep the night before and then scoop and bake during commercial breaks for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade is really the only tradition left over from my childhood. The people, locations and even the recipes have changed. As a child Thanksgiving meant potluck style Thanksgiving with my dad’s extended family at Thunderbird Regional Park. My dad would go early for the annual race and pack his Weber grill in the back of the van and start the turkey cooking once he was done with the race. By noon the rest of the family (including my mom, brother and me) would be on their way with all the sides. We’d visit and the kids ran around playing games. Dinner was on paper plates and picnic tables. The few times we had rain, it seemed to wait til dusk as we were packing up to go home. Seeing fancy table settings on TV for the holiday dinner was a foreign concept. Now days we celebrate with a smaller group – this year just the four of us, on a chilly Pacific Northwest day.
The year I was pregnant with our youngest I had gestation diabetes and to be careful about my carbs – that was the year we started doing the stuffing balls ahead of time so they would be ready by lunch. We’d nibble on those while we continue to prep for the main meal to come later. Seven years later, we still do this – just us or sometime his parents or my mom join us, but simple and on our own time frame. We pared down the meal to just what is essential to us – Turkey, Graving, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans and Pumpkin Cobbler. The stuffing balls being enjoyed earlier in the day. Sometimes we eat at 4 – sometimes 7 – we move at our own pace (or the pace at which the bird cooks). Some years I bust out the good china just because I enjoy it and other years, I’m all about paper plates (I suspect this may be a paper plate year).
As much as I enjoyed the large gatherings of my youth, I enjoy the peace of these quiet holidays as well. Working the busy holiday retail season, I need this time of peace to enjoy my family with all the appointments and work schedules that has us running around all the time. So, whether you celebrate Thanksgiving with groups big or small, new traditions or old, I hope your celebration fills your heart with joy, peace and gratitude for all the blessings you have.
Dressing Balls – from the Bradley Family
· 1 Lb Package Pepperidge Farms Herb Seasoned Stuffing (not Cube)
· 1 -1/2 cups celery finely chopped
· 1 -1/2 cups onion finely chopped
· 1 -1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
· 1 stick [depending on taste] butter
· 2 cans mushroom soup mix
· 2 eggs
· Chicken stock or stock made with the giblets [if you aren't roasting a turkey you can use chicken gizzards and livers.]
· Optional items - Crasins and toasted pecans
Sauté celery, onion, and mushrooms in the butter, more butter may be added but I try not to. Add to dressing mix and stir in the soup and eggs then just keep adding the stock until it is a consistency that will stay in a ball shape when baked. Chop the giblets if using them and add to mixture. Add the crasins and pecans if desired.
Form the dressing into 2 inch balls or whatever size you like and bake at 375 degrees probably about 45-60 minutes. Depending on how crisp and crunchy you want them and the size of your “balls”.
Notes from my experience with this recipe
*I find lining the pan with parchment paper and using an ice scoop to form the balls is quicker and less messy than hand rolling.
**You can do all the prep work the night before and store the “dough” in the fridge. Simply take it out and begin scooping and baking when you are ready.