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Friday, November 14

What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong)


Thanksgiving is coming...quickly!  I don't know about you, but I come from a very large family.  We kept the big, entire-family events to once or twice a year, and Thanksgiving was not one of those times.  In fact {true story}, we had pizza every year for Thanksgiving dinner.  Pizza Hut, to be exact.  Our immediate family drove to the Outer Banks and chilled out in the off-season.  It was the best family tradition, and it made writing those "What I Did for Thanksgiving" essays a little bit more fun... 

Make-Ahead Cheats for a Full House

We've since gone our separate ways, and have our own Thanksgiving traditions with our married families.  If your house is going to be considerably-too-full this year, try pleasing everyone with these easy make-ahead recipes.  You'll have more time to spend with the family, and less "day-of"stress of cooking for an army.  Need to keep the kids occupied?  No problem...scroll down to the bottom for fun, easy, and free ideas!

Crock-Pot Apple Cider (super easy & delicious!)



  • 2 Quarts Tree-Top Apple Cider
  • 1/4 cup packed Brown Sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. ground Ginger
  • 1 Orange ~ unpeeled, and cut into wedges
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks
  • 1 tsp. Whole Cloves
  • Small square of cheesecloth
  • Crockpot
  • Optional: Mason Jar Mugs {SO cute!}

    1. Tie up Cinnamon Sticks and Whole Cloves into Cheesecloth.
    2. Add Apple Cider and all other ingredients into Crockpot.
    3. Cover and simmer on low.
    4. Cider will be ready in about 3 hours, but can continue simmering on low.
    5. Remove cheesecloth bag and orange wedges
    6. Serve in regular mugs, or so-cute Mason Jar Mugs… and ENJOY!
    7. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge and reheated the next day. {Yum!} 

    Make-Ahead Biscuits (easy breakfast for the extended family)



  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 3/4 cup milk

    1. Mix dry ingredients together. Add in the butter and mix until crumbly. (If you have one, you can use a KitchenAid or food processor to save time and effort). Add in the milk and mix until a ball forms.
    2. Roll out onto a floured surface and cut into biscuits.
    3. To Freeze: Freeze on a cookie sheet for 1-2 hours. Then remove and place in a airtight freezer bag.
    4. To Bake: Pull the desired number of biscuits out and let thaw for 30 minutes to an hour. Bake at 450 degrees for 8-12 minutes. You can bake them straight from the freezer but they won’t rise much.

    Sweet Potato & Apple Casserole (lots of vitamins in this one!)

    • Margarine, for greasing
    • 3 large sweet potatoes
    • 3 large yams
    • 4 Red Delicious apples
    • 1/2 cup golden raisins
    • 1/4 cup honey
    • 1/4 cup orange juice
    • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
    • 1/2 cup powdered sugar 
    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking dish with margarine.
    2. Peel the potatoes and yams. Place the potatoes and yams in a large pot of water. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat. Boil gently until the potatoes and yams are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the potatoes and yams from the water. When cool enough to handle, slice into rounds and set aside. Peel, core and slice apples.
    3. Place one layer of yams, apple slices and then sweet potatoes in the greased baking dish; repeat and make at least two layers of each. Top with the golden raisins.
    4. To make a glaze, in a small pan stir together the honey, orange juice, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Stir over low heat until the consistency is even. Pour the glaze over the yam, sweet potato and apple slices.  This is where you can refrigerate for up to two days. 
    5. To serve : Bake, uncovered, until browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve immediately. 

    Pumpkin Cheesecake (mmmm, mmmm, and nut-free!)

    • CRUST:
    • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from 14 graham crackers) 
    • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted 
    • FILLING:
    • .25-ounce envelope unflavored gelatin  
    • 8-ounce bar cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 15-ounce can pumpkin puree   
    • 1 cup sour cream 
    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar 
    • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice 
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
    1. Make the crust: Heat oven to 400° F. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter. Transfer to a 9-inch springform pan. Using a straight-sided dry measuring cup, press the mixture into the bottom and 2 inches up the sides of the pan. Bake until set, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool.
    2. Make the filling: sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup boiling water. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until dissolved, about 5 minutes.  Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Mix in the pumpkin, sour cream, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla. Mix in the gelatin mixture until incorporated.
    3. Chill: Pour the mixture into the crust and refrigerate, covered, until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
    ...and if you just need help with the whole shebang, here's your free e-book, titled A Mostly Make-Ahead Thanksgiving.


    Keep the Kids Busy ( & Out of the Kitchen!!)

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