BF&F – Best Friends and Foodies


Thanksgiving in New Jersey

Ever since I was little my mom has hosted thanksgiving. My birthday is on the 25th which falls right around turkey day if not on it.  Our family always gets together for birthdays so thanksgiving always fell to my mom!  now that i have my own family i started hosting thanksgiving here a few years ago.  my mom gets the turkey ready the night before and brings it over so all i have to do is put it in the oven in the morning.  everything else i make!  i decided to try some new recipes this year.  I forgot to take a picture of the most delicious salad ever!  but i’ll save that recipe for another post.  And you’ll find all the dessert recipes on my other blog soon!  For appetizers i threw some frozen tj’s apps in the oven, made some deviled eggs, a couple cheese plates, and some shrimp!

there are a couple desserts missing from the picture – a pumpkin gooey butter cake, a fruit swirled coffee cake my brothers girlfriend made, and a davids cheesecake my grandmother came with — not to mention all the fruit!

my cousin Dan won the contest of having the prettiest plate (or i guess most organized in his case) — the mini muffins are tj’s cornbread

I think i came across this recipe on pinterest (which by the way if you haven’t visited you should!).  we had high hopes for these.. but they were not any more special than any other green beans 🙂  they were pretty bland considering the spices added.  in fact my usual green bean recipe we thought was much better!   these did look delicious though!

Green Bean Bundles:

adapted from thebrownshed

  • 2 lbs green beans, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar, packed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • one package bacon
  1. Fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat.
  2. Wash and trim the beans.
  3. Add the beans to the boiling water and blanch for 3 to 4 minutes, until the beans are pliable but still crunchy.
  4. Drain the beans and run them under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels or a clean dish towel and place them in a shallow ovenproof casserole.
  5. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  6. Stir in the dry mustard, brown sugar, garlic and salt.
  7. Pour the butter mixture over the green beans, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  8. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  9. Make a bundle of 8 or 9 beans, wrap half a bacon slice around each bundle, securing with a toothpick, and arrange in a single layer in the same casserole used for marinating.
  10. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until the bacon is cooked and the beans look wrinkled.  Serves 6-8.

My mother in law passed along her recipe for broccoli casserole to me.  It’s a dish she’s known to make for holidays and always makes an appearance on the table.    a few days before thanksgiving the pioneer woman posted a recipe for a broccoli casserole that was almost like the one my mother in law gave me — so i decided to try it!    the new version was pretty similar taste-wise to the old version,. but the cheesy flavor wasn’t as pronounced.  either way they’re both good!

Broccoli Cheese & Cracker Casserole

adapted from pioneerwoman


  • 3 pounds frozen Broccoli Florets
  • 2 pounds  2% Velveeta
  • 1/2 cup 1% Milk
  • 1/4 cup light Cream
  • Salt And Black Pepper To Taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (more For More Spice)
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon (optional)
  • 3 whole (sleeves) Ritz Crackers

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place crackers into a large ziploc bag and crush slightly, leaving some large chunks. Set aside.

Cook broccoli until almost done but not quite.

Cut Velveeta into chunks. Throw into a large pot with milk, cream, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Melt, stirring occasionally, until totally smooth. Stir in Dijon if using.

Add broccoli to cheese sauce, then add half the cracker crumbs. Stir to combine, then pour mixture into a buttered 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Top with remaining cracker crumbs, then sprinkle the top generously with black pepper.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until top is golden brown and casserole is bubbly.

mashed potatoes  — no recipe needed — boil them, mash them, add some butter, some milk, salt & pepper.  i do throw in a handful of garlic cloves with the potatoes when i boil them and they get mashed right in!

The last few years I’ve made a sausage, apple, cranberry stuffing but when i ran across the pioneer woman’s oyster dressing i knew i had to try it.   it’s hard to compare the two as they’re sooo different.  Both are really good — next year i might make both, just small portions!

Oyster Dressing

adapted from pioneerwoman


  • 1 bag Cornbread stuffing cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons  Butter
  • 3 cans Oysters, Drained, Liquid Reserved
  • 4 whole Carrots, Diced
  • 6 stalks Celery, Diced
  • 2 whole Small Onions, Diced
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth
  • fresh sage, rosemary, & thyme
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 2 whole Eggs

Preparation Instructions

Place stuffing  in a large mixing bowl.

Heat  butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, and onions, and stir to combine. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes.

Add oysters and stir around for 1 minutes. Remove from heat and pour over the bread cubes. Sprinkle on the sage, the rosemary, the thyme and salt and pepper. Then add the broth while tossing bread cubes with a large spoon. Stir in egg.

Stop after adding 4 cups of liquid to give the mixture a taste. Add more broth to taste, until it gets to the moisture level you like. Adjust seasonings as needed.

Hint: if you think it needs a little more of an oyster kick, splash in a small amount of the oyster liquid. (A little goes a long way!)

Pour mixture into a large baking dish   Bake it in a 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.

cranberry sauce is so easy i’m not sure why people buy it in a can???  i usually follow the recipe on the bag and it always turns out just right!  this year i tried something a little different.   the new version was a little too tart — i ended up adding a lot more sugar, but after that it was really good!

Orange-Scented Cranberry Sauce

adapted from marthastewart


  • 1 bag  fresh  cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1T orange zest, plus 1/2 cup fresh orange juice


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, orange zest, and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce to a simmer and cook until thickened, 10-15  minutes. Remove from heat and stir in orange juice.