Thursday, October 30, 2008

Make it From Scratch Thanksgiving - Potatoes and Sides

The past few weeks I've been sharing recipes and tips to create a made from scratch Thanksgiving. We've talked about rolls, pumpkin pie, stuffing and cranberry sauce. This week it is potatoes and other sides. Next week will feature the star of Thanksgiving, the turkey. On November 13, I will share a few tips about timing and putting it all together. 

Then, on November 18 the Make it from Scratch carnival will be hosted here. The theme is Thanksgiving. I am asking you to submit your favorite Thanksgiving recipes, tips, crafts, and other ideas for a memorable holiday. I can't wait to see all your ideas, but for now, on to potatoes and sides. 

As you may remember, I hate to peel potatoes, but even I make mashed potatoes from scratch for turkey day. Often I find someone else to peel the potatoes for me, but that is beside the point. What is there to say about mashed potatoes? Peel, boil, mash, and add butter, milk and salt to taste. One trick to make sure your potatoes stay hot is to warm the milk and melt the butter before adding to the potatoes. 

There are a lot of ways to dress up your mashed potatoes. You can add a little garlic, some sour cream, parsley, cheese, bacon bits or a little bit of all of that. I'm just as happy with plain mashed potatoes, and good turkey gravy. 

Um...good....turkey...gravy... again a weakness exposed. I am not a good gravy maker. Probably because I don't practice enough. A few weeks back, A bit of flour shared The secret of fabulous turkey gravy. Perhaps there is hope for me yet. 

That brings us to the other potato staple for Thanksgiving, the sweet potato. I know that tradition holds that sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving are supposed to be sweet and sticky with lots of sugar and marshmallows on top. I'm sorry, but YUCK! I know some of you love that dish, but I love sweet potatoes and I like to taste them. 

My favorite way to serve sweet potatoes is to simply bake them. Whip together some butter and cinnamon to serve with them, and I'm in sweet potatoes heaven. Baked sweet potatoes are easier, healthier, and tastier than that other popular sweet potatoe dish!

Do we need more sides? Well of course we do, it is Thanksgiving. The more the merrier! Usually I serve a simple vegetable side like green beans, corn or a simple salad. Another favorite is green bean casserole.

You might notice that the potatoes and sides really are not the highlight of the meal for me. I do enjoy them all, but the rolls, stuffing and turkey are where it is at for me. When preparing the meal, I spend a lot of time on those and keep the other dishes on the simple side. 

Next week we'll talk turkey. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Carnival #87

This week the carnival is at Lighter Side. This week is a slightly smaller than normal carnival. I heard that Blog Carnival was down over the weekend. Just remember if that happens submissions can always be sent to makeitfromscratch at .  There are still plenty of delicious recipes and cute crafts to see. Check out the complete carnival for yourself, but here are a few that I found particularly interesting. 

A how to make your own chili powder and a delicious looking recipe to use it in; enchiladas. 

Love this!

Warm comfort food is so appealing on these chilly days we've been having here!

Enjoy the carnival and please join us next week!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Make Your Own Crackers

Crackers are a traditional New Year's Eve favor in the UK. They are becoming increasingly popular in the US and these days and you can even find pre-made Christmas Crackers in some stores.

Crackers add a lot of fun to any occasion. Kids love to make them as well as open them. Since they hold less, they can be a frugal alternative to the traditional birthday party treat bag. Some other ideas:
~Tie on to a package/gift bag or add to a package in place of a bow.
~Make several for a classroom treat.
~Make as party favors using one color tissue for children and one color for adults.
~Use as a creative way to give cash as a gift.
~Include two in your child's overnight bag when they spend the night with a friend.
~Keep several on hand for last-minute treats or unexpected guests.
~Hide them and let guests search for them like an Easter egg hunt.

Here's what you'll need:
Cardboard tubes (from T.P., paper towels, gift wrap or make your own from card stock)
Small trinkets that fit inside tube (see list below for ideas)
Tissue paper to match your occasion
Double-sided tape

Step 1- Fill your paper tube with the items you have chosen.

Step 2- Place a strip of double-sided tape down the length of the tube.

Step 3- Cut a strip of tissue paper about 5 inches wider than the length of your tube.

Step 4- Place the edge of the tissue paper on the strip of tape to secure it to the tube. Place another piece of double-sided tape on top of the edge of the tissue.

Step 5- Roll the tube up in the tissue.

Step 6- Cut two 6 inch pieces of ribbon and use to tie the tissue paper closed at each end of the tube so that the finished piece resembles a giant piece of candy. Curl ribbon if desired.

Ideas for cracker fillers:
Whistles, erasers, candy, crayons, supplies to make a beaded bracelet, hair accessories, small flashlights, toy cars, lip balm, stickers, money, small bottle of bubble solution, rings, earrings, necklaces, nail polish, movie tickets, small gel pens, markers, colored pencils, glow sticks, fruit snacks, blow-out party favors, small action figures or Army men, super bounce balls, marbles, magnets. Can you think of any more?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Homemade Rolls at your Thanksgiving Table

Just thinking about fresh from the oven homemade bread makes my mouth water. It is just so good! Buying frozen dough or rolls from the bakery for your Thanksgiving dinner can be a close substitute, but they just don't quite achieve the taste of homemade. 

Below I will share some tips and a favorite recipe for using your bread machine to make your rolls. Making your own rolls for the big day really is easy, if you have a bread machine. Of course, you can make yeast rolls without a bread machine, but if you don't have a bread machine, and don't want to do all the kneading and waiting by hand, I will share a roll recipe that is a easier than traditional yeast breads. 

If you are making yeast rolls with a machine or without, make your dough up to a week before Thanksgiving. Shape the dough, and place on cookie sheets. Then cover in waxed paper and stack the cookie sheets on top of each other in the freezer. On Thanksgiving morning, or the night before, if you have an early meal, pull the dough out to thaw and rise. Bake the rolls and enjoy them warm with your turkey and dressing.  

One of the best recipes I've tried is Buttery Bread Machine Rolls. I first came across this recipe at Motherload: The Mom Advice Blog. These rolls are light and delicious. Last year, I made three batches of these. The first I made as stated in the recipe. The second batch was made with half wheat flour, and the third with half rye flour. It made for a nice variety and a colorful bread basket on the table. 

For those who do not have a bread machine or do not want the work of yeast rolls made by hand, Spoon Rolls are a good alternative. My sister in law, Delilah, gave me this recipe a few years back. This dough can be made ahead of time, and the rolls can be baked Thanksgiving day. 

Harrow Road Spoon Rolls

Quick and easy homemade roll.

See Harrow Road Spoon Rolls on Key Ingredient.

Serving fresh homemade bread at your Thanksgiving table adds a delicious touch. Serve your rolls with real butter and homemade jam or apple butter for an extra special treat. Whether you choose yeast rolls, or a quicker version, like Spoon Rolls, the majority of the work can be done in advance, leaving you tend to the other necessary prepartaions Thanksgiving day.

More from scratch Thanksgiving:

Photo credit: musicpb

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Carnival #86

The carnival this week can be found at 11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven. You are going to love the visual feast presented there. Please enjoy this excellent edition of the carnival. Here are some of my favorites this week. 

Blow-the-Diet Cake by "Sherry"
Anything with chocolate and peanut butter is worth blowing the diet for in my opinion.

-Mason Jar Soap Dispenser by "The Organizing Blog"
I love these dispensers. How perfect for a home with a country decor! And easy enough that even a non-crafter, like myself, could make!

I have to include a recipe that can make something delicious out of the weeds in the garden! 

Hope you enjoy the carnival! Won't you join us next week? The carnival will be at Lighter Side. Submit your post via Blog Carnival

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lollipop Ghosts

These cute and friendly ghosts will be a sweet addition to any Halloween function! Make enough for your child's class or make just a few to have at home. Fast and simple is the name of the game here. I'll be you even have the materials on hand right now!

Kids love to help with these. Older children can cut the paper and tie them off while the smaller kids can wrap them up and draw on faces.

Lollipops or suckers
Tissue paper or facial tissues
Ribbon or string
Black marker

Step 1: Cut a piece of tissue paper to the desired size for your lollipop.

Step 2: Lay the piece of tissue over your hand and stick the lollipop in the center upside-down and wrap the paper over the top.

Step 3: Gather the tissue around the stick just under the candy and tie with ribbon or string.

Step 4: Draw on a face. The face can be traditional (as shown), funny or cute. Use your imagination and you'll come up with many faces for your new spooky-sweet friends!

Friday, October 17, 2008

We've been Nominated

Join Us at the HSBA!

A big thank you to Miss Jocelyn over at A Pondering Heart for nominating Make it from Scratch. She is nominating us for the Best Variety category. We need three nominations to make it to the polls. Please take a moment to click on the button above and second (or third) the nomination. Thanks! 

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pumpkin Pie

What is Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie? That slightly spicy and sweet pie topped with a bit of whipped cream is the perfect ending to your Thanksgiving feast, or perhaps it is the perfect snack a few hours later when you've recovered from the main meal. 

Pumpkin pie filling is easy to mix. Honestly, I have not found a recipe that is better than the classic Libby's Pumpkin Pie that is right on the can. It is simple. It is delicious. That is my kind of recipe. 

To make your pies extra special this year, I encourage you to make your crust and your whipped cream from scratch. Did I hear groans at the mention of homemade pie crust? I used to be among the ranks of those who cowered at the thought of making pie crust from scratch. I promise you that the recipe below is one that you will have success with. 

Grandma Norma's Pie Crust

An easy to work with no fail pie crust.

See Grandma Norma's Pie Crust on Key Ingredient.

You can make the crust now and freeze until you are ready to make the pies. Pies can be made a few days before Thanksgiving and stored in the refrigerator. 

To make real whipped cream, chill a small mixing bowl and your beaters in the refrigerator. Pour cold heavy whipping cream into the cold bowl, and begin beating at a low speed. (If you start out on high speed, you may end up with cream all over your kitchen.) As the cream begins to thicken turn the mixer up. Beat until stiff peaks form. Do not over beat, or you will get butter. When the cream is whipped fold in sugar to taste ( a tablespoon or so should do,) and vanilla, if desired. Whipped cream will only keep for an hour or so in the refrigerator before it begins to separate. It can be whipped again if this happens. 

Pumpkin pie is a must for Thanksgiving. Make it extra special with homemade crust and whipped cream.

More Made From Scratch Thanksgiving

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Carnival #85 - Fall Colors

It is a colorful carnival this week, full of crafts and wonderful fall recipes. Be sure to check them all out at Stop the Ride, but I will share a few of my favorites with you here. 

I love new pumpkin recipes, especially those that go beyond pie. The curry soup sounds wonderful!

I love the healthy and frugal combination that beans provide. I always am looking for new ways to cook them. This recipe with cilantro and garlic looks like a winner to me!

I'm going to harvest persimmons for the first time this year. I need some recipes! 

Enjoy the carnival!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Decorative Pumpkins

Bet you can't guess what the top secret stuffing is that fills these adorable pumpkins. Give up? Its toilet paper! That's right, there's a roll of toilet paper inside each of these. So simple to make, cute as a button and perfect for households with energetic children, these pumpkins will be a favorite in your home every fall!
Materials needed:
1 Roll of toilet paper (use the cheap stuff)
Fall print or solid fabric (quilting quarters-sometimes called "fat quarters" work very well and they are pre-cut!)
Quilt batting or poly-fill stuffing
Paper grocery bag
Jute Twine
Fake floral greenery
Hot glue gun

Step 1: Cut the grocery bag down each narrow side to open the bag up to one big sheet. Cut out a strip the length of the bag about 10 inches wide. Fold over about 3 inches down the length to give you a piece the length of the bag that's about 7 inches wide. Roll the strip into a 7 inch long stem and tape it to hold in place. Using your hot glue gun, begin wrapping the stem with twine, gluing it in place as you go.

Step 2: Cut a piece or two of greenery and, with hot glue, attach to the wrapped stem about 3 inches down from the top. Make sure the leaf end of the greenery is pointing toward the top of your stem. Set aside.

Step 3: Cut a piece of fabric to about 20X20 inches (or use your fat quarter) and lay it on the table with the printed side down. Stand your roll of toilet paper up in the center of the fabric.

Step 4: Add stuffing or batting around the roll until you reach the desired thickness (the two pictured above are stuffed to different thicknesses).

Step 5: Hold roll in place with one hand and begin pulling the fabric edges up and stuffing them inside the top of the roll with the other hand.

Step 6: Working quickly, apply hot glue to the stem below the greenery and push the stem into the top of the toilet paper roll (with the fabric still stuffed inside the hole). Hold in place until glue dries.

This is a great project for kids to help with, but be sure an adult does the hot gluing.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Homemade Stuffing

The Thanksgiving table simply is not complete with out a dish of steaming hot stuffing. Maybe you grew up on the stuff from the box that you make on the top of the stove, and it is fine for a camping trip, or a quick dinner. But for Thanksgiving? Call me a Thansgiving snob, but I want my stuffing made from scratch.

Stuffing (or perhaps you call it dressing) at its most basic level is simply moistened bread and spices mixed together and baked. Making a basic stuffing is good, but what makes a stuffing great is the little bits of meat or vegetables that you add in. Add in finely chopped onion, celery, carrot, or even apple. Add meat in the form of chopped giblets, oysters or shredded pieces of chicken or turkey. It is one of those dishes that you never quite make the same each time, but is always delicious. 

Amish Stuffing
First make your own broth - Use the the liver, gizzard, neck, and any other parts included with your turkey. Fill a medium pot with water, add the turkey parts, and boil for 15- 20 minutes until the meats are cooked through. Strain the broth. Cut the organ meat into small pieces. (This is optional, but it does add a lot of flavor to the stuffing.) You can get some meat from the neck, but we normally discard the neck. If you do not have giblets to use, use canned broth.

8 C dry bread cubes - I'm not sure why, but I always buy these (unseaseoned.) They could very easily be made from your own bread or from saved heels or stale bread
1/2 each grated carrots, finely chopped onion, and finely chopped celery
small tub of fresh oysters with their liquor, chop if the oysters are large 
1 TB poultry seasoning. You can use the premixed or mix your own using thyme, sage and even a bit of ginger is good.
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Mix all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, except for the broth. Add broth about a cup at time until the bread mixture is throughly soaked. Don't add too much liquid, just enough that the bread is saturated. Water or milk can be used if you need a bit more liquid. Extra broth can be used to make gravy.

Personally, I don't stuff the bird. I think the turkey stays more moist and has a better flavor if you fill the cavities with celery and onions. You can use the dressing to stuff the bird if you prefer. 

To cook the stuffing, grease a 9x13 pan. Put the stuffing mixture in the pan and bake at 350F until done to your liking, about 45 minutes to an hour.

It is hard to go wrong with homemade stuffing. It is easy to make, inexpensive and delicious. Give it a try!

A Made from Scratch Thanksgiving

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Make Your Own Ball and Cup Game

Old Fashioned games and toys never go out of style. The best toys are those that can stand the test of time and these ball and cup games are one of our favorites. Pre-made wood pieces from the craft store make them fast and easy to make by the handful. These are a wonderful holiday gift!


Pre-made wood cups (I used mini flower pots)

Wooden dowel rods

Wooden Ball Knobs that will fit inside the cups

Soft Polyester cord or string

Paint and spray sealer

Side cutters or hand saw

Paint brushes

Pencil sharpener
Wood glue

Staple gun

NOTE: When shopping for your wood pieces, look for cups with a hole in the bottom. If you can't find them, you will have to drill your own holes in the bottom. In either case, your dowel rod will need to fit tightly inside of the hole. Check your drill bit sizes or the cup's hole size to determine the size of dowel rod you will need.

Step 1: Cut the dowel rod to the desired size with side cutters or a small hand saw. Coat one end of the dowel rod with wood glue and insert it into the hole in the bottom of the cup. Let dry. Shape the other end of the dowel with a pencil sharpener. Do not sharpen to a point.

Step 2: Paint the ball knob and let dry. I usually go with 2 coats of paint. A great way to let it dry is to stick a toothpick into layers of a foam (break a foam plate in 3 pieces and layer them), then place the ball knob on top of the toothpick.

Step 3: Paint the cup/handle and let dry. Spray cup/handle and ball knob with sealer and let dry 24 hours.

Step 4: Cut a 8-12 inch long piece of cord. Push one end of the cord into the hole of the ball knob with a toothpick and fill the hole with wood glue. Let dry.

Step 5: Fold over about 1/2 inch of the loose end of the cord and using a staple gun, staple the folded end of the cord to the bottom of the cup. Folding the cord will give it more stability. You can also glue this end down after stapling.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Carnival #84

Apologies for the tardiness of the carnival this week. Here is an impromptu version of the carnival. Thanks for your patience.


Kelly from Almost Frugal presents Endive Gorgonzola Soup posted at Almost Frugal Food.

NerdMom presents Spinach and Sausage Egg Casserole posted at Nerd Family Food.

ChristineMM presents My Italian Tomato Salad Recipe posted at The Thinking Mother.

Kate @ A Simple Walk presents Menu Plan Monday - Week of 9/29 posted at A Simple Walk.

:: Suzanne :: presents Zucchini Loaves posted at :: adventures in daily living ::.

Abi presents lighter side - Green-Tomato Chutney posted at lighter side, saying, "Try this on your brats or hotdogs. OH so yummy!!"

NtJS presents Picked a Peck of Peppers posted at not the jet set, saying, "A little prep work today, enables our cooking tomorrow to be pepperlicious."

Rebecca Galla presents Broccoli Cheddar Soup posted at Nourishment for the Way, saying, "We've ordered Broccoli Cheddar Soup at Panera Bread so many times. This is my attempt to re-create it at home!"

axel presents The Healthy Salad posted at axel g.

Tomato Lady presents Homemade Pita Bread posted at Little House in the Suburbs, saying, "Thanks!"

Erica Burgan presents Homemade Sloppy Joes posted at The Sojourner.

SeaBirdChronicles presents Pumpkin bread in muffin form posted at SeaBird Chronicles, saying, "Pumpkin bread in muffin form!"

Kris presents Veggie Might: Low-Down Curried Root Soup posted at Cheap Healthy Good, saying, "Thanks for hosting!"

Sharee presents The secret of fabulous turkey gravy posted at A bit of flour.

Becca presents Pumpkin Butter posted at BrightHaven Times.


Stephanie presents Make Personalized Glasses posted at Stop the Ride!.

Heather presents Homemade Bookmarks posted at Make It From Scratch.

Annette Berlin presents Changing The Engine posted at Craft Salad, saying, "My husband took photos of many of his automobile repair projects. After a lot of thought, I decided to make a scrapbook page documenting one of the bigger projects."


Jocelyn @ A Pondering Heart presents Modest Make-Up? posted at A Pondering Heart.

Mary@SimplyForties presents Going Scratch posted at SimplyForties, saying, "I'm examining my life to see how I can "Go Scratch"."

vh presents Baby oil as cabinet cleaner posted at Funny about Money.

That concludes this edition. The next edition will be hosted at Stop the Ride! Submit your blog article to the next edition of make it from scratch! using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page. Hosts are need for November and December. Please email me makeitfromscratch at

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Calling for Hosts!

The carnival hosting schedule is looking a bit sparse! Would you be interested in hosting? Check the simple guidelines here. Hosting the carnival is fun and easy. Plus, you get first look at all the wonderfully creative submissions. It also brings a lot of traffic and link love to your way. Please email me at makeitfromscratch at to sign up!

And don't worry, I know it is Saturday, and you are expecting a fun and easy craft post from Heather. She is trying, but a little glitch, like the electricity being out, is making it quite difficult for her to get her post up. She will share her craftiness with us as soon as she can!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

I love cranberries. I like them dried. I like them in breads. I like cranberry juice, but that blob that pops out of the can and passes for cranberry sauce on the Thanksgiving table, I can do with out. I know some of you love that pre-made cranberry sauce in a can, but I challenge you to try making your own once. It is incredibly easy, and the flavor far exceeds the canned version.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Beats the stuff in a can any day!

See Homemade Cranberry Sauce on Key Ingredient.

This can be made several weeks ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Try a batch before Thanksgiving and see what you think. If you like it, you'll have one thing to mark off your list. If you don't like it, you can always go buy a can of sauce.

Header designed by Crystal. Thanks!