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A Social Media Team Potlucksgiving

Employee
Employee
Awkward conversation at Thanksgiving dinner is practically a national past-time.  Each of us has a loudmouthed, inappropriate, or otherwise controversial family member who makes Thanksgiving entertaining for half of us, and miserable for those who share a direct bloodline.  I'm probably that controversial family member (but I say this mostly to absolve myself of any potential scorn from the rest of my family).

Southwest's Social Media Team gets really into the holidays, and we like to make into reality the crazy ideas we think up.  So when it was suggested that we do a Potlucksgiving, off we went!  Not only did we get to measure each other's culinary excellence, but this occasion also enabled us to share not one, but two awkward Family dinners!  After all, we're all Family at Southwest.

And in the spirit of giving, we decided to tell you about what we made, and show you how to make it!

Oh, what's that?  You want me to start?  Why, I'm so glad you asked!

My recipe is for crab soup, and is actually borrowed from another holiday: Easter.  The first time I had crab soup was when my Aunt Linda made it after the kids scurried around the yard and house, searching for eggs (and okay, probably me, too).  It was delicious, and I clamored for the recipe... then quickly forgot about it.

Never fear, though.  At Christmas the following year, my Mom gave us all recipe books that included only recipes from our family.  I fiercely tore through the pages to find crab soup, and jumped for joy when I found that the recipe was included.  I became even more excited when I saw how easy the recipe was to make.  And without further ado, here it is in all its glory:

Ingredients:

1 medium-sized yellow onion
2 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of flour
1 can of tomato soup (or cream of tomato)
1 quart of half and half
1 pound lump crab meat (fresher the better!)
A few healthy shakes of Tony Cachere's cajun seasoning
1/4 cup of sherry
 
Directions:

1. Dice onion into small pieces that resemble the crab meat.

2. With the heat on high, melt butter in a big pan, gradually adding flour until cooked to a penny-colored coppery brown.
 
Crab Soup Onions

3. Once cooked thoroughly, turn down heat to medium and add can of tomato soup.
 
Tomatoes

4. Gradually add half and half, stirring frequently.
 
Half n Half

5. After washing hands, sift through crab meat to double-check for shells.

6. Add crab to soup, and immediately season with Tony Cachere's before crab has been fully mixed with soup.

Crab Soup
 
7. Add a 1/4 cup of sherry, for taste, and stir.
 
8. Let the soup cook for ten minutes, but closely monitor so it doesn't froth.  Let sit briefly, and serve.  Enjoy!
 
Final Product
 
Rob Hahn
Green Bean Casserole

When trying to think of my favorite original Thanksgiving recipe I hit a wall. From a young age, my family has always dined on the traditional Thanksgiving cornerstones—turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, and stuffing—no fried turkeys or extravagant fixings!  I asked my mom why she stuck with these simple dishes.  My mom explained that my dad and I were very picky eaters (that sure has changed for me) so she always kept Thanksgiving dinner simple.  One of my favorite dishes from our classic feast is green bean casserole with French fried onions on top (I’m sure most of you have probably had this recipe as it’s a staple for Thanksgiving).  Oh, and by the way, mom was happy to provide this picture of my stubbornness years ago at the Thanksgiving table!

Pumpkin Parfait

Ingredients:

1 (10 3/4 oz.) can cream of mushroom soup

3/4 cup milk

1/8 tsp. black pepper

2 (9 oz. each) pkgs. frozen cut green beans, thawed (or canned whole or French cut beans)

1 1/3 cups FRENCH'S® Original French Fried Onions

Directions:

Mix soup, milk and pepper in a 1 1/2 -qt. baking dish. Stir in beans and 2/3 cup French Fried Onions.

Bake at 350°F for 30 min. or until hot.

Stir. Top with remaining 2/3 cup onions. Bake 5 min. until onions are golden.

Nicole Rosenblum
Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole

The main focus of a traditional Thanksgiving meal is usually the turkey, but for me it’s all about the savory sides! As my family gathers each year for Thanksgiving, we have everyone choose a side or appetizer to make. As far back as I can remember my mother always picked the delicious sweet potato casserole to cook for our family meal. Several years ago she passed the cooking duties to me and I thought how can I jazz up this simple dish? By adding crushed corn flakes and pecans the sweet potato casserole has evolved. I LUV making the dish and putting down some new roots in our family tradition. 

Ingredients:

SWEET POTATO FILLING:

2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 5 medium-sized) 

2 tablespoons butter, softened 

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar 

1/2 cup non-fat milk

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Canola Oil cooking spray 

CORNFLAKE, PECAN, AND MARSHMALLOW TOPPING:

1 1/4 cups cornflakes cereal, crushed

1/4 cup chopped pecans 

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon melted butter

1 1/4 cups miniature marshmallows 

Directions:

1. Prepare filling: Preheat oven to 400°. Bake sweet potatoes on a baking sheet 1 hour or until tender. Reduce oven temperature to 350°. Let potatoes stand until cool to touch (about 20 minutes); peel and mash with a potato masher.

2. Beat mashed sweet potatoes, 2 Tbsp. softened butter, and next 5 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Spoon mixture into an 11- x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. 

Sweet Potato Casserole

3. Prepare topping: Stir together crushed cornflakes cereal and next 3 ingredients. Sprinkle over sweet potato mixture in diagonal rows 2 inches apart. 

Sweet Potato Casserole

4. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle miniature marshmallows in alternate rows between cornflake mixture, and bake 10 more minutes. 

Catherine Gantt
Spinach Balls

When I first moved out of the dorms, my mom sent me back to school with a collection of our family’s favorite recipes.  In addition to Grandma’s cream puffs (which any civilized person knows should be eaten while standing over the sink or near a hungry dog), she included the recipe for spinach balls—a recipe she received from her friend Nola (at whose wedding my mom met my dad).

Spinach balls have been a staple at every holiday meal.  Mom LUVs to entertain, and my three brothers and I grew up with our house full of friends and family devouring the appetizing appetizer.  Now that I have kids, I’ve found that spinach balls are a good way to sneak in some green (the benefits of which are likely at least somewhat cancelled out by the butter and stuffing...).

Ingredients:

2 pkgs frozen chopped spinach

3 cups herb-seasoned stuffing mix

1 lg. onion finely chopped

6 eggs well beaten

¾ cup melted butter

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

1 ½ tsp pepper

1 ½ tsp garlic salt

½ tsp thyme


Directions:

Cook spinach as directed. Drain well to remove excess moisture. Combine all ingredients.  Form into 1” diameter balls and place on baking sheet.

Bake at 325 for 15 to 20 mins.  Stuff your face.

Spinach Ball

Forming the balls—the icky stage at which you remind yourself how much you love your family and want them to enjoy their holiday.

Spinach Balls

Pre-baked goodness.

Spinach Balls

The final product.

Daniel Hernandez
Veggie Bars

Thanksgiving with my family is quite a production. As one would expect, everyone comes together for the largest meal of year. While the location may change from year to year, everyone in the family knows what they are required to bring for the feast. Funny story, one year our family ate at the local Boys and Girls Club because the family wanted to have a basketball tournament. It was made possible by an uncle had access to the building despite it being closed for the holidays. But back to the food, with seven aunts, and nine uncles, and quite a few cousins, we always have a nice variety of eats. For instance, one aunt brings potatoes every year, another makes a special version of Mac and Cheese, a uncle is responsible for two hams, and then the most trusted uncle of them all provides the "main turkey" that will compliment the other three. 

My recipe of choice, Veggie Bars, is an aunt's specialty. She makes them every year without fail, and the entire family only eats them during the holidays. Nevertheless, the real recipe has come to epitomize the holiday season for our family. They are not to be savored during any other time of the year! These bars have become synonymous with family, love, and joy for the entire family. They are a personal favorite of mine but I must remind you this is a rendition of the true top secret recipe that only her and her three daughters know. 

Ingredients:

3 Tubes of Crescent Rolls 

1/2 Cup of Purple Cabbage (chopped)

5 oz of Carrots (shredded)

1/2 Cup Broccoli Trees (shredded)

1/2 Cup Cauliflower Head (crumbled)

1 Bag of Hidden Valley Ranch Dip

16oz of Sour Cream

Directions:

1. Take crescent rolls and lay them flat on a cookie sheet. (Bake as indicated on packaging) 

2. Mix Hidden Valley Ranch Dip mix in 16oz of sour cream.

3. Spread Ranch mix on cooled crescent roll in cookie sheet

4. Spread a mixture of chopped veggies on top

*SERVE THE SAME DAY

Brooke Young
Rosemary Roasted Carrots

Carrots, you say? What’s so special about a recipe for roasted carrots? As a kid, this was always the dish that my mom put me in charge of when I would want to help her make Thanksgiving. I always asked if I could take on something really crucial to the Thanksgiving feast like the turkey or the mashed potatoes. Instead, my marching orders were always to roast the carrots. As the years went on and I started taking more responsibility and could actually reach the stove, the carrots still remained my domain. I tried new things every year and would try and perfect the time it took to get the perfect amount of softness in the oven. This is the masterpiece that emerged. So this Thanksgiving, feel free to let your kids get their hands dirty and take charge of the carrots!
 

Ingredients:

12-14 full sized carrots

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Pinch of sea salt

Generous amount of pepper

2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary

1 baking sheet

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare the carrots by cutting the tops and bottoms off and slicing them in half if they are large. Then cut them lengthwise so you have carrot halves. Lay the carrots on the baking sheet and drizzle the olive oil evenly over the sheet. Sprinkle salt and freshly ground pepper over the olive oil and mix everything with your hands or mixing utensils so that the carrots are evenly coated. Sprinkle the rosemary over the carrots. When the oven is ready, put the carrots on the top shelf for 35-40 minutes until golden and browned on the edges. Serve hot!


Gabe Briones
Broccoli, Cheese & Rice Casserole

 

Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to gather and share time together. It is a good time to reflect on the past and create memories for the future. One of my favorite memories is when my Mom taught me how to make one of her signature side dishes: broccoli cheese & rice casserole. It’s a quick, easy recipe that is guaranteed to have your family and friends wanting more! 


Broccoli, Cheese, and Rice Casserole

Ingredients:

1 package frozen broccoli

½ small onion, chopped                                                                

½ cup butter

½ cup cheese whiz

½ cup milk

1 can Campbell’s cream of chicken soup

1 ½ cup rice, cooked

Directions:

Melt butter in skillet and add onion and broccoli.  Sauté until the onion is transparent and the broccoli is thawed.  Add the soup, cheese whiz, and milk.  Cook until well blended.  Add cooked rice to mixture and pour into non-stick casserole dish.  Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Ashley Pettit
Pioneer Woman's Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes

The Pioneer Woman’s Creamy Mashed Potatoes are not for the faint of heart. They mean business. Seriously delicious business. I’ve been following the Pioneer Woman’s food blog for years now, and her recipes are always a crowd pleaser. Not only are they delicious, but the recipes contain a heaping helping of humor which makes them just as fun to make. Since stumbling upon this recipe for mashed potatoes, they’ve become a family tradition at my Thanksgiving table. And if I’m being honest, they’ve been known to make regular appearances at family dinners throughout the year.

Ingredients:

  • 5 pounds Russet Or Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • 3/4 cups Butter
  • 1 package (8 Oz.) Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 1/2 cup (to 3/4 Cups) Half-and-Half
  • 1/2 teaspoon (to 1 Teaspoon) Lawry's Seasoned Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (to 1 Teaspoon) Black Pepper

Directions:

Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. When they’re cooked through, the fork should easily slide into the potatoes with no resistance, and the potatoes should almost, but not totally, fall apart.

Drain the potatoes in a large colander. When the potatoes have finished draining, place them back into the dry pot and put the pot on the stove. Mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape, before adding in all the other ingredients.

Turn off the stove and add 1 ½ sticks of butter, an 8-ounce package of cream cheese and about ½ cup of half-and-half. Mash, mash, mash! Next, add about ½ teaspoon of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and ½ a teaspoon of black pepper.

Stir well and place in a medium-sized baking dish. Throw a few pats of butter over the top of the potatoes and place them in a 350-degree oven and heat until butter is melted and potatoes are warmed through.

Note: When making this dish a day or two in advance, take it out of the fridge about 2 to 3 hours before serving time. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes or until warmed through.

 

Verity Kugelmann
Orange Pound Cake

After leaving Japan with her American husband and  2-year-old twin daughters (my Mom and Aunt) and arriving in America after World War II, my maternal Grandmother's well-meaning mother-in-law advised her that, in order to assimilate and acculturate into American society, my Grandma should quickly learn the customs and traditions of America. Grandma was only too eager to please and be accepted by her husband's family.  Her desire to adapt to the ways of the West extended, especially, to learning to make traditional American dishes--and without any Eastern influences.  Cooking with soy sauce and sake was reserved for Japanese dishes only!  
     One particular dessert my Grandma loved to make was Orange Pound Cake.  She considered it a special dessert and baked it for special occasions.  My Grandfather would be sure to request it for Thanksgiving and Christmas every year.  Grandma would not buy the boxed cake mixes as she thought that the from-scratch-cakes had the best flavor, texture, and, more importantly, the essence of the one who made it.  Here is the cake that my Mom learned to make from watching her and passed down to me. Enjoy!
 
Ingredients & Directions:
  • 1 cup cake flour or all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 orange, juiced and zested (to yield 4 tablespoons juice, divided)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Thoroughly oil an 8x4-inch loaf pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine cake flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a second medium bowl, cream butter and sugar with mixer until soft, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add eggs and beat another 2 minutes.  Stir in 2 tablespoons orange juice, zest, and vanilla.  Stir in flour mixture.  Transfer batter to pan.  Smooth with a spatula and bake for 25-30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.
  4. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons orange juice and the orange liqueur in a small bowl.  Poke holes in top of the cake with a fork or a skewer and pour the liqueur mixture over the cake.  Allow to cool, then remove from pan.  Serve immediately, or wrap tightly until ready to serve.   ~~Serves 12

Christi McNeill
Pumpkin Parfait
 

Last year I bought these "tasting party" parfait glasses and spoons for Thanksgiving.  Turkey day rolled around and I realized these little suckers would be tricky to transport to Grandma's house! Handyman husband to the rescue!  Ryan cobbled me up a carrying tray for my cute desserts.  It's perfect and now makes it easy to transport to any party! I used a pumpkin mousse recipe from FoodNetwork.com.  The pumpkin parfaits are a sweet small treat and they were perfect for wrapping up our Social Media Team PotLucksGiving! 

Pumpkin Parfait

Pumpkin Parfait