While holidays usually come fully equipped with all of the standard, traditional fare, special dietary requirements sometimes send us in search of new options. This year, I came across this awesome sweet potato option that is really easy, healthy and looks absolutely festive on the table. This comes from another site called OneHotOven.com


1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled
1 apple (I used a Gala)
1 cup cranberries
2 TBSP olive oil
1/3 cup real maple syrup
1 TSP cinnamon
1 TSP dried sage leaves
1/2 TSP kosher salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the peeled sweet potatoes in half and slice into 1/4 inch half moon shapes. Add to a large bowl.

Cut the apple into quarters, removing the core and seeds. No need to peel. Add to the bowl with the sweet potatoes.

Mix in the remaining ingredients. Place the mixture into an 8 x 8 baking dish, trying not to overcrowd so that the potatoes roast evenly.

Roast the sweet potatoes for about 45 minutes, stirring several times during the bake process, or until the potatoes and apples are tender.

Thanksgiving is over and, no matter how much you tried not to, you cooked too much and have leftovers packing your refrigerator. How can you approach your own personal version of “Chopped” and transform those leftovers into something that looks new and appealing?

My experiment this year was to marry my Thanksgiving leftovers with my regular approach to a Shepherd’s Pie. I used my leftover dressing, some chopped turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes. I added a package of frozen green peas and carrots to the party and VOILA! This is a very inexact recipe and is really more a sharing of an idea rather than a “follow every ingredient and step” version.


Leftover dressing/stuffing, enough to crumble and cover the bottom of a deep dish pie plate
2 cups chopped turkey
2 cups gravy
1 package frozen peas and carrots, thawed
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
additional salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups leftover mashed potatoes


Break the leftover dressing into pieces and press into the bottom and on the sides of a deep dish pie plate.

Mix together the turkey, peas and carrots, gravy, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Pour on top of the dressing “crust.”

Reheat the mashed potatoes so they are spreadable. Spread on top of the turkey mixture.

Place the pie plate on a sheet pan and place in a 350 degree oven. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until hot and bubbling.

Vary the amount of the ingredients as needed to create this dish. I ended up having a bit too much filling, so I advise you to put your pie plate on a sheet pan to catch any overflow.


This is a beautiful addition to many of our holiday meals. My Mom always makes it and serves it in a gorgeous cut glass bowl she bought many years ago at the Reform, MO, General Store. She said she originally got the recipe from my Aunt Pat, and as it is with great recipes, enjoyed it so much she started making it for her own family. I recall it was one of my Dad’s favorites.

It’s easy, tasty and makes a pretty presentation. What more do you need from a perfect holiday dish?


2, 3 ounce boxes strawberry Jello (Mom always uses sugar-free), dissolved in 1 1/2 cups hot water
1 can jellied cranberry sauce, mashed up in the Jello
1, 20 ounce can crushed pineapple, including the juice (Mom uses pineapple in its own juice)
1 cup seedless red grapes cut in half
Chopped nuts, optional (Mom never uses nuts)


Mix together and place in a decorative bowl. Chill several hours before serving.

Recipe note: My Mom ALWAYS “squishes up the cranberry sauce with her hands.” She says it makes a big difference in the texture.

This is a great side dish. My grandchildren have discovered this is even more incredible when they spread it on a Grandma Croy Butterhorn Roll. It’s the best from both great-grandmas in one bite!


There are certain things I’ve made so many times and are such a part of everyday life here that I’ve ceased to think of them as “recipes.” They’re sort of standard things you do in the kitchen like peeling potatoes or doing the dishes. Making sausage gravy is one of those things.

This is probably the most requested breakfast item among my children and my grandchildren – oh, and add my husband to that list. Gravy sounds like such a simple thing, but I can tell you that gravy was my nemesis in my younger years. It was always too thick and pasty or too thin and watery. Now that I’ve gotten my ingredient amounts sorted out, it’s not that hard.

This gravy goes perfectly with my Cloud Biscuits.


1 pound good quality pork sausage
1/3 cup flour
3 cups milk
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper


Brown the sausage in the pan, breaking it up into smaller pieces. The sausage should render sufficient fat for making the gravy, but if you don’t visibly see a tablespoon or two on the bottom of your pan, you can add a bit of bacon fat. Add the flour to the pan and stir to coat all the pieces of sausage. Let the flour cook for a minute or two and break down into a nice light brown roux. Add the milk and stir to incorporate. Season with some salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally until the gravy thickens.

Things you need to know about gravy: the amount of flour you use may not “look” like it’s enough, but, it thickens the liquid. Add too much and you’ll have paste. Also, the amount of salt and pepper you add is a matter of taste and also dependent on how heavily seasoned the sausage you’re using.


This is, by far, the most requested dish by all family members at Thanksgiving. In our family, we serve a traditional Southern cornbread dressing as a side, not a stuffing made with the turkey. The base is made with cornbread and toasted white bread along with veggies and seasonings.

This recipe is an easy one to scale up or down, depending on the size group you’re expecting. This recipe makes a 9 x 13 pan.


2 boxes Jiffy cornbread mix, prepared and baked per box instructions
About 16 pieces of toasted white bread
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 eggs
1 cup milk
3 cups chicken broth or turkey broth
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon salt


In an extra large mixing bowl, break up the cornbread into crumbs. Add in the toasted bread, tearing into small pieces (about the size of a quarter). Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the celery and onions, “sweating” the vegetables until they begin to soften. Remove from heat and cool. Add to the bread .

Beat together the 2 eggs and the 1 cup of milk. Add to the bread mixture along with the poultry seasoning and the salt. Add in the chicken broth starting with about half the broth and mixing, add more broth until all the bread pieces are well moistened. Depending on the consistency you want, you may add a little more or less broth.

Bake at 350 degrees in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish for 45 – 50 minutes or until top is golden brown.

This dish can be made the day before and kept covered in the refrigerator until time to bake. I recommend bringing it to room temperature before putting in the oven.


There are certain things that are an integral part of a holiday meal in our family. And, although this Thanksgiving will be a little smaller and a lot different because of COVID-19, some things will remain as constant reminders of what’s important.

When I married into the Croy family, my mother-in-law made sure I knew that these rolls were special. When we went home to visit the family in Colorado, these rolls were served in our honor. When they came to Missouri to visit us, Mom Croy would bake dozens in advance of the visit and bring them with her. And, they are served at every holiday meal in our home.

My husband loves these rolls and I, unfortunately, didn’t have the knack or the passion for making homemade yeast breads. Before his Mom passed away, he spent time in her kitchen with her learning how to make this cherished family recipe. Now, these are known as Papa Croy rolls because my husband makes them for his children and grandchildren at every holiday. There have been times he’s made as many as 96 for our clan gathering. This year, we settled on 2 batches.

Family food traditions are important and naming those recipes for the people who made them for us with love is a great way of remembering them when they’re no longer here to celebrate with us.


1 envelope active dry yeast
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup milk, lukewarm
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 cups flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 eggs


Using a stand mixer with a bread paddle:

Mix together the yeast and the 1 tablespoon sugar. Add the milk. (Make sure to check the temp is not over 100 degrees or you will kill the yeast – lukewarm is all you need). Add the remaining sugar, butter, eggs, salt and flour. Make a dough stiff enough to knead. (Important note: the weather and the ingredients make a big difference when determining how much flour you will need to make a stiff dough. Start by adding three cups and gradually add more as needed.)

Let dough rise for 2 hours in a warm place. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough again and then divide in half. Roll each half out into a circle as you would for a pie crust. The dough will be very elastic and you’ll need to work with it to roll it out into a circle. Cut each circle into 8 wedges using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife. Starting at the wide end, roll toward the pointed end into a crescent shaped roll. Place rolls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Brush the rolls with melted butter when you remove them from the oven.

My husband uses bread flour with a higher gluten content for these rolls, but you can also use all-purpose flour. The rolls freeze well. Let cool completely and place in freezer bags.


I’m working on lightening up meals these days. I adore shrimp scampi, love pasta, but knew that I had to find a way to enjoy some of those flavors while watching the fats and carbs. This is my version of a shrimp and garlic pasta that satisfies those cravings, but also keeps me on the better side of healthy.


1 pound whole wheat spaghetti, cooked in salted water until al dente
1 pound shrimp (raw, peeled, deveined and tails removed)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 small green pepper, cored and thinly sliced
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cup white mushrooms, sliced
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons cornstarch
juice from 1/2 lemon
2-3 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Cook whole wheat spaghetti in a large pot of salted water until just done.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil. When oil is heated, add the shrimp to the pan. Salt to taste and sprinkle with cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just pink. Remove from pan and keep warm.

In the same pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the onion, green pepper and mushrooms. When they begin to soften, add the garlic and stir for another 1-2 minutes. Mix together the chicken broth and corn starch and add to the pan with the vegetables. Stir until the sauce begins to thicken. Drain the spaghetti, reserving some of the pasta water. Add the spaghetti to the sauce. Add the shrimp and toss to mix. If the sauce is a little thick, add a little pasta water until it is the consistency to coat the pasta. Add the lemon juice and parsley and mix well.

Serve and enjoy!

The amounts of salt, garlic and cayenne are according to my tastes. If you like less spice, alter the amounts to suit your preferences.


The battle lines are drawn. Will it be the dressing/stuffing? Or, will it be the green bean casserole? Everyone has their favorite must-have Thanksgiving side dishes that have become nearly as important as the traditional turkey. Here’s your opportunity to share your favorite along with any stories about who prepared it and why you love it. I’ll start…

IT’S THE DRESSING. Hands down, my favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. I still make the dressing I learned to make from my Mom, although I’ve made a few tweaks here and there. I’ll be sharing that recipe later on so watch for it! For most of my childhood I thought all dressing was the same. But, there is a whole wide world of options and a big difference between dressing and stuffing. We never stuffed the bird. The cornbread dressing, full of onion, celery and seasonings, was baked on the side.

I still limit this to a once a year offering so that it remains a treasured “treat” during the holidays. What’s YOUR favorite Thanksgiving side? Maybe this year I’ll be inspired to branch out and try something new!

I had you at Cajun Shrimp, didn’t I? Who doesn’t love a nice spicy helping of shrimp on top of smooth, creamy and cheesy grits, with a little jalapeno chaser? I looked at a lot of different Shrimp and Grits recipes before putting together something that suited our tastes. This is another super easy dish, suitable for a weeknight and can be made spicy or not, your choice based on the spices you choose to use.


For the grits:

3 cups water
1 cup stone ground grits, long cooking variety
a dash salt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1-2 tablespoons diced jalapeno (I use the jarred variety)

For the shrimp:

12 oz. package of frozen, peeled and deveined raw shrimp
4 slices bacon, diced
3 scallions, finely sliced
1/2 red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Cajun Seasoning (add more according to your taste)


For the grits:

Place the 3 cups water, dash salt and grits in a saucepan and bring to a slow boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 25 -30 minutes, stirring often. When the grits are cooked and smooth, add the milk, butter, garlic powder and jalapeno. Stir and cook for an additional 5 minutes to allow the milk and butter to incorporate into the grits. Add the shredded cheese and stir until cheese has melted and the grits are smooth and creamy. Turn off heat and keep warm while preparing the shrimp.

For the shrimp:

Thaw the frozen shrimp in a colander under cool water until completely thawed. Drain.

Place a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is done, but not yet crisp. Add butter and allow to melt. Add the onions and the red bell pepper. Cook until softened. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Add the thawed and drained shrimp the the skillet and sprinkle with the Cajun Seasoning. Adjust the seasoning according to your taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp is pink and just done. Don’t overcook.

To serve, place a few spoons of grits in a bowl and top with the shrimp mixture.

Adjust the seasonings according to your taste. Just remember that when preparing the shrimp that you’re serving it atop JALAPENO cheese grits. It’s easier to add more spice, but difficult to remove if you’ve added too much at the beginning. I suggest when taste testing you try some of the shrimp with the grits to get a true sense of how spicy it is.


This is my go-to recipe when I want something spicy, easy, and guaranteed to open up my sinuses! Made with ingredients I usually have on hand, it’s easy to put together and makes a wonderful weeknight meal for people in a hurry, especially if you do a little prep on the weekends. It also freezes well!


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, finely diced (optional)
6 cups chicken broth
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 14.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn OR 1 14.5-ounce can corn, rinsed and drained
3 chicken bones, skinless chicken breasts
1 packet taco seasoning
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup shredded Monterey jack or cheddar jack cheese
Sour cream and tortilla chips for garnish


In a large heavy bottomed dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for a couple of minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and the jalapenos, if using, and cook for another minutes. Don’t saute for too long or the garlic may become bitter.

Add the chicken broth, Rotel, beans, corn and taco seasoning to the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Add your chicken breasts, cooking for about 20-25 minutes until cooked through and tender. Once the chicken is cooked, removed from the pot and dice or shred into bite sized pieces and return it to the pot. Add the cilantro.

Just before serving, add the cheese and stir until melted throughout. Dip into bowls and serve with a dollop of sour cream and tortilla chips or Fritos on the side.

NOTE: If planning to freeze, don’t add the cheese to the whole pot. Stir it into individual portions of soup instead or on the side as a garnish.

Want to make this even easier? Cook and dice chicken on the weekend and just add it to the soup and heat through. I usually cook chicken in large batches and portion out diced pieces to use in recipes later. You can even pick up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store for this purpose.