Holiday dinners must include familiar favorites

It was a great Thanksgiving over here on the farm. It’s been 48 hours since my family gathered at my mom’s dining room table and I’m still full.

We promised to keep it small this year, but to our surprise, we still managed to crowd in a few Yingst traditional favorites at Thanksgiving — except for turkey.

I may be alone in this but I don’t really like my birds with beards. Every year I walk through the Miami County Fair’s poultry barn and I’m astounded by the increasing numbers of kids who bring turkey projects. Turkeys are kind of cool to look at — from afar. But up close (I’m sorry) the Tom turkeys freak me out a little.

Maybe I’m scarred from the time I was chased by a turkey when I was visiting a friend’s farm. Turkeys may seem like slow, docile animals, but this one flew at me and would not stop until I hopped a fence for safety.

I haven’t been a fan of the bird since.

They have those mean beady eyes. That fleshy thingy from their forehead (called a snood) that looks like slime oozing from its brain. Their dewlap, that fleshy skin around their throat makes me sorta nervous in more ways than one. I want to get it cosmetic surgery to tighten that all up in there. That poor bird has more skin flapping than a senior citizen swim class.

Oh sure, turkey has a great marketing campaign. They somehow roped in thousands of preschool teachers to entice their adorable students to trace their hands to make those adorable famous turkey feathers. The keepsake has wreaked havoc on parental hearts everywhere to keep the turkey tradition alive.

Our family is not a huge fan of turkey. Oh, I’ll eat it — if someone else makes it. I like turkey in the form of deli sandwiches — pre-sliced by professionals. I just wasn’t up to the challenge of making my first-ever roasted turkey, so I offered to make another main dish.

While I’m glad we aren’t stuck on having a traditional Butterball at our family dinners, it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving unless a few main dishes were there.

My mom’s deviled eggs are key. They are heaven on the half-shell. I think I’ve mastered this one. Another favorite is my Norma Jean’s cranberry salad. We have it once or twice a year and it adds quite a bit of color among the gravy and the mashed potatoes.

This year I cornered Mr. Obvious to make something to bring to our Thanksgiving. I first gave him a slight panic attack when I asked him what he was bringing to dinner. I quickly whipped out a few cans and a stick of butter and put him to work on making corn casserole.

My dear friends, if you still claim you cannot cook or make a dish to bring to the table, don’t fear. God made corn casserole with your soul in mind. You cannot screw it up.

Mr. Obvious’s Corn Casserole

One can of cream corn. One can of corn with diced peppers, a stick of butter and a box of cornbread mix. One cup of sour cream. Pour it all together. Stir. Pour in a casserole dish. Bake at 350 for an hour. Boom. Done. You can thank me later.

So instead of traditional turkey, I asked my mom if I could make a new chicken recipe I got from my dear friend and neighbor Lisa Kendall-Maxson. It’s been so popular via social media among my friends, someone renamed it “Chicken Crack.”

It’s also super easy so I’ll share it with you all in the spirit of the holidays in case your turkey dries out or if you are tired of ham.

Lisa’s Chicken Crack

Two sleeves of Ritz crackers crushed. One can of cream of chicken soup. One cup of sour cream. One stick of unsalted butter. Boneless chicken breasts.

Melt butter in a casserole dish. Pour 3/4 of crackers on the bottom to make a crust. Combine soup and sour cream. Coat chicken in the soup mixture and place it in the dish. Cover with remaining crackers. Bake at 350 for one hour.

Boom. Done.

Both of these recipes were at hit at my house that there were no leftovers. And I didn’t have to do dishes. Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News. A stick of butter and condensed cream of everything soup makes it all better. Trust me.

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News. A stick of butter and condensed cream of everything soup makes it all better. Trust me.