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Let Thanksgiving be a happy time for you and your family

Tina Specht

Happy Thanksgiving!  This time of year is the most wonderful time of the year for me.  I have so much to be thankful for this year.  I was sitting on my back porch over the weekend just thinking of everything that has happened this year and what a year it has been.  I must add that I am still in awe that this year flew by so fast.  Wasn’t it just February a couple of weeks ago?

This time of year each year makes me happy in one breath and sad at times in another.  This time of the year is when I get to cook all my family’s favorite foods.  We sit around and watch football and play games.  That is such a blessing just having everyone around.  

The other part is I am from a big family and I miss when we all use to get together for the holidays: grandma, grandpa, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  There is food for days and lots of laughter filling the rooms.  

There are card games going on, kids outside playing hide-in-go-seek, tag, or riding snowmobiles.  Those were the good ole days. 

Now that I have moved far away from everyone, we don’t have all that.  Life happens and you have to make new memories and move on.  

Black Friday is one of my favorite times of the year.  I don’t need anything but to be out in all that craziness is fun to me.  I have to say I am not a fan that most everyone is opening up on Thursday.  We need one day with family and to sit around filling our bellies, being grateful and looking through the ad papers to see what we can’t live without.  

The fun was waking up at 4 a.m. and going to get a Starbucks and get our fun started.  So I will still do the same this year.  There is nothing worth staying up all night for.  

One other thing that I have been thinking about lately is all the families that are not talking to one another.  For one reason or another, they haven’t talked to in a while — maybe even for years.  Do you even know why you are not talking anymore?  Yea, that is what I thought.  You don’t.  It is time to draw a line in the sand and move on.  You be the one to say I am sorry and make-up.  Life is short.  And these days even shorter.  You don’t know when you are going to take your last breath.  Love hard and give grace where grace is needed.  Remember we all fall short and God has given you much grace through your life.  

Turkey Shepherd’s Pie

INGREDIENTS

2 ½ cups cooked turkey or chicken, diced or shredded into chunks

½ cup diced onion

1 clove garlic minced

2 cups diced cooked or frozen vegetables peas, carrots, corn, green beans

1 ½ cups gravy more or less as needed, you can also *make your own

¼ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Salt to taste

2 cups mashed potatoes

1 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese divided

Fresh minced parsley optional, for garnish

Gravy

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups chicken broth

INSTRUCTIONS

If necessary, start by making your own gravy and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 1 quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil. Add onions and cook until translucent, stirring often; 4-5 minutes. Stir in frozen vegetables, minced garlic, salt, pepper and thyme. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

Add the turkey and gravy and stir until coated, then cook until heated through. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish and press into an even layer.

Heat mashed potatoes to lukewarm and spreadable. Stir in half of the shredded cheese, then spread the potatoes over the turkey mixture in the casserole dish. Top with remaining shredded cheese.

Bake in the 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until top is golden and sides are bubbly. For a more browned top, flip on the broiler during the last 5 minutes.

Garnish with fresh minced parsley and serve warm.

Gravy

To make your own gravy, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking often, until golden in color. Pour in chicken broth and bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, whisking occasionally; about 5-7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.