Thanksgiving Favorites: Cornbread, Popcorn Balls & Pumpkin Pie

Popcorn balls recipe In the season of “all things cooking”, when the lights in the kitchen burn from early morning well into the late evening, we celebrate the harvest of Thanksgiving with some very basic and traditional recipes, including three variations of corn bread.

As found in The Blackberry Farm Cookbook, John Egerton writes in Southern Food: At Home, on the Road, in History, “A properly prepared dish of spoon bread can be taken as testimony to the perfectibility of humankind; a crisp corn bread, dodger, or hoecake, on the other hand, demonstrates another kind of perfection, an enduring strength that has not been improved upon in four centuries of service to hungry people.”

Skillet Corn Bread (taken from The Blackberry Farm Cookbook)

2 tbsp. lard, bacon fat, or vegetable oil
3 cups stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1 & 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 & 1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 &1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 large eggs, room temp. and lightly beaten
3 cups buttermillk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the lard in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet and put it into the oven to heat up. Pull it out just before it starts to smoke. It is very important to get the cat-iron skillet very hot before pouring in the batter.

In medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the eggs and buttermilk and whisk just until combined. Immediately remove the hot skillet from the one and gently swirl it to coat the bottom with the hot lard. Pour the cornmeal batter into the skillet; the hot lard will sizzle around the edges of the batter.

Bake the corn bread for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F and continue to bake the corn bread for another 15 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Turn the corn bread out of the skillet, cut into wedges, and serve hot.

Corn Muffins

From a favorite Kindergarten teacher who was also a great cook. This is a very basic tried and true recipe that is easy to make and is always satisfying served warm with butter, honey or jam.

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg, room temp.
1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 4 tablespoons) butter, melted
1 cup milk

Healthy corn muffin recipe

Melt butter and add egg and stir until thoroughly combined. Mix together all dry ingredients and add to egg/butter mixture. Add milk and stir until evenly combined. Pour in muffin tins or glass baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees F for 12-15 minutes.

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread (taken from Barefoot Contessa cookbook, At Home)

This recipe for cornbread is a meal by itself and is good served warm with raspberry or strawberry jam or with butter and honey.

3 cups flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (yellow or white cheddar is fine)
1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts, plus extra for garnish
3 tbsp. seeded and minced fresh jalapeño peppers (2 to 3 peppers)

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don’t over mix. Mix in 2 cups of the grated cheddar, the scallions, and jalapeños, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Pour into greased 9x13x2-inch baking pan and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Popcorn Balls (taken from Martha Stewart’s Christmas, 1989; pictured above)

We have made these buttery moist popcorn balls every year for Thanksgiving since 1989. They have to be kept out of sight until Thanksgiving otherwise they slowly disappear!

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butterThanksgiving dessert recipes
1 10-ounce bag marshmallows
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3 quarts popped popcorn

In a large heavy pot, melt the butter over low heat. Add the marshmallows and brown sugar and stir until melted. Remove from heat.

Place the corn in a large bowl and pour on the marshmallow mixture; toss well. Butter your hands and shape the corn into balls of whatever size you desire. Set on wax paper to dry.

We always double the recipe and end up with approximately 15-20 medium-sized balls depending on how big or small you make them. It is important to mix the warm marshmallow mixture into the popcorn quickly before it begins to stick. We found it is best to butter the bowl before putting the popped corn in to help prevent the mixture from sticking to the sides of the bowl. Also: make sure to KEEP YOUR HANDS BUTTERED as you form the balls.

Pumpkin Maple Pie (adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine, 1989)

In addition to my mother’s pumpkin pie recipe, this recipe has been a family and guest favorite at the Thanksgiving table.

See here for recipes for pie crust.

Ingredients for the filling:
2 cups canned solid pack pumpkin
1 & 1/4 cups whipping cream
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 large eggs, room temp.
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves

easy pumpkin pie recipe

Mix all ingredients in large bowl. Pour filling into prepared crust. Bake at 365-375 degrees F for approximately 50-60 minutes until center of pie no longer moves when pan is shaken.

2 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Favorites: Cornbread, Popcorn Balls & Pumpkin Pie

  • November 19, 2015 at 12:25 am

    One of my favorites are the Popcorn Balls!

    • November 19, 2015 at 1:09 pm

      They’re hard to resist!


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