Thanksgiving Recipes: 3 Family Dressing Favorites

Posted by Catherine Seiberling Pond on November 17, 2023

Kentucky farmwife Catherine S. Pond shares three Thanksgiving recipe favorites for Turkey "Jam", Jalapeno-Orange Cranberry Sauce and Catherine's Farmhouse Thanksgiving Stuffing/Dressing.


Our Thanksgiving Day menu is always traditional, with a few new additions each year, depending on who and how many are joining us, but here are three standards you simply must try.

Henry's Turkey "Jam"

When my eldest son Henry was little, and we were still living in New Hampshire, he asked me if he could make “jam” for the turkey: "It's really easy, Mumma. You just take fruit and a cup of sugar and water, and it's done in ten minutes".

I realized he was describing the easy, foolproof and incredibly delicious recipe for cranberry sauce on the side of the fresh cranberry bags.

So, we had a quick lull in the morning, and within ten minutes, Henry had the 'jam' simmering on the stove. 

This is much better and more colorful than "cranberry” — which can't be replaced on the holiday table. It’s just nice to have a homemade alternative.


  • 1 bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly-grated orange rind

You can also add pinches of cinnamon, cardamom or pumpkin pie spice — even a bit of vanilla — if you want to make it your own.


  1. Mix sugar and water and stir over heat. Bring to a boil. 
  2. Add berries and bring to another low boil. 
  3. Add orange rind and turn down to a simmer for ten minutes until berries pop and the mixture thickens. Take off the stove. 

The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Serve cold or at room temperature. Makes about 3 cups. 

One year at a “Friendsgiving,” two of our good friends brought this delicious raw cranberry sauce adapted from a recipe in The New York Times. It pairs equally well with a turkey sandwich.

Jalapeño-Orange Cranberry Sauce

This sauce is a more modern take on the old standby. However, the texture, spice and bold flavors have earned it a place at our traditional Thanksgiving table.


  • 1 orange
  • 1 cup whole, fresh cranberries
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (I like to add about a tablespoon of chopped crystallized ginger)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons seeded and chopped jalapeno pepper
  • Maple Syrup to taste (about 1 ½ Tablespoons)


  1. Grate the zest from the orange and set aside. Remove the white pith and seeds and cut the orange into sections.
  2. Place the zest, orange sections, cranberries, ginger, cilantro and jalapeno in a food processor. Pulse just until cranberries are coarsely chopped. Stir in maple syrup. 
  3. Cover and let stand for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Jalepeno sauce

Catherine's Farmhouse Thanksgiving Stuffing (c. 1985)

In almost forty years, and for three generations now, my turkey dressing has become a family favorite. I came up with this when home from college one Thanksgiving break, and it has had minimal tweaks through the years.

I first assembled it with various ingredients we had on hand and additions I wanted to try. Whenever I make it, the stuffing reminds me of long-ago Thanksgivings in New Hampshire and how my visiting father especially loved it on the few times he joined us from Ohio.

This will easily stuff an 18-25-pound bird quite nicely, with plenty of leftovers — and some to freeze for roast chicken later throughout the winter. The added fruity sweetness pairs well with the spicy sausage and the nuttiness of the chestnuts. You can also make this gluten-free with gluten-free bread or stuffing mix.


  • 2-4 bags of favorite stuffing mix (I like to include at least one that is cornmeal-based)
  • 1-2 loaves shredded up stale bread (or you can do this a few days before and leave it in a bowl on top of the fridge to dry — if not, use 4 bags of stuffing)
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1 very large sweet onion (or 2 large), chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons minced garlic (fresh or jarred)
  • 5 scallions, chopped fine
  • 1 large bunch of celery, chopped (including leafy bits)
  • 1-1.5 pounds of sweet Italian sausage (links or ground)
  • 1-1.5 pounds of hot Italian sausage
  • 2 cans of sliced water chestnuts (packed in water) — you can also use real chestnuts, chopped
  • 4 Granny Smith apples (or other crisp/tart apples that won't mush upon cooking, like Winesaps)
  • 1 bag of fresh cranberries
  • 1 can of whole cranberry sauce
  • 1 large bunch parsley, chopped fine
  • 1 small bunch fresh sage, chopped fine
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 quarts liquid (I combine chicken stock with apple cider and sometimes a bit of red wine)


You will need one very large bowl to make this and a big skillet.

Two days before cube up fresh or stale bread or shred it and place it in a large bowl, uncovered.

The evening before you roast the bird  (or very early in the morning):

  1. Add two bags of stuffing mix to the prepared bread in the bowl.
  2. In a large skillet, in the two sticks of melted butter, sauté the onion, garlic, scallions and celery together until translucent and nicely brown (but not overly so). Set aside.
  3. Chop water chestnuts and Granny Smith apples (small but not diced). Add to large skillet with vegetable mixture and lightly sauté. Add a bag of cranberries and cook on low until they pop.
  4.  In another skillet, crumble and brown both kinds of Italian sausage. Drain and set aside.
  5. Chop parsley and sage until fine. Add part to each of the above skillet mixtures and toss. Sprinkle, also, with kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste.
  6. To the large bread bowl, add all of the above skillets. Toss with clean hands or large spoons.
  7. To the tossed and combined mixture, add 1 can of cranberry sauce (this can be homemade but make sure you use whole berry sauce) and gradually add the 2 quarts liquid, combining as you go. You may not need all two quarts (reserve any unused for your gravy).
  8. Make sure you taste and adjust liquids or seasonings! (You will have everyone trying to eat this before you get it in the bird.)
  9. Stuff your bird right before roasting and/or set aside a dish to bake for the table and reserve some for leftovers or freezer containers! There will be plenty of extra!


Looking For More Thanksgiving and Holiday Recipes?

Check out the following articles, and have a happy Thanksgiving!

From City Slicker to Self Sufficient eGuide


Catherine Seiberling Pond

Catherine Seiberling Pond writes about home, place, and rural life from her Kentucky ridge farm where her family moved from New England in 2008. She is also marketing coordinator (remote and on site) for the National Willa Cather Center in Red Cloud, Nebraska and says the combination of vocations and locales is the best of all rural worlds. Find more at CatherinePond.com.

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