As a part of the New Beginnings' program, we participate in family traditions including having a group meal over the holidays. Everyone brings a homemade dish to pass for the entire group - as we all know, WELS people love their potlucks! This provides an excellent opportunity for the mothers at New Beginnings to learn new cooking skills, as well as try new dishes.
We were so excited about the dishes made this year, that we would like to share them with you.
The main event - WHat's Thanksgiving without turkey?
Our Executive Director, Brianne Hansen, has made the turkey for our Thanksgiving Dinner for 2 years. I suppose it is tradition now. We usually have about 15 people at our Thanksgiving Dinner, and a 15 pound turkey is just about perfect!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the zest and juice of the lemon and 1 teaspoon of thyme leaves to the butter mixture. Set aside.
Take the giblets out of the turkey and wash the turkey inside and out. Pat dry. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the turkey cavity. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, halved lemon, shallots, and the garlic. Brush the outside of the turkey with the butter mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place pieces of butter in the turkey cavity.
Roast the turkey about 2 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Take the turkey out of the oven and let rest for 20 minutes.
Slice the turkey and serve.
the necessary (and delicious) sides
Okay, so let's be honest. Thanksgiving isn't all about the turkey - it's about the bird's friends! Here are some outstanding recipes made by our staff and residents that will leave your guests wanting more.
The terrific part about these recipes is that not only are they the traditional, and completely necessary sides for any Thanksgiving celebration, they are also HOMEMADE completely from scratch! Even the cream of mushroom soup in the green bean casserole was created - no need for canned soup here, people.
Are you dying for the recipes? After tasting these dishes, I know I was! For your tasting pleasure, I have included them below:
green bean casserole
Our Resident Supervisor, Eden Ehlers, created this green bean casserole recipe from scratch. Boy, was it worth it!
Baked "Fried" Onions
Green Bean Casserole
Our Program Manager, Karen O'Leary, made cranberry sauce this year. As we know, cranberry sauce is a hallmark Thanksgiving day side, and ....it is one of my favorites!
In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the orange juice. Stir in the cranberries and cook until the cranberries start to pop (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and place sauce in a bowl. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools
THE BEST DRESSING...EVER
When I say the best...ever, I mean it. This dressing is the best...EVER! Our Outreach Manager, Christina Pritzlaff, made a recipe for dressing that was passed down by her mother. Hopefully it was not meant to be a family secret because we have to spread this love around!
Follow the directions on the bag for preparing the stuffing. Add the chicken broth to the bacon and sausage grease to make the full amount required for the stuffing mix. We are just substituting some of the broth with the grease. Cook the fresh veggies in a pan with the butter and add it to the stuffing mixture.
More tasty sides!
CREAMY MAC & CHEESE
One of our mothers, Shaneka, made a classic Southern macaroni and cheese dish! It was one of our favorites. Shaneka always does an outstanding job making dishes for group dinners!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9"x13" dish. Boil macaroni until tender (about 12 minutes) and drain. In a large bowl, combine the macaroni, cheese, milk, and eggs. Add salt and pepper. Transfer to prepared dish. Bake until golden and bubbly, abut 30 minutes.
Savory garlic mash
One of our mothers, Kim, made crockpot garlic mashed potatoes! Who knew that you could make mashed potatoes in the crockpot? They tasted great!
Spray inside of slow cooker with cooking spray. Add potatoes, thyme, garlic, butter, and chicken broth. Cover and cook for 5 hours on high. Add heavy cream and use a hand mixer to blend the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
What we have all been waiting for...dessert!
Thanksgiving is simply not the same without a stunning dessert! Peach cobbler is not only beautiful, but delicious too.
Melt butter in 9"x13" pan. Mix together flour, sugar, and milk. Pour mixture into plan. Spread peaches (including syrup) around the pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes, until crust turns golden brown.
See below our chefs!
During our Thursday evening group sessions at New Beginnings, we explore a variety of topics to expand our residents’ life skills. These sessions have been presented by staff, a local church or community member, or a Wisconsin Lutheran College student. We have learned about fire safety from a Milwaukee Fire Department firefighter, self-breast exams and women’s health from a senior WLC nursing student, how to submit a FAFSA form and scholarship essays from TEAM UP Milwaukee, discussed religious topics with a WLC campus pastor, held game nights and much more!
On a beautiful evening in June, we held a group session outside our home to beautify the landscaping and learn a little about gardening. At the time, we only had one resident, who had never planted anything before. She learned a lot that night and I think she might have even liked it a little bit. She helped plant geraniums and impatiens to add some color, and we also planted bell peppers, tomatoes, basil seeds and cilantro to enjoy later in the season.
After a summer of faithfully watering our plants and giving them lots of love, we had a bountiful harvest of basil and tomatoes. The peppers and cilantro did not do as well, but we are still learning!
As our tomatoes ripened and we watched as our basil leaves got bigger and bigger, we knew it was time to do something with all of it. We were very thankful for our amazing crop, but didn’t want to see it go to waste. We were able to make use of our earlier planting efforts for another educational group session: How to Use Basil. If you haven’t used basil for much before, there are countless possibilities! You can dry it to use throughout the winter months in pasta, dressings, sauces, soups, and more. You can make and freeze pesto to thaw later and enjoy on sandwiches or pasta. You can make Margherita pizza, caprese salad, fruit salads, flavor your water, basil-infused olive oil, basil butter, and the list goes on… Okay, so maybe there aren’t a “basil-ion” ways to use basil as the title suggests, but I would reckon at least 100!
Drying the basil was a new process for most of us, but it went fast with five sets of hands working on it! It made me look forward to the day when my girls are all old enough that I can set up an assembly line at home to do this – it would go much faster than me doing it by myself!
After drying, bunching, and hanging the basil in our kitchen, our bruschetta was ready. We scooped it up onto some warm toast and indulged. It always tastes better when it’s homegrown, right? Everyone enjoyed this fresh, tasty treat and we hope that the residents are now confident to make it on their own sometime.
Our hanging basil is getting nice and dry now and will be ready to crush in a couple days. I think some empty baby food jars will be the perfect containers to hold the basil for each resident to enjoy in the coming months.
Growing your own herbs and vegetables is a truly rewarding experience, and we look forward to doing it again next year. Maybe then we can try the other 98 ways to use basil! We hope you are able to enjoy our bruschetta recipe and method of drying basil. We want to know: What’s your favorite way to use basil? Please tell us and we might try out your recipe next!
Beth Shiels is married to her husband, Zach, and together they have three charismatic daughters, with a fourth baby arriving in December. Beth splits her time between staying at home with her children, working at New Beginnings, and assisting in Zach's chiropractic clinic. She loves this crazy busy life Gods has blessed her with and is thankful to have the opportunity to share His love with the moms and babies at New Beginnings.
(Recipe adapted from tasteofhome.com)
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 4 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
* 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
* 4 T. olive oil, divided
* 3-4 T. fresh basil, chopped
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon pepper
* 14 slices French bread (3/4 inch thick)
** In a small skillet, heat 2 T. olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and fry about one minute, just until lightly browned.
** In a large bowl, combine the garlic, tomatoes, onion, 2 T. olive oil, basil, salt and pepper. Let stand for 20-30 minutes.
** Drizzle French bread slices with olive oil; sprinkle lightly with additional salt and pepper. Broil in oven for about 1-2 minutes until lightly browned – watch carefully!
** Spoon about 2 tablespoons of bruschetta onto each piece of toast.
Yield: 14 servings.
Drying Fresh Basil
(Method from preservingyourharvest.com)
1. Gather your basil harvest in the morning hours after the sun has dried away the dew of the night. Cut approximately 1/4” down the stem on each leaf.
2. Gather the sprigs into loose bundles and secure the stems with rubber bands to assure that the bundles stay together as they dry.
3. Hang upside down in a warm, dry place such as an attic or porch until the leaves are brittle to the touch, approximately 2 weeks.
5. Gather the dried bundles and place on a sheet of wax paper.
6. Crumble the dried leaves and separate out all of the tough stems onto the wax paper.
7. Store in an air tight container in the pantry for use in cooking.
These air tight jars can be stored in a dry, dark place such as your pantry or cupboard, or even your freezer, with proper care.
Dried basil can be used in sauces, gravies, dressings and many other recipes that require fresh basil.
A Resident's Perspective
Life At New Beginnings