The setting was elegant - black tablecloths, fresh flowers, candles, the works. There were baskets of fresh fruit in the center of each table. The guests were invited to eat the fruit and then the baskets were refilled and sent home with the guests.
Once everyone arrived, we served up a meal fit for a king. (or queen) Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole, cranberries and rolls. For dessert - pumpkin and pecan pie delighted the guests.
After the meal, the families were invited outside where we filled their hands with all sorts of "goodies" to take home. Each child that attended the feast was presented with a shoebox full of toys and gifts.
I have participated in Operation Shoebox for many years but I have never witnessed a child receiving their gifts. It was a remarkable experience. Even the smallest gift brought so much joy and happiness to their faces. I humbly stood and watched as these beautiful children received their gifts. I stood nearby and watched as one particularly sweet boy opened his box which contained a small football. It was a nerf football, the kind you commonly find at a dollar store, but to him - it was a priceless treasure. This boy could not have been happier about his present. He ran and played with that ball until it was time for him to leave - and even then he refused to put it back in the box - he wanted to carry it home. It didn't take an expensive or extravagant gift to make this child happy - a dollar store toy filled his heart with joy.
My heart overflowed with joy as I stood watching these children receive their gifts with such happiness. It was a good reminder for me, especially this time of year, to stop and reflect on the blessings that I have been given. The things in my life that I cherish the most are not expensive or extravagant and yet I often take those things for granted. I think that I was far more blessed by the gift giving than the children who received the presents.
I'm sure that you are not up for preparing another Thanksgiving meal already but Saturday's dinner had me thinking about turkey and dressing again. I wanted to share this recipe with you just in case you have leftover turkey and you're getting tired of turkey sandwiches.
Turkey and Dressing Casserole
4 cups cubed cooked turkey 8 ounces sour cream
8 ounces sausage, cooked ½ cup milk
½ cup onion, chopped 1 pkg cornbread stuffing mix
½ cup celery, chopped ¼ cup butter, melted
½ teaspoon pepper ¼ cup chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup 1 ½ cup cheddar cheese
½ teaspoon sage
The key to putting together a casserole is to have all of your ingredients prepped and ready.
Combine turkey, sausage, sage, ¼ c. onion, ¼ c. celery and ¼ t. pepper.
Combine soup, sour cream and milk.
Stir into turkey mixture. Spoon into a 9x13 dish.
Combine stuffing mix, butter, chicken broth, onion, celery and pepper. Stir in cheese.
Spoon over turkey mixture.
Bake 45-50 minutes at 350 or cover it and refrigerate it up to 24 hours.
If you prefer to freeze it, wrap the casserole in foil, label it and write cooking instruction on the foil. Put it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
I don't have a picture of the cooked casserole because I put it together and put it in my freezer. I think my family is getting a little tired of turkey and the beauty of casseroles is that they're freezable. My family is not super thrilled about most casseroles but they have always liked this one. It's easy to put together and it's delicious.