Simply Sandra: The Dearborn Agency Thanksgiving

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In honor of the day, I thought it would be fun to share some of the ideas our staff either makes or loves to eat for Thanksgiving, including recipes where I could get them.

Cathy Blevins: Deep Fried Brined Turkey

She is trying a big adventure for her turkey this year. She is DEEP FRYING her turkey, but first she is using this amazing Brine recipe:


13 cups of water

½ cup salt

8 Tbsp sugar

2 lemons cut and squeezed

1 tangerine and it’s zest

8 cloves garlic

3 red chili peppers cut in half without their seeds

1.5 cinnamon sticks

1 bunch rosemary

1 bunch sage

Cool brine with 4 cups of ice

*Cathy is adding ½ a bottle of apple juice

She’s going to leave this in the Brine bucket (a five gallon pail from home depot) for a few days and then use her turkey fryer.

Cathy Blevins Red Skin Baby Potato Salad (Using “Nature Seasoning” by Morton Salt)

1 lb bacon

Green Onions

Cook one 5 pound bag of redskin potatoes with their skins on (if really small leave whole, if not cut in half)

Season water and potatoes with Nature Seasoning

Cut up bacon, cook crisp and drain on paper towel.

Add salad dressing (about 3 heaping tbsps.)

Add about 1/2 tub sour cream

Add more Nature Seasoning

Add bacon and green onions.

Kelly Smith’s Pineapple Fluff

12 ounce package fresh cranberries

1 cup granulated sugar

8 ounce can crushed pineapple , undrained

2 cups mini marshmallows

4 ounces cream cheese , softened

2 cups heavy whipping cream

Kristen Juracek: Strawberry Cheesecake Lush


1 package Golden Oreos (36 cookies)

6 tablespoons butter, melted

8 ounces softened cream cheese

1 cup powdered sugar

1 (16-ounce) container Cool Whip, divided

2 packages (3.4 ounce each) instant cheesecake pudding mix

3 cups milk

3½ cups sliced strawberries


  1. Crush the entire package of Oreos. A food processor would work great for this – I don’t have one, so I just placed my cookies in a gallon sized Ziplock bag and crushed them with a rolling pin. When the cookies are fine crumbs, transfer them to a large bowl and mix in 6 tablespoons of melted butter. Press the cookie mixture into a 9×13 pan and refrigerate while you prepare the remaining layers.
  2. Next, beat together 1 cup of powdered sugar, the cream cheese, and 1 cup of Cool Whip. Spread over your cookie layer.
  3. For the next layer, mix together the pudding mix, milk, and another 1 cup of Cool Whip. Spread over the cream cheese layer.
  4. Layer the sliced strawberries on top, and spread the remaining Cool Whip on top.
  5. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Cathy Blevins: Grape Salad


  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese softened (see notes)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 pounds red seedless grapes chilled (about 10 cups)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped


  1. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla.
  2. Carefully fold in the grapes and gently toss until evenly coated. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix brown sugar and walnuts.
  3. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture on top of the grapes. Cover and chill at least 1 hour or overnight. Serve cold.

Recipe Notes

  1. If the cream cheese is not softened to room temperature, the cream cheese and sour cream won’t combine well (the mixture will be lumpy). If this happens, stir it quickly with a whisk.

A few others:

Sandra Czak wants to eat a Classic Green Bean Casserole, but wants to add fresh mushrooms and crispy bacon and use fresh green beans instead of canned.

Danielle Klebba makes an amazing Cauliflower Au Gratin… recipe upon request!

The best Macaroni and Cheese? Ethan is eating his mom’s famous Macaroni and Cheese (among other things)… she once made it for an agency potluck and it was so good we polished off the whole sheet pan in 2 hours flat!

Ashley Holthus makes a to-die-for Banana Pudding.

Jessica Juracek doctors up a bag of Pepperidge Farms Herb Seasoned Stuffing with her on vegetables and seasonings to make it extra special.

Debbie Morabito boasts of her mom’s “Hamburger stuffing,” intriguing!

Thus the great stuffing vs. dressing debate of 2018 ensued. Ethan and Kristen still aren’t speaking.

Heather Bruinsma loves Oriental Coleslaw, but sadly her sister Debbie Morabito says she is only cooking “traditional dishes”… don’t worry Heather, I will make you some!

Or you could be really over zealous and prepare an entire weeks menu like our sales manager Wendy Beever.

What are your favorites? Also is it Stuffing or Dressing???