Thanksgiving with Patrizia

Looking back at your younger years, do you have a few specific childhood memories that really stand out? Sometimes they were big trips and amazing adventures, and sometimes those childhood memories were of the small day to day things that you did with your family.  Either way, memories formed are big, bold, and beautiful, well at least many of them are and we all have them, days that we will never forget and are etched in our memory! I took the best of my Italian upbringing and let go of the not-so-best, like the wooden spoon and added new practices and creations to my life along the way. It’s about being who you are, and editing out what does not work anymore, and adding what does. It’s creating the life you desire! Being Italian and growing up in a noisy, spirited home, where I would often have to race to use the one bathroom in the house or having to make deals with my siblings in order to watch the show I wanted, on the one television we had – has made me the woman I am today. One who loves life, loves food, loves to celebrate, loves people, loves entertaining, loves making people feel cared about and special, and loves the journey. We are always celebrating and love all the reasons that bring us together. It is my favorite holiday, it is virtually stress free and there are no gift exchanges, it is simply a celebration which involves a huge meal shared at home with family and friends. Turkey is the main course, along with stuffing, vegetables, potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, bread, and there is always pumpkin pie. My family celebrates this day and has maintained the tradition, while also adding a few Italian touches. Here, are some of my personal thought-bursts into my Italian upbringing that I am so thankful for and which impacted the exciting and robust life I live today; Weddings that put Hollywood to shame; dozens of people you call “Aunt” and Uncle who aren’t really related; HUNDREDS of people you call “Aunt and “Uncle who are; pastries every weekend; cousins you did not know you had; spaghetti served in giant dishes bigger than you thought existed; meatballs as big as your head; a mom who thinks about what she’ll make for dinner as she’s making breakfast; big words you don’t understand as a kid, and some you wish you didn’t; garlic and oregano on everything; a house full of loud “company” all talking at once with everyone catching every word; being interrupted and never even realizing it; 200 people who have your back if anyone ever messed with you; little kids who play “bakery” way more than they play doctor or house; anisette and demitasse in those tiny cups after dinner; only REAL butter and the finest cheeses; Italian bread as a staple; ravioli and braciola were practical staples; kids who can drink wine at a meal; kids who can have an espresso; big people who have to pinch your cheek; uncles who give you a dollar for looking nice or for being a Good Kid new Easter outfits for the girls complete with Spring coat, pretty dress, and patent leather shoes & purse; friends who want to come to your house ” cause it’s fun & never boring“; friends who don’t want to come to your house “cause it’s so loud; clean the house day, so “No-one go anywhere”; “clean the yard day” so everybody hides; parents who cuss; kids who cuss when their parents can’t hear; emotions showing up everywhere; bragging to your peeps that your relatives are “in the mob”; mom in her housedress; homemade bread baking in the oven; home-grown tomatoes; homemade pizza;  Lots of family, friends, and big italian love. Thanksgiving stuffing is the best stuffing I’ve ever had, the only stuffing I’ve ever had. It’s simple yet flavorful and brings back good memories. If you would like to be a bit untraditional this year and shake things up, you can try these stuffed Cornish Hens. These are perfect if you only have a few people for dinner and everyone can have their own hen. I hope you like this recipe just as much as I do.
Ingredients:
8 chopped celery ribs, 2 medium chopped onions, 6 divided tablespoons of butter, 2 drained cans mushrooms stems and pieces, 3 cups large bread crumbs, 1 liter of chicken broth, 4 Cornish hens, 24 ounces each, salt, and pepper.
Preparation for Stuffing: First melt the butter and sauté the chopped celery until soft. Add the chopped onion and the chopped mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until onions are translucent and veggies have softened. Add large breadcrumbs to your pot and combine with the vegetable mixture. Add more butter and season with more salt and pepper. Add the chicken broth to soften the bread and to evenly coat the mixture. Mixing everything together very well. Sprinkle the inside and outside of the game hens with salt and pepper. Stuff the hens with the bread mixture. Place on a rack in a greased shallow pan; cover with foil.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove the foil. Melt the remaining butter; brush over the hens. Bake 25-35 minutes longer or until the juices run clear and a meat thermometer read 180 degrees for the hens and 165 degrees for the stuffing.
Wishing you all joy of a happy family and my best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving!

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