One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving. I look forward to wearing stretchy pants, drinking wine and eating a lot of food all day long. Every family has their traditions and below is one of ours along with a recipe for our family’s favorite Thanksgiving side dish (Cajun Macaroni & Cheese). You may want to fill your glass before you read further because I’m sure that what I’m about to share with you is a tradition that will likely outdo any tradition you’ve ever heard of.
Growing up in my dysfunctional family, as we call ourselves, Thanksgiving was a time when we all got together, drank, ate, drank and ate more. My father was in charge of the turkey while my mother prepared all the sides, which were a lot! Nineteen vegetables later, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, biscuits and gravy; and don’t forget the creamed corn and pearl onions. The entire meal was served on my mother’s china, laid on top of a paper Thanksgiving tablecloth.
There’s a reason it was paper. I will get to that.
My parents planned Thanksgiving dinner for 2:00 in the afternoon every year. For as long as I have been alive, we NEVER ate at 2. Now remember, my father was in charge of the turkey. After it was done baking he would let the turkey set for hours on end to rest. He insisted it ‘needed to redeem its juices’. All the while , about 5,000 times, my mother would yell, “Will you cut the turkey?” His usual reply? “After this beer.”
Finally, dinner was served (at 5:30!), only 3 hours late. Once the turkey was cut we all sat down around this huge table and gave Thanks while someone was always chuckling because they’d had too many drinks.
It was worth the wait and craziness we encountered all afternoon. Laughing and eating, just having a grand old time as we enjoyed our wonderful food. Then we were done.
Next came the dreaded cleanup.
Once the dishes were removed from the table, the paper Thanksgiving tablecloth was all that remained. What was next is something we called a tradition but probably isn’t something a normal family does, hence the dysfunction. We ripped the tablecloth and proceeded to chuck balls of paper and leftover pieces of food on the table at each other until nothing was left. I can’t count the number of time I got hit in the forehead with a ball of mashed potatoes wrapped in paper.
So there you have it folks, a dysfunctional family dinner tradition.
We all know the center of most Thanksgiving dinners is The Turkey. I certainly enjoy eating a scrumptious and juicy bird. I tend to start thinking about Thanksgiving turkey in August. The side dishes served with The Bird are also a highlight for me. One of our family’s all-time favorite side dishes is, Hubby’s Cajun Macaroni and Cheese. This isn’t your everyday Macaroni and Cheese. Three different cheeses, bacon and spices that will bring the south to your table.
It’s cheesy, bubbly goodness that we only get once a year. That’s right, only once a year. As Thanksgiving gets closer my kids are already asking if Dad is making his famous mac and cheese. As I roll my eyes and say yes, I’m thinking too about the cheesy goodness.
With a little smooth talking, I convinced him to give us his recipe. I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Cheers!
- 1 16oz Elbow Macaroni
- 6 tbsp. Butter
- 6 tbsp. Flour
- 2 tbsp. Ground Mustard
- 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
- 1 tsp. Smoked Paprika
- 4 cups Milk
- 2 Cups Cheddar Cheese Shredded
- 2 cups of Parmesan Shredded
- 2 Monterey Jack Shredded
- Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
- Dash of Hot Sauce
- 1 package of Hormel Fresh Bacon Pieces
- Preheat oven 400 degrees.
- Cook Elbows in a large saucepan as directed.
- Rinse under cold water and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium heat.
- Add Flour and seasonings and cook while stirring for 2 minutes until well blended
- Slowly stir in milk until smooth.
- Add hot sauce and continue stirring until the sauce has thickened
- Add cheese and stir until blended.
- Remove from heat.
- Add macaroni to cheese sauce and blend together
- Pour into a greased 13x9 baking dish
- Top with Panko breadcrumbs, bacon and smoked paprika.
- Bake for 45 minutes until brown and bubbly.
- Let stand for 5 minutes prior to serving.