Thankful, from the Progress Times

It goes without saying that this Thanksgiving holiday may look different, depending on your situation.

You may be setting up to gather via Zoom or other video call services (though, Zoom has announced there will be no time limit all day for any users wishing to spend their Thanksgiving socially-distant). You may be adjusting your meal preparation, or reevaluating how the immediate family is going to congregate safely.

You may be missing a person at the table you weren’t expecting to miss. For those families, we at the Progress Times extend our deepest condolences and best wishes in the holiday season ahead.

The Progress Times staff is fortunate to have spent countless Thanksgivings surrounded by loved ones, enjoying delicious food and good company. Featured in this article are recipes or ordering instructions for some of our favorite Thanksgiving dishes, as well as a bit about our traditions.

The Hearty Staple

For Dee Rendon, publisher, owner and editor at the Progress Times, Thanksgiving has always been a time she looked forward to growing up. She said the holiday allows her the opportunity to visit with family she doesn’t see on a regular basis, and time to reflect on her life and pursue future opportunities to share the gifts of service, friendship, kindness and compassion. 

“Thanksgiving is a time filled with honored traditions – a day when we can put aside our differences and come together to give thanks for the many blessings bestowed upon us,” Dee said. “Given all the tragedies that have taken place over the years, especially this one, it is now more important than ever to take time to appreciate the most important things in life: each other.” 

Dee’s recipe of choice is a broccoli rice casserole.

Broccoli Rice Casserole (Serves 4)

65 min. total; prep 20 min. Cook for 45 min.

Ingredients

·         1 tablespoon butter

·         1/4 to 1/2 cup onion (finely chopped)

·         1 (10 1/2-ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup

·         2/3 cup Cheez Whiz (or 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese)

·         1 cup rice (cooked)

·         1 (10-ounce) package broccoli (frozen, cooked, and drained)

·         1/4 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground)

         Directions

  1.   Gather the ingredients. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C or Gas Mark 4).
  2.   Butter a 1- to 1 1/2-quart baking dish.
  3.   In a skillet or sauté pan over medium-low heat, sauté the onion in butter until it becomes translucent.
  4.   Add the cream of mushroom soup and the Cheez Whiz or cheddar. Continue cooking, stirring, until the sauce is smooth and the cheese has melted.
  5.   In a large bowl, combine the hot cooked rice and cooked broccoli with the cheese sauce and freshly ground black pepper. Gently stir to combine. 
  6.   Spoon the broccoli mixture into the prepared baking dish.
  7.   Bake the casserole for about 20 to 25 minutes or until thoroughly heated and bubbly around the edges.

The Anticipated Vacation

Carlos Reyna, Progress Times graphic designer, usually takes advantage of the long weekend Thanksgiving offers. His family doesn’t usually celebrate the holiday other than enjoying the days off.

Typically, Carlos will go shopping around at the flea market in the morning and eat some menudo there. In the afternoon, he and his family will go to Luby’s for turkey and get ready to watch the Cowboys play from the comfort of his home.

“Then later at night, I would usually go to a dance to have some fun, or maybe watch a Netflix movie,” Carlos said. “It’s like having two Saturdays in a row – I think Thanksgiving is my favorite of all in the year.”

The Traditional Treat

For Maria Smith, our Progress Times administrator, Thanksgiving is a reminder to be thankful for the family she was raised in. Being half white and half hispanic meant Thanksgiving blended both sides of her family together.

Maria has strong memories of her father teaching her Hispanic mother what recipes to make and how to prepare a turkey – and of course noticed when she in turn added her own Mexican flavor.

“She said she had never celebrated or made a Thanksgiving meal until she met my dad, and now she can whip up a full Thanksgiving meal all by herself,” Maria said. “For me, every bite of every dish is their love coming together – on this day my two worlds are blended just perfectly.”

Maria’s recipe of choice is pumpkin pie, a classic Thanksgiving dessert.

Pumpkin Pie

         Ingredients

  •         1 (15 ounce) can of pumpkin
  •         1 (14 ounce) can EAGLE BRAND® Sweetened Condensed Milk
  •         2 large eggs
  •         1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •         ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  •         1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  •         1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  •         ½ teaspoon salt
  •         1 (9 inch) deep unbaked pie crust

         Directions

  1.   Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
  2.   Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth
  3.   Brush an egg wash on the crust and then pour mixture into crust and bake for 15 minutes.
  4.   Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted 1 inch from the crust comes out clean. 
  5.   Cool. 
  6.   Garnish as desired. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator.

The Thoughtful Reflection

Manuel “Kido” Rendon, Progress Times graphic designer, is not picky and is thankful for whatever his family decides to make on Thanksgiving. He is thankful for his health, even though “it is always a work in progress.” 

Kido is grateful to be able to support his family, to learn from past mistakes and said without his wife of 23 years, he does not know where he would now be. For him, laughter is needed in order to avoid feeling down and depressed – and not being so serious all the time and being able to laugh at himself has been instrumental in the creative process of making music. 

“Music has always been a part of my escape, and I truly don’t know what I would do without the happiness it brings me,” Kido said. “I have many things to be thankful for every day, but most of all I am thankful for love. Without love, the world would not be the same. Say it to your family and friends while we are still here. Things can change in a blink of an eye. Stay safe and Happy Thanksgiving!”

The Go-To Classic

Jose De Leon III, one of the Progress Times reporters, said despite the cliché his favorite part about Thanksgiving is the food.

“There’s nothing better than eating a delicious meal cooked by someone special while surrounded by people that are equally important, be they family or friends, and it truly makes the Thanksgiving meals so much more special,” Jose said. “Sadly, we won’t be having that sense of community this holiday season due to a potential surge in COVID-19 cases, but in keeping that communal spirit I am sharing one of my favorite recipes.”

Jose’s recipe of choice is his mother’s macaroni and cheese.

Mom’s Velveeta Mac & Cheese

         Ingredients

  •         7 cups of water
  •         Chicken Stock
  •         Pasta
  •         ½ pound of Velveeta Cheese
  •         1 can of Rico’s Gourmet Nacho Cheese Sauce
  •         Butter
  •         3 slices of American cheese

         Directions

  1.   Start by boiling the water and adding 1 teaspoon of chicken stock. 
  2.   Afterward, add your pasta of choice. My mom goes with traditional elbow macaroni while I go with Cavatappi pasta. Go wild on what pasta you want.
  3.   Stir the pasta in the boiling water then drain the water but save ¼ cup of the pasta water.

Cheese sauce

  1.   In a blender, get your pasta water and mix ½ teaspoon of chicken stock, 1/2 of a pound of Velveeta cheese cut into cubes, ½ cup of the nacho cheese sauce, ½ cup of butter, and for taste, three slices of American cheese.
  2.   Blend that sucker until it’s a golden liquid
  3.   Fold it into the drained pasta and enjoy!

The Tamale Tradition

Jamie Treviño, one of the Progress Times reporters, finds Thanksgiving to usually be a holiday of heavy preparation and an even better payoff. 

From an incredibly large family (with her Mom’s side in Peñitas and her father’s in Edinburg), there is always a lot to be done.

“We’re usually visiting my mom’s family during the day, then head over to my dad’s for the evening,” Jamie said. “Being surrounded by so much love – and an inordinate amount of food – really puts my privilege into perspective, and I am reminded to be thankful for the circumstances of my life.”

Her recipe of choice would normally be her mom’s broccoli cheese rice casserole, but she felt it redundant considering Dee beat her to the submission. She will instead recommend ordering a dozen (or two or three) of Delia’s tamales – a Thanksgiving staple on both sides of her family, as well as a lot of the Rio Grande Valley.

How to order Delia’s (not sponsored)

Delia’s – which specializes in tamales – recommends ordering for the holidays ahead of time because of how hectic the day-of can be. They are often limited and will run out. 

Call one of their six Valley locations (in McAllen, Mission, Edinburg, San Juan, Pharr) and ask about orders. They also usually have drive-thrus, though I would anticipate a line, and have also opened their doors for take-out orders.

My favorite tamales from Delia’s include the spicy chicken and cheese, pork, and the bean and cheese tamales. For an added kick, don’t forget the salsa.

 

Leave a Comment