Sunday, November 21, 2010


This is a picture of the first Thanksgiving meal I hosted five years ago.  I knew a food passion was brewing when the menu planning brought on a giddy rush and when I began to truly believe that the quantity of dishes had a direct correlation with the level of enjoyment.  More just had to mean better. 

So I know Thanksgiving is supposed to be about family, and yeah, it is always fabulous to get everyone together.  But to me, the first feeling I have when I anticipate this holiday is a rumbling in my tummy for the warm and savory flavors of this feast.  The turkey is clearly the star, and there are lots of ways to brine/rub/roast/fry/smoke a bird to perfection.  I shouldn't provide advice here though, as this has become a husband thing over the years.  I don't pout about being relegated to the side dishes though, because I love little more than the pile of gravy covered stuffing I look forward to each year.  So thus begins a sampling of my favorite side recipes....

Sage, Sausage and Apple Dressing - This is completely gorgeous as is, but I do typically omit the walnuts because of babies, allergies or aversions. 

Homemade Gravy - I mean, this is insane.  I also love that it can be made in advance. 

Sweet Potato Casserole - courtesy of my friend Jess:
Boil 5-6 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed for 20 minutes or until tender.  Drain and mash.  Add these ingredients to the potatoes:  1/2 cup sugar, 4 Tbsp room temperature unsalted butter, 2 room temperature eggs, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 cup room temperature milk.  Stir to combine and spread into a casserole dish.  Top with a mixture of the following: 1 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1 stick unsalted butter, 1/2 cup chopped pecans.  Bake for 35 minutes at 350; in the last five minutes of cooking, add (lots of) mini marshmallows on top!

Wayne's Cranberry Sauce - I am crazy about cranberry sauce.  I think many think about it as just "eh".  I, on the other hand, just love it and am thrilled to have it with leftovers for days and days.  For this recipe, I omit the walnuts and raisins, because they're just not my thing in cranberry sauce.   I add drained, crushed pineapple for texture and sweetness as well.

While most people are about to pop with discomfort by the meal's conclusion and prefer to retreat to the couch for some digestion prior to dessert, I am one that simply cannot wait to dive into a smorgasbord of sweets.  I find it a bit of a challenge to narrow down the options in this glorious category to a reasonable number that can feasibly be prepared and served fresh.  These three recipes are my faves:

Pecan Pie with Cream Cheese Crust -  This could be the best pecan pie I've ever had (though I seriously love my friend Kate's chocolate bourbon pecan pie).  Please note that this recipe needs to be made the same day to enjoy the optimum level of delicious goo.  Bonus: the crust is amazing, but also simple and forgiving.

Pumpkin Roll - My family can't get enough of this classic.  I am not certain as to the original source of this recipe, but my Mother-in-Law has made it for years and was kind enough to pass it along to me.  I increase the cream cheese quantity just a tad, because the innards are what makes it awesome.   

Grease and flour wax paper on a 10x13 rimmed cookie sheet.  Mix the following ingredients with an electric mixer and spread onto the wax paper: 

2/3 cup pumpkin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda

Bake at 350 degrees for 13 minutes.  Turn onto a dish cloth dusted with confectioner sugar.  Remove wax paper.  Roll till cool.  Unroll and spread filling - made of the following ingredients, beaten well - evenly all the way to the sides:

2 Tbsp softened butter
8 oz room temperature cream cheese
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar

Roll....refrigerate....slice and serve.

Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart - I don't want to offend at all here, but I personally find pumpkin pie boring and not altogether worth the calories.  Thank you to my BF Ina for this lovely deviation.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!


Courtney said...

okay, can we be invited to Thanksgiving the next time you host? Love, The Bassetts

Christy said...

Us too! We're totally coming to you next time. :) I love all these recipes and am going to have to do some comparing to my old traditionals for some adjustments. I might send you a turkey recipe I recently found to get your opinion.

Kate said...

Beautiful!! Hope you had a good one in FL!

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