Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I want to know - What's your jellied cranberry sauce? My mom served jellied cranberry sauce, straight out of the can, alongside the turkey and stuffing every year. I'm not sure how this tradition every started but no one ever questioned the presence of that jellied mass that maintained the shape and ridges of its original container. As far as I can recall, no one ever commented on how delicious it was or how it had the perfect "jiggle." That jellied cranberry sauce was expected to be on our Thanksgiving table just as much as the turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes.
When, I got married and took over the responsibilities of making my own Thanksgiving meal, I didn't see the point in buying the jellied cranberry sauce in a can. I never really ate it anyway so I opted for a fresh cranberry sauce instead. In an unexpected plot twist, I really missed that strange, can-shaped jelly cranberry sauce when it was absent from the Thanksgiving table. Maybe it was the strange sucking sound that it makes when it releases from the can, or maybe it's just because I had never celebrated Thanksgiving without it, but our holiday meal just wasn't the same without it.
I truly believe that every family has a jellied cranberry sauce. What is yours? What is that food that mysteriously appears on your Thanksgiving table every year without question or invitation? Tell me about those odd Thanksgiving dishes that make your meal unique.
If you're on the hook for preparing the Thanksgiving turkey for your family this year - never fear - I'm here to help. 🦃 My first piece of advice is to try out your turkey recipe on a chicken first. Roasting a test chicken is a great way to try out a new turkey recipe and test your oven. It can take less than an hour to roast a chicken and it's a great way to work out the kinks before the big day. This Spice Cabinet Roast Chicken would make a GREAT Thanksgiving turkey recipe. 😉 Double the ingredients for the spice rub and increase the cooking time and you're ready to make a DELICIOUS Thanksgiving turkey.
Spice Cabinet Roast Chicken
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon pepper
1 whole chicken
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Serve sauce with chicken.
I'm happy to report that my Thanksgiving practice meal was DELICIOUS! Apparently, I can use all the meat carving practice I can get before I try and cut our Thanksgiving bird. 😂
Everyone has a favorite dish that makes or breaks a Thanksgiving meal. One year, I tried to replace the traditional bowl of mashed potatoes with an "Amy" version of twice baked potatoes. 🥔To sum up the responce to my swap - there was a Thanksgiving Day revolt that year. 😂 Just in case you're curious about how this meal ended: There was so much protest over the lack of mashed potatoes that I ended up delaying dinner for 30 minutes while I whipped up a batch of peace keeping potatoes. 🤷🏻♀️
Everyone comes to the Thanksgiving table with a different "must have" dish. I usually ask people to bring the Thanksgiving side dish they can't live without. It's saves me the hassle of trying to figure out if my guests like their sweet potatoes savory with streusel or covered in marshmallows for more of a dessert flare. I feel like people are as opinionated about Thanksgiving food as they are the football games that are played after dinner. 🏈
As for me, as long as there's turkey on the table - the rest of the meal is just "icing on the cake." I like to get creative with my side dishes. Don't judge me but I'm thinking about adding carrot souffle and baked avocado fries to our Thanksgiving menu this year. 😬
On Thanksgiving Day, I'm much more concerned with what is (and isn't) on the dessert table than the dinner table. (My loyalty lies with the sugar.) Pumpkin pie, pecan squares, apple pie and turkey sugar cookies are all Thanksgiving essentials in my book. I also like to sneak in pumpkin roll, mini pumpkin butterscotch cakelets, triple chocolate mousse and cheesecake squares. Yes, I've been known to over due it on the Thanksgiving dessert menu. (Are you really surprised?)
Every year, I add a new "must have" to our Thanksgiving dessert table. I'm going to have to start combining recipes before our dessert selection gets out of hand. This year, I'm going to combine three of my favorites (pumpkin pie, pecan squares and cheesecake) into one delicious Thanksgiving creation: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie with Pecan Streusel. How could any dessert with pumpkin, pecans and cream cheese be a fail?
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie with Pecan Streusel
1 pie crust
15 ounces pumpkin puree
10 ounces evaporated milk
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon + 1 pinch of salt
3 ounces cream cheese
2 Tablespoons milk
2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup flour
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Sprinkle filling over pie. Bake 15-20 minutes longer.
Cool at least 3 hours before slicing.
I want to know what Thanksgiving foods you absolutely "can't live without". Have you ever led an uprising over an improperly prepared green bean casserole or staged a protest over canned cranberry sauce instead of fresh? I want to hear about your recipe success stories and your Thanksgiving day disasters. 😉
I'm a self proclaimed over planner and the holidays are my Mt. McKinley. If you're a plan-a-holic like me - you know exactly what I'm talking about. November and December is when we thrive and shine. There's so much to plan and schedule and arrange and organize over the holidays - is better than going to Disneyland. (almost) 😂
Take Thanksgiving, for example, I don't feel like I'm adequately prepared to tackle this meal until I've got a detailed menu and itemized grocery list on the front of my frig. When I say "detailed" I mean extreme detail. I list beverages that will be served before, during and after the meal. I list all foods by course and I even specify the kind of butter that I'll be serving. (Any doubt that I'm a type A personality?) Every detail of the meal is planned and timed with military precision. I even draft a schedule for my oven so that everything gets baked, warmed and toasted at precisely the right moment so that it's all served at the proper temperature.
Any other over-planners out there who scrutinize their Thanksgiving menu as if it were a winning lottery ticket? The traditional Thanksgiving menu seems like a no brainer and I know that some of you are wondering - what's left to plan? Turkey, gravy, potatoes, cranberries, pie - done. (In case you didn't know, I'm kind of expert at taking the simplest tasks and making them exceedingly more difficult.😂) I contemplate the most trivial things like what kind of bread to serve and what kind of wine would best compliment my salad dressing.
Of course, I put as much thought into the desserts that I serve at the end of the Thanksgiving meal that I do into the dinner. I like to stick to traditional pies like pumpkin, apple or pecan and then add some non-traditional desserts like cheesecake, cupcakes or fruit tarts. This year, I'm throwing a Chocolate Pecan Pie into the mix. I feel like this pie walks the line between traditional and non-traditional Thanksgiving pies. Hoping it is received well.
Chocolate Pecan Pie
1 1/2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 Tablespoon butter, cold
6 Tablespoons ice water
5 Tablespoons butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
3/4 cup corn syrup
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped
1 cup heavy cream
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons bourbon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
Serve whipped cream with pie. The bourbon vanilla whipped cream is absolutely amazing on this pie so by all means - don't skimp on the cream.
Pecan pie freezes really well and this pie is no exception. I've got one of these tucked away in my freezer for Thanksgiving Day and I couldn't be more excited about that. Now I've just got to keep myself from eating it in the next two weeks. 😬
Remember that time when our Thanksgiving dinner got so big that our table literally snaked through the dining room, across the foyer and into the living room? Oh, yea. That was last years Thanksgiving dinner in our house. 😂 By the way - if you were one of our guests last year for Thanksgiving, in case I forgot to say it, thank you for being so understanding of our unconventional dinner seating and crowded space.
Big Thanksgiving dinners are awesome and we would like to invite EVERYONE to come and enjoy this special meal with us but unfortunately, unlike our hearts, our home only has room for a limited number of people. I'm still trying to come up with creative ways to include more people in our Thanksgiving meal. What do you think about a front yard, sit on picnic blankets and eat on paper plates kind of Thanksgiving?
Regardless of how many people attend Thanksgiving dinner at my house, whether it's 4 or 24, I do a lot of the prep work ahead of time so I can reduce the amount of cooking that I have to do on Thanksgiving day. Sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, corn casserole, soups, homemade applesauce and stuffing are all great make ahead (and freezable) side dishes.
There are as many varieties of sweet potato casserole as there are personalities around the Thanksgiving dinner table. Some like it sweet and covered in toasted, melty marshmallows, others like it more savory and topped with a crunchy streusel. As for me, I like a combination of both. I like my sweet potatoes on the sweet side but I also like it topped with streusel. Best of both worlds.
Make Ahead Sweet Potato Casserole
4 pounds sweet potatoes
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
Bake 25 minutes. Let cool 25 minutes before serving.
Are you hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year? If you've got questions - I've got answers (and google). 😂 Send me your Thanksgiving questions and I'll do my best to help you out. I don't have your grandma's secret pecan pie recipe but I do have one of my own that I think you'll like. 😉
I feel like I am living in this weird place of transition. I'm no longer the mom of littles, I've retired from my roles as team mom, room parent and Halloween costume maker. Sure they still "need" my wonderfully articulate and insightful mom advice from time to time but they don't rely on me for daily food and transportation anymore. If I'm being honest, most of the time they get my advice even when they DON'T ask for it.
For so long, I've operated under the titles of Ryan's mom, Courtney's mom and Ben's wife. I love being ALL of those things but I feel like there's been a swing in the pendulum. I am no longer referred to as someones mom anymore. So who am I now?
This identity crisis first occurred to me when I was handed a stack of forms to fill out at my last doctors appointment. That little box that wanted me to list my occupation had me stumped. I stared at it for a long time while I debated what to put in that empty space.
My kids don't live at home anymore but I'm still a mom. I have a personal chef license - does that make me a chef? I own a little baking business but I don't think of myself as a businesswoman. And after 8 years, I'm guess I'm sticking with this food blogging thing so I technically I could have listed blogger as my occupation. But, since I don't receive any compensation for my blog anymore, I feel like it's more of a hobby than an occupation.
So how did I fill out that empty space on my form? After much deliberation I finally decided to leave it completely blank. I could have written baker, chef, caterer, business owner or food blogger but I don't feel like any one of those accurately describes my occupation. The problem wasn't that I didn't have an occupation to claim. The problem was that I have too many jobs to fit on that little one inch line. I may not consider myself to be a professional anything but I have a LOT of occupations.
So here I am, mother of two, wife of one and owner of a little baking business who loves to blog. (Too bad there isn't enough room to write all of that little line on the form.) My love of cooking permeates through most of my occupations. I spend a lot of time cooking for blog posts, for catering jobs and for my own family. One of my latest creations was this reduced sugar Sweet Potato Casserole.
Sweet Potato Casserole
3 pounds sweet potatoes
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 eggs, separated
3/4 cup walnuts
3/4 cup rolled oats
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
Bake 40-50 minutes at 350.
I made this sweet potato casserole in October and I put it in the freezer for a couple of weeks so that I could save it for Thanksgiving. I pulled it out of the freezer and transferred it to the refrigerator on the Monday before Thanksgiving so that it would defrost and then I baked it on Thanksgiving morning. It was really, really good and not overly sweet like some other sweet potato casseroles that I've tried in the past.
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