Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thanksgiving feast

So, when I had my small moment of panic over Thanksgiving, you guys were so great! And supportive! And had such good advice! And I totally got over the hump and now I am actually rather looking forward to a Thanksgiving with just the two (and a half) of us. And to making a turkey and all the trimmings.

Upon the suggestion from a couple of you (which I thought was GREAT), we looked into volunteering somewhere on Thanksgiving day, but it appears, unless I just suck at my research, that volunteering on Thanksgiving is actually a rather popular thing to do? The Denver Rescue Mission had a thing saying exactly what date and time they would start accepting volunteers, and then very shortly after that they said they were full, and everywhere else seems to be in a similar situation. Which is fine... I thought it was a good idea, but it also sounds nice to just have a peaceful, relaxing day at home, too.

So that leaves only, you know, the meal itself. We purchased a turkey at Costco, a reasonably sized one that will allow us to stuff it and cook it and eat leftovers, but not so much that we won't be able to fit the entire thing into our freezer, you know? I like the advice from many of you about cooking it upside down to preserve moistness, and my dad offered lots of great tips, so that was very helpful. And I think it's starting to come together in my head a little bit.

Here's what's on the menu (and by "menu" I mean "list that is currently only in my head and that I haven't yet discussed with Torsten"):
  • Turkey
  • Stuffing
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Gravy
  • Yorkshire pudding
  • Vegetable
  • Dessert
Luckily, this is where you guys come in! As you can see, some of those are rather... vague. Like "vegetable"? I don't really like yams or peas, which seem to be traditional Thanksgiving side dishes. What other vegetables do you like to eat on Thanksgiving? Are they traditions or do they evolve over time? Bonus if you have a link to a specific recipe that you like!

Also, the turkey is pretty straightforward, and it sounds like stuffing can be done without a recipe, and the same with gravy and mashed potatoes, and my dad is sending me his Yorkshire pudding recipe. But... are there recipes you like for any of those things? Anything that's worth trying and sticking to rather than just winging it?

And dessert, oh god. I don't tend to like autumnal desserts much. I think that's the issue. I don't like pumpkin, I don't like cinnamon, I am not a huge fan of pie in general. I like cakes and cookies and brownies and ice cream. My taste is not refined, apparently. But given that, what would be a good Thanksgiving dessert? Maybe we should have two--one Thanksgiving-y and one less traditional? What dessert do you like to have on Thanksgiving? What will you be making this year (if anything)?

Seriously, basically I want to hear all about your Thanksgiving plans, where you're going, who you're celebrating with, what you plan to eat, what recipes you like, what has been a failure in the past. And no real worries about making too much food for two people--this is also our planned starting point for freezing food to eat once Piglet is here. So really, the more, the better!


  1. We always have Niblets canned corn on Thanksgiving, which is what my family always had. My family also made that green bean casserole with onions on top, which I strongly dislike but if you like it, the recipe is probably on the containers of french-fried onions or whatever that topping is.

    Do you like cheesecake? I have a chocolate-crusted pumpkin cheesecake I make every year. I'll go find the link...

  2. Ok, now I'm hungry for Thanksgiving food and it's only 9 am. My mom always does a green bean casserole, which she's been doing for as long as I remember. I also have an awesome recipe for a flourless chocolate cake with raspberries and whipped cream (divine, and remind me to send you the recipe when I get home). And lastly, if I weren't already going to NY, I would say "I'll be right over!"


  3. We have been making our own Thanksgiving meal for several years. The inlaws house just got too crowded for our taste. I bought our turkey yesterday - An 8 pound turkey breast. It's the perfect size for us, and we all prefer white meat anyway.

    Our dessert will be a cherry pie bought from a fundraiser our neighbor's high school choir was having.

  4. A Thanksgiving staple for us is Sauerkraut, because there is nothing more delicious than a pile of potatoes, topped with sauerkraut, and gravy poured over top. My mouth is watering just thinking about having it again this year.

  5. Our vegetable this year will be peas. I think that CP is thinking some sort of peas and pancetta dish. Last year we did corn three ways (some casserole CP made up of grits, corn and creamed corn. It was delish).

    Dessert will probably be apple pie or something similar.

  6. I love Thanksgiving! I can't wait for all the good food and my favorite pumpkin pie. Our menu always consists of the following: Turkey (flavor injected and deep fried), stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce (made from scratch - not a can), corn, relish trays, cole slaw, rolls, and about 4 or 5 kinds of pie. But the real difference in our tradition is the appetizer - parsnips! We parboil them and then slice them thin, S&P them, and pan fry them up in copious amounts of butter. I hated them for the first 21 years of my life, but now I can't stop eating them. It's definitely a different vegetable you could try.

  7. Oh, I love Thanksgiving SO!MUCH! So much so that I am going to do my own Thanksgiving post. Peas don’t seem like a Thanksgiving dish at all for me. We prefer corn with our mashed potatoes, and Hub likes creamed corn, so it is something that I have adapted to over the years; it really is quite good. We always have green bean casserole too, and my mother's creamed cucumbers

    I make a cornbread dressing which is (loosely) cornbread left out to dry overnight, breadcrumbs, celery, onions, poultry seasoning, chicken stock and some other spices. I think the actual recipe calls for eggs, but I never add them. I don’t stuff my turkey because the thought of turkey blood/juice dripping through my stuffing all day makes me gag. My mother does stuff her turkey though, and I’ve eaten her stuffing many times so… I don’t know; I think it’s a personal preference.

    I cooked for our whole family last year and am doing it again this year. In the past when we’ve gone places, I’ve cooked the Thanksgiving meal on the Friday after.

    Hub doesn’t do traditional Thanksgiving desserts either, so I always make his favorite German Sweet Chocolate Pie, or an Oreo cheesecake, but I can’t live without pumpkin and apple pie (with Cool Whip), so we have that too.

    I can’t wait to hear all about your meal.

  8. Veggies can be a simple roasted broccoli crowns (cut into managable pieces, drizzle with olive oil salt pepper foresh chopped or pressed garlic and maybe italian seasoning) and roast at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. You can do the same with fresh brussle sprouts as well or green beans. Yum. For dessert you can make something christmas like to usher in christmas...

  9. We always do fresh green beans. Cook them in boiling water for about 10 minutes, then saute them with butter and salt and pepper. They are delicious.

    My family does homemade apple pie and tapioca pudding in addition to pumpkin pie. Both are always really tasty and big hits with everyone.

    Good luck with your final decision!

  10. I personally love green bean casserole and totally plan to make it. We also have a rather strange but delicious Orange jello concoction that if I don't eat it on the last Thursday of November? Well, it simply wasn't Thanksgiving. Mmmmm, jello. Most people look at me very skeptically when I tell them about it. Meh.

    I want to cook my turkey upside down, too. I think my grandma might freak out though...

  11. We usually have:
    *mashed potatoes
    *green bean casserole
    *crescent rolls (a must!)
    *cranberry salad (Recipe: a can cranberry sauce, a can "whole" cranberry sauce and a can of drained mandarin oranges. mmmm)
    * pumpkin pie and any number of other desserts
    * sometimes we have corn casserole, or hasbrown casserole too

  12. I'm going to NJ to be with Mr. Darcy's family. His BIL is the chef of the family and is using my visit as an excuse to make brussels sprouts. He loves them. I love them. And apparently we're the only ones. He's roasting them with some pancetta. YUMMY!

  13. I have been known to make a string bean casserole from scratch (fresh greenbeans, homemade cream of mushroom soup, and bread crumbs in lieu of fried onions) - Super tasty, but a lot of work.

    If you like any specific greens or green beans, even, I would just blanch them and then saute them in a bit of olive oil plus garlic and salt and pepper to taste. That way I can feel virtuous while going for thirds of mashed potatoes. :)

    If you like brussels sprouts, my girlfriend made a delicious recipe that was basically halved sprouts (blanched first) and then sauteed with some minced onions in bacon fat (with the crispy bacon on top). YUM.

  14. It's not Thanksgiving for my family without cheesy broccoli-rice casserole.

  15. the vegetables are the only part of our thanksgiving dinner my mom is allowed to change, actually! so in the past we've had honey glazed carrots, balsamic glazed brussels sprouts with pancetta, green beans with almond slivers... all recipes found online, and are sure to not ACTUALLY be the ones my mom uses, but still :)

    i ADORE pumpkin pie, so we have that every year, usually also with an apple pie and another "free" dessert that my mom gets to make/pick if she's feeling annoyed about the constraints of such a traditional dinner.

  16. I do love green bean casserole, made with cream of mushroom soup and those fried onion thingys. But I also like plain green beans cooked in the oven with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. I LOVE brussel sprouts, but I realize not everyone likes them.

    I'm making one of my favorite salads for Thanksgiving - Spinach salad with sliced pears, toasted walnuts (any nut will work), gorgonzola crumbles, and a honey dijon vinaigrette. YUM.

    My mum used to make a spinach salad with pomegranate seeds and feta with a simple vinaigrette. It's really colorful and delicious.

    If you like cake and ice cream, you could combine the two and just eat cake batter ice cream ;-)

  17. Brussels sprouts! They can be so yummy, if prepared right, and they're unusual enough to scream "holiday!"

    And desserts: pecan pie, of course. My family would always make at LEAST three pies (we had big gatherings) (although we also would have three pies even if we DIDN'T have a lot of people) (although I imagine 2.5 eaters probably REALLY don't need three pies): typically, pumpkin, apple, and lemon meringue. The grownups would also always make and eat a mincemeat pie--a tradition I have NOT warmed to.

  18. We always do green bean casserole and warm dinner rolls!

    A lot of people do cranberries, but I'm not a fan. You could add oranges and use a sweet sauce to make them sweeter though!

  19. For me, it's not Thanksgiving without:
    * turkey (white meat)
    * stuffing (nothing fancy, but lots of sage)
    * mashed potatoes, white ones
    * angel salad

    The latter is a recipe my grandmother found in the farm journal about 60 years ago. It has marshmallows melted into butter and egg yolks, then whipped cream folded in, and pineapple, and I know to most people it sounds either disgusting, or like dessert, but it's part of Thanksgiving dinner and not really the holiday without it. Fortunately for me, the family friends who invite me for the holiday don't mind that I bring it.

    Vegetables aren't a must for me, and (this is about the only meal of the year I say this) neither is dessert. I'm much too full from dinner to care. I don't like pumpkin pie, or pecan either, so eh. Whatever.

  20. We do the Green giant microwave pouch of corn nibblets for Thanksgiving (we actually do two of them). Easy to do at the last minute while everything else is finishing up. We also deep fry our turkey which is ridiculously easy to do and frees up the oven for things like stuffing, etc.

    I can't remember the pregnancy rules about whether or not it is okay to eat sausage when you are expecting but if you can, I have a KILLER stuffing recipe (we got it from my Father in Law who is from Texas so it is nowhere near healthy but it is super duper tasty).

    For dessert, I don't know. I'm not a pie person either, so for me dessert is usually leftovers. :)

  21. We're going to be with family in Indiana this year. But when *I* cook, I keep it very, very simple. A small turkey or turkey breast (so, so easy with an oven bag!), stuffing (I LOVE stove top, and I ain't embarrassed to admit it!), mashed potatoes, and my vedge varies. The simplest vedge I have done is green beans boiled crip, then the water dumped out, and then I heat them up with butter and garlic powder (Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic being my favorite), OR lemon pepper. For dessert,I make pumpkin pie--it's a must as hubby and I are both addicted to it. I love my mama's apple pie, too.

    I also have a recipe for turkey breast in the crockpot that is absolutely lovely.

  22. My immediate fam in CA usually have 45-50 each year for Thanksgiving, so I grew up accustomed to a huge turkey, Honey-Baked Ham, Green Bean Casserole, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Corn Bread, Crescent Rolls, Hawaian dinner rolls, Auntie Maggies Jello Salad (3 layer Jello, Strawberries, Cool Whip), Corn, Honey Glazed Carrots, Cranberry Sauce, Peas, Yams and for those that wanted dessert Pumpkin Pie, Apple Pie, Tollhouse cookies and birthday cake...cause my sis Diane's bd is usually the day before, of or after Thanksgiving.

    I'm hungry now :-)

  23. I'm not a huge fan of Thanksgiving foods actually - individually I like most of them, but together? Meh. That said, I'm very attached to my family's traditions for the day.

  24. I love Yorkshire pudding...but no one ever seems to know what I'm talking about. My dad makes it every year for Christmas.

    We eat green bean casserole a lot at Thanksgiving, but I prefer broccoli.

  25. One dessert I've served at Christmas but would also work in this case, is creme brulee. It seems very festive and elegant but doesn't have the autumn flavors you don't like. And it's not THAT hard. You don't even have to have a torch - you can brown the sugar topping in the oven broiler.

    As for veg, I've tried to move away from the cream-based-soup green bean casserole of my youth to fresh green beans instead, usually steamed with garlic and a little butter or something. I never want anything too rich because all the turkey/gravy/potatoes dishes are rich enough. Even a green salad is a nice palate cleanser. Maybe not very pilgrim-y, but yummy.

  26. Oh, and I can't have my traditaional turkey dinner without the CANNED cranberry jelly. Has to have the tin-can ridges so you'll know how to slice it. ;)

  27. I always make Spinach Madeleine as a side. It's a tradition carried over from my Louisiana roots and it's a little bit spicy and VERY yummy... here's a link to the recipe if you're interested...