Happy Monday! Hope you had a fun weekend. So much going on, right? Daylight Savings Time! More sleep but it’s so dark so early you feel like it’s 9:00pm at around 5:30, right? Also, one more day to the election! Yup, it’s almost here. But other than reminding you all (and me) to get out there and VOTE, we’re not going to talk about that right now because I’m all talked out about it and if I see one more political commercial…Yikes!! Anyway, I’ve got Thanksgiving on the mind and I’m betting a lot of you out there do too. So let’s focus a bit on that today, ok? I think it’ll make us all feel better.
After a long hiatus, I’m actually hosting this year and it’s going to be quite a large group. So… I have been doing a little bit of panicking combined with intense scrutiny of my old favorites and I thought that maybe we could go through the process together.
Unfortunately, I can’t help you with the turkey because my mom is THE EXPERT on that front and I’ve never even tried to make my own—seriously, hers is so good that I wouldn’t even know where to begin. One day, I’ll have to have her give me a lesson when I grow up. Ha ha!!
But what I can share with you, whether you’re hosting or contributing to someone else’s feast, are a bunch of terrific appetizers, salads, sides (gotta have those!!) and desserts, that you can maybe test out and personalize before the big day arrives, to make things a little easier.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some new holiday recipes too, but for now, let’s take a little walk down turkey day memory lane…
I have to say that in my family we don’t tend to do a lot of these because the focus is on the main meal—sometimes we’ll just put out simple cheese and crackers and some chips, but depending on how you structure your Thanksgiving Day, these can be fun.
1. Irresistible Sweet ‘N Savory Snack Mix***The pepitas make it feel very seasonal.
2. Perfect Party Nuts***These are addictive and can be made up to a week ahead but you will have to hide them from others (and yourself)
3. Triple Onion Dip with Homemade Baked Tortilla Chips***So much better than the soup mix version!
6. Warm Chili-Cheese Dip***Fun to watch football to.
8. Spinach, Artichoke and Cheddar Dip*** This is a huge crowd pleaser!
Honestly, we don’t always have salad because of all the sides and when we do it’s usually my mom’s simple mix of lettuces, craisins, nuts, scallions and some sort of shredded cheese topped with her uncanny knack of combining balsamic vinegar and olive oil just right, but here are some salad ideas if you’re looking:
2. Roasted Pear Salad***Only if you’re hosting a small get-together.
These are what the people want, right?!! We will definitely be having mashed potatoes too, but I shockingly don’t have a recipe here on the site—it’s just so basic that I figured everyone has their own favorite—let me know if you want me to post my mom’s recipe and I will get on that. But here a bunch of others for you to take a look at:
1. Savory Butternut Squash Crumble***just discovered this and will definitely be making it and probably tripling the recipe—have a feeling it’s going to be a new classic
2. Mom’s Sweet Potato Casserole***yup, the marshmallow topped one—gotta have it!
3. Mom’s Cranberry Jello Mold***by now you’ve probably guessed that my mom is a terrific cook. I think my family would revolt if this were not on the holiday table—if you’re having a big crew like us, you probably want to make two—plus, it’s great to have leftover.
4. Spoon Bread Soufflé***so, so good but don’t make unless you are having a small group—it needs to be eaten right out of the oven and it will be too hard to coordinate with all the other dishes.
5. Holiday Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Shallots-Lightened Up***worlds better than the soup can version.
6. Wild Mushroom and Brioche Stuffing***If you try one new thing this year, this should be the one. We always used to have the Pepperidge Farm Herb stuffing which we added mushrooms and onions too, but no more. This is now everyone’s absolute favorite. You can buy brioche but I would highly recommend making your own using this recipe. So easy and you can make it several days ahead. Totally worth it!
7. Butternut Squash and Spinach Gratin***A great vegetarian alternative.
8. Homemade Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce***Start stocking up on bags of cranberries now—so easy to make and canned versions just can’t hold a candle to it.
12. Auntie Mirrie’s Roast Potatoes***a family heirloom
13. Sweet Potato & Parsley Salad***more of a side than a traditional salad so it’s here in Sides
14. Fork-Tined Potatoes***amazing!
15. Smashed and Roasted Baked Potatoes***Yes!!
16. Butternut Squash Soup***Another of my mom’s. This has been on the agenda for the last couple of years—we serve it in mugs and it’s a big hit!
17. Divinely Delicious Roasted Applesauce***The name says it all!!
Do you serve a lot of bread at your table? We didn’t as I was growing up, but now that I’m into the bread baking, I can’t imagine the holiday without these two favorites!
1. The Best Cornbread***A must-have at our house. Easy and so, so good!
2. One-Pan Buttermilk Dinner Rolls***These will be a hit and they’re easy—probably don't need them and the cornbread though. It’s decisions like these that keep me up at night!!
PIES—You gotta have a couple of these, right?!!
1. Pecan Pie***I have to have this even though I’m kind of allergic to pecans!
2. Maple Pecan Tart***Might make this instead of the Pecan Pie though—it’s easier and amazing too!
3. Apple Crumb Pie***A classic—you can’t go wrong.
4. Cranberry-Apple Crumble Pie***A tarter, more colorful version of #3.
5. Triple Chocolate Cream Pie with Oreo Crust*** A huge kid (and adult) favorite—Will very likely be making this
6. Milk Chocolate Pudding Pie with Salted Peanutty Crust**Unless I make this one. Don’t make if you’ve got anyone coming with a peanut allergy, obviously.
7. Salted Dark Chocolate Tart with Cocoa Crust and Pistachios***Can you really go wrong?!!
8. Cranberry Brown Sugar Tart***Made this last year—huge hit—will definitely make again—the filling gets sort of chewy. YUM!
9. Mississippi Mud Ice Cream Pie***You can make this ahead, actually you have to and it’s a nice change of pace.
10. Coconut Macadamia Fudge Ice Cream Pie***In case coffee doesn’t float your boat!
BARS & COOKIES—It’s not exactly traditional to have these but it’s nice to have some, hold-in-your-hand, walk around treats. Also, good if you have guests for the weekend ‘cause there will generally be leftovers.
9. Pumpkin Silk Bars***We are not a pumpkin pie loving crew but these are just delish.
10. Gooey Turtle Bars with Shortbread Crust***Kind of like pecan pie bars but gooier! And there’s chocolate involved.
11. Supernatural Brownies***I don’t usually make brownies for Thanksgiving but looking at these makes me think that I should!
12. Chocolate Chocolate Chip Espresso Cookies***These are my personal new favorite and you can make them ahead and just bake the day of.
13. Pecan Sandies***Not too sweet and seem right for the holiday.
14. Jenny’s Lemon Cherry Biscotti***Amazing and can be made way ahead!!
15. Lemon Poppyseed Shortbread***Light and easy
16. Gluten-Free Brownie Cookies***For anyone with gluten issues—everyone will love and want them too! Better hide them cause this doesn’t make a big batch!!
17. Chocolate Chip Cookie Brittle***A new addition to my repertoire. So easy! Bring a tin of this to someone’s house and you will be invited back forever!!
CHEESECAKES—We don’t generally do these for Thanksgiving—they’re all great but kinda heavy, however if cheesecake is a must at your celebration, you can’t go wrong with any of these.
18. Pumpkin Cheesecake***This is special—don’t hold the awful picture on the site against it. I had just started blogging and I desperately need to remake this and take better photos!!
19. Mascarpone Cheesecake***My favorite
CAKES—Do you serve a cake for the actual meal? I flip flop on this but I do like to keep a simple, homey cake on the counter and let people cut a slice as they walk by throughout the weekend.
21. Caramel Apple Cake***I might rethink and serve this on the big day anyway—it’s so good and so, so easy!
22. Cranberry Lemon Bundt Cake***Festive and fun
23. Cranberry Maple Pudding Cake***This would actually be great for a holiday brunch
24. Coconut Tea Cake***Simple and comforting
25. Bishop’s Cake***Last but not least, this perfect pound cake would be welcome anytime!!