A Guest Post from Mom: Recipes I Cook for Thanksgiving

Hi all - and Happy (early) Thanksgiving!

Emily asked me to fill in today, as this is one of my most favorite topics - and I’m here to tell you that I did not in a million years think that I would ever be interested in all things culinary, but I love it so much.

My Thanksgiving meals through the years

One of the first Thanksgiving meals I attempted as an adult involved boiling potatoes until they were the size of peas - literally. Imagine a kind of cloudy potato soup with no flavor - not my best year. Then there was the year that we traveled to Idyllwild with our best friends and I decided to pre-chop the onions for the stuffing. They went into a cooler in the trunk of the car and we could smell onions at each and every milepost from Phoenix to Southern California.

The good news is that anyone can master a Thanksgiving meal - if you are intimidated, or even if you are not, this meal can be delegated one dish at a time. It’s best if you wish to keep your sanity to let people bring their favorite items - even if that means that you would prefer to a make a fresh haricot vert salad with caramelized onions and a guest prefers to bring the green bean casserole from the back of the French’s onion container, you will survive and you can simply pick and choose what you put on your plate - as can everyone else.

Having said that, I am happy to report that Emily has really embraced this whole culinary thing and last year we collaborated on our turkeys, and used a simple but wonderful recipe from the New York Times.

For side dishes, we used to go all out and do big platters of shrimp cocktail and baked brie (thanks, dear Susan, for sharing your fabulous recipe), but now I opt for something simple like plain nuts - salted cashews, pistachio’s, almonds are all great choices. The meal needs to be the centerpiece, not the befores. I do, however, think a glass of lovely champagne is a great way to begin - it’s just so festive!

A typical Thanksgiving meal at my house includes:

  1. This Cranberry Relish recipe circa Bon Appetit Magazine, 1989 is one that everyone asks for asks for. It can be made a week before (and is actually better that way).
  2. Grandma Jean’s Stuffing, which I believe may have been her Mother’s or Mother-In Law’s and adapted throughout the years. Reply to Emily (emily@dearserendipity.com) if you would like this recipe - it’s written on an index card in my recipe box and I'm happy to share it!
  3. These Brussel Sprouts are my go-to vegetables - I have made them for the last three years and they are a hit every time.
  4. For sides, I stick to the basics - I have done a wonderful sweet potato casserole in the past, but most times rely on a simple mashed potato (a potato ricer was purchased last year and is a God-send) or Ina’s Smashed Potatoes, which can be made and baked in a casserole dish.
  5. The star of the show: the turkey. Last year Emily and I both made this simple (but delicious) turkey. A turkey is a turkey - you can fancy it up, but it’s still a turkey. Keep it simple and classic.

Full disclosure: I am happy to make any/all of the above, but I usually delegate pies to others. I typically ask a guest to contribute an apple or pumpkin pie with some whipped cream and vanilla ice cream.

Lastly, no matter what happens with the food, remember: this is a day to make memories and share time with those that are special to you and yours. Enjoy the day and the people you spend it with!

And, here are some kitchen gadgets that will help you cook (and serve) all of these dishes: