Thanksgiving Menu

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, there’s no doubt it can be stressful. One of the biggest challenges is juggling multiple dishes at the same time. Instead of trying to do everything at once, take a look at your menu and try to strategize and cook some of your dishes ahead of time so that, day of, you’ll be able to enjoy your guests just as much as the meal.

The more organized you are, the better off you’ll be. So, I’ve combed this website for some of my favorite dishes that are ideal for any Thanksgiving table. From appetizers to main courses to side dishes to desserts, you’ll find a nice variety of choices. And remember, if I can make them, anyone can. The recipes are not labor-intensive and can be tackled by the most novice cooks.

So, what are you waiting for? Scroll through and earmark some dishes you’d like to make this holiday.

But, above all else, make sure to celebrate FOOD and FAMILY and give thanks!

Enjoy:

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Appetizers

beef pot roast

 

Main Dishes

 

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Sides

Butternut Squash Soup

Soups

gingerbreadcake

Desserts

A Waste-Free Thanksgiving

Have you heard about Food Tank?

 

Their Vision: Building a global community for safe, healthy, nourished eaters.

Their Values: Educate. Inspire. Advocate. Change.

Their Core Mission: Food Tank is focused on building a global community for safe, healthy, nourished eaters. We spotlight environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable ways of alleviating hunger, obesity, and poverty and create networks of people, organizations, and content to push for food system change.

I found their latest article very interesting and appropriate to pass-along as we approach the upcoming holiday season:

Thanksgiving is a good time to remember to be grateful for farmers, farm laborers, cooks, and food service workers. Unfortunately, while we are giving thanks for the harvest, we are also wasting massive amounts of food. Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, the United States will waste about five million tons of food. In one year, Americans alone waste about 34 million tons. That’s a lot of turkey, pie, and Christmas cookies ending up in the trash—instead of in our stomachs.

According to author and food waste expert Jonathan Bloom, food waste is not just a moral issue, but also an environmental issue. “A tremendous amount of resources go into growing our food, processing, shipping, cooling and cooking it,” said Bloom. “Our food waste could represent as much as six percent of U.S. energy consumption.”

“Landfills are the second largest human-related source of methane. Food is the second largest component of landfills. In a sense we’re aiding global warming when we throw food in the garbage,” explains Bloom.

There are solutions to this dilemma. Food rescue organizations, and practices that reduce food waste, are gathering support across the country. From a few friends picking up leftovers at a catered event, to a statewide ban on food waste (like the law recently passed in Massachusetts), eaters, businesses, and policymakers are preventing food loss and waste. Organizations and food programs in cities like San Francisco and New York are collecting leftovers and food past their “sell by” dates from grocery stores and cafes in hopes of creating meals that feed their communities, especially around the holidays.

Here’s how you can cut down on food waste while enjoying your holiday favorites.

  • Open your refrigerator first. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests taking inventory of your refrigerator and pantry to see what you have already before heading out to the store. We all have cans hiding in the back corner we forgot about. There’s no reason to buy more of what you already have.
  • Plan your menu and know your numbers. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, planning menus in advance can limit waste. A head count will help you increase or decrease recipe measurements to the correct proportions, making it easier to buy the correct amount of ingredients.
  • “Sell by” and “best by” dates aren’t chiseled in stone. These dates are guidelines. Some products may still be good long after their expiration date. Bloom suggests, “you should always trust your senses before that arbitrary date on the package. Look, smell, and if it comes to it, taste it before you throw it away.”
  • Repurpose turkey giblets, stale bread, and other “waste.” Remember Grandma’s to-die-for gravy? Chances are she used turkey giblets to flavor the family favorite. The EPA suggests using parts of the bird that normally end up in the trash as a great way to pump up flavor while reducing waste in landfills. That mound of veggie tops and roots? Make homemade soup stock and freeze it for later.
  • Portion control is key. Using smaller plates and Love Food Hate Waste’s portion calculator can help in making the right amount whether you are cooking for two or 20 people.
  • Love your leftovers. Love Food Hate Waste provides recipes to creatively use leftovers. Using leftovers in another recipe following a holiday dinner makes meals easy. Cook once, eat twice.
  • Donate to the hungry. Find your local food bank, and donate excess or unused food to those in need.
  • Serve others. Eaters can help people, and our planet, by volunteering at places like D.C. Central Kitchen and City Harvest. There are similar organizations that use donated food to cook for communities in need in cities across the U.S. Gather friends or family members to multiply your efforts and reduce more waste.
  • Encourage policy makers to create and foster a food system that serves consumer health and the environment. Improving labeling policies and practices can decrease confusion for consumers, leading to a reduction in food waste. A recent report by Emily Broad Leib, Director of Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, states, “Congress, federal administrative agencies, state legislatures, and state agencies should work towards a system of date labeling that is more standardized, more easily understood by consumers, and less arbitrary.” Encourage policy makers to reduce food waste and improve food safety.

Here’s to a happy and waste-free Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving: Pumpkin Pudding

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This Thanksgiving, celebrate fall’s bounty by using pumpkin in your dishes.  While we do love the traditional Pumpkin Pie recipe, we’ve fallen in love with Pumpkin Pudding too.

Mom’s Pumpkin Pudding is not at all what you’d expect from a dessert with the pudding moniker. It’s not served in a bowl and eaten scooped with a spoon. In fact, the pudding bakes in a Bundt pan and, therefore not amorphous.

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Take one good look at the list of ingredients and you’ll understand why this particular “pudding” becomes very dense and springy.   The ingredients in this recipe are also celebrated seasonal favorites: a can of pureed pumpkin, lots of yummy cinnamon, golden raisins, walnuts, lots of sugar and very generous portions of butter. The addition of the Armagnac brandy also laces the dessert with a faint oaky flavor in the same way the Bourbon lends an afterthought of warmth to the Mom’s Bourbon Nut Cake.

Your Pumpkin Pudding can be easily adorned with small gourds, cranberries, dried leaves and they make beautiful centerpieces for any Thanksgiving dessert table.

Only caveat: my 9-year old said the desserts must be served with full disclosure to kids, since they do contain traces of alcohol….

Hope you enjoy.

 

 

Thanksgiving: Potato Pie

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Who doesn’t have Thanksgiving on the brain?

With less than a week to go before the holiday, it’s in your best interest to start acquiring a hit list of recipes for your big meal. If you plan out your dishes now, you’ll have ample time to casually shop for the ingredients and perhaps make some of the food ahead of time.   With some thoughtful planning, on Thanksgiving morning you won’t be running around like a turkey with its head chopped off.

Can you imagine a Thanksgiving table without some version of mashed potatoes as a side? It’s like having Mac without Cheese; peanuts without butter; tic without tacs. Whether sweet potato or regular potato, your holiday won’t be complete without it. So, why not take a creative spin on the traditional dish? Give your guests a tasty surprise that leaves them clamoring for the recipe.

As I scoured Mom’s recipe archives, I came across a dish that peaked my interest for the Thanksgiving holiday: Potato Pie. While the pie boasts potatoes (and I just happened to have had 4 cans of Libby’s White Potatoes in my pantry), it also sneaks in some tasty Gruyere cheese as well as cubed ham. My family doesn’t eat ham so I decided I’d substitute the meat with some cubed breast of turkey.  Plus, if there are any left overs after your Thanksgiving meal (of which I’m certain there will be), you can use your turkey for second and third batches of the pie.

I decided to experiment with the recipe before the main event. Honestly, the recipe couldn’t be any easier to make and it requires very little culinary skill; although the outcome will fool your guests into believing your dish was either made by a trained chef, or it took more than 25 minutes to make. Feel free to go crazy making homemade crusts for your Pumpkin Pie. But, who wants to spend time twice-baking potatoes? To avoid the hassle of boiling and then sieveng potatoes, I actually used two cans of Libby’s Sliced White Potatoes (with non-BPA lining) as my base for the dish.

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The potatoes are soft enough so that when you place them in your blender or mix master, they mash up quite quickly (a lot easier than peeling, boiling, and using a hand masher).

In addition to the shredded Gruyere cheese, the sprinkling of Panko bread crumbs renders a nice flavorful crunch to the soft warm mash. Then, pair that with some warm cubed turkey, and your meal will be complete. Be forewarned, each bite is savory and quite filling.  You will definitely have leftovers to enjoy.

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I baked my “pie” in a 9.5” pie dish–it adds to the mystery of the dish. My kids were so curious. Any version of mashed potatoes they’ve ever eaten has been served in a bowl. Then, when they took their first bites and experienced the turkey and melted cheese, their excitement couldn’t be contained.

“This is awesome,” my 9-year old son proclaimed.

“Can we eat this again on Thanksgiving? ”

I smiled knowing one hurdle had already been accomplished. Now, onto the turkey brine….

Hope you enjoy.

 

Disclaimer:

I was compensated for writing this post on behalf of Libby’s table. However, all opinions expressed are, as always, my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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