Fantasy Thanksgiving

I don’t know how this happened, but even though I have been thinking about Thanksgiving all month, it has only just occurred to me that it’s next week. As in, nine days from now.

Luckily, my extended family’s gathering is potluck, so I am only responsible for some of the vegetables and the desserts*.

* Pumpkin cheesecake, apple crisp, butterscotch meringue pie, and possibly cherry pie. The first three desserts have stories behind them, which is why they’re on the menu. All of which can be made gluten free** with no change to the flavor.***
** I have an aunt with celiac disease, so we work hard to make sure the feast accommodates her needs.
*** If y’all want recipes, let me know and I’ll do a post.

As I do every year, I think about the traditional meal and what I like about it, as well as what I would change about it if I were cooking for just the four of us. In general, we here in Jenworld don’t care for turkey. I don’t know why, except that it does not taste just like chicken.

I like most of the traditional foods, including mashed potatoes, my sister’s corn soufflé (for which I still need to get the recipe), sweet potatoes, fluffy white rolls with butter. I can take or leave turkey, dressing, and cranberries. And I assiduously avoid green beans every year.

So, if I were cooking a proper Thanksgiving meal for my household only, I think the menu would look something like this:

  • roast chicken, not stuffed
  • mashed potatoes, made with Yukon gold potatoes that were not peeled before cooking
  • roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower, with a little olive oil and salt
  • pan-seared Brussels sprouts
  • my sister’s corn soufflé, if I ever get around to getting the recipe from her
  • possibly also fluffy rolls with butter

For dessert, I’d probably make only two and even that would be excessive.  My girls freaking love the butterscotch meringue pie, so that’s a necessity. And then I’d lean toward the pumpkin cheesecake, because it’s traditional for us, but only if I could elicit a promise from Pete to help eat it. (He normally doesn’t eat dessert because it’s just not his thing.) (Weird, I know.) If I couldn’t get a promise of gluttony from him, I’d make an apple crisp.

It’s a lot of food, but Thanksgiving comes only once a year. Even our Christmas dinner doesn’t even come close to this amount of food.

What about y’all? What is traditional at your Thanksgiving dinner?  What do you love to eat and what do you happily avoid? And the all important question: Cranberries from a can (and are can-shaped) or fresh and from scratch?

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23 Responses to Fantasy Thanksgiving

  1. Yes, we need recipes!

    I am a Thanksgiving purist. I like what I like and I like to have it every year. That being said, I’m going to try a new way of cooking the turkey this year (spatchcock!) and since I am now also gluten free, no dressing (never stuffing) because I think GF bread is heinous.

    I LOVE green beans so we will have those and also sweet potato casserole and mashed potatoes. Of course, GRAVY!

    I’d love the pumpkin cheesecake recipe. My husband actually just requested it.

  2. Josie says:

    Our Thanksgiving is long past but staples are my sausage and root veg dressing and pumpkin brownies. I truly dislike cranberry sauce. I would love the pumpkin cheesecake recipe.

  3. Cassi says:

    I love turkey, and my mom’s recipe for traditional German apple/raisin stuffing. And it is stuffing, not dressing, because we all like it best when it’s been cooked in the bird. It’s sort of like a pudding, rather than a dry crumbly bread thing. I like a little cranberry, but I’m more into the canned jelly thing, rather than the healthier, more real, cranberry sauce. Mashed potatoes with turkey gravy are an absolute must. Bread/rolls seem kind of redundant. We are not much into the green bean casserole, but we all like corn. I think the Thanksgiving meal is so much about nostalgia, if you grew up with a mom who cooked a good one. There are many great varieties, but we all tend to want what we remember as good from childhood.

    I’m going to make those things for the three of us on Thanksgiving, but this weekend we’re joining a friend for an early turkey-dinner, and she’s making an amazingly extensive menu! She makes a corn pudding that is SO yummy, I could just fill up on that :-) Plus she’s making three pies!

  4. YES RECIPES DUH. Our menu is whatever Bruin Woods is serving the last few years since we’ve been going up there; basically, the traditional turkey dinner. I love green bean casserole. Fresh cranberry sauce, always. XO!

  5. badnessjones says:

    I’m not a huge turkey fan, but it wouldn’t feel like Thanksgiving without it. We started brining the turkey about 8 years ago, and it really makes it better. We found out last year that my husband and daughter are celiac, and managed to make a very yummy gf dressing - I just didn’t let myself think about what the artisan gf bakery charged me for the rosemary focaccia I used to make it. Aside from that, we need gravy and mashed potatoes and I love the green beans - sautéed with lemon and butter. Apple pie for dessert. So yummy! I’d love to have your recipe for gf butterscotch meringue pie, it sounds like something Regan would love.

  6. Little Miss Sunshine State says:

    Ours is always been the same, starting with the meals my Grandmother cooked, then my Mom, then me.
    Turkey, Pork dressing, French Meat Pie, Mashed Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, Glazed carrots, Cole Slaw, Canned Cranberry Sauce, Rolls, Pickles, Lots of dessert. My nephew is a Thanksgiving baby, so in later years we added a birthday cake. The big gathering of my Massachusetts family has been taken over by my brother and his wife.

    I think I’m solo this year. My husband and daughter are probably doing a 6 hour round trip to eat with his Mom at the nursing home (I’m calling it a guilt trip) My son was invited to his girlfriend’s Vegan Thanksgiving. I will cuddle with the puppy, take him for a long walk, watch the Macy’s parade, drink a pot of coffee and BE REALLY HAPPY.

  7. I love almost all the food traditionally associated with Thanksgiving: roasted turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce (made with fresh cranberries). Must have Brussels sprouts. Could do without sweet potatoes. This year instead of starting with a salad, I am thinking of starting with the peanut soup (vegan, gluten free) that I made a few months ago.

    I would sincerely love to know how to make a gluten-free pie crust. I mean, I could probably look on google and get a thousand recipes, but knowing that it’s a recipe someone has tried and had success with is better.

    I would also like to know how to make a lower-fat pie crust for my heart-patient husband, and then fill it with fat-free pumpkin custard, but I think everyone would shun such a pie.

  8. professorj says:

    Recipes! I am still working on the menu-looking for lower-carb alternatives to some of my faves. There will be turkey because turkey sandwiches.

  9. Smalltown Me says:

    I’m cooking small this year but I will still have the favorites.

  10. Violet says:

    My menu would be very similar to yours:

    Roast chicken
    mashed potatoes made with peeled Idaho russets
    the roasted veggies sound fantastic!
    swap broccoli in for the Brussels sprouts
    my BFF’s cornbread casserole, which is probably remarkably similar to your sister’s soufflé

    Oddly, on “feast” days like Thanksgiving and Christmas, I can take or leave the bread.

    For dessert, I think I would make a white chocolate cheesecake with raspberry coulee. Not very traditional but it is delicious and festive.

    As for cranberries, I do enjoy the canned stuff. My favorite, though, is the simple one - cranberries, sugar and water boiled until the cranberries pop. Yum.

  11. Loth says:

    Scottish. No Thanksgiving. (Feel slightly left out now…………..!)

  12. amy says:

    Since we’re far from family, it’s just us. Even when I was younger and we went to my parents, it was never an enormous meal. My childhood meal was turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, nasty broccoli rice casserole, green bean casserole or peas or corn. And my mom’s homemade rolls. Pumpkin pie because it was thanksgiving, and Apple pie because it was my dad’s favorite. Now, we do turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes (which my mother never, ever cooked), canned cranberry, homemade cranberry, green bean casserole and usually sauteed shaved brussel sprouts, homemade rolls. I tried the green beans from scratch a few years ago and it didn’t go over well, but I thought it was much better. I will never, never, never make broccoli rice casserole. I may try making something like oyster stuffing this year also. I get bored with the same stuff every year, but the rest of them like to have the standards.

    Common Household mom, you could do cute little pumpkin custards in custard cups instead of pie. My mom did that for me when I was a kid because I didn’t eat pie crust.

  13. amy says:

    Cassi, can you share the stuffing recipe? I too, stuff my bird :) My mother never poisoned anyone. I have done a rice/raisin stuffing based on a recipe from a friend’s Albanian grandmother. It’s yummy, but not Thanksgivingish.

  14. Lori H says:

    I don’t like turkey white meat - usually dry. The dark meat is always great, especially with mashed potatoes and gravy (NOT made with giblets, yuck) and fresh cranberry sauce. My husband is diabetic so we make a good cranberry sauce with orange in it, and Splenda. Dessert is the last thing I want, although my cousin makes a mean pumpkin roll.

  15. amy says:

    Thought this was interesting. It popped up this afternoon. Pretty much none of the dishes from the states where I’ve lived have been on my menu. But some sound fun.

  16. Julie says:

    My husband’s mothers dressing. Ugh. Same old same old for 32 years now. If I had the guts, I’d make a totally different type…but figured in the past decade it’s just not worth the fight. It’s not “my” Thanksgiving anyway. Husband commandeers the turkey, makes his mother’s stuffing, and I do a basic pumpkin pie. Don’t care for green beans, so no casserole! I’d love to try brussel sprouts, but would have to practice a recipe (most likely roasting) beforehand…and I’ve yet to do that. So, no. My daughter in law offered to make a mashed potato recipe that I can tell will only be me and her eating it, since it’s a wee bit creative…but looks yummy! My positive offering to this post is that I recently read the latest Bon Appetit issue where there is a whole freakin 2014 Thanksgiving recipe fest going on, with SPATCHCOCK turkey included. I ripped all 6 pages out of magazine, with intent to make my “own” Thanksgiving this year, probably for, wait for it….Christmas dinner! YES! I’d never heard of spatchcocking a bird, so it will be very exciting to try. Cooks so much faster. Looks pretty on the plating platter. 4 different versions of stuffing, and I am going for the one with cherries in it. Fingers crossed. Hope for the best.

  17. Julie says:

    oh good lord, THERE IS A VIDEO. And I about died. I laughed, and yelled out “NO!” when they went to crack the thing flat….hands positioned as if on a chest ready to do chest compressions! Yeah, there’s the nurse brain in me cracking up!

    Okay, for a quick food network-ish type lesson in spatchcocking, click!

  18. We now live close to relatives, so I’m hoping my SIL’s husband smokes the turkey. I’ll cook up roasted sweet potatoes with sea salt and mesquite seasoning (even men who don’t like sweet potatoes tend to like it), snap some fresh green beans if we can find them, and probably mash a pot of potatoes as well (I prefer mine mashed with butter, sour cream, and garlic salt). Homemade cranberry orange relish is a MUST for me, and the bachelor uncle always brings the rolls. We’ll finish off with pumpkin pies that I make in advance.

  19. bdaiss says:

    We have a feast. 5 courses. Many hours. Much wine. We’ve never repeated a recipe. (Although we’ve discussed a “best of” menu.) I love it all. And I made three batches of cranberries last night. 2 orange cranberry sauces (one to give and one for a potluck) and one grape cranberry compote (for T day).

  20. Sarah says:

    Please share recipes! Thanksgiving is all about the traditional foods with a bit of a twist depending on where we’re celebrating.

    I love turkey and stuffing (sans celery please), canned cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes of any kind, green bean casserole (My moms not my sisters) and my dads homemade rolls.

    This year we’re celebrating in Chicago with my dads siblings. My aunt married a man who was born in Sicily. So Thanksgiving will feature the usual suspects along side Polish and Sicilian foods. We used to go there every year for Thanksgiving so I thought everyone had mostaccioli next to their turkey!

  21. I like the sound of those brussels sprouts.
    I’m down with turkey, but with an interesting sort of stuffing, not a bland stovetop kind. And sweet potatoes, PIE (a fruit one, not pumpkin) and good wine.

  22. I am intrigued by the butterscotch meringue . . .

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