Thanksgiving Recipes Revisited
September 23, 2007 11:36 AM   Subscribe

It's almost that time of year again. Please share your favorite THANKSGIVING DESSERT AND SIDE DISH RECIPES. I am sick of making the same things every year. I have 15-20 guests, same group every year.

My family loves tradition but I am so tired of always having the same Thanksgiving menu:
In addition to the turkey and stuffing, we have pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, white potato casserole made with frozen hash browns, spinach/artichoke/cream cheese casserole, cranberry/pineapple/orange/walnut jello ,and pumpkin bread. I am especially interested in something different for dessert and sides. Thanks!
posted by Lylo to Food & Drink (33 answers total) 63 users marked this as a favorite
I always make a chocolate ganache tart for Thanksgiving dessert -- it's pretty simple, yet very rich and always goes over very well. (Unfortunately I'm in the midst of moving, so can't grab the exact recipe for you now, but it basically involves an almond shortbread crust with a simple ganache of dark chocolate, cream, and a little almond extract, plus a bit of whipped cream to garnish.)
posted by scody at 11:42 AM on September 23, 2007

My family loved my spicy, asian-style roasted green beans, which were from a recipe by Cook’s Illustrated [Nov. 2005]. Green beans have always been a traditional dish for us, but this recipe was a new take on something familiar. The same issue has a good-looking sweet potato casserole that I haven’t tried yet.
posted by ijoshua at 11:45 AM on September 23, 2007

Best answer: I've always been fond of Do-ahead mashed potatoes.

We had (brownie) hot fudge sundaes once. Nothing entirely unusual, but it was a change of pace for Thanksgiving. (And it's late enough that you may find candy canes, which I swear are made to be ground up and used as a topping.)
posted by fogster at 11:46 AM on September 23, 2007

My mom's been making the stuffing with roasted chestnuts the last couple of years -- that changes the dish a lot and makes it even more delicious than before.

I also had a friend who made brandied stuffing with dried cranberries. I didn't like that as much as standard stuffing, but it was an interesting change.

Mom also has been making a really wonderful cranberry relish with orange zest in it. I don't know the exact recipe, but a brief google search brings up lots of options. It's so much better than the gross jellied cranberry sauce out of a can.

And if you want a Pennsylvania Dutch addition to the meal, egg noodles can replace potatos as the starch!
posted by olinerd at 11:49 AM on September 23, 2007

I make a really popular stuffing made with half dark brown bread, half good french bread, and pine nuts. Plus the usual: celery, onion, pepper, plenty of poultry seasoning and veggie stock, since I'm vegetarian (though I usually cave in to the siren song of tryptophan and have some dark meat).

Also, chocolate pecan pie is the most sinfully decadent conglomeration of fat and sugar ever devised, and all you really do is toss in chocolate chips before you bake it.

Or, doesn't Roasted Pear and Maple Trifle sound delightful?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:05 PM on September 23, 2007

How about something simple but special: steamed asparagus spears. You can serve them with lemon juice or a nice vinaigrette - or any sauce that appeals. Very quick, very easy (as long as you have a big enough steamer), and very popular, especially with all that non-green food you listed.

The cookbook The Best Recipe, which I am constantly promoting here, it seems, has a truly wonderful asparagus recipe plus a great sauce.

I'm told that "nut loaf" or "nut roast" is popular in Britain.

Dessert? How about pear halves with caramelized sugar.
posted by amtho at 12:14 PM on September 23, 2007

I make fresh green beans with new potatoes every year. I brown salt pork in bacon grease, then toss the green beans in and turn them to coat-add a couple cups of chicken broth, salt, pepper and garlic. After about a half hour I add the new potatoes and a little more chicken broth if necessary and then cook another half hour. So insanely bad for you but tastes so insanely good.
posted by hollygoheavy at 12:32 PM on September 23, 2007

Holy cow, who has room for dessert on Thanksgiving? After the big sledge hammer of starch and carbs, I would trend down dessert to something light or refreshing like this or this.
posted by rolypolyman at 12:33 PM on September 23, 2007

I love asparagus, broiled, or grilled. It's argualbly easier than boiling, and really tastier.

Grilled or broiled fall veggies is one of my favorite lunches all on its own. Squash, onions, asparagus, eggplant slices, beets, halved and well-oiled brussels sprouts, mushrooms... take your pick, pepper and oil 'em up and spread them on a cookie sheet. Some veggies need to bake a little to soften them enough before you turn the broiler on.

I actually use a cast iron grill pan, with ridges on the bottom.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:34 PM on September 23, 2007

Best answer: I love Emeril's Brandy and Orange Mashed Sweet Potatos in Orange cups. We usually leave out the brandy, and they're lovely. Also, oven roasted fall veggies (carrot, winter squash, potato and onion) always make a yummy side.
posted by blueskiesinside at 1:12 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

instead of the sickly-sweet candied yams, how about curried sweet potatoes? bake, peel, and mash sweet potatoes with a little coconut milk to the consistency you like, and season with salt, pepper, and curry powder.

for spinach, you might try sauteeing it in olive oil and topping with balsamic vinegar, raisins, pine nuts, and a little red pepper.

for dessert, how about a cranberry walnut turnovers with white chocolate chips? you can take puff pastry, cut it into squares, and put a few dried cranberries, walnuts, white chocolate chips and a small dab of cream cheese. fold and crimp shut, brush with beaten egg, top with cinnamon, and bake.
posted by thinkingwoman at 1:16 PM on September 23, 2007 [5 favorites]

My mom makes a lovely side dish of steamed brussels sprouts and carrots with some sort of lemon poppyseed dressing on it. It's not too weird, and it's nice and fresh.

Halved acorn or butternut squash baked with brown sugar and butter?

Like the person said above, a very simple root vegetable thing is so, so good. Parsnips, sweet potatoes, celeriac, apples, onions, all that... you barely even need anything else. Something that really, really will make this dish is sea salt or fleur de sel. The first time I had it, it was on this root vegetable thing, and it was just like crack. That's all you need.

For dessert, what about a nice pear/apple tart, or a cranberry/apple crumble?

Go on epicurious and look for the Gramercy Tavern gingerbread cake recipe. It's a colonial-type dish and it's very moist and spicy. Best of all, it freezes very well and is actually sometimes better if it's not right out of the oven.
posted by Madamina at 1:20 PM on September 23, 2007

I would serve (and have in the past served) homemade apple pie with vanilla ice cream for dessert. It's relatively easy to make, and a fairly traditional dish, but something that many people don't have very often.
posted by sueinnyc at 1:23 PM on September 23, 2007

My mom makes the most delicious Thanksgiving sides. The recipes, according to an ancient cookbook called "Cooking is saying I love you", are pretty easy and are traditional enough to not startle the tradition bound. Also, and i'll say it again: extremely extremely delicious.

Sweet Potato Casserole: (italics are my notes, not the cookbooks')
Mash 3lb of cooked, drained sweet potatoes
Beat in 2 eggs, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2tbsp orange juice,1/4tsp salt, 1/4 tsp cloves (we never have cloves on hand, and it's fine without it) and 1tsp cinnamon.
Pour into greased casserole (i'd recommend one that's broad and shallow, the more surface area for nuts and glaze the better)
Cover surface with pecan nuts (arrange prettily in rows, if you have the time)
Bake in 375 degree oven for 25
While baking, Make a syrup of 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tbsp orange juice, 2tbsp margarine or butter. Melt and pour over casserole. Bake for another 25 minutes.

I just realised the other recipe isn't in this cookbook, but approximately:

Broccoli & Cauliflower Gratin
Mix frozen broccoli and frozen cauliflower chunks, put in a casserole dish; mix with a cheese sauce and top with toasted breadcrumbs, and bake. (You could use fresh veggies instead of frozen, but to be honest, that just makes it take longer and doesn't really make a difference to the final result.)
posted by Kololo at 1:33 PM on September 23, 2007 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I like to kick up the mashed potatoes with garlic and horseradish.

I love cranberry sorbet and this recipe is about how I do it (I don't use ginger). Break up your courses and serve a teaspoon of sorbet in a flute of dry champagne - it will make your palette squeaky clean.
posted by plinth at 1:40 PM on September 23, 2007 [2 favorites]

I made a pumpkin cheesecake once instead of a traditional pumpkin pie. It went quickly!

Also, when in need of a quick, easy, last second vegetarian-friendly app last year I made canned crescent rolls, and smeared a bit of chive cream cheese in the middle before rolling them up and baking. They were a huge hit, and no one had any idea how shamefully easy they were.

My roommate made shrimp, also popular. He took them and after de-veining (with the tails still on), filled with horseradish. Then he wrapped each in bacon, dipped in BBQ sauce, and baked them. Served them with some BBQ sauce mixed with more horseradish for dipping. They were the house specialty app at a fancy restaurant he worked at years back.
posted by Kellydamnit at 1:43 PM on September 23, 2007 [2 favorites]

For a side:

Pineapple Souffle

3 eggs beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1 large can of crushed pineapple (in it's own juice)
1/2 stick of butter (melted)
5 slices of white bread (I used sliced sourdough) with crust removed

Cut bread into small croutons. Mix all ingredients and let sit in the refrigerator 12-24 hours in a souffle dish.
Before putting in oven, you can use two or three more slices of bread (cut up to crouton size) and tossed with 1/4 cup of melted butter and put on top of souffle.
Cook uncovered at 350 degrees for around 40 minutes or until top is browned.

For dessert:

Pumpkin Roll

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
Cream cheese filling (below)

Preheat oven to 375. In bowl, combine eggs and sugar, beating well. Add pumpkin, mixing until blended. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, spices and salt. Add to egg mixture, mixing well. Lightly butter a 10X15-inch jelly roll pan. Line with a sheet of lightly greased wax paper. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Cool for about 5 minutes. Remove from pan. Invert on clean dish towel/tea towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. From 10-inch side, roll cake up in the towel. Set aside. Meanwhile, prepare filling (page 46). Slowly and carefully, unwrap the cake and evenly spread filling over cake. Roll up the cake (without towel). Tightly cover with plastic wrap. Place cake seam-side down and chill for at least 2 hours.

Cream Cheese Filling for Pumpkin Roll

Beat together 1 8-ounce package soft cream cheese and 4 TBS butter. Stir in 1 cup powdered sugar and 1 tsp vanilla, blending till smooth.
posted by Sassyfras at 2:04 PM on September 23, 2007 [3 favorites]

Apple pear chutney, with just about every spice you can think of, onions, yellow raisins (or really any small dried fruit).

Mashed root vegetables-- potato, turnip, parsnip, celery root; roughly 3-3-2-1 ratio, add your liquid of choice to achieve your desired texture (I've used yogurt, milk, cream, and green tea at various times), plus garlic, salt, pepper to taste

I like to alternate mashed vegetables with a traditional scalloped potatoes (sometimes I add turnips to this).

Caveat coctor: Also desiring to do something different for once, I once made an all-Greek dinner for Thanksgiving: just pastitsio (two 9x14" pans for 7 people and may I point out there was PLENTY OF FOOD) and fresh tomato-parsley salad, rather than a traditional 14-course takes all day to cook American deal. For 10 years, my mother in law brought a pot roast with her every time she ate here, "in case you didn't cook enough food again."
posted by nax at 2:47 PM on September 23, 2007

oops, forgot dessert.

Baked pears: hollow out pears from the top (standing on end) stuff with butter creamed with your liqueur of choice plus brown suger, cinnamon, ginger and allspice (about 1 teaspoon or less per pear); place on end in 1/2 of water in a shallow pan and bake at 350 about 20 minutes. You can sprinkle a little brown sugar over each pear if you like it sweeter. Serve as is or with whipped or clotted cream, or ice cream. A nice light dessert after a heavy meal.

Damn, now I wish it was my turn for Thanksgiving this year!

Of course, this year it's going to all pesto all the time!
posted by nax at 2:55 PM on September 23, 2007 [2 favorites]

I love a simple potato au gratin for big fall dinners. It wins for not being the usual mashed-potato fare, plus is decadent and simple to make.

I am going to try this double layer pumpkin cheesecake recipe this fall.

A friend made pumpkin creme brulee last night, it had a chopped pecan topping with the caramelized sugar, deeeelish -- though my own thought is "no way do I want to worry about preparing individual custard desserts on Thanksgiving."
posted by pineapple at 2:56 PM on September 23, 2007

gotta quit hitting "post" so fast

1/2 inch of water
posted by nax at 2:56 PM on September 23, 2007

I made pumpkin roll one year; it was great and I'm happy to find that recipe, Sass.

Curried squash soup - 1 big hard winter squash, cooked. Make a roux w/ 3 Tb butter & 3 Tb flour, then add a large can of chicken broth to make a gravy like consistency. Process w/ squash in food proc. or blender until smoothish. Add several teaspoons of curry powder. I never measure when I make this, but it always comes out fine. My sister's Indian guests liked it. Top w/ a swirl of plain yogurt or sour cream.

Corn pudding - lots of recipes on the web. A can of corn, a can of creamed corn, 6 eggs, a box of Jiffy corn muffin mix, a splash of milk, baked with cheese on top.

Roasted brussel sprouts - bag of frozen sprouts, splashed w/ olive oil & seasoned salt, baked at 350 for 1 hour, stirred every 15 minutes. They should get browned. They lose the bitterness and the insides get creamy.

Gingerbread w/ whipped cream - gingerbread is underrated - delish on a cold day.

Homemade apple pie - use pre-made crusts, and it doesn't take that long to peel the apples. It's worth the effort.

I love this thread. This is my favorite kind of food.
posted by theora55 at 3:06 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

The combination of sweet potatoes, cream, and chipotle peppers is very good. You can do it as whipped potatoes or as a gratin.
posted by yarrow at 3:16 PM on September 23, 2007 [2 favorites]

My Mom makes some sort of Cool Whip Delight every year. The ingredients are simple and can be substituted to your liking:

Cool Whip
Flavored Jello powder
Canned (or fresh!) fruit

Stir the flavored powder into the Cool Whip, add the fruit (drain if canned) and nuts, chill a few hours before serving.
posted by gummi at 4:03 PM on September 23, 2007

Nobody's mentioned scalloped oysters yet, which are a thanksgiving tradition in my family. I don't have a recipe on hand, but Google has lots.

Really, though, I agree with the other posters saying what you want is more veggies. Something light and cooling would be good. Maybe green beans like some others have suggested, or a cucumber salad, or, hell, even cole slaw if you make it with vinegar and not mayo.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:19 PM on September 23, 2007

How could we forget this?
posted by nax at 4:53 PM on September 23, 2007

My favourite Thanksgiving dessert is the Pumpkin Pie with Walnut Streusel from Epicurious. It is just fantastic and I get rave reviews. Sometimes, if I'm REALLY lazy, I just make up the streusel and throw it on a store bought pie. BTW, it looks nothing like the picture in the link, more like a pumpkin pie with crumble or crisp topping.

Also, the best main is baked ham. My mom always soaked it overnight in a mixture of vinegar, sugar, salt, and water. I guess you'd call it a brine. The next day, it was drained, then covered with a paste of dried mustard and pineapple juice, and then covered with pineapple slices. Oh man...can't wait until Thanksgiving!! Good thing it comes early for us Canadians!
posted by ms.v. at 5:28 PM on September 23, 2007

One thing we like to do is a jelly roll using apple butter for the filling. Apples are a nice fall food, and we like buying some apple butter from the orchard after going apple picking.
posted by jedicus at 6:20 PM on September 23, 2007

I'd like to go on record as recommending adding a can of smoked oysters to your stuffing, but I know this is a love it/hate it sort of thing. So I'll give you something more mainstream that uses a fall vegetable:

Take a bunch of sweet potatoes, say one for every 2-3 guests. Chop 'em up into cubes no more than, say, 3/4 inch on a side. I like them more like 1/2 inch. Cut up some red onions, say one medium-sized one for every two sweet potatoes. Lay them out on baking sheets with raised edges. Douse them with olive oil.

Top with fresh chopped garlic, say one clove per sweet potato or two, kosher or sea salt, and black pepper. Bake them in the oven until the sweet potatoes are nice and tender, stirring them roughly every ten minutes.

Take them out, dump them in a big bowl, throw in liberal amounts of rosemary (fresh is preferable, but dried will do) and parmesan cheese. Now add more. Toss. Serve. Yum.

I should stress that most older people in my region have absolutely no idea what to make of this dish, but the younger and/or more culinarily adventurous generally adore it. In most contexts, I loathe sweet potatoes, but I really, really like this dish.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:50 PM on September 23, 2007 [3 favorites]

My family went nuts for this Pear "Tart" (really a cake). It's super easy to make and it's even better if you bake it on the Wednesday (or even the Tuesday) before. I added a little almond extract to the batter. French vanilla ice cream and/or whipped cream are great accompaniments.
posted by CiaoMela at 6:36 AM on September 24, 2007 [2 favorites]

Chestnut bites, good for an appetizer:

1 can boiled shelled chestnuts (about a cup and a half, if you find fresh)
1 large sweet onion
2-3 cups mushrooms
1 Tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
2 Tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 box pre-made puff pastry, thawed

Slice the onions thinly and caramelise in the butter untill well browned and sticky. Slice the mushrooms and throw in to fry lightly. Mix with all other ingredients except the pastry in a bowl, blend to smoothness in a food processor or with a hand blender. Roll out the puff pastry, cut into matchbox-sixed piece, and put a teaspoonful of the mix on top. Bake at 350 until puffed and golden. For garnish, use fresh rosemary or toast the leaves lightly in the oven (very nice and edible then).
posted by methylsalicylate at 7:14 AM on September 24, 2007 [3 favorites]

Blue Cheese Biscuits - quite yummy!
posted by deliriouscool at 1:49 PM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

From the Winter 2007 issue of Donna Hay magazine:

Maple roasted parsnips

6 x parsnips, ~ 140g / 5oz each, quartered lengthways
1/4 cup / 2 fl. oz olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper
1/4 cup / 2 fl. oz maple syrup

Preheat oven to 200oC / 390oF. Place parsips, oil, salt and pepper in a baking dish lined with non-stick baking paper and toss to combine. Roast for 30 minutes. Pour the maple syrup over and roast for a further 15 minutes until cooked through and golden. Serves 4.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:17 AM on September 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

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