Tuesday, November 08, 2005

my first Thanksgiving dinner

This year, I'll be hosting my first Thanksgiving dinner. Since we're sticking around Riverside for Thanksgiving, we thought we'd invite over our local friends who also aren't traveling. Also, my sister's hoping to come visit. So, we should have a good-sized group. Needless to say, I'm pretty excited about hosting the mother of all dinner parties. Of course, we'll have the turkey, and I've got to make my mom's mashed sweet potatoes (they're topped with a buttery, cinnamony pecan topping instead of the traditional cloying marshmallows).

But we'll have at least a couple vegetarians present, so I need to think of a substantial veggie dish that can double as an entree for the vegetarians and a side dish for everyone else. I have a butternut squash dish that would seem really at home on a Thanksgiving menu, but that's too similar to the sweet potatoes, and the sweet potatoes are just non-negotiable, I'm afraid. They're so good. (Frankly, though, if it were up to me, we'd have sweet potatoes, garlic mashed potatoes, and potatoes au gratin. heh.)

Maybe a really good stuffing/dressing. Anyone have a killer recipe, something that could stand on its own as an entree? (I won't be baking it inside the bird.)

I think I'll also make challah bread, as well as some kind of non-starchy vegetable. And I have a good cranberry sauce recipe, if I can find it. Dessert has me stumped, as my sister's not a big fan of pumpkin pie.

Any suggestions, anyone? Have a turkey secret your mom swears by? What dishes do you crave at Thanksgiving?

6 Comments:

Blogger lis said...

Having cooked Thanksgiving dinner twice, I feel like I can give you some excellent expert advice on the topic. :) I have some good recipes for you, but since comments won't allow links, I'll have to post separately.

And for the vegetarians, you should (of course) serve tofurkey!

6:28 AM  
Anonymous Vinnie said...

Sarah and I have cooked Thanksgiving dinner twice as well, and we've got some good recipes too. One of our great recipe finds was an applesauce. We originally served it cold with dinner but lately, when we make it, we make a big batch so that we have enough left over to serve warm over ice cream as a dessert. Here it is:

Ingredients:

8 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks (We use 6 Braeburns and 2 Golden Deliciouses.)
3 tbs unsalted butter
3 tbs water
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3-4 tbs granulated sugar (we use 4)
1-2 tbs brandy or peach schnaps (we use 2 - I prefer brandy, Sarah prefers schnaps)

Put the apples, butter, and water in a heavy saucepan. Tuck the vanilla bean in among the apples cover the pan, set it over medium heat, and simmer until the apples are completely tender and have cooked to a rough puree, stirring them gently from time to time, 20-25 minutes. Add the sugar, stir, and continue cooking uncovered for a few minutes to let the sugar dissolve. Taste the sauce for sweetness; it should be tart-sweet, but if you want it sweeter, add more sugar. Stir in the brandy and simmer a few minutes more to cook off a little of the alcohol. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Leave the vanilla bean in the applesauce to steep; remove it before serving. If not serving the same day, refrigerate for up to a week.

7:01 AM  
Anonymous sally said...

My mom makes a cranberry and orange relish. It's super easy--you don't even have to peel the orange. I'm not sure of the exact recipe, but I'm fairly certain it's on the bags of Ocean Spray cranberries in the produce section.

7:28 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

During the year when I was a vegetarian in Europe, my Scottish hosts served me Nut Loaf for Christmas dinner. It was pretty good, but I have no idea how to find a recipe (they bought it from a gourmet store). What about individual vegetarian pot pies, frozen in bowls ahead of time and then baked with circles of puff pastry on top? Or shepards pies, with mashed potatoes on top? If you include beans with the veggies, there's plenty of protein.

Most cranberry bread recipes are sweet enough to serve for dessert, especially when accompanied by cream cheese. Pecan pie is a perennial favorite, of course, and in the South we do sweet potato pies. And don't tell, but Mrs. Smith makes a mean apple crumb pie. (Although your tart looks better and is homemade--why not start a Thanksgiving tradition with that?)

Good luck! Mr. Tart and I will be at my parents' in Green Bay for turkey day.

8:06 AM  
Blogger ringloss said...

1) I'd like to second the recommendation for the cranberry-orange relish. Super easy, super tasty.

2) I'll throw in the recipe for the best turkey I ever had. It's from Alton Brown's show.


http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/cda/recipe_print/0,1946,FOOD_9936_8389_PRINT-RECIPE-FULL-PAGE,00.html

10:22 AM  
Blogger Lisa B. said...

As a vegetarian at T-giving, I always love have lots of vegetables, rather simply prepared, rather than one turkey-substitute dish. Here are some of my favorites: green beans with shallot butter; roasted brussels sprouts (roasted with garlic and olive oil, tossed with toasted pine nuts); steamed broccoli--can't beat it!; baked squash with Moroccan butter (in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, I believe); a gorgeous green salad. Also, Moosewood has a good corn and cheddar pudding recipe.

9:29 AM  

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