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Thanksgiving is coming up quick...any ideas?

So I think I'm doing Thanksgiving dinner this year...

I moved away from home to go to school about 3 years ago and my mother might finally be coming to see me and my brand new apartment (as opposed to me going to see her all the time). My apartment is pretty impressive, especially for a student like myself...and I want a meal that is just as impressive.

So the problem is, I'm drawing a blank when I try to come up with anything other than the traditional turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams, cranberry jelly, blah blah blah. I know how I'm doing my turkey, so I don't need any ideas there. But what I'm wondering is, if anyone has any ideas or links to some more "modern" sides and/or desserts that I could make as a part of our Thanksgiving meal.


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    1. re: yamalam

      Thanks for the links! I know we all hate to see the same questions asked a thousand times...I tried searching around the boards for "thanksgiving" but couldn't come up with anything like those though.

      1. re: Birtle

        No prob, I've been tagging Thanksgiving threads because I am taking the lead this year for my extended family...4 generations, adventurous eaters and traditionalists, totalling at least 26 people!!!! The biggest dinner party I've ever done was for 12. Excited but anxious, will be on here a lot for ideas, help, and venting.

    2. First, good for you! There are lots of great threads over the years about 'gourmet' Thanksgivings - I'll get links for you once I get back from dinner or tomorrow. However, a nice way to start, I think, is with a soup - last year I made a lovely wild mushroom soup. And, for dessert, I like to make a Tarte Tatin - you can make ahead and reheat. One thing to think about - are there some classics that you 'must have'?

      5 Replies
      1. re: MMRuth

        P.S. This is a quick and dirty search - check out some of the threads that may be applicable - it's worth looking back at some of the older ones:


        1. re: MMRuth

          You must've read my mind. I was thinking of doing a Turkish Carrot soup I have a recipe for to start (it has a nice bit of cinnamon which I think gives it the perfect Thanksgiving feel), and either a Tart Tatin or Apple Strudel for dessert.

          But I think the only thing I NEED to stick with would be some kind of stuffing, and some form of mashed potatoes...

          1. re: Birtle

            I'm in love with Simon Hopkinson's mashed potatoes - both the saffron one and the olive oil ones. I think I've posted the recipes if you are interested.

            1. re: MMRuth

              MMruth, as I trust you implicitly would you mind posting the Simon Hopkinson potatoe recipe (your favorite)? I did a search but can't seem to find it here or google. Thank you so much!

            2. re: Birtle

              This celery soup is also amazing: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... I add garlic, of course! I made that one year for a not-so-traditional Thanksgiving with my immediate family. We started with that, but our main was the 40 cloves of garlic roast chicken.

          2. MMR has my idea- soup to begin. I have done a pumpkin soup that is so easy and delicious, as well as french onion -people love them both.
            I have played with the menu a few times for this year but I'm not solid yet. I'll make baked sweet potatoes and mashed white (or get voted off the island) but I'm not doing that awful green bean thing again, it's just not good. Instead I'm doing brussels sprouts with bacon (sooooo good) and I will refuse to make salad because no one ever eats it, then I'll cave halfway and just do a big antipast... like I always do.
            Also we do baked, stuffed mushrooms (stuffed with mushroom stems, garlic, bread crumbs, crumbled sausage) and of course the family stuffing (not cooked in the bird but I call it stuffing, always have and I find change incredibly difficult to cope with around the holiday's so don't ask!)
            I'm really not a baker (but I love sweets- hence the silly screen name I thought up) however, there's usually a pumpkin swirl cheesecake, or a cherry topped one, plus pumpkin pie, apple, and a mincemeat.
            It's our tradition to serve nuts in the shell (pass around the nutcrackers- I have 4 sets) and fresh fruit in between courses. Also we do fennel- or as my family says it 'fin-oky' - fennel cooked until tender with a dressing of anchovy (or not), olive oil, vinegar- served room temp. It's different...

            2 Replies
            1. re: Boccone Dolce

              I love pumpkin soup (and french onion) but the dish patrol has nixed the idea- not enough soup bowls apparently, though I think there are and they just don't want to wash them!!!

              1. re: yamalam

                you could always suggest teacups for service?LOL!

            2. I made this Triple Cranberry Sauce last year, and I honestly think that it was the best thing on the table -- it was that good!


              1 Reply
              1. re: valerie

                Another cranberry "sauce" option: a few years ago, my dad saw this made on some cooking show. Don't know whose recipe it was, don't know the specifics, but it's tasty with both turkey and pork (eg roasted pork tenderloin). Dad says it was called "cranberry fool" but I don't think it's a fool like the dessert kind.

                Dried cranberries, cherries, golden raisins, and/or currants: I use about 2 parts cranberries to 1 part cherries and 1 part raisins. Maybe 1 C and 1/2 C and 1/2 C?

                Put in small saucepan and add water just barely to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the fruit is plumped and the water has evaporated - depending on how much fruit you use, this could take a while - allow 30-45 min.

                Add about 1/2 to 1 t vanilla (the real stuff) and cook a few minutes longer. Let it cool. It gets nice and thick, kind of like a chutney. Serve at room temp or chilled.


              2. We make a savory pumpkin pie. Sweet potato/cranberry bread was a hit last year. Pumpkin or squash stuffed with wild rice pilaf.

                1. I love this dish. First make some brown rice and separately some wild rice. Don't overcook. roast some red peppers and cut in small slices or cubes. PEEL and Chop a yam into small cubes, about 1/4-1/2 inch big.

                  Then melt some butter, slow saute some onions in it. Add yam and as it *begins* to soften, add peppers, a cup of brown rice and a cup of wild rice (more or less of both, based on your likes), salt and pepper and serve. Textures, colors, tastes all blend delightfully.

                  1. Some more good ideas:

                    Call for Thanksgiving debriefing: the good, the bad & the ugly

                    Thanksgiving Dinner ideas

                    Recipe reports--how did Thanksgiving go?

                    Your Thanksgiving Day Menu!!

                    Turkey-Day Hits and Misses

                    1. I tried this last year, and my GOOD GOD, was it good. I think I'm going to double the recipe this year. I could have had five helpings.

                      4 Replies
                        1. re: schrutefarms

                          Yes! This was delicious!

                          Also, Ina Garten has a good brussels sprouts recipe with pancetta, white wine, and chicken stock.

                          This year's Gourmet looked like it had some good ideas for non-traditional Thanksgiving recipes.

                          1. re: schrutefarms

                            We are going to visit my parents in Florida for the holiday and, as I added this dish to the menu, I called my mother and said, "you make the turkey, I'll make all the sides".

                            1. re: valerie

                              Hahaha! That's my deal every year! I''ll host, do all the apps and sides, all the decorating and dishes, but someone else, for the love of God, supply the turkey and the pie!!! I'm not a magician!!

                          2. Well, I'm not sure this qualifies as "modern" (it's an old Southern recipe) but my mom has made this for years and every time I make this for a holiday crowd, everyone goes gaga. Some people don't even realize it's pineapple. Best part is, it's SO easy.

                            Pineapple-Cheese Casserole
                            Combine 2 cups drained crushed pineapple, 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar, 8 Tbsp flour, and 1 cup sugar. Spread in a 9x13 baking dish. Top with 1 roll crushed Ritz crackers and drizzle with a stick of melted butter. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

                            You could easily cut in half and make in a smaller dish for a smaller crowd.

                            1. I really don't care for candied yams so I do something else for Thanksgiving every year. I get fresh yams, peel them and slice them into thin rounds for a gratin. I take some heavy cream and season it with salt and pepper then add some pureed chipotle pepper, they're spicy so it just depends on how much you like. Then layer your yams and cream in a baking dish and cook at 400 degreees until cooked through. It's something a little different but not so different that it doesn't go with the rest of the meal.

                              1. I've always added a little chopped apple or apple cider, and sometimes a couple dozen golden raisins, to the stuffing/dressing for a 16+ pound bird, but one year when the dogs got to the white bread before I did, I used a good storebought multi-grain bread, and have never gone back to white. If you are serving the not-really necessary accompanying dinner rolls, make popovers instead. They are just fine in a muffin tin or even in coffee cups. So simple to make, but spectacular-looking and sure to impress at any meal.