I know holidays are about tradition. And I know that traditions change. That's the nature of...well, nature. Things change. Circumstances change. People change. This is our year of change. Thanksgiving is about being grateful. And I am MORE than grateful for years and years of eating Thanksgiving turkey at one of many tables fitted into every possible space of a house, where my metal folding chair would bang into the folding chair behind me. There were that many of us. And it was always fun.
These were Thanksgivings where the number of cousins in line for turkey ranged from 25 to 45, depending on the year. It has been the gathering where boyfriends—who later became husbands—were introduced to the family. (Daddy-O was one of those.) And sometimes boyfriends were just boyfriends. But this year it will be just my family at our house. And it's finally time for me to act like a grownup and place an entire Thanksgiving dinner on the table.
Yes, the focus of Thanksgiving should be gratitude and thankfulness and not food. And this year we are truly thankful. But let's be honest. Food does play a big role in the day. As I am making my list and checking it twice, I'm looking for recipes I can use this Thanksgiving. Maybe I can save you a little searching if you are also on the recipe hunt.
In no particular order, these are recipes we have used for years. No, not every recipe every year, but all (but one) of these have made it to a Thanksgiving table at one time or another. Click on the title to find the recipe.
Macaroni & Cheese. If you are from another part of the country, maybe even another part of our state, this might not be the kind you make. But this is the recipe we that expect on every big dinner table. When I was growing up, we called it "macaroni pie."
Cranberry Apple Crunch. Jessica has been making this for years to add to the table. It falls somewhere between side dish and dessert. (It's delish with a scoop of ice cream.) And we have been known to have leftovers for breakfast.
Sweet Potato Souffle. Many years ago, my mother moved on past sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top to this nutty topping. This is her recipe—except I use less butter in the topping than she did. We like it fine this way. PS...it's really not a souffle but that's what we've always called it.
Caramelized Brussel Sprouts. Mommy found this recipe ages ago. Even the non-Brussel sprouts folks usually like this dish. Maybe because the sprouts are shredded and don't look like Brussel sprouts.
Baked Pineapple. Another easy side dish with a sweet taste. (Hey, don't judge. We're in the South.)
Company Carrots. These carrots are not the typical glazed sweet ones. They are savory. And they easily can slip into the oven along side other dishes. You can even bake them at several oven temps to make it work with the rest of your menu.
Cranberry Sauce. This is the recipe Mommy made the year they were far away from home and she made the entire dinner. Now it's a regular recipe for her.
Cornbread Dressing. Not my mother's recipe and I haven't made or tasted this one. But both daughters have made it and served it and say it's delicious.
Pumpkin Pie Spectacular. I make the most basic of pumpkin pies. But Mommy makes this one and her family loves it. I think their words were, "It's a show stopper!" They are begging for it again this year.
Pumpkin Angel Food Cake. Any folks are your table who are health conscious? This might be the dessert for them. If you're an angel food cake fan, this is a perfect fall version. It's easy, too
Sweet Potato Biscuits. These are SO good. Even work for the non-biscuit baker (like me) AND they can be made ahead of time and frozen until the day you need them. For Thanksgiving, we just serve them with butter.
Blushing Apple Julep. Okay. I've never had this for Thanksgiving, but it would be so good if your day calls for a beverage and a munchie while folks wait for the big dinner.Can you tell I'm a whiz at side dishes? And desserts are pretty easy. It's the turkey and dressing and gravy that I've never had to do. Son-in-law has offered to fry our turkey this year. We decided that the cooking process will be our Thanksgiving "activity"—which, if we're lucky, might also produce an entree. (He suggested having a backup turkey in the oven might be wise.) This turkey frying thing might become our new tradition.
So here's to tradition, both old ones and new ones! That house where we gathered might not be as full of people this Thanksgiving, but it will be just as full of love as ever. It's just that the love is coming from a little further down the road. And I have no doubt that they will feel it.
These recipes are posted here just as a quick reference if you need ideas for the holiday. And don't forget there are more salads, desserts, appetizers, etc. listed in the Recipe Index at the top of the post. Click on that tab to reach the index.
Don't overlook the little search box at the top left of the blog. I use that as often as the index. When I discovered this week that Sweet Potato Souffle was not in the index, and I was positive that I had blogged that recipe, the search box led me straight to the recipe. And it's now safely listed in the index along with its brother and sister side dishes.