Thursday, November 15, 2012

a first look at 2012 Thanksgiving ideas...

Thanksgiving is one week away! It is my favorite holiday... shocking, I know, that I would pick a holiday geared around food and family as my favorite. Normally I am not quite so laissez faire about a feast such as this. I love to eat, and I love to plan. I usually have a stack of dog-eared recipes at the ready. But, between the Hurricane, doing some ridiculously painful tweaking of my neck and back, and last-minute logistics of who is going to be where for the feast, here I am one week out and I haven't a shopping list, or the faintest idea of what I am going to make (besides the delicata squash recipe I concocted last night, which was divine).

Part of the reason I can sit back and relax a few more days? This morning I happened to look at the "Thanksgiving sides" category (here on the right side bar) and holy cow, there were all of my tried and true recipes in one place, so I can just cull through what I've cooked in past years and pick my favorites. No need to reinvent the wheel this year! There are a couple of traditional dishes that appear on our table each year:
  • I love to brine our turkey. My brining recipe and method is here.
  • My favorite stuffing. I'd love to say I spend my weekend prior dealing with stale bread, but I don't. You can use this recipe to doctor up any stuffing mix you find at your favorite market, just check the ingredients of the packaged stuffing to make sure it's not full of a bunch of icky ingredients that shouldn't be there...
  • And what is Thanksgiving without sweet potatoes? This is my go-to recipe for mashed sweet potatoes. You can leave them plain or top them. I like sprinkling store-bought pralines pecans on top.
  • And then, of course, cranberry sauce. This is my favorite cranberry recipe, that can be made well in advance. It just gets better as the flavors meld.
So really, I am just picking an appetizer or two, the green veggie(s) and maybe another veggie side. And then, there's the pumpkin/other kind of pie decision, which I'll leave up to the kids.

The one thing that is sneaking up on me is our pumpkin cannelloni project. In past years, I have spent the weekend leading up to Thanksgiving whipping up several dishes of Pumpkin Cannelloni with Sage Cream Sauce. Last year, I pared it back and just cooked for my two children's main teachers. (See photos of years prior and prepare to think I was completely nuts...I'd have to agree.) The 4-dish-route lacked the "majesty" of year's prior, but was way more doable. While part of me would like to skip the cooking altogether this year and say I am just too busy between my nutrition coursework, our kitchen renovation, my speaking engagements, writing the blog, and launching a new simple cooking program in the New Year, I think it's good for us to have a tradition that revolves around making something for others to show our thanks. Heck, if someone gave *me* a dish of this decadence, I'd be thankful. So, that's staying a part of the plan this year.

p.s. While making sure my recipes were all tucked away in one place I came across these. Yes, this is definitely my favorite holiday.

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