Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast. ~ William Shakespeare
Thanksgiving is just a week away. It seems that not too long ago we were saying goodbye to summer and now the holiday season is upon us.
I suppose that our recent travels combined with Beamer’s cancer surgery has made the time fly by. Now with just about a week to turkey day, it’s time to think about the dishes that I know will be perfect to serve with our turkey and are recipes that we love. I guess it’s time to prepare a menu and get cooking!
If you are still perusing your cookbooks, food magazines, or the internet for recipes for your Thanksgiving menu, here are some suggestions for a few of our favorite dishes. Celebrate with a festive bottle of bubbly (such as Champagne or Proseco) to start and then pair your menu with a nice bottle of wine or two throughout the evening for a merry feast at your holiday table. If you would like to serve a special cocktail to begin your gathering, I suggest a glass of bubbly with a Wild Hibiscus Flower and a bit of the syrup added for a really elegant drink, as shown above.
Southern Rockefellas – An impressive way to begin a holiday dinner, this appetizer and riff on Oysters Rockefeller was one of the recipes I created for the Lambs & Clams Recipe Contest with the BB&T Charleston Wine & Food Festival. If you and your guests love oysters, then you will enjoy this recipe that is truly superb in flavor. The Southern twist comes from cooked collard greens and Benton’s bacon (which has an incredibly smoky flavor). I also used cornbread crumbs instead of bread crumbs to make the cheesy topping. Clean and shuck the oysters and prepare the ingredients ahead of time. You can then quickly assemble them before baking in the oven for about 15 minutes.
Honey Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce – The combination of fresh cranberries, citrus, Grand Marnier, and Honey Creme Cranberry from Honey Ridge Farms is refreshing and bright in this recipe. It is the best homemade cranberry sauce I’ve ever made. The bit of kick from the Grand Marnier really dresses up this often overlooked accompaniment to your holiday table. If you are a jellied cranberry sauce fan, this may be the recipe that will make you a convert.
Country Potato Gratin – If you’re looking for a unique and decadent alternative to mashed potatoes or your regular potato casserole, try this impressive side dish. Country ham, Jarlsberg cheese, sliced onions, chicken broth, and heavy cream create a luscious blend of flavors that are a perfect pairing with either turkey, a standing rib roast, or baked ham. You will want to prepare this recipe again and again and not just during the holidays.
Cheesy Spinach Casserole – If you’re like me, you’ve had your fair share of creamed spinach over the years. I love spinach and we eat it raw in salads, steam it, and sauté it with a bit olive oil and garlic. Sometimes, however, we want something richer and with more complex flavors to dress up this leafy green veggie. This recipe achieves that. Sautéed mushrooms, a splash of Sherry, Jarlsberg cheese, and a creamy sauce are combined with the spinach and then topped with a crunchy Panko bread topping with Parmesan cheese. This side dish is a delightful updated version of the old and often bland creamed spinach. You will really enjoy this recipe if you like spinach as much as we do.
Kicked Up Macaroni and Cheese – If you enjoy a little variety on your Thanksgiving table and want a break from more traditional side dishes, then try this incredibly rich and flavorful mac and cheese. Apparently, mac and cheese goes back to the 1300‘s, so maybe it’s more traditional than we think. Chorizo sausage, roasted poblano peppers, a bit of heat, and three different cheeses gives this dish a unique twist with the layering and complexity of flavors. It will be difficult to go back to basic mac and cheese after trying this recipe.
Meyer Lemon Roasted Chicken with Herbs – One has to assume that most holiday tables will be graced with a roasted turkey or turkey prepared in some fashion, however, some of you may choose to prepare and serve an alternative main course. Standing Rib Roast comes to mind or a whole tenderloin of beef or a baked ham, but you also can’t rule out a perfectly roasted chicken. This method of preparation created an incredibly moist and delightfully flavorful bird. It would pair well with any of the side dishes above. If you’re not a turkey fan or prefer chicken, then I suggest trying this recipe for something a bit more celebratory than regular roasted chicken.
Pumpkin Pie with Bourbon Whipped Cream – No Thanksgiving table would be complete without pumpkin pie. This recipe is made from scratch using a homemade pie crust and fresh pumpkin. Of course, you can substitute canned pumpkin, but if you have the time, make it with the fresh pumpkin. It really does have a unique flavor. Fairytale and Sugar pie pumpkins are my favorite ones to use when baking. BTW, don’t forget the Bourbon Whipped Cream. It adds a nice subtle boozy touch to the dessert.
Bourbon Pecan Pie - Is there a theme here? Bourbon is definitely an ingredient that shows up in many dishes in the South and since we live in Georgia, I use a lot of bourbon. Adding just a touch of alcohol or liqueur to recipes gives them an unrivaled flavor and often takes them from ordinary to extraordinary. I used Maker’s Mark in this recipe, but your favorite bourbon will work as well. You definitely want family and friends to remember your pecan pie, so try this recipe this year. The flavors in this pie are wonderful enveloped in a beautiful flaky crust prepared with lard. As it should be. Shhh….we won’t tell.
Chocolate Bread Pudding with Two Chocolate Sauces – If pies and bourbon don’t top your list of favorites, but chocolate does, then this recipe is for you. Superb and perfect to serve for a holiday gathering, this recipe is from the original home of decadence, the city of New Orleans. Prepared from a recipe in Ralph Brennan’s New Orleans Seafood cookbook, chocoholics will delight in this rich custard bread pudding made with chocolate chips and then served with a duo of white and dark chocolate sauces. Pure heaven. What else can I say?
Kentucky Hot Brown – And what will you do with those turkey leftovers?? Of course, there’s the ever popular cold turkey sandwich the day after Thanksgiving, mom’s turkey casserole, and the proverbial turkey soup. But why settle for those? How about the unexpected and one more reason to promise yourself another trip to the gym. The Kentucky Hot Brown. Thick slices of Texas Toast topped with roasted turkey breast, crispy bacon, and fresh tomato slices covered and then baked in a rich and creamy cheese sauce. The absolute best use of turkey leftovers. Ever.
If you are looking for any other recipes for your holiday gathering, please look through the recipe archives on this site. There are a number of other dishes and desserts that would be ideal to serve this Thanksgiving.
On another note, please stay tuned for more about our trip to Arizona and our most recent journey to Europe where we traveled along the Rhine River from Switzerland to the Netherlands. If you are looking for travel inspiration and a reason to take your own special journey, you will be very interested in what we found abroad.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. We hope you have a wonderful holiday!
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