Saturday, October 17, 2009

Thinking about Thanksgiving

How early do you start planning for Thanksgiving? It may just be my most favorite it because I get presents near Turkey Day because of my birthday...? Maybe. But there is just something special about this holiday that warms my heart, and my belly. My most favorite family recipe is my Grandmothers Stuffing, it is to die for.

While you begin planning for your Thanksgiving feast, let me point you towards a really great resource online. This Bon Appetit Thanksgiving Menu Generator is interactive and stuffed full of wonderful menus whether you are cooking for four or twelve.

This menu generator takes into account how much time you have to cook and what your personal style might be: Traditional, Fresh & Light, Modern, Sophisticated, Vegetarian, Affordable, or Global.

Here are some recipes I have ear-marked for either a 30th Birthday Dinner Party or a Thanksgiving Feast:

Crabmeat Crostini with Chives and Crème Fraiche. Créme Fraîche, the name alone makes me smile - but it is like sour cream really. The beauty of this recipe is that you can make the crab mixture ahead of time by mixing crab meat minced celery, green onions, chives, mayo, créme fraîche or sour cream, lemon juice and a dash of hot pepper sauce. Why not also toast the baguette slices. Then when party time rolls around, you are simply spooning crab onto toast points, adding some cheese on top and broiling in the oven. Easy Peasy!

Foie Gras-Stuffed Dates. Are you kidding me? These sound so divine, and easy to prepare. According to epicurious, you can use bloc de foie gras (imported from France in tins) or a slice of fresh foie gras pâté or mousse, sold at many specialty foods shops and cheese shops. This can be prepared up to 3 hours ahead of time, cover and chill until party time. I bet these go fast, I'm making a note to double the recipe.

Butternut Squash Soup with Cider Cream. Oh, how I love the addition of carrot, celery, leeks and GRANNY SMITH APPLES in this recipe. Soup is my preferred first course, I'm a lover of all things soup. This recipe is from November 1998 and the recipe I used last year was from December 1996. I can't wait to try this updated version.

Cornish Game Hens with Sweet-Potato Risotto and Cranberry Sauce. This sounds fancy but after reading the ingredients and directions, this is totally do-able. I just love love love Risotto, and in fact, I'm posting a vegetable risotto recipe next!

Cauliflower with Mustard-Lemon butter. This doesn't SOUND great, but then look at the photo. Total Yum! Speaking of cauliflower, I've been wanting to try my hand at swapping steamed and pureed cauliflower for mashed potatoes, any advice before I jump out and wing it?
Spiced Brandy Semifreddo with Cranberries. This one is a definite on my list. I love everything about this recipe, and especially that it can be served in small cups and with a small spoon. What is it with me and small spoons? I just melt over them.

And how is THIS for a finale? Frozen Pumpkin Mousse with Walnut-Toffee Crunch. With no pastry crust to wrangle, these luscious parfaits of pumpkin mousse and cream are easier to make than pumpkin pie. Epicurious suggests start making this dessert at least one day before you plan to serve it. Gosh, I hope it lasts that long in my house!

As you start thinking about Thanksgiving this year, take a look at the online menu planning help and I hope you too fall in love with some of the suggestions from Bon Appetit and Epicurious. Let me know what you decide to put on your Thanksgiving Menu this year.

Photos and recipes from


  1. Roasted cauliflower is a family favorite. Up until September, I had two kids and a husband at home, I'm now down to one kid and a husband. Before, I had to buy two heads of cauliflower as they'd fight over who got it all. I roast it. Cut into pieces, coat with olive oil and toss Mrs. Dash (Chipotle flavor is the current favorite) and some kosher salt. 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. A miracle since my husband/kids will eat it and it's not covered in Ranch dressing :).

    PS. Moved up north from Houston and during the winter months, I really miss the humidity/heat. I loved the fact that I could have geraniums on the patio by Valentine's Day in Houston. Doesn't happen up here in the tundra - they'd freeze if they were even available!

  2. I'd love to be your Thanksgiving guest! These recipes and photos look great. Thanks for the link to the food generator, I'm gonna need it this year. My husband decided to invite his friends and work colleagues to Brother-in-Law's house along with all his friends for Thanksgiving. The entire load is mine to whip, stir, bake, and saute, so I need all the help I can get. Additional humorous sidenote, we don't even live in the US, so most of the ingredients are imported and/or hard to find.

  3. Oh, that Pumpkin Mousse looks divine! The best part of people who can't have crust (wheat or gluten) can dig right in!

    I made my first cauliflower mash a month or so ago. I found the cauliflower taste strong so I added some garlic, herbs and plenty of butter and it was good. I blended mine in the food processor. Otherwise, it's hard to get the cauliflower mashed like potatoes. Also, it would be great with a good gravy.

    Happy Thanksgiving,

  4. I can't wait to share my pictures and post about the three recipes I ended up using from this post. I made the Foie Gras Stuffed Dates (wow) and the Butternut Squash Soup with Cider Cream (yum) and the Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Butter (will change the way you look at cauliflower forever.)


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