Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Thanksgiving Meal Ideas

Hosting a big family dinner can be a daunting task, but the pressure is especially high if you’re hosting one of the big meal events of the year. You know what I'm talking about - those multi-course, fancy tablecloth feasts with family member you haven't see in months! Thanksgiving is definitely one of those! Over the next two weeks, I’m going to write a few pieces that will help you tame the battle ahead. I’ve written in the past about the task of organizing your space, so refer to it here if you need a little help hiding the toys. We’re also going to cover decorations, baking, and today – Dinner!

With food allergies, moral reasons, and the fact that most families attend multiple Thanksgiving dinners, I decided to look in to some alternatives to shake up your table. They are all fall themed, and make sense at a Thanksgiving table, while putting a spin on your expectations. These dishes are easily scaled up or down, so if you’re making a quaint dinner for 4 or you have 18 coming, you can interpret these dishes regardless! 

Image borrowed from

“Stuffed” Alternatives – Bye Bye Birdie!

Cooking a turkey is mental torture… Do I stuff it? Do I glaze it? Should I roast it? People deep fry it? Should I stuff it? What’s with gizzards? What if it’s dry? What if it’s never done?!?!? So why not avoid the hassle all together? Stay traditional with a ham, or one of these beautiful options:

Mushroom and Herb Stuffed Chicken Breast

Mini Beef Wellingtons

Maple Walnut Crusted Salmon

Pumpkin-Ricotta Stuffed Shells


Image borrowed from

Veggie Alternatives – Just say no to green 
bean casserole!

I think that the sides most people serve with Thanksgiving are just there because they always have been. You put a few veggies on your plate so that it doesn’t look like all you want to eat is meat and potatoes covered in gravy. This time of year has some of the most delicious and comforting veggies. My dad is famous for his blend of roasted root vegetables in a rich, mustard-like sauce. Try your own signature blend, or why not try one of these!

Pan Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon
Stuffed Acorn Squash with Apple, Cranberry, & Sausage

Potato Alternatives – Your spuds just got jealous!

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of potatoes in all their forms. Scalloped, bakes, fries, hash browns – it’s hard to go wrong. If you want potatoes on your menu, far be it from me to dissuade you, but let me recommend something a little extra special that might make you think that the humble mash has a little competition.

Apple and Sweet Potato Bake

Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

Other than the desire to impress (and eat well yourself, of course), the scariest part about a dinner like this is the sheer scale of the work. If this is your first attempt at a major meal, don’t go it alone. See if you can reign in at least some of the dishes from the friends and family attending. You’ll find they’re more than happy to help! At my age, my parents often offer to cook the bird, which is a huge weight off of my shoulders! If you have the opportunity, take them up on it! If not, delegate things like appetizers, side dishes or desserts so you can focus on the main event. Remember, it’s always the thought that counts. The fact that you tried is what matters.

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