Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Making Over Thanksgiving Dinner

If there's one thing this girl loves, it's Thanksgiving food. The turkey, dressing, potatoes, cranberry sauce (I happen to LOVE the canned jellied sauce, thankyouverymuch).....I mean, what's not to love?? It brings out my inner fat girl. If I had to eat one meal for the rest of my life(and gain about 200 pounds), that'd be it. I remember my sophomore year of high school, I got my wisdom teeth taken out TWO days before Thanksgiving. Do you have any idea the torture???
I think I got to slurp down some soup that year. I do not recommend it.
In my family, we usually do Thanksgiving all out. That's probably my fault. For a few years, we went out to eat and I made a big stink about how I hated going to a restaurant for Thanksgiving, making others miss time with their families by having to serve us. I always enjoyed the togetherness at home, helping to prepare the feast, and knowing so much work and love went into what we were about to devour. Sitting around, pants unbuttoned after that extra slice of pumpkin pie, smiles on the faces, laughs echoing around the house, now that's Thanksgiving!
We typically do Christmas a little smaller, maybe with some sandwiches or chicken salad, etc. And that's fine by me. By then, we're all ready for a break from all the big feasts and goodies. Something lighter is welcomed.

I made my very first turkey on my own last year and it actually turned out edible. I was so proud. Haha!
As a said before, there are some Thanksgiving dishes I absolutely must have: the turkey (obviously), dressing, and sweet potato casserole. But as much as I love the "traditional" Thanksgiving foods, sometimes the same ol' stuff gets predictable and you want to see something different and fresh on the menu.

I've come to love some roasted brussels sprouts. I made some Saturday for Joseph's family get-together. They couldn't be simpler and if they're cooked right, they're tender on the inside, and just slightly crispy on the outside. I cut mine in half, toss them in a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast them in the oven at about 425 for 20 or so minutes(longer if they're big), until they've turned a little brown on the outside. Saturday I tossed some crumbled bacon in with them too. You can guess how that turned out. Bacon is everything, after all.
These garlic lemon and parmesan brussels sprouts also look divine.
I've also seen them with pomegranate seeds and pecans....I'm not sure how I feel about that one.

Another vegetable I've learned to like is cauliflower. You won't ever see me eating the stuff raw, even with ranch dressing. But roasting it makes it tastes so different and SO much better. Again, it's simple. Cut into small pieces, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast.
This recipe sounds yummy.
I've made cauliflower mash before, in place of mashed potatoes, and it is such a versatile vegetable. It'd also be great as a gratin, loaded with some cheese. But if you're wanting to keep it in its most natural(and healthy) state but don't like it raw, try roasting it. I promise you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Squash casserole is one of my favorite things. It's cheesy, creamy, and crunchy. No brainer.
Sometimes we'll have mac & cheese with our Thanksgiving dinner, but this is a good alternative you can feel good about. Yes, it does have cheese, butter, and Ritz crackers, but it's also loaded with squash so you can feel a little less guilty about that second helping.

For something different with green beans, I like to make green bean bundles.
They're the perfect little packages and everyone can just grab one or two and plop them on their plate. And again, if bacon is involved....then....duh!

Succotash probably isn't something you think of when you think of Thanksgiving, but I love a good succotash. This one from 30AEats looks so yummy. Heavy on the okra and bacon. ;)

As far as desserts go, it's usually all about the pies....pumpkin, sweet potato, and pecan.
For something different, and for beautiful presentation, these apple pie baked apples certainly make me want to drool.

I've also seen these pecan pie cookies floating around and really want to try them.
I love the addition of drizzled chocolate to the top. Chocolate pecan pie is so yummy! 
I can just imagine both of these desserts, served warm, with a little vanilla ice cream. Nom nom!

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes? 
I'd love to hear and get some new ideas from you. :)


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