A Few Thanksgiving Dishes

With all the Christmas crafts and cookies and decorations going on around here, I feel like I've neglected what might be my favorite holiday of all - Thanksgiving. True, I love Christmas and look forward to with the same excitement and anticipation as young children (though probably for different reasons), but the thing I love about Thanksgiving is that all of these Christmasy preparations are in full swing and once Thanksgiving is over, you've still got another holiday right around the corner to look forward to. Once December 26th hits, maybe you've got a New Year's Party but then it's just another three months of winter with no holiday lights, Christmas cheer, presents, or family get togethers to warm up the cold. Thanksgiving is in the midst of all the holidays, but doesn't signal the end. And of course, there is no better holiday for food or for appreciating all that you've got.

I just wanted to take a few minutes to, first, recognize Thanksgiving in all it's glory, and, second, to share a few recipes that have become true classics in my family. These are the tried and true recipes that we've made over the years to winning smiles and satisfied stomachs. They actually all originally come from various faces over at The Food Network and are sure to be loved by all. Another thing I love about Thanksgiving is that so many recipes abound at this time of year, and they are becoming increasingly accessible every year. There are so many flavors to use, so many ingredients in their prime, and an infinite number of ways to prepare them for your grand meal. And now more than ever, everyone can share and access all these different methods.

I wish I had the time (or the metabolism!) to make all of these dishes at home and post them complete with pictures and my various notes and adaptations. Since the season is in full swing and I'm not the mastermind behind this year's Thanksgiving meal, but rather, one of the many who bring a dish to our family's pot-luck celebration, I've resigned myself to recipe links. Nonetheless, each and every recipe listed here is one I've tried again and again. They're all delicious and delightful winters for Thanksgiving and the whole entire holiday season. Here's to good food, giving thanks, and sharing recipes all across the blogosphere!

My Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes
  • Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Pecan and Marshmallow Streusel - This recipe comes from the talented Tyler Florence. My cousin Kristin made this dish one year right around the time when I started cooking. I was new to the sweet potato, largely because I didn't like potatoes much growing up, and this bright orange thing masquerading as a potato had never looked any more appealing than its counterparts. It wasn't until she brought out these enticing potatoes covered in gooey marshmallows, fragrant cinnamon, and crunch pecans that I really got on the sweet potato bandwagon, and I've stuck it out ever since. These are great for getting kids to try sweet potatoes, and maybe when they get a little more used to the idea, you can wean them off the sugary topping. A truly delightful and decadent side dish that you just have to try!
  • Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle - A good ole Paula Dean dish, this delicious trifle defeated a Thanksgiving dinner party of nearly 30. True, we had all just gorged ourselves on turkey and stuffing and potatoes and cranberry sauce and countless other treats were competing for dessert face time. And there is a whole lot of trifle in this dish, more than a group of 30 could probably eat on empty stomachs. But that's one of the great things about this trifle - there are sure to be left overs! Combining two of the greatest flavors of the season, pumpkin and gingerbread, in an innovative form, this trifle holds layers of goodness with multiple consistencies and flavors coming together perfectly in every bite. A true treat, I loved this trifle and loved feasting on leftovers for weeks after Thanksgiving.
  • Best Ever Green Bean Casserole - Alton Brown's Best Ever Green Bean Casserole really is the best - the best tasting and the best for you. Rather than relying on the classic canned cream of mushroom soup, Brown's recipe makes his casserole entirely from scratch. Though you'll get all the goodness and flavor of the mushroom soup by using fresh mushrooms, you save yourself all the added salt and unnatural flavors that those cans contain. This is a bit more labor intensive than your traditional casserole, but all that effort is totally worth it in the end - both for your health and for the resulting dish you'll have the pride of making by your own two hands. He even makes fresh the crispy onion topping!
  • Apple and Onion Stuffin' Muffins - I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again. Though she gets a lot of bad press for not being trained as a chef, I think Rachael Ray knows her stuff and is a force to be reckoned with. She has a whole bunch of shows all over network and cable TV and still manages to come up with new and innovative recipes on a regular basis while developing cookbooks, kitchen gadgets, and hosting a talk show. But what I'm really impressed by, apart from her busy lifestyle and multi-tasking talent, is her creativity with food. She always manages to come up with something new, whether it be presenting an old classic in a new form, or drawing up something entirely out of the blue. That's why I love these stuffin' muffins. Stuffing is by far one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving. These muffins help ensure that everyone gets their fill since it's already portioned out. And they're fun and delicious too. Somedays I just want to eat stuffing all on it's own, and these muffins make it so much easier to do that. I love the apple in them as well - it's one of my favorite things to use to update traditional stuffings. You've got to give these a try and hand it to Rachael Ray - she knows what she's doing in the kitchen even if she didn't have to go to school to learn it.

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