Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away! Can you hear my Oprah voice? Between James’ school schedule and outrageous airline prices ($1,000 to fly home to Seattle), we just can’t go home right now.
I figured we weren’t the only ones, so I went out on a limb and offered to host a Friendsgiving. Now we have five couples coming, with a few little ones, all squeezing into our itty bitty apartment. Jesus. Take. The. Wheel.
But I’m up for the challenge – it’s not the first time!
Two years ago I challenged myself to cook Thanksgiving dinner for the first time! James and I were living in Monterey, California, and hosting another submariner friend who wasn’t able to go home. I have to tell you, I loved the challenge and it gave me such a rush! I loved prepping everything the night before, then waking up early to knock it all out. I loved coordinating all the different dishes, cook times, temperatures and timing. I mixed in two beloved casseroles from James’ childhood (one involving cheese in a can), with some new recipes. James ordered a turkey from a smokehouse, so I just handled all the sides.
After cooking Thanksgiving by myself, I had a new, profound appreciation for my mother, grandmothers, aunts and other family members who have come before me. It is not an easy task and as a child, they made it look effortless.
So, as I prepare for this year, I wanted to share some of my favorite recipes I’ll be making again:
Healthy Green Bean Casserole
Growing up, green bean casserole was my favorite. But with all the other heavy sides and desserts, I opted to try this lighter recipe. Nothing canned, but you get all the flavor and satisfaction without any of the guilt!
Vegan Mushroom Make-Ahead Gravy
OK, don’t let the word vegan scare you. This recipe is carnivore-approved and oh, so delicious! The gravy is all about the mushrooms, with all the classic ingredients you need – onion, flour, vegetable stock, soy sauce. In the past I’ve made this gravy the night before, then simmered on Thanksgiving morning.
Make-Ahead Cranberry Sauce
There’s two kinds of people in this world – those who prefer cranberry sauce in a can or those who prefer cranberry sauce made at home (and if you don’t like cranberry sauce at all, you are dead to me. Kidding!). As a child, I enjoyed cranberry sauce out of the can. So the first time I bought fresh cranberries from the store, I had no idea what I was doing. But this recipe converted me, easily. This cranberry sauce is fresh, homemade and you can make it the night before. To all you can lovers – you don’t have to torture yourselves with the jellied, processed slab anymore. Step away from the can!
Crockpot Vegetarian Stuffing
This recipe is a huge game-changer because you don’t have to use the oven! You basically throw together all the ingredients in the crockpot and for fuhgeddaboudit! This stuffing is also vegetarian, but so flavorful.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Mashed potatoes are quintessential at any Thanksgiving table. Since I was forgoing the typical sweet potato casserole (pecans, marshmallow fluff), this recipe was the perfect compromise. The coconut butter and almond milk add a silky, nutty flavor.
Pecan Pie Truffles
OK – I love a good pie, but I’m not a crazy baker. And in the midst of cooking everything for Thanksgiving, I just didn’t have the time. Pecan Pie Truffles are an amazing alternative to pie. This recipe is so decadent and fancy, but so easy to make. But fair warning – it is boozy!
Pumpkin Pie Truffles
I recently made these pumpkin pie truffles for an Oktoberfest party! These truffles are so delicious and perfect for those who like pumpkin but not the texture of pumpkin pie. You throw together all the ingredients in a food processor, roll into balls, freeze, then dip in chocolate. Easy peasy.
What are your favorite Thanksgiving recipes?