Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Hands down. There is no contest. I love the celebrations of Christmas and Easter and Fourth of July and Halloween, but Thanksgiving has a special place in my heart. There’s something beautiful to me about family and friends getting together to enjoy good food and time together and to just be…THANKFUL. There is no commercialism and no expectation of candy or gifts beyond the gift of being with each other. I started hosting for my (rather large) immediate family (and often a variety of friends) the Fall after I graduated from college, and with very few exceptions (*ahem* gave birth two days before Thanksgiving *ahem*), I’ve hosted nearly every year since. Things have shifted as my siblings and I have gotten married, and there is more extended family to consider. This year, my little family is in temporary housing between home restorations, and there will be no Thanksgiving meal passed around our dinner table. Instead we’ll be celebrating the holiday with my husband’s extended family.
As a result of this, I got to thinking about the dishes we share when we take our traditions to our “new” extended families or even to friends’ houses. This sparked a desire to bring our team together to share our tables with you. Everyone responded enthusiastically! Below you will find the favorite (or family favorite!) dishes from each of our contributors (in printable PDF format). We hope that they find fans around your family table this Thanksgiving!
This is Janet’s super-easy Apple Celery Salad. We usually travel to Mobile to spend time with my in-laws for Thanksgiving, and my mother-in-law always makes this salad. It’s super-easy, raw, and a refreshing accompaniment to a lot of the heavier, baked dishes usually served at Thanksgiving. The measurement of ingredients is her guess here, so I would say start with this and then adjust the proportions to your liking. You could also add dried cranberries and maybe a little parsley or thyme. I always go for this when it’s leftover grazing time. Happy Eating!
Thanksgiving lunch/dinner/leftovers is my favorite meal of the year. My husband? Not so much. He loves cheese and broccoli, and I wanted to have something on Thanksgiving that he enjoyed, so the newest addition to our family holiday traditions is this Broccoli Cheese Casserole. I originally found it online, and I always double it!
I love these Cheesy Garlic Mashed Potatoes because they’re not your typical plain mashed potatoes, and they are DELICIOUS! Also, it’s very easy to adjust the quantity according to your party size.
For this cheese-lovin’ Italian girl, it doesn’t get much better than a combination of pasta and cheese. For someone trying to time all the dishes going into and coming out of the oven to be hot and delicious at the same time for a winning meal, this Crockpot Macaroni & Cheese is a lifesaver. My family loves this stuff, and leftovers (if there are any) don’t stick around for twenty-four hours!
My entire childhood I hated Brussels Sprouts. Hated them. Once my Mom made me sit at our dining room table for hours and hours until I finally ate ONE of those boiled, disgusting sprouts. I hated Brussels Sprouts. Until one day when I realized that I didn’t hate Brussels sprouts—I just hated the way they were prepared (by my mom). Enter roasted Brussels sprouts. My life changed forever. And just when I thought life couldn’t get better, I added bacon and balsamic vinegar to my roasted sprouts. Life-changing I tell you!
My grandfather loved this recipe. This gorgeous Corn Pudding comes out brown, bubbling, and delicious. It is so easy that there is no reason to reserve it for holidays. I know my Poppy didn’t!
My dad always made the Homemade Cranberry Sauce. He made the cranberry sauce back when it was unpopular to make cranberry sauce, and everyone in my extended family wondered why it didn’t retain the shape of the can. No matter how many cooks were in the kitchen, no matter that the ration of his girth to my grandmother’s tiny kitchen was way too large. No matter that there was only one tiny range and fourteen casseroles vying for space, and he had to keep stepping aside to let someone insert or extract a dish from a 400 degree oven. My dad could be found stooped over the stove, one hand in the pocket of his maroon cardigan, one hand stirring with a wooden spoon, watching cranberries pop, humming along to the sound of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The calm in the chaos.
Holidays always include Pickled Eggs & Beets at the Jacobs’s table. My dad is one of seven children, and everyone makes a slightly different version of this recipe (some not as sweet). When my mom married into the clan, she started bringing pickled eggs and beets to her family gatherings…and when I married Joe, I started bring them to his. My sweet in-laws claim they like them (who could resist cinnamony-beety, delightful purple eggs, I ask), but I’m usually the one who eats the whole dozen over the next few meals following Thanksgiving. And I don’t mind at all.
My husband has a German background and these Sweet Rolls are a dessert that was served at many holiday meals on my father-in-law’s side of the family!
The first year I made this Black Forest Pie, it was to show my family (and my in-law family) that my husband and I could do more than bring plates or drinks to family gatherings—especially Thanksgiving. It was a big hit, and now it’s a yearly request!
Here’s a bit of Thanksgiving sacrilege for you: we don’t do pumpkin pie. Ever. It straight up freaks me out. As a rule, I try to avoid mysterious gelatinous globs in my daily life, and Thanksgiving is no exception. So, when I’m doing my frantic holiday Whole Foods cry-shop, I bypass the shiny pyramid of canned goods and head straight for tater country to make this Vanilla Sweet Potato Pie!
Just reading all these recipes makes me hungry and oh-so-ready for Thanksgiving—with all the full hearts and full bellies that it brings!