What is your Thanksgiving meal philosophy?

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Posted 11/14/2012 by Sarah*H in NSBR Board
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PeaNut 239,162
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Posted: 11/14/2012 12:35:36 PM
Do you cook the same thing every year? Try a new spin on traditional dishes? Make more food than anyone can eat or stick to the basics?

We're hosting one side of the family this weekend and I'm figuring out the menu and got to wondering how other families do it.

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PeaNut 43,787
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Posted: 11/14/2012 12:37:17 PM
Well since we are going out this year my philosophy is to eat as much as possible! Oh...and have lots of cake.


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PeaNut 114,614
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Posted: 11/14/2012 12:38:06 PM
Same thing, and more than anyone can eat.
We don't eat "traditional" dinners very often, so everyone looks forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner for our usual traditional favourites.

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PeaNut 43,061
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Posted: 11/14/2012 12:40:07 PM
"If you can't put gravy on it, it has no place on the table."

That's our philosophy for Thanksgiving and Christmas (both are turkey dinners). It's fairly traditional, we don't change it up too much. The biggest changes were the addition of a ham and the vegetarian dishes I bring for myself. Oh and tons of leftovers are imperative. Turkey sandwiches always happen a few hours after dinner and for a few days after (usually for breakfast).

ETA: Also just realised another philosophy, "If it's healthy, it doesn't belong at the meal." We're the family that make "5 Cream Mashed Potatoes". There is no room at the table for eating health food.


PeaNut 18,334
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Posted: 11/14/2012 12:40:23 PM
Mainly cook the traditional dishes. May try a spin on one dish... if everyone likes it then it may end up becoming the traditional dish.
Plenty of leftovers.

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PeaNut 52,817
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Posted: 11/14/2012 12:40:54 PM
I make the same core things - soup, salad, turkey, dressing (ick), gravy, vegetables, potatoes, cranberry sauce - but make them differently each year.

I loooove to cook and would hate to make things exactly the same way each year. It's much for fun and interesting to mix things up. I keep it traditional in that the basic dishes are predictable but the preparation is not.

I don't make a huge amount of food. Enough for the meal and a little bit of leftovers. I don't want to be eating it for days.

This year I'm making:

Roasted autumn vegetable (butternut squash, sweet potato, parsnip)
Mixed green salad with pomegranates and hazelnuts and a citrus vinaigrette
Herb-roasted turkey with apple cider gravy
Mashed potatoes & parsnips with caramelized onions & blue cheese
Roasted brussel sprouts with pancetta
Delicata squash stuffed wtih mushrooms, farro, pecans & dried cranberries
Balasmic glazed roasted green beans
Cranberry, apple and ginger chutney
Bourbon pumpkin cheesecake


PeaNut 64,634
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Posted: 11/14/2012 12:44:49 PM
I have the same basics each year. Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, corn. I always have green bean casserole (yuck!), and usually another green bean dish, or maybe carrots instead. I always make cornbread stuffing, and another stuffing, whether its more traditional like a Stove Top type, or this year I'm making a mushroom/sausage stuffing. I know what the family likes, so I pretty much just make that. I experiment with one or two things each year though.

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PeaNut 11,212
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Posted: 11/14/2012 12:45:28 PM
I make all of the family's traditional dishes every year. The rule is you can always add a new one, but never ever leave out or mess with the faves.


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Posted: 11/14/2012 12:46:28 PM
People eat at 2 pm? We usually tell people to arrive around 3 and dinner is anywhere from 4-5 depending on when the turkey is done.

My DH is the T-day chef, but he includes me in the planning. We like to try out a new turkey brine every year. He usually finds a new stuffing recipe (but we keep a couple boxes of Stove Top on hand just incase it's terrible.

We always have canned and fresh cranberry sauce to please varying palates.

Everything else varies by year. I have a tendancy to provide way too many appetizers. I love deviled eggs, cheese balls, more cheese and crackers, mixed nuts, olives, pickles, veggie tray, you name it!


PeaNut 33,625
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Posted: 11/14/2012 12:47:05 PM

I make all of the family's traditional dishes every year. The rule is you can always add a new one, but never ever leave out or mess with the faves.

Same with our family!!!

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PeaNut 133,429
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Posted: 11/14/2012 12:47:55 PM
Thanksgiving dinner has been my responsibility for 16 years.

We have the same traditional food items, but I will also try a new item or 2.

It took a number of years to find the recipes that my family enjoys & I've learned to leave them be. One year, I made a pumpkin pie like dessert. It had a crust & pumpkin filling. But, it wasn't a pie. I was politely informed that the dessert was good. However, in the future, they only wanted pie.

So, if I want to try something new, it is an addition to the traditional meal.

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PeaNut 239,162
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Posted: 11/14/2012 12:50:26 PM

cheese balls, more cheese and crackers, mixed nuts

So, uh, thanks, I just realized I left these things off my menu and shopping list even though we always have them.


PeaNut 128,862
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Posted: 11/14/2012 12:54:10 PM
In the past, I have tried to introduce some new dishes to our family's Thanksgiving. Corn pudding, oyster dressing, unusual desserts....things that I didn't eat as a kid. My mom has always done what I now consider the "classic dishes"---turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, a vegetable or two, rolls, and pumpkin pie.

I think I am coming to the conclusion that that's the way to go for me from now on, too.
I'm just not surrounded by a lot of adventurous eaters, and I think simple and delicious will be my Thanksgiving philosophy from now on.

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PeaNut 25,620
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Posted: 11/14/2012 12:54:35 PM
Our menu never changes. Its just not allowed. There is always way more food than we can possibly eat at one meal, otherwise we couldn't send home leftovers and that's as good as the original meal.

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PeaNut 122,458
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Posted: 11/14/2012 12:58:20 PM
I am starting a new tradition this year. We go to a friend's house for dinner, but she never sends leftovers. DH's favorite part of the holiday is having a plate for later or the next day.
I am going to cook our meal this weekend and save it so we will have leftovers when we get home Thursday night.


PeaNut 49,444
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Posted: 11/14/2012 12:58:55 PM
We have:
Turkey, and Ham, baked sweet potatoes, with marshmallows on top, mashed potatoes, 5 layer pea salad, green beans, gravy, rolls, carrots, turnip greens, stuffing, chicken dumplings, cornbread, cranberry sauce, black olives, potato salad, deviled eggs, etc..

Cheesecake, blackberry pie, pumpkin pie, pumpkin roll, chocolate pie, banana pudding, cake, and other pies, depending on what I cook.

I used to buy almost all of it myself, but since I lost my job, they just bring me the stuff and I cook it. TONS of leftovers, and everyone leaves with a cheesecake, and a pie of their choice, along with a huge pan of leftovers for their family. Thanksgiving is my #1 favorite holiday! We also have the same food for Christmas, and I cook most of it as well.

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PeaNut 65,877
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Posted: 11/14/2012 1:01:42 PM
We stick to the same menu every year for the most part it is easier that way. I wanted to change things up and that didn't go over well. We also have a lot more food than we will eat because we love leftovers. No green bean casserole here though we just do normal veggies - usually green beans and corn no sauce on them just a little butter. We always have turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with brown sugar, butter and mandarin orange slices, green salad, rolls, cranberry sauce, cranberry jello salad, and pies usually pumpkin and maybe a cheesecake - no so sure about the desserts this year. Oh and I have to make my caramel cranberry bars or there is a revolt - I didn't make them last year but will this year.



PeaNut 216,327
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Posted: 11/14/2012 1:03:48 PM
The past few months I have worked diligently breaking myself from "over stuffing" myself. This year I vow NOT to be miserable, lol..

And, we always have the traditional food: turkey, stuffing, mashed and sweet potatoes, rolls, pumpkin pie along with some misc. items thrown in the mix.

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PeaNut 80,815
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Posted: 11/14/2012 1:05:38 PM
We're not very adventurous. Partly because of a few picky eaters and partly because of food allergies/intolerances.

My nephew is allergic to dairy and nuts. My sister has digestive issues and doesn't tolerate wheat, corn, and dairy well. Plus she doesn't eat beef and only small amounts of pork and poultry.

Even the traditional dishes are hard and my sister usually ends up breaking her diet a bit and eating some things she doesn't normally.

My mom and I would like to be as adventurous as we can within the food allergy/intolerance limits, but when we suggest it nobody is thrilled with the idea. I'm really tempted to make green bean casserole from scratch instead of cream of mu soup etc but they all looked shocked when I suggested it and I thought my husband would faint. Don't mess with his beloved GBC.

ETA-we have turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, biscuits, roasted butternut squash, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and either apple or blueberry. For appetizers we usually have cheese and crackers and shrimp cocktail. Oh and potato chips for my nephew. And also corn for him as he can't eat the green bean casserole and wouldn't touch squash if he was starving on a deserted island.


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PeaNut 10,051
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Posted: 11/14/2012 1:07:12 PM
All of the above.

I'm the baker. I know that my family wants some traditional flavors, but I try to mix up how I present them each year. This year we're having mini pumpkin pies instead of a whole pie. Pecan pie bars instead of pecan pie. Pumpkin roll with cream cheese frosting. And instead of the usual chocolate pie, I'm doing a dark chocolate torte.

I love teh traditional flavors of my Grandma's stuffing. However, my Mom and others can't process the nuts or the hot sausage she put in. So we have modified it over the years to more basic, plain stuffing. We've branched out from canned cranberries to orange cranberry relish. We have mashed root veggies for those who like them in addition to the glazed carrots that my Grandma made.

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PeaNut 239,162
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Posted: 11/14/2012 1:09:01 PM
Could you share the caramel cranberry bar recipe?


PeaNut 341,236
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Posted: 11/14/2012 1:16:42 PM
I love appetizers Pennyring!! I was asked by my DH if I would make olive penguins again this year. I love deviled eggs. I really want to make artichoke dip this year too. I am not hosting but was asked to help her cook. This is our first year being at my BFFs house I know they have turkey. I hope that they have mashed potatoes, and I need sweet potatoes but I hate canned ones.

I'm sure it will be fun and tasty. right?

On a normal Thanksgiving I have Turkey, Ham, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, stuffing, salad, rolls and mashed sweet potatoes ( or some kind of sweet potatoes)green beans or corn. I have Choc. pie, cherry pie, apple pie and some kind of sweet bread.

Man, I hope this goes well. My Bff just lost her DH and this is the 1st major holiday since he passed and I am worried about how she is going to deal, she not doing as well as I hoped she would be.

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Posted: 11/14/2012 1:47:11 PM
We have the traditional foods (turkey, stuffing, sweet potato, etc.) with some ethnic dishes thrown in the mix. I am not a big fan of turkey, so this arrangement makes me happy. There is usually a lot of leftovers and everyone takes home some of it. Pies usually are pumpkin, pecan, and chocolate.

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PeaNut 221,236
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Posted: 11/14/2012 1:55:57 PM
I change a lot of things up each year. I like to experiment and try new things. Since I'm the only one in the extended family who cooks, everyone can like it or lump it! (Though of course if there's a traditional favorite they're missing, they're welcome to offer to make/bring it.) I tend to make enough of the side items just to serve the guests on hand, but I always have extra turkey, rolls, cranberry relish and pie, so we can have turkey sandwiches and pie the next day.

This year we're having a smoked turkey breast, with jalapeno cornbread dressing, fresh cranberry/red grapefruit relish, chipotle sweet potato souffle, green beans with brown butter and carmelized onions, and apple streusel and ginger pumpkin pies.

ETA: No one ever complains. I think they're all as tired of the old recipes as I am!

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PeaNut 14,521
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Posted: 11/14/2012 2:00:18 PM
A combo....

Make traditional favorites
Try a few new things each year
Make more food than we could possibly eat

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PeaNut 291,659
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Posted: 11/14/2012 2:02:26 PM
we have all the same each year..my brother has been hosting the past 3 years and his wife is cuban so there are a lot of cuban dishes

rice and beans
cuban stuffing
spanish apps

and other things I can't think of right now

we always have a pasta dish ( lasagna or baked ravioli)

we have 3 kinds of turkey..Italian stuffing (made by me) mashed potatoes, sweet potato pie ( made by me) cranberry sauce ( something SIL's family makes)pumpkin soup

dessert is flan, different pies, etc.


PeaNut 393,905
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Posted: 11/14/2012 2:05:40 PM
This is the first year I've hosted for more than just my immediate family so I don't really have a tried and true philosophy!

I am planning to make more than we will eat as I want leftovers. Of the turkey at least! My dh loves a corn casserole thing so I'll make a bigger than usual batch of that so he can have those as leftovers as well.

I'm making more than enough appetizers/snack type foods as Id like to have plenty of those to last all day and into the evening.

This is my menu -

relish tray - sweet pickles, dill pickles, pickled okra
relish tray - black olives, green olives
various cheeses cut into cubes
crab dip
cheese ball
assortment of crackers for dip and cheese ball
shrimp cocktail
mixed nuts
assorted chocolates

twice baked potatoes
corn casserole
green beans (plain, not green bean casserole)
cherry pineapple fluff
deviled eggs

I'm wondering if I should make a fruit tray to set out with the appetizers? I'm thinking strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries as
those wont get nasty sitting out. Thoughts???

My mom is making desserts -
pumpkin pie
pecan pie
cherry pie
apple pudding (its like a cobbler)

I am going to make a batch of lemon bars as well. My dh loves those, so we will have that with dessert.

...And now it's time for a breakdown

PeaNut 96,097
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Posted: 11/14/2012 2:10:16 PM
My mom and I swap years hosting - it's usually just the 4 of us for dinner (me, DH, mom and her boyfriend) with the occasional friend/family member who have no Tday plans. We make MORE than enough food for plenty of leftovers - which is really unavoidable when you're making a whole turkey for 4 people.

The only thing that varies in our dinner is the dressing and sometimes the meat (occasionally we've had duck or pheasant instead of turkey). I cannot seem to make a decent cornbread dressing, so I try a different recipe every year. Last year's was Paula Deen's, which I assumed would be wonderful but it was just "meh".

Other than that we have:
Turkey (or some other kind of bird)
Sweet Potato casserole
baked spinach or green beans
broccoli casserole
mashed potatoes
deviled eggs

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PeaNut 183,099
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Posted: 11/14/2012 2:15:03 PM
I basically cook the same things each year....but don't mind, as we only make these once a year, and we look forward to them. I like to make a LOT of fooid to ensure leftovers. I make the entire meal, although sometimes guests will bring an additional dsh. I just posted a thread with the mealplan, if that helps anyone:

Meal Plan Thread

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PeaNut 27,168
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Posted: 11/14/2012 2:17:12 PM
My philosophy now is don't try too hard. Traditional but basic recipes not too much fuss and plenty of time to relax.


PeaNut 273,602
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Posted: 11/14/2012 2:23:48 PM
my personal philosophy is, 'spend most of the day cooking an elaborate meal for just the two of us, not necessarily because I like it, but because my BF likes it and I'll do it, for him.'

it's just the two of us on Thanksgiving, and I do pretty much the whole 9 yards- roast duck, green beans, a relish plate, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, etc. It is a ton of work, and feels a bit wasteful to me to make all that food just for the two of us, but my BF really likes it, so I figure, I'll go all-out for that one day. If it was up to me, we'd eat out somewhere...

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PeaNut 452,927
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Posted: 11/14/2012 2:24:28 PM
I married into an Italian family.. when you have a real crowd.. you always have some Italian dishes first (some sort of pasta, etc. ) I usually have either ravioli's or lasagna first, eggplant parm, stuffed artichokes, some bread, etc..

then the traditional turkey with all the trimmings too.. this year my DS invited his g/f who is vegetarian so I might be doing a butternut squash soup, or butternut squash lasagna along with some other veggies, (maybe broccoli with olive oil, lemon and garlic)

I'm having about 18 people and this will be enough and provide leftovers the next day....however, if it was just us, (5),, I might just doing the traditional turkey...

but if I'm cooking a big meal,, I'd rather go all out and not have to cook for a few days after...!!

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PeaNut 857
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Posted: 11/14/2012 8:33:23 PM
We always have way too much food at Thanksgiving!

We always have turkey, dressing, gravy, sweet potato casserole, green beans, fruit salad, and cranberry sauce. Dessert always includes pumpkin pie.

I always try a few new things. This year I'm making a corn casserole, homemade yeast rolls, fresh cranberry relish, a new dressing recipe, and a new apple pie recipe.


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PeaNut 64,257
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Posted: 11/14/2012 8:38:18 PM
Get the hell out of Dodge. We go away every Thanksgiving. Makes things so much less stressful.

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Posted: 11/14/2012 8:42:37 PM
I like to relax on thanksgiving. We ordered our dinner from a catering company this year.

Christmas I cook for, but thanksgiving day we eat at noon, we will then start carrying totes of christmas stuff up from the basement. Leftovers at dinner time.

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PeaNut 262,757
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Posted: 11/14/2012 8:54:40 PM
Same thing, and more than anyone can eat.
Everyone looks forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner for our usual traditional favorites. My sister likes to mix it up and add something new, but I like same old, same old, and LOTS of it.

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PeaNut 558,342
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Posted: 11/14/2012 11:23:18 PM
We go out to eat for the main meal and cook a regular dinner at home. We've had bad experiences trying to make thanksgiving dinners that we avoid it now. Maybe things will change when kids get older
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PeaNut 218,205
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Posted: 11/14/2012 11:58:40 PM
Generally have the same thing, use the china, have fresh homemade cranberry sauce, make homemade whipped cream, have a SIL who makes something different that nobody eats but she brings it every year anyway....

We usually eat a little later than many people -- 4:30 or 5:00.

This year I'm not hosting for the first time in a long time....feeling excited I don't have to clean like a mad-woman, but kinda bummed that we'll be eating buffet style, probably on paper plates. I'll get over it when I'm not cooking it or cleaning it up!


PeaNut 439,654
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Posted: 11/15/2012 6:36:26 AM
There are only 4 of us - my parents, my husband and me. We dine here most years and occasionally go out (this is an out year). I don't like any of the stuff that goes with turkey - stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, etc. and that is what takes so much time so a couple of years ago I stopped doing all that.

Last year we had ham as our main course with a pumpkin cake for dessert and more vegetables than a usual dinner. I do fancy china and set a pretty table.

One year my husband and I both cooked and tried a different spin on the traditional dishes. To say my parents didn't take to it would definitely be an understatement.

I love to cook but Thanksgiving is definitely not my favorite holiday.

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PeaNut 68,995
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Posted: 11/15/2012 6:48:43 AM
We normally cook the same dishes every year. Mainly because we like them and only do them once.

This year though it is just my dh and kids and we both have to work throughout the week, so I think we are saving the Thanksgiving meal until Christmas and are going to have steak, shrimp, potatoes, asparagus, rolls and both a pumpkin and cherry pie.

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PeaNut 294,285
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Posted: 11/15/2012 7:26:16 AM
The first Thanksgiving after DH's cancer diagnosis I ordered a ready to heat meal from a local upscale grocery store, Byerly's. It was fabulous and I have done it every year since. Just pop the trays in the oven!


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PeaNut 263,696
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Posted: 11/15/2012 9:04:10 AM
I am still trying to plan my menu. My sister and her DH are coming and she is a vegeterian and I am a 4 month old vegan. I know I won't eat any meat but I may do a little dairy.

So my philosophy this year...Bring on the greens.


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PeaNut 114,407
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Posted: 11/15/2012 9:20:57 AM
Same every year. Very traditional. Turkey shaped butter

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PeaNut 211,963
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Posted: 11/15/2012 10:34:36 AM
I would love to mix things up but my family would lynch me. They are very traditional and want the same basic things every year. I do throw in a new dish each year usually a vegetable dish or dessert. I thought about making pumpkin cheesecake this year but when I brought it up both DS and DH claimed it's not right not to have pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving! LOL! This year I am going with the Tyler Florence sweet potatoes as sweet potatoes are not such a touchy subject in my family!

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PeaNut 39,386
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Posted: 11/15/2012 11:49:47 AM
Everything has to be exactly the same. I put nuts in the stuffing and you'd have thought I slapped the baby Jesus. I can't even comprehend the hysteria that would ensue if I made a cranberry relish instead of serving that jellied $h*t from the can. Back in the old days when she cooked, MIL never even bothered to cut it up so you couldn't see the rings.

I even have a standard shopping list and recipe lists in case anybody helps. I put the in sheet protectors and write on them with a dry erase marker.


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PeaNut 175,521
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Posted: 11/15/2012 11:51:29 AM
This is my first year doing Thanksgiving and it will be small. I usually do Easter for about 22, and this meal will be for only 7.

My philosophy this year is, "If dinner gets on the table, I will be thankful."

chatty chatty

PeaNut 120,522
December 2003
Posts: 19,817
Layouts: 546
Loc: San Jose, CA

Posted: 11/15/2012 11:52:19 AM
Go to someone else's house.


it rhymes with banana

mom to a 21 yo dd, 14 yo ds, and 11 yo ds and a scrapper for 13 years

Kingpin of something undisclosed, but important

PeaNut 88,246
May 2003
Posts: 36,986
Layouts: 0
Loc: Under a pile of dogs

Posted: 11/15/2012 1:37:07 PM
Most of the foods, we just have once or twice per year. We look forward to them specifically.

So we tend to stick with the same few items, and feel quite satisfied with them.

Also, no separate dessert plates! Use your main dinner plate, for crying out loud.

--If you see someone crying, ask if it's because of their haircut.


PeaNut 328,901
July 2007
Posts: 2,280
Layouts: 1
Loc: I like calling North Carolina home!

Posted: 11/16/2012 12:05:31 AM

Also, no separate dessert plates! Use your main dinner plate, for crying out loud.

YES!! Thank you!

Lisa =^..^=

"What fresh hell is this?" Sheldon Cooper


PeaNut 328,901
July 2007
Posts: 2,280
Layouts: 1
Loc: I like calling North Carolina home!

Posted: 11/16/2012 12:06:02 AM

Also, no separate dessert plates! Use your main dinner plate, for crying out loud.

YES!! Thank you!

Lisa =^..^=

"What fresh hell is this?" Sheldon Cooper

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