Thanksgiving 201: Keeping Traditions Interesting

As I mentioned in the previous post, Thanksgiving 101, we have been hosting Thanksgiving dinner for more than twenty years in our home.  Granted this meal is served only once a year, but I still get an itch to do something different and new.  My family is reluctant to let me scratch that itch too much, adamant that I leave roasted garlic out of the mashed potatoes and pumpkin cheesecake is not a worthy substitute for pumpkin dream pie (though they are agreeable to having both). Traditional, beloved menu items, which cement the feeling of a real holiday, are not to be messed with for the sake of adventure.

Got it.  Some things are sacred, but the rest is fair game.

So, if you would like to keep it interesting this Thanksgiving by updating an item or make something entirely new, this post is for you.  Of course, you’ll want to take a poll to be sure you’re not risking the realness of Thanksgiving, and then have a little fun with it.

Updating the Basics

Turkey—Yep, some folks are just fine ditching the bird for a standing rib roast or a leg of lamb. Honestly, the photo of the spice-rubbed tenderloin on the cover of the Dec/Jan issue of Fine Cooking made me want to put my brining salt away this time.  Traditional votes prevail on this one, so I’ll add a heavy dose of citrus to my brine to liven up a cost effective turkey.

Mashed Potatoes—I cannot wait to try this recipe from a fellow blogger, Mashed Potatoes with Truffle Oil and Porcini Mushrooms or Emeril’s Kicked Up Bacon Cheese Mashed Potatoes (of course, for us it will have to be after Thanksgiving).

Sweet Potatoes—I have never been willing to eat a sweet potato with marshmallows on it, but I love the idea of a Sweet Potato and Sage Gratin, Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Lime and Ginger, or Savory Sweet Potatoes with Blue Cheese & Bacon.

Stuffing / Dressing—Make it with cornbread or plain bread, inside the bird or outside, this is a holiday must, and oh, the possibilities!  Oysters, mushrooms, pancetta, liver, sausage, fruit, toasted nuts, blue cheese, wild rice, you name it, it’s been tried in stuffing. This is one place you could go Google-crazy searching for ideas.

Green Bean Casserole—There are better alternatives to the usual green beans swimming in canned soup for your holiday table.  A few years ago, I made Emerilized Green Bean Casserole (oh, yeah, babe!) and there is no comparison to fresh green beans with this mushroom sauce and homemade onion topping. Of course, Alton Brown claims his is the Best Ever, but who doesn’t.

Pumpkin Pie—For some, custard-style pumpkin pie is the only way to go. For the rest of us, Pumpkin-Gingersnap Tiramisù, Pumpkin Cheesecake and Pumpkin-Bourbon Cheesecake With Graham-Pecan Crust, or Pumpkin Flan is a delicious way to change-up dessert. If you have allergies to consider, Pumpkin Spice Tea Cake with Maple Candied Walnuts [GF & Dairy-Free] is a fantastic alternative to pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin Tea Cake | Savoring Today

Something New to Inspire:

Blackberry Rum Glazed Ham
Balsamic Glazed Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta
Mixed Greens with Pear, Blue Cheese, & Pecans
Green Beans with Pancetta and Mint
Roasted Parsnips With Orange Zest
Roasted Vegetables with Pecan Gremolata
Roasted Beets with Feta, Mint and Pistachios
Curry Roasted Acorn Squash & Pecans
Pumpkin-Sage Polenta
Potato Rosemary Dinner Rolls
Upside-Down Pear Gingerbread Cake
Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

Sauces, Relishes, Condiments:
Fischer & Wieser Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce
Chipotle Cranberry Sauce
Pumpkin-Cranberry Chutney

Cranberry-Pomegranate Relish
Orange-Scented Cranberry Sauce
Tangy Sweet Corn Relish
Cranberry, Cherry, Walnut Marmalade

Do you have a new recipe planned for Thanksgiving? 

Please share your new find, include a link if you like.

Check out the other posts in this series:
Thanksgiving 101: Hosting, Prepping, & Menu Basics
Thanksgiving 301: The Act of Giving Thanks


Shared on the following Blog Hops:
Hearth & Soul Hop
SS&GF Slightly Indulgent Tuesday


  1. says

    What a great roundup. Definitely try the potatoes (thanks for the shout out) and the lamb — when you run out of turkey. I think that’d be a great Sunday meal. I bet Emeril’s potatoes could be tweaked to use up leftover mashed potatoes.


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