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The Homemade Mom: Thanksgiving Feast


Thanksgiving is nearly here! Since it’s always about everything but the turkey (ok, it’s also about the turkey!), we have starters, sides, desserts and everything you could ever want!

And, we even have something planned for those yummy leftovers.

Be sure to follow Julie at @seasongenerously on Instagram to see more photos and Thanksgiving ideas!

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Skillet Cornbread

I’ve been making cornbread since before I could walk. Every year at Thanksgiving, my responsibility was to make the cornbread (but as muffins). I made the exact same recipe every year and while everyone said they liked them, truth-be-told, I never did. I thought they were dry and hard to swallow. So a few years back, I started playing around with the recipe and finally ended up on this one. The honey keeps it sweet and the butter makes it moist. You really do need the butter in it and on top of it, so don’t skip this step. And the secret ingredient is the pan you cook it in – a cast iron skillet will give you the golden brown outside you’re searching for. You can even drizzle more honey on top of this if you want it to be extra, extra special, but that’s just crazy talk to me.

Servings: 8

Time: 60 minutes

Difficulty: easy

INGREDIENTS

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for buttering the pan

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup stone-ground cornmeal, plus more for dusting the pan

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (see my homemade vanilla recipe here)

2 tablespoons honey

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and lightly flour a 9-inch cast iron skillet with cornmeal. Be sure to remove any excess cornmeal from the pan.

2. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

3. Whisk together 8 tablespoons of the butter with the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and honey in a small bowl until smooth.

4. Pour the butter mixture into the cornmeal mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

5. Let cool for 15 minutes before removing from cake pan. Spread the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over the top of the cornbread to finish. Serve immediately or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Adapted from: foodnetwork.com

Sweet Potato with Toasted Meringue

I’ve made a million sweet potato pies with and without marshmallows over the years for Thanksgiving. While marshmallows look nice on top of a sweet potato pie, they’ve always been too sweet for me to eat. So with this being my first year hosting Thanksgiving, I set out to find a new way to make them. And, after trying it this way, I’m always going to make it with meringue! It’s creamier, a little sweet, (but not too sweet) and adds just the right amount of slightly crunchy texture to the much needed mushy food. This is definitely a keeper!

Servings: 12

Time: 2 hours

Difficulty: easy

INGREDIENTS

4 medium-sized sweet potatoes

1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

5 tablespoons whole milk

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces

1 teaspoon plus 1/8 tsp. kosher salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 cup powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pierce potatoes all over with a fork, and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake until tender, about 1 hour. Let stand on baking sheet at room temperature until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes.

2. Cut potatoes in half length-wise; carefully scoop potato pulp into a medium bowl, leaving about 1/4 inch pulp around shell. Return potato shells to baking sheet and add ginger, milk, and butter to pulp in bowl. Mash with a potato masher until smooth. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt, nutmeg, and pepper. Spoon mashed potato mixture evenly into potato shells.

3. Beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt with a mixer on high speed until foamy, about 20 to 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating at high speed until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Spoon meringue evenly onto potatoes on baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees until meringue is golden brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Adapted from: cookinglight.com

Note: You can prepare the recipe through step 2 up to two days ahead; reheat potatoes at 375 degrees, then turn up the heat to brown the topping in step 3.

A Medley of Vegetables

I don’t know about your Thanksgiving, but at ours, we are so overwhelmed by savory and sweet pies. Pure vegetables rarely make an appearance. So this year, I’m making sure we have a variety of healthy roasted vegetables on the table. I used beets, Brussels sprouts, turnips, carrots, sweet potatoes, and Russet potatoes with a sprinkling of thyme and rosemary, but you can use any vegetable and any herb here. Just be aware that some vegetables need longer baking times (like potatoes) than others (like Brussels sprouts).

Servings: 4-6

Time: 30-60 minutes

Difficulty: easy

INGREDIENTS

2-3 pounds of root vegetables (like butternut squash, carrots, rutabaga, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, beets, potatoes, etc…)

Olive Oil

A handful of fresh herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary, chives, etc…)

Salt & Pepper

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Toss vegetables with olive oil, salt, and pepper and top with fresh herbs.

3. Roast vegetables for 30 minutes – hour, stirring/flipping at least once or twice.

4. Remove from heat and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Roasted Grapes, Apple, & Cranberry Sauce

My family has always made a slightly unconventional cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving. It's a mix of strawberries, cherries, and cranberries. It's scrumptious. But in an effort to revamp our Thanksgiving this year, I wanted to combine an unexpected group of fruits together - black grapes, sweet apple, and tart cranberries. Roasting the grapes elevated this to be a next level cranberry sauce. You might even want to make this another time of year - GASP! I bet it might even taste good with leftover turkey spread on some ciabatta or a baguette.

Servings: 12

Time: 25 minutes cooking, 1 hour cooling

Difficulty: easy

INGREDIENTS

2 cups seedless black grapes, left whole

1 large Honeycrisp apple, chopped

2 tablespoons shallot, chopped

1 cup fresh or frozen whole cranberries

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 teaspoons pure maple syrup

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Place grapes, apple, and shallot on prepared baking sheet, and lightly coat with cooking spray. Bake at 425 degrees until shallot begins to soften, about 5 minutes.

2. Add cranberries to baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees until cranberries burst, apple is tender, and grape skins are beginning to burst, about 20 more minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer grape mixture to a medium bowl. Stir in butter, maple syrup, and salt. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Sprinkle with thyme. Enjoy!

Adapted from Cookinglight.com

Corn Pudding

My family has been making this recipe for so long that we don't even know who in the family wrote it. The quantities and ingredients have changed so many times over the years that the only things I do know is it's at least 30 years old and it's delicious. It's so creamy and decadent, so it's perfect for the Thanksgiving day feast.

Servings=12

Time= 90 minutes

Difficulty=easy

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 sticks butter, melted

1 15-oz can creamed corn

2 15-oz cans sweet corn, well drained

2/3 cups sugar

4 heaping tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 eggs

1 3/4 cups whole milk

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2-quart baking dish and set aside.

Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl and mix together well. Place in prepared baking dish and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes (pudding is done when it no longer jiggles in the middle). Enjoy!

Gram's Pumpkin Soup

My Gram was an amazing cook. She passed it down to my mom who, in turn, helped me learn to cook from a very young age. I remember standing in the kitchen cooking and baking with my mom for hours prepping holiday meals until my feet would start to hurt. That's how badly I wanted to stay in the kitchen cooking with her. This soup is one of those recipes that my mom would whip up and it screams START OF THE HOLIDAYS! We would always dunk our corn muffins in the soup and be full before the Thanksgiving feast even began. Ohhhh, the holidays! She liked to top it with nuts or fruit, but I prefer it with sour cream and a dash of curry.

Servings=16

Time=20 minutes

Difficulty=easy

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

1 teaspoon curry powder + more to taste

2 large (29-oz) cans pumpkin

5-6 cans low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup apple sauce

Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Optional garnishes: sour cream, ginger, curry powder or sunflower seeds [/recipe-ingredients] [recipe-directions]

DIRECTIONS

In a large pot, saute onion in oil until soft, about 5-minutes. Sprinkle with curry powder and saute 1-2 more minutes.

Add 1/2 can of pumpkin and 1 can broth. Mix well to combine.

Using an immersion blender, blend soup right in pot (or pour into a regular blender to blend and return to pot).

Once blended, add in remaining pumpkin and broth. Stir milk in slowly and heat until simmering. Add apple juice and adjust seasonings as needed. Top with optional garnishes, if desired. Enjoy!

Lorraine's Pumpkin Pie

I like to think of my mother-in-law as the Martha Stewart of England. She is one of the best, most natural cooks I've ever encountered and she inspires me every single day. While they don't celebrate Thanksgiving in England, she does make one heck of a pumpkin pie. This is her recipe that she wrote when my husband was about 5 years old.

Servings=8

Time=2 hours

Difficulty=medium

INGREDIENTS

Homemade or store bought pastry

1 1/2 pounds pumpkin

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 cup whole milk

Zest of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice

A pinch of salt

2 eggs, room temperature

Optional: A dash of sherry, brandy or rum is an improvement :)

DIRECTIONS

1. If preparing pastry from scratch, prep pastry and turn it into pie dish. If using store bought, let defrost and place in pie dish. Set aside.

2. Pare, seed and cut pumpkin into 2-inch pieces. Simmer in 1/4 inch water over low heat until mushy (about 20-minutes), stirring frequently. Let cool, then squeeze pulp in clean tea towel until really well drained of moisture. Set aside.

3. Over a gentle heat, mix together remaining ingredients, except the eggs. Remove from heat and add eggs.

4. Bake until golden brown, about 1-hour. Remove from oven and let cool. Serve with cream or ice cream. Enjoy!

Note: Some recipes also advise separating the eggs and folding in stiffly whisked egg whites at the very end when the mixture has cooled. This will make the pie lighter and fluffier.

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