Bring new life to a classic holiday
Thanksgiving is a time to welcome others into our homes. In addition to your usual roster, consider including guests who don’t have a celebration of their own. Host an icebreaker activity or two to set the tone and introduce folks who might not yet be acquainted.
To plan your menu, ask your guests about dietary needs when they accept your invitation. Regardless of their response, we advise you to prepare a variation of gluten free, dairy free, or vegan dishes in addition to the classics just in case. To ensure you’re social with your guests and not slaving in the kitchen, make as much food ahead of the holiday, three to four days if possible. Sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and even mashed potatoes are great make-ahead dishes.
While we cherish and prepare the staples each year, we like to switch it up with a few new dishes. Create a fun finger food or appetizer for guest arrival. Something light with a unique flavor to pique the appetite. Butternut squash ravioli with chimichurri, a selection of your garden veggies pickled this fall, or seasonal soup shooters, like the Butternut Squash Shooter found in our cookbook, Chowgirls Killer Party Food.
Use seasonal produce. Brussels sprouts, squash, and cranberries are bountiful this time of year. Buy a local turkey: There are so many great options for buying a local turkey in the Twin Cities area! Stop by your local Co-op to find out where their turkeys were raised, OR buy straight from the farm! Gale Woods Farm sells two different varieties of pasture raised turkeys. Make a day of it and head out to the farm to pick up your turkey and walk around their beautiful farm. You can even stop by the farm in October at their harvest festival to check on your growing turkey. Turkeys go on sale in October and require a reservation to get in on the fun. For a more urban turkey pick up experience, head to the St. Paul Meat Shop on Grand Ave. While you’re there, you can also grab a tasty sandwich and stock up on other crafty additions to upgrade your Thanksgiving dinner such as chicken apple sausage stuffing, Rush Creek Reserve Cheese made only in the fall, or a delicious bourbon pecan pie. Turkeys are limited so make sure to get your order in early!
GIVE CLASSIC FAVORITES A CREATIVE UPDATE
- Ditch the marshmallows and keep the sweet potatoes classy. Chopped pecans or walnuts with a little butter and maple syrup make a more savory, healthful, and creative topping.
- Add some pizazz to brussels sprouts with a creamy gorgonzola gratin sauce
- Add jalapeño to cranberry sauce to give it a little kick. Don’t forget to warn your spice-shy guests! We adapt our Mushroom Hotdish recipe to make a sauce for our green bean casserole. Add it to blanched fresh green beans and top with home-made fried onions. Mushroom Hotdish recipe found in Chowgirls Killer Party Food.
- Bring some excitement to dinner rolls with herbed butter. Whip a stick of soft unsalted butter with a half teaspoon each of your favorite fresh herbs, likerosemary, thyme, tarragon, and parsley. Finish by folding in a teaspoon of kosher salt.
DECORATE WITH FRESH FOOD
Create a table garland of with fresh herbs and use whole and cut fresh citrus, pomegranates, and persimmons for a pop of color.
Go to http://cookbook.chowgirls.net/ for our Maple Turkey Brine recipe and check out our Killer Party Food Cookbook for more creative party food inspiration.