a peek inside the fishbowl

07 Oct, 2008

Thanksgiving meal – help!

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Recipes and Food

I need help with my Thanksgiving menu. Do you have any tried and true recipes you’d like to share with the hungry Fishbowl family?

My MIL just came out of surgery (hi Mary!) and I’m doing’ the cooking at her place this year. She’s making the stuffing (because there is no stuffing like her stuffing) and I’m making a loaf of bread, but otherwise everything is up for grabs. Help!

My criteria:

– feeds six
– there must be one turkey
– there must be a few traditional dishes on the menu
– no one but me likes sweet potatoes a.k.a yams
– there has to be something fresh and green
– I like to throw in one wacky dish just to keep my in-laws on their toes. And by wacky I mean braised onions. ;)
– Dessert! We can’t forget dessert!
– The majority of dishes must be make-aheads and relatively easy todo. (I don’t see myself deboning a capon and making puff patries with it or anything like that.) Otherwise I just won’t be able to cope.

Bonus points to those who post actual links to actual recipes.

Dinner is on Sunday. Aaaarrrrrgh.

20 Responses to "Thanksgiving meal – help!"

1 | robyn

October 7th, 2008 at 11:38 am


I don’t know anything about traditional thanksgiving dinners (we don’t do one), soooo, on to my favourite things: dessert, and “wacky”!

On the subject of dessert: Easiest apple tart you will ever make from Smitten Kitchen. Seriously. You cannot screw it up (and it’s awesome the *next* day, too).

We just tried this roasted cauliflower last weekend and couldn’t stop eating it: Roasted Cauliflower with Cumin and Coriander

2 | Laura

October 7th, 2008 at 1:10 pm


I would recommend the Red Chili-Roasted Turkey recipe from Homemaker.com. This recipe for Turkey is unbelievably good. Be warned once you make this you will find yourself in charge of cooking all future turkeys for all occasions. Even left overs are moist and yummy. Check it out – http://www.homemakers.com/homemakers/client/en/Food/DetailRecipe.asp?idRe=19600

3 | porter

October 7th, 2008 at 1:27 pm


I love planning Thanksgiving dinner. I think it’s one of my favourite holidays because it’s so laid back and it’s not as commercial as every single other holiday!

I don’t think I will make a turkey for the four of us but I hope to make some sort of roast (perhaps a prime rib?).

I will likely make the following two veggie sides this weekend…not sure what else though.

Most people don’t love Brussel sprouts but I happen to love them….but whenever I make this recipe it gets rave reviews and I end up having to pass along the recipe. They are great make ahead (even the day before) and they require no fiddling.


My second recipe is so good I decided to post it on my blog, here’s the link for the best ever green bean recipe


4 | andrea

October 7th, 2008 at 2:08 pm


Oh that sounds good. Have you ever had bacon-wrapped water chestnuts? Delish. I must hunt down the recipe.

5 | andrea

October 7th, 2008 at 2:23 pm


I’m considering of making this Make-Ahead Mashed Potato Casserole.

6 | Jenn

October 7th, 2008 at 4:18 pm


There are lots of great menu ideas here- http://www.epicurious.com/recipesmenus/holidays/thanksgiving/menus
I’m planning on turkey, artichoke and sausage stuffing, gravy, medley of root vegetables (celery root, sweet potato, carrots, yukon golds, parsnips) all cubed and par cooked the day before then reheated in a wok with sauted shallots, honey, herbs and brussel sprouts ( but not whole- I detest whole brussel sprouts- I like them broken into their leaves AND it makes it more colourful). I’ll also get some rolls from the local bakery and homemade apple and pumpkin pies.
I am struggling with the green veggies myself so I be back for some great ideas.
I may add the califlower suggestion to my menu too, it sounds yummy.

7 | Scattered Mom

October 7th, 2008 at 6:02 pm


Recipes are over at my blog…


Instead of a breast roast you could do a whole bird.

8 | Jen

October 7th, 2008 at 7:16 pm


Ha! I was just about to type out that Cdn Living Make Ahead Mashed Potato recipe, lol I know it by heart, I’ve made it so many times! Honestly, it’s excellent, and used in our family every Thanksgiving and Christmas. The only thing I don’t use is the cheddar cheese – we’re a gravy loving family :-) I highly recommend that recipe!

9 | Vanessa

October 8th, 2008 at 7:02 am


As far as dessert goes, If you want something a little different but still “traditional”.. try this pumpkin bread pudding with caramel sauce… oh my yummmmmmmmm

What we’re having:
Turkey – just a plain, old, roasted turkey… my MIL makes the stuffing (for the same reason yours does!), mashed potatoes, gravy (I cheat, and use the instant gravy packets by Clubhouse – noone wants homemade anymore, and it’s so much easier!) Carrots and turnips, just chopped, boiled and then roasted with brown sugar and ginger… a big ceasar salad, fresh buns from the bakery, and the bread pudding for dessert!

I’m all about keeping it simple – it’s supposed to be time to spend with your family, not fussing in the kitchen!

10 | andrea

October 8th, 2008 at 7:49 am


Vanessa: you’re right, but it’s also about the food. :”)

re: carrots and turnips. This sounds yummy. Care to share a recipe?

11 | Rosie : )

October 8th, 2008 at 8:01 am


For dessert, a very in-season type of thing, but with a twist is a no-bake pumpkin cheesecake. It is absolutely delicious, easy to make and can be doubled to feed even more people. I will get the recipe from my best friend, she makes it all the time. :)

12 | Rosie : )

October 8th, 2008 at 8:03 am


As for the bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, you can do them with any type of sauce. I have an aunt who makes them then throws in Ketchup, BBQ sauce, soya sauce, and whatever hits her fancy! They taste absolutely wonderful. :)

13 | Cath

October 8th, 2008 at 9:17 am


I usually do a mix of carrots and parsnips (or any root veg, really – depends what we get from our organic box) – roasted with oil and thyme for half an hour, and then I throw in equal parts of mustard and maple syrup for another half hour or so… the best.

14 | porter

October 8th, 2008 at 9:20 am


i have the recipe for bacon wrapped water chestnuts (another of my most often requested recipes) so easy, can be made ahead and delish….so are those stuffed jalepenos i told you about….hmmmm i need to get posting these recipes.

15 | Vanessa

October 8th, 2008 at 1:16 pm


My “secret” carrots and turnips recipe… *haha*

Peel and chop carrots and turnips into just-a-bit-bigger-than-bite-size chunks. Boil till tender-crisp. Drain, and transfer carrots and turnips into a casserole dish. Toss with 1-2 tbsp. butter (you just want them “butter-kissed” not floating!) Sprinkle with sea salt & fresh ground pepper, a few pinches of ground ginger and nutmeg (to taste) and a 2 tbsp. of brown sugar or maple syrup. Stir to coat veggies. Cover the casserole and pop it in the oven after you take out your turkey, and leave it in there till you’re ready to serve. Sprinkle with fresh parsley just before serving.

16 | Katherine

October 8th, 2008 at 6:13 pm


Along with the requisite brussells sprouts (green), mashed potatoes (unfortunately white), root vegetable extravaganza of some sort (orange, several great suggestions above), I like to inject some purple. Either port/balsamic-glazed purple onions or sweet and sour red cabbage with apple will do the job. Recipes for these appear in some form in many books. I can dig further if you’re interested.

But, feel free to cut back on the whole deal because you feel lousy, too. :) Good luck!

17 | Soire

October 8th, 2008 at 6:35 pm


Dinner on Sunday for us is going to be lightly spiced/baconed/baked turkey, garlic smashed taters, gravy galore, turnip, broccoli, sunshine carrots, and home-made rolls.

Dessert: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, Apple Raspberry Pie (or maybe just apple, dunno), Pumpkin or Squash pie, 3 kinds of ice cream, and likely some nanimo bars.

Then we’ll all roll away from the table and oink for a few hours.

18 | Anna

October 8th, 2008 at 7:00 pm


Bon Appetit magazine (November issue) has lots of good recipes. There is a long list of make ahead side dishes, and most of it is online:

19 | Katherine

October 8th, 2008 at 10:42 pm


You could also break with tradition and make ratatouille to go with turkey. Could work if accompanied by a root veg concoction seasoned with rosemary, maybe.

20 | jenn

October 10th, 2008 at 10:54 am


Check the Kraft Canada website for some seriously easy, seriously yummy looking pumpkin recipes for dessert. I’m making the Lucious Four-layer Pumpkin Cake. mmm…

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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