Thanksgiving is an annual national holiday predominantly in North America marked by religious observances and a traditional meal; The Thanksgiving Dinner, held in the US on the fourth Thursday in November.
The holiday is designed to commemorate the harvest festival that has been celebrated by the Pilgrim Fathers since 1621. It is made to give thanks (hence the name!) for all harvest goods and the farmers and providers who nurture and harvest everything for consumption.
Although a good few people still see the giving thanks side of the holiday, most people will recognize the day as the day to feast, indicating the holiday we call Thanksgiving.
The Thanksgiving Dinner
Traditionally, a thanksgiving dinner will consist of Roast Turkey, all the trimmings, and Pumpkin pie, which are foods that are indicative of the seasonal offerings, but also these foods are steeped in tradition and family histories, so it’s always lovely to replicate what generations have done before us!
While we understand the Thanksgiving dinner as a family event to celebrate together, as families make their way in the world and sometimes cannot be together, the occasion is now celebrated together with friends, neighbors, and extended families, so we have to be mindful of our guest’s preferences, allergies, and dietary choices.
Planning Thanksgiving Dinner
The key to excellent Thanksgiving dinner execution is all in the planning!
The planning for a Thanksgiving dinner requires a bit of savvy shopping and making sure that the feast elements can be prepared in advance! This means you have some extra time on the day to spend with your guests and play host/hostess.
It is a smart move to gather all of your dinner ingredients up to 4 weeks in advance or more. As you know, everyone will be rushing around the stores finding what they need and clearing the shelves, so the best preparation is advance preparation!
Here are 5 top tips to get ahead of the game with your Thanksgiving dinner this year:
- If you are serving Pumpkin pie, buy and make your pie filling in advance and freeze it until 2 days before you need to construct it. You can also make your casing in advance and do the same thing to save time in the run-up to the day.
- Cranberry sauce is best made from fresh. Use fresh cranberries as this gives the most authentic flavor. This can also be done in advance and left in your refrigerator for a couple of weeks in an airtight container.
- The turkey may be the star of your show, but don’t leave it too late to secure your bird before the big day. Speak with your local supplier at least 4 weeks in advance to reserve a Turkey that fits your guest size and arrange a collection date a day or 2 before the day; this means that they will store and keep the turkey for you until you are ready to collect and cook it!
- Make sure you secure all of your dinner side dishes and ingredients in advance of the day. Many of these will be dry ingredients that can be stored with no special requirements. You can make the elements suitable a few weeks before the event, such as stuffing, gravy, and even par-boiling the potatoes can create so much time!
- Plan your portions correctly! There is nothing worse than under-catering for a party, so make sure that you have a particular extra portion of everything on the menu, just in case you get an unexpected guest or a kitchen disaster!
Twisted Thanksgiving Recipes
We are all too aware of the traditional Thanksgiving recipes. However, traditional recipes sometimes need a little twist of modernization to suit more swanky tastes or specialized preferences.
We recognize this, and we have put together the 3 top twists on traditional Thanksgiving feast food for you to enjoy this Thanksgiving.
1. Vegan-Berry Stuffing
This stuffing is going to be a big hit at your Thanksgiving dinner, especially as it can be made in advance in a loaf tin and stored until you need to pop it in the back of the oven.
The glory of this stuffing is suitable for vegans and packed with cranberries to keep with tradition.
You will need:
- 1 cup of chunky bread cubes per person
- 1 cup of pre-boiled cranberries drained and pressed
- 1 tsp dried sage per serving
- 1 finely chopped large onion, cooked
- 1 cup of green lentils per 2 portions
- Vegan butter, melted to bind
- Olive oil
This recipe is so simple!
In advance, boil the green lentils until cooked and drain, but keep some of the water from the lentils to soften the bread cubes.
Add both ingredients into a loaf tin and add enough melted butter to cover the base.
Prepare your cranberries by boiling until they have all popped, then drain, keep the juice for a refreshing addition to lemonade or soda water, gently weigh the cranberries down until all the liquid has been removed, then add the cranberries into the loaf tin with the bread and lentils.
Mix well, add the cooked chopped onion and sage, weigh down in the loaf tin, and refrigerate until needed.
2. Twisted Turkey Pie
While we are not going to remove the turkey element from the dinner table this year, we are going to jazz it up a little and make a twisted turkey pie, which has all of the favorite elements of a Thanksgiving dinner wrapped in a golden pastry (and it’s easy to prepare in advance too!)
For the pie, you will need:
- 750 g of turkey breast meat, roasted
- Cranberry jelly mixed into 500 mL of turkey gravy
- Shortcrust pastry
- Chopped cocktail sausages
- 100 g of mushrooms
This pie is so simple, and all you need to do is mix the turkey meat with the cranberry and gravy mix and heat gently until thoroughly heated through.
Add the mixture to some pre-prepared shortcrust pastry already lining a pie tin and allow it to settle.
Slice the mushrooms and lightly place them on the mixture, followed by the sliced mini-sausages.
Top the pie with a shortcrust top and bake until golden brown and cooked thoroughly.
3. Pumpkin Pie Pots
This recipe is for the people at your party who are super conscious of their sugar and calorie intake and gives a cute little addition for a dessert option, so nobody misses out!
Rather than being sweetened with molasses and demerara sugar, this pumpkin pie pot is sweetened with a touch of agave syrup, maple, and a foamy whipped Greek yogurt topped with some pumpkin spice mix to finish!
All you need to do is take some pumpkin and bake in the oven with agave syrup and maple syrup until the pumpkin is soft enough to beat with an electric whisk into a smooth and loose paste.
For the Greek yogurt topping, simply take some Greek yogurt and beat it until it has a mousse-like consistency.
Pop 2 generous tablespoons of the pumpkin mix into ramekins and top with the Greek yogurt whip, then sprinkle some pumpkin spice mix over the top to finish!
Thanksgiving dinner is a special and great occasion to get everyone you love together, but you don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen all the time!
Preparation is critical, so ensure your course all of your ingredients way in advance, making sure you have everyone catered for generously.
Preparation stretches to the actual food too, and everything that you can prepare in advance you should do to make sure you have enough time with the people you love and are not stressed in the kitchen!
Be prepared for every eventuality, whether that be an extra guest or 2 or that guest who has special dietary needs or requirements – it’s best to find this out in advance!
Have a great Thanksgiving dinner with the people you love, and be sure to remember why the day is celebrated!