A lot of our Thanksgiving traditions come canned — the pumpkin puree for your pie, the start of your favorite cranberry sauce and those curly fried onions for your green bean casserole. These time-honored ingredients get this most-anticipated meal on the table year after year. As the holiday draws near, however, give some serious thanks by stocking your table with show-stopping produce-loving sides.
As you start assembling those grocery lists of yours, mix and match these 10 killer dishes — each with a veggie focus — for a Thanksgiving spread your family will reproduce for years to come.
1. Mushrooms: We may eat our mushrooms year-round, but Ina’s Mushroom-Leek Bread Pudding celebrates this ingredient in a preparation reminiscent of classic Thanksgiving stuffing.
2. Squash: Food Network Magazine’s Lemon-Maple Squash are curvy and sophisticated, working as an elegant addition to the other casserole-leaning sides.
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No matter if you’ll be brining your turkey or deep-frying it, whipping sweet potatoes or smashing golden spuds, stuffing the bird or serving the dressing alongside it, one thing is certain about your Thanksgiving spread: There will indeed be dessert. This year, in addition to the classic apple pie and pumpkin cheesecake, serve a mix of creative, crowd-pleasing treats, like Sunny’s mini pumpkin pies, Giada’s turkey-decorated cookies and Alton’s deliciously tart lemon pie. Check out Food Network’s top-five Thanksgiving desserts below to find recipes for these family-friendly picks, plus more sweet inspiration for your Turkey Day feast.
5. Mini Pecan Pumpkin Pies — Use tiny muffin tins to shape pecan-studded dough into sweet cups, then fill them with a mixture of pumpkin and vanilla, and finish each with a pecan for an extra-special presentation.
4. Thanksgiving Turkeys — Giada starts with store-bought cream-filled sandwich cookies to make these kid-approved cookies, decorated with seasonal candies and colored frosting to transform them into turkey look-alikes.
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Whether this year will be your first, tenth or hundredth time cooking Thanksgiving dinner, there’s always some stress regarding the turkey. We asked the experts in Food Network Kitchens for 10 tips to ensure a juicy, crisp-skinned bird every time — carved to perfection.
Get the top turkey tips
Turn your Thanksgiving table into a festive spread before the food arrives with fun decorations and ideas that can double as hostess gifts. Add sparkle to the table with the above beaded leaf runner, or set out Thanksgiving-themed crackers as place markers. When guests pop them open, they’ll find a turkey figure, Pilgrim hat and a joke.
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Classic mashed potatoes: some would argue that they’re the best side on the Thanksgiving table. And while there’s nothing wrong with the traditional additions of salt, pepper, butter and milk, sometimes change is in order. This week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week from Food Network Magazine offers 50 delicious mashed potato recipes. Some are simple toppings, while other ideas incorporate pesto, hummus, roasted veggies and different cheeses.
For more Thanksgiving recipe inspiration, visit Food Network’s Let’s Celebrate Thanksgiving board on Pinterest.
Get the Recipes: Food Network Magazine’s 50 Ways to Mash Potatoes
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The first Thanksgiving I ever hosted was a cooking obstacle course, except the stress had nothing to with the actual cooking task at hand. It was the fact that I knowingly tossed my family’s traditions out the window, in an effort to create new ones for my own growing family — I was four months pregnant with my first daughter.
The list of what I changed goes on and on (including the stuffing and cranberry sauce). Therein lies my biggest mistake that very first Thanksgiving: I changed too much, too fast. Rather than create the picture-perfect memory of a blissful family Thanksgiving, I was left feeling under-appreciated for all my hard work.
What does any of this have to do with your Thanksgiving plans this year, you may be wondering? It’s pretty simple, actually. Learn from my mistakes. Thanksgiving is first and foremost supposed to be about family and being grateful. People hold tight to their traditions, though, and making drastic changes to beloved family recipes is an invitation for disaster. This doesn’t mean you can’t chart your own course. It just means you should stick with familiar favorites, but give them your own twist.
Twists on the classic apple pie
You likely have your Thanksgiving menu set. For all we know, it was set in stone years ago, probably when your all-knowing elders were in charge. The turkey part of Turkey Day is a no-brainer, but the sides are like a puzzle. You’ll serve the usual contenders — fluffy mashed potatoes with a puddle of gravy, Grandma’s sweet potato casserole (marshmallows and all) — but you’ll need something else to balance out all that richness.
This year, as your family gathers around the dinner table for yet another Thanksgiving meal, look to another veggie that’s at the top of every restaurant menu and grocery list: Brussels sprouts. We like ours cooked right — caramelized and tender at every layer. As you draft up your preliminary rounds of potential recipes, keep in-season Brussels sprouts at the top of your list.
Turkey Day is known for chaos. Ease things up and simply drizzle halved sprouts with olive oil for basic Roasted Brussels Sprouts by Food Network Magazine. And with just one small addition, Brussels Sprouts with Bacon take on a smoky saltiness, perfect for the big Thanksgiving meal or any night of the week.
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On Thanksgiving, the holiday ultimately culminates when you finally set on the table a glistening golden-brown turkey featuring crispy skin and juicy, tender meat, and you surround the bird with a bounty of comforting sides and salads. But pulling off a memorable celebration takes patience, planning and a few must-have gadgets to complete the feast. Check out Food Network’s top-five roundups below to find helpful guides for hosting the holiday, the ultimate party-planning calculator and Ted Allen’s simple solutions for easy entertaining.
5. Table Centerpieces and Home Decor — Set the scene on the table with rustic centerpieces made from repurposed household products, like empty wine bottles, and such seasonal ingredients as nuts, fruits and gourds.
4. Table Setting Ideas — Buffet tables can be dressed up with a vibrant tablecloth and a mix of dishes, while sit-down dinner tables can be personalized with handwritten menus, warm-colored flowers and individual serving pieces.
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For the third year in a row, your favorite chefs are taking over Food Network Kitchens in the annual call-in show Thanksgiving Live to answer your most-pressing questions about Turkey Day and help you host your most-memorable holiday feast yet. On Saturday, Nov. 23 from 12-2pm, Alton, Bobby and Giada, plus first-time Thanksgiving Live guest Ina, will be on hand to chat about all things Thanksgiving. Find out their own family traditions, suggestions for party-ready recipes, and no-fail tricks and tips for serving smooth gravy, juicy turkey and flaky biscuits, all while watching them prepare the ultimate spread of eats and drinks from start to finish. Just like in years past, this show will be broadcast live, which means that you’ll be watching the action unfold right as it’s happening at Food Network’s headquarters in New York City.
While Bobby, Alton, Giada and Ina will be cooking various dishes, they’ll be putting the focus of the show on you, the fans, and your Turkey Day conundrums. They’re there to answer your questions on anything from mingle-friendly appetizers and crowd-pleasing cocktails to carving the bird, whipping mashed potatoes and rolling out pie dough. Do you have a question you want answered? Leave it in the comments section below or use #ThanksgivingLive, and it may be answered on TV. Have Vine? Fans can submit questions there, too, by using #ThanksgivingLive.
There’s perhaps no holiday more focused on food, family and tradition — some of Damaris Phillips‘ favorite things — than Thanksgiving, which means that for this Southern at Heart host, the next few weeks leading up to America’s fall feast are especially exiting. She told FN Dish recently that she’s especially looking forward to “the Thanksgiving-adjacent episode” (airing Nov. 24 at 10:30am/9:30c) of her all-new series, which will feature classic and creative recipes to help you prepare the ultimate holiday meal.
We checked in with her to find out more about how she’ll be celebrating with her family this year. Like in most homes, there will be no shortage of comforting plates on Damaris’ Thanksgiving dinner table, and just as she’s been in the past, she’ll once again be in charge of preparing the salad. Read on below to learn Damaris’ makings of a true Southern Thanksgiving, to learn tips for turning out juicy turkey and to get advice for first-time holiday hosts.
How do you celebrate Thanksgiving these days?
Damaris Phillips: All of my cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents all still get together, so we do a huge family Thanksgiving.
Will you be cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year?
DP: Everybody contributes. It’s like a potluck Thanksgiving. I usually get stuck with the salad. They are always making me make the salad. I always try and fancy it up, so they’ll be like, “Oh, she can really cook.” But it doesn’t matter, because nobody eats the salad .… My brother is always going to do the stuffing; I’m never going to get to do it. My sister is always going to do the greens and the macaroni, and nobody wants mine anyways because I always try and make it a little less terrible for you, which nobody’s into. I get desserts a lot. Like, I’m pretty good at baking, and so I get desserts, which is pretty awesome.
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