6 Recipes to Take Your Thanksgiving Meal (and Leftovers) to Another Level

 create new culinary traditions at your family thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving is almost here, and it’s definitely a favorite holiday at our house. We love the food, the family and friends who celebrate with us, and the sentiment. We focus on cultivating gratitude with our kids on a regular basis--it’s a practice that we demonstrate and encourage. 

Thanksgiving is a holiday about being thankful and we are called to openly share our feelings and our reasons that we feel thankful. The “group gratitude sharing” fills my heart with joy as much as the yummy food fills my belly.

This year we’re expecting a total headcount for Thanksgiving dinner of about 17--COVID willing!  We are planning to deep fry two smallish 12-pound turkeys. The turkey fryer is one of our unique Thanksgiving food traditions. My husband loves getting out of the house and firing up the fryer. He is expert at creating a moist-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-outside, melt-in-your-mouth turkey experience. It’s one of our essential Thanksgiving traditions.

We have many unique food traditions that are part of the celebration for us. I want to share our favorite Thanksgiving recipes that we look forward to enjoying every year. It’s amazing to me how much food is involved in our collective memories. This year, like every year, one thing I’ll be thankful for is our delicious food!

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

make-ahead mashed potatoes for easy thanksgiving

Making a large quantity of mashed potatoes is very time-consuming with all the peeling, chopping, and mashing. To lighten the load on Thanksgiving Day I make this mashed potato casserole that is delicious even when prepared a day early. The cream cheese and sour cream add creamy flavor and help the potatoes stay fluffy and light when made in advance.

Healthy, Creamy Ambrosia Fruit Salad

ambrosia fruit salad with sour cream

When we grew up we had a delicious Thanksgiving fruit salad that my mom made with pistachio pudding, Cool Whip and marshmallows. Since I've had my own kids and become concerned with a healthy diet, we don't eat Cool Whip EVER! It's too processed and sugary. I wanted to adapt the fruit salad of my childhood into a healthier version. 

The result made with sour cream, pecans and marshmallows (we can't be 100% healthy all the time), is delicious, and, while much less sweet, the kids still love it!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

roasted brussels sprouts with pine nuts are great for the holidays

I grew up despising Brussels sprouts but now they may be my favorite vegetable. But honestly, it matters how they're cooked. This easy roasting method makes perfect, mouth-watering sprouts every time. And the garlic and pine nuts dress them up perfectly for a holiday meal.

Creamy, Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

deicious dairy-free pumpkin cheesecake is a decadent thanksgiving dessert

The hardest thing about this amazing dessert is deciding what to call it. It's made like cheesecake but tastes like pumpkin pie. It's great for family members who are sensitive to dairy, since it's 100% dairy free. You won’t believe how delicious and creamy and pumpkiny this is--really! It’s a perfect dessert for any Thanksgiving celebration!

Thanksgiving Leftover Casserole

 thanksgiving leftovers turkey casserole is delicious and easy post-holiday food

This is a tradition that we got from my husband's family. It didn't sound that great to me at first, but oh boy--it is great! The deal is simple. As we clean up the kitchen we build a casserole of the leftovers from the meal. Then we smother it in gravy and it becomes the most delicious meal the next day, with no additional preparation. The flavors and textures mix together in a way that is unexpectedly delicious.

Turkey Wild Rice Soup

creamy wild rice and turkey soup for leftover thanksgiving turkey

This soup is a perfect lunch or light dinner on Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving. We enjoy the nutty flavor and chewy texture of the wild rice--it pairs perfectly with turkey. 

My standard routine is to get the turkey carcass cooking when we clean up Thanksgiving dinner. I will simmer the carcass overnight and make a nutritious and delicious turkey bone broth. The lovely broth is the base of the soup.

Soup is one of my favorite comfort foods when the weather is cold and this one is a special treat when made with the Thanksgiving leftovers.


I hope you’ll try adding some of our favorite Thanksgiving food traditions to your celebration. Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving and hoping you have many reasons to feel gratitude this year.

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