Thanksgiving Recipe Links from the CC & Questions to Spark Conversation

By Posted in - General on November 24th, 2014 6 Comments

IMG_5629Happy (almost) Thanksgiving!

I’m feeling extra-festive this morning: after teaching the last three weekends at three of my favorite churches–Willow, Ecclesia and Mars Hill–I’m home & cozy, snuggling with the boys, watching the snow, catching up on laundry and starting my Christmas shopping list. October and November were very full, and now I have three weeks with no traveling and speaking, and I’m fully prepared to soak up every second of those weeks. 

I’m so looking forward to teaching one more weekend service at our church on December 13 & 14, and then my last trip of the year is to Orlando to spend a few days with the Relevant podcast crew, so that hardly counts as work. 

In the meantime, though, snow and slippers and Thanksgiving menu planning. If you, like me, are still clicking around, reading recipe after recipe, making lists, considering a million different options, may I offer you a few favorites, ones that the Cooking Club has made over the years, ones that have become favorites around our tables:

Pomegranate Champagne Punch. This was a total hit at our most recent Cooking Club Thanksgiving–both pretty and delicious. I used lemon-infused vodka instead of rum, and it was fantastic.

Cranberry Mostarda with goat cheese and crackers. My cousin Amanda made this, and it was such a festive, beautiful way to start the meal. A couple non-cook starter options: plate of goat cheese/prosciutto/fig jam/crackers or white cheddar/mango chutney/crackers, and then a bowl of cashews & bowl of green grapes.

Spatchcocked Turkey. You know how I feel about this–super way to get even doneness, crispy skin, and way quicker cook time. You will love.

Basic (but in a good way) Sage Stuffing. I love this one–simple and perfect for slathering with gravy, and a great way to use up frozen bread cubes you’ve been saving for who-knows-how-long.

Barefoot Contessa’s Mushroom & Leek Bread Pudding. Or if you want to take things richer, this bread pudding is amazing–Casey made it for us, and it was universally adored.

Pioneer Woman’s Mashed PotatoesI know, I know–butter, cream cheese, and cream? Obscene. And also delicious, and you can make them ahead, which is a serious plus.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes with maple cayenne pecans. Years and years ago, I made this recipe for Easter–maybe the first Easter meal I served my in-laws–and I always make them this way now…the banana and orange zest sound bonkers, but really are delicious. And you can buy spicy-sweet pecans to scatter on top, or you can toss the pecans with maple syrup, cayenne, and a little salt, and then bake them at for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Green Bean Casserole. I don’t even have a recipe for this one: canned green beans, cream-of-something soup, French fried onions on top. I’ve found that cream of mushroom, cream of celery, and cream of chicken all work, and every recipe I looked up added other things, like soy sauce or milk, but I never do. Beans + soup + yummy crunchy onions. That’s all you need. Maybe four cans of beans to two cans of soup? Can anyone back me up on this? Bake at 350 degrees for 30 min or so. (Can you see why I’m so terrible at actually writing recipes? The details! The details!)

Sweet Potato Biscuits with Maple Butter. Our Cooking Club rule has a rule that we never repeat the same recipe twice…and we broke that rule for these biscuits. They are spectacular. Serve with maple butter–just salted butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup. I’m not naming any names, but I’ve seen people eat the maple butter with spoons, once the biscuits were gone. I wouldn’t necessarily serve both mashed sweet potatoes and sweet potato biscuits, and frankly, I’d do the biscuits. But file the mashed-banana-in-sweet-potatoes trick away for later. Seriously.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding. If you’re looking for something that’s not pumpkin pie but still festive and delicious, this is a good one. And I made it for a brunch baby shower a few weeks ago, and it was a hit there, too. I serve it with a little pitcher of warm salted caramel and a bowl of whipped cream. A little bourbon in the whipped cream would be lovely.

Cranberry Port Sorbet My cousin made this one a few years ago, and after such a rich, heavy meal, the tartness of the sorbet was so welcome. Delicious. I’d love this with a plate of dark chocolates or toffee.


Questions to Spark Conversation:

For our Friendsgiving, I’m going to write a question on the back of each placecard, and during dinner we’ll take turns reading our questions and answering them.

What’s your favorite holiday tradition?

What one thing are you most grateful for this year?

What’s a holiday tradition that you want to start or continue in your family?

What’s one unexpected gift in your life this year?

Has there been a challenge that has taught you or shaped you this year?

What was the sweetest/richest/most beautiful moment of 2014 so far?

What’s the most meaningful thing you’ve learned this year?

Who do you want to have a significant conversation with before the end of 2014?

When you look over 2014, what are some words that describe this year of your life?


Happy Thanksgiving, all! Wherever you’re gathering, whatever you’re eating, the center of this holiday is gratitude. I’m thankful for each of you, for the conversations we’ve shared, for the things you’ve taught me, the ways you’ve challenged me, the grace you’ve showed me.

Love & stuffing. XO–S










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