Here is one of life’s basic rules: Man cannot live on turkey alone. On Thanksgiving day, you need side dishes and perhaps even some appetizers. We have ideas! When I think of Thanksgiving, the word FEAST comes to mind. It’s a day when family and friends come together and give thanks for all the blessings of the year and the bounty of the earth. It is one of my favorite days of the year.
Thanksgiving Day appetizers and sides — how about green beans? Pictured above are gorgeous green beans with shallots and crumbled cooked bacon looked so inviting in this turkey dish. I have no idea what the dish was really intended for, but it worked well for serving beans.
Here’s the thing. The meal will be ready when the meal is ready. But there are always those who skip breakfast and arrive starving and cranky. Take the pressure off yourself by having a delightful assortment of appetizers. If your guests eat too much and spoil their appetites, there will simply be more turkey and fixins left over for you!
Marvelous Mushrooms are always sought after. This fold-down autum leaf serving dish gifted to me by cousin Becky made for an awesome presentation.
More appetizers! I took a round of brie cheese, cut several slits in the top, and put some sugar-free peach preserves, mixed with a little shot of Worcestershire sauce, on top. Normally, I would put it under the broiler, but since the oven was otherwise-occupied, I just put it into the microwave for a bit, checking every 30 seconds until it was oozy and appetizing. Then I topped it with julienned fresh apple and served it with low carb toast points and crackers.
I placed all the appetizers on top of a big ottoman in the den to get people OUT of the kitchen. We needed room to work our culinary miracles!
My aunt June’s pineapple casserole gets hammered every time it’s served. I wasn’t taking any chances at running out this time. I made two batches. See, you do get smarter as you age!
Each year, the feud rages on: Ham or Turkey. Good grief, just have both! I have a million ways to use leftovers of each of them, so I’m like Alfred E. Neuman. “What me worry?” (For those of you not old enough to remember Mad magazine, go Google it!)
If baked acorn squash is all done in a big casserole dish, it can tend to look a lot like pablum and a dollop of it on a plate isn’t going to delight anyone into taking pictures. I cooked the acorn squash in the microwave, scooped out the innards and combined them with Splenda, cinnamon, chopped pecans, nutmeg and a little brown sugar substitute, mixed it all in a giant bowl, then filled individual ramekins, topped them with a marshmallow (sugar-free, of course!) and baked them for a few minutes. A few snipped chives at the end added color.
These may look like mashed potatoes, but looks can be deceiving. This is herbed mashed cauliflower with butter, cream cheese, parmesan cheese. We’ve added parsley, chives, and a few other herbs for an extra pop of flavor. We also made unherbed ones for those who might be disturbed by the slightly green color, as you will see below.
Oh, I wish my counter looked like this right now. I would dive in. My memory of these wonderful dishes is strong and wonderful.
One of the most fun things we did was to put our stuffing into baked, hollowed-out squash and small pumpkins. We carefully cut the top parts off, took out the seeds and stringy oock, and baked them long enough to make the insides dry. Then we ladled in our dressing, which we had baked separately, and served them on small plates. Next time, I would look for even smaller squash and pumpkins. No one could eat this quantity of dressing. Not even me, and I had made one batch low carb with low carb bread.
Doesn’t that look cool as heck? You can gauge the size from the pansy next to it.
There was one small argument regarding how to cook the turkey. I wanted to bake it so that I could make some fabulous gravy. Michael wanted to smoke it in his Big Green Egg. We settled the controversy by cooking two different turkeys. I can assure you, they were both masterpieces. I had loads of fun garnishing them. The grapes and orange slices and figs were there for people to grab and et, and the steamed artichokes provided alternatives for us low-carbers.
This one, above, is Michael’s turkey. It truly was beautiful.
This one is mine — fresh from the oven, all dressed up and ready to go. It was patiently allowing the requisite time for sitting before carving.
The kids sat in the sunroom and were happy to be able to have their own conversation.
This was the table where the grownups sat. I wish I had taken a closeup of the turkey napkin rings, a gift from my sister-in-law Sue. They are adorable!
The kitchen looks remarkably sane, considering all the food we had just prepared. The only thing that gives a hint of the frantic work is the fact that my hair had gone fuzzy from the humidity. Still, I was a mighty happy hostess.