A Practical Guide To Healthy Living
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Category — Thanksgiving

Holiday Hosting Plan of Attack!

Hey sweet readers . . . are you hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year?  Feeling overwhelmed, perhaps, just thinking of all you have to do to get ready?  This post from last year might help start your engine!

plan of attack cartoon soldier

Go get-’em!  I get energized by battle metaphors – it’s not very Martha Stewart, but I gotta be me.

A few of you have asked for ways to deal with hosting, so below is my 12-step program for handling a holiday.  The goal of this is to minimize stress leading up to Thanksgiving, so please, tweak and tailor it to your needs.

  1. Get yourself a folder with pockets.  You’re going to keep all your Thanksgiving-related stuff in here (recipes, guest lists, shopping lists, time-lines etc.).
  2. Plan your guest list.  I do all my lists on the computer so that I can easily edit them.  Divide up your list into adults and kids – if the kids are small, they’ll eat less – a big factor in deciding what size turkey to buy.
  3. Order a turkey, if you’re going to order one.  Here’s a good turkey-guide from Reader’s Digest – it gives you guidance as to how much to allow per person.
  4. Plan your menu.  List all the dishes you’re going to serve, and gather up all your recipes – whether from your own collection or clipped from magazines – and put these in your folder.  Don’t forget cocktails, if you’re interested in those – you might need special ingredients. If your recipes come from cookbooks, note the cookbook name and page number next to the item on your menu.
  5. Make assignments.  If your guests are local, most would love to bring something to contribute to the meal.  Don’t be a hero – let them!  Note who’s responsible for what next to each item on your menu list.  [Read more →]

October 20, 2010   1 Comment

Now What? Thanksgiving Leftover Remix!

turkey sandwich

I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, thanks to D.’s sister and our BIL’s hospitality.  Always a lovely time over there.  And my MIL made this luscious pumpkin chiffon pie thingy . . . maybe if we give her some love here, she’ll give up the recipe for next year?  I have to admit, although I love putting on the holiday at our place, it’s incredibly relaxing to have someone else host. 

The only downside to guesting and not hosting is no leftovers (or very few, we drove home packing a large drumstick and some sides!).  That might be an upside in terms of getting back on track with healthy eating . . . but then there’s no turkey sandwich w/stuffing and cranberry sauce, pie for breakfast (my niece is probably happily gobbling up the apple pie I made as you read this), etc. etc.

But maybe you want to mix it up with your leftovers?  Here’s a fantastic article from Food & Wine – David Chang (of Momofuku fame) takes leftover turkey, green beans and mashed potatoes, among others, and whips them into inspired recipes like mashed potato spring rolls, turkey breast with ginger-scallion sauce, and OMG!  Brown Butter Custard Pie with Cranberry Glaze and Cinnamon Toast Crumb Crust.  Be still, my heart.

Or, if that’s a little too fancy-pants for you, here’re some more down-to-earth ideas from Chowhound . . . .

and a whole list of inspired recipes from an old Chow article.

And last, here’s a slide show of 16 different recipes, from the ever-reliable Better Homes & Gardens.  The Tex-Mex things look best to me, but I always have good luck with BH&G recipes . . . even if I have to zing ‘em up a bit.

Let me know what you whip up – and if you’re making any of those Chang things, let me know what time I need to be over . . . .

November 27, 2009   No Comments

A Fresh Green Salad For Thanksgiving

 pears in bowl

Happy Friday, everyone!  This is my last Thanksgiving-related post, unless I get requests for other dishes . . . what I’ve listed so far is my hit-parade of annual menu items.  The cooked veg changes from year-to-year (sometimes, my MIL makes a delicious creamy broccoli casserole thingy that’s worth the splurge).

Today I’m sharing a nice fall salad recipe that I make on Turkey day.  I have to admit, the salad doesn’t get as much play as the other side dishes.  But I happen to love a green salad amongst all the richness.  Don’t get me wrong, I love richness too, but a little somethin’ to cut the grease is always good.

Cranberry Pear Salad With Candied Walnuts

1/2 c. apricot nectar
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
1/3 c. canola oil
2 t. Dijon mustard
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
2 T. sugar
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
12 c. fancy mixed salad greens
3 ripe medium pears, sliced into thin slices
1/2 c. dried sweetened cranberries
3/4 c. blue cheese, crumbled


Make the dressing:  in a bowl, whisk together the first six ingredients and set aside. 

Candy the walnuts:  In a heavy skillet, melt the sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Add the walnuts and stir to coat.  Remove from the heat.

Assemble the salad:  In a large salad bowl, combine the green, pears and cranberries.  Drizzle with the dressing.  Add nuts and blue cheese and toss.

Serve immediately.  Yields 12 servings.

Note:  I usually try to pick up some different types of pears for this, some with more brown flesh, some with red . . . makes the salad more colorful!  Also, if you have the wherewithall to plan ahead, get your pears a few days in advance so they’ll have time to ripen.  Sweet, juicy pears are best here.

Autumn Pear Salad on Foodista

November 20, 2009   2 Comments

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

mashed potatoes

Mmmmm, mashed potatoes and gravy!  Can you tell that for me, Thanksgiving is all about the side dishes?  Turkey’s OK, but what really gets me fired up are all of the once-a-year traditional foods we eat along with the bird.

These are not light.  Not great for you, but they’re a rich, creamy, easy and indulgent holiday side-dish that you can make several days ahead and store in your fridge.

Sarah’s Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

5 lbs. yellow or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed
8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 stick salted butter
1/2 c. whole milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Combine the mashed potatoes, butter, cream cheese, sour cream and milk.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  Mix well and place in a large, oven-proof casserole.  Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes.

If you do make these ahead and put them in the fridge, removed them from the fridge 30 minutes before you intend to bake them.

Yields 12 servings. 

Divine Make - Ahead Potatoes on Foodista

November 18, 2009   2 Comments

Stuffing . . .

Stuffing for turkey

or dressing, or whatever you want to call it, is one of my favorite components of Thanksgiving dinner.  Yes, it comes with some debate, as do most things around a holiday.  Put it in the bird?  Leave it out of the bird?  Add meat?  Dried fruit?  Nuts?  None of the above?  People get craaaazy about their stuffing preferences.

Here’s what I like.  I like either a very simple white bread stuffing with sage, celery, parsley and onions, or else I like a full-frontal assault of oozy, rich sausagey stuffing.  More recently, the latter.  Either way, I love it most cooked inside the bird, and whatever you do, leave the fruit and nuts out of the picture.

I have 2 stuffing recipes for you today.  The simple recipe was my Grandmother Olivier’s recipe, which she called dressing, and which is much loved by all who taste it.  It is, of course, not an exact recipe, so you’re going to have to trust your gut on quantities, and you can certainly tweak amounts to your liking.  I’ve included my editorial suggestions in brackets.  If you make this recipe, please do promise me you’ll set an elegant table.  Were Peggy here today, she’d insist on that.  [Read more →]

November 17, 2009   6 Comments

Another Great Checklist For Thanksgiving Preparations

This morning, I’m reminded of the very good “Thanksgiving Countdown”on Epicurious.  We’re down to two weeks before the big day, but you can look back over the past weeks’ tips for ideas as well.  This weekend’s task is to make things you can freeze, and this recipe for Sweet Potato Rolls With Dried Tart Cherries and Cardamom sounds divine . . . .

And in my mind, there’s no better way to pass a cold, rainy November Saturday in Boston than cooking and eating!


November 14, 2009   1 Comment

Sweet Potato Casserole

sweet potatoes

Today’s recipe combines sweet potatoes, another treat from my CSA share, with Thanksgiving:  my sure-fire crowd-pleasing Streuseled Sweet Potato Casserole recipe.  I make this for every Thanksgiving and people LOVE it.  It’s sweet, nutty, and because it’s a riff off an old Cooking Light recipe, it doesn’t break the calorie bank.  This is so tasty, I’ve been known to eat this for breakfast the morning after Thanksgiving (yes, leftover pie, too – no one ever said Thanksgiving weekend wasn’t a little bit of a nutritional nightmare).  If my SIL wants me to, I’ll make it this year, too, but I’ll use the local sweet potatoes I got in my share . . . sure to increase the deliciousness.

Streuseled Sweet Potato Casserole

5 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 c. half-and-half
1/2 c. maple syrup
1 t. vanilla
3/4 t. salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 c. chopped pecans


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Place the potatoes in a Dutch oven and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 12 minutes, or until tender; drain.  Using a stand mixer, whisk the half-and-half with the next 4 ingredients (through eggs).  Change to the paddle attachment, add the potato to the egg mixture, and beat at medium speed until smooth.  Spoon the potato mixture into a 9×13-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Combine the flour and sugar in a food processor; pulse to combine.  Add the chilled butter, pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. 

Toast the pecans in a small, dry skillet.  Stir the pecans into the flour and sugar mixture and sprinkle this over the potato mixture.  Cover and bake for 15 minutes, then uncover and bake an additional 25 minutes or until the topping is browned and the potatoes are thoroughly heated. 

This will yield 18 1/2-cup servings.

If you want to make this ahead of time – make up your potato mixture and store it in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 days.  Make up the streusel mixture and store it in a separate airtight container.  When you’re ready to bake, put the potatoes in your baking dish, top with the streusel, and you’re good to go.

What if you don’t have a stand mixer?  Not to worry – you can use a hand mixer or some serious elbow grease and a potato masher.  No food processor?  Cut the butter into the flour and sugar mixture with two knives.

Sweet Potato Casserole on Foodista

Have a great weekend, all!

November 13, 2009   2 Comments