Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Getting a Start on Thanksgiving


There are two keys to a successful big meal: cooking a few things ahead and having a plan. I got started on this meal yesterday, making cranberry sauce while I made dinner.  Then today I made the first of the desserts: apricot-almond cake.

apricot cake

Originally, I’d planned to make this a raspberry cake, but I didn’t read the recipe closely enough. I bought frozen raspberries, but the recipe calls for sugar-free jam. Luckily, I did have some sugar-free jam on hand, but it was apricot. I like apricot though, and I had already started making the cake when I realized my mistake, so I went with it. It smelled amazing, but I am resisting until tomorrow.

Other than that I didn’t get a lot of cooking done today. I baked some sweet potatoes so that all I have to do is mash them with some coconut cream and cinnamon tomorrow. I made some coconut oil candies to distract myself from the cake.  I did get a lot of kitchen cleaning done, which will help me get a good start tomorrow.

Here is my rough plan for the day:

  1. Key lime cheesecake–that will need some time to set up in the fridge
  2. Cauli-rice dressing, cooked, then set aside to be re-heated before we eat
  3. Slice mushrooms for cooking later
  4. Mix up pumpkin pudding/crustless pie
  5. Put Brussels sprouts into the oven 45 minutes before we eat
  6. Put butternut squash in 15 minutes later
  7. Saute green beans with bacon
  8. Saute mushrooms
  9. Put pumpkin pie in oven as we are getting ready to eat

Overall, I think this will be a pretty easy day, actually. I still need to do some table clearing in the dining room, and I would like to do some other cleaning, too, but I will have the kids to help, and although there are a lot of dishes, most of them don’t take a lot of work.

Do you have a plan for the day? Is it much easier than mine?


Thanksgiving Dinner Menu



Once I got the important decisions about Thanksgiving out of the way last week, I lost momentum for menu planning. I had to do something, though, as I could not possibly serve desserts only to my family on Thursday. I mean, sure, my dad and son will grill a turkey, but I have to have some vegetables on the table, or I will lose all credibility with my children forever. How can I tell them to eat healthy foods if I serve them nothing but turkey and desserts?

So, side dishes it is! My friend Billie is going to give me some fresh bread dough to bake for the family, since I won’t be making any bread.

Mushroom cauliflower stuffing, based on this recipe – I am pretty sure I will be the only one eating this, but I don’t care, it looks so good! I will take out the carrots and celery, and maybe add some sausage.
Roasted butternut squash
Green beans sauteed with bacon
Roasted Brussels sprouts
Nutmeg mushrooms
Sugar-free cranberry sauce
Sweet potatoes mashed with coconut milk and cinnamon

I’m not sure about the sweet potatoes (very carb-y!), but the rest looks pretty good. What are you making for Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving Desserts the Low Carb Way


Image credit: grace2882

As I mentioned yesterday, Thanksgiving is next week (!). Since I have changed a lot of my eating habits, I need to do some thinking about what I want to make this year. I prefer to find recipes everyone can eat if possible, although I know that my mother won’t eat Brussels sprouts, and I will probably make some roasted potatoes for my family that I won’t eat.

Starting with the most important decision: dessert. I have been known to make 2 or 3 desserts for Thanksgiving, even though we generally have no more than 6 people at the table–and they don’t all partake of dessert. I don’t do desserts often, though, so I go overboard. That is not a part of the holiday I want to give up now that I am eating low carb.

I did consider just going all out on Thanksgiving, sugar and all, but really, any desserts are more carbs than I would really like, even if I make them sugar and grain free. So, I figure low carb desserts are a nice  compromise between indulging and restraining myself. I will have lots of yummy treats and it will seem very decadent without adding a bunch of sugar to my system. At least my carbs will be high quality, and it will still be so much less than if I were to indulge in traditional sweets.

First, I have to make the key lime cheesecake I made this summer for my son’s birthday. I really loved that, and I like to have a cheesecake. My mom liked the lime flavor, too. I have to have pumpkin pie, or my son will be sad, so this crustless pie/pudding will be part of our dessert spread.

Now I’ve barely even started thinking about dessert and I am already up to two dishes, and I can’t even stop there. I need to look at some cakes made with almond meal! I have been wanting to make an almond meal cake for awhile now, and this is the perfect opportunity

  • I seriously considered pumpkin pound cake first, but we are already having pumpkin pie. Also, I think that would be better for Christmas morning.
  • Next I looked at a low carb jello poke cake. That looked delicious, and the flavors are different, but the cheesecake has gelatin already, so I decided to try again.
  • Raspberry almond crumb cake was my next option, and I think it is a winner! Although it does have cream cheese like the cheesecake, I think it will be different enough overall not to matter, and it is the kind of cake that will make a good breakfast the next morning as well.

So, now the most important part of Thanksgiving menu planning is complete:

Key Lime Cheesecake
Crustless Pumpkin Pie
Raspberry Almond Crumb Cake

I’d better start coming up with some healthy vegetables to eat before we get to this point.

Starting to Plan for Thanksgiving


I go a little crazy at Thanksgiving time. I love to cook for people, and I tend to cook for my family on the day itself, then do another meal with friends soon after.  I make an insanely huge amount of food, too.

This year, I am thinking about skipping the friend Thanksgiving meal. I do love it, but I may be taking on too many things for the holiday season. I need to ask the kids what they think and do a small poll of my friends to see if they will be available on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I have taken on so many other things, though, I am not sure about taking on a full day of cooking. I am not sure about skipping it, either, though, because it makes me sad to think about missing it.

Regardless, I need to do some planning about the upcoming Thanksgiving time, both food-wise and time-wise. I am taking some time off leading up to the big day, plus the day after, so I want to make sure I am using the time wisely. I will be off this Friday, and every day except Tuesday next week, but I will be working at home on Tuesday, so I could do some baking, in theory. I like to spread the cooking out for a few days so that I am not running around like crazy on the day itself, especially since I like to do a late lunch-time meal. I also want to make sure I use my time off wisely to do some other tasks. So this is another post of lists.

Food for Thanksgiving day (subject to change after I consult my family—or not)

  • Dill dip and rye bread with veggies
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Butternut squash risotto (or possibly cornbread stuffing)
  • Roasted potatoes
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts
  • Turkey
  • Steamed green beans
  • Tropical sweet potato casserole

I have no idea how I am going to do the turkey. I am not sure I have ever made a full turkey, between a spotty history of vegetarianism and just having other people make it (my ex-husband or my dad, usually.) However, the boy is excited to make the turkey this year, so I said we would. My dad did offer to come over and do it on the BBQ grill, though, and I may take him up on that.

I am thinking about doing the risotto instead of my usual stuffing this year for a couple of reasons. First, I have been experimenting with going wheat free lately, and I am thinking it is going well. I have eaten wheat a few times and felt that I was having symptoms related to that, although I have not been systematic about it. A much bigger factor, though, is that I am the only one who likes the stuffing I usually make. I love it, and eat enough to make up for everyone else, but I am thinking I may be better off going to the risotto that I know at least 4 of the 6 of us love. I am considering trying out a cornbread stuffing recipe though, so we’ll see.

I am not sure what to do about dessert this year. I might do a crustless pumpkin cheesecake, or some kind of pudding. This gluten free and dairy free pumpkin pudding looks good. I may have to try that out this weekend to taste test.

Things I can make ahead

  • Dill Dip
  • Cranberry sauce
  • The pumpkin pudding up to baking
  • All the chopping
  • Roasting the butternut squash

Writing Tasks I would like to do in my time off

  • Complete Gaming Angels Holiday Guide
  • Complete The Cult of Lego review
  • Posts for ever day
    • Another budget set up post
    • List of gifts to make
    • Menus
    • <More planning needed here>
  • December Convention post for Gaming Angels
  • A few other Gaming Angels things—featured web magazine, featured web comic, talk to other Pulp Angels team members for ideas and schedules

 Crafts I want to work on

Does this seem like too much? I hope not, because I haven’t even gotten to cleaning and reading and gift shopping.

What are your Thanksgiving plans?

Menu, 11/29 – 12/3, along with some Thanksgiving stuff


Last week, I didn’t do a plan, and I didn’t do much cooking.  I don’t even remember what we did on Monday, Tuesday we went to my parents’ house for an early Thanksgiving dinner, since the kids were going to their dad’s for the holiday, Wednesday, we just had falafel with pita bread and tahini sauce, and the weekend I just kind of grabbed some leftovers or peanut butter sandwiches.  I did cook for my parents on Thanksgiving, but not as much as I have in the past.  I am saving my serious cooking for this coming Saturday, when I think there will be a lot of people here.  (Ack, I need to do a lot of cleaning!)  On Thanksgiving, I made cranberry sauce, mashed sweet potatoes with maple syrup and margarine, mushroom gravy, roasted Brussels sprouts, seamed green beans, and a roasted buttenut squash dressing.  Here is a picture of the meal:

The dressing was based on the carmelized onion butternut roast with chestnuts from Veganomicon, but I didn’t make it to the store, so I substituted walnuts for the chestnuts, a loaf of cubed cranberry pumpkin seed bread for the beans, and left off the breadcrumb topping, although I did add the seasonings to the casserole.  It was a huge hit–both of my parents loved it.  Also, since we had done the whole turkey dinner thing onTuesday (except I didn’t eat any turkey of course), my dad didn’t even bring any turkey, and we all ate the vegetarian meal,which was pretty cool.

Anyway, on to this week.  I actually didn’t make the menu and get to the store until today, but I wanted to put yesterday on this menu, since the idea is to help with future planning after all.  I did most of this menu and the grocery list while the girl practiced putting contacts in and out of her eyes for the first time in the optometrist’s office.  Way to plan ahead, huh?

Monday:  Chickpea noodle soup, from Veganomicon, without the mushrooms, since I am the only one who likes them (and we were out anyway), leftover steamed green beans and spinach

Tuesday:  Roasted butternut squash risotto, steamed broccoli

Wednesday:  Borrachos, whole wheat tortillas, sauteed turnip greens, steamed sweet potatoes

Thursday:  Fried rice/quinoa, cucumber wontons

Friday:  Pizza, one with chickenless strips and pineapple, one with sausageless Italian sausages

Saturday I am making a big meal for some friends.  I don’t have a full menu yet, but here are some things I am thinking of making:


Main meal:


  • cranberry upside down cake
  • double layer pumpkin cheesecake
  • apple cranberry crisp

I hope it is enough food.

A new laptop! Woohoo!

Ever since my daughter knocked over my laptop and ruined the monitor, I have had a hard time with the blogging. My desktop is slow and uncomfortable, and I don’t like to blog at work, so I have just been finding it all too much work. On Friday, though, I got my tax refund (thank you, new house!), and yesterday I got a new laptop. I am just amazed at how quickly technology moves on–I got my old laptop only two years ago, and this one has lots more memory and hard drive space, plus facial recognition for logging in, and probably other things I have not discovered yet, for $150 less than I paid for the other one. Yippee!

On the eating front, we have been doing pretty good. I am still cooking more, to avoid the expense of eating out. My biggest habit change that I am so proud of is eating breakfast at home. I had gotten in the habit of waiting until I got to work to eat breakfast, because we were so rushed in the mornings. However, that means being up for about two hours before I ate anything, which is terrible for my metabolism, and making poor choices, because I was starving by the time I ate. Lots of greasy hashbrowns with eggs, biscuits, donuts, and other heavy, unhealthy foods were had. Now I have cereal with rice milk, or oatmeal cooked with maple syrup, dried fruit and cinnamon, or a whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter and a banana, or a fruit smoothie. Much better choices!

On a completely different note, I have to share a picture of my almost vegan desserts from the after-Thanksgiving meal I had with friends the first weekend in December:

Don’t those look delicious? The first one at the top left is my almost vegan dessert–a pumpkin bread pudding. I used soy milk, but I went ahead and used the eggs in the recipe. I have not been brave enough to experiment with egg substitutes for cooking yet. Scrambled tofu for brunch? I got that down pat, but not so much on the cooking subs. Next is urban vegan’s cranberry upside down cake which was absolutely scrumptious, as expected. Front and center is the Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake from the Fatfree Vegan Kitchen (not a fatfree recipe!). That is very nearly the perfect dessert. It’s rich and delicious, and I really couldn’t eat more than a small slice at a time, because of the richness. Everyone loved it, vegan or not.
Okay, I have gained about 5 pounds just looking at that picture and thinking about how good those desserts were, so I need to go do some exercising! Hopefully I will be back here more often with the new laptop–I’ve missed it.