Spending time with family for the holidays is always nice, but I have to admit I’m usually most excited for the food. Seems to me most everyone on the KP team feels similarly. I asked everyone what their favorite holiday meals and drinks were, and they had a LOT to say. Read to the end for Jennifer’s Bloody Mary recipe!
Alexis: I really love Thanksgiving because it’s the only time of year I indulge in some of my favorite comfort foods that have ties to lots of family memories. Especially the roasted turkey with homemade giblet gravy. You can only get that gravy from the delicious juices for the roasted turkey and man alive it is a full-on sense memory overload. Combined with homemade cranberry sauce and apple-sage sausage stuffing I am in complete bliss for the entire weekend.
Hannah: The holidays are just an excuse to make the craziest, best recipes in your arsenal, right? For me, that means Smitten Kitchen’s Better Chocolate Babka. This recipe makes two loaves, perfect for sharing or the second loaf can be frozen and thawed between different holiday parties.
Beyond the usual mulled wine and hot cider, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of French Connection season around my house. Sweet, easy to make and perfect on cold nights, this is my favorite mixed drink to make before snuggling on the couch to watch movies. A basic French Connection recipe is as follows: 1.5 oz Cognac/ Brandy mixed with 1 oz Amaretto (pssst! You can make your own Amaretto!) and I like to add a brandied cherry to my glass too.
Daniel: I was hoping to beat Hannah to expressing unashamedly abject adulation for Smitten Kitchen, where one of my favorite holiday recipes comes from. Pecan pie has always been my favorite holiday dessert. I was 12 when I made my first pie because my mom wasn’t going to make it that year. And I will be forever indebted to Deb for introducing me to Golden Syrup in her pecan pie recipe, which I’ve since made every Thanksgiving and Christmas (and randomly at other times throughout the year). It has a richer, less sugary taste than the corn syrup recipes you mostly see. (If you’re the type, I recommend adding the optional bourbon. I like it with rye too, and I have been known to avoid careful measuring for a little extra flavor.) If you like pecan pie, you’ll love this; even if you don’t, it might cause you to reconsider.
Stacey: Maybe unconventional but it’s become tradition that our Thanksgiving dinner has included poutine instead of the more traditional potato dishes. The last couple of years, my partner and I have opted to not travel for the holiday so we’ve experimented with putting our own twist on holiday dinners. The dish of gravy, cheese curds, fries, and whatever else we opt to add is our ultimate comfort food dish and perfect for a lazy day, hanging out and watching TV. Messy? Sure. But oh so good.
Alison: Oh no, I’m another Smitten Kitchen obsessive. Deb’s fig and olive oil challah is my favorite holiday bread to make for the whole family. The fancy-pants braid is way easier than it looks, and I make extra fig paste for spreading on toast over the next week. This bread makes some of the most amazing French toast, so I never feel bad baking a huge loaf along with one thousand other competing dishes.
Elaine: My sister, mother, and I love to cook so it’s pretty amazing when we can all get together for the holidays (like this year) and cook together. We will be roasting a small traditional turkey, and because my husband loves to experiment we will also be deep frying one (fingers crossed it goes well) with all the traditional thanksgiving sides. This year, we have decided to each bring a recipe that we’ve previously tried. This year I’m doing Nealy Dozier’s Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Milk & Vanilla Bean . It’s a wonderful twist on the holiday tradition. They are just rich enough without adding the marshmallow topping. The trick is to use vanilla bean paste and coconut milk, they add a sweetness without being overly rich. They are sure to pair nicely with all of our other sides we will be making.
Jennifer: I don’t know when my husband and I decided that Bloody Marys were a Thanksgiving tradition, but it’s definitely a good one! My husband and I – along with our boys – always enjoy a lazy Thanksgiving breakfast at home before we head to my in-laws for a big Fish Family Thanksgiving Extravaganza. We keep the breakfast pretty simple – eggs, bacon and hashbrowns – plus my mother-in-law’s Almond Kringle. Layers of a simple pastry and cream cheese filling are combined with a delicious icing and toasted almonds. It’s dessert, really … and a very good one! Her recipe is a closely guarded family secret, but it’s very similar to this one at Rabbit Food Rocks. (psst… the Fish version includes cream cheese, if you’re the experimenting type)
Now, back to the Bloody Marys! I mix up a big pitcher of the the mix, so I have it on hand for the holidays:
- large can (46 oz.) tomato juice
- 1/2 cup worestershire sauce
- 3 T. lime juice
- 2 T. soy sauce
- 1 T. celery salt
- 1 T. black pepper
- 1 t. cayenne pepper*
- 1 t. finely chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce*
- 1/2 t. smoked paprika
- about 2 t. grated horseradish (I do this to taste, so start with a bit less and go from there)
* omit or reduce the cayenne and chipotle peppers if you don’t like it spicy
To make your drinks:
- Use a lime wedge to wet your glass, then dip in coarse salt.
- If you like it really spicy, muddle a few jalapeno slices in the bottom of the glass.
- Fill glass with ice and add your liquor. We like ours with tequila, but they are also delicious with lime or pepper vodka! We do ours about 1/3 liquor to 2/3 mix, but of course you can adjust to your taste.
- Add a few dashes of hot sauce to taste.
- GARNISH. For Thanksgiving, we use bacon! (Because, tradition.) We also love to use dilly green beans and garlic-stuffed olives.