Heavy on the vegetarian “sides” and light on the turkey — here is what our family is cooking for Thanksgiving dinner this year!

The Plan

The calm before the storm.

This is the “before” view of the table where we will gather for Thanksgiving dinner. Last week I shared what this table will look like on Thanksgiving day. (Read all about it!) This week I am sharing the food we will enjoy while seated here!

Our family loves to cook! I like to think this is something I got from my mom and then passed on to my kids. My mom and I were always sharing recipes, and now our family does the same. So holiday dinners, or even just celebrating being together, can be quite the “foodie” experience. And quite the undertaking.

This year we have decided we want to keep things a little more low-key. Still special, but maybe not all-out like we have done in the past. Low-key, or not, we are fortunate to have Zoë (middle child) as the Organizer in Chief. She created a shared spreadsheet that we can all update with what we want to make. I just checked the spread-sheet in preparation for this blog post. I am thinking maybe we need to redefine “low-key”…..

We have a lot to prepare, so let’s get cooking!

Note: I am sharing links for most of the recipes. I apologize in advance if you need a subscription to view some of them. Most recipe sites allow access to a certain number of “complimentary” recipes, so if you are judicious, you might get to see all the recipes you want. My go-to recipe websites are Bon Appétit and New York Times Cooking, so I have subscriptions to both. I also receive the print version of Bon Appétit.

The Bird

I have been a vegetarian for ten years now. The Organizer in Chief and her husband are also vegetarians. Leah (oldest child) has stepped into the role of Turkey Chef, and I am told she does an amazing job! She has tried different brines and cooking methods through the years. This year she is cutting the turkey into 5 pieces — legs, wings, and whole breast with the backbone removed — and doing a buttermilk brine. You don’t get the impressive whole-bird presentation, but apparently it is the best way to ensure that all the different parts are cooked evenly. She will be using New York Times Cooking contributor Samin Nosrat’s Buttermilk brine and the technique of this Bon Appétit recipe. Or something like that! I won’t be involved. You lost this vegetarian at “cutting the turkey into 5 pieces”….

The Veggie Entrée

I am perfectly happy to load my plate up with a bunch of delicious veggie “sides”, but it always nice to have one dish that is a little more substantial and can act as an entrée for those who don’t want turkey. This year we are giving a new recipe from the Thanksgiving issue of Bon Appétit a try. Pumpkin and Cheddar Strata is made of bread, canned pumpkin, kale, eggs, milk, herbs, and cheese, and bakes into creamy custard with golden crunchy bites of bread. And one of the best things about a strata is that it can be prepared ahead and then popped in the oven the day of!

My Favorite Brussels Sprout Recipe

I make this brussels sprout recipe every year. We always had a big sit-down Thanksgiving meal in our office and one of the young servicemen I worked with said he wanted to come live with me and my family so he could eat brussels sprouts and brownies all the time. So, this recipe is a good one! (The brownies are too — I will share that one day!)

Two Kinds of Potatoes

Now that the kids are all married, it is fun to incorporate some of their spouses’ traditional holiday foods into our meal!


We have always been a sweet potato family. One of my sisters roomed with a woman from the south years ago, and she introduced our family to that yummy sweet potato dessert which masquerades as a vegetable side. You know the one with the whipped sweet potatoes and crumbly brown sugar topping? It has been a staple on our table for a long time. This year, though, we are mixing things up with BA’s Shingled Sweet Potatoes With Harissa. Jack (youngest child) has prepared this before and it is delicious! It is also a true veggie side — no brown sugar involved — and will make up for the turkey with its impressive presentation.


We don’t usually make mashed potatoes, but the Turkey Chef’s husband has requested them this year. We will be making Molly Baz’s Sour Cream & Onion Cloud Potatoes. What’s not to love about potatoes, sour cream and onions?! Unfortunately, I can’t link this recipe because I don’t have an account for her site, but the Organizer in Chief does. The O in C is a big fan of Molly Baz’s recipes, so an account could be something you want to look into! (Does anyone else feel like these recipe sites are getting to be like tv/movie streaming services? You need to pay for so many different accounts to have access to all that you want….. Just sayin’!)


With all of the heavy dishes that make up Thanksgiving dinner, something light and bright is definitely needed to refresh the palate. That would be my favorite food — salad! The O in C has chosen another Molly Baz recipe — Apple Cheddar Pistachio Salad With Creamy Shallot-Date Dressing. No more needs to be said since you all know how I feel about apples this time of year! (In case you don’t, read my blog post Easy Homemade Granola Breakfast Apple Crisp!)

Stuffing and Relish

My husband has unfortunately developed a number of food allergies and sensitivities in recent years, including a gluten intolerance. So this year we are giving BA’s gluten-free One-Skillet Mushroom Cornbread Stuffing a try. The NYT Cooking Cranberry-Pomegranate Relish, a fresh twist on the classic cranberry-orange combo, will add some zing to the turkey.


In the spirit of keeping things, ahem, “low-key”, we are not making our own desserts this year. Instead, we will be supporting a local small business and buying our pies from them. Phew! We will definitely do pumpkin. And then we are deciding between Apple Crumb and Chocolate Bourbon Pecan. Which do you think we should choose?!

Preparing For the Big Day

Our family will be attending a wedding in Chicago the weekend before Thanksgiving. Then everyone will fly directly from Chicago to Maine. There will be 7 cooks plus my husband, who is one heck of a dish washer! And we will have several days to shop and prepare. We can get started on some dishes earlier in the week (the brussels sprouts, stuffing, and strata) to ease the load in the kitchen on the big day. But cooking together is really part of the celebration for our family. I love the bustle of cooks in the kitchen and the mix of aromas wafting through the house.

And, ultimately, the most important thing is that we will all be together. For that I am deeply thankful.

I will be taking some time off of the blog and from Instagram to focus on family. If you don’t see me before Thanksgiving, I hope that you have a warm and wonderful celebration, be it big or small!

And since this is the season of gratitude, I want to take this opportunity to thank you from the bottom of my heart for joining me here and for supporting my fledgling blog.

I will see you soon with fun new holiday content for December!


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