Kevin, Maggie, and I hosted Thanksgiving for the second year in a row, and it was SO MUCH FUN! It was small this year, of course, but we were able to have my parents at our house along with my sister, brother-in-law, nephew (who’s just three months younger than Maggie, so they are BEST FRIENDS), and niece. Typically, when we spend Thanksgiving with my family it’s a huge lunchtime affair at my aunt and uncle’s house in Birmingham, Alabama, but obviously things looked much different this year. While we missed getting to see so many family members, we had such a special few days together and it was fun to do something different!
Even though hosting is a lot of work, I adore it. I love getting the house ready and the menu planned and the groceries bought (and strategically arranged in the fridge like a Tetris game). We tried lots of new recipes this year and everything turned out great, so I thought I’d share some of them here in case you’re looking for some good holiday meal recommendations!
Oh, first a quick note: I’m the only plant-based eater in my family, so we still have turkey (Kevin handles that, and from what I hear it turned out great!) but I’ve found it’s pretty simple to make the rest of the meal a vegan one that the rest of the family is guaranteed to love. (Promise!) One great thing about hosting a holiday as a vegan is I’m able to make those slight tweaks so everything is “Anna friendly” without feeling like I’m asking others to make adjustments in the kitchen.
Here was our Thanksgiving 2020 menu:
–Cajun Turkey (Managed by Kevin!)
–Cornbread Dressing (We’re Southern, so we prefer dressing over stuffing, and this recipe did NOT disappoint! I practiced it before the big day to make sure it was up to my standards, and I know we’ll be using this recipe again and again. Oh, and the cornbread you make to put in said dressing is SO GOOD, too, and worth making on its own to pair with soup.)
–Mashed Sweet Potatoes (These were so tasty, and I just added some Earth Balance butter, some coconut cream, and salt and pepper to the boiled potatoes and mashed it all together. Yum!)
–Collard Greens (Made by my talented brother-in-law, Marty, who’s an incredible cook!)
–Deviled Eggs (A last-minute addition whipped up by Marty as well!)
–Grandma Lois’ Cranberry Relish (This is a recipe Kevin introduced me to. It’s one his grandmother always made, and it’s SO good — and nice and simple! Kevin always handles the cranberry relish prep, but the recipe I linked is a very similar one to the one he uses. You can adjust the sugar based on preference.)
–Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish (Kevin made TWO cranberry relishes this year, because he’d been wanting to try out this strange-yet-enticing sounding recipe as well. I sat this one out because it includes sour cream, but it got rave reviews from our crew! It would also be easy to make vegan with a plant-based sour cream. I may try that next year…)
–Creamy Chickpea Kale Salad (Though this salad was tasty, to me it was the most underwhelming dish on our Thanksgiving table. If I were doing it over again, I’d have replaced this salad with a tried and true favorite fall/winter salad recipe of mine: this Shredded Brussels Sprout, Kale, and Grapefruit Salad.)
–My Grandma Granade’s Homemade Icebox Rolls (This is a family favorite recipe, and one that always made an appearance for special occasions and holidays when I was growing up. I tested a vegan-friendly version before Thanksgiving — I just swapped out the egg for Vegan Egg, a plant-based egg replacement, and the regular butter for Earth Balance butter — and they were just as good as the original! Here’s that recipe if you’re interested in giving them a try, too.):
–Apple Crisp (I made this recipe a couple of times over the summer/early fall and fell in love with it. I knew it needed a spot on our Thanksgiving dessert menu!)
–Pumpkin Pie (This new-to-me recipe turned out to be a huge hit all around! It has more of a spice kick to it than other pumpkin pies I’ve had, which was delightful, and the crust was so easy to make.)
An important note about leftovers…
A few years ago, my brother-in-law, Justin, suggested an incredible idea for what to do with Thanksgiving leftovers: Make them into egg rolls!!! We did this again this year and they were incredible! You just combine a few leftovers into each egg roll (we even made apple crisp ones and pumpkin pie ones), roll them and brush them with grape seed oil, and pop them into the air fryer to get them delicious and crispy. I HIGHLY recommend trying this!
And one final recipe to share…
About a decade ago, Kevin, my parents, and I all heard the same NPR piece separately and were so excited to share it with each other (and were then delighted to find out we were already all on board!). It was a piece about a recipe for Pumpkin Filled With Everything Good, which is taking a pie pumpkin and stuffing it with, well, anything good you can think of! My mom has made this recipe for Christmas for years now, keeping a few elements the same from year to year and also changing things up a bit, and this year Kevin was in charge of our two pumpkins, which we enjoyed for dinner the day after Thanksgiving. He made one non-vegan one with sausage, Gruyere cheese, and lots of other yumminess, and then he made a vegan-friendly pumpkin, too, with slightly sweeter flavors like orange. We love this fun holiday tradition!
I’d love to hear some of your favorite Thanksgiving recipes, too, and also hear how Thanksgiving looked different for you in 2020. One thing’s for sure: It made me appreciate family and time together over the holidays more than EVER.