Thanksgiving Scene-Stealers

Thanksgiving photo by Robin Fannon of RSVP Robin

“Warm aromas of roasting chestnuts fill the air.
Red, copper and yellow butterflies driven by the wind,
drop from the sky. Autumn is here.”

— Kulbir Ghumman

While the turkey is the star attraction of the Thanksgiving meal, it would not be a smash hit if it did not include some great supporting players. This is a good year to stick with the tried and true comforting classics. My motto this holiday is “keep it simple and execute it impeccably”.  Creamy buttermilk mashed potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts with pink lady apples and bacon, and cranberry/orange sauce are some of the side items we will be enjoying with the bird. Other family members will be contributing their favorite classic sides.  My sister is making our Mom’s sweet potato, applesauce and marshmallow casserole. Yum!

As for decor, I tend to lean toward earth tones with punches of white, but this year I am excited to scatter richer fall colors like saffron, ochre, oranges and greens. We can all use some earthy, soul soothing colors this year! There are no rules and it’s not about perfection. Mix your family heirlooms with some new purchases.  Get the family involved, and most of all have some fun!

However, as your family gathers to give thanks this year, please do it safely and responsibly. Above all, we need to be grateful for the good in the world, the love we have for each other and the beauty of the season. A very happy and blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours.




Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Bacon


1 pound brussels sprouts washed, tops removed and cut in half

2 teaspoons olive oil, salt to taste for roasting

1 medium pink lady apple

4-6 slices bacon

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary finely chopped

additional salt and pepper to taste


For this recipe you will roast your brussels sprouts while cooking the bacon and apples in a skillet on the stovetop.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss them with the olive oil and salt and spread out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast them in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes until they’re browning and fork tender.

Core the apple and chop into half/1-inch cubes and set aside.

Heat a medium heavy skillet over medium-high heat and cut your bacon into 1-inch pieces.

Add the bacon to the skillet and cook, stirring until about three quarters of the way done (according to your own preference). At this point, add the apples and chopped rosemary and continue to cook and stir until the apples have softened and the bacon is fully cooked.

Combine all ingredients and toss.

Maple Glazed Carrots 


4½ cups water

4 pounds carrots, peeled, cut on sharp diagonal into ¼ inch-thick ovals (about 11 cups)

10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter

3 tablespoons sugar

1½ teaspoons coarse salt

6 tablespoons pure maple syrup

3 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley


Combine 4½ cups water, carrots, 4 tablespoons butter, sugar, and coarse salt in heavy large pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until carrots are just tender when pierced with knife, about 10 minutes. Drain. (Can be prepared 3 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add maple syrup and brown sugar and stir until sugar dissolves. Add carrots and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Cranberry-Orange Sauce 


¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Zest of 1 orange

½  cup sugar, or more, to taste

1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries


In a medium saucepan, combine orange juice, orange zest, sugar and ¾ cup water over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved.

Stir in cranberries and bring to a boil; reduce heat and let simmer until sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes.

Let cool completely before serving.

Classic Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes 


Kosher salt

3 pounds boiling potatoes, such as Yukon Gold

½ cup whole milk

¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter

¾ to 1 cup buttermilk, shaken

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1) In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water and 2 tablespoons salt to boil.

2) Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1½-inch cubes. Add them to the boiling water and bring the water back to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes fall apart easily when pierced with a fork.

3) Heat the whole milk and butter in a small saucepan, making sure it doesn’t boil.  Set aside until the potatoes are done.

4) When the potatoes are tender, drain them in a colander. Drain and mash. As soon as the potatoes are mashed, stir in the hot milk-and-butter mixture with a rubber spatula.  Add enough buttermilk to make the potatoes creamy.  Add 2 teaspoons of salt and the pepper, or more to taste, and serve hot.  To keep the potatoes warm, place the bowl over a pan of simmering water for up to 30 minutes.  You can add a little extra hot milk to keep them creamy.

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