Thanksgiving is nigh !

For those of you reading through from The Daily Dish, I wanted to do a quick run-down of all the holiday preparations I’ve been working on. Unfortunately, last week had to be written off work-wise due to a bout of vertigo, but this week I’m back in the kitchen and cooking up a storm.

The past several days have been devoted exclusively to holiday standards. Yesterday, for instance, I did a simple roast chicken with sage dressing and homemade cranberry sauce. I plan on creating a second orange-flavored cranberry sauce and another dressing – which I think will be an apple stuffing with raisins. I will be posting all of these recipes in the coming days, so stay tuned.

As for the the turkey, this year I’ve selected a kosher bird, which is much lower in sodium than the standard butterballs. But there are always other options – as I’ve said, roast chicken is a healthy substitute, and many butcher shops have fresh birds that have not been treated with the broth/salt injections commonly afforded the processed birds. I will be cooking dinner at home this year, so we didn’t need an enormous turkey, but my younger daughter picked out a decent-sized one and I just went with it. So I will likely be doing a follow-up recipe or two after the big day focusing on how to use up all those lovely leftovers.

Not to overlook vegetarians, I have recipes for several meat-free entrees that are sure to please. Vegetarian Holiday Loaf is adapted from a Vegetarian Times recipe of the same name. Vegetarian Lasagne, Zucchini Cakes, Baked Ziti, and Mushroom Quiche are all delicious, and there are other vegetarian main dishes in the recipe index.

Several days ago, I posted my recipe for pumpkin pie on the site – which is a must-have at our house. But there are some other absolutely delicious pies to consider as well – Squash and Pear Pie and Sweet Potato Pie are particular stand-outs this time of the year. And there’s also my recipe for Apple Cake, which makes an easy and beautiful dessert, and can be dressed up with a little vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.

Now, let’s talk sides. The baked apple slices I just posted are delicious with fowl, and are a sure hit with kids. Another idea is topping Mashed Sweets with some marshmallows, baking, and serving as an irresistible sweet potato casserole. Or you could try your sweet potatoes roasted, as in Fingers and Sweets. Standard roasted potatoes are also terrific. Baked potatoes are of course supremely healthy, and can easily be popped in the oven along with the turkey. Simply scrub the potatoes, pierce multiple times with the tines of the fork, wrap tightly in foil and bake. An hour at 350 degrees (or higher) and they’re done. For green sides, I highly recommend simple steaming. Green beans (6-7 minutes), brussel sprouts (15+), squash, are all incredibly easy to prepare, and totally delicious without the addition of butter or sauces. Or, simply boil some baby carrots until fork tender, drain, add a couple tablespoons unsalted butter and brown sugar, maybe a little ground cinnamon, and you’ve got another yummy low-sodium dish. And if you can find fresh corn on the cob, 7-8 minutes in boiling water, perfection.

Since most of us love some bread with our meal, try the simple rolls I made this summer with my daughters. Incredibly easy and delicious – and a great time even if you don’t have children of your own.

Finally, don’t forget beverages! I recommend a nice chilled white wine to complement the meal, but if you don’t drink alcohol, there’s no reason to feel deprived. Try some sweet milky Chai Tea with dinner or dessert.

Just remember, Thanksgiving is set aside as a day for giving thanks for all of our blessings, enjoying friends and family, and celebrating life. So don’t let your kitchen time stress you out so much you lose perspective. If things burn, flop or turn out just plain ugly, laugh and put your feet up, knowing you tried your best. There was always plenty of cursing around the kitchen while I was growing up, and my mom often sat simmering long after the meal was over. But there’s no reason to sweat the little things. So enjoy yourself, and enjoy a big satisfying meal without having to worry about the aftermath.

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