Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving dinner’

Peter Coddles, wooden frog

Doesn’t everyone have a wooden frog sitting on a vintage Peter Coddles game in their dining room?

Last week, it was recipes for Thanksgiving dinner dishes, this week it’s photos.

My last post was about Peter’s collection of vintage Peter Coddles games. Those 7 are just the tip of the iceberg!  Murray took those photos and while he and Peter were setting up the shots, Murray wandered around and snapped a few random pictures here and there as something caught his eye.  We have stuff, no doubt about it.  Only one photo is of a collection and I’m sure you’ll be able to pick it out (and I’ll give you a hint anyway).

living room

A window sill in my living room. Plants, African art, carved figures, vintage lamps, sand dollars, stained glass, an antique kaleidoscope, vintage bottles and paperweights, and….

Chair monkeys-IF they had hats they could live on the bed

dopey, the seven dwarfs

My own personal Dopey collection. Aren’t they cute? Peter stuck Bashful or Happy in there to keep Dopey company.

Alessi, toothpick holder,

I love Alessi! This cute rabbit is a toothpick holder.

building blocks, nostalgia, Bill Ding clowns

Mini Bill Ding and his clowns stand guard on a dining room window sill. Along with a several other things!

Well that was just a peek into the collective madness of the collections that reside in our New York apartment.  Here are few random photos taken by Murray as he was wandering around Bryant Park, Grand Central Terminal and vicinity.

Bryant Park, Christmas booths, Christmas fair

It’s easy to shop for your pets in one of the City’s Christmas Fairs.

Grand Central Terminal Food Market-Murray’s Cheese Shop

Sephora cosmetics, midtown

Sephora Cosmetic Store

animal hats, Bryant Park Christmas fairs, childrens hats

Grgghhhh – Animal hats for sale in Bryant Park

Christmas ornaments, Christmas fair, Bryant Park

Christmas ornaments for sale in Bryant Park


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Place cards for Thanksgiving dinner 2008.

Place cards for Thanksgiving dinner guests

So if you’re not cooking, you are either dining out or better yet invited to share the annual feast at someone else’s dinner table.  Either way, the end result is still the same because you….

  1. Do not have to spend hours grocery shopping for myriad ingredients for dishes you make only once a year.
  2. Do not have to spend 3 x what you normally spend at the grocery store each week, buying weird items like persimmons, figs, chestnuts, turnips and a 14 lb bird.
  3. Do not have to pull the giblets out of the cavity of an ice cold turkey and then clean its inside  and cut off its rear end also known irreverently as the pope’s nose.Do not have to pull the giblets out of the cavity of an ice cold turkey and then clean its inside  and cut off its rear end also known irreverently as the pope’s nose.
  4. Do not have to get up at the crack of dawn to stuff the turkey and put it in the oven so it is ready at 2:00pm
  5. Can actually go to the Parade if you wish or leisurely sit in your living room with a cup of coffee all warm and cosy and marvel at the balloons and how cold everyone seems to be at the Parade.
  6. Can have breakfast with the family instead of peeling potatoes.
  7. Don’t have to wonder how you are really going to get everything baked and cooked with 1 oven and only 4 burners.
  8. Will have time to get appropriately dressed  without an apron and even be able to put on makeup.
  9. Will probably be offered some leftovers to bring home for tomorrow’s supper (bring your own containers)
  10. BEST of all, you won’t be in the middle of any unresolved sibling or parent-child issues from your own family!!


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Ocean Spray Craisins brand dried cranberries

Ocean Spray Craisins brand dried cranberries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know it seems unlikely that anybody would NOT want  love mashed potatoes with their Thanksgiving turkey, but it’s true. And for those guests and any Vegans at your table, you might want to include this really neat dish.  It’s seasonal, textural and nutritious.



2 cups wild rice

2 cups wheat berries, soaked in 3 cups water overnight and drained

3/4 cup dried cranberries

2 TBS canola oil or other neutral oil

6 medium or 3 large portobello mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and in large dice (3 cups)

Freshly ground pepper

1  1/2 cups chopped walnuts

2 small shallots, minced

2 TBS chopped flat leaf parsley

2 TBS walnut oil

Bring two medium pots salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add wild rice to one and wheat berries to another, reduce heat to medium, and cook until tender, 30 to 35 minutes for wild rice and 20 to 25 minutes for wheat berries.

While grains cook, put cranberries to small bowl, and cover with hot water.  Soak 15 minutes, drain, and chop.  Set aside.

Heat canola oil in a medium skillet over medium heat  Add mushrooms, and sauté stirring frequently, until mushrooms soften and begin to release their liquid, 8 to 10 minutes.  Season lightly with salt and pepper, and transfer to a warm serving bowl.  Stir in walnuts, shallots, parsley and cranberries.

When grains are tender, drain them, and add them to bowl.  Drizzle with walnut oil, and toss gently.  Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 6-8 servings


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English: Parsnips offered for sale at a winter...

English: Parsnips offered for sale at a winter farmers’ market in Rochester, Minnesota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hey everybody, there’s only 4 more days to shop and plan your Thanksgiving Dinner.  I’m really lucky this year as we have been invited to a massive feast on Long Island.  This, of course, has given me time to wax eloquently about the beauty and creativeness you can imbue to the many side dishes of the turkey dinner.  I know everyone thinks the turkey is the star of the  meal and if we’re gauging things on size , I guess it wins.  However, don’t you think the color and texture of the myriad side dishes enhance the meal greatly?  And as you know from previous blog posts, this year I’m all about NOT serving the usual suspects unless they’re prepared in some different and innovative way.  So here is yet another interesting and tasty dish for you to consider serving.


2 lb parsnips, peeled and cut into large  match sticks

1 TBS olive oil

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Juice of one orange

Grated zest of one orange

Heat oven to 500 degrees.  Place parsnips in a large bowl; drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Turn parsnips into  large roasting pan and roast, shaking pan occasionally, until golden, 10-15 minutes.

Remove from oven, add juice and zest, and toss to coat.  Return to oven and roast until parsnips have caramelized, 5 to 10 minutes.  Transfer to warm bowl and serve.

Serves: 6-8  –   recipe from Deborah Madison, New York Times  November 19, 2003


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Sweet potatoes Ελληνικά: Γλυκοπατάτες

Sweet potatoes Ελληνικά: Γλυκοπατάτες (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well it’s a week away and I still don’t know what I’m bringing as an hors d’ouevres since that is my assignment for Thanksgiving dinner.  This year we will be sharing the annual feast  with my daughter’s in-laws and other relatives of her husband.  It’s seems like there will be  a lot of famiglia!

But I digress, this post is about delicious and not quite ordinary side dishes.  I really wish I was supposed to bring one of them instead because most appetizers don’t travel well and it’s a 2 1/2 hour trip!

Since oven space is always at a premium Thanksgiving Day, you can make this dish ahead of time and reheat covered in microwave at dinner time.  


Preheat oven 450 degrees

1 TBS plus 1 tsp coarse salt

6 sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered lengthwise

6 TBS honey

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1 small fresh red chile pepper, thinly sliced

2 TBS unsalted butter, melted

1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

2 TBS fresh cilantro leaves

Bring a large sauce-pot of water to a boil, add 1 TBS salt.  Add sweet potatoes and boil 4 minutes.  Drain and set aside.  

In a bowl combien honey, lime juice, chile, butter and remaining teaspoon of salt and the pepper.  Add the sweet potatoes and coat with the marinade.  Put potatoes and any excess marinade in a 17″x12″ roasting pan.  Roast in oven 20-30 minutes, turning occasionally, till tender and caramelized.  Garnish with cilantro. 

Serves: 6-8  – Recipe from Martha Stewart Living


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With only 8 days left to Thanksgiving, I hope you have ordered your turkey already, made out your grocery lists and then gone over them again because running out on Thanksgiving morning for an ingredient is usually a good way to start a fight with your husband!

Today’s side dish is again an old favorite – like anyone would want to have Thanksgiving dinner without Mashed Potatoes! So of course we are having some and believe me no one savours the flavors of butter and cream more than me (and I have the hips to prove it) so when I found this recipe and tried it, I knew it was going to be a hit with everyone at the table including those who are always on a diet  or watching their cholesterol.  AND read the recipe thoroughly because I’m going to also list the ingredients that make it NOT SO HEALTHY and where to substitute them.  Either way, these are delicious mashed potatoes and actually I think the techniques used are probably what makes the potatoes even better than the recipe ingredients themselves.  And the best part is you can make them a day ahead!!!!


1  1/2  cups skim milk  (1  3/4 cup half & half)

2 garlic cloves smashed   (omit)

3 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes  (4 lbs )

3 TBS unsalted butter (4 TBS-1/2 stick)

1/4 cup 2% or 0% Greek yogurt (omit)

1 TBS chopped fresh chives (I always use more)  (2 TBS chopped chives) and (2 TBS chopped parsley)

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Garnish: 2 tsp chopped fresh chives  (and 2 tsp chopped parsley)

Bring milk and garlic to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat and let stand.  Meanwhile, place potatoes in a medium pot, and cover with water by 2 inches.  Bring to a boil.  Cook until tender, 10-12 minutes.  Drain, and pass through a ricer or food mill.  Return to pot.

Heat potatoes over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until slightly dried out, about 2 minutes or less.  Strain milk mixture into pot .  Discard garlic.  Stir in butter.  Remove from heat.  Stir in yogurt, chives and 1 tsp salt;  season with pepper.  Garnish with chives. Do NOT garnish if you are storing for a day.

Serves 8 – recipe from Martha Stewart Living

Cook potatoes in cold salted water, bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer till potatoes are tender 15-18 minutes. Drain, return potatoes to pot.

Stir potatoes over medium heat until dry, a film of starch will form on bottom of pot. Remove from heat.

In small saucepan, combine half & half and butter;  bring to a simmer over medium.  Pour half of hot liquid over potatoes.  Mash just until smooth, adding more liquid to reach desired consistency.  Stir in parsley and chives.  Season with salt and pepper. Garnish.  Do NOT garnish if you are storing for a day. 

Serves: 8 – recipe from Martha Stewart Every Day Food

NOW here’s the good part.  Put your mashed potatoes into a bowl that you know will sit in large pot as if it were a double boiler.  The bowl must be able to withstand some heat although it will not be in boiling water.  Cover your potatoes tightly with Saran wrap and refrigerate overnight.   On Thanksgiving Day, place the unwrapped bowl of potatoes over a pot of soft-boiling water.  Do not rush the process. Let the potatoes warm through while you go about the other hundred details of a Thanksgiving Dinner.

Martha Stewart, Whole Living, Thanksgiving dinner, mashed potatoes, garnish

Heart Healthy Mashed Potatoes

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Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving Turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most people think of Thanksgiving dinner as the ultimate American meal.  After all, wasn’t it first celebrated with Native Americans and the Pilgrims?  Well that’s what I was told in grammar (age-related term) school.

However, this country is a melting pot, a diverse population made up of so many different ethnicities, I wouldn’t begin to try to number them.  I grew up in an Italian family (more about the German side later).  My first husband was also from an Italian family so for the first half of my life, Thanksgiving was tweaked to keep all the paisans happy.  When we celebrated Thanksgiving with my grandparents, the cry at the table was, “When do we eat the turkey”?   I wonder how many of you had to eat your way through several courses BEFORE the turkey made it to the table?  When you walk into most homes on Thanksgiving Day, the savory odor of roasting turkey greets you, or the sweet aroma of an apple pie baking in the oven.  When you entered my grandmother’s apartment, it was the rich simmering smell of tomato sauce that assaulted your nose.  The meal started with Baccala, a dried codfish served with greens.  I think it was served like a salad.  Then we had ravioli; big fat pasta puffs filled with cheese and a bowl of meatballs and sausages on the side.  I guess at some point the turkey came out but I really don’t remember it much.  

Once I was married, the Italian Thanksgiving took on another level of ethnicity.  Now there were side dishes that only would appear on an Italian table.  The stuffing was heavily flavored with grated Parmesan cheese, parsley and garlic.  We had stuffed mushrooms and stuffed artichokes right along with candied sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and salad with Italian dressing!  

Then came the period in my life where I spent Thanksgiving with my Aunt Marian and my cousins in New Jersey.  Aunt Marian was married to Uncle Henny who was German and so Red Cabbage was always a side dish on Thanksgiving.  The creamed onions, turnips and candied sweets were there and because my cousins and myself were all adults, we made culinary contributions.  Peter insisted on a green vegetable and in those days, the only green vegetable he acknowledged was broccoli so I always steamed or sautéed some.  My cousin Marian liked to bring a lentil salad, cousin Janet baked pies.  I have five girl cousins, all with spouses and some with children.  Thanksgiving dinner was a BIG deal at Aunt Marian’s with about 20 people!

I’m actually half Italian and half German so I fit in wherever we went!  As for my own Thanksgiving meals, I often went for something different, whether it be various stuffings or the  year I tried brining the bird.  I’ve made seasonal soups and  lots of sides.  Earlier today I posted one of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes and decided that for the count down to turkey day, I’d post a recipe a day.  I hope you enjoy them and would love it if my readers would send in comments about their favorite Thanksgiving side dish or dessert or ethnic accompaniment.  

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Image via Wikipedia

Tasty Tidbits Tuesday

I‘m sure you heard the news around Thanksgiving that 94% of all Americans having Thanksgiving Dinner had turkey as the main course.  Not so with Christmas!  It seems that besides turkey (yes some people replicate their Thanksgiving Day dinner one month later), roast beef, crown roast of pork, baked ham (spiral, pineapple decorated etc) all vie for the center of the table.  Whatever you choose, I think you’ll like this simple flavorful salad.

It’s light, crisp, colorful, healthy and easy to make.  You can slice the oranges and fennel the day before (in between wrapping presents), refrigerate separately covered with plastic wrap.

1 TBS white-wine vinegar

2 TBS olive oil

Coarse salt and ground pepper

5 navel oranges

3-4 fennel bulbs (about 2 pounds total), ends trimmed, quartered lengthwise, cored and thinly sliced, crosswise, plus 1/4 cup roughly chopped fennel fronds (optional)

In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar and oil, season with salt and pepper.

Using a sharp knife, slice off both ends of each orange.  Following the curve of the fruit, cut away the peel and white pith. Halve orange from top to bottom; thinly slice crosswise.  Transfer oranges along with any juices that have accumulated on work surface. to bowl with dressing.  Add fennel and if desired, fronds. Toss to combine.

Recipe from Martha Stewart

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Traditional Thanksgiving meal in New England

Image via Wikipedia

It’s time to get you guys more involved in what goes on here…I mean it’s hard sometimes for me to come up with the whole post, it’s holiday time, I have to plan, shop and cook, I have a job and that means I have to be at the office and also out showing apartments…and I’ve been babysitting Finley a lot lately because Mommy and Daddy are running around Manhattan checking out schools and getting checked out themselves.  Soooo now you see why I need to you to participate, contribute and literally help me out.

I’m going to start this off but I’m warning you I don’t think I’ve had too many NON-TRADITIONAL dishes at Thanksgiving over the years.  On the other hand since  I was born as a third generation American of Italian and German heritage, ethnicity did play a role in any holiday meal. Let me think….well when I was a little girl and we would go to my Grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving, what I remember was not eating any turkey. It’s not that there wasn’t a turkey, at least I think there was, but I don’t remember eating because by the time Grandma served it I was too full.  Why? Because Grandma always served Ravioli first!!! I don’t remember if there were Meatballs and Sausages too, but I wouldn’t be surprised!

Then when I used to spend Thanksgiving dinner with my first husband’s family, there were definitely some traditional to them – NON-TRADITIONAL dishes on that table.  There were a lot of things stuffed besides the turkey;  We had Stuffed Artichokes and Stuffed Mushrooms which were stuffed with basically the same bread stuffing that was in the bird!  Now I can see some of you trying to picture this because in your house the stuffing was probably made with cubes of crouton-like bread and how do you get a cube into an artichoke leaf?  Physics dictate you can’t and you can’t!  But my mother-in-law’s stuffing basically  consisted of grated Italian bread crumbs, grated Parmesan cheese and chicken broth.  She did add a small amount of sauteed onion and celery but not enough to alter the consistency of the dressing which was pretty much porridge-like – now you see how you could mush it into the artichokes and plop it on top of the mushrooms?

Then there were several years when I spent Thanksgiving with my Aunt Marian and my cousins in New Jersey.  Dinner was fairly traditional  in  that there were Mashed Potatoes, Candied Sweet Potatoes, Creamed Onions, Turnips…and Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage. My uncle was German and hence the cabbage.

Over the last several years I’ve kept a pretty traditional Thanksgiving table with tweaking the standards and adding other vegetable sides, keeping the desserts traditional-well traditional for my family anyway.  I’m saying that because as I’m typing I realize that I often make a Pumpkin Cheesecake as well as a Pumpkin Pie. That’s a tradition I kept from my mother-in-law and it is dee-lish-us!

And now it’s your turn.  Let’s hear what NON-TRADITIONAL dishes have become a tradition at your Thanksgiving Dinner table.  You can comment or feel free to email me at pbenjaytoo@gmail.com

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Tasty Tidbits Tuesday

There will be NO canned jellied cranberry sauce on the Thanksgiving dinner table this year.  For the past three years I’ve been making a delicious Cranberry-Ginger Relish AND also putting out some of that sugary sweet gelatinous purple glop known as Jellied Cranberry Sauce because one person says they like it. Nope, not this year!  You’ll just have to get over your fear of real fruit and texture!  This relish is truly delicious so I hope some of you will try it. You can make it at least 3 days in advance and for those of us who are hosting,,,,we know that’s a blessing.

1 bag fresh or frozen cranberries

1 cup of sugar ( I use a slightly less)

1 TBS grated fresh ginger

2 TBS sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar

In a large saucepan, bring cranberries, sugar, ginger, and 2 TBS water to  a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until most of the cranberries have popped. 10-15 minutes.  Stir in vinegar.

Recipe from Martha Stewart’s Every Day Food

Remove relish from heat.  Cool to room temperature and serve or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Believe me you will never eat canned jellied cranberry sauce again (no offense to Ocean Spray).

fresh ginger, Ocean Spray jellied sauce,

Tangy Tart and Ruby Red

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