What’s for Supper? Vol. 108: In which we have two vegetables for Thanksgiving, not counting potatoes!

Just the Thanksgiving food this time! I know it makes more sense to share Thanksgiving recipes before Thanksgiving, but none of this stuff would be out of place for a Christmas meal, either, except maybe pumpkin pie and stuffing.

All of my kids genuinely helped. Except for Corrie. Corrie mainly supervised.

They chopped, sliced, trimmed, buttered, grated, juiced, stirred, basted, and baked, and I would have been a complete wreck without their help. We started baking and cooking on Wednesday evening, and by Thursday afternoon, I felt calm, confident, cheerful, and ready. I highly recommend having kids who are old enough to help!

Here’s what we had:

Turkey with gravy and stuffing. I have no desire to argue with anyone about how to make a turkey. Not Alton Brown, nor his acolytes, nor anyone. I’ve roasted dozens of turkeys. I butter it and sprinkle it with salt and pepper, turn it breast down on a rack for half the roasting, then flip it for the rest of the time, and I (well, my sons) baste it every half hour. It turns out good.

The skin is crisp and varnished-looking, the meat is moist and flavorful. I don’t want to argue about it! Your way is good, too! Hooray for your way! I like my way! Hooray!

I made stuffing (Pepperidge Farm herbed cubes, I think) with sauteed onions, mushrooms, and celery. Not original, but always good.

I wanted to get the gravy over with, so I started with a ton of melted butter, then added a ton of flour until it was a thick paste, then thinned it gradually with turkey stock I had made with giblets and neck, celery, scallions. Then, when the turkey was done, I added salt and pepper, a fried and diced turkey liver, and plenty of pan drippings, scrapings, and fat.

Lyonnaise Potatoes. My father brought this dish. Will add the recipe when I get it! Very tasty, and it reminded me of my grandmother’s cooking, which is high praise.

Sweet potatoes with blue cheese and walnuts. A simplified version of this recipe, which also calls for dates, parsley, and gorgonzola, rather than blue cheese. I baked the potatoes, sliced them open, mashed in the toppings, and then reheated them in the microwave before dinner.

Parkerhouse rolls. I’ve made this recipe before, with good success, but this year we just bought frozen dough. My daughter rolled the dough into golf ball-sized balls and put them in buttered cupcake tins — one ball in the mini tins, and three balls in the regular size.


Hobbit Bread (braided bread stuffed with onions, mushrooms, and cheese). This is (according to my 17-year-old) the best recipe in An Unexpected Cookbook: The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery.  I’ll paste the whole recipe into the bottom of this post. She used frozen bread dough for this, too, and added poppy seeds to the top.

Oven roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon. Easy peasy. Boys trimmed and halved the Brussels sprouts, daughter snipped a pound of bacon into pieces, and I mixed it up with oil, salt, and pepper, and spread it in a shallow pan, then roasted at 400 for about twenty minutes. The bacon wasn’t as crisp as I would have liked (I should have laid it on top, rather than mixing it in), but the Brussels sprouts still magically gathered in a ton of bacon flavoring. It was great.

Hasselback butternut squash with bay leaves. This dish puts the hassle in butternut squash, let me tell you. But it was worth it. So pretty and exciting. I made it the night before, then warmed it up for the meal. We ended up using jalapeno peppers instead of Fresno chilis, fresh bay leaves instead of dried, fake maple syrup instead of real, canola oil instead of olive, and salted butter instead of unsalted! Still great! We’ve never had a spicy dish for Thanksgiving before. It found myself cooling my tongue with cranberry sauce in between bites of squash. Here’s the recipe from Bon Appetit.

Cranberry orange nut bread. Worth the trouble to zest the oranges and squeeze fresh juice, especially if you have kid slaves to do it for you. They also chopped the nuts and cranberries with my lovely mezzaluna knife. Recipe from Epicurious. This is very festive-looking, with the bright cranberries and flecks of orange zest, and it makes the house smell wonderful.

Banana nut bread. I always start baking for Thanksgiving with banana bread, because it’s so dang easy. Fannie Farmer has the classic recipe.

Apple pie. I don’t really follow a recipe for the filling – just sliced apples, sugar, a little flour, cinnamon and a little numeg, and dots of butter on the top – but here is the crust recipe I use — except I use butter, which I freeze (or even just chill) and grate it into the flour, so it only takes a few jabs with a butter knife to fully incorporate it. The butter does warm up in your hand as you grip it, so be careful of your knuckles if it slips!

My 17-year-old used cookie cutters to make stars and flowers, and made an overlapping pieced crust, which was lovely. We brushed it with an egg wash (beaten up egg with a little warm water) and then sprinkled sugar on top before baking.

I baked the pies until they were almost done the day before, then put them back in the oven at 250 while we were eating the meal. By dessert time, they were hot again and perfectly browned.

Pumpkin pie. I used readymade graham cracker crust and followed the recipe on the side of the pumpkin can. And yes, I had to run to the convenience store and buy evaporated milk, because all I had was condensed milk. I always know what the difference is, except for two times: when I’m shopping, and when I’m baking.

We had whipped cream and ice cream for the pies. I intended the kids to have a choice, but they intended to have both ice cream and whipped cream on everything. Corrie skipped the pie and just had ice cream and whipped cream.

Crock pots were very useful. I made the gravy on the stovetop, then transferred it to a slow cooker, to free up space and keep it warm, and filled the gravy boat from that. I also microwaved the gravy boat, so it stayed warm while it was on the table. I used my other slow cooker for mulled apple cider.

It was my husband’s turn to worry that there wouldn’t be enough food, so he bought an extra turkey breast, so we roasted that, too. I helpfully added garlic eyes so it could glare at us.

And now for the Hobbit bread recipe!

Next time she makes it, I’ll take pictures at different stages, so you can see how the dough gets that braided effect.

Braided Bread Stuffed with Mushrooms, Onions, and Cheese

This hearty bread is practically a meal unto itself. In celebration of Hobbits well known love of mushrooms, this is stuffed with mushrooms, onions, cheese, and English country herbs. It’s best fresh from the oven while the cheese is still runny, but the leftovers are almost as good served alongside supper to help soak up a hearty plate of mutton or venison gravy.

1 ½ c / 300 g water
1 tbsp active dry yeast
4 tbsp / 85 g honey
4 eggs
½ c oil
6 ½ -7 c / 825 – 850 g bread flour
1 tbsp coarse salt
8 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
1 tsp fresh basil leaves, minced

2 tbsp butter
2 c / 200 g sliced mushrooms
2 onions, diced
2 c / 250 g shredded mozzarella
2 cloves garlic in filling
1 tbsp rosemary in each
1 tsp basil
1 tbsp coarse salt
To make a loaf , start by dissolving your yeast in the warm water. Feel free to add an extra tsp of honey at this stage to help kick start your yeast. Walk away for ten minutes. When you come back, the yeast should have bloomed so it looks like a mushroom cap rising up out of your bowl. It knows its fate.

Mix in the eggs, oil, salt, and the rest of the honey. When you achieve a soupy mass, add the minced garlic , fresh rosemary leaves, and fresh basil. It should smell delicious.

Now mix in the bread flour. Modern cooks with a stand mixer can attach the dough hook and let it knead away for 6-8 minutes. If you want to get a real feel for the period, knead it by hand for 8-10 minutes. The dough should be soft, pliant, and not too tacky.

Form it into a ball, cover it with a clean dishtowel, and let it rise for an hour, or until double in size.

Meanwhile, make your filling. Melt your butter in a large skillet over a medium-high heat. Add your onions and cook until they start to brown . You want them to lose a lot of moisture while gaining some flavor.

Once the onions start to brown, add your garlic, rosemary, and basil. Keep cooking for another 3-4 minutes, or until the garlic barely starts to brown . Finally add the mushrooms. You don’t want to overcook them. Mix them in and cook for another 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Take the pan off the heat and finish it with the coarse salt. Set it aside to cool while the dough continues rising.

Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Flour a clean surface and roll the dough into a rectangle . Put that rectangle on a sheet of parchment paper so you can easily move the finished loaf to a pan. Trim away any rough edges.

Now that you have a trimmed rectangle of dough, mentally divide the rectangle into thirds. The center third is where you place your filling. The outer two thirds will be cut into braid strips. To give it an attractive , braided top, make neat, even, 1 inch 2.5 cm wide cuts along each side. Make a bed of cheese in the middle ⅓ of your bread. Pile the mushroom filling on top of that. Cover the filling with any remaining cheese. Fold both end pieces inwards so they cover some of the filling.

To create the braided top, pull the cut edges of dough over the center, alternating sides and tugging tight, so the dough completely covers the filling. This makes a single, massive rectangular loaf . Slide it onto your largest cooking pan. If you don’t have any oversized baking sheets, just slide it into a heavily buttered 9×13 glass baking pan. Either way, let it rise for another hour. You put this much work into it, so you might as well make the bread pretty. Whisk together an egg and 1 tbsp of water to make an egg wash.

Use a pastry brush to paint the surface of the bread. If you’d like, sprinkle another 1 tsp of coarse salt on top. Bake the bread at 350F / 180C for 35-40 minutes. If the top starts to get too brown, cover it with foil.

Due to the moist interior, the bottom of this bread has a tendency to get soggy if you leave it out overnight. That means it’s your duty to consume the entire loaf before bedtime. If you don’t have a party of dwarves or a couple teenagers on hand to help you finish it, you can always use the leftovers to make savory mushroom bread pudding for tomorrow’s dinner.

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12 thoughts on “What’s for Supper? Vol. 108: In which we have two vegetables for Thanksgiving, not counting potatoes!”

  1. My brother and SIL handled most of the cooking this year. My SIL made roasted carrots as a side and topped them with Trader Joes’ balsamic glaze, which was a revelation. I highly recommend trying this. It comes in a little bottle, sort of like Kitchen Bouquet.

  2. I didn’t do any cooking this year because I popped out a baby on Monday, but I was feeling up to going to my grandparents house for their Thanksgiving get together, so that’s what we did.

    Past years I’ve made sweet potatoes with canned pineapple, honey,raisins, and pecans instead of the type with marshmallows. Tastes more complex and less dessert-like, but still yummy and sweet. The recipie tells you to just cut into chunks, but I much prefer mashing them…I just like the texture better.

      1. Me too, lol. 🙂 Things all worked out beautifully, and labor was surprisingly quick (and started at 6am instead of 2am like it did last time. Hubby was very excited he got to make coffee and catch the news before we drove in, lol).

  3. All, right, I give in, I will try to make the Hobbit bread for my hobbit-like teenager’s birthday next year. I think he’d love it.

    We had what my husband called ‘probably the best Thanksgiving meal we’ve had.’ We–I mean he–splashed out on a fresh turkey from a local farm, and it was a revelation to have a locally raised, happy bird that was never frozen. It was 22 pounds and I thought for sure it would take hours to roast, but we used an oven bag and since it was never frozen, it cooked in a mere 4 hours. I was scrambling to get the side dishes ready while it rested. We had canned gravy because that is one culinary skill I have never bothered to learn.

    We also had our favorite stuffing–just bread cubes, mushrooms, onions, celery, carrots, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Chicken broth. Best ever. I skipped mashed potatoes, because nobody ever et them. Instead I made Smitten Kitchen’s Fingerling Potato and Carrot Coins, and in a happy accident, I had bought a mix of yellow and purple fingerling potatoes, and it was such a pretty dish I took a picture of it.

    Homemade cranberry sauce. I always make way more than we’ll eat on purpose. If eating oatmeal with cranberry sauce all over it is wrong, I don’t want to be right. My love for cranberry sauce knows no bounds.

    The obligatory crescent rolls and relish tray with black and green olives and dill pickles. I still have the relish dish my grandmother gave to my parents for a wedding gift.

    It happened to be my wonderful husband’s birthday, and he requested a banana cake–I make an extraordinarily good banana cake, apparently–so instead of pumpkin pie we had banana cake and a chocolate cream pie (from the Smitten Kitchen website), both fantastic.

    My only Thanksgiving tip is try to schedule the main meal early in the day. Thanks to our wonderfully cooperative turkey, we were eating around 1:30, and then we went into food comas and played outside and recovered just in time to have dessert when it’s usually dinnertime. The kids are big fans of this. And it was just us this year, no additional relatives, which made it all the more relaxing, for many reasons, one of which I was able to skip the dang mashed potatoes without anybody asking, “Where’s the mashed potatoes?”

  4. This Thanksgiving was the smoothest I’ve had in years, even though I did more of the cooking! My husband is great and helps in many ways, but he does not cook at all and my MIL is getting a bit frail and only did green beans this year. My oldest baked all the pies the day before and my brother helped me prepare the dressing the night before. I cooked just about everything, and everyone else set the table and after the meal my brother and sister-in-law cleaned every. single. thing. in the kitchen. It was awesome!!

    My family’s Cajun and we always have cornbread dressing (without sage because we all dislike sage) but I found a shortcut that makes prep less tedious–probably works for other dressings. Dressing recipes tend to be old and traditional, and ours called for six slices of bread: lightly toasted, soaked in water, squeezed dry, and then shredded. (And that’s in addition to the cornbread that you made and then crumbled up.) Let me tell you, doubling that recipe crushes your will to live by the time you finish dealing with the bread and finely chopping four cups of celery and a million onions. But pulverizing fresh bread slices in the food processor works just as well. And there was much rejoicing!

    We don’t do turkey and dressing again at Christmas–seafood gumbo is our tradition! And there’s no way to make too much because some of us will eat it for every meal including breakfast until it’s gone. Man, can’t wait for Christmas now.

  5. Does your Amazon Associate work with the Amazon Smile thingee that I use to donate to my kids’ school? Or does it have to be one or the other?

    1. I don’t know! I’m sorry, I have looked and looked for the answer, but I can’t figure it out. I guess the best thing is just to use the school link, because subsidiarity calls for local action first, right? But thanks for asking!

      1. I think I have the answer, thanks to my friend Kristen. She says she uses my Associates link, then puts “smile.” in front of the address. So the URL has smile.amazon.com and also my code in it .As far as I can tell, this does the trick! 

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