The Best Meal of the Year: Thanksgiving!

November 26, 2011
I have been itching to write this post since I started my food writing frenzy! Thanksgiving is by far my favorite day of the year: glutton without guilt! I love everything about Thanksgiving dinner, from the preparation to the after-dinner food coma. This year was both special and sad for me. Special because it was the first year I had a big family dinner with all homemade dishes, but sad because my immediate family was not here with me. They will be visiting next week though! 🙂 
We all gathered at my aunt and uncle’s house for our Thanksgiving feast and everyone contributed to the dinner in some way. I brought the risotto, my cousin Beth made two desserts and the cranberry sauce, my brother-in-law made another dessert, Bubby made one of the turkeys; we had two small ones, both cooked differently, one in the oven and one on the grill. My Uncle Gary took care of the grilled turkey. Aunt Patty took care of the rest of the sides. Check out our main chef and her super cute Thanksgiving apron! The apron was passed down to her from my Bubby a few years ago when Thanksgiving Dinner moved from Bub’s to Aunt Patty’s.
The table was set beautifully. All it needs now is some hungry eaters and plates of food!
Now for the much-anticipated part of this post: the food! Like I said earlier, we had two types of turkey. Roasted and BBQed. Both were absolutely delicious! The white meat wasn’t too dry as it sometimes is, and the skin on the BBQed turkey had a nice finish to it that gave it a smokier flavor than the roasted turkey. I took a slice of both to make sure I got a taste of both cooking strategies. Here is Uncle Gary hard at work carving the turkeys, along with the finished platter!
Now for the side dishes! There are so many different sides served on Thanksgiving. Every family has their own traditions and special dishes always included on their Turkey Day table. Beth made a cranberry sauce using Mandarin oranges and dried cherries. The oranges and cherries added such a good taste to the already sweet and delicious cranberries. It was especially good poured over top of the turkey. I made butternut squash risotto again and tweaked the recipe a little from the last time I made it. It came out ten times better this time. I used regular Parmesan cheese instead of the Italian Pecorino I used before, and made sure to allow the rice to cook longer. Everyone agreed that it made a world of a difference. Aunt Patty made a sweet potato soufflé, sans marshmallows. I’m not a huge fan of marshmallows so I didn’t mind the lack of white gooiness on top of the sweet, creamy dish. She also made a broccoli casserole and a stuffing unlike any I’ve ever had before. Instead of only using breadcrumbs, she also used Kasha. If you aren’t familiar with this ingredient, Kasha is buckwheat and a common food in Eastern Europe. In the Jewish culture, we use it in a dish alongside bow tie noodles and it can also be used in various other foods. 

Cranberry, Cherry & Orange Sauce and Sweet Potato Soufflé 

Broccoli Casserole

Butternut Squash Risotto

Kasha Stuffing

Dinner is served!
I can’t even choose my favorite dish. Everything complemented each other so well. The sweet potatoes were so smooth and creamy and has the perfect amount of cinnamon. I am a huge fan of cinnamon so I’m glad I was able to taste it in the dish. The stuffing had so many different elements to it so each bite was different. The broccoli casserole was light and creamy and the cranberry sauce gave a sweet flavor to each bite of turkey. Of course I had to have seconds! I was stuffed, as you should be after Thanksgiving dinner, but about an hour or so later it was time for the part of the meal everyone looks forward to the most: dessert!
Beth made her legendary pumpkin cheesecake and she also made a Kentucky Derby pie, which is a chocolate pecan pie. I had never heard of this dessert before so I was anxious to try it. Both were absolutely amazing. I could have eaten that cheesecake in its entirety! My brother-in-law Michael is known for his baking chops, as well. He graced us with a beautiful apple pie. I love an apple pie that is more chunky than gooey and his was exactly that. The crust was flakey and sweet, just the way it should be. Dessert was topped off with coffee and a taste of Apricot Brandy my aunt brought back from Vienna, Austria. Delish!

Kentucky Derby Pie and Apple Pie
Pumpkin Cheesecake and Apricot Brandy
It was an amazing night filled with quality food and even more quality time with family. I hope everyone had just as great of a Thanksgiving as I did! Now that Turkey Day is behind us, we can begin the preparations for the holidays next month!

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Hello! I’m Shaina – a Delray Beach, Florida resident, foodie, and lifestyle blogger. I love exploring South Florida and beyond, and sharing everything from my favorite restaurants, products and more with you! See more by following along on Instagram:  @takeabiteoutofboca

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post by Rapoport’s Restaurant Group. As always, all opinions are 100% my own. Pagoda Kitchen Launches New Dining Deals Pagoda Kitchen