Thanksgiving is in a few days and this is one of my favorite holidays of the year because I love to cook and I love to eat. If you love to cook and eat, then I have a special treat for you this year.
Last year, we looked at vegan alternatives with Chef Stacey Dougan. Remember to try to incorporate some vegan recipes into your Thanksgiving dinner this year because I’m sure there will be some friends and family that you don’t want to leave out of the festivities because of their lifestyle change.
This year, we are going to keep the Reel Focus tradition of Thanksgiving food ideas going by examining some cookbooks that will have you inspired to throw down in the kitchen so that you can impress family and friends with your amateur chef skills. I have pulled together four fantastic cookbooks by celebrities that definitely know how to do their thing in the kitchen and once you read these succulent recipes, you will agree that these ladies own the culinary world.
I thought that her book would be a great place to start because I love Southern food. It is a great option all year long but it’s especially a great choice for Thanksgiving dinner. What I like about her book is that she shares her fond childhood memories with some of her recipes. This brings the food to life, giving it a history all its own. Another thing that I like is that she provides techniques on how to do things that hardly anyone does any more, such as pickling and canning.
A few of her recipes that stood out as something that would be great on the Thanksgiving dinner table are as follows:
GREEN ONION AND CHEDDER QUICK BREAD
Mmmm. I can just smell the green onions, cheddar and bread baking together in the oven now.
GINA’S QUICK CONFETTI COLLARDS
I don’t know about you all but I love collard greens! It is a southern comfort food for sure. This is an interesting recipe because it doesn’t require boiling and instead Gina sautee’s the collards with red pepper flakes.
OLD-FASHIONED ELBOW MAC AND CHEESE
Mac and cheese seems to be one of the most controversial dishes at the dinner table. Why? Because so many people have a different take on what it’s supposed to taste like (and look like). As a result, some people can make it taste really, really good and others — well not so good. This is a simple mac and cheese recipe.
REMIXED GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE
I have never attempted to make this dish but whenever I eat a portion of this dish prepared by others, it seems a bit soggy to me. What I like about Gina’s recipe is that it incorporates fresh ingredients such as fresh green beans and fresh mushrooms. This recipe may be just what I need to discover just how good and crisp this dish really is.
TANGY, SWEET AND SOUR POT ROAST
I know that turkey is typically the centerpiece at Thanksgiving dinner but just in case you want to switch it up, or have an additional meat at the table this year, I thought that this pot roast looked like a tasty option.
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Penguin Random House
Italian food is not typically a part of Thanksgiving dinner; however, if you are looking for alternative additions this year, then Rachel Ray’s recipes may be the way to go. This cookbook is cool because she shares a tip or something of value about the meal before she dives right in and shares what ingredients are needed for the dish.
Where do I begin? There are so many delicious recipes in this book that you may be tempted to make your entire Thanksgiving dinner Italian. But here are a few that I thought would be some good additions at the dinner table this year.
FAMILY-SIZE CAESAR SALAD
There’s nothing like a leafy salad to kick off Thanksgiving dinner. Rachel’s made-from-scratch Caesar salad dressing should be sensational, too.
SPICY ITALIAN-STYLED DEVILED EGGS
Deviled eggs are AMAZING. If you agree, then tossing these in as an hors devours or entree add-on for your guests will be great.
CREAMY CELERY SOUP WITH GARLIC TOAST
There is something so amazing about the aroma of soup cooking slowly on the stove. And with so much celery that you may have left over from other dishes, why not whip up a quick soup like this one.
SPAGHETTI WITH PEPPERS AND ONIONS
This is one of those dishes that is good as an Italian entree or you can add it to your collection of good food accumulating on the dinner table. If you plan on frying the turkey or preparing some fried fish to satisfy your “pescatarian” family members, this is a great side dish.
SLOW-ROASTED BONE-IN LEG OF LAMB
As I mentioned before with the pot roast, if you are all ‘turkeyed’ out and want to try something new this year, then lamb is a good meat choice. I’ve tried lamb in a stew in the past but this slow roasted leg of lamb seems like it will be everything!
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Simon & Schuster, Target.com, and RachelRayShow.com
For most, Thanksgiving represents tradition and if you want to stick with traditional meals, Martha Stewart’s recipes are as traditional as it gets. I love this book because it is arranged by month and she incorporates meals that work best for the month. The month of November is filled with great Thanksgiving food ideas.
Since most of you are stern about upholding tradition, I decided to choose dishes from her book that are traditionally seen on the Thanksgiving dinner table.
ROASTED TURKEY WITH GARLIC HERB BUTTER
Turkey is the most traditional dish on the Thanksgiving dinner table. This recipe is very simple and, if executed correctly, this will be the star of the table.
What would turkey be without the stuffing? Boring, I tell you! This is one of my single-most favorite dishes of the day and just like macaroni and cheese, some people make really great stuffing and others — you know the rest. This dish is unique because it incorporates sweet fennel sausage.
RED WINE CRANBERRY SAUCE
This sounds delectable! And it is certainly a positive shift from the typical canned cranberry sauce. Nothing against canned cranberry sauce but just the thought of wine added to the cranberry sauce makes my eyes twinkle.
I try to eat healthy most of the year but when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner I like to live a little. And living for me is to drown my food in gravy. Hey don’t judge me… it’s only a once a year thing!
APPLE PIE-SPICED CIDER
Now I know that most of you all would prefer to pass the soda around the room. However, if you want to get creative in the drink area, then consider making fresh this apple cider.
Available at Amazon.com and Ebay.com
Most of you all know that songstress, Patti Labelle, can jam on the microphone. But did you know that she can also jam in the kitchen? I love her cookbooks and this latest one is all about desserts, so you know that I’m excited.
What I like about this cookbook and any cookbook that Patti Labelle creates is that she emphasizes family and heritage. I also like how this book takes time to explain the different types of tools to use in the kitchen because believe it or not some people, myself included, aren’t aware of the names of all kitchen tools.
Now that all of the savory dishes are planned, its time to dig into these sweets, my favorite.
JACKIE’S REDEMPTIVE RED VELVET MARBLE CAKE
Child, let me tell you… Whoops – I’m feeling this cookbook too much. I’m starting to sound like Patti. But, child, let me tell you: this red velvet recipe sounds good! And this is made from scratch so you will really have to take your time to prepare this.
CRANBERRY ORANGE SCONES
These are probably best for breakfast but could probably also end up on the dessert table too if there are any leftover after breakfast.
THE VERY BEST LEMON BARS
When life gives us lemons, some of us make lemonade. Patti takes it further and makes lemon bars and boy do these seem tasty and easy to make, too.
THE SWEET POTATO PIE
What would Thanksgiving be without sweet potato pie? Not bad, if you have peach cobbler to replace it. But in this case, I’m going to emphasize Patti’s sweet potato pie because it’s much simpler to make than peach cobbler and you can make so many of these that you can pass these bad boys out to the guests as they leave.
DOUBLE-DECKER BUTTERSCOTCH PUDDING
Pudding! This takes me back to my youth when I used to covet pudding snacks. I’m sure these are much more thrilling than store-bought pudding, however.
Available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Target.com, Walmart.com, and PattiLabelle.com