Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

Last Minute Thanksgiving Table Decor Ideas


I’ve been compulsively pinning Thanksgiving Table Decor this month. Grab a few mini pumpkins, some white candles and maybe a can of spray paint and call your table decorated. You can pull most of these items from your home or pick them up at the grocery or hardware store. I organized these Thanksgiving “tablescape” ideas by theme into 6 Pinterest Boards for easy reference. Feel free to mix and match.

Black, White & Sparkle Table

Black, White & Sparkle

All White Thanksgiving Table Decor

All White

Vintage Autumn Thanksgiving Table

Vintage Autumn

Green Garland Thanksgiving Table

Green Garland

Glitz & Gourds Thanksgiving Table

Glitz & Gourds

Jars of Light Thanksgiving Table

Jars of Light


Whatever your table looks like, I hope you have a wonderful and delicious Thanksgiving!




Asian-American Thanksgving Menu


The question I get asked the most, when I tell a stranger my profession is “what is your favorite dish to make?” My answer is always “something I’ve never made before.” While I love familiar food, I’m most inspired by a new dish or new flavors. So when my Dad emailed me this link from Food & Wine magazine as inspiration for our Thanksgiving menu this year, I was so excited! All new flavors applied to the most traditional meal of the year.


Soy-Sauce and Honey Glazed Turkey


Sriracha and Wasabi Deviled Eggs


Celery and Edamame Salad


Sticky Rice Dressing


Red Miso Glazed Carrots


 Cranberry, Ginger and Orange Chutney

Check out all the dishes and recipes at Food & Wine (all photos and recipes by Joanne Chang). Are you planning to try anything new or nontraditional this Thanksgiving?



Do Ahead Thanksgiving Checklist


The best way to actually ENJOY the process of hosting Thanksgiving is to prepare as much as possible in advance. The less you have to do on that last Wednesday and Thursday in November the more fun you can have with your family and friends.

image via


2-3 Weeks Before Thanksgiving-

Shop in Advance:

  1. Purchase wines, apple cider, booze, sparkling water, champagne, mixers, beer, ice
  2. Order turkey
  3. Sharpen Knives!!! (Sur La Table offers free knife sharpening Nov 15-26, 2013)
  4. Shop for all dry and canned goods- canned pumpkin, sugar, flour, spices, crackers, nuts…


Party Prep:

  1. Label platters- wash, dry and stack in a corner with a label for each dish you will serve
  2. Wash glassware, iron linens, polish silver, count plates and bowls, wash seasonal items like roasting pan and gravy boat
  3. Decide on Table Décor and order flowers or gather materials for your centerpieces


Cook & Freeze:

  1. Make a veggie soup- serve as first course or a light supper or lunch on the days before and after the big meal
  2. Make and Roll Pie Crusts- freeze well wrapped in plastic
  3. Stuffing Bread- whether you prefer cornbread, rice or sourdough you can make, cube and freeze your stuffing bread well in advance
  4. Chicken or Turkey Stock- freeze
  5. Breakfast Rolls or Scones- make dough, portion and then freeze (bake them off for a quick breakfast)
  6. Dinner Rolls- make dough, portion and then freeze


1 Week Before Thanksgiving-


  1. Cranberry Relish
  2. Salad Dressing
  3. Herb Butter- for seasoning Turkey or Dinner Rolls
  4. Wash and prep hardy greens- kale, collards, Swiss chard
  5. Shop for appetizers- cheese, nuts, olives, crunchy vegetables
  6. Stock up on coffee, tea, milk, sugar or cream for after dinner service



  1. Make your shop list when relaxed and rested so you don’t miss anything, divide the list up by areas of the grocery store
  2. Make a timeline for the 2 days before- make sure you have a schedule for the oven
  3. Set the table! Leave it set for the week and admire the beautiful setting
  4. Refresh all candles and have some long lighters handy
  5. Set up the bar- set out glasses, mixers, bucket for ice
  6. Decide on the music or delegate the music to someone else

For a more detailed timeline check out our advice for Thanksgiving preparations Week 1 & 2, Week 3, Week 4.  Happy Planning!






Roasted Winter Squash and Parsnips with Maple Glaze


Are you still eating your way through winter squash?  This weekend we used butternut and delicata squash for a modified version of this recipe.

It’s hard to imagine this glaze- a fragrant mix of maple syrup, butter, rosemary and garlic- not working with any kind of squash or root vegetable.  Feel free to play.  Our addition, delicata with the skin on, added bits of green to that mountain of golds.

Roasted squash and parsnips with maple glaze and marcona almonds

The veggies roast for a hour, and you can chop them and reduce your glaze the day before.  Simply toss, roast and add your marconas twenty minutes before the squash is done.  Serve warm or room temp with a sprig of rosemary on top.

So easy and so special with the hot butter and rosemary smell of the glaze and the thick, salty marcona crunch of your marconas.  Regular almonds will work too, but marconas make the dish holiday special.  I’ve already added this one to my Thanksgiving file.


Thanksgiving Timeline Week 4


I love this song.

I love this song.

I love this song.

I love this song!

That’s what Shanti and I sounded like in the kitchen yesterday after discovering that creating a Prince station unlocks the magic that is Pandora.  The mix was a little bit eighties, and a whole lot of fun.  Think Father Figure.  This year I am thankful that Prince is so supremely talented that only the best songs get into his algorithem.

This is it, loves.  We’re in the homestretch.


The Weekend Before
The Big Clean, house and kitchen. Be sure to clear out your fridge so you have space for all the new groceries coming in.

Two Days Before

1. Buy remaining groceries

2. Buy ice

3. Set your table and pull your serving platters.  Use post-its to label each platter so you know where to plate each dish.

4. Set up your bar area

5. Make any do-ahead dishes according to your timeline, e.g. cranberry sauce, salad dressing, etc.

1 Day Before
Review your timeline and do your prepwork. It may include:

1. Brining your bird

2. Cubing bread for stuffing

3. Cleaning and prepping any veggies and herbs except apples and onions (they turn brown and get watery, respectively.)

4. Making pie.

Day Of

1. While you’re brewing your morning cup, measure and grind beans into a plastic bag for after dinner

2. Enjoy your coffee and cereal.  This is very important.

3. Preheat your oven, turn on some music- the Prince mix- and get cooking!

Thanksgiving Timeline Week 3




If you’ve been following our timeline, you’re probably feeling verrrry accomplished right about now.  Week three is going to be a breeze for you.  Here’s what needs doing:

Third Week of November

1. Wash towels and sheets for guests as well as kitchen towels to reserve for the Big Cook.

2. Stock up on essentials: paper towels and toilet paper, Q-tips, cotton balls, advil, toothpaste and toothbrushes, etc.

3. Buy your pantry and freezer items and cross ‘em off the list.

4. Set up your non-perishable table décor items (pumpkins, candles, etc.).

5. If you’re making homemade stock, make and freeze now.

6. Test any new Thanksgiving recipes while there’s still time to revert back to the classics.

There’s a pumpkin meringue pie trial run in our very immediate future.


Thanksgiving Table


Thanksgiving centerpiece

Remember our Halloween table? We’re using the same elements for our Thanksgiving decor.  Run a similar arrangement down the center of your Turkey Day table or along your mantle for a natural, elegant and understated display.

Thanksgiving decor

We started with our faithful workhorses: the burlap strips.   Then, inspired by the darling mini pumpkins, we clustered orb-like clear and white bud vases and filled them with Chinese mums.  The repetition of almost round, squash-like shapes is what makes this look work. Lydia had the great idea to toss in some cipolline onions I had in the kitchen- it’s a cucurbita and allium table for those taxonomes out there!


Off-white pillar candles stand ready to bring the glow.  My Juliska gourd carafe does double duty as an elegant vase, adding height to a side table or mantle.

White pumpkin Thanksgiving centerpiece

For a dinner table centerpiece, you want something low enough to see over.  So we removed the tall flower arrangement and swapped in a medium-sized white spray-painted pumpkin, adding in a few silver for sparkle.

Thanksgiving table display

All we need is food and family!



Burlap-  Michael’s or any other craft store

Carafe-  Juliska

Vases- Jonathan Adler and Heath Ceramics

Thanksgiving Timeline



This is the time of years when our sarcasm kicks up. Everything we read suggests that hosting a 6-course Thanksgiving Martha-style is as easy as (pumpkin) pie. But creating an elaborate feast that nourishes family and friends is not a simple thing, particularly when each guest carries with them their own personal holiday bible. Since we make elaborate meals everyday for a living we can attest that it takes planning and work! But like anything that takes work, it can be a fantastically fun and empowering experience. A privilege. And it can be a whole lot easier if you start now. Just follow our timeline for a stress-free turkey day.

First Week of November

If you get through these steps this week, the week of will be a joy.

1. Collect your recipe and table décor inspirations and pin them to a board above your desk or in your kitchen. Decide what you want to make and what you want to delegate and start delegating. Print or copy all recipes and place them in a folder to have on-hand during cooking.

2. Enlist your littlest helpers. If kids are coming, ask them now if you’d like them to make something special for the table. Sarah’s family still whips out laminated place mats her now-adult sister made for each person in their family. You won’t believe how sweet and chic they look on a table set with her mother’s best.

3. Make a detailed shopping list organized by store and by store section, e.g. produce, pantry, meat, bakery, wine, etc. You will be so happy you took the time to do this now when you have the time to relax with a glass of wine two nights before T-Day! Include ingredients for a green salad and a loaf of good bread. You’ll see why in the second week.

4. Make a timeline. Decide what dishes can be made ahead (e.g. cranberries and salad dressing can be made 2 days ahead and most desserts can be made the day before) and work backwards from dinner according to how long each dish will take. Pin timeline to your inspiration board.

5. Take inventory. Make sure you have enough pots, pans, baking dishes and platters to prepare your meal and plate it. Count your plates and glasses. Now is also a great time to iron those holiday napkins and tablecloths and make sure you have enough candles to make your table glow all night.

6. Order your bird. Plan on 1-1/2 pounds of turkey per person.

Second Week of November

1. Make and freeze your pie crusts. Cross those ingredients off your grocery list!

2. Make and freeze a good quantity of good soup. If you’re hosting the big day, chances are you have friends staying over the night before. You’ll be busy cleaning, prepping and catching up and you’ll be hungry. Surprise them (and yourself) with a light and healthy homemade dinner. All you’ll need is that bread and salad you already put on your shopping list.

3. Buy wine, liquor and sparkling water. Cross them off the list! Feels good, right?

4. Pick a table look from your inspiration board and buy supplies. Add necessary flowers and other perishables to your master shopping list.

5. Stock your pantry with good nuts, crackers, popcorn and buy a few hard cheeses and jarred olives. Now you have easy appetizers and nibbles for house guests. Cross ‘em off the list.

What special steps are you adding?


Tenugui Cloth Napkins


tenugui cloths

Lydia and I were so excited to see gardening editor Stephen Orr’s Thanksgiving table setting in the new Martha Stewart Living.  The picture hasn’t made it online, but if you flip to page 106, you’ll see why.  Stephen set his table with a few of our favorite things!  Lots of natural elements like branches, quail eggs and individual flowers in low vases as well as Lydia’s Heath plates in mixed colors (French grey, mist and aqua) and my tenugui cloth napkins in mixed prints and different shades of blue.

The article inspired me to purchase a new fall collection (you can see my old one here) so that I’ll be ready for my Thanksgiving guests.

I’ll be doing all-white plates and mixing napkins in navy, burgundy and gold.  Each tenugui costs $13 at Tortoise General Store and each cloth makes 2 napkins.  You simply cut them in half and toss them in the washing machine.  They come out as soft as an old T-shirt with frayed edges.  Use scissors to clip any long strings and press with a hot iron before setting your table.

Can you believe we’re already thinking about Thanksgiving?  We’ll be sharing our centerpiece decor, tips for executing your feast in a small kitchen and our Turkey Day countdown in the next few days.  Number two on the countdown?  Make sure you have enough napkins.  Check.

Have a wonderful, candy-filled weekend!


Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins


Thanksgiving morning I woke up so excited to cook (journey proud) I made these Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins as a breakfast treat for Drew. Earthy, spiced pumpkin muffin body studded with bitter-sweet pops of fresh cranberry. Smeared with soft cream cheese or butter, these make a lovely breakfast for the holiday season, you won’t feel like you are eating dessert.

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffin

This recipes works beautifully with Gluten Free baking mix which I used for the batch photographed above. Canned Pumpkin and fresh cranberries are readily available this time of year so make sure you take advantage of this flavor combination while you can.

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins– adapted from Bon Appetit

Yields 12 large muffins or 16 small muffins


2 cups all-purpose flour (or Gluten Free Baking Mix)

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 15 oz can of pure pumpkin

1/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup fresh cranberries, coarsly chopped


Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter a muffin pan or line with muffin papers. Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together butter, brown sugar, pumpkin, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients and stir until just combined, then stir in the chopped cranberries.

Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake until a wooden pick comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly and serve warm or at room temperature.

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