In 2019, I hosted my first Thanksgiving without a hitch. We had barely moved into our new home, and didn’t even have blinds on the windows yet, but I made sure my dining room was ready for company. It was a small gathering, just me and my husband, Kurt, his mom and Aunt Polly. I made enough food to feed an army, and had leftovers for days, but let me tell you — it was Some Kinda Good, and I don’t mean maybe.
The Thanksgiving meal is a production, but it doesn’t have to be hard. I have a few tips up my sleeve to make it smooth sailing:
Make certain things in advance, such as pie dough, fresh cranberry sauce and any prep work like peeling and chopping. Set the table ahead of time and lay out all your serving dishes with sticky notes for each dish. Staying organized is the key to a stress free kind of time.
Let guests contribute too! Assign easy items to family members, such as dinner rolls, canned cranberry sauce and wine. Taking little things like this off your plate as the host can be a big help.
There is no shame in getting a little help from the grocery store. If you don’t have time to bake dessert, purchase it from a local bakery, restaurant or your farmers market, and serve it on your own cake stand. No one will be the wiser, and you will have given back to your community and gained more time with your family and friends, instead of spending all your time in the kitchen. When I hosted my first Thanksgiving, I made a sweet potato pie from scratch, and bought an apple lattice pie from the grocery store to serve with vanilla ice cream. They were both a hit.
This year, we’re spending the holiday in Tennessee with my brother and his family. We bought plane tickets to Nashville and I couldn’t be more excited. Now, my only dilemma is getting my homemade pie dough and pecans past TSA.
I’m thankful for all of you who faithfully read my food column. Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving from my family to yours.
Sweet Potato Casserole with Streusel Topping
It’s not Thanksgiving without my mom’s sweet potato casserole. Add this side dish to your turkey day menu for a real treat.
- ½ stick, unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the baking dish
- 4 to 5 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 ¾ pound), peeled and quartered
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ stick of unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2-quart baking dish.
Add the sweet potatoes to a large pot of boiling salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and cool slightly. Mash the sweet potatoes.
Add to the sweet potatoes the milk, sugar, vanilla, salt, eggs and cinnamon and whisk well until combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
For the streusel topping, combine the flour, brown sugar, butter and salt in a bowl until moist and crumbled. Stir in the pecans. Spread the mixture over the top of the sweet potatoes in an even layer. Bake until mostly set in the center and golden brown for 25 – 30 minutes. Serve warm.
Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a private chef and the author of the best-selling memoir “Some Kinda Good.” Featured in Forbes, on Food Network and ABC, she writes about Southern, coastal cuisine, locally sourced and in season. Connect with her on social media by liking Some Kinda Good on Facebook, or follow @SKGFoodBlog on Instagram and Twitter. To learn more, visit RebekahLingenfelser.com.