Growing up, Thanksgiving was always an exciting holiday. Both my parents' families are large, and each year we would alternate which side to spend it with - the Faulks in Macon (my dad's family) or the Coopers in Augusta (my mom's family). No matter where we were, two things were always constant: lots of good food and togetherness.
Today, Thanksgiving is much the same, only now I have my husband's side of the family from Savannah to throw in the mix. It's safe to say, holiday season around my house means we're on the road a good bit, but that's always been the norm for me.
The host of Thanksgiving, usually one of my aunts and uncles, is responsible for the turkey. All the other relatives bring side dishes and dessert, and there's enough food to feed an army. One year, my Uncle Tommy and Aunt Susan made two turkeys - one was roasted in the oven and the other was deep fried. That was memorable. I recall liking the roasted turkey best for its moist meat and pretty browned skin.
After so many years of eating together, certain family members have become known for making a signature dish.
For my mom, it's her sweet potato casserole with a pecan topping that's always a hit. My Aunt Susan makes a mean mac and cheese and wonderful cold grape salad with cream cheese and brown sugar. My Aunt Kathy's biscuits and her coconut cake don't last at the table long, and Grandma Dot's pound cake shines among all the pumpkin and pecan pies. I come from a long line of good cooks.
As for me, I don't have that one dish that defines me yet. I see Thanksgiving as a blank canvas to create.
To be honest, in the beginning of November, I love to flip through the pages of Southern Living or Taste of Home magazines and discover those recipes that make for a delicious and standout presentation. I will often make an ambitious dessert that's on the front cover of the magazine, and I always bring an unpredictable side dish that adds interest to the menu. With all the heavy casseroles there, I like to think outside the box and liven up palates with something fresh.
The moment when you arrive to the party with your masterpiece in hand, everyone buzzing about asking what you brought, makes for a fun entrance.
In recent years, I've made a pumpkin cheesecake, cranberry-apple pumpkin bundt cake, a pumpkin spice cake with chocolate pecan filling and a rustic dried cranberry and granny smith apple tart.
My must-have side dishes on Thanksgiving include roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon and parmesan cheese and that good old fashioned pineapple and Ritz cracker casserole that I look forward to eating so much.
It also wouldn't be Thanksgiving without canned cranberry sauce. In many ways, I like to be adventurous but at the same time, I'm a diehard purest about other things.
Canned cranberry sauce is one of those things. And yes, I've made it from scratch with fresh cranberries and orange peel. Fresh cranberry sauce just doesn't do it for me. The canned cranberry sauce, little ridges and all, is the only suitable accompaniment topping my turkey.
Whether you're the host of Thanksgiving Day or you're traveling to a family member's home to celebrate, I've got an impressive dessert for you that tastes as well as it travels. Bundt cakes are the best time savers, yet they still make for a pretty presentation. Two flavors that complement each other that you may not have considered before are pumpkin and chocolate. In my Double-Chocolate Pumpkin Bundt Cake, the canned pumpkin adds a moist texture and a little black coffee gives the cake a depth of rich flavor.
You can like Some Kinda Good on Facebook to watch me bake this cake on camera.
This year and every day, my heart is grateful. Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours.
Georgia native Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a food enthusiast, writer and the cooking show host of SKG-TV on YouTube. The personality behind the blog, SomeKindaGood.com, she is a public relations graduate of Georgia Southern University and attended Savannah Technical College's Culinary Institute of Savannah. Search Facebook for Some Kinda Good or tweet her @SKGFoodBlog.
Glazed Double-Chocolate Pumpkin Bundt Cake
• Devil's Food Cake Mix
• 1 15 oz. Can of Pumpkin
• 2 Eggs
• 1 tablespoon of Pumpkin Pie Spice
• 1 teaspoon of Ground Cloves
• 1 tablespoon of good vanilla
• 2 tablespoons of brewed black coffee
• 12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
• 3 tablespoons of flour
Confectioners' Sugar Glaze
• 1/2 cup of confectioners' sugar
• 1-2 tablespoons of Half & Half
• 1 tablespoon of good vanilla
Grease and flour a standard bundt pan. Set aside. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients, except chocolate chips and flour, together using a mixer until well blended. In a separate bowl, toss together the flour and chocolate chips. The flour will prevent the chocolate chips from sinking to the bottom of the cake. Fold the chocolate chips into the Devil's Food Cake mixture. Pour ingredients into the bundt pan and smooth the top. Bake cake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool 15 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. For the glaze, combine confectioners' sugar, half and half and vanilla. The consistency should coat the back of a spoon and not be too runny. Using a spoon, drizzle glaze over the top of the cake, allowing it to run down and around the sides. You may not use the entire glaze; just add it until you're satisfied with the presentation. Serve with coffee any time of day and enjoy!