Category: Words With Friends

Emily’s Thanksgiving Menu

Dear Laura and Mary,

It’s my turn to share a Thanksgiving menu!  I’m the slacker in this group.  Thank goodness this blog is “Good Not Perfect” and not the other way around.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and I am so excited!  We use Thanksgiving as a family reunion, including my mom, her 3 sisters, the spouses, and all of their kids.   Over the years, the family has grown to include the kids’ spouses and now the kids’ kids, which means this is one BIG meal.  One year we had 13 kids (grandkids really) running around.  After counting them, my husband commented, “That was all!?  It seemed like there were more.”

The strategy is to leave room for dessert.

A big family gathering calls for a heap of good food.  We always had turkey, sometimes deep fried.  We also had a ham (did I mention there are a lot of people to feed?).  We had all the wonderful Southern side dishes you could want – green bean casserole, spinach casserole, onion casserole, squash casserole, deviled eggs, sweet potato casserole …  Oh, and dressing of course.   There’s more, but I don’t want anyone to be hypnotized by the repetition of the word “casserole.”  Our claim to fame was the dessert table – almost as many dessert dishes as main course dishes.  Luckily, dinner is around lunch time, giving several hours to digest and continue eating.  Except for the year a deer was cleaned in the back woods … appetites were suppressed after that.

Like I said, dessert.  Must leave room for dessert.
Like I said, dessert. Must leave room for dessert.

This year is one of those years that the gathering will be smaller since we all have in-laws and travel plans.  Or in our case, lack of travel plans.  We’ll be having a small dinner with the 3 of us plus my SoCal cousin (I’m so excited to have a relative to join us!  My brother in-law the chef will be crazy busy).  Here’s what I’m planning:

tday menu

I’m sticking with tradition.  It makes me happy to have basically the same menu every year. :)  Laura, do you still want the roll recipe?  Real ingredient “crescent rolls”…  I’ll share my perfect pie crust recipe, too.  Although a Sara Lee frozen pie crust is pretty darn good.

Ta-ta for now!

Emily sig

P.S.  If you missed it, check out Laura and Mary’s menus too!

Mary’s “Harvest Feast” Thanksgiving


Dear Laura,

Like you, I’m hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year.  But possibly unlike you, it’ll be a low pressure situation, as my parents will be the only guests.  And did I mention they’re bringing the main dish, and they love to help out in the kitchen?  Should be a dream.

Thanksgiving 2010 with Mom, Dad and baby K. Both the biscuits and gratin make a cameo. As does a hat made by Emily!

Reading over the description of your childhood holidays made me realize our Thanksgiving dinners were quite different from yours.

First of all, no one in my family really likes turkey.  Talk about Thanksgiving blasphemy!  So not only did our protein choice change from year to year (chicken, Cornish game hens, pork tenderloin), but my parents loved to experiment with new side dishes, too.

One of my favorite Thanksgiving meal inspirations was something my parents found in (the now defunct) Country Journal magazine in 1986.  It was called the “Harvest Feast” and consisted of apple roasted chicken, brown and wild rice pilaf, a broth-based vegetable soup (that contained kale long before kale was cool), whole wheat and corn meal biscuits, and pear cranberry crisp for dessert.

More than 25 years later, bits and pieces of this meal always make it into our holiday menus.

So this year, here is our plan:

  • Roasted pork tenderloin with adobo sauce – during a recent trip to Chicago, my parents went to Frontera Grill and bought a cookbook there – Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen.  This recipe is in it.  As my Dad says, they have no idea how someone named Rick Bayless makes such delicious Mexican food, but this recipe made them believers.
  • Garden vegetable gratin – a few years ago we tried and loved this recipe.  And since Mom demands potatoes, we’ll be repeating this one.


  • Whole wheat and corn meal biscuits –  Flour, cornmeal, baking soda, sour cream, butter … all good.  Plus, you know how we feel about whole grains at my house.
  • Stuffing  – nothing fancy here, folks.  We usually just buy the bagged kind and “dress” (nothing like a stuffing pun) it up a little bit with chopped carrots, celery, onion and cranberries.
  • Lada family sweet potatoes – I became addicted to this recipe last year when the hubby’s family visited for Thanksgiving.  It took some arm twisting, but I got permission to share this with you guys.
Lada Family Sweet Potatoes
Author: Brother-in-law
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6
My brother-in-law’s family tradition, complete with brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, and just a touch of ketchup for a little acidity. I break out this recipe year round for a sinfully delicious treat.
  • 5 sweet potatoes
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 Tbsp. ketchup
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place potatoes in a pan, cover with water. Boil 15-20 minutes, then peel potatoes. Halve potatoes and place in a single layer in a baking dish.
  3. Melt butter in a medium saucepan and add the brown sugar, cinnamon, water and ketchup. Bring to a boil. Boil for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Pour sauce over potatoes. Cover with foil. Bake for about 20 minutes, until bubbly.


  • Cranberry sauce – we make this very simply.  Just bubble some cranberries with sugar and a little water on the stove until the sauce thickens.
  • Green veggie – probably broccoli roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Because eating some veggies makes you appreciate the rest of the meal even more.  Like this:
Oven Roasted Broccoli from Real Mom Kitchen (link broken)

  • Pumpkin pie – here’s hoping Dad will make his famous whole wheat crust!
  • Pear cranberry crisp – the perfect juxtaposition of the sweet pears and tart cranberries; crispy brown sugar-oatmeal-butter topping and soft fruit.  Best served with a dollop of whipped cream.
Pear Cranberry Crisp, from a few years back. With a cameo from Pumpkin Pie and a great glass of wine.

I’ll be making bountiful portions because, as much as some folks bemoan leftovers, I love them.  It’s the meal that keeps on giving.

Mary Sig

Mary is a regular guest contributor to Good Not Perfect.  Mary grew up in Kansas City and met Laura and Emily during her stint as a Hoosier in college.  She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two daughters and works as a physician in internal medicine.  She aspires to be one of those women still running 10Ks in their 70s, and her bucket list includes visiting all 59 U.S. National Parks.

Laura’s Thanksgiving Dinner Menu

Laura's Thanksgiving Menu | Good Not Perfect

Hey Em and Mary,

Ok, despite my apparent lack of November Cheer, you know I do really like Thanksgiving.  It’s a fun time to get together with friends and family and eat yummy food. This year we have Adam’s brother’s family coming in, and both of our mothers will be there too … so we’ll have a housefull.

Here’s the thing.  Growing up we had the same EXACT Thanksgiving day every year, which I recall going something like this.


Oh, and don’t forget the can of cranberry sauce.   Yes, the kind that is actually shaped like the can when it flurps out onto the serving plate.


And then, after really enjoying this meal (truthfully), we turned around and made the same EXACT meal for Christmas Eve as well.

So you can imagine that after I flew the coop and then became slightly obsessed with recipes and cooking and the Food Network and Top Chef, and started to think of food with terms like “balance” and “acidity” and “complex”… well, honestly, I started to feel that the holiday meal of my childhood had the potential to be SO much better.

Which brings me to this year.  Now that I’m a grown up, and we have left our city condo for the roomy ‘burb living … well, it turns out I am sort of in charge of Thanksgiving.


 My first Thanksgiving as a mom … spent with good friends back downtown.  Wow, time flies.

I have hosted the last 2 or 3 years … so in my quest for what was “missing” from that oft-enjoyed meal, I have settled into a new recurring Thanksgiving dinner menu, still with a fairly traditional base … just elevated ever so slightly.  P.S. I refuse to try more than one new recipe when I’m cooking for a lot of people, because that is a stress-ball of Laura waiting to happen.

So here’s what I am thinking for this year.


  • Spinach Salad with Beets and Citrus – I have used several variations of this and can just wing it, honestly.  I will write up a recipe one of these days.  You could use this one from Food and Wine magazine if you can’t wait for mine.
  • Turkey – Roasted in the oven.  I have a Turkey reserved from a local farmer this year, so I am super excited, but don’t want to mess with it too much. Some spices, maybe some basting.  Do you have a favorite method?  Frankly, to me the meal is usually about the sides … is that Thanksgiving blasphemy!?
  • Sweet Potato Pecan Casserole – I would not change a thing about this recipe from Ellie Krieger.  We were not a sweet potato house growing up, I think because my mom pictured them all as being sort of marshmallowy, etc.  This recipe highlights the best parts of the sweet potatoes but is not overly sweet.  I will have to remove pecans and use Pepitas instead this year (baby boy’s TN allergy) … but in the past I have left the nuts off of half of the casserole anyway so as to not waste them on picky kids.

Sweet Potato

  • Sausage and Apple Stuffing – The combination of sweet and salty never fails.  I let my husband take control of this dish, and I think he uses a different recipe every time (not on purpose).  Anyway, you can get one recipe here from  We skip the walnuts here too.

Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 8.32.52 PM

  • For the “something green,” I am partial to green beans – Want a sinful green bean casserole (aka GBC)?  I have been known to consult Paula Deen a time or two.  But Oh Heavens do you see how much butter is in that, along with the thousand-ingredient cream of something soup?  I’m a butter lover, but even for me that was pretty darn rich.  So for the last few holidays I’ve just been sautéing some mushrooms and onions in a less-than-Paula amount of my favorite butter and a little cooking sherry and tossing them with generously steamed green beans (where I come from green beans are not snappy, and they’re not mushy …  they’re somewhere in between).  Not quite GBC, but certainly healthy and flavorful.  So, imagine my delight when a few days ago Lisa at 100 Days of Real Food came to my rescue and posted this fancy “Real Food” GBC.  I think this may have to be my “one new recipe” this year!
  • And still, flurp or no flurp, it’s not turkey dinner without cranberry sauce – Thank goodness some sandwich shops have started to realize this combination is worthy of their menu year-round.  I can tell you from experience, even the driest of all family turkeys (my mom is famous for … ahem … how do I put this politely … “well done” meat) can be salvaged with enough cranberry sauce.  This year I am going to try Real Food Real Deal’s Slow Cooker Cranberries.  My sister in law makes some very similar ones on the stove using orange juice and sugar … this looks even one step easier, and I always am looking for an excuse to use my giant bottles of Costco maple syrup!  I will avoid breaking my one-new-recipe rule by making these the night before while I’m doing pies.  Plus, it requires basically no effort, so what do I have to lose?
  • Apple Pie – I have an awesome recipe … which will be showing up in a post one of these days.  It deserves its own showcase.  And lots of pictures, like the kind with gooey apple filling oozing out, fork on its way to mouth – that sort of thing.  Yes, it’s that good.
  • Pumpkin Pie – Whatever the recipe is in my good ol’ red checkered cookbook.  With some homemade crust.

Heck, I may even throw in some basic mashed potatoes for old times’ sake.  The kind that are made right at the last minute and always hold up the meal.  Yes, just plain ol’ boiled potatoes with a big scoop of sour cream, lots of butter, milk, and salt and pepper to taste.  Blended with a hand mixer until they’re nice and fluffy.   

Anyway, that’s where I am as of today.  One new recipe (the GBC), lots of standby recipes.  What are you having this year?  What am I forgetting?  Oh, lordy – Rolls!  What do you do for rolls?

Laura Sig


P.S.  Next year instead of traditional stuffing, I could try this Mushroom Quinoa Stuffing from Renee’s Kitchen Adventures!  Also I found this fun festive afternoon appetizer or this pineapple pecan cheese ball if you want something to munch on while you cook.