Thanksgiving with family

Thanksgiving is David’s favourite holiday of the year, with plentiful food and hot drinks to be had. With David’s parents and grandmother in town for the holiday, we planned for a feast of a meal. However, we decided to forego the traditional turkey, given our relatively small number, and opted for Cornish game hen.


Cornish game hen with lemon and rosemary
Sweet potato stuffing with bacon and thyme
Spiced glazed carrots with citrus and vermouth
Green beans and walnuts with a lemon vinaigrette
Apple cider cranberry sauce
Buttered mushrooms
Mashed potatoes
Mulled cider
Five spice winter squash pie

Sweet potato stuffing with bacon and thyme
Serves 5

3 cups sourdough baguette with crust, cut into 1″ cubes
1/3 lb bacon slices, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1/2 tbsp butter
2-1/4 cups peeled sweet potatoes, cut into 3/4″ cubes
1 cup chopped celery
1-1/3 cup onions, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
1 large egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread bread cubes in single layer on large baking sheet and bake until almost firm to touch, about 10 minutes. Cool. Place bread cubes in extra-large bowl. Cook bacon in saucepan over medium heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.

Pour off and discard all but 1 tbsp bacon drippings from pan; place over medium-high heat. Add butter, then sweet potatoes, onions, celery, thyme, and salt to pot. Sauté until onions are slightly soft but not brown, 6-8 minutes. Add orange juice and bring to boil; cook until sweet potatoes are almonst tender and juice is almost absorbed, about 5 minutes. Add bacon and sweet potato mixture to bowl with bread cubes. Season with more salt and black pepper. Cool slightly.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter 15 x 10 x 2″  baking dish. Whisk egg and chicken broth in bowl to blend; add to stuffing and toss to combine. Transfer to baking dish. Bake stuffing uncovered until top is lightly browned and crisp around edges, 50 minutes to 1 hour.


A few notes on preparation: I accidentally forgot about the bread toasting, so they were slightly more toasted than they should’ve been. As the stuffing baked, we added chicken broth every so often to keep it from drying out too much.

We were pleasantly surprised at how tasty the stuffing turned out. David was worried we had over-toasted the bread but it had just absorbed the chicken broth flavor while keeping its body. Sweet and salty–a lovely addition to our Thanksgiving meal, and a stuffing I’d be happy to try having again.

Spiced glazed carrots with citrus and vermouth
Serves 4-5

1 lb thin carrots, cut into 1″ pieces (about 2 cups)
1 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp salt plus more for seasoning
6 whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1/2 tbsp orange juice or clementine juice
1 tbsp sweet vermouth or Sherry, divided
1 pinch ground cloves

Brings carrots, butter, 1/4 tsp salt, peppercorns, bay leaf and 1/2 cup water to boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 7-8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer carrots to a medium bowl.

Add juice, 1/2 tbsp sherry or vermouth, and ground cloves to skillet and cook until glaze forms, 7-8 minutes. Stir in carrots and remaining vermouth. Season carrots to taste with salt. Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm over medium heat before continuing, adding water by teaspoonfuls if dry.


The carrots were a solid side dish–nothing extraordinary or mind-blowing, but a nice accompaniment to the rest of the meal.

Green beans and walnuts with lemon vinaigrette
Serves 8

2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/3 cup walnut oil
2 tbsp minced shallot
1-1/2 lbs green beans, trimmed
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped

Put lemon juice in a small bowl; whisk in mustard, then oil and shallot. Season with salt and pepper. Cook green beans in pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain; pat dry. Combine beans and walnuts   in large bowl. Add dressing; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


The green beans turned out well, with just a light flavour from the vinaigrette. We could have probably added a touch more Dijon for a bit more kick, but otherwise a nice light side against the heaviness of the other dishes.

Apple cider cranberry sauce
Serves 12

3 cups apple cider
3/4 cup sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp grated orange zest
12 whole cloves
2-1/2 cups fresh cranberries

Combine cider, sugar, cinnamon sticks, zest and cloves in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Turn heat to low; simmer until sugar is dissolved and and the flavors are blended, 10-15 minutes. Stir cranberries into the saucepan, turn heat to high, and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly, until cranberries begin to pop, 5-10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook until sauce begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and cloves. Pour into shallow dish to cool and serve.


One of the primary issues with the cranberry sauce was that it didn’t set up properly, as it was still fairly runny when we served it (despite having been in the fridge for a couple hours). Less cider next time may solve that problem. Runniness aside, the flavour was quite nice–just a touch of sweetness. Though I was somewhat scant on my grated orange zest, so a little bit more might bring out a more orangey flavour.

One comment Add yours
  1. The food was excellent! We ate too much and drank too much. We had so much fun. Hated to leave. Time flew by so fast. We love you both so much!!!!

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