Monday, November 2, 2020

Around the Kitchen Table: What's Your "Must Have" Dish for the Holidays? + Book #Giveaway!

  


KRISTAHas anyone else noticed that everyone seems to have at least one "must have" dish for holidays? I know some people who won't eat turkey and insist on steak for their holiday meals. Many of the dishes people long for are tied to their youth and memories of how their families celebrated. For one of my friends, it's not the holidays unless she gets corn bread stuffing.  Last year I made my first ever standing rib roast and Yorkshire pudding for a friend who wanted the dinner her grandmother always served. 

I grew up with a Christmas goose and German potato dumplings, so that's how I envision Christmas. But over the years we added cranberries, which are now my big "must have" no matter what kind of meat is being served. And I always make my Cream Cheese Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving. It's sinfully delicious, but we only have it once a year so I don't feel too guilty about it.

What dishes do you loathe making, and which ones are "must haves" for you?


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MADDIE: I am deeply depressed that I can't host Thanksgiving this year unless it turns out to be an unseasonably warm day and we can all sit outdoors. But it's better to be alive, right? I always make three kinds of pies: pumpkin, apple, and pecan. Pumpkin is the must-have, and I don't loathe making any of them, although I happily turn over gravy making to the more skilled in the party.

This Thanksgiving I'll make apple and pumpkin pies, family and guests or not. (Yes, that is a second pumpkin pie peeking out from the back, because you can never have too much of it.) But, since my hand is still recovering from surgery, I'll have to buy pie crusts. Using a rolling pin is not in my immediate future. 

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LUCY BURDETTE: Mashed potatoes and gravy of course! So that means there will be a turkey. Though I've made some very good stuffing over the years (cornbread and sausage for example, from A DEADLY FEAST), I could actually skip that part. I will have to wait and see how hard John lobbies for it!

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VICKI DELANY: Here in Canada we've already had our Thanksgiving this year, and I have to confess that I didn't serve my MUST HAVE. Which is turkey. I had a small number of people at my house, so I decided to do without the turkey and substituted a chicken.  The chicken was good and I did all the rest of the traditional stuff - mashed potatoes, gravy, brussels sprouts, green beans. We had soup to start and both pie and cake for dessert. The recipe for walnut pie, I'll be sharing with you in November.  The main thing we missed wasn't the turkey but the stuffing.  I make the same stuffing I always have, and that my mother made before me, and it is THE BEST. It was definitely missed this year. 

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LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Mr. Right and I are non-traditionalists when it comes to holiday meals. We think that's hilarious because the sisters-in-law are extreme traditionalists---women who never vary the menu. One even puts her holiday dishes away with notes in them reminding herself and anyone who helps out what goes in what dish!

When the threat of a snowstorm threatened to keep us home for Christmas a couple of years ago, we didn't buy a turkey or ham. We bought a tenderloin and planned Beef Wellington---the weather cleared and we made it for New Year's Day instead. The drawback of not being home is that we don't always have leftovers, so sometime during the season, we'll do the full deal---turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes, cranberries. We chose pecan pie over pumpkin, but make up for that with the pumpkin-cranberry muffins we call Christmas muffins. And decades ago, I started making a tri-color tortellini salad with green onions, cherry tomatoes, and ribbons of salami during Christmas week. The colors give it a festive look and it's fun to pull out of the fridge for times when you want something special quickly. (The recipe is in Treble at the Jam Fest, because it's also perfectly lovely in summer, especially for a picnic.) Call it my own personal non-traditional tradition. 

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LESLIE KARST: I’m an avowed cream hound, so this one’s a no-brainer: Creamed onions. Just like my
grandmother used to make. Which ends up being a pain most years, because if you can locate them—a big “if”—fresh pearl onions are incredibly laborious and time-consuming to peel. And although the frozen kind work fine as well (and are so much easier to use), I can almost never find them in Hilo, Hawai‘i, where I now live during the holiday season. So I often make do with using regular white onions and then quartering them for the dish. Grammy would have tsked, but they still taste delicious!



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MAYA CORRIGAN: It's always turkey on Thanksgiving for us, and my husband is the turkey chef. It's his specialty. During the 30 years I made Christmas Eve dinners, I varied the main dish though I was never allowed to deviate from the traditional (mostly fish) appetizer platter or skip the tiered tray of homemade cookies, no matter how many other desserts I'd prepared. When I was growing up, we always had sweet cheese pierogi for dessert as well, made by my grandmother and later by my aunt. It's a dish I've never mastered, though my son and daughter have teamed up to make it with good results. 


The appetizers: shrimp with cocktail sauce (in the middle), marinated mushrooms, olives, smoked salmon wrapped around cream cheese, smoked oysters, smoked trout, and pickled herring in sour cream. On the side, we  have a cheese platter, smoked kielbasi, crackers and bagels.   


 

DARYL:  Maya, I'm coming over!!  What a great looking the appetizer plate.  I love a standing rib roast and I'll make it for myself if this Christmas is still a socially distanced event. With green beans drenched in melted butter and Yorkshire pudding. Of course, I can't eat the Yorkshire pudding as it's traditionally made because of the flour, but I make one for my guests and then make my own Yorkshire pudding using G-F flour. It doesn't rise unless I put it into a popover pan, which makes it quite light and fluffy. I add baking powder to my version to assist the "rise."  Wish I had a picture.  Hmmm.  Maybe I'll make this soon and share the recipe with you in December.

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PEG: I have to have mashed potatoes with the turkey at Thanksgiving even though everyone else prefers the sweet potatoes.  The one thing I loathe making is the gravy.  Even though I'm "known" for my good gravy, every year I am afraid it won't come out!  For Christmas we've adopted my husband's family's menu of tenderloin and scalloped potatoes. There's always pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dessert but for Christmas I like to experiment. I also always make one of those breakfast casseroles that can be in the oven while we open Christmas presents.

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DENISE: My must haves are from my Grandma Swanson. She always made fudge and sea foam candy. Sea foam is an airy concoction with a texture somewhere between marshmallow and meringue. While it's similar to divinity, to me it is much better.

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MARY JANE MAFFINI: I love holidays and everyone's tasty talk of traditions.  So much fun and no many new ideas for celebrations!  And of course, there is no one right way. Around here, we are turkey people and turkey leftover people. We often have two medium turkeys so ensure lots of leftovers and soup. One year, a visitor asked for one of the carcasses as she wanted to make soup.  Meanwhile my MIL spirited away the second turkey.  No sandwiches. No soup.  No happy day after. So, I bought and cooked another turkey so I could live the holiday (like Vicki, it's Canadian Thanksgiving) to the fullest. 

Over the years, I've cooked turkeys in airbnbs and in a cottage on the ocean during a hurricane. I'm not sure what would stop me. This year, we also had two because we were splitting the dinners between two daughters on different days.  Whenever and wherever  there is turkey, there is also gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes and other veggies.  We do not allow Brussels sprouts although the have their advocates.  We cannot go without homemade cranberry sauce served in this turkey dish that belonged to my mother.  

Here's one recipe we shared on Mystery Lovers Kitchen a while back.  https://www.mysteryloverskitchen.com/2014/11/brown-sugar-cranberry-sauce-with.html

For some reason, I feel ravenous now. I hope you will all drop in and tell us your traditions and stories.  

CLEO COYLE: Marc and I always look forward to turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, and there are plenty of other “must-have” foods on the menu. Stuffing (check!), cranberry sauce (check!). We diverge on the mashed potatoes, which is a "must have" for Marc. For me, sweet potatoes are more of a holiday treat. As for pie, Marc loves his pecan pie, and I'm a pumpkin person. I always enjoy making pumpkin pie the way my mom did, though Marc's mother made it differently. One year, I even did a bake-off of the two recipes (and blogged about it here at MLK). I called the post Pie v. Pie, and you are welcome to see the results (and both recipes) by clicking here or on the photo below...

See both Pie vs. Pie recipes
from Cleo by clicking here.



What are the "must have" foods 

for your holidays? 


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BOOK GIVEAWAY!

We're giving away these 4 books to one commenter.  

Leave a comment and your email address
so we can contact you should you win.  


Gingerbread Man, by Maya Corrigan

The Solace of Bay Leaves, by Leslie Budewitz

Murder at the Taffy Shop, by Maddie Day

A Sprinkling of Murder, by Daryl Wood Gerber 



📖



Click to see more of our
upcoming releases.


👓 


83 comments:

  1. I loved reading everyone's must-haves. I'm flexible with the menu but I will admit that if there's mashed potatoes, gravy, and homemade dressing casserole made from scratch, I usually serve myself ample amounts. LOL I only have gravy and dressing once a year. I love having leftovers. I like making a sandwich with turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce. Last year, we had the combination of the American/New England and Native Indian menu with turkey, succotash, Indian pudding, baked sugar pumpkin, mulled apple cider, and I forget what else. My daughter-in-law wanted to do this. I don't know what we'll do this year. We aren't having a big gathering. I may just roast a chicken and make mashed potatoes. I'll probably buy a pumpkin pie and whip some cream. bluedawn95864 at gmail dot com

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    1. That's the thing, isn't it? It's one time a year. Splurge!

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    2. The must have food for me is chicken and pastry with stuffing and giblet gravy. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity. mb6755383@gmail.com

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    3. I love mashed potatoes and chess pie . they are a must

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  2. The must have food for me is a pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving. This year we’re getting it from a bakery where the baker is a New Yorker and knows how to make the best cheesecake anywhere.
    Kitten143 (at) Verizon (dot) net

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    1. Oh, yum. I must make one. I haven't had that in a long time.

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    2. Yum, indeed. I love pumpkin cheesecake too! It would be very handy to be able to buy a good quality one.

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  3. My must have I still stuffing. I don’t care if we do turkey or Cornish hens for Thanksgiving as long as there’s stuffing
    sgiden at verizon(.)net

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    1. I miss really good stuffing (being gluten-free), though I have to admit there are some good packaged GF stuffings coming out. Maybe I'll make that this year. :)

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    2. We are split on stuffing in our family, but I am on the pro side. I make it the way my mother did. A good gluten free version would be great as we now have a family member who has Celiac.

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  4. We have grilled salmon, smashed potatoes, corn pudding, oyster casserole, and thevl must-have green bean casserole. Pies at Thanksgiving, and cakes for Christmas.
    browninggloria(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  5. We have a turkey event though we all only eat the white meat. A kale and spinach salad, roasted potatoes, broccoli and riced cauliflower. Pumpkin pie with whipped cream. All for the little ones who love the traditions. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Hubby and I are well matched--he likes the white meat and I like the dark!

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  6. Thank you everyone for sharing your "Must Haves" When my mom was alive we asked for her homemade bread and her jello fruit salad. My sisters must haves are pumpkin pie and custard pie and moms jello fruit salad. I am to bring sweet potato casserole and my gluten free chocolate chip cookies quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

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    1. Great that you have lots of help and everyone has their specialties!

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  7. I love turkey but don't like cooking it. Pumpkin pie is something I don't care for, but everyone else loves it, so it's a must. My grandma's broccoli and corn casserole is a tradition, so good and easy to make. And at Christmas, anything peppermint is good. 😍

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  8. Must haves for Thanksgiving are turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, carrots, homemade rolls, pumpkin custard, pecan pie and chocolate cream pie. Must haves for Christmas are roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes and gravy, carrots, homemade rolls, pecan pie and chocolate cream pie. Now that my son is a chef, he’s added some other favorites or recipes he’s trying out. I love that he does most of the holiday cooking. Although he doesn’t skimp on the butter or heavy cream in anything he makes so I try to eat smaller portions.

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    1. Yep, that's why chef-prepared food always tastes SO good--it's all that butter and heavy cream, lol!

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    2. That all sounds quite fantastic! Wish we had a chef around, but there are plenty of recreational cooks among us.

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  9. My sisters sweet potatoes and my sister in laws pumpkin soup. Those are my favorites. suefoster109 at gmail dot com

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  10. Our must have is sweet potatoe casserole. We also have to have turkey and pumpkin pie.

    Thanks for the chance!!

    jarjm1980@hotmail.com

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  11. Turkey is a must since it is a yearly tradition, as well as a mixed green salad with grape tomatoes, orzo with diced peppers, stuffing, and apple cake and pumpkin pie. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  12. I have to see turkey, mashed potatoes, and mac and cheese for sure, and some rolls. thanks for the chance. jlb12563@sbcglobal.net

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  13. Our must have is lasagna artichokes, tossed salad turkey breast with cheesy potatoes and green bean casserole , pumpkin jacks. Thank you for the opportunity kim.vizzini@gmail.com

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    1. Lasagna artichokes sounds divine! As do cheesy potatoes, for that matter...

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  14. Along with the regular turkey dinner, my specialty is cranberry orange relish. It's great that day and as long as the turkey lasts, on sandwiches!

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  15. My one big "must have" has to be my mom's dressing. I have tried several times to make it and no matter how close I get, it never tastes the same as when she makes it. This year I was hoping we could go up and see her and my sister, they live 250 miles away from me, but we are going to play it safe and do a video chat instead. I will make "my version" of it and I can't wait until we can have it together hopefully next year.
    lilyanngill56(at)gmail(dot)com

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  16. I have to make smoked gouda mashed potatoes. It's a simple recipe from Emeril, nd my husband loves it. I joke that he would divorce me if I didn't make it! Thanks so much for the giveaway! aut1063(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Smoked gouda mashed potatoes? Be still my heart!

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    2. I too have made a note. Race you to the recipe, Leslie! LOL.

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    3. I'm right behind you, Mary Jane! :)

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  17. I'm a traditionalist but with the kids living out of state and the pandemic, it's going to be Thanksgiving for one! Maybe I'll just do a couple turkey legs!

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    1. Jerrilynn - We love turkey legs, good idea for one (or for roasting up extra turkey juice to be added for gravy). We do that all the time. As for you situation, you are staying safe and that's a very good thing. Lots of isolated people this holiday, which will make next year's celebration all the sweeter. Be well and treat yourself well with some good food this Thanksgiving.

      ~ Cleo

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