It’s that time of year again when families gather together to celebrate what they’re thankful for. It’s not always the most relaxing of holidays as your Uncle Earl continues talking about ‘the good ol’ days’ and your sister Susie giving her many opinions on your lifestyle choices…come on, does it really matter how I make pumpkin pie? However your family celebrates, it’s a time together that should be enjoyable. When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner my family and I always bring a couple of dishes to the table. Although it is a kind gesture to always bring something when you’re a guest, it also helps me greatly as I have dietary preferences that I follow…Gluten Free, No Pork, No Beef and Limited Dairy, so bringing a regular dish for everyone that not only I can eat but one that others would enjoy as well. We are only a few weeks away from Thanksgiving so now is the time to plan. Here are some of my favorite ways to create a wonderful holiday dinner and hopefully inspire you to get started.
CHOOSING A WINE THAT PAIRS WELL BUT HAS HEALTH BENEFITS
So I am terrible when it comes to wine. I know that there are types of wines that pair well with certain foods but regardless, I will always be a white wine type of girl. You can always be positive that regardless the occasion I have the perfect pairings for my guests, but I will always have a delicious Moscato on hand. Typically for Thanksgiving I purchase wines that I know can pair with several of the foods that are being served instead of just one or two. This year I’ve gone with a Riesling since it is affordable, delicious and works well with sweet, salty and spicy flavors. Next, a California Sparkling for those that like pairing with a lightly fruity type wine that compliments many of the Thanksgiving dishes that I will be preparing. Now although I love my white wines, they aren’t full of all the benefits of a wonderful glass of red wine. Red wine is a beneficial way to aid in aging gracefully…who doesn’t want that? A glass of red wine can help you sleep as it is rich in melatonin which helps in preventing sleeping disorders. It not only helps with hair loss but helps in the improvement of bone density, is an anti-inflammatory and reduces the risk of heart disease. That being said, who’s ready for a drink? Cheers!
A cute idea I love to do is purchase a few frames and print out cute sayings to decorate the drink area I set up. This year’s sayings are pretty accurate for the holidays…my favorite? ’This wine pairs well with turkey and difficult relatives’. These truly do receive lots of smiles and look very cute set up.
HEALTHY AND DELICIOUS MEALS
Don’t get me wrong, I am usually the first to have a slice of pie or anything ooey and gooey but due to my dietary preferences sometimes it makes it a bit difficult to enjoy many of the dishes that are being served. That being said, I cook many Gluten Free options that those without the restriction can’t even tell the difference and are usually simple to make. I typically get jealous when everyone is having a delicious slice of pumpkin pie, but this year will be different. I found a recipe that I absolutely love for Crustless Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes that is not only Gluten Free, but teenager approved! I did a test run prior to Thanksgiving dinner to make sure it was delicious, and it gave the same satisfaction of eating pumpkin pie. Another thing that makes this recipe perfect? It can be made a day in advance so no need to worry about last second baking.
Gluten Free Crustless Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes 1- 15oz can pumpkin puree 2 Large Eggs ¾ cup coconut milk 1 Large egg yolk ¼ tsp baking powder ¼ tsp baking soda ¼ cup brown sugar lightly packed Whipped Cream or a Coconut Milk version for dairy free ½ cup Gluten Free All Purpose Flour ½ cup granulated sugar 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice ½ tsp salt 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 F Line cupcake pan with a cupcake liner that won’t stick. In a large bowl sift your flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and pumpkin pie spice. In another bowl mix the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, egg yolk, vanilla extract and coconut milk. Add your dry ingredients to the wet and stir well until the mixture is combined thoroughly. Scoop the batter until the cupcake tin appears almost full. Bake for 25 minutes. Make sure you allow them to cool for 30 minutes and refrigerate for at least an hour prior to serving. Lastly top with whipped cream and voila! It’s ready to be served. This is a fairly easy treat to bake and it’s good for everyone, dietary restrictions or not!
WHO WANTS TO DRINK PLAIN WATER?
Whether I have water bottles set out or a pitcher of basic water I always have the option of infused waters available that go perfectly with the meal. With the cooler, crisper weather (well for everyone else since I’m in Florida and it’s not very crisp and Fall like outside!) you can’t serve a refreshing cucumber infused water. For Thanksgiving and any Autumn day, I like to add slices of apples, pear and cinnamon sticks to the water. Don’t forget to cut some extra for a little garnish to be placed on the edge of the glass.
DIY DÉCOR. EASY, RELAXING AND FESTIVE
I know purchasing décor is so much easier, but I find it very relaxing to create my own at times. Some of my favorite pieces that I love to create are very simple to make and look wonderful set out for your guests to see. Two cute and easy projects that I have created took no time at all to make.
Popcorn Kernels Candle
For this simple craft you will need to purchase a bag of un-popped popcorn kernels to pour into a mason jar or any type of glass jar. You will then set an unlit candle in the middle as you gently wiggle it in so it is secure and won’t budge.
Mason Jar Fall Candleholder
When I think of Autumn, I think of a more rustic look so a lot of my decorating has mason jars involved. For this center piece you can either purchase leaves or get some from outside (or have some little ones in your family get them for you!). With a sponge brush and mod podge you will use the adhesive to stick the leaves to the inside of the mason jar. I like to add a finishing touch of tying a corn husk, twine or a bow around the jar to give it more of a finished look. Use tealights or small crafting string lights to give a beautiful glow. The colors of the leaves being illuminated will look beautiful in the dim light and get many compliments as it adds the perfect touch of ambiance to your table. For an added trick, use different size jars to put together to create a stylish look.
Well there you have it folks! You have a sneak peek inside my family’s Thanksgiving dinner. I’d be lying if I said it was a relaxing sipping on a glass of wine with calming music in the background atmosphere as I try to get everything prepared. It usually involves me bribing my teenage sons to ‘just help me clean before guests arrive!’ and me picking at the food I’m cooking to make sure it tastes good right up until the point I feel full when it comes time to eat. I can’t forget allowing myself time to clean up the kitchen and clean up my appearance as well (that’s all I need to hear when my mother arrives!).
Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday where your loved ones, family and friends gather together to be thankful for one another and share all the amazing things to be grateful for. But most importantly, be thankful that it only comes once a year cause’ it’s a heck of a lot of work!