Thanksgiving Calls for Favorite Recipes


My pink house isn’t finished enough yet for me to host a meal, so it’s the sisters’ Thanksgiving event at twin Shelly’s house. Sister Bethany will bring an organic turkey from St. Helena, as well as items for the olive platter, and some wine from Napa Valley.

Shelly makes turkey cookies as I type. It’s a Rich Roll Cookie recipe I’ve had since i was in high school, given to me by Mrs. Rathbun, who was a teacher.

Luckily Shelly kept her recipe for these delicious butter cookies, decorated with Royal Icing, which is kind of like concrete, except harder.

Shelly’s starting her granddaughter May off on the cookie-decorating tradition, but instead of giving May bags of wet icing, she iced the cookies, let the icing harden then let May use the edible decorating pens to color in each turkey. Pretty cute. But really, they taste good, too. (I can’t vouch for the decorator pens, though.)


Let’s just say that if I had a choice between roasted turkey and those cookies, or cranberries and those cookies, or mashed potatoes and gravy versus those cookies, those cookies would win every time. Of course, I’ll share the recipe with you (thanks to Shelly).

But for most sensible people, Thanksgiving cannot exist on turkey cookies alone.

Thanksgiving is pushy when it comes to tradition, so it pretty much insists we cook the traditional dishes: turkey, gravy, potatoes, green beans, cranberry relish, etc.

On the one hand, some might consider this menu boring and predictable. On the other hand, sometimes, especially during hard times, it’s a comfort to know that even when life is falling apart, there’s still cranberry relish and mashed potatoes and rolled-out cookies, among other things.

Take these rich roll cookies. Please. They’re great as a dessert with coffee, or decorated and tied up in a pretty bow as s gift.

And for me, Thanksgiving isn’t the same without my cranberry relish. And make-ahead mashed potatoes with gravy. And, gosh, how rude of me. Golly, what’s YOUR favorite recipe? Come on! Share with the rest of the class. You can leave your recipes in the comment section, below.

While you dig up your favorite recipe to share with your friends and readers of, here are some of my go-to holiday recipes.

I’m posting these now, as I prepare them in advance.

We’re trying to get as much done ahead of time, just in case son Joshua and daughter-in-law Kat’s baby Austin arrives a little sooner than his due date, which is the first week in December.

But if that baby does come in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner, allow me to give my gracious exit to everyone. I’ll be heading to the hospital to see the newest member of our family. And maybe I’ll have a turkey cookie in one hand, and an extra for the doctor.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mrs. Rathbun’s Rich Roll Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Cream the butter with the sugar until smooth and creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Mix in the flour and salt and form dough into a disc (it will chill more evenly and more quickly that way).

Chill the dough for at least 4 hours. Knead the dough to soften. Roll out dough on a floured board, and use cookie cutters to make shapes. Place cookies on ungreased cookie sheets and bake in a 350-degree oven for about 8 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.

Let cool. Meanwhile, make the royal frosting.

Royal frosting:

3 egg whites

1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

Beat until frothy

Add 1 lb. powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

Divide the frosting into sandwich sized ziptop bags, then squirt in a few drops of food coloring and gently knead the bag to mix the color. Snip a tiny hole in the bag and decorate the cookies as desired.



Spiced Orange Cranberry Relish

1 (12-ounce) bag of fresh cranberries (about 3 cups), rinsed
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup orange liqueur (or more orange juice)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup chopped pecans, walnuts or almonds (optional)

Combine cranberries, sugar, orange juice, orange liqueur and spices (including cinnamon stick) in a medium, non-reactive saucepan.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until the cranberries pop and the mixture begins to thicken. (This takes about 10 minutes.)

Remove the cranberries from the stove and let cool slightly. Stir in the orange rind (and nuts, if desired). Spoon the mixture into bowl, mold or container with a tight-fitting lid.

Cover and refrigerate until serving time, up to several days. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Makes about 2 cups.

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

7 pounds (approximately) potatoes
1 (8-oz.) package low-fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup low-fat sour cream, room temperature
2/3 cup milk, heated
4 T. softened butter
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper (white is nice)
4 T. minced, fresh chives (optional)
Boil peeled, cubed potatoes in a large pot of salted water until fork-tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Drain and mash. (Avoid a mixer or you’ll have something akin to wallpaper paste.)

Dump the rest of the ingredients on top of the mashed potatoes. Mix to blend.

Put the potato mixture into a greased casserole dish. Refrigerate until a few hours before dinner. Put the room-temperature, covered casserole dish in a preheated 325-degree oven. Bake for about 1 hour, or until heated through.

Serves 12 to 16.

Rob’s Mother’s Mustard Sauce for Ham

2 beaten egg yolks
1 T. sugar
3 T. prepared mustard
2 T. vinegar
1 T. water
3/4 t. salt
1 T. butter
1/2 cup whipping cream

Whip cream. Set aside.

Mix well the yolks, sugar, mustard, vinegar, water and salt in a saucepan.
Cook over low heat until mixture thickens (about 3 to 5 minutes).
Remove from heat. Stir in the butter. Refrigerate until cool. Fold in the whipped cream.

Can be made 2 to 3 days ahead.

Happy Thanksgiving. Now, get grocery shopping and start cooking. I’ll get busy writing the Pink House Chronicles No. 3, to appear on Thanksgiving day.

Independent online journalist Doni Greenberg founded what’s now known as in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Greenberg was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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25 Responses

  1. Avatar Eleanor T says:

    Hi Doni and Shelley

    Your post is dated Nov 23, and I am reading it at 4am, so you both are baking and posting in the wee hours – you continue to amaze me.

    Thanksgiving here will be crabcakes this year, first time! Just had to take a turkey break for once.

    Happy day, and happy new grandson, soon!

    • Avatar Doni Chamberlain-Gre says:

      Oops. You caught us. Our clocks were showing. Yes, we're burning the midnight candle, but mainly so we're prepared to drop everything for baby Austin should he decide to upstage Thanksgiving.

      Crab cakes sound delicious. I know that some years friends Darcie and Jim let their adult kids choose their favorite dishes for Thanksgiving, rather than turkey, such as macaroni and cheese. That works, too. In fact, whatever foods bring you comfort and joy during the holidays, I say go for them.

      Thanks for the good wishes about the baby. Our whole family is on pins and needles with excitement.

  2. Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

    Mama Stamberg's Cranberry Relish

    i bag raw cranberries

    1 small onion

    ½ c sugar

    ¾ c sour cream

    2 Tbsp horseradish

    Grind the cranberries and onion together. Add remaining ingredients and stir in. Put in a plastic container and freeze. Thanksgiving morning (or even the night before), move the container from the freezer to the refrigerator compartment to thaw (it should still have some little icy slivers left). The relish will be thick, creamy, and shocking pink. Makes 1½ pints.

    Viva Cranberry

    1 bag cranberries

    1 fresh jalapeño chili, stemmed, seeded, and chopped

    3/4 cup chopped onion

    2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger

    1/2 cup fresh cilantro

    5 tablespoons lime juice

    2 teaspoons grated orange peel

    1/4 cup tequila

    Brown sugar to taste

    3 tablespoons orange-flavor liqueur or 1 more tablespoon grated orange peel


    In a food processor, whirl cranberries, chili, onion, ginger, cilantro, lime juice, orange peel, tequila, and orange-flavor liqueur until finely chopped. Or grind through a food chopper with a fine blade. Add salt to taste.

  3. Avatar Susan says:

    Homemade dinner rolls are a must have in our family!

    Erma's Rolls

    Hubby revised the recipe slightly (it originally called for "3" risings.)

    Mix in cup and let stand 10 minutes

    1/4 cup warm water

    1 pkg yeast

    1 tsp sugar

    Mix in, (knead by hand or with a HEAVY duty mixer with dough hooks) cover with towel, and let rise till doubled, 11/2 – 2 hours

    2 cups warm milk

    3/4 cup sugar

    1/2 cup oil

    1 1/2 tsp salt

    about 7 cups flour

    Punch down, roll into balls, place slightly apart on lightly greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise till doubled.

    Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes.

  4. Avatar Jacquie Brown says:

    Most Thanksgivings at my parents included Ham because my Dad is not a fan of poultry. This recipe is one of my husbands and my favorite for a raisin sauce for the ham.

    Raisin Sauce


    1 cup raisins

    1 cup orange juice

    1 cup water

    1/2 cup orange marmalade

    Bring to a boil


    4 T sugar

    1/4 tsp salt

    2 T corn starch

    dash of cloves

    Stir into sauce

    Cook and stir till thick

    Makes 3 Cups!

    Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

  5. Avatar Marilyn Traugott says:

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    (from Ralph & Kacoo's A Taste of Louisiana cook book)

    4 large sweet potatoes
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 cup butter
    1/2 tsp lemon juice
    1/4 cup rum
    1/4 cup raisins
    1/2 tsp ginger
    2 eggs – beaten
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1/3 cup milk
    1/4 tsp allspice

    Bake potatoes until tender. Peel, mash, and combine with all the above ingredients. Put in buttered casserole.

    1/3 cup melted butter
    3/4 cup brown sugar
    1 Tbsp flour
    1 cup chopped pecans

    Melt butter and add sugar, flour, and pecans. Sprinkle over casserole. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Serves 10 – 12.

    • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

      Oh. My. God. This looks amazing.

      • Avatar Marilyn Traugott says:

        This has definitely been popular with sweet potato fans. It's funny how we can make most of these delicious things any time of the year, but we don't. Any thoughts on that?

        • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

          Maybe because we associate them with overindulgence and weight gain at the holidays and swear off of them the rest of the year?

        • Avatar Doni Chamberlain-Gre says:

          Good question, Marilyn.Dear readers, why do you reserve these incredible recipes for just the holidays?

          And everyone, thanks for the incredible, delicous recipes. I always knew that had a lot of foodies in our wonderful "we site" family, and this confirms it. Keep those recipes coming. Meanwhile, I'm going to go make Erma's rolls, and that raisin sauce for ham (to go with Rob's mother's mustard sauce), and Marilyn's sweet potato casserole.

          As an aside, because has so many lovers of food and wine, I encourage everyone to help each other out with those vexing meal questions and/or challenges. Bring on the questions. This is the place for answers.

  6. Avatar Adam Mankoski says:

    This year, we're going all Southern on y'all – collard greens, mac and cheese, green tomato pie.

    But you're right about the comforts of tradition. It wouldn't be a Hawkins family Thanksgiving without Brandy and 7-Up, good ole mashed potatoes and gravy, mom's stuffing, and the last few years – Doni's popovers (using the popover pans I stole from her last year).

    Troy's secret to great turkey – 24 hours of brine, bbq instead of oven, and a wrap of foil, towels and a wool blanket an hour before it's done. It cooks in its own boiling juices. The white meat is like butter!

    Happy Thanksgiving Readers!

    • Avatar Doni Chamberlain-Gre says:

      Ah, Adam, thanks for the nice comment, and your dinner sounds delicious. (White meat like butter? Pardon me while I dab the corners of my mouth with my apron.)

      Now, about those popover pans … I've risen above my divorce depression and I'm wide awake now and back to cooking. I'll tell you what: I'm making Erma's Rolls (see above), so I won't need my popover pans for Thanksgiving, so you get one more holiday with them, and plenty of time to say goodbye. After that, I WANT THEM BACK! (Please.) 😉 xod

  7. Avatar Erin Friedman says:

    Much debate in our house for the last week on "What's for dessert?" Yes, after THAT meal, we need, as my Grandma used to say, "A little something to take away the stuffy feeling. We settled on Paula Dean's Pumpkin Pie and Doni's Pear and Almond Tart. Thanks for sharing that one – it's always a hit.

    It's here – below the Lemon Pie:

    Happy, happy to all.

  8. Avatar shelly shively says:

    Hey Joe D., if you see this, would you modify your mom's cookie recipe on the site?

    Hope anyone hasn't made the cookies yet…'s 2 1/4 flour, not 2 1/2. It may turn out O.K. since I usually end up kneading about 1/2 cup flour before I roll out.

    Also, for the icing, I would not use raw egg whites unless they are from a backyard chicken (research shows that the incidence of salmonella is higher in store-bought, and very little in free-range) However, years prior my obsession with backyard chickens, I used egg whites from the grocery with no effect to the cookie eaters. Currently chickenless :-(, I purchased Meringue powder from JoAnne's Craft store….which can also be purchased at Michael's and That Kitchen Place. While I'm talking about the icing, sandwhich sized ziplock works if you separate the icing into different colors. I use paste food coloring for better color intensity, but liquid works just as well. AND, I've learned you can't trust that zip-feature…..twist the top and tie it off securely. Snip a tinier hole than you think…it can always be made bigger. Happy cookie-making!


  9. Avatar shelly shively says:

    Ooops, I wasn't finished….ahem, @ Adam M.,….Doni and I realized that you still have the popover pans! Good thing Doni is making rolls that the reader above submitted 🙂 Hey, with good butter, it may be the new family favorite.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  10. Avatar Judy Smith says:

    In case you're out of "boughten" egg whites, back yard chickens, or meringue powder, you can simply wash eggs off with warm, soapy water before cracking them. The bad juju is on the outside, not the inside of the eggs.

  11. Avatar shelly shively says:

    Thanks, Joe….you're Superman!

    @ Judy…Who Knew? wow….I'd rather use real egg whites. Thank-you!

  12. Avatar Bethany Chamberlain says:

    Well, I'm not the baker my sisters are, but I am an enthusiastic carnivore, which is why The Fatted Calf in Napa has become one of my favorite places in the Valley, and where I placed my order for this year's turkey. Our turkey is not just organic and free-range, but heritage, to boot. We had one of these a few years back, and discovered that it tasted nothing like the industrially engineered turkeys most of us know. For one thing, the heritage turkeys are as nature intended, rather than those creations with oversized breasts and extra fat layers, created to cater to either the reality or perception of American dining preferences. Also, the meat has distinctive, rich flavor. I've always considered turkey a fairly bland meat, but the heritage turkey (ours is from a farm in Carneros) is flavorful and much less fatty than what most of us are accustomed to. Which is not to say that I'm not looking forward to Shelly's turkey cookies, Doni's cranberry relish, Doni's tarts, Shelly's mashed potatoes… I'm feeling faint. Regarding interesting family recipes: the other day I saw that the New York Times featured Marilyn Monroe's stuffing recipe (I'm guessing it was from the DiMaggio years…). It sounded delicious, but had more ingredients than I'd ever seen go into stuffing. As the author of the article pointed out, the recipe and MM's notations indicated that she knew her way around a kitchen. Who knew? If you're feeling very ambitious, or simply curious, visit and check it out. Happy Thanksgiving!

  13. Avatar Sheila Barnes says:

    My husband makes the most amazing, delicious stuffing ever. Apples, filberts and sausage are the main ingredients. Everyone who has ever eaten it raves about it. There is no long family tradition history to this recipe – he just made it up some years ago when we had a bunch of apples from our trees that needed to be used and it was Thanksgiving!

    Here is the recipe for those who want to try it:

    Lowell's Turkey Stuffing

    1 pkg stuffing mix w/spice packet
    1 lb pork sausage
    2-3 small to medium Granny Smith apples
    1 cup filberts
    1/2 to 1 medium onion (to taste)

    Fry the sausage, separating it into small pieces. Save a small quantity of the fat to season the stuffing if desired. Peel apples and cut into pieces the same size as the bread stuffing croutons. Dice onion into small pieces. In large bowl toss all ingredients. Add as much of seasoning packet as desired. Use to stuff the turkey. Bake the rest in a large open dish or pan. Dot with butter. Bake at 350 degrees 1/2 an hour or until done.

  14. Avatar Terry says:

    Just a quick Thank You for the timeliness of these fantastic recipes,
    and the clear instructions for a very tentative cook.

    I'm especially grateful for the cookie recipe! I needed a great cookie recipe for a friend's "Holiday Cookie exchange" party, but all I know how to make is oatmeal raisin cookies and chocolate chip, that, while tasty, don't really fall in the "Holiday Cookie" category! This recipe sounds like something I can make successfully. Yay! and Thank you!

  15. Avatar Carol Rovai says:

    Doni, A friend told me about Anewscafe, and I am so happy to "see" you again. I wandered around the site, and read (most) of the article about travel in Italy by another author and found it fun reading . . . especially as my husband and I were there in August (hot and touristy). We attemded a Berlin Vets reunion, then flew to Milan, rented a car, and started driving. Despite the heat and crowds, we had a "delicious" trip through Tuscany. I don't know whether the food was so especially tasty just because of the magic of Italy, but great meals abounded (Our best primi piatti was handmade truffle ravioli in a very little village near Siena, but that's another story.). Back to my original purpose in writing – have you ever made panforte, and do you have a recipe you have test-kitchened – and one that you would recommend? I bought a slice in a coffee shop in Gmigiano (sp??), and for the rest of the trip, bought a very expensive chunk every opportunity thereafter. Fantastico!

    • Welcome to, Carol! I'm glad you found us.

      To your question, no, I've never made panforte. But I'll bet someone in our family of foodies has made it and can share a recipe with you. (Readers? Have you made panforte?)

      Come back often. See you online.

  16. Avatar Linda Masterson. says:

    Hi Doni and Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Here is an amazing ham sauce that has a odd list of ingredients but ya gotta try it just once. I've never had anyone who didn't love it. It's a family hand-me-down that we treasure.

    1 can sweetened condensed milk

    1/2 cup vinegar

    3 tsp dry mustard

    3 tsp prepared horse radish

    Stir together until sauce thickens. Ideally make ahead and refrigerate so flavors blend. Use within 5 days.