Recipes for Thanksgiving: The Most Delicious Time of the Year

I may have mentioned a time or 200 that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. The flip side is that few things can make me feel more depressed than a Thanksgiving where I’m not cooking, something I’ve experienced a few times in my life, and will never repeat, because I’ll arrange a Friendsgiving dinner rather than go without another Thanksgiving.

But this year, I’m practically giddy with elation to join a huge family potluck Thanksgiving, which is my idea of a perfect way to experience the essence of this deliciously lovely holiday that allows us to express our gratitude for our loved ones and loved foods. Everybody can participate, even 94-year-old Sue, who’s bringing butter for rolls and whipped cream for pie.

To accommodate the crowd, my son and daughter-in-law have rented a tent, and even a bouncing house for kids, and will provide another smaller tent for the children to watch movies while we adults are setting up dinner. Speaking of kids, Austin and Reagan have worked for weeks on the turkey-hand place cards, to lend an artistic touch to sister Shelly’s table decor.

reagan turkey hands

I can’t remember when I’ve felt as excited about a Thanksgiving. Also, to catapult my joy into yet another stratosphere, Joe and Marie are here from the Czech Republic, so for the first time in a long time, I will be with all three of my kids in one place at one time, which brings me unspeakable happiness.

What am I bringing? Why, thanks for asking. I’m bringing my classic Grand Marnier Cranberries, a Pumpkin Frangelico Cheesecake, gravy, and some vegetarian dressing. (Kat’s mom is bringing the non-vegetarian version.)

pumpkin frangelico cheesecake

This year I’ve topped the Pumpkin Frangelico Cheesecake with a Salted Caramel Sauce, just in case there weren’t enough calories already. (Note: You have no idea how difficult it was to photograph this piece and not eat it before Thanksgiving.)

I know how to be a good and grateful guest and will be on my best behavior: Bring all foods in their fully ready state, in an ice chest to maintain hot or cold temperatures (you do know that ice chests keep hot stuff hot, too, right?). Once I’ve arrived, no hogging up precious counter space to chop or assemble, no asking to borrow so much as a teaspoon, or to use the oven or even the refrigerator. I’ll label my ice chest, dishes and utensils, and take them home with me that night, where I’ll wash them in my home, not my hosts’.  I’ll bring a token of my thanks in form of a modest little host/hostess gift, but not flowers, because that requires the host/hostess to stop carving a turkey to find a vase and cut the stems to fit.

But enough about me. It’s your Thanksgiving, too, and perhaps you’re looking for some delicious recipes to round out your meal, whether you’re a guest asked to bring something, or you’re hosting, or maybe you like your own solo company just fine, and want to create something you’ll enjoy by yourself.

Yes,  you could just search here on A News Cafe.com for my favorite holiday recipes that have appeared on this site in the last eight years, but I also know that time is especially tight this Thanksgiving week.

Here, let me help you.

All the following recipes have been published on a News Cafe.com in previous years for previous holiday meals. And if you’ve been with us a while, you probably recognize a few. Some, like the Pumpkin Frangelico Cheesecake, I’ve made for 30 years. Other recipes, like friend Judy Smith’s rolls, and Andrea Charroin’s pie crust dough, are relatively new to me, but they’re lifelong keepers.

Either way, what these recipes all have in common is they are tried-and-true people-pleasers that will win you rave reviews at your holiday meal.

Feel free to share your favorite recipes with us in the comments section. After all, there’s no such thing as too many holiday recipes.

Either way, I wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving.

pumpkin patch

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Frangelico

10 servings

Gingersnap crust

24 gingersnaps
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted


Pumpkin filling

16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 16-ounce can unsweetened solid pack pumpkin
5 eggs
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


Sour Cream Topping

16 ounces sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 Frangelico
10 whole hazelnuts

For crust: Grind gingersnaps and sugar in food processor to fine crumbs. With the machine running, add butter. Press mixture into the bottom of a 8-inch spring-form pan. Free for 15 minutes. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead.)

For filling: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Blend all ingredients in processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the work bowl.

Pour the filling into crust-lined pan. Bake until edges of cake begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and cake begins to brown., about 45 minutes. Center will not be firm.

For topping: Whisk together  sour cream, sugar and Frangelico.

Without removing cake from the oven, pour the topping evenly over the hot cake, starting at the edges. Spread evenly. Continue baking cake until the edges begin to bubble, about 10 minutes. Cool on rack. Refrigerate at least 12 hours. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead.) L:ghtly press hazelnuts into the top edge of cake. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Source: November 1985 “Bon Appetit” magazine

p.s. This year I’m topping the cheesecake – because really, it’s not rich enough already – with salted caramel sauce, but that’s optional. 


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 thickened. (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.

yeast rolls

All Purpose Refrigerator Rolls

6 c. flour
 ½ c. sugar
 1 ½ t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
 1 ½ t. salt
 ½ c. butter
 ½ c. warm water
 1 t. sugar
 1 pkg yeast (or 1 T.)
 1 ¾ c. buttermilk

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl.

Cut the butter into the flour mixture (by hand or in food processor).

In a small bowl dissolve the yeast in the warm water with the 1 tsp. of sugar. Let rest and rise about 10 minutes.

Mix all ingredients together, including the buttermilk, the only ingredient left, until smooth and elastic.

Store in large covered container in fridge. (If you want to make the whole recipe immediately, let rise, form and let rise again as below.)

To use, take out of fridge as much as you want. (1/2 recipe makes 9 large rolls or 12 medium.) Place in covered container and let rise in warm spot until double in bulk. Form, put in greased pan with the rolls barely touching, let rise until double in bulk again.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or so—until hollow sound when tapped. I usually brush the tops with butter as they come out of the oven.

Makes 2 dozen medium rolls.

Recipe courtesy of Judy Smith of Redding


Rob Roger’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.

pie crust

Andrea Charroin’s Easy Pie Crust

2.5 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks ( 1/2 lb.) unsalted, cold butter
1/4 cup ice water

In a medium size mixing bowl:

Cut butter into small bits. Let’s say dime size.
Toss into the flour and salt mixture

Using the best kitchen tool ever…YOUR HANDS work the butter into the flour until the flour/butter mixture looks like rocky sand.

SLOWLY add the ice water, there are times when you won’t need all of the water, and times you might need a little more. Work the water into the flour until JUST combined. Take a small handful of the dough, squeeze. If the dough holds a shape, you are done.

Form into 2 rounds. Wrap or place in your favorite container. Let rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Make your favorite pie!

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded A News Cafe in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain holds a Bachelor's Degree in journalism from CSU, Chico. She's 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's been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate. Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.

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