Our favorite Thanksgiving recipes and traditions

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s all about good food, great family and friends and taking a step back from everything to truly be thankful for all the wonderful things in our lives, no matter how big or how small. We all have different traditions for thanksgiving. The tradition my husband and I started when we bought our first home is that we host the holiday for our family. We also have a friend who smokes turkeys so we always get our turkey from him every year, which frees up my two ovens to make delicious sides!

One of my family’s favorite recipes is my mom’s homemade mac & cheese. I’ve played with the recipe a bit over the years and it’s turned out pretty amazing. I’ll share it with you below, shhhh don’t tell my mom! You can also read some of the other holiday traditions and yummy recipes, both new and old, from a few of the gals at jane iredale. So keep reading!

baked mac and cheeseMom’s homemade mac & cheese

  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 3/4 c. milk
  • 16 oz. cheese
  • 1 1/2 c. uncoocked elbow pasta
  • Italian breadcrumbs
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Boil elbow pasta according to directions.
  3. In a pan over medium heat, sautee butter and onions until onions are tender and tanslucent. Then add salt and pepper.
  4. Add flour and mix until bubbly.
  5. Add milk and heat until it comes to a boil, stirring constantly.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted. You can use any cheese you like but my favorite is a combination of Sharp Cheddar, Colby, Montery Jack and American.
  7. Pour cooked pasta into an ungreased 1 1/2 quart caseserole dish.
  8. Stir cheese sauce into the pasta.
  9. Sprinkle with Italian seasoned breadcrumbs and bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, hands down.  Seriously…a celebration filled with good food, dear friends, family and football…what’s not to love?  Last Thanksgiving a longtime friend, her parents, children and aunt all joined us for a day filled with love and laughter.  We made a promise to ourselves then to make it an annual tradition to gather our families together to give thanks on this special day.

This recipe was a hit with everyone around our tables (we used two tables to accommodate everyone) and is already on the ‘request list’ for the upcoming holiday. ~Julie G.

Carmel apple cheesecake bars

Crust:

recipe credit: the-girl-who-ate-everything.com
recipe credit: the-girl-who-ate-everything.com
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
Cheesecake Filling:
    • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
    • 3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
    • 3 large eggs
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Apples:
    • 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Streusel Topping:
    • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or 2 forks) until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into a 9×13 baking pan lined with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
  3. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 3/4 cup sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Then add eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour over warm crust.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture.
  5. For the streusel topping: In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. I like to really combine it by using my clean hands to thoroughly combine the butter into the mixture.
  6. Sprinkle Streusel topping over apples. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until filling is set. Drizzle with caramel topping* and let cool. Serve cold and enjoy! Make 16 servings.

*I used the linked recipe above for the salted caramel sauce used to top this delectable dessert – it’s SO easy to make and marries sweet and salty together in a perfect union!

 I can’t seem to get enough of brie lately. I just came upon this recipe and can’t wait to make it for a Thanksgiving appetizer and bring to fall gatherings! ~Courtney H.

Brown sugar brie

  • brie ⅓ cup firmly packed brown sugar.
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts, pecans or almonds.
  •  2 teaspoons water.
  • 1 round (14oz.) Brie cheese.
  1. In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, nuts and water.
  2. In a 9-inch pie plate or quiche dish place cheese. Bake at 350 F for 10-12 minutes or until cheese begins to soften. Spoon nut mixture on top.
  3. 3. Bake at 350 for 2-3 more minutes or until sugar is melted and cheese is softened.
  4. 4. Serve with your favorite cracker.

 My mom made these cookies every year at Thanksgiving growing up, the recipe is also below. They are so so cute – although actually kind of a lot of effort. She hasn’t made them in years since we’re all a little old now but they are delicious and festive and always remind me of being a kid. ~Jenna M.

Turkey cookies

  • Double Stuffed Oreo Cookies
  • Candy Corn
  • Whoppers
  • Peanutbutter Cups
  • Chocolate frosting
  • Yellow Frosting
  • Optional: Red frosting
  • Optional: black sprinkles for eyes
  1. Grab a cookie.  You don’t have to put frosting in there, but I like to because it holds in the candy corn a little better. Just give it a little squeeze of chocolate.
  2. Then stuff in your candycorn.  Go ahead and do all of the cookies through this step.
  3. Next put a dab of frosting on the opposite end of the cookie and secure it to the “base” cookie.  It helps to place them next to a wall as they dry so they stay put.
  4. While those are drying, unwrap your PB cups.  Take a sharp knife and cut a sliver off of one end.  It helps to gently cut in a sawing motion so you don’t break the PB cup.
  5. Once those are ready, flip your cookies over.
  6. Place a dab of frosting on the pb cup, and place it on the cookie.
  7. Now those little guys will need heads, so glue a whopper on there with frosting as well. I put frosting on the side of the whopper that hits both the cookie and the PB cup.
  8. While they’re still laying there, use a dab of frosting and glue on the white tip of a candy corn for a beak.  Put two yellow dots on for eyes, and for the black spots in the eyes you can use a dab of chocolate frosting, or a mini chocolate chip, or a little sprinkle. Once the beak stays put you can flip them over and draw on some little yellow feet.  If you have red frosting too you can add a little gobble gobble. Or whatever that thing is called.

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving tradition or recipe. Share it below, we love trying new things!

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