Twas the week before Thanksgiving....

Updated: Nov 19, 2019

( give or take a few days)


It's that time of year again...my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving and I have been cooking and hosting since I was 17 years old.

(I'm not going to tell you how many years that is:))


Last year this photo below was our photo shoot for Thanksgiving.

All the beautiful photos are from Hechler Photographers.

This tablescape had the most gorgeous floral from Spina. The tablescape was set with Herend china, and I rented glasses and stemware from Party Rental LTD. I used my own chargers from Red Bliss Design and had beautiful napkin rings and napkins from Current Home. Both styles were Kim Seybert designs.

If you might like to style your table with any of this look-all or (Very) similar items are classics and still available for purchase or rent with these companies.



I have been going over the table and last years menu with an eagle eye.

I'll be changing it up a bit this year for both my client and myself.

We have quite a crew at my house "twas the night before Thanksgiving". I will serve a buffet in the kitchen and have open seating on this same table from Mitchell Gold.

I will leave all the Restoration Hardware chairs, but I will also add some cocktail tables around the house for additional seating.

I'm excited to use the Ceci NY linens in jewel towels available at Nuage linen!


My clients are going to have a beautiful and exciting decor with a new and unusual Thanksgiving color story. Without giving away anything, I will say we have rented the gold chroma chargers from Red Bliss Reserve in one of their new patterns available for rent or sale.


I have pretty much bought all the ingredients I need for the baking I plan to do.

Isn't pecan pie on everyone's table??

I am crazy about Whole Foods, Nuts.com , and King Arthur flour It is so easy to shop from my desk and have all the freshest ingredients and baking goods delivered to my door.



As you may know, I started my entertaining career as a caterer. I started working with one particular client 18 years ago and I always made the food...even when I "quit" catering.

It's only been a few years that we have had professional caterers take over. I continued to cook for my own family and friends, but the client requested ( well more like told me I was making) cornbread dressing, sweet potato casserole and pumpkin muffins.


This is the beginning of cornbread stuffing...I'm from Memphis remember!

Gotta make it Southern style.



So I have to confess...this is the first time in my life I am not cooking the main meal for myself nor my clients. I will still make all the desserts and a few things, but

I'm gettin' a little help from my friends:)

I have enlisted some of my favorite NY caterers. I am very relieved to have help from Marcia Selden Catering and Cloud Catering for the Thanksgiving dinner I am hosting and planning for my clients.


However, I got a little slack from the clients and my kids, for sure!

Demands were made for my usual cornbread stuffing, sweet potato casserole and pumpkin muffins.

Every year I seem to get a request for these recipes in one way or another so I'm gonna help you out in advance...here ya go.

Get your grocery list ready and start shopping and planning your dinner!


Memphis Cornbread Dressing

I have never made stuffing any other way…

this is basically the ingredients as told to me by my Grandmother


1 loaf of cornbread

( recipe below or you can buy at most stores)

1 loaf brioche bread

4-5 leeks

1 stick butter

4 stalks celery

1 red onion

bunch of thyme

bunch of sage

bunch of parsley

2-3 cups chicken broth

salt and pepper

Cut the brioche into cubes. I usually take a little crust off but not all of it-

toast it in the oven on 250 degrees until lightly toasted  and brown.

Combine brioche with cornbread, ( see below) crumble the cornbread, leave it chunky tho

wash the leeks well, then chop them

Chop the celery and red onion

Melt butter in saucepan and saute celery, onions, leeks till soft

Add the chopped parsley, sage and thyme to the vegetable mix

Put this into the bread mixture and toss it all together, I usually add the broth little by little until you feel it is mixed well but you don’t want it too wet…just enough to softly bind together

Season with salt and pepper

Spray a casserole dish with nonstick spray and spread your stuffing mix in

Bake in a 350 degree oven about 45 minutes

When I make this ahead of time I slightly under cook it and then rewarm the stuffing covered with foil until it is heated thru and take the foil off right at the end so you get a nice crunchy brown top.


Here's a big batch of cornbread in the works...

If you want to make your own, this is a simple one bowl recipe and delicious too!

Make it double... use half for the stuffing and bake the rest in muffin pans or cornbread sticks.


Mississippi Corn Bread


Ingredients

1 cup plain corn meal

3 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt optional

2 eggs beaten

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 cup sour cream

1 (8 and 1/2 ounce) can cream style corn


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and 8 inch square pan. Mix corn meal, baking powder, sugar and salt together. Stir in eggs, oil, sour cream and corn. Pour into pan and bake for 35 minutes. Cool and cut into squares.



Sweet Potato Casserole has been requested by all parties again this year. It's definitely SWEET- don't say I didn't warn you...and I will definitely say this is not a health conscious recipe, but it's only one night a year!

I am not really sure where the recipe came from, my grandmother made some version of this. I have perfected it over the years.


Carolyn's Famous Sweet Potatoes 😊

Serves 10-12

Ingredients

5 lb peeled sweet potatoes (about 10)

1 1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 3/4 tsp salt

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 1/2 cups milk


Topping:

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch dice and chilled

1 cup (4 oz) coarsely chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 350. Grease a baking dish. Boil Potatoes until soft.While hot, put in large bowl and add butter. Start to use a masher to incorporate the ingredients. Add eggs then mix well. Then add rest of ingredients. Add the milk slowly. Spread half in baking dish. Top with layer of praline pecan topping. Add rest of the topping and coat the dish.

Bake approximately 45 min until topping is bubbly hot.

If you want to prepare in advance, bake aprox. 35 min, then reheat til hot before serving.

you may need to cover the dish with foil to prevent burning the topping- keep an eye on the sweet potatoes!


Last but not least we make these pumpkin muffins all thru the fall and winter months, not just at Thanksgiving.


Pumpkin Muffins

Ingredients

3 cups flour

1 tsp soda

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp nutmeg

2 cups sugar

2 cups canned pumpkin

4 eggs, beaten

1 1/12 cups vegetable oil

1 1/2 cup raisins or chocolate chips ( or split it half and half divided among 2 muffin pans)

preheat oven to 350 degrees


This recipe works well in 2 mini muffin pans or you can use 2 loaf pans.

In a large bowl mix all dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients. Mix well. Pour into your greased pans. I use PAM spray for all my baking. Baking in loaf pans usually takes 1 hour. Mini muffin and are approx 15-18 minutes.


I have been making this recipe for over 20 years as you can see... the cookbook shows it!!


I make the pumpkin muffins ( and many other recipes) gluten free often. Just substitute measure for measure King Arthur Flour and the soda can be found gluten free too.

These photos above were part of the table is styled last year, I am incorporating bits and pieces again this year. The gold chargers on the left are available for rent or purchase at Red Bliss. I plan to use a different pattern this year. Gunsteens Lettering made these custon gold pumpkins for me with calligraphy tags. We have a lot of gold accents but stay on the look out for a little more white than usual this turkey day! I have always loved this pattern from Herend china for fall, If that is not in your budget I found a fantastic pattern for your holiday table from Pottery Barn these dishes are reasonably priced.


I am so lucky, grateful and thankful to have you visit here.

I hope you have an amazing Thanksgiving with friends and family.

Let me know how the recipes turn out!!!





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Carolyn Bender 
info@cbealifestyle.com

914-722-9094