Appetizers -- No need for over the top items here that require utensils. Just something little, perfect for grazing and chatting because, at least in our family, we have people traveling from all over the place and nothing says welcome quite like some healthy snacks when dinner is still a few hours away.
- Sweet & sour dipping sauce -- serve with fruit, crackers, pretzels
- Cheese, crackers, veggies and dip. Why reinvent the wheel when it works?
Sides -- While I love the classics (green bean casserole, mashed potatoes), sometimes it's nice to spice things up a bit. These are especially appealing because they can either be made ahead or require little to no prep. And, I think it's nice to have a substantial dish like mac and cheese for any picky eaters (little ones... or grown ones who just love cheese).
- Herbed squash and potato gratin
- Cherry tomato gratin
- The world's best macaroni and cheese
- Old Bay roasted sweet potatoes
Crowd-pleasing pies and almost pies -- Because what would a Thanksgiving meal be without some pie? Every year, the Kemp family manages to have at least three kinds, sometimes four: apple, cherry, pumpkin, and pecan. Not only are pies show-stopping (who even needs a centerpiece with a gorgeous golden treat like that?), they can be made the day or two before and stored at room temperature, saving you precious refrigerator space. Slice and serve with freshly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for a sweet ending. Don't fancy crust or are just short on time? A crisp is a perfect alternative -- the same flavors but a shorter process.
- Apple crumb pie
- Sour (or sweet) cherry pie
- Basic pie crust
- Apple and pear crisp (if you're in the mood for fruit but not the crust)
Other desserts -- While it pains me to admit this, not everyone is as crazy about pies as I am. In fact, two of my very best friends wrinkle their faces in disgust when the p-word is mentioned. It's a good thing, then, that I love all sorts of desserts. Please allow me to share some of my favorites with you that will dazzle your guests, regardless of their after dinner preferences:
- Red velvet cake
- St. Louis gooey butter cake
- Apple peanut butter tart (perfect for a smaller crowd)
- Lemon cakes
- Chocolate pound cake