3 Easy Recipes You Can't Mess Up for Thanksgiving - Prep Essentials

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3 Easy Recipes You Can't Mess Up for Thanksgiving

I would be totally shocked that Thanksgiving is already almost here, but I'm too excited to care! It's so rare for me to get to see so many family, friends and loved ones all in one holiday, so this year is going to be particularly exciting. 

That being said, considering the festivities are taking place in Chicago this year (Do you know what you're  wearing yet?! Shop my outfit inspos here!) that it was high time I gave contributing to the cooking frenzy a shot. You know...with something small, harmless, and un-missable if I happen to screw things up! 

This got me thinking of a few different items that I could contribute to the various Thanksgiving dinners we are planning on attending. I happen to have the right dishes and pans to make pie (thanks parents!) so that one is topping the list...but pie felt a little bit ambitious. I wanted to secure a back-up plan or two in case things go totally haywire. 

It's not that I'm a bad cook, but Thanksgiving just feels a little bit too sacred to mess with! After consulting with the kitchen goddesses (aka all of the mothers I'm close with), they came up with these great and simple recipes sure to keep things simple...and that won't rock the boat if it doesn't turn out perfectly. 

If you're looking to expand your cooking skills this year and show up with a special surprise, try one of these out with me (and share your results - I'd love to see!)


1. Zucchini Muffins
Muffins might not be the very first thing that spring to mind when it comes to Thanksgiving contributions, but hear me out. While it's always a good idea to check in and see what you can bring & how you can help, often a hostess has everything mapped out and ends up brushing off your attempts to help. Rather than contributing a dish anyway (throwing off the balance, or perhaps duplicating an existing dish and creating the stress of the hostess having to find a space on the table), muffins are a great alternative to provide a little bit of relief and gratitude to the chef. They'll be able to serve them with breakfast the next morning to their guests and relatives from out of town, and will be able to enjoy a much-deserved cooking break! Plus, zucchini muffins are healthy and delicious.

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups grated fresh zucchini
  • 2/3 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • Muffin Tray/Cups
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Combine the sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Add the zucchini, then the melted butter. 
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, add together the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Stir this into the zucchini mixture bowl. 
  4. Coat each muffin cup with non-stick spray. 
  5. Spoon the mixture into each cup completely and equally.
  6. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes (until golden brown). Test with toothpick to ensure the center of the muffins are done. 
  7. Let cool for 5 minutes.
*You can find this original recipe here.

2. Pecan Pie
This is an old family recipe, and one I have always assisted on...but never tried out on my own. This is the year I'm going to see what I can do! I've never made a pie before, so it should be an interesting endeavor, but I think I'm up for the challenge! Pecan pie is such a classic Thanksgiving dish, and one that thankfully people tend to want seconds of. That means if you screw it up, you can easily whip up recipe #1 or #3 and no one will be the wiser!

Ingredients (Serves 8):

  • 1 Box Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust Unbaked (9" is standard)
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup Karo (corn syrup - I recommend the light kind!)
  • 2 Tbsp. Margarine (or butter)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups pecans (de-shelled, whole pecans)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray pie pan and place crust in pan. Place back in fridge until needed.
  • Add all ingredients (eggs, sugar, karo, butter, vanilla) in bowl and mix. Add pecans afterwards to the mixture to prevent clumping.
  • Stir ingredients and spread evenly in pie crust.
  • Bake for 50-55 minutes.

*If you need instructions for how to lay a pie crust into a pie pan, I recommend checking out this brief video for reference!

3. Pumpkin Pie Martini
I'm not normally one for dessert cocktails...and tend to stick to more simpler tastes like wine and vodka tonics. I'm always apprehensive about anything that might be too sugary or sweet. Believe Me. This cocktail will not disappoint (and I promise, you don't need to have any bartending prerequisites either!) I tried it years ago at a family friend's house, and it ended up being published in her very own cookbook!

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 oz. Cream Liqueur such as Baileys Irish Cream (or other of your choosing)
  • 2 oz. vanilla vodka
  • 1/2 oz pumpkin liqueur
  • 1 tsp. whipped cream (real homemade is best)
  • For garnish: cinnamon stick, ground nutmeg, and whipped cream
Directions:
  1. Pour the cream liqueur and vodka into a shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake well. 
  3. Add the pumpkin liqueur.
  4. Shake again.
  5. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass (preferable martini glass)
  6. Top with a teaspoon of whipped cream.
  7. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and a sprinkling of ground nutmeg.

Hopefully these recipes will help you pull off a flawless and thoughtful addition to your Thanksgiving holidays, and help you test out those cooking skills!

What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Is anyone else planning on testing out some new traditions or recipes?!

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