Thanksgiving Recipes That Anyone Can Pull Off

Sometimes you need great recipes to serve as buffers to hard conversations. Or maybe you just need a few show-stopping dishes that’ll make it seem like you toiled over the stove for hours in advance of Thanksgiving. Any of these should do the trick.

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Apple loaf cake with lemon maple cream cheese frosting
click to enlarge Thanksgiving Recipes That Anyone Can Pull Off
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups grated apple, peeled and cored (I used honeycrisp apples)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 container cream cheese frosting
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup
Instructions // Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8-by-4 loaf pan.

Stir together flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil and egg for 2 minutes.

Add apples and mix to combine.

Add flour mix and carefully stir to combine, making sure to not overmix - stop as soon as there are no more streaks.

Pour in loaf pan and bake for 55-65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes and then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

While cake cools, stir together cream cheese frosting with lemon zest and maple syrup.

Frost cooled cake.

Notes // I like a mix of textures with the apples, so I chop some of them and grate the rest. I suggest using mostly grated apples because the moisture/juice they impart is important with this one.

You might not need to use all the frosting, but I always like having a little extra on hand anyway for people who want extra frosting or maybe just want to eat it off a spoon (no shame).

Ginger Fig Sangria
Makes 6-8
click to enlarge Thanksgiving Recipes That Anyone Can Pull Off
  • 1 pear, cubed
  • 1 cup figs, sliced in half
  • 1 cup grapes
  • 1 orange, cut into segments
  • 1 plum, cut into segments
  • I cup juice (pineapple, orange, apple, etc.)
  • ½ cup ginger syrup (recipe below)
  • ½ cup brandy
  • 1 bottle red wine (I like Malbec!)
  • 1 cup club soda + more for topping
  • Ginger syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup ginger, roughly chopped

Instructions // Combine fruit, juice, brandy and ginger syrup in a large pitcher. Gently stir.

Add wine and the cup of club soda. Let the sangria sit for at least an hour in the fridge, but preferably longer as (like most sangrias) it gets better the longer it sits.

To serve, scoop some fruit out in a glass and pour sangria over. Top with a little extra club soda if you like the fizz.

To make the ginger syrup:
Combine sugar, water and ginger in a saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Allow the mix to cool completely before straining. Extra syrup will last in the fridge for 2 weeks.

Notes // If you want this sangria to be extra gingery, replace the club soda with ginger ale or ginger beer. So good!

The syrup makes more than ½ cup but I like to have the extra on hand in case anyone wants their sangria to be sweeter.

Chipotle Rosemary Cranberry Sauce
click to enlarge Thanksgiving Recipes That Anyone Can Pull Off
  • 12 ounces cranberries
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons rosemary, minced
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)

Instructions // Combine all ingredients and simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.

When most of the cranberries have broken down, remove the pot from heat and allow to cool. The sauce will thicken more as it cools.

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