Thanksgiving menu, the keepers and the never agains

I thought of this post as I was making this stuffed kabocha squash because my plan was NEVER AGAIN! Ugh, it was awful trying to cut off the top of the squash. It might has well have been a rock. I did get the cleaver in about a millimeter then called for my husband. He managed to get through it, not low enough, but I just cut through the inner meat until I found the seed cavern. I cut up the little bits of squash that I had to cut away on my excavation and threw them into the center, once I cleaned out the seeds. Then the recipe proceeded mostly as planned. This was from a recipe in Sunset Magazine 2010, the contest winners. I use it every year for one of the recipes I’ll explain in a moment. This was the first time I tried the squash. We decided to modify the sauce for the veggies massively, to make it sweeter, low fat, and to lose the Asian taste (soy sauce).

Stuffed Kabocha Squash
Stuffed Kabocha Squash

Unfortunately, it was SO GOOD!!!! that it is on the keeper list. Next year we’re going to try to cut through it with the electric carving knife, but I think that will wreck the carving knife. I want my husband to get a clean blade for the Sawzall.

This year I also tried making the fresh cranberry relish that has lemon zest instead of oranges and with chopped ginger. The recipe called for crystallized ginger, but my husband said to use fresh instead. Well, I used the same amount of fresh that the recipe had called for as crystallized, and when I tasted it, my mouth exploded. We added more cranberries (thankfully we bought the jumbo bag at Costco) and more sugar, and after it was chilled, it came out really tasty. Powerful, but tasty. I also made the regular kind with just an orange and sugar.

Fresh Cranberry Relish, on with oranges, one with ginger and lemon zest
Fresh Cranberry Relish, one with oranges, one with ginger and lemon zest

The cranberry duet is also a keeper.

My husband smoked the turkey. It was incredible.

Smoked turkey
Smoked turkey

Verdict: keeper.

He made a totally vegetarian stuffing, using those vegetarian sausages you can get at Costco now. He used the chorizo flavored one, another idea from the same magazine. Sorry the photo is blurry. I was too bleary eyed from cooking and cleaning all day to notice!

Fresh Cranberry Relish, on with oranges, one with ginger and lemon zest
Fresh Cranberry Relish, one with oranges, one with ginger and lemon zest

And for the grand finale, (I already know I’m stuck making this every year…just kidding, I enjoy baking), sweet potato cheesecake with maple cream (not shown). This is why I open that old magazine every year. The fam has to have this.

Sweet Potato Cheesecake
Sweet Potato Cheesecake

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, what did you have, and did you enjoy it? Do you have any Never Agains? If you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, does your country or household have any feast-oriented holidays? If so what do you like to eat and/or cook for that holiday?