Thanksgiving Meal Ideas


I’m cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year here in Europe, for Europeans :smiley: Since MIL and myself are on Weight Watchers, I’m skipping the stuffing/dressing, and then started wondering if I should do everything differently than how I’m used to.

So far the only thing certain is pumpkin soup (my mother’s recipe is butter and half-and-half, my MIL wants to use water and skim milk - maybe a compromise with whole milk and cholesterol free butter substitute?). I’m also thinking of making stuffed chicken or turkey breasts instead of roasting a turkey with all that gravy. The breasts are stuffed with a mix of low fat cream cheese, guyere, and either roasted red peppers or mushrooms. You brown them in a pan and then bake, so they’re not that bad.

Normally i’d serve this with wild rice, but I haven’t seen it here yet, and they dislike regular rice. What kind of potatoes? Mashed, roasted, scalloped? I’d also make kale or collard greens in the states, here they’d rather have carrots or endive…maybe spinach?

I’d like to make a bunch of pies - apple, pumpkin, mincemeat - but at this point I’m thinking 1 dessert, and something more usual here. Would an lemon cake with red currants (faux cranberries :wink: and a marscapone mousse go? What kind of easy appetizers would suit the meal? I think I want 3 or 4 to go with the apertif.

Usually I’m very sure of myself and my cooking, but it’s my first real holiday in another country, without my family…I’m still learning the new stores and available ingredients (very much took for granted the year round variety in the US) and this diet is making me very depressed when it comes to cooking…I have no problem going off a day or two here and there, especially for something like Thanksgiving, but my MIL is hardcore WW and we’re holding it at her house/using her kitchen :smiley:

A few years ago I did make a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for DH’s grandparents, mother, and aunt and uncle for a New Year’s Eve party. Turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, sweets, pumpkin pie, the works, and it was a huge hit (though his grandmother’s initial trepidation and skepticism at the ‘zoet aardappelen’ and ‘pompoen tart’ were hilarious…tells all her friends about it now :wink: I’ve just been having a hard time with the move, physically and emotionally, and can’t do the whole shindig. Plus, with the diet, I’d rather do something different, than something familiar, yet sucking out all the flavor and replacing it with water and cardboard :smiley:

Any idea for appetizers/sides? What is everyone else doing for the big day?



Oh, I know you can’t swap them. MIL will not listen to me though :o She constantly swaps out the fat for nothing, and then complains about the texture/flavor, but refuses to see/hear the connection :shrug: This is the woman who glares if I eat 5 grams of real butter, but buys me mini Twix full of sugar and hydrogenated oils because “it"s on Weight Watchers’ list”. I love her, but she’s a bit nutty and paranoid about fat. And I know I know more about cooking (she’s never really cooked, I’m been cooking for years, and my mother is a chef) but I also want family peace. Too bad I’d feel guilty about slipping butter in when she’s not looking :smiley:

She’s getting her “water and milk-colored water” recipe from her Weight Watchers cookbook.


Well, most of my Thanksgiving recipes are loaded with fat from butter and cream. I’ll go ahead and post a couple that are pretty good though. With the Potatoes Anna recipe, the butter is more or less optional, but I would still use a little bit with the olive oil because butter browns better than just olive oil.

Title: Potatoes Anna

3 to 4 medium potatoes, peeled
2 Tablespoons olive oil
about 4 to 5 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Slice potatoes about 1/8 inch thick. A food
    processor or mandolin is highly
    recommended to accomplish this quickly. Do
    not soak the potatoes in water as this
    removes the starch needed to hold the slices
    together. Heat oil and 2 tablespoons butter in
    8" skillet with ovenproof handle. Tip skillet to
    coat sides with oil. Do not let butter brown.
  3. Remove from heat and arrange potatoes in
    a spiral pattern, covering the whole bottom of
    pan. When the pan is unmolded this is the
    pattern that you will see on the top, so make it
    pretty. Add more layers. These don’t need to
    be so pretty because you won’t see these
    layers. Break apart bits of the remaining
    butter to disperse through out the layers. Salt
    & pepper to taste btween layers too.
  4. Cook over medium heat 10 to 15 minutes
    until potaotes are browned.
  5. You will be transfering to the preheated
    oven. For a crisp bottom leave uncovered. For
    a softer cake, cover with foil. Cook 25 to 30
    minutes in the oven.
  6. To serve, loosen edge of potato cake with a
    spatula, place a plattter over top of skillet and
    invert so that potato cake falls onto platter. It
    should be golden brown. Enjoy!!


Title: Brandied Cranberries

I like this a lot better than the canned kind. It is
probably also the easiest thing I ever make for
Thanksgiving. You can make this about three
days in advance, and the flavor just intensifies.
I have a square glass dish I like to serve this
in because the cranberries are such a
beautiful shade of red that it looks like a dish
of rubies.

1 12oz pkg fresh cranberries
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brandy
1 tangerine

Sort the cranberries and discard any soft or
spoiled ones. Rinse and drain the berries.

Peel the tangerine and break apart the
sections into little pieces.

Mix the cranberries, sugar, brandy, and
tangerine pieces in an 8 or 9 inch square
baking dish. Bake, uncovered, in a 325
degree oven until berries are tender when
pierced and most of the liquid has evaporated,
about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Serve
warm or cold.


I found this online at I just typed in low fat pumpkin soup.
**Slimmers Pumpkin Soup **

*]1/2 cup diced sweet onion
*]1 tablespoon margarine
*]5 cups peeled and diced pumpkin
*]3/4 cup diced potatoes
*]2 cups water
*]1 cube chicken bouillon
*]1 pinch ground ginger
*]1 pinch ground nutmeg
*]salt and pepper to taste
*]2 cups milk[/LIST]DIRECTIONS
*]In a large saucepan cook onion in butter. Add pumpkin, potatoes, water, ground ginger, ground nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 20 minutes or until pumpkin and potatoes are tender
*]Add milk, blend until smooth and serve. [/LIST]Calories: 157
*]**Total Fat: **5.3g
*]**Cholesterol: **10mg
*]**Sodium: **388mg
*]**Total Carbs: **22.8g
*] **Dietary Fiber: **1.9g
*]**Protein: **6.6g[/LIST]I would check and also for low fat alternatives to traditional recipes.


For sweet potatoes we’ve always boiled them until tender enough to slice. Then peel and slice. Do they have spray butter in Europe? I usually spray the bottom of a glass baking dish then layer the potatoes in the dish. Between each layer I spray some butter sprinkle with cinnamon and lightly spinkle with brown sugar. We put the dish in the broiler and bake until the top layer of sugar gets a little burnt. (Happened one year by accident and we decided we really like it that way.)


Thanks, ladies! The Pommes Anna sound great, and close to something I’ve made before. We usually have fresh cranberry sauce, but I did want to do something a little different (the more I think about having the usual without my family, the more homesick I get :frowning: and the brandy sounds good.

I think I’ll make that pumpkin soup this weekend, and see if I like it. I will also check those sites in more depth - I’ve always gotten my recipes from or cookbooks (my mother raised us to be food snobs in a lot of ways - if I see a recipe contains a can of creamed soup, cake mix, or a powdered soup/dip/seasoning, I head for the hills, and the last time I was at there was a lot of that). The WW is really forcing me to eat differently, sometimes in positive ways, sometimes in negative.

I just want my guests to enjoy their food, and not to miss my family too terribly :o


Here is a great resource for you:,22336,1540285,00.html

Most of the recipes I make for Thanksgiving each year have come from either Sunset or Southern Living magazines. Sunset does tend to be a more conscious of health in developing their recipes (but I still love the Southern Living ones for special occassions).


On weight watcher trick for thickening soups is to add dry potato flakes to the soup. This absolutely makes the soup rich and thick.


**Just so you know, in and of itself the TURKEY is very healthy for you. It’s the fixin’s that’ll get you…and your gut/bum/thighs too. :thumbsup:

Cranberry Sauce is also healthy in that it is fat free, a whole fruit, and good for your kidneys. However, it is high in sugar…so best in moderation.

Special salads and special veggie dishes would be good.

How about whole grain crackers with low fat cheese or fresh fruit chunks or veggie sticks and fat free yogurt or ranch dip.

Little things like that really can help.

Also…this IS a special day. Enjoy it! Forget the diet. I would say eat what you want that day…just send all the leftovers home with everyone else! :thumbsup:


I agree with this. Calories and fat content are just not a priority to me on Thanksgiving. Although, I hate that “full” filling, so I don’t really overeat on that day either.


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