Thursday, December 1, 2022

Thanksgiving 2022 recap


If there's one thing I excel at most in life, it's putting an exorbitant amount of unnecessary pressure on myself. I desperately wanted to host Thanksgiving this year. I also wanted to test several new recipes for the big meal—never mind the fact that I have a baby and other work obligations. Did I commit to doing too much? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes. 

Experimenting in the kitchen brings me a great deal of joy, but caring for my daughter is my number one priority. It makes me happier and I feel more fulfilled than I ever imagined.

I feel stretched thin lately as I try to simultaneously create and take care of Penelope. As a recipe developer, it takes a lot of time to write a hypothesis for a recipe, test it several times, photograph it, write a blog post, and share it online.

Everyone else on social media appears to be cranking out new recipes and videos multiple times a week, and I’m guilty of comparing myself to them. I can't keep up. I'm not sure how they find time to do it all. 

All that to say, there were a lot of recipes I wanted to share ahead of Thanksgiving, but I ran out of time. I did, however, make a lot of special memories with my daughter, and we all shared a delicious meal.

I think a big part of being a new mom is learning your limits and how to split your time so you're the best version of yourself in all parts of your life. I'm sure that's something I will continue to work on throughout the rest of my life.

That said, I wanted to briefly share and review all the dishes I made for Thanksgiving in case you're looking for some inspiration as many of us gather for big dinners this holiday season.

Buttermilk-brined roast turkey

I made two turkeys for Thanksgiving. This version was hands-down the winner. It was so moist and flavorful. I spatchcocked the turkey, which involves cutting out the backbone with kitchen shears. It wasn't difficult, but it took a great deal of strength. I practiced with whole chickens ahead of time, and those were much easier to spatchcock. But the rest of the recipe is so simple, and it cooks so quickly than a whole turkey. Also,  the skin was evenly browned, and the pan drippings made delicious gravy. I'm making a turkey for Christmas as well, and this is how I will cook it.

Spiced and glazed dry-brined turkey

I experimented with a dry brine for the other turkey. In terms of effort, I preferred the dry brine, but I'm not sure if it worked as well as a wet brine. The turkey wasn't as flavorful and moist as the wet-brined and butter-basted turkey I made last year for Thanksgiving. But I'm not sure if that's because of the dry brine or the glaze. I definitely don't recommend the glaze. I read turkey skin browns better when it's glazed as opposed to when it's basted, but I saw little difference. 

Macaroni and cheese

This was the macaroni and cheese recipe I made, but I switched up the cheeses a bit. I still used 28 ounces of cheese, but I used a combination of extra sharp cheddar, unexpected cheddar from Trader Joe's, smoked gouda (I love the smokiness this adds), and Velveeta. Velveeta is necessary because it contains sodium citrate, which prevents the sauce from separating. I also used 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne. I served it with Fried Shallot Crunch for a little texture. I will definitely make this again.

Jiffy Mix Cornbread Pudding

This has been a Thanksgiving staple in our family for years.

Everything Parker House rolls

I usually don't make rolls for Thanksgiving, but like I said earlier, I do too much. These were delicious and it's a great recipe, BUT I wish I would have just made plain rolls without the "everything but the bagel" topping.

Pumpkin maple cornbread

Everyone preferred the cornbread to the Parker House rolls, and it was 20 times easier to make. This is my new favorite cornbread recipe. It has just a little sweetness and a little maple flavor. It's really moist and dense, but not too dense. Also, it freezes well.

Golden sweet potato cheesecake

No one appreciated the cheesecake as much as I hoped. Maybe I served it to the wrong crowd. Oh well. I loved it, and there was more for me.

Agrodolce Brussels Sprouts

I made this cauliflower recipe but with brussels sprouts.


I tested new dressing recipes for a month leading up to Thanksgiving because (after the turkey) it is the most important dish. This is the only dressing recipe I will make from now on. It is truly stellar. The prunes and wine perfectly balance everything, and the herbs make it so incredibly flavorful. I really hope you make it.

Kylee's Sausage and Prune Thanksgiving Dressing

Yield: One 9x13-inch casserole dish


  • 2 pounds sourdough bread, crust removed and torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 24 - 28 ounces homemade turkey stock 
  • 10 ounces dry white wine
  • 7 ounces dried prunes, small dice
  • 20 ounces mushrooms
  • 2 pounds sage sausage
  • 8 ounces white onion, small dice
  • 4 ounces carrot, small dice
  • 4 ounces celery, small dice
  • 1/2 ounce fresh sage leaves, chiffonade
  • 1/4 ounce thyme leaves
  • 15 ounces chestnuts, peeled and cooked 
  • 2 ounces fresh parsley leaves (from 1 medium bunch), chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fennel seeds, toasted
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces


  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter 9x13-inch baking dish and set aside.
  2. Divide bread pieces in single layer between two baking sheets. Place in oven and bake until dried but not brown, about 1 hour.
  3. Remove bread from oven and cool. Raise oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Combine wine and prunes in small saucepan, place on stove, and bring to boil. Remove from heat and cool.
  5. Heat mushrooms in large skillet over medium heat. Mushrooms will release water. Continue to heat until water evaporates. Remove mushrooms from skillet and chop. Set aside.
  6. Brown sausage, cooking until just cooked through and no longer pink. Transfer to very large paper towel-lined bowl using slotted spoon.
  7. Cook onion and carrots in sausage fat over medium heat until starting to brown. Add celery and cook until tender. 
  8. Add sage and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  9. Remove paper towel from sausage bowl. Add mushrooms, onion, carrots, celery, sage and thyme to bowl. Stir in chestnuts, parsley, and fennel seeds. 
  10. Stir in bread cubes and prunes with poaching liquid.
  11. Gradually add stock. Add just a little bit at a time, stirring between each addition and waiting until bread soaks up stock before adding more. Stop adding stock once mixture is very moist and there are no more dry bread pieces.
  12. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  13. Add mixture to baking dish and dot the top with butter. Bake until browned, about 45 minutes.


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