Expert Advice · Uncategorized

Giving Thanks and Giving Away

Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays of the year. It brings the family together for the purpose of giving thanks for what you have, and to enjoy some great food. In honor of such a holiday, we found some great recipes for you to try whether you are bringing one dish to a potluck, or hosting and cooking for 40. Here are some of our favorite dishes that aren’t the Thanksgiving basics, from healthy substitutions, to dietary restrictions, to multicultural dishes that will surprise and delight your guests!

During the holidays, everyone is watching their waistline. In order to be able to still indulge at the dinner table, we found some delicious healthy alternatives to traditional, not-so-slimming Thanksgiving dishes.

Glazed Sweet Potatoes
A delicious and nutritious alternative to candied yams, these are easy to make and won’t ruin your calorie count.

You will need:
5 sweet potatoes (about 3 lbs)
Nonstick cooking spray
¼ cup honey
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons of butter
2/3 cup of apricot nectar
½ cup of finely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 9×13 baking dish.
2) Put the sweet potatoes in a pot and cover 1-2” with water.
3) Bring to a boil and cook about 20-25 minutes until they are tender.
4) Once they have cooled, peel and slice them into 1/2-inch slices and add to the baking dish.
5) Combine remaining ingredients except nuts in a saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil
6) Boil for one minute, stirring, and the mixture should thicken
7) Pour over sweet potatoes and top with nuts if desired
8) Bake for 30 minutes
*recipe and image from


Mashed Butternut Casserole
A great substitute for mashed potatoes, this casserole has the same moist, soft texture, without all the cream, butter, and salt.

You will need:
Nonstick cooking spray
3 slices center-cut bacon or turkey bacon
1 ½ cups chopped sweet onion
1 tablespoon butter
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ teaspoon salt
8 cups cubed butternut squash
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
¼ teaspoon black pepper
3 wedges of The Laughing Cow Creamy Swiss

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and mist an 8×8 cooking pan with nonstick spray
2) Cook bacon according to package description until crispy, then chop or crumble and set aside
3) Mist a large skillet with nonstick spray and place over medium-high heat
4) Add onion, butter, cayenne pepper, and ¼ teaspoon salt, cook for 3-5 minutes stirring, until slightly softened
5) Switch heat to medium-low and continue stirring and cooking for 20-25 minutes until caramelized and brown, then remove from heat
6) Bring a large pot of water to boil
7) Add squash and cook for 10-15 minutes until very tender
8) Drain and mash in a large pot
9) Add garlic, black pepper, remaining salt and cheese, breaking it up into pieces and mixing well
10) Spread mixture evenly into baking pan and top with caramelized onion and bacon
11) Bake for about 15 minutes, until dish is hot throughout
*recipe and image from


Authentic Cranberry Sauce
Ditch the can and impress your guests with this incredibly easy recipe that tastes fresher and better than anything you could buy at the store

You will need:
1 ½ cup fresh cranberries
3 tablespoons honey
½ cup water
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 to 2 tablespoons coconut oil
¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt

1) Mix all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat
2) Cook, stirring occasionally for 5-10 minutes until cranberries begin to pop and become saucy
*recipe and image from


Vegan Pumpkin “Cheesecake”
With veganism and other alternative diets increasing in popularity, vegan no longer is synonymous with weird, gross or “too healthy”. This scrumptious dessert tastes as good as real cheesecake but is much kinder to your figure.

You will need:
2 cups walnuts or pecans
¼ cup agave nectar
½ cup dried coconut
¼ teaspoon sea salt

2 cups cashews, soaked for 4 hours
1 can pureed pumpkin or 1 ½ cups raw pureed pumpkin
6 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
3 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup agave nectar
3 tablespoons coconut water or coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger

1) In a food processor, combine all crust ingredients and pulse until sticky
2) Press mixture into a 9-inch springform pan
3) Blend all filling ingredients in a blender until smooth and creamy. If mixture is too thick, add a bit more coconut water or milk.
4) Pour into crust and freeze for 1 to 2 hours until firm
5) Slice while frozen and defrost for 1 hour before serving
*recipe and image from

Having guests this Thanksgiving that have special dietary needs? We searched the Internet for recipes that will ensure every guest will have at least one dish they can have as much as they want of!

Vegan Mushroom Gravy
It can be difficult to find gravy that contains no animal products, and this recipe is PETA-approved and healthier than most gravy on the market today.

You will need:
3 ½ cups low sodium vegetable broth, divided
1 cup chopped white onion
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
8 oz wild mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
¼ cup merlot or other spicy red wine
2 tablespoons reduced sodium tamari
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons whole-wheat or spelt flour
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1) In a large skillet over medium-high heat, bring ½ cup broth to a simmer
2) Add onion and garlic and cook for about 4 minutes, until onion is translucent
3) Add mushrooms, rosemary, thyme, and cook for another 2 minutes until mushrooms release their liquid and start to become tender
4) Add wine and continue cooking for 1 more minute, stirring constantly
5) Stir in remaining broth and bring to a simmer
6) In a small bowl, whisk together tamari, yeast and flour until it forms a thick paste
7) Add mixture to the skillet one teaspoon at a time, whisking constantly to ensure the paste dissolves
8) Bring to boil and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly
9) Season with pepper as desired and serve
*recipe and image from


Gluten-Free Wild Rice Stuffing
For your guests with Celiac disease, or have taken gluten out of their diet, finding traditional foods that don’t use flour can be difficult. This stuffing can be baked inside the turkey or outside on its own and contains very few common allergens

You will need:
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) of butter
18 oz pearl onions, blanched in boiling water for 1 minute, peeled
4 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 ¼ cups wild rice
1 ¼ cups long grain white rice
6 oz dried apricots, chopped
1 cup dried tart cherries
1 cup raisins
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

1) Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium heat
2) Add onions and sauté until brown (about 15 minutes)
3) Bring 4 ½ cups broth and 1 tablespoon thyme to boil in a large saucepan
4) Add wild rice and bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover and let mixture simmer for 30 minutes
5) Add white rice and simmer until all rice is tender and liquid is almost all absorbed (about 15 minutes)
6) Stir dried apricots, dried cherries, raisins and 2 tablespoons of thyme into rice mixture, cover and simmer for 3 minutes
7) Stir onions and remaining 4 tablespoons of butter into rice
8) Mix in pecans, season generously with salt and pepper

To bake in turkey:
1) Loosely fill main cavity with cooled stuffing
2) Butter glass baking dish, add rest of stuffing to dish and cover with buttered foil
3) Bake baking dish alongside turkey until heated all the way through (about 20 minutes)
To bake all of stuffing in baking dish
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2) Butter a 13x9x2 glass baking dish and put stuffing into dish
3) Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down and bake until heated all the way through (about 30 minutes)
*recipe from, image from


Apple Cake with Cinnamon Glaze
This dessert is full of fall flavors, gluten and dairy free! What more could you want?

You will need:
For the Cake
2 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ½ inch chunks
1 cup honey
Juice of 1 lemon
8 eggs
¼ teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
3 ¼ cups almond flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup sliced almonds

For Cinnamon Glaze
½ cup coconut oil in solid form
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon

Directions for Cake
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2) Grease a 9-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper and lightly grease the parchment paper
3) Combine honey, apples, lemon juice and salt in a saucepan to boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until apples are fork tender
4) Place the eggs, almond flour, cinnamon, vanilla extract and almond extract in a food processor and process until fully combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl once
5) Add the apple and honey mixture into the processor and process for a few seconds until combined
6) Pour the mixture into the springform pan and bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean
7) After 30 minutes place foil over the top of the cake so it doesn’t get too brown
8) Once the cake is done baking, let it cool for 30 minutes then place on a platter or cake plate
9) Drizzle the glaze on top, letting it run down the sides, and top with sliced almonds
10) Refrigerate cake for 30 minutes if you want the glaze to harden before serving

Directions for Glaze
1) Combine coconut oil, honey and cinnamon
2) Pour over cooled cake
*recipe from, image from


America is the ultimate melting pot of cultures, and Thanksgiving was founded on the day that European settlers and Native Americans came together. If you want to expand the culinary palette of your guests, try these recipes for cultural twists on Thanksgiving classics.
Indian Eggplant and Onion Dip with Pita Chips
This easy appetizer is quick to make, serves 12, and is low in calories, there is no better way to diversify your Thanksgiving menu!

You will need:
3 pita bread rounds, cut in half horizontally and then into wedges
4 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
1 ¼ lb eggplant, quartered lengthwise
2 ½ cups of chopped onion
2 unpeeled garlic cloves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
½ teaspoon garam masala

1) Preheat oven to 475 degrees
2) Arrange pita wedges on a baking sheet and brush lightly with 1 tablespoon of olive oil
3) Place eggplant, skin side down, onions, and garlic on another baking sheet
4) Drizzle onion and garlic with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, brush eggplant with 2 remaining tablespoons of olive oil
5) Bake pita for about 4 minutes until crisp
6) Roast vegetables until brown and tender, about 30 minutes
7) Peel garlic. Scoop out pulp from eggplant and put in food processor with onions and garlic
8) Puree until almost smooth
9) Pour puree into a bowl and combine with mint, cilantro, and garam masala
10) Season with salt and pepper, serve with pita chips
*image from, recipe from


Smoky Chorizo Stuffing
Spice up normal stuffing with chorizo instead of sausage, and smoked paprika

You will need:
24 cups of 1-inch cubes of brioche
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
8 oz of chorizo, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly crosswise
1 large white onion, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large beefsteak tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 ½ teaspoon thyme, chopped
2 cups chicken stock or broth
3 large eggs, beaten
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2) In a large roasting pan, toast the brioche for 15-20 minutes, stirring until golden brown and dry. Transfer cubes to large bowl
3) In a large skillet, heat the olive oil
4) Add the chorizo, onion, and garlic and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally for 8-10 minutes
5) Tilt the pan and spoon off the fat
6) Add the paprika and tomato to the skillet and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes
7) Add the wine and boil until nearly evaporated
8) Add the mixture to the brioche cubes, along with the parsley and thyme
9) In a bowl, mix the stock with the eggs and whisk and season lightly with salt and pepper
10) Pour the stock and egg mixture over the brioche and toss well
11) Transfer the stuffing to a large oiled baking dish and cover with foil
12) Bake for 45 minutes
13) Uncover and bake for 20 more minutes until golden brown and crispy on top
14) Let it cool for 10 minutes and then serve
*recipe and image from


Coconut Pudding Triangles
These Hawaiian desserts are the perfect size for satisfying a sweet tooth after a big Thanksgiving meal that leaves you stuffed!

You will need:
½ cup sweetened coconut flakes
Vegetable oil
14 oz coconut milk
6 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees
2) Place coconut flakes on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 6-8 minutes
3) Stir together ½ cup coconut milk and cornstarch until smooth
4) Combine 1 ½ cup of coconut milk and sugar in a medium nonstick saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves
5) Drizzle cornstarch mixture into saucepan, whisking
6) Whisk in vanilla and salt. Whisking continually, cook until mixture is very thick, pulling away from the pan and no longer tastes floury. Do not allow the mixture to boil, this should take 4-6 minutes
7) Pour into oiled 8×8 baking dish and spread evenly
8) Let cool, then cover and chill for at least an hour
9) Cut into 22-24 triangles and sprinkle coconut flakes on top of each triangle
*recipe and image from


Thanksgiving Cocktails
Thanksgiving is the perfect excuse to experiment and make some seasonal cocktails for your 21+ guests

Fish House Punch
Created in a Philadelphia men’s club in 1732, this punch can make you and your guests feel like the ultimate patriots while you give thanks

You will need:
3 cups of Jamaican dark rum
1 ½ cups cognac
1 ½ cups simple syrup
1 ½ cups lemon juice
¾ cups peach schnapps
1 lemon thinly sliced crosswise for garnish

1) Combine the rum, cognac, syrup, lemon juice and schnapps and 3 cups of chilled water into a punch bowl
2) Add a large block of ice to the punch bowl to keep it chilled, and garnish with lemon slices on top
*image and recipe from


Canadian Cocktail
Thanksgiving is also celebrated north of the border (although a whole month earlier), and this cocktail is reminiscent of the crisp Canadian autumn that is in full swing by the time American Thanksgiving rolls around

You will need:
2 oz spiced rum
½ oz maple syrup
¼ oz fresh squeezed lime juice (about half a lime)
¼ oz apple cider
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cinnamon stick for garnish

1) Combine ingredients in a shaker with ½ cup ice
2) Shake vigorously to dissolve the cinnamon
3) Pour into a glass with the ice, garnish with cinnamon stick
*image and recipe from


Model Tea Party
This drink combines gin, vermouth, brandy, and scotch to make the ultimate tea-infused cocktail to keep you warm throughout the chilly holiday season

You will need:
2 cinnamon sticks
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon loose blood orange tea
1 ¼ oz gin
¾ oz scotch
¾ oz vermouth
½ oz brandy

1) Boil 1 cinnamon stick with ½ cup water in a saucepan
2) Stir in sugar and cook 1-2 until sugar is dissolved
3) Remove from heat and add blood orange tea, let steep for 5 minutes
4) Strain syrup and let cool
5) Stir ¾ oz of syrup, 1 ½ oz water, gin, brandy, scotch and vermouth in an ice-filled shaker
6) Strain into teacup and garnish with a cinnamon stick
*image and recipe from


Cranberry Crush
This blood red cocktail is super easy to make, and if you keep the proportions accurate, can be made in bulk to serve a large gathering

You will need:
2 oz 100% cranberry juice
2 oz not too sweet spiced rum
3 oz ginger beer

1) Combine cranberry juice and rum in a glass with ice
2) Top with ginger beer
*image and recipe from


Create Events, makeup artist Janice Wheeler and hairstylist Amanda Cain are teaming up for a November Give Thanks Giveaway!! The winner will receive favorite fall products from each vendor.

To enter:

1) Follow all the vendors on Instagram
@createevents @janicemakesfaces @amandacainsd
2) Post a photo of something you are thankful for on Instagram
3) In your caption, use #ThanksgivingTote
4) Tag each of the three vendors in your caption
The winner will be picked on November 22 so be sure to enter before then, and encourage your family and friends to enter, too!

Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving from Create Events!


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