Carrots & Pretzels: Thanksgiving eats for the whole family

Isn’t the Internet grand? Just found a guest post I wrote two years ago highlighting my go-to Thanksgiving cookbook. Saves me some time drafting a new post. And, hopefully YOU some time searching for a new family-friendly recipe. Alas, I can’t rewind to two years ago when the house didn’t feel quite so empty. My favorite part of the holidays is having everyone who can get here, home. My guess is that’s your favorite part too. Happy eating–and hugging. Blog tip: Want some decor ideas, click the image below. 


(Originally posted on November 18, 2011 on The Alonna Zone)

“I met Dawn Warden through our membership in Les Dames d’Escoffier and we each recognized in the other a passion for, not only good food, but zest for life.  She is the former Senior editor and Food editor at Main Line Today.  I asked her to share her Thanksgiving traditions and favorite family dishes. Here is Dawn…”

…Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, as much for the gentle get-your-grateful-on kick-in-the-pants as the crazy-good food that has us all moaning and poking at our bulging bellies by the end of the day. For years now, I have only cooked from Anthony Dias Blue’s Thanksgiving Dinner cookbook, which as far as I am concerned, is the only one you need. My only dissension is the stuffing recipe, which I found on the back of a box of Snyder’s pretzels and thought, ‘What the heck; I’ll give it a try.’ With five kids in the house, stuffing made with an abundance of chunky pretzel bits seems like a safe bet—it was, and still is. Here the recipe courtesy of Snyder’s of Hanover. I tweak it with better quality gourmet pork or veal sausage, baby bella mushrooms and celery—and set aside some that is plain for picky and non-meat eaters. 

blue thanksgiving

Pretzel Stuffing


  • 1 6oz. package long grain wild rice, prepared according to directions
  • 8 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms, sautéed
  • 1 medium onion chopped, sautéed
  • 1 12 oz. package of link sausage, browned and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 cups Snyder’s of Hanover Hard Sourdough Pretzels, salted or unsalted, broken into 1/2-inch pieces, crumbs removed
  • 4 cup stuffing croutons, can be seasoned or unseasoned
  • 1 cup chicken broth, added to out-of-bird stuffing only
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Sage to taste
Combine all of the ingredients in a very large bowl and fill chicken or turkey cavity. Put remaining stuffing in a casserole, add chicken broth and baste with pan drippings or chicken broth. Cover with foil and place in oven for 1 hour. Remove cover for 10-15 minutes for a crispy texture. 

If you have young kids in the house, I recently discovered this tasty-looking chicken tender recipe—perfect for my youngest, now 14, who is as picky as they come. He and my 5-and-under nieces can get their fingers messy with these. (You can use plain pretzels as well.) Thank you Christine Fischer—& Snyder’s Pinterest board)—for this.


The giblet gravy, which is a bit of a project, is outstanding. But the big hit, is the carrot pudding (below), which has never once failed to intoxicate and has probably been my most requested recipe. Every year, I am grateful for this fantastic collection of recipes—and for the leftovers.

Carrots and knife on cutting board - Don MasonIngredients:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) of unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 pounds carrots, cooked until tender, cut in chunks
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 eggs, separated


  • 2 cups walnut pieces
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
Spray a 3-quart soufflé dish, or a 9 x 14-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.  In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, or an electric mixer fitted with the paddle beater, beat the egg yolks and sugar, until light and fluffy.  Alternate additions of small amounts of butter and small amounts of flour until all is incorporated. Add carrots and cheese. Pulse to blend. Pour into a bowl and fold in baking powder. Beat the egg whites until fluffy. Stir a small amount into the batter with a whisk. Fold in the remaining egg whites.  Pour mixture into prepared dish. Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pudding comes out clean. While the pudding is baking, sauté the walnuts in butter for a minute. Sprinkle with the sugar and top the pudding. Serve. (Recipe from Thanksgiving Dinner, by Anthony Dias Blue and Kathryn K. Blue, ©1990 by Anthony Dias Blue and Kathryn K. Blue, HarperPerennial)

more carrotsI’d love to boast that my kids jump in and get excited about cooking with their mom, but other than my 12-year-old son, I have more “eaters” than chefs in the house. It’s not that they’re incapable. They’re just lazy. And, I enable that laziness because I favor getting in my zone and doing what I love the most. Yeah, I loathe the dishes just like everyone else, but the simple act of cooking is by far, my favorite way to relax.

Plus, while I’m cooking, it allows me to think about all the things that I am grateful for this year—a question that everyone is required to ponder before the big meal. Long ago we started the tradition of going around the table, standing up and sharing what we’re each grateful for. Traditionally, the adults closed out their soliloquy with a shot of sipping tequila or whiskey, and the kids with Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider. But now that the majority of the kids are 16+, I’ve loosened up the reins and allowed them to sip a little wine. The 12-year-old gets “white wine”—milk in a wine goblet. *Fast-forward two years and my 20yo swears she’s cooking with me all day.

Now this wasn’t in the original post, but if you want me to email you a few of Dias Blue’s cranberry recipes, I will. They’re easy, and if you try the more savory versions, they’ll knock your taste buds over. Repeat after me: No canned cranberries. Ever. Again. cranberries

Dessert is not a big part of our Thanksgiving repertoire. Don’t get me wrong, we each have a solid sweet tooth; but given the choice, we opt for two plates of turkey and trimmings. Just thinking about that crispy-skinned, bronze, juicy turkey accompanied by ruby-colored cranberry relish and bright orange carrot pudding has me salivating. All the wonderful aromas…the bounty…a house full of loved ones…a roaring fire—all set to the soundtrack of jazz, Frank Sinatra and other classic tunes (plus a little football hootin’ and hollerin’), along with those heartfelt expressions of gratitude…if only every day could be just like this.

give thanks



One thought on “Carrots & Pretzels: Thanksgiving eats for the whole family

have a thought to share? just DEW it. please just do it respectfully.

%d bloggers like this: