Happy Thanksgiving! Gulf Coast Media staff shares their favorite holiday dishes and traditions

Melanie LeCroy
Lifestyle Editor
melanie@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 11/23/22

Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family or friends, and a highlight of the occasion for many is the meal shared and the memories made.

For some, the meal is as simple as a frozen Hungry Man …

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Happy Thanksgiving! Gulf Coast Media staff shares their favorite holiday dishes and traditions

Posted

Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family or friends, and a highlight of the occasion for many is the meal shared and the memories made.

For some, the meal is as simple as a frozen Hungry Man turkey dinner enjoyed while watching a day of football, and for others it is a turkey with all the trimmings.

Members of the Gulf Coast Media staff shared their favorite dishes, recipes and memories ahead of this week's holiday. From us to you, we thank you for your support of local news and hope you have a happy Thanksgiving.

OUR FAVORITE DISHES

Mashed potatoes

"My real answer is my mom's mashed potatoes, but I haven't been home for Thanksgiving in seven years, so I catch up on lost time over Christmas. Growing up, I was a picky eater, and even during Thanksgiving dinner all I wanted was a couple pieces of turkey and the rest of my plate to be filled with mashed potatoes." – Cole McNanna, sports editor

Green bean casserole

"I love green bean casserole because it reminds me of my late aunt. We'd have all this delicious gourmet food, and she comes in with the cream of mushroom soup and French onion toppers, and I was always the only one to include it on my second plate. I now force it on the family menu." – Kayla Green, executive editor

Sweet'N Low green beans

"My mom got this recipe from a woman we went to church with growing up who owned a ropes course that my brother and I worked at. She had a huge family and used to invite my family for Thanksgiving at her house. There would be a vat of these green beans bigger than me on the long serving table. They aren't as sweet as they sound, but man are they a nice compliment to turkey and gravy." – Micah Green, chief digital officer/photographer

Dessert

"A dessert called Chocolate Dream. It's a family recipe with chocolate, whipped cream and Heath bar crumbles." – Vince Johnson, publisher

Leftovers

"We take a spoonful of each dish, wrap those in refrigerated croissant dough and bake itty bitty Thanksgiving puffs and pour gravy over. They last for days and are amazing." – Allison Marlow, managing editor

Yeast rolls

"Growing up, my aunt Linda would make a copious amount of the best yeast rolls. Our Thanksgiving dinners usually included anywhere from 35 to 60 relatives, so a large quantity was necessary. The cousins and I would see how many we could eat. My aunt no longer hosts Thanksgiving at her house, but we try to make sure there are homemade rolls on the buffet." – Melanie LeCroy, lifestyle editor

DO YOU HAVE A RECIPE YOU MAKE EACH YEAR?

"One of the first recipes I started making on my own for Thanksgiving was an apple pie with crumble topping I think is from a Disney kid's cookbook. My spin is to use the sweeter gala apples while everyone else sticks with tart granny smiths. It's still a hit. I also make a pumpkin cranberry bread that my mom gave me that when I make for new people, they always find it unique and yummy." – Kayla Green

"My husband, John, is the cook on Thanksgiving. He is up at a ridiculous hour to prep his turkey. It involves giving the bird some sort of milk bath, stuffing it with specialty fruits and vegetables he personally picked out the day before at the market and wrapping it all in a thick coat of bacon. He smokes it on the grill for most of the day. I snooze through the early morning prep each year, so I can't give you more details than that. It is absolutely delicious." – Allison Marlow

"I consider it a secret family recipe not to be shared, but I am just normally not involved with the making process. I try to help peel the potatoes at first, but my mom can still peel two for every one potato I do." – Cole McNanna

"I'm not really part of the cooking process, but I'm always available for a last-minute ingredient run, usually to a singular, small gas station that's the only place open at the time." – Vince Johnson

"Each year, I make the sweet potato casserole using Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman's recipe that I have modified over the years. I haul Baldwin County sweet potatoes and pecans to West Virginia to make the recipe. It has an amazing pecan crumble on top, but I only top half of the sweet potatoes with it. The other half gets marshmallows. My favorite part is the middle where pecan crumble meets marshmallows." – Melanie LeCroy

WANT TO MAKE IT?

Soul sweet 'taters by Ree Drummond

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 ¾ pounds)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake sweet potatoes until fork-tender, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly, about five minutes. Slice them open and scrape out the flesh into a large bowl. Increase over temperature to 400 degrees.
  • Add granulated sugar, milk, eggs, vanilla and salt to the bowl with the sweet potatoes. Mash the mixture with potato masher until combined and slightly lumpy.
  • In a sperate bowl, mash the brown sugar, pecans, flour and butter with a pastry cutter or fork until thoroughly combined. The mixture should resemble a crumble.
  • Spread the sweet potato mixture in a 14-cup oval baking dish and sprinkle crumb mixture all over the top. Bake until golden brown about 30 minutes.
  • Melanie's tip – If adding marshmallow to half, do so halfway through baking or the marshmallows will bake away.

Pumpkin cranberry bread

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil (canola or corn)
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cranberries (use a food processor if you have one)

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Grease and flour two 8x4 loaf pans.
  • Combine flour, cinnamon, cloves ginger, nutmeg, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat eggs with sugar, oil and pumpkin.
  • Add wet mixture to the dry mix and stir until moistened. Stir in cranberries.
  • Pour into loaf pans. Bake 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 mi

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THANKSGIVING TRADITION?

"We make Christmas ornaments during the afternoon while we wait for the food to be ready." – Allison Marlow

"Our kitchen growing up was always welcoming and a teaching space. I now love cooking and hosting anything from dinner parties to chill-and-grill nights to football potlucks. I like that atmosphere of togetherness." – Kayla Green

"Thanksgiving is one of the biggest days of the high school football calendar in Massachusetts, so since I worked through the last two years when I was in college, my parents hosted an extra Thanksgiving for just us and my brother the following Friday. It was sort of before the trendy Friendsgivings, although sometimes we did invite our friends or girlfriends at the time. Of course, since I've moved away, we've resorted to FaceTime and making up for lost visits during Christmas, but I've always been blessed to be around a table full of love during Thanksgivings away from home." – Cole McNanna

"My favorite Thanksgiving tradition, besides just spending time with family and friends, is probably the all-day marathon of televised football." – Vince Johnson

"Falling asleep watching football." – Micah Green

"Spending Thanksgiving in West Virginia on the family farm. It has been a working farm in the Longanacre family for over 200 years. While I didn't grow up living there, it is the place I call home. My dad is the youngest of nine, so Thanksgiving was the time entire family would come together, sometimes having over 60 at dinner. It is a time to catch up with cousins, and I have always looked forward to it, and now my children do as well. I have only missed three Thanksgivings in West Virginia in my 42 years." – Melanie LeCroy

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