Between battling holiday traffic, wrangling up family members, setting aside old family feuds, bringing new friends into the fold, and cooking a giant multi-course meal, Thanksgiving weekend can be so stressful that sometimes you just want to cancel it! Instead of calling it all off, take a deep breath and make some simple changes that will make the holiday easier for you. Revamping the menu to include easy, spa-inspired recipes that highlight delicious seasonal ingredients is the perfect way to keep the kitchen and the dinner table a Thanksgiving stress-free zone. These lighter dishes pair perfectly with turkey and even help keep off unwanted holiday pounds!
Don't be scared by the ingredients in this make ahead Warm Fennel and Parmesan Dip from Martha Stewart. The roasted fennel becomes almost unrecognizably sweet and delicious. Even the pickiest of eaters will be stuffing their face with it before they think to ask what's in it! It's a great recipe to serve as an appetizer or to pass around the dinner table.
The unexpected chipotle flavors in this Smoky Butternut Squash Soup from Food & Wine will surprise and delight everyone this Thanksgiving! Let the soup simmer for longer on the stove for a thicker soup. If not all your guests love spicy foods, add 1/2 a chipotle pepper instead of a whole one and place a small bowl of creme fraiche on the dining table to counter the heat.
Skip the canned vegetables casseroles this Thanksgiving and swap in delicious options that are in season, like this Creamy Leek and Kale Gratin with Crunchy Brown Butter Breadcrumbs from The Oregonian. This dish can be made even simpler by swapping out the par-boiled curly leaf kale for baby kale and quickly sautéing it like you would baby spinach; making it the day before; and using store or bakery bought bread crumbs (we promise not to tell!). It's guaranteed to make everyone at the table leek and kale converts!
Wake up traditional roasted vegetable dishes with this Harissa and Maple Roasted Carrots dish from Bon Appetit. For as simple as this dish is, it has a lot of complex flavors and everything from sweet to spicy to citrus. It's delicious! Harissa is a spicy North African condiment that you can find in Whole Foods and many specialty food stores. You can also make it at home using this recipe from Saveur.
Keep things festive by making a pitcher of this simple but delicious Cranberry Cosmopolitan from Punch Bowl, pictured first. You probably already have the ingredients at home (especially if you already love Cosmos!) and it is light enough on the pallet to drink all night. They also have this yummy Cider Smash cocktail recipe on the same page if you prefer apple flavors or want to change the drinks up for dessert!
And we can't resist a fabulous dessert! Keep it light with classic baked fruit and ice cream combination, which is a guaranteed hit with kids and adults alike. Our favorite is this delicious Baked Apple recipe from Simply Recipes paired with vanilla or (and?) butter pecan ice cream. Make the easy apple stuffing ahead of time but save coring the apples until Thanksgiving night so they don't brown. If you're having trouble keeping the bottom of the apple intact like the recipe calls for, simply cut the apples in half and scoop out the seeds and core.
Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving at your home this year or were asked to bring a few dishes to the big family feast, these easy and delicious recipes will help keep you and your family in a zen state of mind. Looking for more innovative side dishes? Click here to read a delicious blog post from last year!
What are your favorite Thanksgiving recipes? How do you stay stress-free during the holidays? Which new, easy recipes are you going to try this year? Tell us what you think in the comments section below and join the conversation on social media now!