Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Grandmother's First Thanksgiving...Tips For A Kid Friendly Menu

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If you are hosting Thanksgiving this year chances are a small group of your guests will be little people, something we tend to forget as we get all wrapped up in planning a menu to impress our guests.    Children have different tastes than adults, a fact which should be taken into consideration when they are included in a family holiday like Thanksgiving and Christmas.  This is something I neglected to see as a young mother, for which I am at fault and deeply regret. But it's never too late and I will not make that mistake as the grandmother of a five and a three year old.   This year I will  tweak revamp my usual menu to make sure everyone goes home well fed and satisfied.

When my children were small and we gathered at Madame Mere's for a mid day meal straight out of Gourmet magazine, I had a hard time making them understand that what they considered (a yucky) lunch was it for the rest of the day.  My son Ted was the worst.  He did not like anything in this menu and would not budge in spite of the fact that I would remind him that this was lunch AND dinner so he'd better eat up.   All the way home he would cry, demanding his usual dinner and yelling but that was lunch, not dinner.  We still laugh about it and I am sure we will again this year when he and his family come to my house for our first Thanksgiving together. I can't wait.

Armed with experience from all those years, I have decided to pick some of the things I think the children, as well as the adults, will enjoy.  No reason to sacrifice one group for the other.    Everyone eats turkey, so the bird is safe.  And if they won't eat my Madeira Sauce, no harm done.  There is plenty more to choose from.

I have chosen to serve the French Green Bean Casserole with French fried onion rings instead of my favorite Creamed Onions.  And instead of a fancy potato or sweet potato gratin, we will have sweet potato puree with marshmallows, the big ones! I wonder if they would like them served in orange cups?  And then there's the stuffing which no kid will eat.  But I have a solution...

Stuffing Balls

Set aside some of the dressing or stuffing you are serving, enough to feed the little ones.  Mine has either apples or pears.  Avoid chestnuts and nuts and visible onions or scallions.  For some reason, kids hate onions.  Remember when it comes to this kind of stuff, they prefer plain to fancy (they are not gourmets yet) and it's easy to pick these things out from their share of the stuffing. 

Shape into small balls, the smaller the better.  Place them in a small cookie sheet, brush them with butter and cook next to the dressing at 375 degrees until browned.  Remember, they will take much less than the dressing to cook.  If you are stuffing the turkey, proceed as above and cook for about 20 minutes.  It all depends on how large they are.

You can make them even more enticing by putting a small amount of cranberry sauce on top.  Anything to make them pop these babies into their mouths!

 If that doesn't fly, this definitely will!

and....My French Green Bean Casserole!

How am I doing so far? 

The biggest compromise for me will be dessert.  Nothing has ever stood between me and a Pumpkin Pie and a Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie , one of the most popular recipes of the blog.  Nothing.  I always offered to bring the pies just to make sure they made their appearance, just as I liked them.  But grandchildren work in strange ways .  The Sous Chef is right, I am getting old and softie.   Since it's just the six of us and my daughter doesn't like sweets,  I want to make only one dessert.  Fortunately she loves cheesecake and has volunteered to make a pumpkin cheese cake with a ginger snap cookie crust.  It's called compromise and the older I get,  the more I like this word.  The little ones might not like this either so I will buy some of those pumpkin and turkey shaped cookies they have at Publix to be on the safe side.   Luckily they are not gourmets yet and won't know the difference between home made and store bought.  But not for long.  One day they will know the difference,  if it's the last thing I do.

Recipes by Lindaraxa
Photos 2 & 3 Google Images
Photos 1 and 4 Lindaraxa


  1. What an enjoyable post. As I read along, I thought of my own childhood and of holidays past. My very favorite thing you've said is for now they don't know the difference between store-bought and homemade, but one day they will if it's the last thing you do. Good for you! My mother baked bread, made brownies, cakes, mayonnaise, jellies - and until I went out into the "real" world, I didn't know you could buy mayonnaise or jelly. Crazy, huh..

    It won't be long before your grandchildren will appreciate your gourmet cooking and it will stick in their brains, I guarantee. But in the meantime I think you've come up with great solutions for their Thanksgiving happiness, including those stuffing balls. I can see my little nieces thinking they are cool, if kids say cool anymore :)

    1. After my daughter read this to my horror she offered to make homemade cookies. I certainly dont need any more messes the week of Thanksgiving. But she doesn't fall far from the tree. families on both sides great cooks and she is a baker. Thank G for as you know, I hate to bake.

      BTW, cool is still okay. I just looked it up. It is the longest used cool word in the English vocabulary.

  2. I'm sure that the your cooking sets the standard for those kids, and they will not find any complaint with this feast. I agree that when you make food to please people, it only makes sense to take their tastes into account. Since most people do not eat large meals early anymore, the early Thanksgiving meal appealed to no one in our family, so we made it an early-ish evening meal. If I prepared any holiday meal now, it would be at the regular time.

    Don't forget my favorite part, a cornucopia of fruit and unshelled nuts to linger over after the meal with a nutcracker. By the way, those stuffing balls are a great idea that I'll have to remember--they would get nice and crunchy that way.

    --Happy Thanksgiving (a little early), Jim

    1. Sometimes kids say the darnest things. I suppose its tought to understand the one meal holiday particularly when they dont eat much to begin with. Your idea of the cornucopia is great but in this part of the country they cant wait to get off the table to watch the football game. We ladies end up like in the old days...chatting in the parlor.

  3. Dang that Norman Rockwell, must a large carcass be the center piece. So many tasty meals from left overs. why not serve "left overs" roast the bird for turkey divan or prepare the turkey roulade, perhaps a pinwheel presentation would intrigue the young diners! Honestly how many side dishes have been lynch pinned to timing of the removal of the bird. I shall throw caution to the wind again this year, as I try to practice what I preach.

  4. Oh my the turkey remoulade was the entree I was going for. The spell check does not like this letter combination either. Ha

  5. Love your new picture.. that silver dish is a knockout. SO many delicious ideas for a traditional dinner... I can see that the little stuffing balls would be a hit with kids and adults. NUM.

  6. The sweet potatoes and marshmallows (or, should I say, marshmallows with sweet potatoes!) are an absolute staple on our table! My Mother always had them so my daughter grew up with them and has already, a week ahead, said she just cannot wait for them! So no mashed potatoes for us….I must say, it is my favorite meal of the year! No small children around here (yet…) so we can also have caramelized onions and braised brussel sprouts with no complaints!

  7. It is also my favorite meal of the year, to make and eat! As to the sweet potatoes with marshmallows, it is the one thing I won't let go either. Years ago I had an Australian couple for Thanksgiving and she said she had heard much about them and couldn't wait to try them. She has been serving them at her home in Australia ever since. This will be a fun holiday this year. It reminds me of the scene in Giant where Liz goes back home for Thanksgiving and the kids find out they are eating the turkey they thought of as a pet!


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