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It would seem more like a family style dinner than it would eating Thanksgiving food in a restaurant

 My husband wants to move us (Him myself & two cats) to Chippewa Falls WI sometime in October- we may end up in a cheap hotel for a month until we find somewhere to live- that could be right through November ...

My thought is maybe we'll attend a church supper event, it would seem more like a family style dinner than it would eating Thanksgiving food in a restaurant.

Thanksgiving is about tradition. Most people have very clear ideas of what a Thanksgiving meal should be, should include, and they will be very disappointed if those things are not part of it. For example, even though I don't go there to celebrate anymore, I would be awfully disappointed if my nephews' great-uncle Abel didn't grill a brisket soaked in Corona (which honestly I couldn't eat now). They cook a traditional turkey and all the sides you usually expect, but the star of their meal is that brisket. He had once suggested not serving it, but everyone openly expressed that wasn't acceptable, so he's still cooking it every year.

One thing you could consider is doing a twist on a traditional item. I do this a lot because I like to elevate my menu so it's more like upscale restaurant fare. So, for example, instead of a can of cranberry sauce so thick you can slice it, I cook Orange-Scented Cranberry Sauce using a bag of fresh cranberries with sugar, orange juice, orange zest, freshly grated ginger (not in the linked recipe), and salt and pepper. It's quick, easy, and very flavorful. I also make a Green Bean Casserole, but instead of canned French-fried onions, I flash fry thinly slices shallots and I don't bread them first.

I also use fresh green beans that I steam until they're just done and still green, and I make a mushroom cream sauce using fresh mushrooms cooked in butter, then add flour to make a roux to thicken it, add chicken broth and milk, season it with salt and pepper, and cook until thickened. Toss the green beans in it and top with the shallots and bake it. It's a very delicious twist on the original. I also make my own dressing/stuffing from scratch and a traditional Cajun rice dressing using only chicken gizzards and livers (no ground meat or frozen dressing mix), fresh trinity vegetables, and chicken stock (and rice, of course).

I'm going to gift you my recipe for cranberry pie. Actually, it's more like an upside down coffee cake, but it's made in a pie pan. It is dead easy to make, takes very little prep time-- 15 minutes maybe? Then throw in the oven and forget for an hour?-- and it is so good it made even a cranberry hater like me rethink cranberries.

I'm answering this because I was asked to do so. Sadly, I'm not sure that I have a satisfactory answer for you. If anyone else has ever thought of it, guess what- it's not unique- it's just unfamiliar or creative. It might help to know what the menu where you are eating is. Sure, there's turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, potatoes and gravy, probably something with yams but what are your other sides?

Myself, I like to make Cranberry sauce. It's very easy. You put the berries in a pan with water and sugar. This is good because you can adjust the sugar to your taste. But ... I replace at least half of the water with orange juice and sprinkle in a little finely chopped, candied ginger. I've even been known to throw a clove in there.

I've made pumpkin cheesecake with the crumb-crust made with gingersnaps. Top it with nutmeg whipped-cream. That's not exactly unique but it was unusual.

Something that may actually be unique that I thought of is twice-baked yams. You know of the potato treat "twice-baked potatoes", yes? You take cold, baked potatoes, split them lengthwise, hollow them out, combine the potato you scraped out with cheese and bacon and then stuff these back into The hollow shells, top with cheese and bake, then top with sour cream.

well, find some small-ish yams, scrub them well, prick with a fork and bake them until they are fairly soft. Let them cool overnight, then split them and carefully scrape out the insides. Take this and combine it with pumpkin pie spice, brown sugar, orange zest and a little butter and mix it until it's well combined. Spoon or pipe this into the hollow yam shells- don't overfill- and bake until it's hot and kind of bubbly. Then top with a large marshmallow or two or cover the surface with the mini-marshmallows. Return to the oven and bake until the marshmallows have swelled and are brown. Don't over-bake because they will melt. You might find that the yam-boats sit up nicer in the oven if you take strips of foil, crumple into skinny logs, form these into ovals and rest the yam-halves on them.


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