Gourmet Veggie Mama

Thanksgiving Dress Rehearsal: Part 1

Thanksgiving is kind of the Super Bowl of the foodie world. I’m only hosting a small dinner this year (the three of us plus my dad and his wife), but that certainly will not stop me from planning a fabulous menu. Enter Cooking Planit, a new online tool for home cooks that started up right here in Austin.

Cooking Planit has a wide variety of meals and sides in its database, but there’s a twist that makes it better than any old recipe site. Once you pick your recipes, it generates a grocery list for you, and then helps you organize what to do when, so that your meal gets ready right on time. I love the grocery list feature, but I will say that I am far too entrenched in my haphazard ways in the kitchen to change now. I like my haphazard style. It works for me… but that’s just me.

But, onto the real deal: the side dishes. Over the next few days, I’ll be cooking my way through several of Cooking Planit’s chef-created sides as a trial for the main event. Who will make the cut? Can you feel the tension in the air? I’ll also be providing a few of my own tried-and-true Thanksgiving recipes in the hope that they may find their way to your Thanksgiving table. So, without further ado, let’s get this party started!

1. Kale Salad with Parmesan and Balsamic Syrup

With our kale going like gangbusters out in the garden, it was a no-brainer to try this deliciously simple kale salad recipe first. I cooked it up with ingredients I already had on hand, and it was ready in about 5 minutes flat, no joke.

Kale Salad with Parmesan and Balsamic Syrup


I served it alongside a quinoa-stuffed acorn squash for dinner one night this week, and it was delightful. I didn’t have pine nuts on hand, so I substituted walnuts, and it was fine (though I do think the pine nuts would be better).

Does it make the cut for Thanksgiving? The jury is still out. I love the idea of using our garden’s bounty on our Thanksgiving table, but a salad just seems a little non-Thanksgiving-ish for some reason. We shall see.

2. Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Next I decided to try out a recipe for cream cheese mashed potatoes. Hey, I like cream cheese, I like potatoes — what could go wrong? Turns out, not much.

Cream cheese mashed potatoes


These are fluffiest, creamiest, richest mashed potatoes I’ve ever had. Plus they’re a snap to throw together. Hey, if I can pull it off while my kid is watching Signing Time, anyone can do it. Speaking of kids, Nora couldn’t get enough of these potatoes. She kept stealing them off my plate.

I think the picture says it all, really.

Do they make the cut? Absolutely.

Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes
  • 2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 3-4 green onions, chopped
  • 6 oz cream cheese, cut into pieces
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 2 Tbs sour cream
  • ⅓ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Scrub the potatoes and cut into 1-inch pieces. Cover with cold water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook until fork-tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Drain the water and place the saucepan back on the stove for a couple of minutes to cook off any excess water, stirring frequently. Remove the potatoes from the heat and mash them in the pan.
  3. Return the saucepan with the potatoes to the stove over low heat and add the green onions, cream cheese, butter, sour cream and parmesan cheese, stirring to combine well. Add salt and pepper to taste.


As for turkey? Yes, there will be one. I won’t be eating it, of course, but the hubby ordered one from Rudy’s. We’ll just have to send our guests home with lots of leftovers.

I’ll be having my holiday standby, quinoa-stuffed acorn squash, as a main course. Check out my post on LiveMom for details and the recipe!

Note: I received a small grocery stipend from Cooking Planit in exchange for reviewing these meals, but I was not otherwise compensated, and my opinions are my own.

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12 Thoughts on “Thanksgiving Dress Rehearsal: Part 1

  1. Yay! What a great post Lauren! Thank you. – John
    John McElhenney (cooking planit) recently posted..10 Tips to Enjoying Your Own Party!My Profile

  2. Yum! I love Thanksgiving! I can’t wait to see what else you’ll be whipping up for the holiday. (I recently made a very similar mashed potato dish that was a recipe my mother used to make when I was a kid. Our version mixed in a few eggs, then put everything in a casserole dish, topped with crunchy fried onions and baked until cooked through. Kind of ridiculous, but super tasty. Probably causing my arteries to clog right now.)
    Alicia recently posted..Holiday Liqueur: Pimento DramMy Profile

  3. Pingback: Thanksgiving Dress Rehearsal: Part 2 | Gourmet Veggie Mama

  4. Great idea to have a dress rehearsal! I’m probably the only food blogger in existence who has never cooked a full dinner for people before, so that app sounds like it would be helpful. (were you at the launch? I was but there were a lot of people!) Nora is too cute and those potatoes are dreamy.
    Jessica recently posted..Bucket List of Eats & Drinks!My Profile

  5. Pingback: Our Thanksgiving Table… and a Giveaway! | Gourmet Veggie Mama

  6. i finally got around to making your acorn squash/quinoa dish last night, and i’m so glad i did! it’s absolutely delicious and really quite easy to make, with ingredients that i always have on hand. i switched up the cheese to some 2yr old cheddar mixed with regular aged cheddar – super yummy. thanks for the recipe!
    karen recently posted..purl soho {echino tote}My Profile

  7. Pingback: Exciting News: A Collaboration with Cooking Planit! | Gourmet Veggie Mama

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