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Thanksgiving: Revisiting Turkey Basics and Tabletop Ideas

thanksgiving truffle-scented roast chicken

thanksgiving truffle-scented roast chicken
photo credits: Home & Home October 2010, photography by Michael Graydon, prop styling by Sasha Seymour, food stylish by Ashley Denton

There will be no big Thanksgiving dinner for us this year. We will celebrate it just the three of us. Frankly, I welcome it since I was exhausted. We all feel tired lately. My hudband, my son and I had to adjust to a new schedule since Zack started day care. Yesterday, Zack slept up to 11 AM. This morning, he woke up at 8:45 AM. I start to feel refreshed.

It is a colder, bright sunny day here in Montreal. Before we go outside, I compiled a list of last-minute Thanksgiving ideas based on old posts.

For roasting your turkey, check out

For dressing your table, get inspired by

Explore the rest of my Thanksgiving posts for menu ideas and more tabletop inspirations. Lastly, do not stress out with the preparation. The most important in any event is to serve good food and to be amongst good company.


Thanksgiving Tabletop Ideas from Classic to a Modern Look

thanksgiving tabletop ideas from traditional to modern

I propose you five festive looks for Thanksgiving, that are suitable for the Canadian way and the American way to celebrate Thanksgiving.

If you are new to my blog, here is my design philosophy when it comes to my table settings for a Holiday celebrations. My guests eat on bowls and plates that can be reused for other parties. This is my way to be thankful towards Mother Earth. My table linens and my centrepiece deliver the decorative elements of my Holiday tabletop.

Tabletop Ideas for a Classic Style Table

I always say that you need a casual chic table for a Thanksgiving meal. So, go with would make you and your family happy. I like the idea to use a halved globe as a vessel for your centrepiece. It should not be too hard to find an old World globe since so many of them have become obsolete. Ask your friends and family to help you locate one; there is probably an unused World globe that is stored in their garage or basement of someone you know.

thanksgiving tabletop ideas from traditional to modern
photo credits: No. 1 Eclectic Fall Bowl Centerpiece from | No. 2 Woodland Forest Jacquard Tablecloth $155-$183 USD at Williams Sonoma | No. 3 Autumn Summer Table by Crate & Barrel

Tabletop Ideas for a Modern Style Table

The snowberries of the Marimekko Lumimarja Orange table linen collection takes a different direction in orange. As a bonus, I can imagine this tablecloth reinterpreted for a Halloween party.

thankgiving table with a modern Finnish touch
photo credits: No. 4 Marimekko Lumimarja Orange Tablecloth and Napkins $8.95-$89.95 USD at Crate and Barrel

I am a fan of the tête-à-tête placemats. With tête-à-tête (which means face-to-face) placemats, your table puts the emphasis on guests that seat in front of each other. Don’t think that you can use this look only just for a romantic dinner. The concept works well on a communal table. Simply remember to get three “placemats for two” for 6 guests, four for 8 guests or six for a group of twelve. Then, use the same between the placemats to place the dishes that you will share and the centrepieces.

duo linen placemat and napkins
photo credits: No. 5 Duo linen placemat for two $15.95 USD at CB2

I hope this small round-up will give ideas on how you can dress your table for Thanksgivings.


5-Minute Martha: Greet Your Guests with Tasty Grazing Boards

grazing board pate de foie

grazing board pate de foie

There is no need to rush or to prepare several types of appetizers when you are having guests over at the cocktail hour or for dinner. Instead go with a crowd-pleaser and put on your coffee table a grazing board. Since you are certain to find all the ingredients that you need at a good delicatessen near you, you can pull it off even at the last minute. You save more time since no individual bite assembly is required. When you shop, assume that one board will feed 4 to 6 persons as appetizers.

Chantelle Grady of the blog Little Things proposed in the Montreal issue of Relish three killer compositions. Relish is her food digital magazine.

The first option is a classic. You can serve pâté de foie with caramelized onions and toasted bread. For a non-fuss version, check out the caramelized onions recipe by Chuck Hughes that he puts in his grilled cheese sandwich.

grazing board baked camembert

You can’t go wrong with serving baked Camembert or Brie. It is so good that I suggest that you keep one ready to bake in your freezer all the time. Jamie Oliver bakes his directly on the wooden cheese box. Other chefs line a baking dish with parchment paper. I use a Brie baker because it is easier to serve the warm wheel of Camembert or Brie in a dish. Chantelle served her version with Serrano ham and toasted bread.

grazing board pork terrine

The third board displays pork terrine, mustard (you can serve a few), gherkins again on toasted bread. You can go a step further by offering a mustard selection. For the cornichons, I adore the Maille Tarragon & Vinegar gherkins. If you prefer sweet cornichons to the sour ones, try Maille Mini & Crunchy gherkins.

+ Montreal issue of Relish produced and photographed by Chantelle Grady from the blog Little Things
+ Beautiful baked Camembert recipe by Jamie Oliver
+ Baked Camembert and Herb Oil by Roger Mooking


Cooking with Kids: Pear Galette

pear galette

pear galette

Galettes, which are freeform rustic pies, are not meant to look perfect. This makes galettes the ideal tarts to bake with your kids. I even prefer their rustic look to the more polished pies; this is probably due to the cozy warm feeling that I get at their sight.

The best thing about the Pear Galette of Lisa Homa is that you won’t need pie plates, just parchment paper. Once it is cooked, serve the galette on a wooden cutting. Depending on how it looks when it is out of oven, you may wish to replace the parchment paper with a fresher sheet. No one can refuse a stylish food presentation that cut on cleaning at a party.

Why not introduce your kids to the joy of baking while you are cooking for your Thanksgiving or Christmas party? They will be proud to share that they did the fruit or savory galettes themselves.

You will find Lisa Homa’s Pear Galette in the Fall 2011 issue of Sweet Paul magazine on pages 40 and 41.

+  photos: Alexandra Grablewski – Fall 2011 issue of Sweet Paul magazine


Tableware for Thanksgiving at West Elm

Mary Matson thanksgiving tableware

Mary Matson thanksgiving tableware

Mary Matson, a Brooklyn-based graphic artist, collaborated with West Elm on a collection of playful plates and serving pieces for the Thanksgiving table. The salad plates, printed with wishbones, turkeys and fall harvest illustrations, are a simple way to add a festive look to your white existing dinnerware. I got the prices from their press kit. The items will start to appear both online and in stores this week.

bell butter dish

To complete the modern farm look of your table, here are too items that you will be able to use every day of the year. You can fit rectangular European-style blocks of butter as well as slender stateside sticks in the Bell Butter Dish.

sugar creamer

The bamboo tray lets you bring the sugar and cream in style. I like the style of this ensemble a lot. I would buy it for myself, if it was not that the shipping fees to Canada are almost the price of the item.

+ Thanksgiving Salad Plates: White/silver $40 USD for a pack of 4
+ Thanksgiving Platter: White/silver $29-$49 USD
+ Bell Butter Dish $16 USD
+ Sugar and creamer with bamboo tray $14 USD


Happy Thanksgiving!

happy thanksgiving :: cider-brined roasted turkey

happy thanksgiving :: cider-brined roasted turkey

Many of you must be in the kitchen right now, cooking for your family. Do not stress out and try to enjoy the last preparations. I wish you all a wonderful time with your loved one.

I am taking this opportunity to share why I am thankful this year. First of all, I am thankful to be married to such a wonderful guy. Being with the right partner makes all aspects of life easier and more enjoyable. Second, I am thankful to carry our child inside my belly and that the pregnancy is going well. Third, over the last couple of years, both my husband and I have been able to successfully pursuit our dream career. I am blessed that my parents, my brother, my sister-in-law and their kids are all healthy, happy people. Life is great! And I do my best to appreciate every minute of it.

Lastly, I wish to all my American readers a Happy Thanksgiving! If you are looking for very last-minute recipes, check out William-Sonoma Thanksgiving past and present menu.

+ Cider-Brined Turkey
+ Wild Mushroom, Chestnut & Sausage Dressing


Turkey Roasting 101

turkey roasting tips

turkey roasting tips

Preparing a perfectly browned bird can be a daunting task even for a “seasoned” cook. After all, most of us only do it a few times a year.

Last week I confessed that I’ve never roasted a turkey, which made me determined to find the ultimate collection of tips and how-to for others who may be facing a similar challenge this holiday season. Most popular magazine and cooking websites have their own guides and suggestions, but nothing compared to the resources compiled at Epicurious.

This awesome guide – just one of many in their “How To Cook” series – includes step-by-step instructions plus video tutorials for the entire process, from choosing the perfect type and size of turkey to cleaning, trussing and carving the bird. For a flavorful and moist bird, see what you can accomplish with butter rubs, flavor injections, brining or dry herbs rubs. Plus, you will get all the facts to determine whether you want to roast with or without stuffing.

I’ll definitely be studying as I countdown to Christmas dinner.

+ Turkey Roasting Tips at


DIY Thanksgiving Garland

DIY Thanksgiving Chain

DIY Thanksgiving Chain

With the hustle of the holidays already upon us, it can be a challenge to make time to reflect on what the season is all about. That’s why I loved this thoughtful idea and accompanying DIY project from Silverbox Studios.

These printable strips feature the phrase “I am thankful for…” in elegant type, with room to write what you’re grateful for. Use the strips as napkin rings, tags for tree branches or to make paper garland. The examples were printed on kraft paper, but you can coordinate with your decor or tabletop by printing on coloured card stock or decorative paper.

This is a wonderful activity for guests of all ages, especially if you’ll be celebrating American Thanksgiving.

+ DIY Thanksgiving Printables from Silverbox Studios


Hand Printing Techniques from Yellow Owl Workshop

Handprinted placecards for Thanskgiving or a fall dinner party

Handprinted placecards for Thanskgiving or a fall dinner party

Custom designed paper goods like invitations are typically the first piece of an event puzzle. In addition to all the necessary details – like when and where – they also provide guests with the first taste of an event’s theme and formality. But, like most things custom, personalized printing often comes with a hefty price tag.

That’s why we loved this clever hand printing technique from Christine Schmidt, co-founder of the San Francisco-based design studio Yellow Owl Workshop.

Handprinting invitations for a fall or Thanksgiving dinner party

With just a few supplies, including a blender pen, transparency sheets and access to a color photocopier, it’s easy to create your own customized invitations. This project works for any type of event and is a great way to boost your Thanksgiving dinner or Holiday party theme.

You’ll find instructions on the process from Sunset magazine – plus templates for placecards, an invitation and wrapping paper featuring these lovely vintage-looking fruit and veggie graphics.

+ Hand Printing Instructions from Sunset Magazine
+ Download the placecard template
+ Download the invitation template
+ Download the wrapping paper template
+ Yellow Owl Workshop


Creative Thanksgiving Menu

Thanksgiving Desserts

Thanksgiving Appetizers

It can be a challenge to come up with a creative Thanksgiving menu, especially if your guests are turkey-and-mashed-potato purists.

You can serve something special and satisfy traditional tastebuds by using typical Thanksgiving ingredients in surprising ways. Consider adding one or two of these dishes to your dining table, or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, make it a truly memorable meal with our suggestions for Thanksgiving menu alternatives.


Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Goat Cheese from Smitten Kitchen. Typically served as a side, sweet potatoes are a Thanksgiving must-have. But when thickly sliced and topped with a seasonal mixture that includes cranberries and pecans, they’re an unexpected appetizer.

+ The Winter Squash Dip is a flavourful, garlicky dip that can be made ahead of time, so you can spend time enjoying it with guests. From Martha Stewart.


Thanksgiving Side dishes

+ Haricots Verts, Roasted Fennel and Shallots. Boring green beans get a sophisticated upgrade when roasted with fennel and shallots. From Bon Appetit

+ Stir-fried Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Parmesan from Simple Bites. Brussel sprouts have a bad rap; kids and adults alike tend to steer clear of this cruciferous veggie even when it’s in season. Surprise their taste buds with this stir-fried version. A healthy splash of lemon and a pinch of parm keep the flavour light, balancing out a typically heavy meal.

+ The Wasabi Mashed Potatoes will add fusion flavour to your Thanksgiving table!


Thanksgiving Desserts

+ Pumpkin Spice Creme Brulee that is baked and served inside a mini pumpkin. Better Homes and Gardens gave this classic dessert a Thanksgiving twist.

+ Cranberry-Poached Pears. For a light dessert option, this sweet and tart dish looks gorgeous and takes advantage of the season’s fruit harvest. From Martha Stewart.


Citrus Garland Centerpiece for Thanksgiving

lemon leaf garland centerpiece for thanksgiving

lemon leaf garland centerpiece for thanksgiving

If you are looking for inspirations to make your own centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table, have a look at what Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day did for the Wedding Project. It took her a few hours to make this 14 foot garland for $16. If you have the time, it is worth it since it creates such an impact on a simply dressed dining table.

diy lemon leaf garland centerpiece

+ Learn how to Make your Own Lemon Leaf Garland on Wedding Project
+ photos: Jordan Ferney of Oh Happy Day