The Great Thanksgiving Recipe Share 2012


Submitted by: Noelle Ritter

Recipe: Spicy Cranberry Chutney

“Love this take on cranberry sauce.  The jalapeño is surprising and cuts the sweetness a bit. Really fun.”


Submitted by: Beth Goad

Recipe: Mini Pumpkin Souffles

Beth blogged about this recipe about 2 years ago. She found this recipe in an ad for Cabot Cheese in the October 2010 issues of Better Homes and Garden! The original recipe made 8 servings, so she quartered it, so the recipe in her blog makes two servings.

Submitted by: Stephanie Krier

Recipe: Rustic Vanilla Apple Bread Pudding with Caramel Whiskey Sauce

“I’ve never made this recipe before, so I can’t say for sure that it’s going to be great. But how can it NOT be great? I absolutely love bread pudding. But then, to add a hard liquor to a caramel sauce is just too brilliant to pass up! I came across this recipe at Food 52 (if you have not yet discovered this gem, check it out) and I can’t wait to try it.”

Submitted by: Noelle Ritter

Recipe: Tasty Holiday Rolls – Caramelized Onions and Rosemary

Noelle first blogged about this recipe 2 years ago, on her blog The Joyful Table. “Who doesn’t love rosemary? These rolls are simple and are great for a first-timer looking to impress the family!”

Submitted by: Beth Goad

Recipe: Pumpkin Crisp

“This is a fall favorite for me — just combine the ingredients and bake for about an hour!  I love simple & tasty recipes . . .”

Submitted by: Emily Butler

Recipe: Melissa’s Yam Recipe

“I love this recipe, and I don’t even really like yams. It’s named for the person I received it from — my old Bible study leader and mentor from when I was in high school, and I have been using it for Thanksgiving (and Friendsgiving and Canadian Thanksgiving) potlucks ever since.  The real gem of this recipe is the crust — if you love thick, crispy, crumbly crusts, you’ll love this recipe.  I’ve also taken the crust and put it on top of chopped apples tossed with cinnamon sugar, butter, flour (or tapioca), and fresh cranberries, and it makes a delicious cranberry-apple crisp as well.”


3 c. yams (4-5) boiled or baked
½ c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
1/3 c. melted butter
Yam Filling: Mix and mash the above and pour into a 9 x 13 casserole dish.
Crumb Topping: Combine all of the following ingredients.
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. coconut flakes
1 c. chopped pecans
1/3 c. melted butter
1/3 c. flour
Sprinkle yam mixture with topping and bake at 350 for 40–45

Submitted by: Noelle Ritter

Recipe: Healthy Green Beans

“Not your grandma’s casserole, this side dish is refreshing and bright. I have loved this dish over and over!”

Submitted by: Stephanie Krier

Recipe: Paula Dean’s Corn Casserole

“There couldn’t be an easier and more unhealthy corn casserole dish!  Two years ago, I made about 4 pans of this for a large church Thanksgiving potluck the Saturday before Thanksgiving. It was a hit . . . however, I never got a chance to taste it until the following year when I made it again. Everyone wanted to know how it was made, so I just said “Paula Dean” and they said, “Oh!!” . . . Yes, it is not healthy (at all), but it’s a great, easy side. I prefer to make it without the cheese on top, but I’m sure it’s delicious either way!”

Submitted by: Melissa Lester

Recipe: Ruth’s Chris Sweet Potato Casserole

“This is the best sweet potato anything I have ever tasted. I will be making it this year. It can serve as a side, or even as dessert.”


Submitted by: Lyndsay Wilkin

Recipe: Cranberry Salad

“Growing up I never liked the cranberry part of of the traditional Thanksgiving meal, so I usually skipped it, hoping whoever the hostess was (including my mom) wouldn’t notice, and gave myself extras of mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes. But about 15 years ago my mom started making this cranberry salad, and now it’s one of my favorite parts of the meal. It tastes fresh, crunchy, and has just enough sweet to balance out the bitterness of the cranberries. She usually makes extras just for me to take home. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!”


1 lb cranberries
1 whole orange peel
2 cups sugar
1 cup chopped apples
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
1 cup small marshmallows
1 cup chopped celery
Either chop finely or process the cranberries. Grate orange peel or process. Mix together with sugar and let it set overnight.
Add the rest of the ingredients the next morning, mix well, and serve!

Noelle’s “other than pumpkin pie” dessert ideas:

Submitted by: Noelle Ritter

Recipe: Alyce’s Apple Pie with Pat’s Crumble Top

Noelle blogged about this delicious apple pie recipe a while back. “Classic apple pie with a rich French crumble top.  So good hot, and if possible, leftovers are mouth-watering in the morning!”


Recipe: Banoffee Pie (WARNING: Banana Explosion!)

“This is such a fun change from traditional pies (pumpkin, apple, etc.). Who knew sweet and condensed milk can turn into caramel? Pair this with a white port or a little brandy.”


Recipe: Pumpkin Brûlée

“Get fancy, but stay traditional. This dessert is creamier than your typical pumpkin pie filling, plus you get to brûlée the top!  Oooh la la!”


Submitted by: Lyndsay Wilkin
Recipe: Sweet Potato Souffle
“Here’s a little something healthy and DELCIOUS to mix things up if you’re bored with the traditional sweet potatoes/yams baked with marshmallows on top. I would suggest doubling the recipe, because it’s THAT good. =)”


2 cups smashed sweet potatoes
2 eggs, whipped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup walnuts
1 tsp cinnamon (I like to add extra though!)

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Peel, boil, and mash sweet potatoes. Mix together the rest of the ingredients and pour into a casserole dish or oven-safe dish.

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes and enjoy!

Submitted by: Noelle Ritter

Recipe: Day After Thanksgiving Soup- Turkey Soup with Lemon & Sage

“This soup is so yummy, with the herbs of Thanksgiving (sage and thyme) but brightened with lemon. You might find yourself making an extra turkey just to make more soup to freeze. So comforting!”

On the Willows thanks all of the women who contributed to this post . . .

Cheers & Happy Thanksgiving!

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Thank God for Endings

Tis the season to be thankful.  Many of us are making a concerted effort to cultivate a sense of gratitude in our hearts and in the atmosphere of our homes this month.  We are reading Ann Voskamp, posting thankful status updates on Facebook, and putting up Thanksgiving themed free printables around the house.  All good stuff.

For many of us, our gratitude list starts off  with a bang . . . our salvation!  We are humbled and thankful to have been ransomed by our Savior, Friend, and returning King.  Next on the list, our family and loved ones, our health, our safe homes, our jobs, and our freedoms.  We truly do have so much to be thankful for!

In my own life,  something rather new has begun to pop up on my appreciation radar.  I find myself thankful, sometimes to the point of deep relief, that something has ended. Technically speaking, endings are nothing new, but my attitude toward them has certainly received a makeover, courtesy of wise counsel and the Holy Spirit.

Growing up in the church, I heard a lot about new beginnings.  I remember thanking God for new seasons, new opportunities, new revelations, open doors, open windows and an open heaven.  Words like fresh, different, deeper, and further abound. We always seem to be longing for something new to start.  Yet there is another part of God’s order that we don’t seem to be as accepting of, and are definitely not as comfortable with. Often times, in order to make room for something new to begin, the old has to be done away with.

In his fantastic book, Necessary Endings, Dr. Henry Cloud talks about one of the ways God does away with the old, using the age old metaphor of pruning.  In general, you prune in three instances:

1.  Because a bush will produce more blooms than it can sustain

2.  Because a branch or limb is not going to get well and healthy

3.  Because the dead stuff needs to be cleared away to make space for new growth

In the world of business, pruning is done by determining where the most life is, and then shutting down the less effective areas, which are really just a distraction.

Plum Pruning Diagram - Before & After
Plum Pruning Diagram – Before & After

Even though I knew those verses-turned-pop-song in Ecclesiastes about there being a season appointed for all things, including to live and to die, I had not really accepted that as part of God’s order beyond the aspect of physical life and death on this planet.  I was not very well equipped to recognize this as part of Him caring for my life and my journey of growing up in God.

Typically, I would tend to think of endings as the result of something going wrong; the end of a marriage due to infidelity, the end of a ministry due to financial mismanagement, the end of a friendship due to a misunderstanding.  Sadly, these kinds of things do happen, and on a fairly regular basis. But, there is another kind of end.  This end comes from the hand of my Maker, who loves me very much, and has seen fit to a prune an area of my life because I have taken on something that I should not have, because that area is not growing and thriving, or because there is less effective stuff distracting me from what needs to be my focus in this season. It is His kindness that brings about endings, as well as beginnings.

I am learning that not all death is the result of something bad.  I can no longer blindly assume that it is God’s will for everything dead to be resurrected, or even that a series of mistakes brought about that death.  I do not want to be a leader in the Body of Christ who refuses to acknowledge when something needs to die, and hold people hostage in that denial. I have been on the other side of that equation a couple of times, and it does not feel good!

Sometimes things are just over because their season has passed.  Lingering there cannot produce life.  (When you have time, read the story of Lot’s wife in Genesis 19). I want to be willing to let go of the old thing so that I can grab hold of the new.  I want to trust God’s character and heart toward me so completely that I have total confidence that He will be faithful to me, regardless of whether the door in front me swings open or closed.

At heart, I can be hoarder. I believe the lie that more is always better. At times, I lack the faith that God can be in the removal of something just as much as He is in the addition of something. I am relying on the Holy Spirit to help me discern if I am reaping what I or someone else has sown, or if something has just completed it’s God-ordained cycle.

I am so thankful for the amazing grace of God in my life.  He has blessed me both in what He has given, and what He has taken away.  He has saved my bacon from untold amounts of stress, anxiety, and pain by leading me in, and OUT, of jobs, relationships, committees, churches, groups, etc.  I can honestly say that a necessary ending can be one of the most freeing, uplifting, and empowering items on your list of things to be grateful for.

THE END.  Aren’t you thankful?

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Diagram via .

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Hospitality Away from Home: City Living on Thanksgiving

In 2009 my husband and I made the choice to set out on a life adventure, move away from our home and families in Florida, and pursue the prospect of new careers and educations. Well . . . nothing really ever ends up how you plan it. God has moved and shaken our idea of what our life should be. We now reside in Los Angeles, California; the second city that we have called “home away from home.”

When you’re a 20-something/college student/post-college student/young career builder, making trips home for Thanksgiving is often the first thing to go from the budget. With Christmas right around the corner, it’s hard to justify and afford two trips in close succession. For the last few years we’ve done various things from a quiet Thanksgiving with friends to spending it with distant relatives, but this year we’re starting something new.

The first Turkey I ever made in Boston in 2010

Many people have hosted “Friendsgiving” before and we are starting our own this year. Being hospitable is something that comes naturally to us and we love to cook. (I feel the whole world needs to know about my famous pumpkin cheesecake.) It’s less than desirable to be away from family, but it’s always a good idea to start a new tradition in the wake of disappointment.

The great cities of the United States attract so many young, talented, and often broke people pursuing the making of culture. This is particularly true in Los Angeles where almost no one is actually from here. For our first Friendsgiving we hope to bring a little bit of family to those who don’t have one. I consider the family deficit in our country to be a bigger problem than any of our financial ones. Not belonging to anyone can cause more damage to an individual than many other physical problems. One holiday won’t fix anyone’s life, but by being a family presence we hope to be one light on that one day.

So, if you’re a West Coaster without a Thanksgiving destination, consider our house your Thanksgiving home. We’ll be your friend family.

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Sweet Potato Heavenly Bake

Okay, so I’m on a bit of a kick this week: Sweet potato soup, sweet potato hash, roasted sweet potato . . . all because I bought a ton of sweet potatoes in preparation to make THIS dish.

Last Thanksgiving we were invited to our neighbor’s Thanksgiving gathering. It was potluck style (food and people); every different kind of dish and walk of life . . . that’s Portland for ya.

Sweet Potato Heavenly Bake

To be honest, I don’t even remember what I brought, but what I do remember was this sweet potato dish. I shamelessly scraped the last of this dish when it came through the second time. If I hadn’t been in the presence of strangers I might have licked it clean. Maybe I should have anyway. I sheepishly asked the hostess the next day if I could find out who made it and stalk them for the recipe. She said it was her chef brother (of course). I thought it tasted chefly.

Kristin called it Sweet Potato Casserole. I’m allergic to the word casserole. Therefore I’ve taken the liberty of renaming it: Sweet Potato Heavenly Bake. You could serve it as a side dish, but it’s practically dessert. I might even pass on pumpkin pie for extra helpings of this goodness.

To see the actual recipe and visual instructions, click here.

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Elections, Free and Fair

Women Voters – 1955

In 1690, John Locke published the Second Treatise of Government that what would become one of the most important documents in the development of American democracy and source of global political evolution, putting government in the hands of the people. In 1869, African Americans were given the right to vote. In 1919, the 19th Amendment expanded suffrage to include a large portion of the population long denied this proud opportunity – women.

And less than two days ago Barack Obama was re-elected as President of the United States, the people voted in another democrat-controlled senate, and republicans continue to hold the House of Representatives.

The people of American have spoken. Or have they?

However rough things may have started, American history seems to be one defined by the ever increasing expansion of rights to its citizens. More and more, the voiceless find themselves able to speak (metaphorically of course), and to have an impact in the direction of this nation.

But there is this one little glitch. Even though African Americans, Hispanics, non-landowners and women are all now equally able to cast their votes on a ballot, every four years millions find themselves out of the count. Oh sure, they show up to the polls, they mail in their ballots. Their votes makes a brief appearance as part of the ever-changing popular vote numbers on anxious news networks’ programs. But while their votes for state measures, representatives and senators certainly make a difference, their vote for president unfortunately does not.

Every year, so many people, both democrats and republicans, don’t make it out the polls under the premise, and rightful assessment, that their vote won’t count, that their voice won’t really be heard because of the winner-take-all system under the Electoral College. And we wonder why voter participation is so low.

If you are not familiar with this system, this is a very short and simple break down of how it works:

Basically, the individual states, not individual people, decide who gets to move into the White House. In a winner-take-all system, the entirety of a state’s electoral votes are given to the winning candidate of that state, regardless of the fact that a few thousand votes may have made the difference. The victor is the one who gets at least 270 total electoral votes. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? It promotes states’ rights after all.

Wrong. Nearly half of a state’s individuals will be silenced because the entirety of their state’s electoral votes go to the candidate they didn’t vote for.

Who really cares? The election is over, the advertising campaigns will, thankfully, be over, and everyone can move on with their lives.

Unfortunately, they cannot . . . because our great nation, that advocates for human rights and political reforms in the rest of the world, turns a blind eye to political inequality after every presidential election. And four years later, millions of people find themselves the victims of this. According to, one out of twelve elections since the Civil War have resulted in a candidate taking office who won the Electoral College, but did not actually represent the will of the nation in that he did not win the popular vote. A candidate could receive less than fifty percent of the popular vote and still win the election!

So how do we solve this? How do we make sure that the nation that claims it is the great champion of liberty and democracy actually lives up its bold promises?

The National Popular Vote bill offers an alternative to the present election system. It keeps the Electoral College, but modifies it so that the popular vote is what seals the deal on the winning candidate. Results would not depend on a few thousand votes in a handful of states. Under this bill, states would still be given electoral votes, but they would not be cast according to the results of their specific populations. Rather, they would be reflective of the national popular vote.

For instance, California, regardless of that fact that is consistently a blue state, would give all of its fifty-five electoral votes to the candidate who wins the overall popular vote, even if he/she is a republican. Not even all states have to agree to this bill in order for it to take effect. Only the number of states whose combined electoral votes would equal 270 (the amount needed to win the election) would be needed for this to happen. Already, nine states have passed this bill.

The National Popular Vote offers method of ensuring fair and equal elections in the United States in comparison to the current use of the Electoral College. But regardless of whether you think this particular bill is the answer, the institution of a popularly elected president is necessary to make sure that everyone truly is able to turn their formal freedom into actual freedom, as they say in the philosophical world.

This year marked the first election I voted in, and I was darn well near tears at the opportunity to voice my opinion. But I also live in a state in which I find myself at odds with the general political consensus. Like millions of other people, I knew my vote wouldn’t make much of a difference other than on voter turn-out statistics. But I exercised my right to vote out of principle, to make a statement that I care, that I will not be silent. But next time, I don’t want myself or millions of other people to vote purely on principle. I want their vote to count. I want to be heard.

If you would like to find out more information, gain some more clarity, or address any questions you may have, check out these websites:,, and

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