Growing up with seven brothers and sisters, Thanksgiving was always a huge family extravaganza.   Time & geography has changed this and we often spend the day with a modest gathering and a smaller, though still traditional feast.  This year we were invited to a gathering of friends for Thanksgiving dinner.   The guest list included 4 couples and 9, mostly teen-aged, kids.  I’ve never celebrated this family holiday with friends, but it was so much fun! 

My contributions were small – a pie, some wine, dinner rolls & relish trays.  For my relish trays, I made a plate of devilish eggs using my mom-in-law’s delicious recipe.  It has finely chopped red onion and pickled jalapenos with a dash of cumin in the filling.  I like to dress them up with a little radish garnish and a pinch of chopped cilantro or parsley.   I love how pretty they turn out.

For the relish tray I stuck with traditional fresh veggies & stuffed celery.  My mother always stuffed the celery with cream cheese and green olives and I had planned to do the same until a recipe from the Bon Appetit foodist for his “Grandma Knowlton’s Pimento Cheese Spread” caught my eye.  I used to buy this stuff pre-made in Texas where it was commonly used for sandwiches or spread on a cracker.   I made a batch and put it out with Ritz crackers for my own taste testers who gave it a big thumbs up.    It’s simple, too, so give it a try.  It looked pretty on my veggie tray. 

I didn’t take my camera to the party but I should have because everything was so festive.  The long table in the living room was set beautifully and our hosts home was so warm and welcoming.  We started with some very tasty fall martinis for happy hour and the party started with a bang!  

Dinner was perfect.  The conversation was loud and lively and the food was amazing.  Normally I pass on sweet potatoes, but sampled a dish that my friend, Mary, brought.  Mary ran a bed and breakfast for years and everything she cooks is incredible.  Omygosh – these yams would make a great dessert!  She shared this recipe and it will always be on my Thanksgiving table. 

We ended the night with pie, coffee and even more great conversation.  Thank you Shannon & Gregg for a fun and memorable Thanksgiving!

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Pimento Cheese Spread

1-1/2 cups (packed) finely grated extra sharp yellow cheddar
1-1/2 cups (packed) finely grated white cheddar (I had Monterrey Jack and used that)
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup diced pimento from a jar – drained and chopped finely
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Mix all in a medium sized bowl.  Mash with a fork to blend well.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cover & chill until cold. 

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Yam Good Sweet Budaydas – Mary Knoll

3cups cooked, skinned & mashed yams (hot)
½ cup white sugar
1/3 cup butter
½ cup milk – may not be needed if the yams have a soft texture
2 eggs beaten
1 tsp vanilla

 Pour into 1-1/2 or 2 qt casserole

 TOPPING (Mary doubles this)
½ cup coconut (optional)
½ cup chopped pecans
6 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp melted butter

 Spread over yam mixture and bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes until bubbly in center.