Of Canned Cranberry Sauce and Chicken Noodles

My husband and I celebrated Thanksgiving with six other people about our age. Two were still in college, and all their talk of dorms and majors, plus some thinly-disguised enthusiasm for alcohol, made me nostalgic for the days when time was measured in semesters. We also got to meet some new people and share stories about dental trauma and wacky relatives and various dumb things we’ve done (i.e., accidentally lighting towels on fire, mixing caffeine with alcohol, double-booking a first date with the person we wound up marrying, etc.). All in all, it was a lovely time.

But anyway, on to the food: we stuck fairly close to the basics, and everything was delicious and homey and satisfying. Unfortunately, I left my camera at home and am unlikely to get the pictures my friend took by the time this post goes live, so I’ve done my best to find similar representations of what we ate below:

1. Canned Cranberry Sauce

Yes, we ate the infamous “splorp-out-of-the-can” jellied variety of cranberry sauce. Actually, there was a fairly heated debate about how such a gelatinous substance should be arranged on the plate. On one side there was the “smash it up and serve it like jelly” camp, and on the other side the “slice it and fan it out” camp.

In the end we wound up serving it both ways because we had two cans of the stuff. I’ll admit I didn’t eat any. What? I really don’t like cranberry sauce. It’s the Most Over-rated Thanksgiving Food in my book.

2. Chicken Noodles

One of the guests brought these noodles because they are part of her family’s Thanksgiving tradition, which is really cool since, as I stated above, we didn’t really deviate much from the sweet potatoes/mashed potatoes/green beans/turkey template.

They are very simple to prepare: just boil egg noodles in chicken stock, drain and serve. What you get is a lightly flavored noodle that’s reminiscent of chicken noodle soup without the broth. I actually really enjoyed this because it was a nice departure, texture-wise¬† from all the mushy, casserole-like foods.

3. Chocolate Walnut Pie

THIS IS MY NEW FAVORITE PIE. I hope that wasn’t too eye-searing, but this was easily the most awesome part of the night, gastronomy-wise. Holy cow. If you love nuts and you love chocolate, well, each individual bit of this cake is like angels playing harps on the tip of your tongue: no, I am not exaggerating!

I’m so glad my friend made this, because we had apple, pecan, and pumpkin, which are all great in their own way, but not mind-blowing (not to me, but I’m a chocolate-or-nothing dessert fan). One of my family’s traditions (which my mom just informed me she didn’t do this year! Sacrilege!) is to make a chocolate pudding pie. It ain’t fancy; it’s just Jell-o pudding dumped in a pie crust, but I looooove it. I was hesitant to make it though, because other people usually prefer the traditional pie flavors.

Ok, I’m linking a recipe from for you guys: Chocolate Walnut Pie.

Last but not least, I did make the lil smokies wrapped in bacon that I reviewed for a previous post, and they were a big hit, so much so that I wish I had made two packages of those little calorie-bombs.

Also, I tried out some new recipes: Gourmet Sweet Potato Classic (a very sweet casserole with cream, eggs, cinnamon and white sugar) and Grandma’s Green Bean Casserole (a version with a sour cream base instead of the traditional cream of mushroom soup). Everybody really enjoyed the sweet potato casserole, and it was a snap to make: I just boiled and mashed the potatoes in a large stock pot, dumped in all the other ingredients, and stirred until smooth, covering with a sugar/butter/pecan mixture and baking). I think the green bean casserole was great, but that’s hands-down my favorite item on Thanksgiving menus, so I’m pretty prejudiced.

What types of things did you all make, traditional and otherwise?

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