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Apple Baklava

This year as we plan our Thanksgiving menus, many of us are including traditional family favorites in place of the avant-garde flavors and cooking methods that have been so popular for the past few years.  Ingredients like kale, cauliflower, and bacon are getting the cold shoulder this year in favor of classic dishes like green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and anything made with corn.

Another trend for Thanksgiving 2013 is to accommodate special needs diets.  In previous years, those who adhere to gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, or diabetic friendly diets have had to provide their own special dishes and avoid most of the Thanksgiving spread.  This year many hosts and hostesses are planning whole meals around the special dietary needs of their guests.

Two more specific trends this year are serving a spread of appetizers and the revival of a non-traditional method of turkey preparation.  Many hosts and hostesses will be serving their guests a variety of appetizers before the big meal on Thanksgiving.  There is no particular focus on specific styles or flavors in these appetizers - anything goes.  When it comes to preparing your turkey, a method made popular by Jacques Pepin is growing in popularity this year.  The turkey is first steamed for a short period of time and then roasted in the oven.

Keep reading to find out the what is popular in each part of the Thanksgiving meal.

Abundant Appetizers: While the idea of staving off your guests hunger by serving them delicious appetizers while you finish preparing your Thanksgiving feast is appealing, it can be a lot of extra work.  For a hassle free way to keep up with this trend, try incorporating one ready-to-eat appetizer from your local market into your spread or ask a few of your guests to bring their favorites.  Celebrate the rich flavors of fall with these appetizers: Bacon Sweet Potato Bites, Apple Baklava, or Chipotle-Cumin Spiced Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper Crostini

Comforting Side Dishes: Traditional favorites like green bean casserole and mashed potatoes are all the rage this year. It seems like we are opting for warm and comforting over new and exciting.  Adding classic fall flavors like apple and cranberry into your dishes is also popular.  From corn casserole to cornbread muffins, dishes featuring corn are making an appearance on many of our Thanksgiving tables as well.  Try these comforting and delicious recipes for some of our favorite Thanksgiving side dishes: Original Durkee Green Bean Casserole, Mashed Potatoes and Apples with Bacon and Onions, and Butternut Squash, Bell Pepper, Corn and Cheddar Casserole.

Decadent Stuffing: Many of us are planning to serve cornbread stuffing this year instead of whole-wheat or white cubed bread stuffing.  Rich stuffing recipes featuring oyster or sausage are also very popular.  Decadence is what will satisfy our stuffing cravings in 2013.  Try one of these stuffing recipes to compliment your Thanksgiving table this year: Cranberry Cornbread StuffingCornbread StuffingCornbread Mason-Dixon Stuffing, Oyster Stuffing, Oyster Stuffing with Herbs, Almond Sausage Stuffing, Cranberry Cornbread Sausage Stuffing, or Sausage Apple Stuffing.

The Perfect Turkey: This year the focus is on how to prepare the perfect Thanksgiving Turkey.  Two methods are gaining popularity, both yielding delicately crispy skin.  The first method is to roast your turkey in parchment paper.  This yields a turkey that is moist and tender with a golden, buttery, crispy skin.  The second method is to steam and then roast your turkey.  This method allows the fat to evaporate from underneath the skin during the steaming process.   A delightful crispy skin is then created while the turkey roasts.  Check out these recipes to try one of these methods this year: Turkey Roasted in Parchment Paper and Steamed and Roasted Turkey.

Delicious Desserts: Savory Desserts are very popular this year.  The classic pairing of apple pie with cheddar crust will be served at many Thanksgiving celebrations.  At home chefs are also using cheddar crusts with other fruits, such as pear.  Decadent and delectable bruleed pumpkin pie is also very popular this year, featuring a filling that is much more like a custardy creme brulee than the traditional pumpkin pie.  Try these delicious recipes for this year’s popular desserts:  Apple Pie in Cheddar Crust and Bruleed Maple Pumpkin Pie.

Gluten Free - The focus on special needs diets has led many to search out gluten-free recipes.  The problem areas when providing for guests with gluten sensitivity seems to be stuffing and dessert.  Try these recipes to meet your guest’s special needs: Rice and Sausage Stuffing and Gluten Free Pie or Tart Crust.