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A North Carolina or a Pennsylvania Thanksgiving
Elizabeth here. Our family of 4 (me, Chad, Caroline, and Ellie) has always traveled to either North Carolina or Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving. My parents are in NC. My sister lives in Georgia and often makes the trip to NC when we’re there. Sometimes we spend Thanksgiving Day with my mom and stepfather and some years we spend the day with my dad, stepmother, half-brother, and extended family. Some years friends and other family join us for dinner and some years not. We also try to make time to see friends when in NC, too. It’s always a whirlwind, but I love seeing everyone!
When we travel to Pennsylvania, we spend the holiday weekend with Chad’s parents, his brothers, their wives, and their children. Then the day after Thanksgiving, Chad’s Uncle, Aunt, and 5 cousins and their spouses and children come to spend the day with us. It’s a big crowd, but lots of fun.
Family, Gratitude, and Games
Our tradition is being with family. Part of our tradition is to take a few minutes to go around the table and give each person a chance to tell everyone what they’re grateful for. I love this tradition and I especially love hearing what all the children have to say.
As a child, I always loved watching the Macy’s Day Parade! I still do and both my children enjoy it now, too! After our meal, we often play some sort of game: Apples to Apples, Taboo, Head’s Up. For us, it’s a fun way for everyone to connect.
What we make depends on who we’re having our Thanksgiving meal with. That said, every year Chad and I make “our” Brussels sprouts. We cut out the core of each Brussels sprout and then separate all the leaves. This process takes a looong time, but it’s a nice opportunity to catch up with our relatives and just enjoy an activity together. Chad then sautés the piles of little leaves in some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Even the selective eaters gobble them up!
I also typically make mashed potatoes where ever we’re eating. Salting the cooking water is one of the keys to splendid mashed potatoes. And, plenty of butter is the other key. Last year for the first time, I made the mashed potatoes well ahead of time and kept them warm in a slow cooker. This worked so well, I will do this every year.
I love to bake, but the only time I make a dessert for the Thanksgiving meal is if we’re at my Mom’s. This is fine with me! Then I just make my favorite dessert to have with a meal sometime around Thanksgiving. My favorite Thanksgiving dessert is Pumpkin Steamed Pudding from Stars Desserts by Emily Luccetti. I know the name of the dessert might leave you wondering how this dessert could be good. But, trust me, it's fabulous! It's similar to a very moist cake. And, it's a really nice alternative to pumpkin pie.
I used to bake an apple, sour cherry pie before I discovered this book. And before that, my mom made a Pumpkin Chiffon Pie for Thanksgiving dessert.
Pumpkin Steamed Pudding
When I was baking for a living, I made this dessert as individual pumpkin puddings and served it with apple cider caramel sauce, lightly whipped cream, and toasted pecans. I love this combination, but it has always felt like too many components to juggle, with cooking other items at Thanksgiving. So, I make it as one dish (as the recipe suggests) and serve it with a bowl of lightly sweetened whipped cream to pass around. I make plenty of whipped cream because I want extra for a dollop (or 3) in my coffee and to eat with the leftover pumpkin pudding the next morning! It seems Anna and I have the same day-after-Thanksgiving breakfast tradition!
Place the room-temperature butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
Add the granulated sugar and beat on medium for 2 minutes or so.
Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on medium, until combined.
Add the pumpkin puree and lemon juice and mix on medium-low. The mixture will look a bit curdled. That's ok.
Whisk together the remaining dry ingredients.
Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix on low until combined.
Spoon the batter into a buttered 2 qt. pudding mold.
Cover the mold with buttered aluminum foil. Then secure the foil with kitchen twine.
Place the filled and covered mold into a pot with 1-2 inches of space around the mold and tall enough to hold the mold. While the pot is on the stove, pour hot water into the pot halfway up the mold. Turn the burner on to medium.
Place a lid on the pot. Bring the water to a simmer. You'll want to check it periodically because you don't want the water to boil. It's not a big deal if it boils sometimes, just turn the heat down a bit.
After 1 ½ hours, using pot holders, carefully remove the mold from the pot of steaming water. Then, cut the twine.
Gently remove the foil "lid". Check for doneness by inserting a wooden skewer (or knife) into the near-center of the pudding. There will be some crumbs on the skewer that look done.
Let the pudding cool completely. Then turn it upside down on a serving dish and gently shake it while lifting off the mold. I take it to the table to serve. I leave it unadorned. You could dust it with a little powdered sugar to give it a more finished look.
I serve this with a big dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream and a bowl of whipped cream to pass for those who'd like more.
*If you don't have a pudding mold (I know I didn't have one lying around when I found this recipe), you can cook the pudding in individual buttered ramekins or a cupcake pan. Fill the ramekins or cupcake pan a little more than halfway with batter. Place the ramekins or cupcake pan in a large baking dish and fill halfway up the sides of the ramekins or cupcake pan. Cover the pan with a piece of buttered aluminum foil. Place the pan in a preheated 350 F oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes.
If you would like to buy a pudding mold, here's a link to a brand that's similar to what I have. It comes with a lid, but I prefer to use foil and twine because it's easier to remove.
***You can also make this in ramekins (8 ounces, 6 ounces, or 4 ounces) and bake them in a water bath. The instructions are in the recipe below.
What are your Thanksgiving traditions? We'd love to hear from you!
More pumpkin recipes
Pumpkin Steamed Pudding
A scrumptious alternative to pumpkin pie adapted from Stars Desserts by Emily Luchetti.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes - 2 hours
- Total Time: 2 - 2 hours 30 minutes
- Yield: 10-12 servings
- Category: Dessert
6 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
2 ¼ cups sugar
3 large eggs
3 TBS freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ cups canned pumpkin puree
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon allspice
Butter the inside of the mold along with with a piece of aluminum foil that’s big enough to cover the mold.
Sift (or gently whisk) together the flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, baking powder and salt.
Place the room temperature butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium high for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.
Add the granulated sugar and beat on medium for 2 minutes or so.
Mix in the eggs, one at a time on medium.
Add the freshly squeezed lemon juice and pumpkin puree and combine.
Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until combined.
Spoon the batter into the mold place the lid on the mold. Then put the covered mold into a pot that’s big enough to hold the mold with a few inches to spare around the mold. Fill the pot about halfway up the outside of the mold with hot water. Place the lid on the pot and bring the water to a simmer over medium low heat.
Check the water every so often to make sure it’s still just simmering. If it boils, the pudding might rise before it’s done and then sink. (That said, it’s not the end of the world if this happens!)
Steam the pudding for 1 ½ - 2 hours.
Carefully remove the mold from the pot of steaming water. I use potholders.
Cut the twine. Carefully remove the foil from the pudding mold. Insert a wooden skewer (or knife) near the center and if the crumbs look done, the pudding is done. If the pudding isn't done, replace the foil "lid" and gently put the mold back into the pot of water. Cover the pot with a lid and bring it back to a simmer and cook until done.
Let the pudding cool completely and then un-mold it onto a serving dish.
Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream.
***If you don't have a pudding mold, you can make this in individual ramekins. Any size from 4-8 ounces will work. If you use 8 ounce ramekins, you'll have batter for about 10 puddings. Butter the inside of each ramekin. Fill ¾ of the way full with the batter. Place them in two 9 x 13 inch pans. Fill the pay ½ way up the sides of the ramekins. Cover tightly with a piece of buttered aluminum foil. I also tie kitchen twine around the foil to make sure it's on tightly.
Bake in a preheated 350 F oven for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the pudding comes out clean. Be careful when lifting the foil off the pan - there's steam in there. Use a metal spatula to carefully (don't burn yourself) remove the puddings from the water bath and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
Top with whipped cream and serve them right from the ramekins!
Keywords: pumpkin steamed pudding, Thanksgiving