All The Thanksgiving Classics, Plus a Few New Dishes

By: Ashley E. Rodriguez
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When planning the same holiday year after year, how do you keep your celebration fresh and interesting while maintaining a sense of tradition? We asked our favorite bloggers and food people to share what's inspiring their Thanksgiving planning this year. From ancestor's recipes and falling leaves, to beautiful piles of ingredients and thoughtful home decor, there was no shortage of imagination. See what motivates some of the most creative minds we know, and then start planning your annual feast.

At our Thanksgiving table there are many palates to please. Year after year the offerings rarely change and that’s how they like it. Boxed stuffing, congealed cranberry sauce with the ridges from the tin can still intact and corn soggy from a quick defrost in the microwave.

By my descriptions you may think I don’t enjoy our Thanksgiving, when in fact the opposite is true. While the food may not resemble the buffet of my dreams, it’s our tradition and it satisfies in a way that no other meal can. I know just what to expect and it never disappoints. And yet I feel it is almost my duty as a passionate food lover to push tradition a bit.

I am most inspired this time of year while the produce abounds and the thrill of a new season still excites. Each year I casually slide a dish into the mix that defies tradition. It sits in between the stuffing and the cranberries, and induces raised eyebrows as people don’t quite know what to think of the uninvited guest.

This year I’m thinking of dishes rich in flavor while offering a lighter addition to the table. Perhaps sweet and tangy roasted red onions with ruby-red pomegranate seeds strewn on top. Or roasted mushrooms with an abundance of sage that my garden has been working so hard to grow all season long. This Thanksgiving I have plans to use loads of fresh herbs and spices that are new to me. And although my grandma makes the best pumpkin pie around, it’s always nice to have another sweet option; currently, caramel and pears are making me happy.

With all the traditional components still intact and a few new additions to the table that excite and inspire me, I think we are bound for a successful holiday with everyone happy and well-fed.

For more Thanksgiving ideas, visit our Thanksgiving Inspiration Board Gallery.

Years ago you could find Ashley E. Rodriguez in the kitchen of a well-known restaurant preparing desserts for high-end patrons. These days her job is to feed a family of five. When not doing that, she's either teaching cooking classes, taking pictures, writing or eating. She's yet to tire of food, especially Thanksgiving food. Visit her blog, Not Without Salt, for more.

Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes from Cooking Channel

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