An Italian Thanksgiving in the Ozarks
I would like to share with you our Italian Thanksgiving in the Ozarks. When John and I moved to the Ozarks I brought with me some of the traditions from Brooklyn. I grew up in a big Italian family and we always put an Italian twist on our Thanksgiving celebrations! I can remember being at my Aunt Frances’s house for Thanksgiving. We would start with the traditional Turkey and stuffing and after that was over the Italian food came out. Boy did you feel full when you left. I always thought that was how everyone had Thanksgiving!!
Even though your family might be a little different in how you celebrate, we can all agree that the focus of any Ozark Thanksgiving is to be thankful for all the things we have in our lives – including our family and the wonderful food we are able to make for them!
The Backes Thanksgiving
For any holiday, our family loves putting their own uniquely Italian spin on it, and Thanksgiving is no different! Combining flavors from all over the world allows us to make new holiday traditions to share with everyone. If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know that there are quite a few different Thanksgiving recipes. Here are some of my favorites:
This is my Nana Rina’s Stuffing and even though I have tweaked it over the years it reminds me so much of my nana. Everyone, and I mean everyone looks forward to this stuffing. I use German Sausage but you can use Italian Sausage. I feel that with all the flavors in the dish a German Sausage does really well.
Rather than using the same old boring recipe, we revamped this casserole! If you know you will be swamped with prepping other dishes on the day of Thanksgiving, try making this casserole ahead!
While the pumpkin flavor is a staple in the Thanksgiving meal lineup, it doesn’t have to be in a pie form as always! Try this delicious gelato recipe to really stun your guests this year. Serve it topped with your favorite Marina’s Chutney’s.
Pairing holiday dishes with chutneys – or simply using them as condiments – is a great way to introduce an extra level of sophisticated flavors. Chutneys are typically used to balance dishes that are sweet or spicy. For Thanksgiving, we use Marina’s Chutneys to highlight all the wonderful flavors we are infusing into our meal!
How to Keep Up with an Italian Thanksgiving
Juggling the cooking and prep times of multiple large dishes with family members running through the house can be an extremely hard task (especially if you don’t want to burn anything!). For us Italians, we love to create meals that incorporate a lot of different elements – and sometimes, figuring out how to make all the different timings work out can be tricky to do. Rather than stumbling your way through this Thanksgiving, take some of my advice!
Many people quickly run out of fridge space as they prepare for the holidays. With appetizers, main dishes, desserts, and more stuffed into your refrigerator, you might be at your wits end trying to figure out what you’re going to do with the rest of the food before it’s time to eat! Instead of limiting yourself to your fridge, break out the coolers. Fill them with ice and place in your garage (so they are out of your way) and use them to hold condiments, dressings, and marinades. Alternatively, you could also use a cooler as a warmer for foods coming out of the oven – just be sure to line it with something first.
Another way to save space is by using your kitchen cabinets to hold your recipes, rather than those hefty cookbooks. When you’re wanting to use Nana’s old Italian recipes, simply print them out and tape them to your cabinets!
What to Do with Thanksgiving Leftovers
Now, if you’re anything like me, you make much more than enough food for Thanksgiving and end up having lots of leftovers. Many families not only make the traditional Turkey they also prepare a delicious Baked Ham. I love to use leftovers the days after the holiday for easy and quick meals for the family like Baked Ham & Cheese Sliders as well as turkey & stuffing casseroles!
If you decide you have too many leftovers for your family to eat before they go bad, I recommend donating to a local food pantry like Ozarks Food Harvest. Not only do they help people during the holidays, but year-round as well.
I want to know how you celebrate Thanksgiving! What recipes do you use, and what do you do with your delicious leftovers?
Whether you decide to partake in virtual or in-person events is up to you and your family! Another fun way to celebrate on Thanksgiving is by going around the dinner table and asking each person what they are thankful for this year – and the younger they are, the better the answers get!
Thanksgiving Things to Do in the Ozarks
Since the pandemic is making us much more wary of where we are spending our time, of the events surrounding Thanksgiving in the Ozarks have been cancelled or adapted for virtual events. With in-laws and company planning to be around for the surrounding days around the holiday, you might be in search of any way to entertain them! This year, there are only a couple in-person events (and we recommend that you check with each one before visiting, as they might update their information after we publish this article):
- 56th Annual Ozark Christmas Parade (November 21st)
- Lake West Lighted Christmas Parade (November 28th)
- Osage Beach Holiday Lights in the Park (November 28th – December 31st)
As far as virtual events go, there are an incredible amount of options to choose from!
- Springfield’s Virtual Turkey Trot (November 26th – November 29th)
- Virtual Ceremony for Lights of the Ozark Parade in Fayetteville
- Thanksgiving Virtual Trivia (November 24th)
- Virtual Paint and Sip: Thanksgiving (November 29th)
- Thanksgiving Cookie Decorating Class (November 17th)
So have a wonderful Thanksgiving and give thanks for all that we have!!