Happy Thanksgiving: Family Favourite Recipes Passed Down to You

Yummy Recipes and Compatible Cookbooks to Enjoy This Holiday
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Happy Thanksgiving: Family Favourite Recipes Passed Down to You

Thanksgiving Family Favourite Recipes Passed Down to You

The older I get, I find that family dinners have become what I most look forward to about any holiday. It’s no surprise then that Thanksgiving is one of my favourites—second only to Christmas Eve. It’s simple. There are no gifts. No pumpkins to carve, no eggs to colour, no sugar cookies to decorate. The entirety of the holiday takes place in the space between my mom’s kitchen island and the living room couch. I’m convinced there’s no better way to connect than over a plate of food. For any of us who will be doing just that in honour of American Thanksgiving this Thursday, I’m sharing some of my family’s favourite recipes and compatible reference cookbooks. 

Whether you’re celebrating the holiday or simply hoping to connect with some family and friends over a warm meal, be sure to give one of these yummy recipes a try. 

Dad’s Apple Pie (Grandma Marlene’s Recipe)

Growing up, my mom did most of the cooking, but Sunday dinners and desserts were always reserved for dad. He’s a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, so we could count on ending our week with some kind of hearty meal like beef stew or roast beef and mashed potatoes. And more times than not he had a tasty treat to follow up dinner. 

Dad is the baker in our family, and while baking is supposed to be a science he always manages to put his own flair on any recipe. I’m grateful for this when spooning up mouthfuls of his warm apple pie, but it’s especially frustrating when I try to recreate it. I can tell you with confidence that his crumble topping is the star of this recipe, but the unsung ingredients that make or break this dessert are love and reverence for a slow Sunday. 

Apple Pie Recipe


  • Pie crust
  • 10 medium apples
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon


  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Place pie crust in 9in pie plate.
  3. Peel and core roughly 10 medium apples. 
  4. Cut into pieces and put in a large mixing bowl. 
  5. Add 3/4 cup of sugar and 1 or 2 tsp of cinnamon.
  6. Stir together and pour into an uncooked pie shell and cover it with crumb-crust mixture.
  7. Bake at 375F for 40-50 minutes until the crust browns. Do not let burn. 

Crumb Crust Topping


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup butter


  1. In a bowl mix 1/2 cup sugar and 3/4 cup flour. 
  2. Cut in 1/3 cup of butter. 
  3. Pour crumble topping over the pie before baking. 

Mom’s Baked Mac n’ Cheese

Now that I’m responsible for making three meals a day, every day of every week, I can honestly say I never paid my mom the respect and gratitude she deserved throughout my childhood. S did the majority of the cooking while I was growing up, and coming from someone who will now eat tofu tacos three days a week all I have to say is “thank you mom” if you’re reading this. 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise then that my mom’s cooking is the closest taste I’ll ever get to the feeling of home. If I’m coming down with a cold all I want is my mom’s chicken noodle soup. If I’ve had a long week I crave her green bean casserole with half the cream of mushroom and double the french fried onions. In a perfect crossover between childhood nostalgia and comfort food cravings, I’m sharing my mom’s baked mac n’ cheese recipe. 

Baked Mac n’ Cheese Recipe


  • 1 box of elbow macaroni
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp butter – melted
  • 3 1/2 cups shredded Colby cheese
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1-2 tsp mustard
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 garlic cloves


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Boil one box of elbow macaroni for 8 minutes. Drain and set aside. 
  3. Mince a couple of cloves of garlic (more if you love garlic as much as my family does). 
  4. In a saucepan, melt butter. Add minced garlic and saute. 
  5. Whisk in flour and a dash of salt and pepper. Cook until smooth. 
  6. Pour milk, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Once added, bring to a boil for 1 minute. 
  7. Stir in mustard and shredded Colby cheese.
  8. Continue to cook, constantly stirring, allowing the cheese to melt. 
  9. Remove from heat and stir in pasta. 
  10. Pour mixture into a greased 9×13 pan.
  11. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes. 

Autumn’s Hearty Potato & Sausage Soup

During the height of the pandemic when we were all quarantined within our own four walls and trying out any new hobby to entertain ourselves my sister took up cooking, and wow is my family still reaping the benefits of her newfound skill. Autumn doesn’t shy about butter or flavour. She thinks of every last detail, right down to frying up tortilla shells with garlic salt rather than serving them microwaved or cold. 

I could share any one of her recipes and you would thank me, but I have a weakness for good soup so I’m opting to share her potato and sausage soup recipe. This is not a recipe that has been passed down for generations in my family, but it will be moving forward. 

Hearty Potato & Sausage Soup Recipe


  • 6-8 pieces of bacon
  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen kale
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 1/2 lbs yellow potatoes
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream


  1. In a cast iron skillet, fry bacon slices. Remove, let cool, and crumble. Set aside.
  2. Cook Italian sausage in a dutch oven, crumbling sausage as it browns. Set aside.
  3. In the same emptied dutch oven, saute a chopped medium white onion, stirring occasionally.
  4. Then add a few cloves of minced garlic. Sautee approximately one minute.
  5. Next, add the following ingredients altogether:
    1. Yellow potatoes, pre-washed and diced
    2. Chicken broth
    3. Cooked sausage & crumbled bacon. 
  6. Once the mixture reaches a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer until the potatoes are tender. 
  7. Stir in kale and heavy whipping cream. 
  8. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Kyle’s Sauteed Bacon & Brussels Sprouts 

Come this January, Kyle will officially be my brother-in-law, but unofficially he has felt like a part of our family for a while now. By the second Thanksgiving he celebrated with us, our cousins were already requesting his sauteed brussels sprouts from the year before, so now they are a staple in our family’s holiday meals.

Kyle’s foods are warm, comforting, and always cooked with calm patience. I don’t have to tell most people what a rare quality that is in a holiday-prepping kitchen. Whether cooking up these brussels sprouts or your own family’s requested recipe this holiday, take a page from Kyle’s recipe book and be sure to bring a little relaxing goodness into the kitchen with you. 

Sauteed Bacon & Brussels Sprouts Recipe


  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 lb bacon
  • 2 lbs brussels sprouts
  • 8 tbsp butter


  1. Chop a medium red onion. Set aside.
  2. In a cast iron skillet, fry a pound of bacon. Remove, let cool, and crumble. 
  3. Drain grease but do not clean the pan. Use grease coating to cook brussels sprouts. 
  4. Wash your bundle of brussels sprouts. Halve all. 
  5. Fry brussels sprouts in a cast iron pan, medium to high heat. 
  6. Add red onion and sautee with brussels sprouts.
  7. Add 8 tbsp of butter and continue sauteing. 
  8. Season brussels sprouts and onion blend with salt and pepper to taste. 
  9. Add bacon crumbles.

Additional ingredients to consider adding include chopped walnuts, pine nuts, and/or balsamic glaze. 

Compatible Cook Books

The Telephone Pioneers of America Cookbook by Michigan Bell 


Image via Etsy

My parents would say we’re not a cookbook family. Both enjoy experimenting in the kitchen and trying recipes shared by loved ones. Most of the recipe books my parents own are filled with their own handwriting or that of friends and family members. However, if they were to recommend a cookbook it’d be the Telephone Pioneers of America Cookbook that has held a place in their credenza drawer for years, the pages curled and yellowed with vanilla extract. The one my parents own from the nineties has made it through every spring cleaning purge. For nostalgic reasons especially I have to recommend this one. Though be warned, you may only be able to find a volume on Etsy or eBay such as this Great Lakes chapter version

The New Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook by Ellen Brown

Image via Cabela’s


My sister and brother-in-law would recommend putting a cast iron skillet on your Christmas list this year and perhaps this compatible cookbook complete with 150 new recipes. If either cooks dinner for our family, you can almost guarantee a cast iron skillet is used. And I would have to agree, most everything tastes better when prepared in cast iron. You won’t regret having the skillet or this cookbook a part of your future cooking routine. 

The Love & Lemons Cookbook by Jeanine Donofrio

Image via Target


The Love & Lemons Cookbook comes as a recommendation from my kitchen, or more accurately, the kitchen of one of my closest friends who I consider family so it feels appropriate to include it here. Vanessa shared this cookbook with me a couple of years ago now, and it is still the first one I reference when I’m looking to try out a new recipe. Its pages are chockfull of healthy, fresh, and tasty meal ideas that manage to impress me every time. This is a must-have for your kitchen shelves. 

Give one of these cookbooks or yummy recipes a try or share a favourite of your own with us here! Whatever foods grace our tables this holiday season, here’s to hoping our bellies and hearts are full.

Taylor Stawecki is a 20-something Michigander with a love for the great outdoors and written word. She spends her weekdays working for a digital marketing company and as a freelance copywriter. In her free time, you can find her reading, writing poetry, running, watching a Grey’s Anatomy rerun, or spending time with her family and friends.  As an old soul, she enjoys collecting salt and pepper shakers and cuddling up in oversized sweaters.

Favorite Book: If I have to choose, The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball
Favorite Brunch Spot: Rochester Brunch House


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