Recipes for a Happy Thanksgiving

Ever since that first communal feast between the Mayflower Pilgrims and Wampanoag Tribe way back in 1621, Thanksgiving has been an annual celebration of good fortune, good friends, and good food.

While the meals and events of the day have changed over the last 400 years, one thing has remained the same – Thanksgiving is so much better when you are able to experience it with good vision.

That’s probably the last statement you were expecting to read. But, as outlandish as it may be, it’s completely true!

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Imagine for a moment that you’re a resident of Plymouth, the colony known for getting the Thanksgiving party started in America. The fall harvest has been bountiful and for weeks the town has been talking about inviting the neighboring Native American tribe over for a huge feast.

Every Pilgram man, woman, and child is responsible for bringing something to the table. Your job is to provide a big, juicy wild turkey. The only problem is, your vision is so bad you can’t see far enough past the barrel of your musket to tell the difference between a game bird and a pumpkin pie.

Unbeknownst to you, whatever you bring in from the field will become the most iconic Thanksgiving menu staple of all time. Thanks to your undiagnosed and untreated myopia, aka nearsightedness, the horribly misidentified “turkey” you bagged means long-tailed weasels will be the main spread on Thanksgiving dinner tables four centuries later.

Fast forward a couple of hundred years. Family, friends, and neighbors from miles around are descending on your little house on the prairie to give thanks and take advantage of your hospitality. 

How convenient would it be if your distance vision was clear enough to recognize who’s coming over the hill (and if they’re bringing an extra Thanksgiving weasel to add to the smorgasbord)?

Thanks to store-bought birds and digital communication, we may not have the same Thanksgiving Day concerns as our forefathers. But glasses, contacts, and poor eyesight still make Thanksgiving a difficult holiday to feast your eyes on.

For example, deciphering those old family recipes is no picnic when you’re farsighted and they were handwritten by Grandma in extra small script 40 years ago.

And have you ever pulled a turkey out of the oven or run hot water or reached into the dishwasher without your glasses fogging over?

And football may be a full-contact sport, but kicking back in the recliner and taking a nap during the game almost always results in unnecessary roughness for your eyes if you’re wearing contacts.

Although the times have changed, the Thanksgiving tradition of gathering with those closest to you to recognize all that you’re grateful for is as strong today as it was in 1621. It’s no coincidence, then, that the holiday season is one of the most popular seasons for LASIK.

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In addition to remedying the lighthearted, but universal, annoyances we listed above, good vision makes it possible to fully experience the sights and sentiments of the holidays with the people you love. As tens of millions of patients can attest, LASIK is a key ingredient for a happy Thanksgiving.

And speaking of ingredients, we’ve gathered together recipes for five classic Thanksgiving dishes and are serving them up right here in perfectly legible text (we’re looking at you, Grandma).

Butter Roasted Turkey with Giblet Gravy

(from Country Living)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Whole turkey
  • 1 Turkey neck
  • 1 Turkey liver
  • 1 Turkey heart
  • 1 Turkey gizzard
  • 2 tbsp. Unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Freshly ground white pepper
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 qt. Water
  • 1/4 c. Water
  • 1/4 c. All-purpose flour

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Brush turkey with melted butter and sprinkle with salt and white pepper. Stuff bird with Cornbread Dressing with Sage and Pork Sausage (See Cornbread Dressing with Sage and Pork Sausage Recipe) and truss, if desired. In a large roasting pan fitted with a rack, position turkey breast-side up. Roast bird in oven for 30 minutes, then lower heat to 325 degrees F and continue to roast for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Turn turkey breast-side down, baste with pan juices, and roast, basting occasionally, for 30 minutes more, or until juices run clear when thickest part of thigh is pierced with a fork.
  2. Place turkey giblets (neck, liver, heart, and gizzard) in a large saucepan and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Add 1 quart water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer the mixture for 1 1/2 hours. Remove giblets from stock and set aside on cutting board; let cool. Discard neck and finely dice liver, heart, and gizzard; reserve.
  3. Remove turkey from pan, reserving pan and juices for gravy; discard any trussing; tent turkey loosely with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, skim grease from the reserved roasting pan. In a cup, combine flour and remaining 1/4 cup water, stirring to eliminate lumps. In the same roasting pan over medium-high heat, heat giblet stock (about 3 cups), then whisk in flour mixture. Bring to a boil, then season with salt and pepper. Add giblets, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, or until gravy thickens. Season again, if desired, and serve hot with sliced turkey and Cornbread Dressing with Sage and Pork Sausage.

Green Bean Casserole

(from Delish)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. Green beans, trimmed
  • 6 tbsp. Butter, divided
  • 1 Onion, sliced into half-moons
  • 8 oz. Sliced mushrooms
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c. All-purpose flour
  • 3 c. Whole milk
  • 1-1/2 c. French’s fried onions

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare an ice bath: In a large pot of boiling water, add green beans, and cook until bright green, about 6 minutes. 
  2. With a slotted spoon or tongs, quickly transfer green beans to ice bath to cool, then drain and transfer to a large bowl.
  3. In a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until mushrooms are golden, about 5 minutes more. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute, then transfer mixture to green bean bowl.
  4. In the same skillet over medium heat, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Whisk in flour and cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat, then add green bean mixture and toss until evenly combined.
  5. Bake until warmed through and bubbling, about 30 minutes.
  6. Top with fried onions and bake 5 minutes more.

Extra Buttery Mashed Potatoes

(from Bon Appétit)

INGREDIENTS
(makes 8 servings)

  • 4 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 2” pieces
  • 1 tbsp. Kosher salt, plus more
  • 1-1/2 c. whole milk
  • 3 Sprigs thyme (optional)
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 3/4 c. (1-1/2 sticks) Unsalted butter, plus more for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place potatoes in a large pot and pour in cold water to cover by 1”. Add salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are very tender but not saturated or crumbly, 20–25 minutes (boiling will lead to waterlogged pieces).
  2. Drain potatoes, reserving ½ cup cooking liquid if making potatoes ahead. Return potatoes to pot and set over low heat. Gently stir until dry, about 1 minute.
  3. Meanwhile, heat milk, thyme sprigs, if desired, bay leaves, and ¾ cup butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat.
  4. Pass hot potatoes through a ricer into a large bowl (if allowed to cool, the potatoes will become gummy).
  5. Remove herbs from warm milk mixture; discard. Gradually add milk mixture to potatoes, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon until combined and smooth; season with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve mashed potatoes with a few pats of butter on top.
  7. DO AHEAD: Potatoes can be made 4 hours ahead. Pass through ricer into a large pot and cover. Just before serving, reheat over low, gently stirring in reserved potato cooking liquid as needed to loosen.

Glazed Carrots

(from Food Network)

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 Medium carrots, peeled
  • 1/4 c. Coconut oil 
  • 2 tsp. Honey 
  • 1/4 tsp. Togarashi or cayenne if desired (See Cook’s Note)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1/8 c. Chopped parsley 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cut the carrots in thirds crosswise. Then cut each piece lengthwise into halves or fourths, depending on the width of the carrots. This should create spears that have at least one flat side.
  2. Add the oil to a cast-iron skillet and heat over medium heat. When the oil is hot, place the carrots in the oil cut-sides down and cook without turning until tender, about 6 minutes. The cut sides will be very, very dark. Some may even call it burnt. Don’t worry, it’ll taste great!
  3. Add the honey, togarashi, and 1/4 cup of water to the skillet and stir up all the carrots. Cook, stirring constantly, until most of the water has cooked off and the carrots are coated. Season with salt and pepper. Top with the chopped parsley. (This will add a fresh flavor and it looks really pretty.)
  4. Serve right away to your impressed and amazed friends!

Cook’s Note
Togarashi is a chile pepper spice blend available in specialty markets and some supermarkets.

Traditional Pumpkin Pie

(from Taste of Home)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 c. All-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. Salt
  • 2/3 c. Shortening
  • 4 to 6 tbsp. Cold water

Filling:

  • 6 Large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 can (29 ounces) Solid-pack pumpkin
  • 2 c. Packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. Ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. each Ground cloves, nutmeg, and ginger
  • 2 c. Evaporated milk

Decorations (optional):

  • Pastry for single-crust pie
  • 1 Large egg, beaten

DIRECTIONS 

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt; cut in shortening until crumbly. Gradually add water, tossing with a fork until dough forms a ball. Divide dough in half. On a floured surface, roll out each portion to fit a 9-in. pie plate. Place crust in plates; trim crust to 1/2 in. beyond the edge of the plate. Flute edges.
  2. For the filling, beat eggs in a large bowl. Add the pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger; beat just until combined. Gradually stir in milk. Pour into crusts.
  3. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°; bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes longer. Cool pies on wire racks for 1 hour. Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.
  4. If desired, use additional pie crust to make decorations.
  5. For Pumpkins: Roll a small amount of pie dough into a ball; score sides of the ball with the blunt side of a knife to create ridges. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, flatten slightly, and insert a whole clove to make the stem. Refrigerate until firm. Brush with beaten egg and bake at 400° until light golden brown and baked through, 15-20 minutes.
  6. For Vines: Roll out pie dough to 1/8-in. thickness; cut narrow strips of dough in various lengths. Lay strips on a parchment-lined baking sheet and shape into coils as desired. Refrigerate until firm. Brush with beaten egg and bake at 400° until light golden brown, 8-10 minutes.
  7. For Leaves: Roll pie dough to 1/8-in. thickness. Cut out leaves using mini leaf-shaped cutters. Using a knife, score leaves to create veins. Refrigerate until firm. Brush with beaten egg and bake at 400° until light golden brown, 8-10 minutes.
  8. Arrange baked pumpkins, vines, and leaves on the surface of chilled pie.

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