[Insert Turkey Pun Here]

by Jenn (eating bender) on November 30, 2009

I figured I’d spare you my usual cheesy post title and get straight to the point πŸ˜‰

This holiday weekend was much needed, don’t you agree? I’ve been catching up on all of the blogosphere celebrations and it seems as though most people had another successful feast and enjoyed some time off. I felt so lucky to be able to go home and see my family. I must admit that it is really hard to live so far away from them and miss all of those day-to-day “moments,” especially watching my brother grow up. I like to take advantage of every opportunity to see them — and it helps that Arizona is warm and sunny most of the year, too!

The Bender Family Thanksgiving was a success. Papa Bender went all out, as usual, and I contributed where I could with putting things in the oven and making cornbread with mix + water :)

There was the turkey, which P.B. brined the day before to make it extra moist and flavorful.

There was the stuffing, which followed the same Apple-Sausage recipe as last year.

There was also a new addition in the form of Green Bean Casserole. My dad decided to make it instead of the Broccoli-Cheez Casserole from last year.

This recipe was easy. Combine all ingredients into a dish and bake at 350* for 35-45 minutes.

Here’s the final casserole with the onions on top. It was delicious!

Next up on the list was the potatoes. Some of you may cringe but my mom happened upon scalloped potatoes and sweet potatoes at Costco and felt they were too good to pass up. So instead of making our own, we baked the Costco creations in the oven :) Nothing like a little Lazy Chef action on Thanksgiving, no? The cool thing about these was their ingredient lists. The box said they were “all natural,” which I am usually wary of, but they truly did stick to the basics.

Here we have the scalloped potatoes, which were essentially potatoes, cheese and seasoning:

We also had sweet potato casserole, which was made with sweet potatoes, maple syrup, pecans and brown sugar. Really, we could have made this ourselves, but the price was right and it saved us some time to spend on other areas of the cooking! Bake both at 375* for roughly 30 minutes and you’re set.

Papa Bender also made me a nice spinach salad topped with mushrooms, red peppers, bacon and hard-boiled eggs. It made a nice cool complement to the otherwise hot dishes.

Last but not least, we have my contribution: cornbread! Just like last year, I used a Marie Callendar’s cornbread mix, which combined with water and baked at 375* for roughly 30 minutes.

Cornbread makes everything better :) I had one or two (or four) pieces throughout the evening.

We served dinner with a bottle of white wine served in these cool glasses my mom found. They have rings on the bottom that are supposed to help the wine breathe and enhance the flavor.

Here’s my first plate with a little bit of everything. I also helped myself to seconds!

We had a very nice meal and discussed what we are most thankful for this year. There has been so much goodness and I feel very lucky in many ways. Even though I have my bad days and the “little things” that I wish I could change, I do recognize that life is good and we need to cherish every moment. I thought a lot about my grandma and knew she would have wanted us to make the most of our few days together.

After our big meal, we felt so stuffed that I decided to forgo the cherry pie until Christmas. Instead, we brought out our other option that was equally delicious:

Hello, Pumpkin! :) A small slice was very nice…with whipped cream on top!

Perfect end to a perfect holiday.

The rest of the weekend was spent golfing and wedding planning! My wedding dress came in while I was in town and I was able to go and try on the real thing :) I haven’t gotten it fitted yet, but I absolutely love it. I also finalized the bridesmaid dress — we decided to go with a strapless option. It looks blue in the picture below, but it’s actually a very deep purple. I tried it on to show my lovely ladies what it looked like. It has pockets!

It was a lot of fun to shop around with my mom. We also picked out our photographer and narrowed down a few other details, so it was a very productive weekend! Speaking of weddings, go wish Mara and Adam a big congratulations because they got MARRIED over the weekend! Mara looked stunning!

Last but not least, I had to show you Mama Bender’s Peppermint-Eggnog Punch!!!

If you’ve been reading my blog since this time last year, you know that it’s not the holidays until Mama Bender makes her delicious punch. Click this link for the recipe — you won’t be disappointed!

I. Love. Home. :mrgreen:

What do you most look forward to during the holiday season?

I love the food, the time off and the overall cheer, but I look forward to family time most of all!

Happy Monday! Back to work!


{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jessica @ How Sweet It Is November 30, 2009 at 8:35 am

I can’t imagine living far away from my family. I am glad you got to go home. Those scalloped potatoes look amazzzzzzzzing. Yum.


2 VeggieGirl November 30, 2009 at 8:54 am

Wonderful celebration/feast and gorgeous dress!


3 MelissaNibbles November 30, 2009 at 8:56 am

Pretty dress!


4 Molly November 30, 2009 at 9:00 am

mmm that all looks SO good! and might I say, I LOVE AZ! Im jealous you got to spend time there :( Im glad you had a fabulous weekend! :)


5 verbalriot November 30, 2009 at 9:14 am

I love that the dress has pockets, I am all about that :)

Your dinner looks lovely! I love spending time with family during the holiday season because no one has an excuse not to πŸ˜‰


6 eaternotarunner November 30, 2009 at 9:24 am

That dress is so cute, I love it!

I would have to say the christmas music and the food :-)


7 Kristie Lynn November 30, 2009 at 9:26 am

You’ve got some lucky bridesmaids! :) Glad you had a good time at home; are you ready for Chicago’s warm welcome home? πŸ˜‰ Time for real winter temperatures here!


8 Rose November 30, 2009 at 9:34 am

I love those bridesmaid dresses. I agree with Kristie Lynn – they are lucky to be wearing those!


9 Mara @ What's For Dinner? November 30, 2009 at 9:46 am

Thanks love!!!!
I can’t believe the day has come and gone already… let me know if i can help you with anything! I know you’re not staying local, but planning is planning! LOVE the bridesmaids dress!


10 Erica November 30, 2009 at 9:48 am

I’m all for the easier route on a lot of the foods! Sometimes its nice to have a little less time in the kitchen and a little more time with family & other guests :) The bridesmaid dresses are PERFECT. I love them. I like that they have a little flare- so many bridesmaid dresses are too plain.

What do I most look forward to about the holidays? Time with family :)

Hope you had a safe trip back


11 Jenn November 30, 2009 at 10:23 am

I’ve been a total creeper for not commenting until now, but life has been kind of hectic! Also I tend to read this on my Google Reader feed at work! Anyway, I love that I can hear about your life on this blog, and it looks like you had a great Thanksgiving. :)

(And I’ll definitely be trying out that peppermint punch recipe!)


12 Melissa S. November 30, 2009 at 10:35 am

yay for family time!!

and i love the bridesmaid dress!!!! beautiful!


13 ksgoodeats November 30, 2009 at 10:59 am

YAY! I’m so happy you guys had green bean casserole – I live for that stuff on Thanksgiving.

Your whole Thanksgiving spread looks absolutely delicious! I don’t knock the Costco buys at all!! I like the bridesmaid dresses you picked. The girls will be able to wear them again which is always nice. I’m a bridesmaid in my cousins wedding and I’m SO HAPPY she picked a dress that can be reused. Woohoo for weddings :)


14 inmytummy November 30, 2009 at 11:21 am

Love the bridesmaid dresses. They’ll totally be able to wear them again.


15 Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) November 30, 2009 at 11:35 am

Spending a lot of time in Palm Springs, I totally get how gorgeous Arizona is- LOVE the desert. And of course family makes it even better.

I didn’t know about those wine glasses. I used to be “into” wine and all the accessories, it but not so much the last year. Perhaps a good gift for my bro, the current wine-aficionado in the family :-)

BTW I’m sure your bridesmaids are thrilled that the dress is totally usable to parties forever- it’s classic.


16 kbwood November 30, 2009 at 11:53 am

LOVE THAT DRESS!! so cute!!
that is so creative w. the peppermint ice cream.. i have some at my apartment!
sounds like a great thanksgiving


17 Sara November 30, 2009 at 12:28 pm

Wow, your Thanksgiving looks delicious! I was in Scottsdale for turkey day too and it was SO wonderfully, warm. :) Love the bridesmaids dress!


18 Foodie (Fab and Delicious Food) November 30, 2009 at 12:29 pm

Love all the eats, and cool wine glasses!

Love the bridesmaid dresses! Very pretty! And dresses with pockets are just the coolest thing ever!


19 Foodie (Fab and Delicious Food) November 30, 2009 at 12:31 pm

P.S. Wanted to let you and your readers know about a spa-themed giveaway on my blog! Just click on the following link to leave a comment about your favorite way to relax or de-stress and you’ll be entered to win!




20 luckytastebuds November 30, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Awww the dress is adorable. Pockets too?? How thoughtful! Heheh I can’t wait to see YOUR gown Jenn!!! Thank you for sharing the pictures of your Thanksgiving dinner. I’m all for the cornbread mix!!! I saw it at Jewel the other day and was about to buy it before my boyfriend told me I should just bake it at home since we have cornmeal. Gahhh next time! The pumpkin pie looks fantastic, but I couldn’t help but SIIIGH that there was no cherry pie this year. Hehehe Glad you had a great holiday hun!!


21 Paige (Running Around Normal) November 30, 2009 at 1:04 pm

That’s so nice you got to see the whole fam! I’ve never been to Arizona. Look at that Bender spread! That looks fabulous!
That dress is too cute. You look adorable in it.


22 Brandi November 30, 2009 at 2:31 pm

what a great holiday meal :) and both those potato dishes look amazing!!!

I LOVE the dresses! I’m a sucker with any dresses/skirts with pockets :)


23 Pure2Raw Twins November 30, 2009 at 3:26 pm

Glad that you got to spend some quality time with the family… I am soaking up that up as well before I leave. Your holiday feast looks amazing! And love the dress :)


24 snackface November 30, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Awww, I love the Bender family meals! This one looks spectacular, as always.

Can you even believe you’ve just finalized your bridesmaids dresses? It’ so crazy! And what a fabulous choice! Especially with the pockets.

Everything seems to be going well, which makes me so happy for you, dear! xoxo


25 jenngirl November 30, 2009 at 6:39 pm

Love your family meals! And everything looks amazing as usual…especially love those cool wine glasses, so fun :)

Being home for the holidays is so nice, I think it’s the combination of time off AT home that makes them so wonderful.

Love the bridesmaid dress!!


26 Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) November 30, 2009 at 7:52 pm

This is probably way too late…but I am in Phoenix and would love to meet up next time you’re out this way!
Love the pics of your food, dress, and what a great post :)


27 Lauren November 30, 2009 at 7:53 pm

AWww, what a sweet Thanksgiving meal with your family. I am sure it was so wonderful to spend the Holiday with these amazing people. Everything looks great! πŸ˜‰

And the bridesmaid dresses are super hot! Love the color. πŸ˜‰

Hope you have a great week hun.


28 Karla November 30, 2009 at 7:54 pm

LOVE the dress, the family time and the yummy turkey day eats! Thanks so much for sharing Jenn!!

I’m looking forward to being done with school this holiday season. πŸ˜‰ But every year, I adore spending time with family and finding the perfect gifts for everyone on my list. Giving is the best!

Hope you had a relaxing and rejuvenating time at home. Talk to you soon and have a lovely day!


29 Jenna November 30, 2009 at 8:02 pm

lookd like a great thanksgiving day! omg i love peppermint ice cream, tis the season :)


30 Light Delight with Tou Tou November 30, 2009 at 8:13 pm

Oh whoa big feast!!! I love that scalloped potatoes, how can potato make such a wonderful dish ! πŸ˜€


31 MarathonVal November 30, 2009 at 8:51 pm

Aww I’m so happy you had a great trip home! Are you going home for Christmas too? Love the bridesmaids dress :)

Hope your flight back went smoothly…. I’ve been a bad runner recently but I’m still dying to try out Karyn’s so let me know if you ever want to do dinner sometime over the holidays if you have time off! Have a great week!


32 gina (fitnessista) November 30, 2009 at 9:27 pm

that papa bender is a culinary ninja πŸ˜‰
so glad you had a wonderful thanksgiving with your familia! you’re making me hanker for an az trip with that saguaro pic.. i really hope we get to catch eachother next time we’re in the desert
that bridesmaid dress is GORG! i love the pockets!! ahhh i have wedding fever over here between you and mara.. i just love weddings so much and i’m so happy for you girls!
take care <3


33 Shannon December 1, 2009 at 8:02 am

fabulous thanksgiving! cute dress, and i’m totally trying that punch this year :)


34 Cassie in Madrid December 1, 2009 at 8:37 am

Oh my gosh! I spent Thanksgiving in Spain this year and missed scalloped potatoes SO much and those look amazing (Costco or not haha)

I am going to have to make that punch the second I can get my hand on some of that ice cream back in the states!


35 schacalieu December 1, 2009 at 12:38 pm

Looks like a great Thanksgiving. I am also far away from family. It really sucks to miss out on those “day to day” moments, but it makes you appreciate the time you do have with them!


36 Leah December 2, 2009 at 12:40 am

I am glad that you had a fantastic thanksgiving! All the dishes look FAB! It was making me hungry just looking at it! I lost my dad a couple of months ago and so I am VERY happy to hear that you enjoyed time with your family because in the end they are the most important people. Hug your pops cause I can’t hug mine. Enjoy the journey!

Love the mama and papa bender names! VERY cute!


37 Stacy (Eating To Live Love Laugh Tri) December 2, 2009 at 12:39 pm

You have officially made me homesick for Arizona!


38 Lara (Thinspired) December 2, 2009 at 1:38 pm

LOVE the bridesmaid dresses! Your bridesmaids are so lucky that you have such wonderful taste. That is classic and still fun, and they can totally wear it again.

I would love to have had a bite of Thanksgiving with the Bender Family…everything looks so delicious! Cornbread is one of my favorite treats but my family hardly ever makes it for some reason. Boo.

Glad you had a lovely holiday, Jenn!


39 BroccoliHut December 2, 2009 at 3:23 pm

SO glad you had a great holiday!


40 carolinebee December 3, 2009 at 1:25 pm

YUM YUM YUM!!! So happy you got to go home girlie, that’s so great…and um bridesmaid dress w/pockets= best thing ever!!

I am so down with the lazy chef Thanksgiving, haha I went out to eat this year! It was actually really fun and delicious..I think you’re at home again, or going soon…so have fun!! xxoo


41 Heather Eats Almond Butter December 3, 2009 at 11:08 pm

Peppermint Egg-Nog punch?!? Missed that last year. In fact, I think I’ve been reading your blog for exactly a year. It started last year this month with your Vita-Mix giveaway, and I remember the SNOW. I can’t make it snow on my blog. :(

Thanksgiving looked wonderful…everything. I loved PB’s spinach salad. What a nice touch, and I LOVE green bean casserole. I always say I’m not going to eat anything with French fried onions every year, but then I usually fill my plate up with it…and then go back for seconds. :)

Loved the bridesmaid dresses Jenn. Adorable!


42 Erin December 17, 2009 at 6:20 pm

Oh Jenn! I love the sunlight streaming in on y’all’s semi-homemade dinner. It looks delicious and there is nothing wrong with a little convenience. MMMMM AZ is such an amazing place. Did I already tell you I’ve done time in Tempe and Wickenburg of all places? Those dresses are adorable – pockets – lucky bridesmaids :) I love you bb!


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