Feast + Family: Thanksgiving 2012

by Jenn (eating bender) on November 26, 2012

‘Twas a spectacular Thanksgiving weekend in the Bender house.

Mama and Papa B. went all out this year, and I am so grateful for all of the time and effort they put into making not only Thanksgiving special, but also every day that followed this holiday weekend. We woke up on Thursday morning to a beautiful table setting, complete with a pumpkin centerpiece.

We did some prep work in the early morning hours, then headed out to play a round of golf with my aunt- and uncle-in-law, Lisa and Bob. I found a cactus that was as excited as I was about Thanksgiving football. Touchdown!

We had a nice day out on the course, and were definitely ready to feast once we got back to the house. Papa Bender took the turkeys out of the oven and over to the grill for the rest of their cook time to make room for our side dishes. He had to tackle two turkeys this year, and they both turned out amazing. One was basted in an apple mixture, and the other was an orange-citrus.

It was an unseasonably warm day in Arizona (which means it was very warm!), so I was extra impressed by his ability to lift and maneuver two turkeys and grill them to perfection. Thanks, PB!

While Papa Bender worked over the hot grill, Mama Bender, Aunt Lisa and I finished up our side dishes. I took a break from my jalapeño-cheddar cornbread to help MB with dishing out the cheesy mashed potatoes with gouda and crispy pancetta, and this is what happened:

Hey, whatever works to get those potatoes in the pan correctly. :) And then it was time to feast! In addition to the turkey, we had Papa Bender’s Apple-Sausage Stuffing, which is always a big hit…

…Mama Bender’s Green Beans Almondine

…along with her Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Gouda and Crispy Pancetta

…plus another Mama Bender dish: Spinach and Gruyère Gratin

…and finally, we also had the result of my Jalapeño-Cheddar Cornbread experiment. I left the ingredients in the oven for a little longer than what’s recommended, so unfortunately the edges were a little crispy. But after cutting them off, I think this was a winner. The tiny bits of jalapeño added a nice kick and the cheddar cheese gave it more than your average cornbread flavor. The only change I made to the recipe was to double the cheese. :) I will definitely be making it again!

Of course I had to have some of everything. The entire spread looked so good together!

Especially when paired with some delicious red wine.

After everyone had grabbed their plates of food, we sat down and talked about what we’re thankful for. I have a long list, but topping it is no question my incredible family. It has been a year of change and transition, but I am excited for what’s ahead for me and Bobby and feel very lucky to have the support of such amazing people behind us.

Oh, and did I mention? All of the food was incredible! Kudos to Mama and Papa Bender for putting together such a feast, and to Lisa and Bob for all of their help in the kitchen. After we had gone back for second helpings, we took a break and relaxed with some football before dessert. A few of the boys also immersed themselves in an intense Scrabble match.

But we couldn’t end the night without the dessert course. The Bender Family Cherry Pie turned out a little less visually appealing this year, but as is the case with anything, it’s the inside that counts. The recipe was as delicious as ever, even though my lattice helper was preoccupied with Scrabble!

Aunt Lisa’s pecan pie was also a huge hit – and very pretty.

The Costco pumpkin pie was gigantic! It wasn’t as spicy as I remembered, but still pretty tasty.

With our bellies extra full and happy, we snapped a group shot of the Thanksgiving gang. From left to right, we have my father- and mother-in-law, John and Barb, me, Bobby, Eric (Baby B.), Mama Bender, Papa Bender, Lisa and Bob.

It was a fantastic Thanksgiving! But the weekend wasn’t over yet – there was more to come in the form of two adorable nieces pieces. More on that in my next post. :)

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday and are back in the swing of things today!

What was your favorite Thanksgiving memory?


1 Courtney @ The Granola Chronicles November 26, 2012 at 10:10 am

What a lovely family and Thanksgiving feast! And golf on Thanksgiving morning sounds like perfection!
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2 Jenn (eating bender) November 28, 2012 at 1:53 pm

It was a lot of fun! Thanks, Courtney!

3 Erica November 26, 2012 at 10:31 am

TOO funny! My Mom and I did the same thing to get our mashed potatoes in a bowl :) What a perfect meal. I love the centerpiece. Your family is lovely
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4 Jenn (eating bender) November 28, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Great minds think alike. :) Thanks for the sweet comments, Erica!

5 Dr. Mark November 26, 2012 at 10:39 am

My favorite part of the holidays is spending time with my 15 year old niece. She’s such a great kid, and we end up teasing each other and laughing the entire day. I always make sure to get plenty of embarrassing photos to blackmail her with on Facebook. She just LOVES that! 😉
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6 Jenn (eating bender) November 28, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Haha! You sound like the fun uncle. :) Glad you had such a great time – thanks for sharing!

7 Melissa @TryingtoHeal November 26, 2012 at 11:14 am

Your Dad went all out with those turkeys; two flavors! Nice! I should have told my mom to do something like the apple or citrus flavor!

And what a great family photo! I’m so glad you had a good Thanksgiving!
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8 Jenn (eating bender) November 28, 2012 at 1:54 pm

It was definitely tasty! Thanks, Melissa!

9 Shannon November 26, 2012 at 12:48 pm

what a spread– although i’ve come to expect no less from the benders 😉
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10 Jenn (eating bender) November 28, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Aw, thanks, Shannon! :)

11 janetha November 26, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Oh, I love that pumpkin vase! Glad you had a happy holiday :)
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12 Jenn (eating bender) November 28, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Thanks, Janetha! :)

13 emily (a nutritionist eats) November 26, 2012 at 1:49 pm

What a perfect Thanksgiving!
Favorite memory: I loved seeing my little cousins outside swimming the whole evening!
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14 Jenn (eating bender) November 28, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Aw, that’s a fun memory! We did some swimming here as well – glad you had a great holiday!

15 Sam November 26, 2012 at 1:53 pm

You take such gorgeous pictures! Sounds like a wonderful Thanksgiving with great food and quality family time.
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16 Jenn (eating bender) November 28, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Thanks, Sam – that means a lot! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, too!

17 Cara (Twinthusiast) November 26, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Food looks awesome. Your parents really know how to throw a party. Great big family shot! Also love the pumpkin flower centerpiece.
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18 Jenn (eating bender) November 28, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Thanks, Cara! Can’t wait for future feasts in Minnesota. :)

19 Lauren November 26, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Looks simply wonderful! So glad you enjoyed the holiday with your loved ones. :)

20 Jenn (eating bender) November 28, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Thank you, Lauren! Glad you had a great holiday, too – and I just LOVED your Chicago recaps. Although it really made me miss my old home. 😉

21 Katie November 28, 2012 at 10:09 am

Pies look great! Looks like you had a great thanksgiving!
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22 Jenn (eating bender) November 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Thanks, Katie!!

23 Susan November 29, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Yum… everything looks delicious. I should have abandoned my feeble cooking efforts and flown straight to AZ! haha… just kidding (sort of).

24 Mary @ Fit and Fed December 3, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Favorite Thanksgiving memory: lying in the sun after a walk for the older set (including me) and a run for the younger ones. It was unseasonably warm and sunny, a nice break from the rain I would have experienced back home in WA. Looks like you had a lovely Thanksgiving, the spinach gruyere gratin looks really appealing.
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25 ingrid December 4, 2012 at 5:10 am

Looks Amazing!!!

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