BigOven Food Fight – Drinks: Alcohol Is Encouraged vs. Keep It G-Rated



On Thanksgiving, we face a strange conundrum: too much food and too little plate real estate. How to fit it all?

We rationalize odd choices like “Should I skip the Brussels sprouts? I can have those anytime. The mashed potatoes are hardly optional on Thanksgiving though, right?” The struggle is real.

It’s only an hour into the festivities and your relatives are already driving you bonkers. Time to lubricate the evening with some boozy goodness. Spiked apple cider or a festive fall cocktail are Thanksgiving best bets. These sweet sensations have just enough sugar to combat the turkey tryptophan food coma.

Although with the abundance of food and lack of stomach and plate space, drinking hardly seems practical. Gotta save room for the solids, you know.

Will you being saying “cheers” or staying sober this Thanksgiving?



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BigOven Food Fight – Main Dish: Bird’s the Word vs. Switch Things Up



Ladies and gentlemen, a main dish battle is about to begin—an alternative (gasp!) main dish, a scruffy upstart, is pitted against the undefeated, all-time favorite powerhouse turkey! It’s a no holds barred, winner-take-all and leave-the-guests-in-a-food-coma epic event. Are you ready to rumble?

In this corner, may we present our champion turkey, the center of attention during the most cherished of all celebrations. The ultimate be all and end all of main dishes. The showstopping, aromatic bird that elicits the largest and loudest oohs and ahhs during this festive day.

In the other corner is the main dish with a twist, the alternative to boring ole turkey. It’s time to go rogue and give pork or beef or even tofurkey a showcase spot. Alternative main dishes will try to go toe to toe with the big, bland guy.

Come one, come all and see who will be victorious. The face-off begins on Thanksgiving Day and it’s up to you to declare the winner. Which dish gets the main title at your house?

This Thanksgiving, will you be taking the turkey’s side or going with the underdog?



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BigOven Food Fight – Gravy Composition: Use Those Turkey Drippings vs. Veg Out



Gravy. Another necessary component of Thanksgiving dinner.

A robustly flavored gravy, slowly simmering away on the stove, creating the perfect alchemy of savory, rich flavors, has true “labor of love” status. Thrifty cooks of the non-vegetarian variety would argue that a turkey gravy isn’t a true gravy without turkey drippings (heck, many consider the giblets a must as well)! After all, what will better mask the turkey’s dryness than the turkey’s moister parts?

EW. That’s what many cooks have to say about gravy, particularly when drippings and giblets are involved. What is the appeal of a concoction containing gross, unidentifiable animal parts? One can whip up a perfectly lovely vegetarian gravy with mushrooms, spices or even nutritional yeast. No need to do it like Grandma did in this case.

Will you be pouring on the turkey gravy or choosing a safe veggie option?



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BigOven Food Fight – Green Beans: Casserole Time vs. Simply Healthy



For most families, the green bean casserole makes its appearance once yearly, much like the long-lost family members gathered around the Thanksgiving table. A quirky combination of personalities swirl together—the subtle green beans dwarfed by the loud personalities of the creamy soup and crunchy onions. To many Thanksgiving eaters, the delightful decadence of the GBC is the perfect accompaniment to the blandness of the turkey.

For others, it’s just one big pile of creamy, salty mush. They’ll stick to roasted green beans, thank-you-very-much. Let those crisp-tender veggies shine in their own right. A little salt and pepper is all these little guys need.

Will your green beans be dressed up casserole-style or rockin’ it simple and healthy this Thanksgiving?



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BigOven Food Fight – The Menu: Stick to the Tried & True vs. Try Something New



Coming up with the Thanksgiving menu can either require no thought at all or a lot of brainstorming.

You can go the easy route and just do the exact same thing you did the year before. And the year before that, and the year before that… basically cook up the dishes that your great-grandmother used to back in the day. You know what they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

But maybe your taste buds are getting a wee bit tired of the same old gluey mashed potatoes drowned in the same old giblet gravy plopped right next to the same old questionable green bean casserole. Why not swap in a fresh kale salad topped with bright pomegranate seeds? Perfectly roasted parsnips could surely replace those sad mashed potatoes and no one would know the difference. Just be sure to keep that raspberry jello salad or your younger sister might start throwing punches over the modernized feast.

Decision, decisions.

Will you be sticking with tradition or switching things up?



Get Thanksgiving recipe inspiration here.

BigOven Food Fight – Sweet Potatoes: Fluffy Marshmallows vs. Less Is More



To marshmallow, or not to marshmallow your sweet potatoes, that is the question.

Some will pine for the marshmallow’s frothy goodness and revel in its utter decadence. Marshmallows will indeed find their place atop the tubers, eliciting rapturous exclamations of oohs and ahhs from children and grownups alike.

‘Tis not even a question for others. Marshmallows, in all their glorious poofiness, belong with scrumptious desserts and drinks like s’mores and hot cocoa. Blanketing the tops of sweet potatoes in a Thanksgiving meal? Nay. Sweet potatoes are called sweet potatoes because, let’s face it, they are already sweet. No additions needed. ‘Tis nobler to enjoy the sweet potatoes’ beautiful golden-orange color and their steady, starchy presence with naught else.

What say you in your house? To marshmallow, or not to marshmallow?



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BigOven Food Fight – Bread with Dinner: Gimme Some vs. No Thanks



It’s hard to beat warm, homemade bread.

You tear off a fluffy piece of carb heaven, slather on the butter or gravy (or both) and let it melt onto your tongue as you savor it ever so slowly. Biscuits, crescent rollsa rustic loaf… it’s all good and all welcome onto your Thanksgiving plate. Bread and stuffing? Bring it on! You know what they say, go big or go home.

Just wait a minute. You can devour a basket of bread any ole day. Thanksgiving is dedicated to the turkey. Plus the stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams, green beans, cranberries, gravy and pie. There’s simply no room in your belly for more food. It would be physically impossible to fit even one buttermilk biscuit into your stomach after going back for seconds… er fourths. And come on, pie > bread.

Or is it?

Will you be noshing on some extra carbs or kicking bread to the curb this Thanksgiving?



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BigOven Food Fight – Brussels Sprouts: Best Thing Ever vs. Vom



Brussels sprouts: revered cabbage, or just another gross vegetable?

On the one hand, they’re trendy. Partly the reason why people obsess over Brussels sprouts is because they’re so darn cute, like budding aliens. Eating or mentioning sprouts nearly guarantees entry into the Cool Club. And beyond the facet of popularity, they’re dynamic—Brussels sprouts can be roasted, baked, sautéed, and/or masterfully crafted into almost any dish.

For some, this hotly contested debate has one, clear verdict: barf-worthy. In addition to the bitterly unpleasant taste, the smell of Brussels sprouts is overpowering. No taste in the world could compensate for the ungodly funk of steamed Brussels sprouts, and for those reasons, many remain skewed towards the vom end of the spectrum.

What do you think? Are Brussels sprouts the greatest or totes overrated?



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BigOven Food Fight – Stuffing Composition: Oysters for Days vs. No Shellfish in My Dish



Who doesn’t love stuffing? It’s another vehicle for gravy and makes the best leftovers.

Some may argue that oysters are necessary when it comes to cooking up the most delicious stuffing. They add that something something that you just can’t get otherwise. You know, that je ne sais quoi.

If you’re all “je ne sais what?!” and gag when you hear the word “oysters” you’ll probably be leaving these sea creatures out of your Thanksgiving stuffing. Oysters may be considered a delicacy by some, but no way will you be convinced. Never.

Although… if you chop them up real small, it’s like they’re not even there, right?

Are oysters allowed in your Thanksgiving stuffing or out of the question?



See more stuffing recipes here.

BigOven Food Fight – Appetizers: Save Room vs. Bring It On



It’s the night before Thanksgiving. You lay awake in bed, jitters shooting through your body like a teenage boy on prom night… and then the daunting realization hits you: how do I approach Turkey Day? What Xs and Os strategy will allow me to fill every last chasm in my stomach, and then some? This isn’t some simple, stupid task. No, this is General Patton preparing for Normandy.

One likely stratagem is to ditch the apps. Waive the opener for the main act. Put all of your money on black. A no-nonsense policy that places emphasis on what truly matters: platefuls of turkey, ham, and delicious fixins’.

On the contrary, Thanksgiving appetizers are arguably better than the dinner itself. Foregoing appetizers means foregoing carrots and ranch, and boy, carrots and ranch simply cannot be missed. And not just three or four carrots and a dollop of ranch, but fistfuls of carrots and heaps of ranch. There’s also the social aspect–appetizers are conducive to conversation. Snubbing the apps is as good as writing yourself off in exile.

But don’t overthink it too much. Either way, we all have the same Thanksgiving fate: five pounds heavier and asleep by eight.

So, will you be holding out for the main attraction or gorging on apps this Thanksgiving?



See Thanksgiving appetizers.