Friday, November 24, 2023

Thanksgiving 2023, with Calico Cat Cookies

Thanksgiving 2023 dawned as a freezing cold, yet beautiful and sunny day here in Northeast Georgia. My sister and nephew were visiting for a few days. I started the morning by running my first 8K race. (Only the third time that I have run this distance of 8 kilometers/ 5 miles). I finished it in decent time. Thanksgiving runs are very popular and now I see why! There were people running in turkey costumes and funny hats. It was a fun and cheerful time out in the fresh air before the day of feasting got underway.

We were a cozy group of 6 at the Thanksgiving table- 3 adults and 3 kids. I had toyed with the idea of making a innovative menu but in the end inertia, tradition, and the kids' wishes won out and we made more or less the same menu as last year. Don't fix what ain't broken, right?

  • Portobello Mushroom Wellington 
    • Puff pastry encasing roasted portobellos with a savory stuffing of pecans and chestnuts seasoned with fresh herbs, onion and garlic
  • Gardein Ultimate Plant-Based Chick’n Filets
  • Mac and cheese
    • In bechamel sauce, baked with a topping of breadcrumbs
  • Mashed potatoes
    • Made in the Instant pot
  • Garden salad
    • Mixed greens, carrots, red peppers in a balsamic dressing
  • Mushroom gravy
  • Cranberry sauce
    • Orange and cinnamon scented
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Chocolate pecan pie
    • I was glad it did not crack this time!

I'm jotting down the timeline of prep and cooking here for future reference. Having my sister around was so helpful- she made the crusts for both pie, and the entirety of the pumpkin pie, made the gravy, and we assembled the Wellington together. 
  • Tuesday
    • Review all recipes and stock up on ingredients
    • Make a double batch of pie crust, and store halves wrapped in the fridge
    • Make the cranberry sauce
  • Wednesday
    • Make the mashed potatoes and store in fridge
    • Make the mac and cheese and store in fridge
    • Roast portobellos and store in fridge
    • Make both pies and store in fridge
    • Make the salad, and the dressing in a separate jar
      • Serve half of the salad with takeout pizza for dinner
  • Thursday
    • Make the gravy on the stovetop
    • Make the stuffing for the Wellington
      • Start by making fresh breadcrumbs, which will be used for the mac and cheese topping and also for the stuffing
    • Fire up the oven
      • Bake the mac and cheese with a breadcrumb topping
      • Bake the chick'n filets
      • Assemble and bake the Wellington
    • Warm the mashed potatoes in microwave oven
    • Toss the salad
    • Serve a buffet meal at 1:30 PM followed by a nap
    • Serve pies (each cut in 12 slices) with whipped cream and coffee at 3:30 PM
    • Pick at leftovers the rest of the day and on Friday morning
* * *

After a Thanksgiving late lunch, V took the kids bowling. We capped off the day with cookie making and a couple round of Codenames, our favorite board game, all while fridge-diving for leftovers.

For the cookies, I made a batch of my favorite sugar cookie dough, and divided it in several portions so each cookie baker had their own dough to play with. We had a few gel food colors on hand. 

I was inspired by a post on the Reddit baking forum and made these cute (and easy!) Calico cat cookies. Calico cats have a tricolor coat with random patterns of white, orange and black. I split dough into three portions, made one orange with orange gel color, one brown with cocoa powder (next time I will use black gel color) and left one white. I rolled out some plain dough and laid a few chunks of the colored dough randomly on top and kept rolling it out to get the random look, then stamped out cookies with a cat shaped cookie cutter. 

Baked calico cat cookies

The kids made their own
colorful cookies

Duncan has somehow bounced back and is doing okay, even as the tumor keeps growing.We went on lots of long walks this week and he loved it. He got a special dinner of his own on Thanksgiving. 

* * *

Listening to: Taking Things for Granted by Joy Olakodun (Released 2023)- - a beautiful song, heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. 

      "    Sometimes it feels like this world's got nothing for me

             Gettin' blind stares in return for what I give" 

I also had the unmatched joy of watching two live performances in the last week. The first was a local theater production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. It is a horror/musical that first opened on Broadway in 1979. I've heard about it for years and was glad to go see it with a friend. Set in Victorian London, it is the lurid and infamous tale Sweeney Todd, who returns to the city to seek revenge after an unjust exile. He teams up with the baker Mrs. Lovett, and carnage ensues. Here's a famous song from this musical where the late, great Angela Lansbury (of Murder, She Wrote fame) plays Mrs. Lovett.

The second performance was a rousing chorus with the theme of thanks and gratitude- we took all the kids to this one (the youngest one had FOMO and insisted on coming along), and they were quiet and attentive for the most part. 

As always, I am most grateful for this blog and the lovely folks I meet here!


  1. Thank you Nupur for keeping your blog going ...I have been reading it for the past 10+yrs and keep coming to it to hear of happenings in your world. I love your perspective on things and you inspire me to try new projects - be it baking, cooking, reading, crafting.. I don't comment often, but wanted to take this moment to let you know that what you share is meaningful to a lot. Thank you!

    1. Thank you for this kind note, and I am so glad you enjoy the blog!

  2. Such an enjoyable post, as always, full of your trademark warmth. A very happy Thanksgiving to all of you! So happy to read that Duncan is doing okay!! Do give him a belly rub from me and a tail wag from Roger.

    1. Thank you, and I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving too! I did give Dunkie a belly rub from you :) He is somehow just chugging along, and so we too are taking it a day at a time.

  3. I always enjoy your writing and recipes but OH how I Love those cookies! Best to you, your family and beautiful Duncan

    1. Hi Bobbi- aren't the cookies sweet? :) And very easy to make if you want to try baking some. I'm going to make a batch for my cookie boxes for friends.

  4. Sounds like a thanksgiving filled with family warmth! Could you share your mashed potatoes instant pot recipe? Do you use a specific kind of potato? Thank you!

    1. I do prefer Yukon gold potatoes for the mashed potatoes- I think they have a good balance of texture and flavor and stickiness. I make mashed potatoes without a proper recipe, but will make them again soon and post the steps!

  5. Thank you, Nupur. Long time reader, glad I stumbled on your blog more than a decade ago and love reading your posts, Rupa

    1. Thank you, Rupa, I appreciate you reading over such a long period!


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