Tag Archives: thanksgiving recipes

How to get your kids to eat Thanksgiving dinner

I have mentioned many times in this particular column of mine that I love Thanksgiving. The holiday that asks nothing of you besides gluttony and drunkenness. I don’t even mind that I’m now the one in charge of the cooking, because in the end it all leads to the gluttony and drunkenness. Plus, I found a recipe for deep-fried stuffing balls that has completely changed the entire Thanksgiving game, if not my entire life.

What I don’t love, however, is being the parent of small children at Thanksgiving. Because after spending eight hours cooking, the last thing I want to do is spend another eight hours negotiating with tiny picky dictators about trying the food I just lovingly poured my heart and soul into. Not even eating the food, mind you. Just trying one microscopic bite. A bite so small that technically it shouldn’t exist according to current laws of physics.

But no matter how delicious everything is, no matter how much it has been bathed in practically pornographic amounts of butter and lard, no matter how kid-friendly I attempt to make everything, my children will take one look at their plate and immediately start howling about the disgusting mush of dog poop and gravel I apparently just set in front of them.

True story. This is the conversation I had with my not quite 3-year-old last year:

“I can’t eat this, Mommy. It’s gross.”

“Which part is gross, baby?”

“All of it.”

Ah, music to an exhausted and slightly drunk Thanksgiving cook’s ears.

He doesn’t even like mashed potatoes, which I didn’t even know was humanly possible.  

And this year, his younger sister just learned how to shriek “No!” so it should be a beautiful dinnertime duet of denial this time around.

But I decided that after last year, which ended with a tantrum (and my toddler was crying too) and an exclamation of “oh, just eat a stupid roll,” that I would do things differently this year. I would come prepared this year. I would WIN this year.

Which is why since March I have been brainstorming ideas on how I can get my kids to eat my Thanksgiving food without tears and fighting and threats (or at the very least, only minimal threats). And I am here to share my wisdom. Because, according to my research, it’s not impossible to get even the pickiest of kids to eat Thanksgiving dinner; it just takes a little ingenuity.

So, here are your Aunty Aprill’s tips for tricking getting your kids to eat Thanksgiving dinner:

Mold the mashed potatoes into an elaborate statue of a Mickey Mouse.

Tell them sweet potatoes are potatoes made with candy.

This one is rather labor intensive, but if you can, puree some turkey and stuffing and then, using a syringe, stuff some M&M’s with the puree.

Hire a playground bully to stand menacingly in the corner and glare at them until they take three BIG bites of the three bean salad.

Tell them Christmas won’t come unless they eat everything on their plate.

Instead of a turkey, mold some mac and cheese into the shape of a turkey (but the GOOD kind from a box, none of that fancy, homemade, gourmet cheese sauce crap).

Don’t feed them for three days beforehand. Who’s brussel sprouts sauteed with butter and bacon are icky now, starving peasant child?

A less severe version of the above tip: Only feed them peas and water three days beforehand.

Tell them that Elmo made the cranberry sauce.

Pour melted chocolate over their entire plate.

Use sibling rivalry to your advantage. Whoever eats the most turkey gets the most Christmas presents.

Only serve rolls with butter. Or, if they’re really picky, only serve butter.

And, if all else fails, just drink wine until you don’t care what anyone eats.


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Violating turkeys and other Thanksgiving fun

I’ll never forget the first time I cooked my very own Thanksgiving dinner. (Nor will my dog and husband, who are both reminded every time they catch a glimpse of where their eyebrows used to be in the mirror).

If you’ve never done it before, boy, are YOU in for a treat. Sure, it can be a bit overwhelming, but rest assure, I am here to talk you through it.

The very first thing you should know is that there is a dirty little secret regarding the Thanksgiving turkey that no one ever really talks about. But since basic human decency has never stopped me before, let me just throw it out there:

You have to stick your hand up the turkey’s ass.

Oh, you read me right. Your hand has to go up the turkey’s behind and then pull everything you find up there out.

Why, you ask? I have no bloody idea. Something like 0.0007 percent of the population ever actually use whatever the hell is up there in their recipes. But apparently that small minority has some major lobbying power in Congress because legislation mandating that someone else deal with the “innards” before it ever gets to your local grocery store has yet to be passed.

Thus, until we finally get enough votes to defeat the powerful Gizzard Lobby, we will be elbow deep in turkey butt once a year.

Therefore, the very first thing you should do before cooking your Thanksgiving dinner is take your turkey out for drinks and a movie. A bit old-fashioned, sure, but I refuse to violate anything I haven’t first bought a cocktail and appetizer for first.

I’m a romantic, what can I say?

This should be quickly followed by a mature conversation with your significant other about who should be the one to actually stick their hand up the turkey’s ass. If you guys are anything like me and my husband, that conversation will go something like this:

Me: It should be you.

Him: Hell no.

If it is your hand that has to get intimately involved with the dead bird’s rectum, let me just say this about the experience, without going into the gross and gratuitous details:

I drew you a picture.

violating turkey

Then put the turkey in the oven.

An hour later, take the turkey out of the oven while another family member takes the batteries out of the incessantly beeping smoke detector. As it turns out, when the recipe book says you should completely cover the turkey while it’s cooking, they don’t mean with a plastic lid.

Other important Thanksgiving cooking lessons you should probably know:

A microwave is no place for aluminum foil.

If you are trying to mash potatoes with only a fork, expect to be mashing them until roughly Christmas.

If half of your turkey is burned, it doesn’t necessarily mean the other half is cooked.

Gravy should not be cooked until it can technically be classified as a “solid.”

Wine is good.

(As is vodka or, in a pinch, Nyquil).

Good luck, everybody! And Happy Thanksgiving!