Thanksgiving is the holiday occurring between Halloween and Christmas.  Although there is much more emphasis on the latter-mentioned celebrations, it is important to remember to be thankful for what we have.  Gratitude is often forgotten in today’s “it’s all about me” and “I deserve …” society.

The Sunday School class I teach recently started a journey through the book Lord, Change My Attitude Before It’s Too Late, by author James MacDonald.  The chapters are in pairs, with one discussing a wrong mindset (such as complaining) and the next one providing a replacement for it (gratitude).  I did not plan it timewise, but we just completed the chapter on gratitude.  One of the main points MacDonald makes is this: “Gratitude is the attitude that sets the altitude for living!”  If we choose to live lives that are filled with thankfulness, we rise above the pettiness that drags so many people down.

Focusing on the idea that giving thanks is a choice was a valuable lesson for me.  I have been through the study before with a different group; however, I needed to be reminded that when I choose to complain, I am opting to downplay all the good that is in my life, and I reinforce the things I should release to my Heavenly Father’s jurisdiction.  Since I completed the study the first time, I have been faithful about keeping a record of five things I am thankful for each day.  I write them just before I retire each night.  When I go to bed with a heart full of gratitude, I am much more prone to wake up in the same frame of mind.

As we go through the Thanksgiving season, stop and take time to consider all we have that should bring about an attitude of gratitude.  If life seems burdensome, making it hard to think of good things, start with everyday blessings.  The air to breathe.  Water to drink.  The beauty of a sunrise or sunset.  Choose to be thankful!

A big part of Thanksgiving is all the food that fills our tables.  Along with turkey or ham, several other items that seem to make their way onto our holiday menu.  Green beans, sweet potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin are often served in one form or another.  Need some ideas on how to prepare them?  I have a few good recipes:


Balsamic Green Beans

2 (14.5-ounce) cans whole green beans, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup chopped sweet onion

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Rinse and drain green beans.  Stir together vinegar, brown sugar, and mustard until smooth.

Cook onion in hot oil in skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until tender.  Stir in vinegar mixture, salt, and pepper.  Add green beans, toss to coat.  Serve immediately.


Lemon Pepper Green Beans

1 pound fresh or frozen green beans (or use canned)
2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 teaspoons lemon & pepper seasoning salt

Cook and drain beans. Sauté slivered almonds in the butter until lightly browned. Add seasoning salt and toss with the green beans and serve.


Praline Yams

1 (15-ounce) can cut yams, drained

3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar

6 tablespoons chopped pecans

1 tablespoon flour

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Place drained yams in ungreased 1-quart casserole or baking dish.  In small bowl, combine remaining ingredients; blend well.  Sprinkle over yams.  Bake for 30–35 minutes or until bubbly.  4 servings.


Cranberry Compote
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped dry apricots

1 orange – use zest and juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
Snip apricots into small pieces using kitchen shears.
Place raisins and apricots in small saucepan.  Add orange juice; plump fruit for 10 minutes. Add spices and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Allow to cool. Place cranberry sauce in medium-sized bowl. Stir in fruit mixture.  Add orange zest and mix together. Cool in refrigerator for 30 minutes.


Cranberry-Pineapple Minis

 1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple, in juice

2 packages (3 ounces each) raspberry flavored gelatin

1 can (14 to 16 ounces) whole berry cranberry sauce

2/3 cup chopped walnut pieces

1 apple, chopped

Drain pineapple, reserving juice.  Add enough water to juice to measure 2-1/2 cups.   Pour liquid into saucepan; bring to boil.  Pour over gelatin mixes in large bowl; stir 2 minutes until completely dissolved.  Stir in pineapple, cranberry sauce, walnuts, and apple.  Spoon into 24 paper-lined muffin cups.  Refrigerate 2-1/2 hours or until firm.  Remove liners.

Makes 24 servings.


Pumpkin Pie Cake

 1 can (16-ounce) pumpkin puree (or 2 cups prepared pumpkin)

1 cup sugar

5 eggs

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 box yellow cake mix

1/2 cup margarine, melted

1/3 cup slivered almonds, chopped (may use pecans)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking with a non-stick vegetable coating.  In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt.  Pour into prepared pan.  Sprinkle with cake mix.  Drizzle melted butter over top of cake and cover with almonds.  Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until cake is golden brown and almonds are toasted.

Makes 15 servings.


No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake

1 recipe graham cracker crust (recipe follows)

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1/4 cup water

12 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin (or 1-3/4 cups pumpkin puree)

6 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed

Chopped pecans (optional)

Prepare graham cracker crust; set aside.  In a small saucepan stir together gelatin and water, let stand for 5 minutes to soften.  Cook and stir over low heat until gelatin dissolves; set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.  Add pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, and gelatin mixture; beat until well mixed.  Gently fold in dessert topping.  Spread mixture into crust in springform pan.  Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours or until set.

Using a thin metal spatula or table knife, loosen cheesecake from the side of the springform pan.  If desired, use a wide spatula to remove cheesecake from bottom of pan and place on a serving plate.  Cut into wedges to serve.  If desired, garnish with pecans.

Graham Cracker Crust:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, combine 3/4 cup finely crushed graham crackers, 3 tablespoons canola oil, and 2 tablespoons sugar.  Mix well.  Spread evenly in bottom of an 8-or 9-inch springform pan; press firmly onto bottom.  Bake for 5 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.