Friday, November 15, 2013

A Festive Thanksgivng Table And A "Sweet Potato Pie" Recipe

As we plan for our Thanksgiving feast, I thought it might be a wonderful idea to talk about some guidelines that may help you dress your table. I would love to share some ideas about the meal courses that you will be serving and eventually becoming your holiday traditions.

Setting a table is the place where your family and friends gather together for two important things in life, to eat and talk. You can’t go wrong when you use colors of the traditional warm amber hues for Thanksgiving, the blues, whites and silver of Hanukkah, and the classic red, green and white of Christmas. Traditional colors and table settings communicate love to anyone that shares a meal with you in your home.

To choose a tablecloth really depends on your dinnerware. You could use a patterned cloth or a solid color. A nice touch is adding place cards to your table, and be sure to allow enough room for seating. I know that in my family, when we have a holiday or special meal, we sit at the table for most of the day, even after eating. So you want to be comfortable.

Worried about what fork to use? Don’t worry; I am going to give you some guidelines. The basic place setting for your holiday meal will consist of an appetizer, salad or soup, and a main course. In a traditional Italian menu, a dish of pasta is eaten prior to the main course. Following the main course will be dessert and coffee or tea. At this point of the meal, my mom would also put out fruit, chocolates, nuts, and mints. By this time everyone is stuffed and has been at the dinner table for over 5 hours or more. Another Holiday Dinner was a success!

One rule I always follow, is that the utensils are arranged in the order of which a person will use them. In our Western culture, this means that the forks, bread plates, and napkins are to the left, while the knives, spoons, glassware, cups, and saucers are to the right. In many other countries the left-right order is reversed. Often, in less formal settings, the napkin and /or cutlery may be held together in a single bundle by a napkin ring. In informal dinners you can even place the napkin on the plate. 

My mom, Madeline
Some final table details, don’t forget the salt and pepper shakers. If you find some room on your table, a floral centerpiece and unscented candles would be a beautiful warm finishing touch to your holiday table. One last item I would love to share is a little hostess gift that I give to my guests as they leave my home. It can be something small, even a cookie cutter with a lovely ribbon on it, which is a thoughtful thank you for coming to my dinner party. 

Our Thanksgiving table at my parents' house.
I think back when I was still living at home, my mother would always have the family over for the holidays. The smells in the kitchen would always give me that warm and toasty feeling, especially the aroma’s that would float all the way up to my room, which was on the second floor. Food is a big part of my Italian family and it always centered around the kitchen. My mom’s dinner table was simple, but beautiful, especially with the proper placement of forks, spoons, and knives. We always had to have a centerpiece with candles on each end of the table. Everything sparkled, from the good china to the sterling silverware. As my family would be seated around the table, I could see how proud my mother was as she would hear her guests, admire her elegant table.  My memories of how my mom prepared for her holiday dinner parties will last me my lifetime.    

Everyone has a favorite recipe they look forward to enjoying a holiday meal with the family. The smell and taste of a special dish can invoke memories from the past or create new ones for the next generation. My recipe this week is a “Sweet Potato Pie”. When you hear the word “Pie” you may think that it is for dessert, but this is not a dessert. Sweet Potato Pie is a traditional side dish in the Southern United States. It is often served during the holiday season, especially at Thanksgiving, and is similar in many ways to pumpkin pie. So please try this delicious and flavorful recipe as you enjoy your holiday turkey.

"Sweet Potato Pie"

2 to 3 sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 to 2 Lbs)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter; softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (or less to make it less sweet)
1/2 cup of 1% milk
2 large eggs
1/4 Tsp ground pumpkin pie spice
1/2 Tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 Tsp vanilla extract 
1-- 9 inch pie crust 

Boil sweet potato whole in skin for 50 to 55 minutes, or until soft. Run cold water over the potatoes and remove the skin. Blend potatoes in a blender and pulse for about 1 minute to remove all fibers. Place sweet potatoes in a bowl. Add butter and mix well. Using an electric mixer, mix in sugar, milk, eggs, cinnamon and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth. Pour filling into an unbaked pie crust. Bake at 350° F for 55 to 60 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve with melted marshmallow on top. (optional)

Till Next Time……..

Copyright © 2013 “Family Plus Food Equals Love” All Rights Reserved


  1. Dear Dottie,
    I like your tips for laying the table properly. These days people don't seem to lay the table on a daily basis anymore. I remember as a child my dad would get cross if we didn't put everything on the table.I would sometimes forget napkins, bread or wine...
    Even if I live in the UK I have still kept my Italian-eating habits and I lay the table every day.
    Nice photo of your mum! She must have been a fab cook!
    And the sweet potato pie is very interesting. I have never seen it before. Thank you for sharing.
    Have a nice weekend! X

  2. Dear Alida,
    Thanks for stopping by, yes, you are correct. People these days are very different, they want to do everything very fast and no fuss. There is something to fussing, it makes you feel so good when you have a table that is set properly, it may take some time, but it is worth it! Thanks about my mom's photo. That was taken many years ago, but at that time she was the queen of the kitchen and always had dinner on Sundays for the whole family and even friends. I learned everything from her about cooking, and how to set the table properly. The sweet potato pie is really delicious, something like a pumpkin pie, but this is used as a side dish. You should try it...
    Blessings for a wonderful weekend..Dottie :)

  3. I use to always tell my kids the setting of the table especially on a holiday is just as important as the dinner itself. As you said, Dottie, hours can be spent sitting at the table even after the meal is over. Might as well have it pretty:)

    Your mother reminds me of mine. They are always so proud to have guests at their table. We always took a picture of the youngest child with the drumstick too, lol...

    I don't entertain as often as I use to but I remember those days well. Splendid memories that will last a lifetime.

    I'm was thinking about making Sweet Potato Pie for company this year, Dottie. As I look at how nice and high yours looks, I may just need to give it a try.

    Thank you so much for sharing...

  4. Dear Louise,
    Thanks for stopping by. I agree with you that it is as important as dinner itself, setting a nice table. If you are having an informal lunch or dinner, it is simple, but when you have, company over, it just shows your company that you took extra time to set the table with beauty just for them. Yes, my mother is very particular about her table. I remember when I was young especially holiday time, that my job was to polish the furniture and the silverware, which included candle sticks, and special silver dishes. This was done everytime we had company. In today's world we don't do that anymore, but that always made it special, even though I was the one who did that job. I always looked forward to helping my mom. It was exciting. Yes, Louise, memories that will last forever! My sister-in-law made this the first time for a holiday one year, and it was so good, so now we have it all the time at Thanksgiving. I adapted it a little, but it is so delicious!
    I would think Marion would love it! Now, you need to try it!
    Blessings, Dottie :)

  5. Hi Dottie , enjoyed reading your post , your mother had the right idea , setting a beautiful table makes it more comfortable and enjoyable and your mother's table says love . Now I know there you got the name for your blog , just beautiful .
    I will try your sweet potato pie recipe for Thanksgiving , thanks for sharing .

    My computer froze Friday night and the Techs finish it this morning , I think I did that when I tried to link my bundt to Louise under nourishments , but thanks so much , and thanks for sharings :)

  6. Dear Nee,
    Thank you for stopping by, yes a beautiful table shows that you have put extra love in preparing your dinner. We take, time to make the food, and present it on lovely dishes so why should our table not be beautiful as well.
    The name of my blog came from part of that, family, love, and food. Seems like you can't have one without the other.
    Sorry about your computer, but at least you are back, and all is ok now! I think you will enjoy the Sweet Potato pie very much, and you will have a new tradition for your Thanksgiving table, enjoy! Blessings for a great week, Dottie :)

  7. Dear Dottie, Beautiful memories. Our memories make us who we are today. The holidays were always about the food and the family. The food cooking from early in the morning, this is what makes us who we are.
    A delicious pie with lovely memories. Blessings dear. Catherine xo

  8. Dearest Catherine,
    Thanks for stoping by. I agree, our memories do make us who we are! Family and food, can't seem to have one without the other. I used to love smelling the cooking when I was young, coming from the kitchen, as my mom would be up at the crack of dawn starting to prepare our holiday dinner. Those are the days of memories that we remember with love...Baking pies, cooking for those we love is what it was all about and still is! Blessings on a great week, Dottie :)