home cooked dinners by the season

Thanksgiving Starters

Thanksgiving Starters


In the spirit of Thanksgiving I’m straying from posting a main dish recipe just long enough to give you a cocktail and appetizer recipe to serve before the big meal.

For the Old Fashioned, I went back to my recipe files from the newspaper column I used to write. The recipe was inspired by Brad’s Grandpa, Pop Pop, and it was first published seven years ago when I introduced it as a cocktail that most people of a certain generation would not be familiar with. Lemon Drops and Cosmo’s were the drink of the moment. Trends can change quickly in the liquid world and now bourbon and some form of an Old Fashioned grace just about every bar menu I’ve come across recently.

If you like bourbon then you’ll love the sweetness of this cocktail, offset with a touch of Angostura bitters, carbonation from the club soda and a lemon twist. Many recipes use an orange twist but Pop Pop used the lemon and my super taster husband thinks it’s key.

I recommend buying one of the ice cube trays that makes the really big cubes.



And cutting your lemon twists extra wide.



Pistachio Parmesan Crostini takes the edge off without killing your appetite and I’m of the philosophy it’s better to come to the table a bit hungry. They’re the perfect combination of chewy crisp baguette with savory, crunchy pistachios and melted cheese. The best part is the pistachio mixture and slicing the baguette can be done the day ahead. On Thanksgiving, simply spread the baguette slices and broil. They’re good served warm from the oven or at room temperature.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Old Fashioned
  • 1-1/2 to 2 oz Bourbon whiskey
  • 2 tablespoons simple syrup* (see note)
  • 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 4-6 oz club soda
  • 1 lemon twist* (see note)
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  1. Stir together bourbon, simple syrup and angostura bitters in a low-ball style glass. Add ice then pour in club soda, stirring well. Add cherry and lemon twist.
Simple syrup is a mixture of typically equal parts sugar and water. It is available in many grocery and cooking stores. You can make your own by heating ½ cup water and ½ cup sugar together just long enough to dissolve sugar. Allow cooling then refrigerate until using.

To make lemon twists, using a paring knife cut between the peel of the lemon and the white pith trying to get just peel. Twists can be as wide or skinny as you want them.

Pistachio Parmesan Crostini
  • ¾ cup chopped pistachios
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup chopped green onion
  • 20 baguette slices
  1. Stir together pistachios, Parmesan, mayonnaise and green onion. Spread about 1 tablespoon on each baguette slice and transfer to a baking sheet.
  2. Preheat broiler.
  3. Broil until lightly browned and bubbling, about 2 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Pistachio mixture can be made ahead, covered and refrigerated 24 hours before using.

Baguette can be sliced ahead and stored in a resealable plastic bag 24 hours prior to using







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11 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Starters”

  • Thank you, thank you for your delicious crostini recipe. I’ve had these at your house and can say they are all I need, forget about dinner, these are dangerous!

  • I had the big ice cubes at a bar in Portland a few weeks ago and they are pretty cool. They don’t water down your drink as much.

  • This is so timely, Linda! I’m about to go pick up my Mom at the airport to spend Thanksgiving with us. My Dad passed away almost two years ago. When I was growing up, after my Dad got home from work promptly at 5:30, he and my Mom would retreat into the den each with an Old Fashioned in hand. My Dad always carried in a pyrex bowl with peanuts or saltine crackers as well. They’d shut the door. It was their time. I guess the timer must have been set on the tuna casserole for dinner was never delayed by this ritual of theirs. I haven’t thought about an Old Fashioned in decades and never knew until now all that was in one!! Thank you for the recipe and a nostalgic reminder of simpler times.
    Happy Holidays to you!

    • I love this. And I hope you might be inspired to make and Old Fashioned for Thanksgiving. I am sure you miss your Dad especially at this time of year.

      Brad has been mixing Old Fashioneds for us at Thanksgiving for the past eight years and we love them.

  • Linda, These sound so good and John has discovered bourbon so will give it a try. We have ice balls from sur la table, about three inches in diameter, great for drinks like this.

  • I’ve printed up the Old Fashion recipe and will put the ingredients together to give to Jack for Christmas. And I plan on making the crostini recipe for Thanksgiving at the Burrows. Thanks for all the wonderful ideas!

  • don’t laugh, I have an question that may seem obvious to other people. Are you saying I can cut the fresh baguettes and store them as is and they will be fine to use the next day? Or are you saying toast them and then they store well?

    Can you tell Andie Hi for us? We are all missing her!

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