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Happy Thanksgiving!

A print of a can of Campbell's condensed turkey noodle soup on a white background.

Andy Warhol. Campbell’s Soup Can (Turkey Noodle), 1962

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Tired of the same of thing at Thanksgiving? Feeling uncreative or need a last minute idea for a new dish? We asked four MCA staff members what their favorite thing to make for Thanksgiving was and we got back five mouth-watering recipes.


Emily, Schoenherr, Senior Security Coordinator

My parents recently became vegetarians, so I made this gravy for our Thanksgiving meal in 2013. Hands down, it’s the best gravy I’ve ever had.

Mushroom Thyme Gravy

Adapted from Food52

1/3 cup dried mushrooms

2 cups vegetable stock

3 tablespoons butter

1½ tablespoons shallot, minced

3 tablespoons flour

3 tablespoons soy sauce

½ cup cream

1 tablespoon sherry

  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced

Salt & pepper

  • Bring vegetable stock to a boil. In a small bowl, pour the stock over the mushrooms. Let soak for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the mushrooms from the bowl, setting the stock aside. Thinly slice the mushrooms.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the shallot and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes until softened. Add the flour to the butter-shallot mixture, stirring constantly. Cook for 2 minutes.
  • Gradually add 1½ cups of the reserved stock (leaving the mushroom sediment out), stirring well to incorporate. Cook over medium heat until thickened.
  • Add the sliced mushrooms, soy sauce, cream, sherry, and thyme to the gravy. Cook for a few more minutes until heated through and thickened to desired consistency.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Monica Guerrant, Manager of Individual Giving

This recipe has been in my family’s cookbook for years.

Cranberry Sauce

1 pound fresh cranberries

2 cups sugar

1 pkg cherry Jello (0.3 oz)

½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

½ cup chopped fine celery

1 can crushed pineapple (20 oz), drained

1 cup hot water (not boiling)

  • Grind or crush fresh berries with food processor, or my preference, I run them through a meat grinder. In a large bowl add sugar to crushed cranberries.
  • In a separate, smaller bowl, mix hot water and cherry Jello until dissolved.
  • Add Jello to cranberry-sugar mixture. Stir in pineapple, nuts, and celery.

Refrigerate (preferably in serving bowl) overnight.

Jared Sheldon, Telecommunications Coordinator

I want to premise this recipe with a disclaimer. Pureed cauliflower is not nor will it ever be mashed potatoes. It is, however, delicious! You could use Romanesco if you'd like some color.

Cauliflower Puree

1 small onion (sweeter is better in this case)

1 small head of cauliflower

1tbs olive oil (other veg oils will do just fine)

  • ¼ to ½ cup stock (veg or chicken would be best)
  • Butter (salted, unsalted, veg spread . . . all will work)

Salt & pepper

  • Break down the cauliflower from the underside. Remove the large trunks first and cut them in halves. Once the branches are too small to divide split into parts roughly the size of the larger halves.
  • Chop one small onion, a ¼ inch chop is good. Heat a medium size cast iron or frying pan to medium high. Add olive oil and then onion. Stir frequently enough to avoid browning or sticking. Once the onion has a milky appearance, not quite transparent, add the cauliflower and turn the head down to medium, medium low-ish. The goal is to pan roast these slowly to develop caramelization. After you start to see some browning add a little stock at a time and let the cauliflower drink it up.

Once the cauliflower is cooked through and browned a bit, transfer to a food processor or blender. Add 1 tbs of butter/veg spread and puree the mess out of it. Add more butter or stock to reach the desired texture. Salt and pepper to taste.

Optional ingredients:

  • Curry powder and peas add a lovely color
  • Cheese
  • Rosemary
  • Bacon


Kristen Kaniewski, Visitor Services Manager

This is my grandmother’s recipe and was a family favorite growing up. I started make these for my new Chicago family several years ago and I like that I am carrying on my grandma’s traditions with a new group of friends.

Alice’s Pecan Tarts


3 oz cream cheese

½ cup butter

1 cup flour


¾ cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon butter

1 egg

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

⅔ cup chopped pecans

24 pecan halves

  • Blend together pastry ingredients into dough. Form into log and cut into 24 pieces and shape into tarts in mini muffin tins.
  • Beat together batter ingredients and mix in the chopped nuts. Pour batter evenly onto unbaked pastry. Top with pecan halves.

Bake for 25 minutes in a 325°F oven.

Bonus Recipe

For the most part I tend to stick to very traditional Thanksgiving recipes. My excitement is derived from frequent investigations of variations of the Thanksgiving palette. I like to consider Thanksgiving Day to be just that, an entire day to give thanks, symbolically, by putting delicious things in my face. I find it essential to begin a lengthy cooking process with a solid base. My Thanksgiving base of choice is biscuits and gravy. Both biscuits and gravy have endless variations. With that in mind I present to you, Jerk Eye Gravy with buttermilk biscuits 3 ways. I know, I know . . . what’s Jerk Eye Gravy? That story begins as my adaptive method cooking stories often do . . . with a big mistake. I was making a sauce for tofu and black-eyed peas and added WAY too much jerk sauce. After quadrupling the volume of the other sauce components with very little respite for my taste buds I decided to use a quarter of the sauce and turn it into a gravy using butter, flour, stock, and coconut milk. I added a little coffee to round out the heat with some earth tones and Jerk Eye Gravy was accidentally created. It may be an acquired taste . . . by may I mean probably.

—Jared Sheldon

Jerk Eye Gravy

1 tbs fats (vegetable based spreads, butter, drippings or lard all work well)

1 tbs flour

1 tbs stock

2 tbs of milk (coconut milk is really nice I think)

½ tsp (or more to taste Jerk Sauce (my knowledge of jerk sauce is not extensive by any means. Currently I'm using Uncle Joe’s, a local producer, but feel free to experiment.)

1 tsp coffee (the addition of coffee is probably not necessary, I like it. Consider it an option. Chicory may also be nice although I haven’t tried it.)

Step 1) Make these biscuits or cheat and buy a premade tube. You can substitute 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice per cup to nondairy milk to make a vegan buttermilk substitute.

  • Step 2) Make a gravy

In a cast iron or frying pan with a tall lip, heat and/or break down the fats at a medium high heat. Add all of the flour at once and whisk vigorously When mixture thins and starts to bubble, reduce heat to low, and cut back on the whisking. Cook until a warm toasty aroma develops. Add stock and milk 1 tbs at a time until mixed. Add Jerk Sauce, coffee, and salt and pepper to taste.