Photos by Sarah Ward Weddings.

A rustic twist on the traditional Thanksgiving menu


Fall Harvest Salad: Aimee Broussard
Butterhorn Rolls: April Hamilton
Roasted Cornish Hens, Quick Sage & Brandy Cherry Jubilee and Braised Heirloom Carrots: The Gilded Artichoke
Sweet Potato Tarts: Sweet Stirrings
Lemon Charlotte: Maggie Heyn Richardson


The pecans give the salad some crunch while the cranberries give it some color. Top it with a homemade cranberry balsamic dressing and don’t be surprised if, for once, the salad steals the show.

¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. cranberries
1 tsp. pure maple sugar
1 tsp. honey Dijon mustard
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 tsp. garlic, smashed and peeled
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 (12-oz.) package frozen butternut squash, thawed
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
5 oz. baby spinach
1 cup dried cranberries
2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
¼ cup pecans, toasted
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine dressing ingredients except olive oil. While food processor is running, drizzle in ½ cup olive oil in a very slow stream until well combined. Pour dressing into a container, cover and refrigerate.
Place cubed butternut squash in a bowl and toss with 2 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 tsp. each salt and pepper. Roast on parchment-lined baking sheet for 20 minutes or until fork tender.
To assemble salad, place spinach on a platter or in a large bowl, then add squash, cranberries, feta and pecans. Drizzle with dressing just before serving.
Makes 8 servings.

—Aimee Broussard


My mother’s unwritten Thanksgiving prep list begins with “make roll dough.” As far as I’m concerned, the next and final action item could be “make rolls” and the feast would be complete. The rolls are the star of the table. There is an art to eating them: uncurl the top layer of the crescent and savor that first buttery bite before devouring the bottom half. This recipe is adapted from Duncan Hines’ Adventures in Good Cooking and The Art of Carving in the Home, a cookbook my mom picked up on her honeymoon in 1952.

¼ cup lukewarm water
2 tsp. “instant’” yeast
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) butter, cool room temperature
½ cup sugar
1½ tsp. salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup milk, room temperature
4 cups unbleached flour, plus extra for rolling
Pour water into a small bowl and sprinkle yeast over to dissolve for a few minutes while you assemble the rest of the ingredients. Cream butter, sugar and salt together in a large mixing bowl, preferably using a stand mixer and paddle attachment. Scrape down sides of bowl. Pour in eggs, milk, dissolved yeast mixture and flour. Mix on low speed until well blended. Scrape bowl down to bottom to ensure everything is well incorporated (do not overbeat—the joy of these rolls is their tenderness, and long mixing will make them tough). Cover bowl with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled, about 1½ hours.
Fold risen dough with a large scraper. Transfer to a gallon-size zip-top bag and chill for at least 6 hours and up to 3 days.
Roll out 13 of chilled dough on a well-floured cloth to a ¼-inch-thick round. Cut dough into 12 triangles like a pizza. Roll each triangle into a crescent roll shape, starting at wide end and rolling toward tip. Place rolls 2-inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover each sheet with a clean kitchen towel and allow rolls to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Uncover rolls and bake until lightly browned, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool for a few minutes on baking sheets before removing to a basket. Serve warm.
Makes 3 dozen.

—April Hamilton


16 oz. carrots, whole or sliced in half lengthwise (I used Trader Joe’s Les Petites)
1 to 2oz. olive oil
Dash of each: gran
ulated garlic, salt, cracked peppercorn
1 cup Greek yogurt2 Tbsp. honey
For garnish (optional): Crumbled feta cheese, candied walnuts, cane syrup and thyme sprigs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place carrots on a sheet pan. Toss carrots with oil and seasoning until coated. Roast in oven for 30 minutes or until desired tenderness. Time may vary based on thickness of carrots.
For topping, mix Greek yogurt and honey until combined. Garnish with crumbled feta cheese, candied walnuts, a drizzle of cane syrup, and thyme sprigs if desired.
Makes 4 servings.

—Lisa Boudreaux-LeCoq, The Gilded Artichoke


The secret to the crispy skin is the mayo!

4 Cornish hens, thawed and drained
4 Tbsp. mayonnaise
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, de-stemmed and minced (can substitute dried rosemary) and an additional 2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary per hen for stuffing
Light sprinkling of each: Cajun seasoning, salt, granulated garlic, paprika, cracked pepper
1 lemon, quartered
1 satsuma or small orange, quartered
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a roasting pan, lay each hen onto the pan. Drop 1 Tbsp. mayonnaise on each hen. Be careful not to touch spoon to hen if returning spoon to jar between each scoop. Season each hen with ¼ of minced rosemary and a sprinkling of each seasoning. Massage each hen with mayonnaise, rosemary and seasoning; work mixture inside cavity of hen and cover entire outer body skin, wings and legs, top and bottom and under skin onto meat if possible. Stuff each hen with 1 wedge each of lemon and satsuma per hen, along with remaining rosemary sprigs. Roast at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees, remove hens from oven, and spoon melted butter over each hen. Return hens to oven and roast for 30 to 45 more minutes or until a thermometer inserted in thickest part of thigh reads 170 degrees.
If the skin begins to get a bit too golden while roasting, remove from oven and lightly tent hens with aluminum foil before returning to oven to complete cooking.
Let hens rest for about 10 minutes before transferring them to a platter. I chose to decorate the platter with a bed of fresh arugula, rosemary sprigs, apples, satsumas and a savory brandied cherry jubilee made from cherry pie filling (recipe on opposite page).
Makes 4 servings.

—Lisa Boudreaux-LeCoq, The Gilded Artichoke


½ stick unsalted butter
1 (16- to 21-oz.) can cherry pie filling or topping (my pick is the “Very Cherry” for more fruit)
1 oz. brandy
Dash of each: cayenne pepper, rubbed sage, cracked peppercorn, salt
In a saucepan over low to medium heat, melt butter. Once butter is melted and bubbling, add cherry pie filling and a dash of each seasoning. Heat until bubbly, then add brandy and simmer on low for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from stove and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Pour into a gravy boat with ladle. Use as a garnish for poultry, salads or biscuits.

—Lisa Boudreaux-LeCoq, The Gilded Artichoke


Shortly after I was married and started hosting holiday dinners, I wanted to make a light, lemony dessert, and I found an intriguing one in A Southern Collection, a cookbook published in 1979 by the Junior League of Columbus, Georgia—my hometown. It was called, well, Delicious Lemon Dessert. The folksy name belies what it really is: a Charlotte, a mousse-like mold lined with tender ladyfingers. It’s hard to find a prettier dessert whose flavors and textures so nicely complement the biggest meal of the year.

1 envelope plain gelatin
½ cup cold water
4 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar, divided
Pinch salt
½ cup fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. lemon zest
1 pint heavy cream, whipped
3 dozen ladyfingers, separated
Fresh berries for garnish
Sprinkle gelatin over water in a bowl to soften it. Place solution in microwave for about 20 seconds, and stir so gelatin dissolves completely. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks, adding ½ cup sugar and the salt, beating until thick and light. Slowly add lemon juice, zest and gelatin solution. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until foamy, and add remaining ½ cup sugar. Continue beating until stiff. Fold egg whites into yolk mixture. Finally, fold whipped cream into mixture. Line sides and bottom of a 10-inch springform pan with ladyfinger halves and pour in half of custard mixture. Place more ladyfingers on top, and cover with remaining custard. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Remove sides of mold and decorate with fresh berries.
Makes 14-16 servings.

—Maggie Heyn Richardson


½ cup powdered sugar
1¼ Tbsp. gelatin
¼ cup cold water
¾ cup sugar
½ cup corn syrup
18 tsp. salt
¼ cup water
½ tsp. vanilla extract
Generously grease the bottom and sides of an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with butter; coat with some of the powdered sugar.
In the bowl of a mixer, sprinkle gelatin over ¼ cup cold water. Place this bowl on the mixer fitted with whisk attachment and let sit.
In a 2-qt. saucepan, heat sugar, corn syrup, salt and ¼ cup water over low heat. Stir constantly, just until sugar is dissolved. Heat to boiling and cook without stirring until a thermometer reaches 240 degrees. Remove from heat. Slowly pour hot syrup into bowl with softened gelatin while whisking on low speed. Increase speed to high, and beat for 10 to 12 minutes or until mixture is white and almost tripled in volume. Add vanilla extract and beat on high for 1 minute. Pour into baking dish. Let stand at room temperature for at least 8 hours.
Dust a cutting board with powdered sugar. Place remaining powdered sugar in a small bowl. Gently lift marshmallow out of baking dish in 1 piece and place on cutting board. Using a sharp knife greased with butter, cut into small cubes. (Be sure to grease knife before each cut.) Shake marshmallows in bowl of powdered sugar to dust all sides. Set aside until ready to use on finished tart.
Tart Crust:
10 oz. butter, room temperature
5 oz. powdered sugar, sifted
4½ oz. eggs, weighed on kitchen scale
2 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
1 lb. 4 oz. all-purpose flour
5 oz. almond flour
8 (3- to 4-in.) tart shell pans or pie tins
Fit mixer with paddle attachment and cream butter until fluffy. Mix in powdered sugar and whip on medium-high speed until lighter in color. Scrape down sides of bowl and paddle to make sure it’s all incorporated. With mixer on low speed, slowly pour in eggs and extract and mix until well combined, scraping down side of bowl as needed. Gradually add in the 2 flours and mix until just combined. Using a rolling pin, roll dough out onto a floured surface about 18 inch thick. Using a knife, cut a circle larger than tart pan. Lay circle of dough in pan and use your fingers to lightly press into shape of pan. Trim dough off at top edge of pan using your fingers or a knife. Chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
This is a good time to boil the sweet potatoes so they will be ready for making the filling.
Bake chilled tart shells in a 325-degree oven just until it begins to look like baked cookie dough but NOT golden yet (we will continue to bake them with the filling). Depending on your oven, this should take about 5 to 6 minutes. Set aside.
Sweet Potato Filling:
1 lb. sweet potatoes
4 oz. butter, room temperature
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ oz. sugar
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. cinnamon
4 oz. whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
Remove skin from potatoes and dice into large cubes, then boil until tender. Using mixer with whisk attachment, mix butter into the soft, warm potatoes. Add both sugars and spices and continue whisking. Slowly pour in milk and vanilla and mix until just incorporated. Add eggs and whip until well combined.
Fill each tart shell with potato mixture, near top edge of crust. In a 325-degree oven, bake tarts until filling is almost set in center. There will be a very slight jiggle in middle of filling and it will have a puffy/dry look. Place as many marshmallows as you desire on top of each tart. Use a kitchen torch or broiler setting on oven to toast marshmallows.
Makes 8 tarts.

—Laura-Kate Amrhein, Sweet Stirrings

Click here to read the full Free Rein Feast cover story.

Click here to read more about the history behind Live Oak Arabians.