Anticipation is high for a Happy Thanksgiving this year.

More of us will gather around a table with family and friends, spend time cooking up sides in the kitchen, play catch in the yard, volunteer in the community or just gobble, gobble up dinner in front of the TV waiting for a football game, a parade, a holiday movie or the dog show.

However your holiday plays out with family, friends, pets, or Zoom, it’s the time of year to tally up all we are grateful for.

At The Straz, we’re thankful for many things, but most of all the return of people to our performance halls. Bereft for months and months of the camaraderie that occurs at the shared experience of performing arts from Broadway tours, recitals, plays, ballets, orchestral concerts and more, our souls are again being soothed by togetherness, emotional performances and applause.

Oh, and food. The Straz staff likes food. Since our return to the office, several of our meetings or just regular workdays have had the lure of lunch, doughnuts, a midday snack and even the delicious remnants of a wedding cake.

And with Thanksgiving just a few days away, we’d thought we’d ask the staff what from their holiday menu they’re willing to share.

Here are a few easy-peasy recipes to consider for that open spot left on your holiday table.

All of the recipes come with a side dish of THANKS.

Alice Santana, vice president of education and community engagement, gets the holiday started with two festive treats for a holiday breakfast or brunch. And one of them could double as a fun activity for children to keep ‘em busy and out from under the cooks’ feet. As Alice explains, she’s still the “chef-in-waiting” for the big meal.

“So, in my household Thanksgiving is still controlled by ‘the abuelas’ so I am limited on what they will allow me to join in on cooking. The Abuelas are slowly allowing me into the kitchen as the eldest grandchild they approve ‘to be a good cook,’ so I’m excited to say I may get to contribute a lot more this year.” (We hope so, Alice!)

Dionne Christian, special assistant to The Straz’s chief operating officer, offers up a sweet potato side dish that doesn’t involve a blanket of marshmallows. Yes, you read that right … and its delicious.

“This recipe has been in my family for years. It’s so bad, but soooo good! The sauce tastes great with other Thanksgiving staples like turkey and stuffing, and it’s very easy to make!” Dionne says.

Kim MacCormack, The Straz publication manager offers a healthier take on annual green bean casserole.

“This recipe came out being triggered annually by the sound of breaking a can’s vacuum-seal, followed by the viscous plop of the mushroom soup leaving the can. There had to be a better way. I found it – with possible help from the internet, and my sister.”

We saved the sugary best for last from Sheila Joseph, The Straz’s mailroom and supplies coordinator. She offers us a simple dessert that is simply marvelous. Who says you have to have pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving? Bring on the Ooey Gooey cake!

“Being from New Orleans, traditionally my family expects the same things every year: Gumbo (Seafood) stuffed bell peppers, turkey, ham, greens, mac and cheese and stuffing. But the one thing they look forward to is the Ooey Gooey cake for dessert. It is a MUST HAVE! My grandkids ask for it if they don’t see it. It is a special treat for my family.”

So there you have it, some holiday morning treats, fresh takes on traditional dishes and something ooey and gooey.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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