A casual menu that nods to the bigger celebration

It’s almost Thanksgiving—a time when we start planning our most elaborate menus of the year. We turn to multistep recipes because they’re worth it: They have been passed down for generations and will once again adorn the family table as they have for decades.

We love that tradition. However, we thought it would be a fun change to put together a simpler, down-home holiday menu. It could easily be pulled off in an afternoon and casually shared with family and friends. It’s also the perfect way to host your own Friendsgiving dinner and celebrate with the loved ones in your life who feel more like family to you.

• Pan-Fried Turkey Breasts with Cream Gravy
• Sweet and Spicy Green Beans with Bacon
• Sweet Potato Biscuits
• Homemade Gingerbread

Recipes by Tracey Koch


Fried turkeys have become a popular part of many holiday tables. They are delicious and decadent but a mess to prepare. We opted for a simpler method: using a boneless turkey breast and cutting it into medallions. We dredge the medallions in seasoned flour, egg wash and Panko bread crumbs. Then, we pan fry them to a crispy golden brown served with country-style cream gravy. It is a delicious, easy take on the classic fried turkey without the mess of frying the whole bird. For the gravy, we use equal amounts of whole milk and broth to give it the right balance of richness and flavor. It pairs perfectly with the crispy, juicy turkey.

Servings: 6

2 pounds fresh boneless turkey breast
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon dried poultry seasoning
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
2 eggs
2 cups plain panko bread crumbs
¼ teaspoon Creole seasoning
13 cup vegetable oil

1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Rinse the turkey breast and pat dry. Then, use a sharp knife to cut it into 1-inch-thick cutlets.
3. Pour the flour into a shallow dish. Season with the salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, and onion and garlic powders. Stir well to combine.
4. In a second dish, beat the eggs. And in a third shallow dish, combine the panko with the Creole seasoning.
5. Dredge the turkey cutlets in the seasoned flour followed by the egg wash. Roll them in the panko mixture until well coated.
6. In a heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Fry the turkey 4 to 5 minutes per side or until crisp and golden.
7. Place the turkey on a plate lined with paper towels to help absorb a little of the excess oil. Transfer to the oven on the baking sheet to keep warm until you are ready to serve.


Servings: yields 2 cups

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup turkey or chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
¼ teaspoon poultry seasoning
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

1. After removing the turkey cutlets from the skillet, carefully pour off any excess oil. Wipe out excess bits out of the bottom of the skillet with a paper towel, and place the skillet back on the stove top.
2. Over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour to make a roux.
3. Stir the roux over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in the chicken broth and milk. Continue stirring until the mixture is thick, bubbling and coats the back of a spoon.
4. Season the cream gravy with the poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Serve it warm over the pan-fried turkey and sweet potato biscuits.


We love serving green beans in a variety of ways. They are always an easy vegetable to find fresh at the grocery store, and our families enjoy them. This sweet and spicy recipe is easy to throw together and has just a few ingredients that are most likely already in your pantry and fridge. The combination of crisp green beans tossed in sweet/hot pepper jelly along with the tang of the apple cider and salty, crunchy bacon makes for a delicious, well balanced dish. This can also be prepped in advance and tossed together just before serving.

Servings: 6

1½ pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
½ cup onions, chopped
½ cup Tabasco red or green pepper jelly
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add in 1 tablespoon salt, and drop in the trimmed green beans.
2. Blanch the beans for 1½ minutes. Drain. Run them under cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain well and set aside.
3. In a large nonstick skillet, sauté the chopped bacon until golden and crispy. Remove onto a paper towel and set aside. Crumble once the bacon has cooled.
4. Pour off most of the excess bacon drippings, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the bottom of the skillet.
5. Place the skillet back over medium heat and add the onions. Saute in the bacon grease for 4 to 5 minutes until they are beginning to turn golden in color.
6. Add the pepper jelly and apple cider vinegar. Stir until the mixture begins to bubble.
7. Add the green beans back to the skillet. Season with the salt and pepper. Continue stirring until the beans are heated through. Toss in the cooked bacon, and serve immediately.


A perfectly constructed biscuit is the best vessel to mop up leftover gravy—not to mention they make for the most delicious accompaniment to any meat and side dish. In keeping with Thanksgiving traditions, we infused our favorite homemade biscuit recipe with a cup of fresh mashed sweet potatoes. The result is delicious, slightly sweet and buttery—a perfect balance of flavors. Plus, the sweet potato gives the tender biscuits a little more moisture. These can be made ahead of time. We like to double the recipe, roll out the dough and cut them out. We then place the raw biscuits onto a baking sheet and freeze for a couple hours. We transfer them into a freezer bag and store them in the freezer until we are ready to bake. The unbaked sweet potato biscuits can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Servings: yields 12 (3-inch) biscuits

1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon sugar
1¾ cups flour (plus a little more for rolling out)
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 stick cold butter cut into small pieces
½ cup whole milk
½ stick butter, melted

1. Prick the sweet potato with a fork several times and place into a microwave-safe dish. Cook on high for 9 to 12 minutes, or until the sweet potato is completely soft. Carefully remove the sweet potato and allow it to cool completely.
2. Peel the potato, and place it in a bowl. Use a fork or potato masher to mash until completely smooth. This should yield about 1 full cup of mashed sweet potato.
3. Stir the sugar into the sweet potato.
4. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
5. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Stir until combined.
6. Use a pastry cutter to cut in the cold butter pieces until the mixture resembles wet sand.
7. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture. Add the mashed sweet potatoes and milk.
8. Gently stir everything together until the dough forms a sticky ball.
9. Sprinkle a little extra flour onto a work surface and roll the dough out to a 1-inch thickness. Use a biscuit cutter to shape the biscuits, then place them on the lined baking sheet.
10. Brush the biscuits with the melted butter. Bake in the oven for 12 to 14 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Serve warm with butter, honey or cane syrup.

Recipe adapted by Tracey Koch

Gingerbread and the holidays really go hand in hand. It was one of our favorite treats as children, and we still adore it today. Tracey’s friend, Cathy Torni, shared with us one of her grandmother’s recipes for homemade gingerbread, and we combined it with one of our favorites. The result is delicious. We took the base of Cathy’s recipe and added pureed dates and apple sauce from our own recipe, just to give the gingerbread a little more moistness. It is filled with just the right amount of ginger, cinnamon and other spices, and the cane syrup gives it a wonderful balance of sweetness. It is the perfect way to round out this easy Friendsgiving meal.

Servings: 6

6 tablespoons softened butter
1¼ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon allspice
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup pitted dates
¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce
½ cup hot water
1 cup Steen’s Cane Syrup
Powdered sugar, for dusting

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the softened butter.
2. In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and allspice until blended.
3. In a separate bowl, cream 5 tablespoons of the softened butter and the brown sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well.
4. In a blender or food processor, add the dates and apple sauce. Puree, slowly adding in the hot water, and continue pureeing until smooth.
5. Combine the date puree and creamed butter mixture into the dry ingredients.
6. Mix in the cane syrup. Beat until the ingredients are well blended.
7. Pour the gingerbread batter into the buttered baking dish. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean when stuck in the middle.
8. Serve warm and dusted with powdered sugar.

This article was originally published in the November 2019 issue of 225 Magazine.