Gobble Up This Buffet of Recipes

By Ann Foster Thelen

The Thanksgiving feast is one of the most anticipated meals of the year. It’s the day when heirloom family recipes flank a cornucopia buffet of traditional favorites – turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. In many kitchens, a potluck of new recipes adds anticipation and flavorful excitement to the big day.

We've handpicked seven recipes to add to your Thanksgiving menu. From breakfast and appetizers to side dishes and desserts, these goodies are sure to be gobbled up by family and guests. During this season of gratitude, we’re especially thankful for Iowa’s hardworking farmers who take great pride in raising the high-quality ingredients featured in the recipes.

Carve out some extra space around the dining table to serve up these foods, which are perfect complements to the day’s star of the show – mouthwatering, delicious turkey. For some extra turkey-day fun, we’ve added some bite-sized facts about the foods with each recipe. A game of Iowa-based food trivia will make the day even more memorable!

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Maple Bacon Donuts | Iowa Pork Producers Association

Wake up your family or guests to the sweet aroma of Maple Bacon Donuts, which will perk up the morning. Photo Credit: Iowa Pork Producers Council

Once the turkey is in the roaster, wake up your family or guests to the sweet aroma of Maple Bacon Donuts. Paired with a cup of coffee or glass of ice-cold milk, these delicacies will awaken taste buds for the flavor palettes of the day. The donuts are a pleasing sensory alarm clock for adults and kids to savor and a fun indulgence on the annual food holiday. A tube of biscuit dough, combined with crispy bacon, creates an easy breakfast that allows you to stay focused on the mealtime spread. Find the recipe here.

Fun Facts: Sustainability is vital to Iowa's farmers. Compared to 1960, the use of natural resources per pound of pork produced has been reduced significantly. Nearly 76% less land is used, 25% less water and 7% less energy. In all, that shrinks the carbon footprint by almost 8%. Bacon is a popular pork item. On average, every American consumes approximately 18 pounds of the crispy strips every year!

Beef and Blue Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms | Iowa Beef Council and Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner

Beef and blue cheese stuffed mushrooms are a perfect appetizer on turkey day! Photo Credit: Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner

Truly a bite-sized wonder. Mushroom caps are stuffed with a rich blend of ground beef, blue cheese and chives, then baked until golden brown and bubbly. Whether you make these the night before the Thanksgiving meal or serve them to tide over family, these appetizers will disappear before your eyes. Whole wheat bread has a dual purpose on turkey day – use it in dressing and as a filling for a delectable, pre-meal snack with these mushrooms. Blue cheese adds a pleasantly sharp and slightly salty counterpart to the steak seasonings. Find the recipe here.

Fun Facts: Beef is an excellent protein source and supplies 10 essential nutrients, including B vitamins, zinc and iron that support an active and healthy lifestyle. The nutrients in beef provide our bodies with the strength to thrive throughout all stages of life.

Atomic Turkey Peppers | Iowa Turkey Federation

Give the star of Thanksgiving some opening credits with an appetizer also made with turkey! Atomic Turkey Poppers burst with flavor thanks to jalapeños, turkey bacon, turkey smokies, cream cheese and Monterey Jack cheese. This spicy and cheesy combination will tame hungry appetites until a turkey platter is served up as the main course. Turkey is a rich source of protein, niacin, vitamin B6 and the amino acid tryptophan. It also contains zinc, which is essential for a healthy immune system. Find the recipe here.

Fun Facts: Tryptophan is an essential amino acid needed for normal growth in infants and the production and maintenance of the body's proteins, muscles, enzymes and neurotransmitters. The body uses tryptophan to help make melatonin and serotonin. Melatonin helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle, and serotonin is thought to help regulate appetite, sleep, mood and pain. Despite the popular notion that tryptophan makes you tired, many experts say that's a myth.

Iowa will gain national Thanksgiving fame this year! Ron Kardel is an Iowa turkey farmer who is raising this year's National Thanksgiving Turkey, which will be pardoned in a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Read more here.

Creamy Apple Vinaigrette with Baby Spinach, Candied Walnuts, Green Apple and Goat Cheese | The Soyfoods Council

This salad is taken up a notch with a creamy apple vinaigrette dressing. Photo Credit: The Soyfoods Council

Boasting a powerhouse of nutrient-rich food, this delicious Baby Spinach, Candied Walnuts, Green Apple and Goat Cheese salad is taken to the next level with a creamy apple vinaigrette dressing. With an ingredients list like this, you might feel like you’ve skipped the meal and arrived at dessert! Soft silken tofu, combined with brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, minced onion and white pepper, creates a creamy and flavor-rich dressing. This dressing is best when refrigerated overnight to let the flavors meld, making it a simple addition to prepare in advance. There's a reason Popeye loved spinach. It's an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C and folate, and a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron and vitamin B2. Find the recipe here.

Fun Facts: Soyfoods, such as tofu, are complete proteins containing all nine amino acids. Amino acids are building blocks of protein, which your body can’t produce in sufficient quantities on its own. They are vital for many functions, such as tissue repair and muscle building.

Homemade Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage | Iowa Corn Promotion Board

Call it dressing or call it stuffing, but everyone will call it delicious after one bite of this sweet and savory Homemade Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage. This easy stuffing adds a flavor boost to any meal. Made with sausage, mushrooms, dried apricots and cranberries, along with red pepper and sage, this dressing might surpass dessert as your favorite dish on the Thanksgiving buffet! Find the recipe here.

Fun Facts: Iowa has been the nation’s No. 1 corn producer for almost two decades. In an average year, Iowa produces more corn than most countries! Iowa grows about three times as much corn as a country like Mexico. Dry milling creates products – such as corn meal and corn flour – which leads to all sorts of products, including cornbread.

Pumpkin Pie Squares with Cinnamon-Sugar Yogurt Topping | Undeniably Dairy and Midwest Dairy

A cinnamon-sugar yogurt topping is the perfect finish for this pumpkin pie dessert. Photo: Credit Undeniably Dairy

If Thanksgiving had a signature flavor, it would undoubtedly be pumpkin. From lattes to pies, pumpkin spice is a fan favorite of the season. In this recipe, you can have your favorite pie and bar all in one. It has all the rich, velvety pumpkin goodness of a traditional pie without the work of creating a perfect pastry crust. Graham crackers and oatmeal mix for a sturdy base and vanilla and Greek yogurt are the “secret sauce” for a creamy and dreamy dessert. It’s a treat the early American settlers, who ate pumpkin desserts without pastry crusts, would certainly appreciate. Get ready for your home to smell fantastic with this award-worthy dessert. Find the recipe here.

Fun Facts: Dairy foods are a delicious, wholesome source of high-quality protein because they contain the essential amino acids the body cannot make on its own. Whether you choose white milk, chocolate milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt or Greek-style yogurt – you’re getting high-quality protein to help you power through the day.

Day-After Thanksgiving Crepes | Iowa Egg Council and Incredible Egg

These crepes combine all the leftover staples – mashed potatoes, stuffing, turkey, roasted vegetables, gravy and cranberry sauce – in one incredible dish. Photo Credit: Incredible Egg

Fuel your day-after-Thanksgiving to-do list with a hearty breakfast that combines all the leftover staples – mashed potatoes, stuffing, turkey, roasted vegetables, gravy and cranberry sauce – into one incredible dish. Crepes are the perfect base to dress up with these flavor-rich fillings and toppings. With 24 grams of protein in every serving, you’ll have the energy needed to put up the Christmas decorations or shop for gifts on Black Friday! Find the recipe here.

Fun Facts: Eggs, those precious all-natural gems, pack a nutritious punch into your daily meals. Nutritionally, eating an egg is like taking a multivitamin. Eggs are rich in protein and loaded with 13 essential vitamins and minerals with relatively few calories.