For me, I look forward to Thanksgiving break more than Winter break, purely due to the fact that Thanksgiving break equals overindulging in some of my favorite foods all the while catching up with family and friends. After a long semester of college papers and Trader Joe's microwavable meals, going home for Thanksgiving is very much needed both for my mental and physical health. There are a few staple Thanksgiving recipes that remind me of home, but two stand out the most.  

My family is pretty traditional in terms of Thanksgiving, with all five of us gathering at my Uncle's house to celebrate with the rest of my mom's side of the family. While my Uncle is in charge of the prepping and cooking the turkey, the rest of the family is put to the task of supplying the sides and smaller dishes that you would usually associate with Thanksgiving. We've got all of your staple foods: mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, cornbread, turkey stuffing, green beans, and pumpkin pie. 

But in my family and many others around the country, there are those homemade, outside-of-the-box recipes that make Thanksgiving unique and special. For me, these recipes include my great-grandmother's candied yams and my great uncle's walnut and raisin pumpkin bread. I'm sharing my own family recipes because I feel like they're way too good to keep hidden from the rest of the Spooniverse. 

Uncle Michael's Raisin and Walnut Pumpkin Bread

  • Prep Time:15 secs
  • Cook Time:1 hr 10 mins
  • Total Time:1 hr 10 mins 15 secs
  • Servings:2
  • Easy


  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 2 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 can 16 ounces pumpkin
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 2/3 cup coursely chopped nuts
  • 2/3 cup raisins
bread, brown bread, sweet, chocolate, cake, wheat, pastry, rye bread
Helena Lin
  • Step 1

    Heat Oven to 350F. Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans, 9 x 5 x 3 inches. Or 3 loaf pans, 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.5 inches.

  • Step 2

    Mix shortening and sugar in large bowl. Add eggs, pumpkin, and water and stir until well-combined.

    Spoon Csu
  • Step 3

    Mix in flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and cloves. Stir in nuts and raisins.

    flour, dough, bread, wheat, pastry, sweet, cake, cereal
    Spoon Csu
  • Step 4

    Pour into pans. Bake until wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean- about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cool slightly, then remove loaves from pan and allow them to cool completely before slicing. (To store, wrap and refrigerate no longer than 10 days).

    Spoon University

Great Grandma Margie's Candied Yams and Sweet Potatoes

  • Prep Time:10 secs
  • Cook Time:30 secs
  • Total Time:40 secs
  • Servings:15
  • Easy


  • 1 29 ounce can sweet potatoes or yams
  • 1/4 cup butter cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 sp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • Additional add ons: pecans marshmallows
chocolate, sweet
Shun Matsuhashi
  • Step 1

    Preheat oven to 400F. Drain the liquid from the cans of sweet potatoes or yams into a bowl on the side.

  • Step 2

    In a medium saucepan, heat the liquid from the can on medium-low heat, letting the sweet syrup evaporate and thicken. Then, add the brown sugar and butter, letting the mixture incorporate and thicken.

  • Step 3

    While the mixture is cooking, thinly slice the yams or potatoes. Pour a thin layer of the syrup mixture to the bottom of a medium baking dish. Then, place the potatoes on top of the mixture in an even layer. Pour the rest of the syrup mixture on top of the potatoes/yams, and sprinkle cinnamon and a little more brown sugar on top. Totally optional, but this is when you can add your choice of toppings, like pecans or marshmallows.

  • Step 4

    Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until sweet potatoes/yams are tender and the top is golden brown. Enjoy!

This recipe has been passed down for generations. My grandmother told me that although my great-grandma Margie had a sweet tooth, she was very selective about her sweets. The only time she would indulge in them was on Thanksgiving with this delicious recipe. I can definitely see why this recipe was her favorite, and it's always one of my favorite side dishes at the table. I hope these recipes inspire you to create one of your family recipes this Thanksgiving and enjoy some quality family time!