Hold your horses - this is a long one! On this blog I’ll be posting single recipes for the most part… but the holidays ALWAYS call for full menu ideas, so here they are a bit early (so that you can actually use them and so that you and I can both relax on Thanksgiving Day, enjoying time with family cooking, eating, and drinking copious amounts of food and drink!).

Considering I was raised in Mexico, it might seem odd that Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, but that’s what’s so incredibly awesome about growing up on a border between countries. Where I come from, we celebrate EVERYTHING. Cuisines merge and those smash-ups are insanely delicious; I mean, seriously, try the Queso Fundido in Hollowed Pumpkin and the Chile-Orange Cranberry Sauce! There’s pride in the Mexican-American table: tamales and turkey are friends. The wall is short enough that it is instead considered a table. It’s a place where bread is broken and where families toast and give thanks just for another day of waking up breathing.

This year, as I mentioned in the Pink Thanksgiving Table post from last week, I’m not actually cooking for the first time in a long time, and last year I made Jeff Mauro’s Dry-Brined Turkey from The Kitchen (which was a huge success!!). That said, I think for next year we’re going back to the turkey I’ve included in this post. It’s not only the turkey I’ve made almost every year since being old enough to cook for my family when celebrating Thanksgiving at my parents’ home in Tijuana, but I pretty much have to stop myself from not indulging on the skin from everyone else’s turkey pieces! The preserves in the glaze leave you with a very dark crust on the skin and I personally love the almost-charred yet perfectly edible effect of them. Delicious.

So anyway, here’s the whole dinner: a queso fundido appetizer; turkey; cranberry sauce; sweet potatoes; carrots; and even a pumpkin dessert… most with a subtle Mexa twist. I would LOVE to know if you add any of these to your holiday table! Please tag me at #DeLaLuz - and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Queso Fundido in Hollowed Pumpkin

(4 servings)


  • 1 pumpkin, about 3 pounds
  • 3 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • Chili oil, for topping
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish


Preheat oven to 450F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil. Utilizing caution, cut the top off the pumpkin with a sharp knife and discard. Hollow out pumpkin by scooping seeds and core, but make sure not to remove too much pumpkin from the inside, as it will give your cheese lots of flavor.

Place pumpkin on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place in the center rack of the oven and bake for about 45-50 minutes.

In a medium size bowl, add mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and dried herbs. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss cheese in order for ingredients to be mixed. Place cheese inside hollowed pumpkin and bake for about 25 minutes until cheese has melted. Remove from oven and drizzle chili oil on cheese. Top with cilantro leaves for garnish. Serve immediately with some warm tortillas or tortilla chips and enjoy!

Turkey in Apricot, Tequila and California Chile Sauce

(8 to 10 servings)


  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, or more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 tablespoons tequila reposado
  • 1 14-pound turkey, thawed, giblets removed
  • 3 California chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • ½ cup apricot preserves


Preheat the oven to 350F.

Mix ½ cup of the chicken broth, melted butter and 2 tablespoons of the tequila in a small glass bowl. Using a kitchen syringe, inject the mixture all over the turkey, about ½-inch deep into the flesh. Note: if the butter solidifies, just pop the mixture into the microwave for 10 seconds to melt and whisk.

Put the chiles and 2 cups of the chicken broth into a small saucepan and bring to boil over high heat. Turn off heat and let stand 5 minutes to soften the chiles. Transfer chiles with liquid to blender and process until smooth. Strain chile mixture into a bowl through a fine sieve, pressing on solids to extract as much of the chiles as possible (discard what is left in the sieve).Mix ¼ cup of the apricot preserves and ¼ cup of the chile puree in a medium bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. Rub the mixture all over the turkey, rubbing some between the skin and the breast and taking care to avoid ripping the skin.

Transfer turkey breast-side up to a rack set in a large roasting pan. Add ½ cup broth to roasting pan to catch turkey fat while roasting.

Roast turkey, basting with pan drippings every 20 to 30 minutes, until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 160F, about 4 ½ hours. Add more broth to roasting pan if it begins to dry out. Important: watch the turkey! Because of the high sugar content in the apricot preserves, the turkey may quickly brown. If beginning to brown, especially wing tips, cover loosely with foil so as to avoid damaging the skin. Transfer turkey to platter and tent loosely with foil (don’t let the foil touch the turkey… it might stick to the skin!). Let stand 30 minutes before carving, reserving pan juices.

Strain pan juices into a medium saucepan. Add remaining 2 tablespoons tequila, ¼ cup apricot preserves and remaining chile mixture. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve turkey with sauce.

Cranberry Orange-Chile Sauce

(Serves 6)


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/4 cup orange zest
  • 2 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded
  • 2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded


Place sugar and 1 cup of water in a medium saucepan on high heat and bring to a boil. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add cranberries to sauce pan and return to a boil. Turn down heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes. Cranberries will start to burst. Add orange zest to sauce.

In a small pot at medium heat, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add guajillo and ancho chiles. Reduce heat and simmer until chiles are soft, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly. Add drained chiles to blender and blend until they become paste-like, adding some of the water from the pot to moisten and create a paste. Add chile paste to cranberry sauce and stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Wild Rice with Mushrooms and Sage(Serves 6-8)


  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon shallots, finely chopped
  • 3/4 pound mixed wild mushrooms, cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups wild rice blend


In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add onion and shallots and cook, stirring often until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, sage, and 1/4 cup of chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms have softened. Set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, add rice and 4 cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until rice is fork-tender, about 40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. When liquid has reduced, add 4 tablespoons of butter to rice. Allow butter to melt on rice and continue to cook. When liquid has fully dissolved and rice is tender, add mushrooms, onion, and shallots and fold into rice. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed. Garnish with fresh sage leaves.

Hasselback Maple, Rosemary and Sage Sweet Potatoes(Serves 6)


  • 6 medium sweet potatoes
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon sage, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary, finely chopped
  • Olive oil, for greasing


Preheat oven to 425F.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and sprinkle with olive oil. Place sweet potatoes on baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Using a sharp knife, cut 1/8 inch thick slices that go down 2/3 of the way through the sweet potatoes. Melt butter. In a small bowl combine melted butter, maple syrup, garlic, sage and rosemary. Use a brush to spread glaze generously on potatoes. Bake for about 50 min to 1 hour until tender.

Balsamic-Thyme Roasted Carrots(Serves 4)


  • 2 pounds rainbow carrots, scrubbed (not peeled), greens left intact
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
  • Olive oil, for greasing
  • Additional chopped thyme for garnish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil. Slice carrots in half lengthwise, leaving greens intact. Place carrots in a single layer on baking sheet. Make sure carrots do not overlap, this will help them cook evenly and caramelize (not steam). In a small bowl, combine shallots, balsamic vinegar, honey, and thyme. Mix with a fork, making sure the honey does not stick to the bottom of the bowl. Brush carrots generously with glaze. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until carrots are tender but with a little bite, about 40 minutes. Garnish with fresh thyme and serve hot.