Recipes of Thankfulness

While many of you are frantically trying to defrost the still-partly-frozen turkey or searching for that favorite pie recipe, we are two-days full on leftovers and trying to find creative ways to remake turkey.  We celebrated Thanksgiving here in Japan on Monday, which is a national holiday and a more natural time for missionaries and expats to celebrate one of my favorite days of the year.

This year we had Thanksgiving at our home, with eighteen friends and family in attendance.  It was a really special day.  We loved having our friend Megumi — she’s really part of our family! –who came down from Tokyo for three nights with 3 of her great friends from the U.S.– Jeff, Christie and Micah.

Micah and Christie (photo directly above) are photographers, and took some fantastic family portraits.  Here are just a few to whet your appetite for cards/newsletters to come.  (Look at their great blog at:

Monday afternoon friends came over after one for appetizers, and then we all went down to a park below our home.  At my stubborn insistence the last few years, the plan was to play football with everyone.  But with a number of back injuries it was wisely suggested that we switch to kickball- and a great time was had by all!  We humorously created appropriate Thanksgiving teams — the Pilgrims versus the Indians.  No offense, please– but we had just about the number of whiteys and darker, Japanese ethnicity players to divide up evenly.  Although the Indians were winning most of the game, in the end the Pilgrims ruled….

The highlight of Thanksgiving for many of us who have now celebrated six Thanksgivings together in Sanda is our thankful tree.  It started initially with everyone writing on a cut-out leaf what they are thankful for, and hanging it across the room on a string.  It has now become our Thanksgiving tree; in which all the participants each year add a leaf (that is later laminated).  Look at how our tree is growing!

There are several other thanksgiving recipes too that have helped create traditions for us in Japan on Thanksgiving.  I wanted to share a few in case you’re looking for something new…

Yummy Crab Wontons

(This is a Sue/Eric original– the inside of the wontons is basically from a recipe my mom used to make for a warm crab dip)

Mix together:

  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 1 can crab meat
  • about 1/2 teaspoon or so of horseradish sauce
  • 3 TB milk
  • salt; pepper to taste

Spoon about 1 Tablespoon into a wonton wrapper;  using water on your fingertip fold up wrapper into triangle shape, making sure it is closed well.

Deep fry wontons;  serve warm with sweet chile sauce.

CORN PUDDING (with a sweet top!)  (from; adapted slightly)

I love making this Corn pudding in our crockpot (our ovens will only fit one medium-size turkey in it so we have to find creative ways to cook/heat the other dishes– rice cookers work great to keep the mashed potatoes/stuffing warm!)


  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, flour, baking powder and sugar. Add corn and pour into a 9×13 inch baking dish. Bake for 40 minutes.
  3. In a small sauce pan, combine butter, sugar, water and flour. Cook until clear. Once corn mixture is cooked, remove from oven, pour butter and sugar mixture over top and serve.

(NOTE:  I do it in the crockpot– Double the recipe;  put all of #2 ingredients in the crockpot, cook for about 2-3 hours on high; the last hour add ingredients of #3 after it has cooked clear and cook for 30-60 minutes in the crockpot).

I always make a cheesecake of some kind.  This year since someone else was bringing pumpkin pies I made a new one– it was a pretty awesome recipe– Cheesecake Factory’s White Chocoloate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake.  (Except we couldn’t get raspberry preserves so I used blueberry/cranberry preserves, which tasted good and added to the November spirit).

Here’s the recipe (from

White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake


1 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs or 20 crumbled Oreo cookies (filling removed)
1/3 cup margarine, melted


1/2 cup raspberry preserves
1/4 cup water
4 8-ounce pkgs. cream cheese
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 eggs
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped into chunks

Optional Garnish:

2 ounces shaved white chocolate
whipped cream

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place a large pan or oven-safe skillet filled with about 1/2-inch of water into the oven while it preheats. This will be your water bath.

2. Combine the raspberry preserves with 1/4 cup water in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 1 1/2 minutes on high in your microwave. Stir until smooth. Strain to remove the raspberry seeds (toss ’em out), then let the strained preserves sit to cool, then put the bowl in the refrigerator until later.

3. Measure 1 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (or crush 20 Oreo cookie wafers — with the filling scraped out — in a resealable plastic bag) into a medium bowl. Mix in 1/3 cup melted margarine. Press the crumb into a 9-inch spring form pan that has been lined on the bottom and side with parchment paper. Use the bottom of a drinking glass to press the crumb mixture flat into the bottom of the pan and about 2/3 the way up the side. Wrap a large piece of foil around the bottom of the pan to keep the cheesecake in the water bath. Put the crust in your freezer until the filling is done.

4. Use an electric mixer to combine the cream cheese with the sugar, sour cream, and vanilla. Mix for a couple minutes or until the ingredients are smooth and creamy. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl and then add them to the cream cheese mixture. Blend the mixture just enough to integrate the eggs.

5. Remove the crust from the freezer and sprinkle 4 ounces of white chocolate chunks onto the bottom of the crust. Pour half of the cream cheese filling into the crust. Drizzle the raspberry preserves over the entire surface of the filling. Use a butter knife to swirl the raspberry into the cream cheese. Just a couple passes is fine, you don’t want to blend the raspberry and cream cheese together too much. Pour the other half of the filling into the crust.

6. Carefully place the cheesecake into the water bath in the oven. Bake for 12 minutes at 475 degrees, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the top of the cheesecake turns a light brown or tan color. Remove the cheesecake from the oven to cool. When the cheesecake is cool, use the foil from the bottom to cover the cheesecake and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

7. Before serving, sprinkle the entire top surface of cheesecake with 2 ounces of shaved white chocolate. To serve, slice the cheesecake into 12 equal portions. Apply a pile of canned whipped cream to the top of each slice and serve.

Makes 12 servings.

Finally- my favorite recipe for Thanksgiving — cooking up a storm with my sweetheart, Eric, and hanging out with some of my favorite people in the world.


2 thoughts on “Recipes of Thankfulness

  1. Kickball! Yes! I have been wanting to start an adult kickball team for years but everyone just makes fun of me. 🙂

  2. Hey guys! I heard you met Micah and Christie! They are an awesome couple and I’m glad you all got to meet up and have fun. Missing you guys!

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