hellmanns mayonnaise shepherds pie with bread and cheese crumble

As any Canadian knows, Thanksgiving is a time for a little indulgence. Everyone needs a few new Thanksgiving ideas every now and then, however, so for the creative cook, it’s also a time to experiment with exciting seasonal flavours.

The first course

This seafood cocktail appetiser is the perfect dish to kick off with, because it uses gorgeous ingredients like lobster meat which scream “special”, yet are so simple to put together. Even better, you can make it ahead of time, which is definitely a bonus when you are prepping for a crowd and don’t want to miss the pre-dinner drinks! 

Seafood cocktail with lemon-dill dressing

thanksgiving ideas

Serves 6-8 as an appetiser


  • 200g fresh white crab meat
  • 200g poached salmon, cut into small pieces
  • 200g lobster meat, chopped into small pieces
  • 24 cooked prawns, peeled and deveined but with tails still on
  • salad greens, to serve

For the dressing:

  • ½ cup Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh dill
  • Tabasco or other hot sauce, to taste (plus extra to serve)


For the dressing, whisk all ingredients together, cover and refrigerate for a few hours.

When it’s time to serve up, in a medium bowl, gently combine all seafood ingredients except the prawns together. Divide the salad greens among small glass dishes (or cocktail glasses if you’re being fancy).

Using a rubber spatula, mix the mayonnaise into the seafood and gently combine until all the seafood is coated well.

Divide the seafood mixture among the dishes, gently heaping the mix on top of the salad leaves. Place three prawns around the edge of the bowls and serve!

The main event

As a sporadic vegetarian and someone who often caters for a vegetarian friend at Thanksgiving, I make sure that the vegetarian offerings are not simply a collection of vegetable side dishes. Below I’ve given a simple recipe for sautéed vegetables that can be used to make lots of amazing veggie main courses, from quiches to stuffed pumpkin bakes. Here though, I’ve used it for a creamy casserole with the addition of Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise, which enhances and deepens the savoury flavours.

Basic harvest vegetables for casserole, quiche or stuffed pumpkin

thanksgiving ideas


  • 8 cups assorted fresh vegetables, sliced ¼ inch thick (green and yellow zucchini, parsnips, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potato, eggplant are all great)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large tomato, chopped into cubes a little larger than the other vegetables


Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat and add the vegetables. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 8 minutes, then drain.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and sautée the onions and garlic for around 4 minutes, until they just start to soften.

Add the drained vegetables and sautée for another 5 minutes, stirring to coat the vegetables with the onion and garlic mixture. Remove pan from heat and add the tomato, then stir to combine.

Creamy vegetable casserole

hellmann's casserole

Serves 4-6

  • Fat for greasing the dish
  • 3 cups cooked harvest vegetables (recipe below)
  • ½ cup Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise
  • 4 tbsp sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 tbsp panko breadcrumbs.
  • (optional) ¼ cup shredded cheese, to serve


Preheat your oven to 375°F/190˚C/gas 5. Grease an ovenproof casserole dish (big enough to fit in about 3 cups of vegetables).

Combine the mayonnaise with the cheese in a small bowl. Evenly spread half of the vegetables in the prepared dish, then thinly spread half of the mayonnaise mixture over the vegetables, then sprinkle with half of the breadcrumbs. Repeat with remaining vegetables and mayonnaise mixture, then sprinkle with the remaining breadcrumbs.

Cover with greased foil and bake for 45 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. If you like, sprinkle a little bit more cheese on top of the casserole (about ¼ cup) and place under a hot grill for a couple of minutes, until the cheese is melty and bubbling.

About the author

Mardi Michels

Mardi Michels lives in Toronto, is a full-time French teacher to elementary school-aged boys and the author of eat. live. travel. write - a blog about culinary adventures near and far. As part of her job, she runs cooking classes twice a week for 7-13 year-old boys, Les Petits Chefs. She’s a founding member of Food Bloggers of Canada and also teaches French pastry classes around Toronto. Follow Mardi on Twitter and Instagram.

Mardi Michels