As we approach the holidays, the TODAY anchors are coming together to say grace and enjoy a family-style potluck inspired by their mothers. Al Roker, Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie, Craig Melvin and Carson Daly are sharing their favorite family Thanksgiving recipes. Al shows off his mom's famous sweet potato poon, Hoda has her mom's famous baklava, Craig serves up his mom's macaroni and cheese, Carson's got his mom's boozy mashed potatoes and Savannah's all about her mom's cheesy broccoli casserole.
"I don't know where my mom came up with this recipe. I've heard of many versions of it from the South, but my mom wasn't from the South! Somehow, though, it became a Thanksgiving staple for our family," says Al. "It provided us with hours of entertainment, as my mom always got distracted as soon as it went under the broiler, which caused the smoke alarm to go off and resulted in endless laughter. And that's why, to this day, I always buy two bags of marshmallows — just in case."
Eggs are the secret ingredient that makes my macaroni and cheese extra special. They help hold together all the melty cheese and noodles plus they make this comforting dish even more creamy and delicious.
"It's six different cheeses," says Craig. "One of them is Velveeta. There's a debate every year about whether that's actually, you know, a cheese."
In a creative spin, Carson dresses up mashed potatoes with crumbled bacon — and booze! — a move he learned from his late mother, Pattie.
"These are Pattie Daly Caruso's famous drunken mashed potatoes," says Carson. "It's a basic mashed potato with a lotta cream and a little extra butter, a lotta love, a little bacon. But then she would put a shot of either gin or vodka in and she swore that it created a velvety nature."
This creamy casserole is the epitome of comfort food. The rice makes it filling enough to enjoy as a main, but it is still light enough to serve as a side. And what better way to eat your green veggies than smothered in melty cheese?
"Nixon was president. I was three," says Savannah. "And broccoli would only be eaten if put with onion rings, cheese and rice."
Sure, spending time with family and friends is great, but we all know that one of the best parts of the holidays is eating sweet, butter-laden treats. Hoda's mom, Sami, always made flaky, nutty, syrupy baklava for special occasions and it remains one of her all-time favorite indulgences.
"My mom is known for one dish, and it takes her, you guys, forever," says Hoda. "It's phyllo dough, walnuts, a honey mixture, and layer after layer after layer. It's crispy and crunchy and delicious. I remember being a kid and you know how you just wanted a Ho Ho and your mom would be like, 'Have some baklava.' You're like, 'Why can't I just eat what everyone else eats?' I've so come to appreciate this dish that she makes it every year."