I always look forward to spending Thanksgiving with Mom. She seems to (effortlessly) make the best turkey and mashed potatoes. I should pay more attention to her gravy-making-method because that’s pretty much perfect too. Mom’s stuffing is flawless, with just the right amount of moisture, and she always adds in mushrooms and chopped up turkey giblets. My favorite Thanksgiving dish of all time is Mom’s Orange Delight Jello Salad. I’ve made it before, but I can never seem to get it to come out as nice as Mom does. She’s never made her own cranberry sauce, which (used to be) fine by me since I kinda liked the stuff that slithered out of the can. Munching black olives placed on every finger, I always stuffed myself silly on Thanksgiving Day at Mom’s house.
I rarely see Mom on Thanksgiving now- saving our visit for Christmas instead. And I don’t usually do the black-olive-on-the finger thing unless no one is around. So now I’m the one who usually hosts Thanksgiving, and my husband’s side of the family joins us. Here’s the menu I’ve developed for Thanksgiving this year- with (mostly) traditional sorts of recipes.
I saw this idea on Martha Stewart’s site using pears, and I thought it would be cute to use pumpkins for Thanksgiving to make a name plate for each of my Thanksgiving guests.
I roasted a turkey last weekend to practice, and I used the wonderful tips and tricks that I found on SimpleBites. If you want your turkey to turn out perfect in every way, follow the SimpleBites turkey tutorial!
There really are only a handful of ways to make a classic gravy. Fine Cooking has a great little video showing you how to make gravy from your turkey drippings. Comes out perfect every time.
This is my very favorite stuffing recipe (besides Mom’s): Shiitake Mushroom Stuffing. I bake it on the side, but you can stuff your turkey with it if you’d like.
And I always, always do these Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes that you can keep warm in the crockpot. I’m frantic enough on Thanksgiving Day without having to worry about making mashed potatoes at the last minute. This recipe just makes things a lot easier.
Mom never ever served up butternut squash, sweet potatoes or even yams at Thanksgiving, but I’m particularly fond of all three. This makes a fantastic side dish- full of flavor and it makes a lot: Butternut Squash- Cheddar Gratin with Rosemary Breadcrumbs.
I grew up eating that green bean casserole that everyone else grew up with, but to tell you the truth… as much as I loved it, it’s just too fattening to add to the other heavy things being served at Thanksgiving. I’ll be sharing a “fresh” version of the Thanksgiving Green Bean Casserole with you on Monday, but I do like to serve a lighter version of green beans if the rest of the meal feels too calorie-laden. Here’s my “other” favorite green beans recipe: Green Beans with Caramelized Shallots.
To save time and energy, you can certainly buy frozen rolls like Rhodes or Bridgford brand. That’s what Mom used to do, and they were perfectly delicious. You can jazz those up a bit by brushing on some butter and orange zest too. I like to use a very simple yeast rolls recipe. It makes exactly 24 small rolls, which is perfect for our family’s Thanksgiving. It’s kind of a no-fuss recipe (no kneading necessary)- just mix the ingredients and stick the dough in the fridge for a couple hours, then take it out and spoon out little balls of dough to roll up and stick in a 13×9-inch pan. Set them aside to rise until you’re ready to bake them, and they turn out just fine. I bake these early in the day and then just warm them up a little before the big dinner. The recipe is simply called: Easy Dinner Rolls.
I mentioned earlier in this post that I actually enjoyed the gelatinous stuff that slithered out of the can when I was little. Explanation: I didn’t know any better! It’s so very easy to make cranberry sauce that no one should be buying the canned stuff anymore unless it’s really what you prefer. This is my new favorite (with just a hint of spice): Cinnamon- Kissed Cranberry Sauce.
I firmly believe that at Thanksgiving you should offer (and eat) more than one dessert. I like to bake my favorite pie with an alternative crust: Apple-Cranberry Pie with Oatmeal Cookie Crust. And since there is always someone who prefers something much lighter, this Maple-Pumpkin Pie adapted from Cooking Light is a simple, nice choice that I tried recently. It’s a good one to include if you’ve got anyone watching their weight at your Thanksgiving dinner.
With olives on my fingers (and my husband and his conservative family eyeing me warily), I’ll be preparing this menu for a small crowd this year. Mom won’t be with us for Thanksgiving this year, but I’ll be thinking of her as I try (again) to perfect the Orange Delight Jello Salad 🙂
All recipes for my Thanksgiving menu can be found by clicking on the recipe titles mentioned above.