Our Thanksgiving Menu

posted by Andrea | 11/19/2012

Thanksgiving is Thursday — and it’s my most favorite holiday of the entier year!

Yes, even more than Christmas.

I love Thanksgiving food; I love that the holiday is about being thankful, giving back, and not necessarily GETTING anything; I love our Thanksgiving church service; and I love getting together with all our extended family. I have SO many memories of spending all day with cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, etc. We’d eat, play, watch movies, look at the Black Friday ads, eat some more, break out the cards, munch on leftovers… you get the idea.

So much fun!

Well this Thanksgiving, we’re headed to my aunt and uncle’s house with a massive amount of relatives from my mom’s side of the family {I think the count is 48 this year}. Even though we most definitely won’t go hungry, I also wanted a chance to make my own Thanksgiving meal — especially since last year, we ate Thanksgiving dinner in the hospital :)

So last week, I shoved a 14 lb. turkey in the oven, made up all our favorite side dishes, and we ate way more than we should have! None of the foods I made were fancy, all of them had simple ingredients, but the meal tasted so good… and it was well worth spending most of the afternoon in my kitchen!

If you’re still wondering what to make for Thursday’s festivities, here are a few “recipes” from my ALL-TIME FAVORITE (and also quite simple) Thanksgiving menu.

Turkey:

We’re traditional, so we always have turkey on Thanksgiving, ham for Christmas and Easter.

I’ve actually cooked many turkeys in my 6 1/2 years of marriage and they’ve all turned out fabulous. I’m fairly  confident it’s because I use these Oven Bags to prevent them from drying out.

Here’s my “recipe”:

  • Remove the packaging from the turkey; remove the neck, gizzards, etc.
  • Shove one chopped onion, 1 rib of celery (also chopped), and 3 cloves of garlic inside the turkey
  • Rub the skin with oil, sprinkle with salt, peper, basil, garlic, and poultry seasoning
  • Cook according to the package directions based on the weight of your turkey (usually 2-3 hours)
  • Let the turkey rest on the counter for at least 20 minutes before cutting
  • Eat and enjoy!

If you don’t want to use these Oven Bags, then you can try using my recipe for Roasted Chicken — and just adjust the cooking time for a larger bird.

Mashed Potatoes:

We REALLY love potatoes around our house… any type of potatoes. But when we eat a traditional meal like turkey, ham, or a roast, we almost always make mashed potatoes.

Here’s my “recipe” for really yummy mashed potatoes:

  • Wash, peel, and chop as many potatoes as you need (usually 1 large potato per person)
  • Put potatoes in a large pan, cover with water, add salt to taste, and bring to a boil
  • Boil for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain.
  • Add milk, butter, sour cream, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, garlic, or whatever else you want — you can’t mess this up, so just keep tasting it until you have the right combination  (or add nothing at all)
  • Mix with a hand mixer or potato masher until relatively smooth.

After my potatoes are mashed, I scoop them into a large, covered casserole dish and put them in the oven until we’re ready to eat so they stay nice and warm.

Stuffing:

I’ve already posted my most delicous recipe for Sausage Stuffing. It’s my dad’s recipe and he’s a really good cook.

And you can’t have Thanksgiving without stuffing!

Sweet Potatoes:

I love sweet potatoes — but I’ve never been a huge fan of the marshmallow topping. I’ll eat it, but it’s just not my favorite. So I always make my sweet potatoes with a brown sugar topping — similar to a “crisp” topping (think apple crisp but just replace the apples with sweet potatoes).

It’s really good and it has helped me transform Dave into a lover of sweet potatoes :)

Here’s the recipe:

  • Peel, cube, and boil 6 c. of sweet potatoes (usually only 2 large potatoes) until they are very soft (about 20-25 minutes)
  • Drain potatoes and add 1 egg, 1/3 c. milk, 1/3 c. sugar, and 1 t. vanilla
  • Mash until everything is combined
  • Pour mixture into a greased baking dish
  • Cover with your favorite “crumbly topping” — I use 1/3 c. brown sugar, 1/3 c. flour, and 1/3c. cold butter
  • Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until topping is crispy

This recipe is NOT exact and I honestly never measure anything. It would be really hard to mess this one up — and even if it doesn’t come out looking pretty, it should still taste delicious :)

Vegetable Bake

I’ve already shared my Vegetable Bake recipe — and it’s actually one of the more popular recipes on my blog. It’s so simple, and uses vegetables (and other ingredients) that are really easy to find this time of year… plus almost everyone I know loves it!

Carrots:

If you want to go more “traditional” and just have carrots and corn, my mom has a really simple carrot recipes (that you can make in the microwave).

The Recipe:

  • Place 2 lbs. of chopped carrots and enough water to cover them in a microwave-safe dish (baby carrots work really well for this)
  • Cover and microwave on high for 5-9 minutes or until carrots are very tender
  • Add 1/4 c. butter (1/2 a stick), 1/4 c. brown sugar, and 1 pkg. Ranch Dressing mix.
  • Stir until butter melts and all the carrots are evenly coated
  • Eat and enjoy

I know it sounds like a crazy combination of ingredients, but it’s good — REALLY good!

 

Homemade Applesauce

I just posted this recipe last week — and honestly, we don’t eat many meals around our house without applesauce on the table (don’t worry, Dave thinks it’s a little weird too).

However, even if you don’t eat applesauce every day, your Thanksgiving table won’t be complete with out it!  Plus, you can whip up my homemade recipe in just a few minutes… totally worth it!

Caramel Apple Salad

Someone always makes this well-loved “salad” for Thanksgiving — and as long as you’re not allergic to peanuts, I just know you and your family will love it too!

You could also add a bunch of chopped Snickers bars and turn it into a Thanksgiving dessert!

And speaking of dessert…

Here are a few of my favorite Thanksgiving dessert — just click on the titles for the recipes!

Are you hungry yet?

What would you add to my menu?

Visit my virtual recipe box for more simple, delicious, family friendly, recipes!

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13 comments

  1. Jen

    11/19/2012

    I think the applesauce is a southern thing. I know you’re not southern, but when I was a kid (I live in Kentucky) I remember always having applesauce on the table, too. It was pretty standard fare around here. I don’t really do it anymore and I’d forgotten about it until you mentioned it. But maybe there’s a little of the South working its way onto your table. :)

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  2. vicki

    11/19/2012

    You forgot cranberry sauce! Our basic traditional thanksgiving meal is turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, corn, cranberry sauce, hot rolls and the best gravy ever!!. Then everybody brings the sides, green bean casserole, brocolli casserole, califlour layer salad, then desserts of pumpkin pie, pecan pie, cherry cheese cake.

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  3. Shelly S

    11/19/2012

    These recipes look great, I can’t wait to give them a try! The Veggie Bake recipe looks perfect to freeze and take to a vegetarian friend who is having a baby soon. Do you freeze it before adding the crackers? Any change in cooking time?

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  4. monica good

    11/19/2012

    My sweet potatoes have a crunchy topping as well….add chopped pecans with your crumble. Wonderful!

    What would I add: sauerkraut!

    We’re having, turkey, smashed potatoes, sweet potatoe souffle, green bean casserole ( not the out of the can mushroom soup type) pineapple dressing. Pumpkin pie, pound cake with cranberry conserve. Easy breezy! Everything I can fix ahead and just pop in the oven!

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  5. Dallas

    11/19/2012

    Wow, this post is drool-worthy! I’ve never cooked a turkey before myself and your tips are SUPER helpful. I also am excited to try your microwave applesauce recipe this week. One of my favorite side dishes is garlicky green beans with slivered almonds. And of course pumpkin pie for dessert! Recipes are up on my blog: http://daybydaymasterpiece.com

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  6. Keeley

    11/19/2012

    What did you do with the leftovers from the 14 lb turkey? I bet you have good ideas for using those leftovers!

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    Andrea Reply:

    I made “turkey stew” with the leftover potatoes, veggies, gravy and 2 c. of turkey. Then I chopped up all the rest of the leftover turkey and froze it in 2 cup portions. I’ll use it throughout the winter to make soups, turkey pot pie, casseroles, etc!

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  7. tonya

    11/20/2012

    Let me tell you about disorganized living (that should have been the name of my deceased blog) at its finest. My kids & I went to the store for our Thanksgiving groceries yesterday. We had already been out running other errands so we were tired & needed a quick breather before tackling my prepared list. While we sat in the car to catch our second wind I checked my emails & had received this post from your site. With 3 little people in tow, I ditched my prepared grocery list, carried my phone around the store w/ your site pulled up, & grabbed ingredients for your turkey, stuffing, sweet potaotes, etc.. Crazy. I had spent a decent amount of time deciding on a menu, then changed it in a skinny minute when I saw yours!! Looking forward to trying these recipes – thanks for sharing!! Maybe you could post earlier next year?? Ha-ha!! Just kidding!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you & your family! I am certainly thankful for you & all the great tips that you share here!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Wow Tonya — sounds like a crazy shopping trip! but I think you’ll love these recipes.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you too :)

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  8. Katie

    11/20/2012

    Thank you… now I am starving! I’m supposed to bring carrots to our Thanksgiving fiesta and I have never ever cooked carrots before – unless you count throwing them into a crockpot with a roast. Definitely will be using your recipe! Also, I’m not sure if you care or not, but just fyi – I just tried to pin that photo so that I could save the recipe in Pinterest, and almost all of the photos were marked as “Sorry, cannot pin this image.” I had never seen that before!

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  9. Carrie

    11/22/2012

    I’m making the stuffing right now! My parents followed a similar one for years, but it didn’t have any instructions to cook it outside of the bird. Since it’s been found now that cooking it inside the bird isn’t healthy, I’m trying out this recipe. I love the full pound of pork sausage. To me, the stuffing is the main part. It’s what makes it Thanksgiving dinner. :)

    It smells good, I hope it tastes as good!

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  10. stephanie

    12/26/2012

    Thanks to you, I found the courage to cook my first turkey for Christmas dinner! Hubby got a free one from work, so I figured if it didn’t turn out, at least I didn’t spend money on it! I followed your steps, and it came out perfectly. So moist, too! Thanks for posting this!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yay! Glad it turned out! You honestly can’t go wrong if you use a turkey roasting bag :)

    [Reply]

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