It’s no secret in my family that I just LOVE Thanksgiving! It’s one of my very favorite holidays. On what other day do you have permission to stuff yourself full of yummy food without the pressure of getting that perfect gift for Aunt Bertha? 🙂
We always have my family’s Thanksgiving celebration at our house, mostly because I love to cook and entertain. So I thought I’d share our 2013 Thanksgiving dinner menu with ya’ll, complete with my secrets for making everything extra yummy, along with some links to great recipes we have. And if you want to learn how we serve this delicious dinner on the cheap, you can do so by clicking here:
**Note: One of the reasons our Thanksgiving dinner goes over so well is that we keep processed, chemicalized foods to a minimum. No low fat or “fat free” stuff. We go with real butter, and only use Daisy pure sour cream, etc. It really does enhance the flavor.
Turkey: Gotta have turkey! As an animal lover, I feel somewhat guilty about the turkey, only because of a wonderful, sweet turkey named Glen that I knew years ago. Glen was a turkey that lived on a friend’s hobby farm. He weighed 50 pounds, and would sweetly saunter up to you and stand on your feet, waiting to be picked up and held. Isn’t that hilarious?? Good thing I had strong biceps in those days! Whenever I start roasting that huge turkey on Thanksgiving, I think about sweet Glen and how I had no idea turkeys could be so loving. 🙂
We bake our turkey the traditional way, in the oven. We don’t put the stuffing in the pan, though. Those turkey juices are valuable! We use them to make homemade turkey gravy, and we pour them over the stuffing and then bake the stuffing in the oven in separate pans.
Normally, we don’t do much to the turkey, except for generous basting, but this year, thanks to a friend generously sharing her brining recipe, we’ll brine our turkey. Check out the brining recipe/instructions here. This is a good way to give an extra “oomph” to your turkey.
Stuffing. When I was a kid, I HATED stuffing. My dad, an amazing cook whom I credit (and blame 🙂 ) for my love of cooking and food, always put lots of “stuff” in the stuffing that added all kinds of weird tastes, in my young and naïve opinion. It should come as no surprise, then, that I not only follow his stuffing recipe to the T, but I’m constantly dreaming up other things to add to the stuffing to change things up a little bit. I’ve been hosting Thanksgiving, and serving dad’s stuffing, for nearly 20 years now, but my two brothers always ask me every year “Are you making dad’s stuffing?” I’m not entirely sure they’d join us if I wasn’t. 🙂 Here’s dad’s simple recipe:
1-2 bags of Brownberry Sage Stuffing bread crumbs
1 roll sage sausage, fried and crumbled
1 small jar green olives
1 large onion chopped
2 sticks celery, sliced thin
Melted butter, turkey juices and water added in before cooking, for moisture.
Additional add-in ideas: a couple of strips of bacon, fried and crumbled, 1/2 c. dried cranberries, 1/2 c. slivered almonds.
Mashed potatoes. Homemade, of course. And super fattening. We don’t bother with low-fat/no-fat garb in our Thanksgiving dinner or any other meals. I’d rather deal with the fat than with the chemicals they use to “de-fat” things like cheese, sour cream, etc. To make our mashed potatoes extra delicious, we add real butter, heavy cream, sour cream and whole milk in our potatoes. Season it with salt, pepper and a bit of turkey juices, and it’s yummalicious!
Gravy: Homemade, with the juice from the turkey.
Green bean casserole. The traditional version, with cream of mushroom soup and French fried onions. The only thing we do differently is cut the amount of mushroom soup in half to enhance the flavor of the green beans. We’ve tried versions without the cream of mushroom soup, which is full of chemicals, but the family prefers tradition here.
Green bean almondine. Green beans with butter, slivered almonds, and real bacon pieces. This is a healthier alternative to the green bean casserole and tastes great.
Corn. We use frozen corn, bake it, and add butter, salt and pepper.
Corn and Bacon Casserole. NEW THIS YEAR! This recipe from Tanya over at Eat Laugh Purr has the rare honor of butting in on our traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu. 🙂 You can find the recipe by clicking here. Doesn’t it sound/look awesome? I’ll have to let you know what the family thinks. 🙂
Lefse. You may have had the crappy store-bought Lefse in years’ past, but don’t let that turn you off to this yummy, light and delicious homemade Scandinavian treat. If you haven’t heard of Lefse, it’s kind of like a thin version of a tortilla, only made with potatoes. We serve ours with butter, but many families do butter and white sugar before they roll it up and place it on a plate. It’s spendy, but our one Thanksgiving menu splurge, and worth the price (mom will pay for this so we can keep our budget reasonable). They’ll even ship it straight to your house! Click here for more info (no affiliate link).
Brown ‘n Serves. I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that our whole family LOVES the cheap and not too terribly high quality brown ‘n serve rolls, even in generic form, , and we always have them instead of homemade. I’ve often thought about making them from scratch, but the store-bought ones are SO cheap (a buck for a dozen) and no work at all, so we’ll keep this tradition. Oldest younger brother brings these.
Funny side note: Years ago, when we were kids, mom forgot about the rolls in the oven and burnt the hell out of them. Ever since then, we’ve called ’em Black ‘n Serves. I was totally embarrassed at the grocery store one year when I was searching for the rolls and accidentally asked the stock boy if he could tell me where the “black ‘n serves” were. 🙂 I tried to stumble out an explanation, but the silly smirk on his face wouldn’t go away. 🙂
Broccoli salad. My sis-in-law always brings this, and never ceases to impress us with her different versions of the broccoli salad. It’s a must have at our Thanksgiving dinner.
Cranberries. Canned, whole and the jelly. People seem to either be in one camp or the other. Most of our fam prefers the jelly, I like the whole berries in jelly sauce. You?
Banana Cream Supreme. My youngest brother’s birthday is near Thanksgiving, so as a kind of birthday celebration, we always make one of his favorite desserts, Banana Cream Supreme. This Pampered Chef creation is different and delicious. Don’t let the sour cream in the ingredient list throw you off – it totally makes the dessert! **Note: this recipe calls for lowfat sour cream and Cool Whip. Don’t do it! Use the real stuff.
Apple pie and Pumpkin pie. My dad usually brings the pies, and apple and pumpkin are at the top of the list. Sometimes we do homemade, but we usually just try and get the best deal, via Sam’s Club, etc.
Milk and water to drink. We keep the beverages simple and cheap, and no one complains. My “oldest” younger brother always brings the milk.
What do you think – are we missing anything? What kind of fun and different stuff do you have at Thanksgiving dinner?