Saturday, November 20, 2010

Menu for my First Thanksgiving

Last year my mom announced while cooking Christmas dinner that it was her 50th Christmas dinner and so was that Thanksgiving!  Amazing ones they were, too!  Feeding my three brothers is a task in itself then add plus  ones, the cycle of relatives that traveled in for that year, grandkids, and a picky eater hubby.  Well she has definitely put in hers and it is time I take over that feat for her! 

I may be a few chairs and a roasting pan short, but I will make it happen, with a few scrapes and bruises I'm sure.  Even so, I am very excited!!  The only downside is that my partner in crime will be at work.  He gets out of clean up but will get all of the leftovers.  Lucky bugger!!  Think I'll have him be my sous chef before he heads off at 1:30... ;)

The guest list includes: Mom, my stepdad Lee, my oldest brother Jon, Simon's mom Sue, and his stepdad Steve.  Still waiting to hear if Simon's sister and her girlfriend will join us, so I have a potential guest list of 8.  I have 4 chairs... Ha!  It will be a hodge podge of patio mixed with dining @ the table and possibly my brother can bring over his bar stools so I can seat 2 at the bar.  It's what you do to fit all your fam, isn't it!  Can't wait!!

The biggest feat I have at hand will be timing - but I have learned from my organized mom and grandmother that there are great tricks to help along the way.  I think it will all come together beautifully!

I am aiming for "from scratch" on everything I make and have assigned a few tasks to lighten the load.  On the menu we have:

  • Turkey (duh!) - would love to do cage-free if affordable.  I think AJ's may sell them otherwise Safeway never fails with their meats.  Still going to do some research but one trick I will use from Mom is covering it with a brown grocery bag to help seal in moisture
  • Cranberry Orange Sauce
  • Dressing (I won't be stuffing the turkey so technically it's called dressing - who knew!)
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Green bean casserole, courtesy of Jon
  • Pies, courtesy of Mom
  • Dinner rolls, courtesy of Sue

These are the recipes for the stuffing, cranberry, and yams I found.

Cranberry Sauce Extraordinaire

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 (12 ounce) package fresh cranberries
  • 1 orange, peeled and pureed
  • 1 apple - peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 pear - peeled, cored and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


  1. In a medium saucepan, boil water and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to simmer, and stir in cranberries, pureed orange, apple, pear, dried fruit, pecans, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature.

Traditional Crockpot Dressing

I'm really happy to have found this!  It will help save time and work on Thanksgiving day.  :)


  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 (8 oz.) cans sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 12 cups day old bread cubes, dried overnight
  • 1 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 1-1/2 tsp. dried sage leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3-1/2 cups chicken or turkey broth
  • 2 eggs, beaten


To dry bread, let it stand uncovered overnight on a wire rack, or bake in a 200 degree F oven for about 20-30 minutes, until firm. In a heavy skillet, melt butter over low heat. Add onion, celery, parsley, and mushrooms and cook and stir for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, place bread cubes in a large bowl. Pour this mixture over bread cubes, then add all seasonings and toss well. Pour in enough broth to moisten, about 1/3 cup at a time, tossing with fork. Don't make the dressing too wet! Add eggs and mix well. Spoon lightly into 5-6 quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, sprinkling with some more chicken stock once or twice during the cooking time.

Buttermilk Mashed Sweet Potatoes

2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 6 medium)
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature or slightly warmed
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into chunks. Steam over boiling water until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. (Or, pierce unpeeled potatoes with fork and microwave on high (100% power) 12 to 14 minutes, turning over halfway through, let cool and peel.)
  2. Transfer sweet potatoes to mixing bowl and mash, blending in orange zest, buttermilk, butter and brown sugar. Transfer to serving dish. 


  1. I love the "sous chef" role! No clean up!!!!!

  2. That crockpot dressing is YUMMY! I make it here too. :) I also make what is called in Matt's family as "Verla's Potatoes" and it's weird because they have nobody named Verla in the family. WTF? But it's in addition to sweet potatoes- I serve both. If you want that recipe- let me know. :)