|The lace accent on the right is from Little Birdie Blessings. Recipe and photo are family heirlooms.|
I posted the following in 2012, and it includes a lot of the same links I'm sharing today, but it might be helpful to someone: A Gathering of Thanksgiving Tips and Recipes.
For pies, which are the most intimidating part of the meal for many people, I offer these Helpful Tips for Thanksgiving Pies. If pie crust intimidates you (as it does many others), then don't stress about it. I give you a recipe for an easy oil pastry, but if you don't want to go that route, then the sheets of refrigerated pie crust one can buy (I've even seen them in store brands!) work very well. You can even buy frozen pie shells that aren't half bad. Or if you just don't want to make pies, you can buy some very nice pies from bakeries that specialize in them.
Some of our Favorite Thanksgiving Pie Recipes are included in this post. Maybe you will find a new family favorite!
But what if you are avoiding wheat, or a family member who'll be at your table is eating gluten free? No worries. This Gluten Free Pie Crust is easy to make and very good. It's a simple press-in-pan crust and so it really won't work for a double crust pie. But anyone who has lived without wheat for any length of time will be so happy to have a pie they can eat that they won't care if it's just a single crust pie. It works perfectly for pumpkin pie, for example.
Probably the next most intimidating part of the meal is the turkey itself. If you have, or are buying a frozen turkey, the rule of thumb for thawing it is to allow 24 hours in the fridge for each 5 pounds of the turkey's weight. I find this not quite enough, so allowing an extra day would be my advice. Invariably if I follow that rule of thumb, the giblets are still frozen in place. I bought my frozen turkey (21 pounds) on Thursday and put it right into the fridge to start thawing.
Cooking it in an oven bag is my best advice on roasting a turkey. It shortens the time considerably and produces tender, juicy meat.
For years, I stressed about gravy. People love it and expect it, but making it at the last minute can be very stressful. Usually there are other people in the kitchen, helping out with other things, and that complicates matters (even though they are truly trying to help when they watch over your shoulder and give advice). So for a few years I then turned to canned or jarred gravy, transferring it to a saucepan and removing the evidence of the cans and jars well ahead of the guests' arrival. That was great, but I found the gravy packets made even better gravy. And finally I found this recipe: Easy Turkey Gravy. It truly is easy and it makes lots and lots of gravy. If you are feeding people who think there is never enough gravy, try this. For once they will be satisfied and there may even be some gravy left to serve with the leftovers or to make hot turkey sandwiches.
Stuffing, too, can be a source of discouragement. I usually use a bag of Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix, prepare it with celery and onion as the package instructions suggest, and also add dried cranberries. In my tips and recipes post (link at top) I detail how I cook it in a slow cooker. Just don't leave it in there for too long, as it will burn and dry out.
Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes are my go-to recipe for making mashed potatoes for a lot of people. This year I was seriously thinking of using the Idahoan instant mashed potatoes, which are actually very good and are only $1 per packet, but my hubby won't let me because he loves the make-ahead mashed potatoes so much!
Sweet Potato Casserole is our family's favorite sweet potato recipe. I've made it with canned sweet potatoes and it comes out just fine.
Broccoli Casserole is another great side dish that always goes over well.
I tend to skip serving rolls when there is so much other good food on the table, but if your family won't let you, then try these: Homemade Dinner Rolls. They're a homemade crescent roll and are really delicious.
If your family insists on creamed onions (as mine does), here's the recipe I use: Scalloped Onions. It uses the frozen small onions. Life is far too short to peel those little pearl onions. I always buy the frozen (unsauced) ones and make my own sauce. I just made a big batch of these for our church harvest dinner which is tomorrow.
Cranberry sauce or relish can be purchased and is just fine. If you want to make your own, try the Taste of Home site for some good recipes, or you may be able to find one here.
For a memory of my childhood Thanksgivings, you might like to read A Thanksgiving Memory for a little nostalgia.
And if you enjoy vintage things, you might like to take a peek at this Children's Book of Thanksgiving Prayers. This was actually sold as a greeting card, I believe.
For more Thanksgiving posts, click on the "Thanksgiving" label in the word cloud of labels in the right sidebar. You may find some surprises I've forgotten about!