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. Last year I bought my frozen turkey (21 pounds) on the Thursday before Thanksgiving 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.
|From my Autumn in the Air booklet (Cracker Barrel, 2001)|
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 ( the first 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.
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. By the way, that's my grandmother in the photo at top, and the recipe is for my great-grandmother's Date Cake, which was somewhat of a tradition at our holiday dinners. It was served thickly frosted with white frosting and with walnut or pecan halves pressed into the frosting.
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.
Setting the Thanksgiving table is always an enjoyable task. I've made a few Thanksgiving table toppers, hot mats, and so on. These Thanksgiving Candle Mats always make an appearance on our Thanksgiving table!
|Some years I bring out the cornucopia!|