Nearly every year I try to post a few recipes and helps for Thanksgiving dinner. This is pretty much a repost of last year's post on the topic (with a few additions), but I'm sure some of my newer readers have missed the ones I've done previously. So, if you need a little help with the Thanksgiving feast, you are invited to borrow whatever you may need from these tried-and-true ideas and recipes.
Thanksgiving is just one week away -- so if you still have some planning to do, grab a pen and paper and make some lists. Then get to the grocery store and avoid the rush!
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
I'll start with some ideas for pies, which one might be baking a day or two ahead of time. Pies are the most intimidating part of the meal for many people, so I offer you 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.
the next most intimidating part of the meal is the turkey itself.
|Photo from Pixabay|
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. So if you have a large turkey and it's frozen, get it out right now and put it in your fridge.
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)|
Then there is gravy, which can also be intimidating and which I stressed about for many years.
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 then finally, I found this recipe: Easy
. 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.
So there are a number of good options for gravy: jars, packets, or the above great recipe.
Stuffing (or dressing) can also 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
Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
is my go-to recipe for making mashed potatoes for a lot of people. One 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 urged me not to because he loves the make-ahead mashed potatoes so
Sweet Potato Casserole
is our family's festive sweet potato recipe. I've made it with canned sweet potatoes and it comes out just fine. I don't make it every year because personally, my husband and I prefer buttercup squash. But if we are having a lot of people, I'll usually do the sweet potatoes as well. (For sweet potatoes as a general rule, we prefer them roasted.)
is another great side dish that always goes over well. This is a recipe from my sister-in-law Dawn.
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.
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. Cran-Apple Sauce
is one delicious option. Some of the bags of fresh cranberries also feature a cranberry sauce recipe, and I have made those, often substituting brown sugar for white, which gives a nicer flavor in my opinion.
For a memory of my childhood Thanksgivings at my grandmother's farmhouse, you might like to read A Thanksgiving Memory
for a little nostalgia.
By the way, that's my grandmother in the photo
above, 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. It was never a favorite of mine and I haven't made it since, but I think I may make one this year for either Thanksgiving or Christmas -- just for old time's sake!
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, and I like to get it taken care of well ahead of time. I've made a
few Thanksgiving table toppers, hot mats, and so on over the years. These Thanksgiving Candle Mats
always make an appearance on our Thanksgiving table!
|Some years I bring out the cornucopia!|
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
I hope this oft-repeated advice is helpful to someone this holiday. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!