Happy November! Are you still drowning in Halloween candy? Here in the Northeast, the weather did not exactly cooperate, so even though I bought far less candy than I usually do, we still have a fairly large bowl of it leftover. Hmmm…whatever will we do?
But enough about candy, it’s on to the next holiday and as you know, it’s a biggie! For once I am actually planning early (it helps that Thanksgiving comes later in the month than usual—that and the fact that there will probably be at least 25 people at my house for dinner that night, so I’d better be prepared!)
So to get us ready (mostly me) I thought I’d do a little recipe round up and planning session , so I can figure out what I’m making, what my Thanksgiving guests will be bringing and whether we can actually pull this off without renting tables and chairs (which somehow made it less comfortable last year!)
Okay, so here goes:
Do you do these at all? My feeling is that there will be so much food that no one needs to fill up before the meal, but still, you don’t want people standing around with a drink and nothing to munch on, so I generally make one of the following and put out chips and maybe a nut mixture or a simple cheese platter
Do you/don’t you? We sometimes don’t, but we always regret it. I love salad, so does my daughter and my mom and others and I think it balances out all the rich, heavy food. I’ve got a bunch here on the blog, but the reality is that we will make our standby of mixed greens, craisins, some sort of chopped nuts, scallions, maybe a chopped up apple or two, freshly grated parm tossed with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette. But here are a couple of seasonal ones if you’re looking for something a bit different.
THE MAIN COURSE
Though I’ve reached quite an advanced age, I have yet to make a turkey on my own. That’s because my mom is a master at it. I know she seasons it the day before and fills it with apples and onion and then uses a cheesecloth basted in lots of butter—Ahhh, it’s stellar (as is her gravy) and I promise, promise to watch and document every step of the process this year, so that I can share it with you guys. Since we’re having a lot of people, she’ll probably do 1 big or 2 small turkeys and a turkey breast. I’ll keep you posted.
I know a lot of people serve lasagne or another sort of pasta (I never have) but I think this mac and cheese will be making an appearance. Certain people who haven’t been home in a long time are requesting it. Plus, I can make it ahead and heat it up on turkey day and any leftovers will most definitely not go to waste!
This is what the people really want, right? As far as I’m concerned, you can never make enough stuffing and mashed potatoes! Lol! And we need them for leftovers!! Here’s what I’ll definitely be making:
My Mom’s Mashed Potatoes—nothing to it—just boil potatoes in salted water, mash them with a ridiculous amount of butter and keep warm in a pot over low heat so that little browned bits form on the bottom of the pot. To die for yummy!
Mom’s Sweet Potato Casserole yup, the marshmallow topped one—gotta have it!
Mom’s Cranberry Jello Mold Seeing a theme here? My mom is a great cook and everyone expects plenty of her classic dishes! She’ll probably make this for me and we’ll likely have two of them due to the size of the crowd and for leftovers.
Wild Mushroom and Brioche Stuffing This has become a new favorite of ours over the last few years, so much so that we have officially cut out the traditional Pepperidge Farm Herb variety. You can buy brioche but I would highly recommend making your own using this recipe. So easy and you can make it several days ahead. Totally worth it! I will triple this for sure!
Savory Butternut Squash Crumble Made this for the first time last year—it was a big hit so I’ll be including it again.
Homemade Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce I think homemade is just so much better but some people like the jellied kind, so we’ll probably have both.
Butternut Squash Soup Another of my mom’s specialities. We never had soup on Thanksgiving when I was a kid, but lately we’ve been serving it in small mugs and and people look forward to it.
Some kind of green veggies—one of my sister makes the best string bean dish with lemon and garlic—I will definitely ask her for that.
Here’s what I’m contemplating because I love them, but I know that there has to be a limit and/or they only work for a small crowd:
Butternut Squash and Spinach Gratin A great vegetarian alternative.
Auntie Mirrie’s Roast Potatoes If I could make mashed potatoes and these I would ‘cause they are so, so good but it might be tricky with oven space
Spoon Bread Souffléso, so good but don’t make unless you are having a small group—it needs to be eaten right out of the oven and it will be too hard to coordinate with all the other dishes.
Holiday Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Shallots—just in case it’s not Thanksgiving for you without this iconic dish
If you’ve spent any time around these pages at all, you know how intensely I love the after-the-main-meal offerings, so I’ve split them into categories. I will definitely be making a few pies (no pumpkin ‘cause no one in our crew is a big fan of it), but I always find it nice to have a bar or cookie or two for people who just want a little something and for keeping visitors happy throughout the holiday weekend. I also sometimes will make a simple cake which can double as a breakfast treat too, so I’ve included a few of those.
Chocolate Caramel Tart—I made this for the first time last year and it was a huge hit.
I’ve also got my eye on something citrusy—will make and share if it’s good—it’ll balance out all the others nicely
Cranberry Brown Sugar Tart (just looked at the recipe and remembered how good this is, it might have to get added to “definites”, yikes!)
Mississippi Mud Ice Cream Pie-you can’t beat the make-ahead-ability of an ice cream pie!
All these are maybes—I’ll probably change my mind a dozen times before the big day and if my kids make a request, all bets are off!
Pumpkin Silk Bars—I hate pumpkin pie but these are yummy!
Chocolate Chocolate Chip Espresso Cookies—I’m always looking for an excuse to make these and I need a large crowd around to help eat them up cause I can’t resist!
I always like to have one simple, every-day cake around for the holiday weekend, so it’ll probably be one of these
That’s about it for now. Hope this doesn’t overwhelm you. For me, seeing it all on one page, calms me down and makes it more manageable. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some new recipes that I think would be great for the holiday too and of course, I’d love to have you share any of your favorite recipes/traditions/advice, so keep ‘em coming. Have a great rest of the weekend and here’s to the kickoff of a wonderful holiday season!!xoxo