I’ve always loved Thanksgiving. Turkey, mashed potatoes, DESSERT…what’s not to love? I also appreciate the time to gather with family and count my blessings. For the second year in a row we are skipping the big, extended family gathering but that doesn’t mean I can’t prepare a delicious meal for just the three of us. Yes, it’s a lot of work but I consider it a labor of love. Let’s take a look at what’s on my Thanksgiving menu.
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Our Thanksgiving Menu
In “normal” times our family, which can number as high as 50, gathers at a cousin’s home for Thanksgiving. Everyone signs up to bring something and there is always way more food than we can eat. I’m one who loves the concept of a buffet with so many delicious choices so a huge, family potluck is right up my alley. Sadly, we will miss this gathering for the second year in a row. But I’m hopeful for 2022!
Even though there will only be three of us again this year – David, Chris (son), and myself – I still want all my favorites at the meal. Yes, it’s a lot of food but I won’t have to cook for the next few days. In fact, it’s those leftovers I enjoy as much as the main meal. I love a turkey sandwich on fresh, white bread with mayonnaise and homemade cranberry sauce. Delicious!
Here is a copy of our Thanksgiving menu which I printed out and hung on the refrigerator a few days ago:
I have both a whole turkey and a bone-in turkey breast in the freezer. I haven’t decided which I’ll cook for Thanksgiving but I’m leaning toward the whole turkey. I’ll be bringing food to my homebound parents so it will be good to have plenty for leftovers.
If I cook a whole turkey, I’ll do it in a roasting bag, the way I’ve always done it. No need to cook for hours upon hours as the bag speeds up the process. It also eliminates the need for basting and babysitting it. I’ve never had a turkey turn out anything but juicy with this method.
On the other hand, if I choose the turkey breast, my preferred method is the slow cooker. It doesn’t yield an Instagram-worthy version but the meat is extremely moist and makes the very best sandwiches in the days to follow.
Here is a link to my turkey cooking methods, both oven and slow cooker versions, as well as my unique way of thawing a frozen turkey:
You can also cook a (small) turkey breast in the Instant Pot:
If we were having guests I’d probably also cook a small ham but I’m saving that for New Year’s Day instead.
I love me some good, homemade mashed potatoes with rich turkey gravy ladled on top. I know some are fine with instant but I’m a stickler for the real thing.
Considering my stance on mashed potatoes you might be surprised when I tell you we will be having Stove Top Stuffing. Personally I love homemade dressing and that’s often one of my contributions to the large family holiday meals. But David doesn’t care much one way or the other and Chris loves Stove Top Stuffing. Despite being a bit of a food snob he readily admits that Stove Top Stuffing is one of his guilty pleasures. So this is one area where I’ll cut myself some slack this year.
Candied Sweet Potatoes…
David and Chris don’t really like sweet potatoes but *I* do. And so does my mom. I’ll make a small pan for the two of us. I’ve made them a variety of ways including this recipe:
I’ll probably just keep it simple with canned sweet potatoes, brown sugar, butter and marshmallows.
Homemade cranberry sauce is SO easy to make and can be made a day or two ahead of time.
Green Bean Casserole…
Many years ago when I was doing the Atkins diet, I came up with my own version of green bean casserole that doesn’t use canned soup. It was SO much better that I’ve never gone back. I really should do a recipe post for it but essentially I make a homemade alfredo-type sauce thickened with cream cheese to take the place of cream of chicken soup. I top the casserole with grated cheese, crumbled bacon and crispy French fried onions. So good!
There are so many versions of corn casserole and I’m not sure how I’ll make it this year. Do you have a favorite recipe?
I love, love, love deviled eggs! I’m not sure why I don’t make them more often but they are a must for Thanksgiving. I do wish I still had my own chickens. I made deviled eggs more often when we getting lots of fresh eggs every day.
This is another area where I’m cutting corners this year. I’m not making homemade rolls. My daughter made a run to Whole Foods in the city today and picked us each up a can of crescent rolls. Good enough!
One of my very favorite desserts is the pineapple cream pie my grandmother used to make for holiday meals. The recipe for the filling also makes coconut cream pies. I usually divide it in half and do one pineapple and one coconut. I did buy frozen pie shells as well has the refrigerated dough. I haven’t decided which I’ll use but I’m not making my own pie crusts this time.
I also plan to bake a cake of some sort. Probably pumpkin.
And that’s our menu for this year. On Wednesday I’ll make everything but the turkey and mashed potatoes so Thanksgiving Day will be easy. I’ll set the table with my grandmother’s vintage lace tablecloth, my wedding china, my mom’s wedding silver, crystal, candles and flowers. Follow me on Instagram for photos.
We will start the day by watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and I’ll make a Thanksgiving playlist to listen to while we eat. And of course I’ll listen to Alice’s Restaurant while cooking – it’s tradition!
I’m planning to have our meal early afternoon and then take food to my parents for their dinner. We offered to go eat with them but they are just not up to it due to health issues. After we return home, we’ll settle in and watch Miracle on 34th Street. Last year we watched the original version so this year we’ll watch the remake. It’s one of the few movie remakes that does justice to the original.
I’d love to hear all about your Thanksgiving menu and plans for this year. And if you don’t live in the United States or Canada, is there anything you’ve ever been curious about regarding this holiday? I enjoy learning about other’s holidays and am happy to return the favor.
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Note: I acknowledge that there are aspects of this holiday that are problematic and considering my own Native American heritage I choose to focus on food, family and gratitude rather than the historical origins.