Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Menu 2011

As a child, every Thanksgiving brought about a smorgasbord of delicious festive dishes. Our family of 7 joined by many cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents would gather around the table to feast. We usually had both a turkey and ham that was raised right there on the farm. Our mother would roast them perfectly for the holiday. The mashed potatoes were from our garden, and foods such as dinner rolls, gravy, pie (crust and filling), and stuffing were made from scratch. A lot of our food came straight from the farm to the table. It took a lot of work but was fresh and tasted great.

Being raised in Montana on the farm was an experience I would not trade for the world. I was taught responsibility and frugality. I learned that hard work and manners get you furthest. I was raised to be naturally resourceful. I was taught to be thankful for every chance I got and every opportunity that arose. Thanks was not something that only came around once a year. It was something felt every day.

I now live in Suburban South Florida rather than Rural Montana, therefore living in a very different world.  One thing that has never changed and never will, is the recognition of how much I have in my life to be thankful for. Thanks is something that I will carry with me along every path of life.  

This Thanksgiving, my husband Dan (Carpenter) will be in Dallas, Texas playing the Thanksgiving NFL game against the Dallas Cowboys. My friend Katie, whose husband is the punter, will also be husbandless for the holiday so we are going to volunteer with Feeding South Florida down in Hollywood. After serving Thanksgiving Lunch to those in need, Katie, my sister Jenna and I will have Thanksgiving dinner with Katie’s parents and watch the guys’ game on TV.

As if one Thanksgiving meal isn’t enough, we are doing it all over again the next day,  which happens to also be Dan’s birthday. We are hosting Thanksgiving a day late at my house with the guys. John and Christy with their kids, Brandon and Katie, my sister Jenna, and all other teammates who don’t have a place to go for Thanksgiving dinner, will be coming over to help celebrate Thanksgiving.

Here is what we are having for our Day Late Thanksgiving. I have searched near and far and tested many recipes to bring you the best of both worlds.

-I bring to you recipes that  - 

1.  Taste AMAZING!
2.  Can either be made quickly, or be made far ahead of time, allowing you to enjoy your family and friends and reflect on what you are thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Menu 2011

This is my sister Crystal’s favorite way to do a Turkey. Everything she makes is amazing. No dry bird allowed in her house! And with three young boys running around she has found the most delicious yet efficient way to cook her Thanksgiving Bird. It comes from Martha herself. It is called the Spatchcock method. Grab your knives ladies! Roll up your sleeves and use those muscles. Manhandle this bird. Spatchcock the heck out it! Show it who’s boss! You will be happy you did when you don’t have to wake up at the b-crack of dawn to put your bird in the oven. This method is quick – only taking about an hour and a half! Click here to learn how to Spatchcock like Martha Stewart's Bird shown below.

-Make 0-1 days in advance –
Oh Heart Attack Corn! The name doesn’t lie folks! I can feel the cardiac arrest coming on just thinking about this dish. But it is ooooooh soooo good! And oooooh sooo worth it! Every holiday we are invited somewhere I am asked to bring “the corn thing”. This entire dish can be made a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Pop it in the oven at 350 for 30-45 min or until bubbly.

It may not be the healthiest dish, but hey, it’s Thanksgiving! Put on your yoga pants and over sized sweatshirt and forget the rest:)

Posted back on September 8, 2009
Click here for the recipe.
Double recipe for 6 adults

-Make 0-2 days in advance –

Make Ahead Mashed Potato Casserole
By Philomine Faiman

5 lbs potatoes, boiled and mashed (Baby Yukon Golds is what I used)
1 (8oz) pkg of cream cheese
1 cup half and half ( I used Whipping Cream)
 1/2 c Margarine ( I used butter)
1tsp onion salt ( I used onion powder)
1 tsp seasoning salt ( I used 1 1/2 to make up for using onion powder over salt)
1 tsp salt ( I used sea salt)
1/4 tsp Pepper

Add all ingredients to fresh hot boiled potatoes. Mash them. (I used a pie crust cutter and mashed them coarsely.) When all ingredients are mashed in evenly add the potato mixture to a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 1/2 hr or refrigerate or freeze until ready to heat and use. Can also be made the day before being used.

Serve with Brown Gravy.

Make Ahead Mashed Sweet Potato Brulée: 

-Make everything but topping 0-2 days in advance then just give them a quick zap in the microwave to heat them up. Do the topping, throw into the oven. The bake time is super short, so you could pop it in the oven as soon as the turkey comes out and you’re carving

Yes, I know! I already have Mashed Potatoes on the menu, but these are Sweet Potatoes. Totally different thing. I always feel like Sweet Potatoes as more of a Dessert. The crispy topping on this dish will remind you of the fancy Creme Brulée in restaurants. For those of you who need a switch up from the same old traditional Yam and Marshmallow dish, this is for you! Get your fancy on and bring Brulée to your Thanksgiving Table this year. Say it - Brulée......It is so fun to say! Try it with a French Flair rolling off your tongue....Brulée!!....Brulée!....Brulée!....Brulée!

 -Brown Eyed Baker's Photo-
To read her post on this recipe click here.

Make Ahead Mashed Sweet Potato Brulée
Recipe Source: Brown Eyed Baker
Original Recipe Adapted From: How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Bake Time: 25 minutes

4 tablespoons butter
1½ to 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cooked in any manner
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dash of nutmeg

1/4 tsp of cinnamon (my addition)
½ cup chopped walnuts
¾ cup light brown sugar

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a gratin dish (or shallow baking dish) with some of the butter.
2. Heat the potatoes if necessary and mash them with the butter, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and a dash of nutmeg. Put the sweet potatoes in the gratin dish, and smooth the top.
3. Sprinkle the top with the chopped walnuts. Bake until the dish is hot and golden on top, 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Remove the dish from the oven. Sprinkle the top evenly with the brown sugar. Turn on the broiler and adjust the rack to about 4 inches from the heat source. Broil, watching carefully and turning the dish as necessary. When the sugar bubbles and browns, it’s ready. Let it sit for a few minutes before serving.

Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce
-Make 0-2 days in advance and store in fridge –
How many of you ate cranberries at Thanksgiving when you were growing up? How many of you plopped em out of the can, sliced em, and let them serve as a centerpiece? …. I have always been the centerpiece type. Not that I am not a cranberry type of gal, but when there are so many outstanding homemade dishes served I hate to waste room on a jelly type thing “fresh” out of the can. This year how ever, things will be different! I tasted my sister’s cranberries after hearing about how great they were and WOW. MMMMmmm – MMMMmmmm- Good! She got the recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod. Try this recipe out. 

Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce
Recipe and Photo from : Two Peas and Their Pod

Yield: 2 cups of sauce  


1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice
4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 tablespoon orange zest


1. Rinse cranberries with cold water. In a medium saucepan, add sugar, water, and orange juice. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and add cranberries and orange zest. Return to a boil and then reduce heat to medium low. Cook until cranberries start to burst, about ten minutes.
2. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Pour sauce into a serving bowl and chill in the refrigerator. Serve chilled.
*Note-you can make the sauce 1-2 days in advance.

-Make ingredients 1 day ahead of time and put recipe together the day of.-
What would Thanksgiving be without stuffing! Sadly I resort to boxed stuffing occasionally, but homemade really is that much better. Here is the recipe I use for homemade stuffing. All of the grunt work like cubing up bread can be done ahead of time, or you can purchase bread already cubed. Whenever a recipe starts off sizzling something in butter you know it just HAS to be good.

Here is the recipe I use. It can also be found at

-1 (1 pound) loaf crusty Italian or French bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes or, if drying and toasting bread is too much trouble, buy unflavored croutons or bread cubes     
- 4 tablespoons butter     
- 2 onions, diced     
- 2 celery stalks, diced     
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves     
- 1 teaspoon dried sage, rubbed between fingers    
-1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves     
- 3/4 teaspoon salt     
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper     
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth     
- 2 large eggs  

1. Spread bread cubes in a single layer on two large sheet pans and let dry for a few hours or overnight. Adjust oven racks to lower- and upper-middle positions. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake bread until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees.    
2. Meanwhile, heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and celery; saute until soft, 8 to 10 minutes. In a large bowl, mix bread, vegetables and remaining ingredients. Turn into a greased 3-quart baking dish. Cover with foil and bake until steamy, 30 minutes. Remove foil; bake until crusty, 10 minutes longer. Serve immediately

-Make 0-1 days ahead of time -

Here is a great way to show your thanks. Jot down on a little note about what you are thankful for, wrap it in tin foil, and place it inside you favorite family dinner roll recipe while it rises, or simply roll it up in a Pillsbury Crescent Roll and bake! 

I first found this idea on here. They carried out this new idea using store bought crescent rolls. Very cool. I see, I tag, I am about to make, friend Christy, beat me to punch. Two great minds think alike! She however took it one step further.  She used her homemade roll recipe and hers turned out WAY cute! (see below) She has a yummy recipe for rolls and I suggest if you are a baker, that you should make these. Christy’s recipes are always amazing. In this case, homemade rolls would be well worth the time if you want to give them a try. 

Also, I really like how in Christy's recipe she wraps the notes in tin foil. This was not done in the post where I originally found the other recipe using crecent rolls and their notes looked to have been a little sticky. So - if you for some reason decide to take the short cut and use crescents, please use tine foil like Christy did. 

Head on over to her blog and check out this recipe along with many other yummy ones!

Gratitude Rolls
(Use Crescent Rolls or this great recipe below from Christy!)

 To see where these photos came from and to get the recipe click here!


-Make ALL ingredients 0-3 days ahead of time. Store in the refrigerator airtight.-

OK – The most appropriate way that I can phrase this is that something magical was happening in my mouth when I took my first bite of this. O-M-G !!  This is the perfect combination of pumpkin, spice, cream, a hint of sweetness, and a buttery crust with a zip. I am a traditional type of gal but this is definitely replacing my traditional Pumpkin Pie! This is one of my new favorites. Let.Me.Tell.You! Try this recipe! It is the

1. It can be made ahead of time. 
2. Homemade cheesecake is NOT as hard as you may think. 
3. Make sure you feed a crowd because if you don’t, you will find yourself sneaking pieces 
    before bed every night till it’s gone. 


Recipe Adapted from Dixie Crystals - Praline Pumpkin Cheesecake 

Prep Time: 30 min
Baking Time: 2 hr

Cheesecake Crust:
- 3 1/2 cups crushed gingersnaps  
- 7 tablespoons melted butter

    Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling Ingredients:
    - 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, soft at room temperature  
    - 1 cup Extra Fine Granulated White Sugar  
    - ½ cup Brown Sugar firmly packed  
    - 4 large eggs  
    - 1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)  
    - 1 full teaspoon cinnamon  
    - ½ teaspoon ginger  
    - ¼ teaspoon cloves  
    - 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

      Carmel Drizzle:
      - ½ cup Brown Sugar firmly packed  
      - ¾ cup whipping cream  
      - 4 tablespoons butter  
      - ¼ teaspoon sea salt  
      - 1 full tablespoon vanilla extract 

        Whipped Cream:
        - 2 - 2 1/2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream   
        - 1 packet of Splenda (or any sweetener of your choice)   
        - 1 TB Vanilla
          1-2 cups of chopped nuts of choice for sprinkling. I suggest Pecans or Walnuts.

          Preheat oven to 325°F.
          1. To make cheesecake crust, use a food processor to crush gingersnaps to obtain 3 1/2 cups. Add melted butter and combine well. Use a drinking glass to press the crust firmly into the bottom of a Pam sprayed 10-inch diameter spring form pan and place in the oven for 11 minutes.
          2. When cool enough to handle, place pan on 3 layers of aluminum foil and wrap outside of pan with foil. Ensure that no water could penetrate through foil. Place pan in a roasting pan and set aside.
          3. To make pumpkin cheesecake, beat softened cream cheese and both sugars on low speed until well blended with no lumps. Scrape bowl well.
          4. Add one egg at a time waiting for previous added amount to be fully incorporated. Scrape bowl and beater well in between additions.
          5. Add pumpkin, spices and vanilla and mix to combine - do not beat, just mix by hand. (Don't over beat the cream cheese mixture.) Pour into the spring form pan over the ginger crust. Pour water into roasting pan around the cheesecake pan, about an inch high. Be sure not to splash any of the water onto the cheesecake. Place in the oven.
          6. Bake pumpkin cheesecake 2 hrs at 325 until the center of the cake no longer trembles.
          7. Pull roaster out of oven and pull out your cheesecake. Allow cheesecake to cool on a rack at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes. Place cooled cheesecake in refrigerator overnight or for a couple days until ready to eat. Bring your cake out of refrigerator about an hour before serving to bring it to room temperature. Remove outside of spring form pan.
          8. Toast pecans or walnuts for 8 minutes in a 350°F oven if desired and then store in an airtight container until ready to use. (Can be toasted a day or two ahead of time)
          9. To make the caramel drizzle,  boil the brown sugar, whipping cream, butter, sea salt, and vanilla for 3 minutes stirring continually, ensuring that mixture will not boil over. Remove from heat and let cool.Store in a tiny Ziploc in Fridge until ready to serve. Then cut a tiny corner off your bag and squeeze the caramel out of the corner of the bag to drizzle. (Can be made a day or two ahead of time)
          10. To make homemade whipped cream, chill your mixer bowl and beater in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Attach chilled bowl and beater to mixer. Add about 2 - 2 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream, 1 tablespoon vanilla, and a packet of Splenda (or sweetener of your choice) into the chilled bowl. Beat at high speed for a few minutes until it becomes whipped cream. 
          11. Taste test it. If it is not sweet enough for you, add another packet of Splenda. Store in another little Ziploc in fridge for up to 2 days until ready to use. Then cut the tiny corner off and use the bag to pipe on the whipped cream in a fashionable pattern.
          12. Run a sharp knife around edge and bottom of cheesecake in pan to remove from pan. Use a sharp knife to cut as desired. 
          13. When ready to eat squeeze the caramel, and whipped cream on and sprinkle the nuts and wahlaa! Beautiful, fuss free, homemade cheesecake - all made ahead of time. Your guest will be so impressed! Little will they know that you prepared this all up to 2 days in advance!

          -Make all ingredients a day ahead of time and assemble just before serving-
          – OK – by this time even your yoga pants are busting at the seams, but you still have to try these cute and tasty cornucopias. I mean, how often do you get to eat a cornucopia? I had one for a dessert and another for breakfast the next morning. Yum!

          See my November 18th post, or click here to skip straight to it.


          1. Yum! Everything looks so good. You really don't have to do Thanksgiving the day after unless Dan wants to because it sounds like that will be your 3rd Thanksgiving! Let me know what we all should bring. I don't want you doing all the work.

          2. Ha! I guess it will be my 3rd this year. I forgot about making Dan's family early Thanksgiving this week....but it will be so fun to have you all over! It is always nice to have the energy of kids around. Bring their water wings! They can swim their heart content and help Dan blow out his Birthday candles:)

          3. Looks good! Wish we were all spending the holiday together :) Maybe someday! In the meantime, we'll be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving sister.