I have always wanted to host Thanksgiving dinner outdoors! This year has quickly taught me that there is just something magical about al fresco dining, no matter what the season! And with the pandemic still being a reality in all of our lives, having Thanksgiving dinner with your (extended) family outdoors might just be the best idea this year!
Don’t get me wrong, I love setting the dining room table for special occasions and holidays. Traditions run deep over here! But if there is any year to change things up, this is the year to do it! I love the fact that a Thanksgiving outdoor dinner lends itself to a more rustic and casual feel, which also means a more casual menu is perfectly acceptable!
Outdoor Thanksgiving Dinner
More than planning the Thanksgiving menu, I love to plan a Thanksgiving tablescape. Similar to the fall season, Thanksgiving table settings set outdoors are a wonderful way to incorporate the natural elements of the season! Pick or incorporate the dry grasses and flowers still in abundance this time of year. Arrange them in vases and display in the center of your table. The more you can add to a vase, the better!
Bring out the brass and/or silver candlesticks. Consider adding unexpected candle colors to them but ones that are still fitting for the season-mustards, grays, browns or plums-that complement well with your florals! Scattering small votive candles throughout the table is an additional way to create a moody but beautiful ambiance!
I have no problem bringing the fine china outdoors! But in keeping with a more casual and rustic theme, I am all for incorporating my everyday china into Thanksgiving this year. Still grab the silver, crystal, and any other heirloom pieces to work into your table setting though. Special family pieces are a wonderful way to represent those loved one who cannot be with us! The more mix-matched, the better in my book!
Utilizing other natural Thanksgiving themed elements such as white pumpkins at each place setting and Indian corn tied on the back of each chair, are other easy ways to define your Thanksgiving table setting.
Tips to Hosting an Outdoor Thanksgiving Dinner
Establish Dress Code
Make sure to let those on your guest list know that your Thanksgiving party will be held outdoors. Encourage them to come casual and layered! But also let them know what other measures you are taking to keep them warm!
Keep Your Guests Warm
In addition to establishing a dress code, create an outdoor environment that is snug and inviting:
- Have blankets on the back of each chair that can be draped over laps or shoulders,
- Use/Rent/Buy outdoor heat lamps that can be placed on either end of the dining table,
- Utilize fire pits whether it be your own built-in or portable ones
Keep Food Warm
Depending on your menu and serving set-up, plan for what serving pieces you will need and use and how you will keep the food warm in them! For instance, these warming trays are great options! (I linked the best price on them here but you can read reviews here). I also plan to serve soup as the first course (more on that next) and my Staub dutch oven works as both the serving piece and the warming piece!
Keep Drinks Warm (or cold)
I love a good theme and great theme starts with a great drink fitting for the season! Keep guest warm with a Cinnamon Toddy served in a Vinglacé stemless glass! We love this line of insular barware for keeping drinks warm or cold without the metallic taste!
Outdoor Thanksgiving Menu Ideas
I think one of the things we all love about Thanksgiving is well, the traditions. And there is no meal that is more traditional then a Thanksgiving one! But this is the year of doing things a little differently and with that, I want to change up the menu this season! Yes, turkey of course will be served. As well as cranberry sauce. And the sides. But with a twist!
A cinnamon toddy is the perfect warming drink! It can be made with or without bourbon. Either way it is wonderfully therapeutic and a perfect way to kick off Thanksgiving!
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon honey
- A small cinnamon stick, plus more for serving
- 1 orange slices, plus more for serving
- 1-2 ounces bourbon, depending on your taste
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- In a small saucepan, bring the water, honey, cinnamon, and orange slices to a boil. Boil 2 minutes, remove from the heat, and let sit 5 minutes. Stir in the bourbon and lemon juice.
- Pour the toddy into a glass. Garnish with an orange slice and cinnamon stick. Enjoy!
Source: Half Baked Harvest
Roasted (Vegan) Butternut Squash Soup
Creamy, nourishing, and satisfying this version of butternut squash soup is vegan (no chicken stock or cream) but still bursting with all the cozy flavors of fall! It also can be made well in advance of Thanksgiving Day!
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 (3-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- ½ tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 3 to 4 cups vegetable broth
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Chopped parsley
- Toasted pepitas
Preheat the oven to 425° and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the butternut squash on the pan and drizzle each half with just enough olive oil to lightly coat the squash on the inside (about ½ teaspoon each). Rub the oil over the inside of the squash and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
Turn the squash face down and roast until it is tender and completely cooked through, about 40 to 50 minutes (don’t worry if the skin or flesh browns—that’s good for flavor). Set the squash aside until it’s cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chopped shallot and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until the shallot has softened and is starting to turn golden on the edges, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring frequently. Transfer the contents to your stand blender.
Use a large spoon to scoop the butternut squash flesh into your blender. Discard the tough skin. Add the maple syrup, nutmeg and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper to the blender. Pour in 3 cups vegetable broth, being careful not to fill the container past the maximum fill line (you can work in batches if necessary, and stir in any remaining broth later).
Securely fasten the lid. Blend on high), being careful to avoid hot steam escaping from the lid. Stop once your soup is ultra creamy and warmed through.
If you would like to thin out your soup a bit more, stir in the remaining cup of broth. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil, to taste, and blend well. Taste and stir in more salt and pepper, if necessary.
If your soup is piping hot from the blending process, you can pour it into serving bowls. If not, pour it back into your soup pot and warm the soup over medium heat, stirring often, until it’s nice and steamy. Top individual bowls with some extra black pepper.
Source: Love & Lemons
Roasted Turkey (sandwiches) with Cranberry Chutney and Shaved Brussel Sprouts Salad
I am all for cooking and serving a turkey on Thanksgiving day but what about fast forwarding to leftovers as your main meal. I still plan to roast a turkey in our oven and make cranberry sauce. But how about doing this the morning of and then turning everything into a leftover meal as your main meal! Serve carved turkey with cranberry chutney on crusty bread with a shaved brussel sprouts salad on the side!
- 4 cups (1 pound) fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 cup chopped tart apple
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 cup diced celery
Source: Taste of Home
- In a large saucepan, combine the first eight ingredients. Cook over medium heat until berries pop, about 15 minutes.
- Add the apple, raisins and celery. Simmer, uncovered, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl; refrigerate until chilled.
- Use as a spread on its own or mix into cream cheese and serve as a spread.
Buttery Caramel Apple Pecan Galette
The butternut squash and carmelized onion galette I featured last week was such a hit with you all that I thought I would share a dessert version galette perfect for Thanksgiving! Galette’s are so easy to make but look so elegant!
- Pre-made pie crust (I love Pillsbury)
- 3-5 small Granny Smith apples
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Juice of half a lime
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/4 cup toasted pecans
- 1 large egg beaten
- For the caramel sauce:
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp light corn syrup
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Preheat the oven to 380° F. Line a backing sheet with parchment paper.
Peel and core the apples. Cut in to halves and then slice thinly, about a half inch thick.
Transfer the slices to a mixing bowl.
Add the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, lime juice and brown sugar. Toss until all of the apples are well coated. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Retrieve the dough and unroll. Place on top of the parchment paper on baking sheet.
- Lay the apples in a heap in the center of the dough. Pull up about 2 inches of dough on each side making sure not to poke any holes in the dough. Sprinkle the pecans over the apples.
Glaze the dough with the beaten egg and sprinkle lightly with some more sugar.
Place in the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
Place the sugar in a small pan and add the water and corn syrup. Boil over a medium heat until the sugar is a deep amber color.
Add the butter and whisk until dissolved. Add the heavy cream and whisk again until the sauce is smooth and shiny. Set aside to cool.
Once the galette is ready, drizzle liberally with the caramel sauce. Serve at once with some whipped cream or ice cream.
Source: Foodness Gracious
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