Photo Courtesy of Anna Williams for Real Simple
Much to my daughter’s dismay, I will not be hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year. In fact, I will not be preparing anything at all for Thanksgiving Day. We are breaking tradition and instead going “out” with family coming in from out of town for our holiday meal. However, I did promise her that sometime during this week, I will make a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for our family of four.
It really is an easy meal to prepare. I do not do anything fancy or special. In fact, I mostly use the same recipes year after year. The hardest part always seems to be timing everything so it is served warm (and I finally picked up a new trick to help with that)! It is also one of those meals, where you can feel absolutely okay asking your guests to bring a dish. There is no reason for the hosts to be making all the food. Concentrate on making the dishes you love to prepare, and ask your guests to bring everything else! I rely on them to bring appetizers, additional dessert and stuffing!
Thanksgiving Meal Simple Recipes
So below I am sharing what I prepare for turkey dinner! If something can be made a day ahead of time, I will note that with an asterisk. I also make it a point to wash, chop and store anything I can ahead of time, so that there is less prep work the day of!
Honestly, if you buy a good, quality turkey, not much has to be done to it. I have used this simple recipe year after year. I love it because the skin gets crispy, and the turkey stays moist! (LOL, I know everyone hates that word)
- 1( 5 -20 lb) fresh or frozen turkey (thawed) or (5 -20 lb) turkey breast (thawed)
- 1⁄4 cup butter, melted
- 6 ounces chicken broth
- 6 ounces white wine
- 1 -2 tablespoon(s) mayonnaise
- Place turkey or turkey breast in a roasting pan
- Combine melted butter, chicken broth and white wine
- Pour over turkey.
- Rub mayonnaise all over turkey’s exterior.
- Salt and pepper lightly if desired.
- Roast at 300° until internal temperature reaches 170°F on an instant read thermometer. (Raise the temperature to 350° for the last approximate 30-45 minutes to crisp skin).
- Remove from oven and let sit for about 30 minutes before slicing.
Tip: Disposable aluminum roasting pans make for easy clean-up!
If there is one negative about the turkey recipe from above, it is that I find it does not really produce enough drippings to make a proper gravy right then and there. And honestly, making gravy from scratch is very stressful on the day of Thanksgiving! Instead, I use this recipe for gravy which can be made a day ahead BUT I am still able to use what drippings I can get from the turkey to finish it off on Thanksgiving day.
- 6 tablespoons salted butter
- 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken or turkey broth
- kosher salt and black pepper
- pan drippings from roasted turkey
- 1 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio
1. Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened and fragrant. Add the sage and continue cooking another 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the shallots, stirring for 1-2 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil, boil 5 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from the heat. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Strain, if desired.
2. Allow the gravy to cool, then store the gravy base in the fridge for up to 3 days.
1. To finish the gravy on the day of Thanksgiving, once your turkey has finished roasting, remove the turkey from the roasting pan and strain the liquid into a glass measuring cup.
2. Place the roasting pan over two burners. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Simmer for 3-4 minutes or until the wine has reduced slightly. Reduce the heat to low and slowly whisk in the gravy base. Simmer until the gravy is smooth and thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. If needed, thin the gravy with the reserve broth from the roasting pan. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.
Tip: Use a proper strainer. Suggestion here
Source: Half Baked Harvest
The one dish I traditionally cannot get to the table hot enough to serve. Until now! Where have I been all these years that I never have even considered using a slow cooker for making mashed potatoes? It is a Thanksgiving game changer for me now! Not only are they largely unattended during preparation but they come to the table hot because they are kept perfectly warm in the slow cooker until serving! I made these a few weeks ago and they were DELICIOUS!
- 5 pounds russets or Yukon gold potatoes peel (I leave skin on) and cube
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth or water
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon salt and pepper plus more to taste
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon sage
- Add the potatoes, garlic, chicken broth, salt and pepper to the crockpot. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours hours or on low for 6-8 hours.
- When the potatoes are fork tender, add 1-1 1/2 cups milks and mash them using a potato masher or a hand held mixer until completely creamy, adding the remaining 1/2 cup milk if needed to thin. (I needed no more than 1 cup total)
- Stir in the cheese, cover and cook another 15 minutes or until melted and creamy.
Source: Half Baked Harvest
Pearl Onions and Peas
An old-fashioned dish but a family favorite. Try to use fresh peas if possible for better flavor.
- 2 cups pearl onions
- 3 lb. fresh shelled peas (about 4 cups)
- 1⁄4 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- Peel onions by dropping them into boiling water for 1 minute, then slip off skins with a paring knife. Place in a heavy saucepan with 1⁄2 cup salted water. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
- Add peas and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Drain, return to the pan, and add cream and butter. Heat through and serve.
Because I have a vegetarian in the family, I am adding in one more vegetable dish in the mix! SO easy to manage in the oven while you are tending to the pearls and peas on the stove top! And of course the dressing can be made ahead of time!
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus 2 teaspoons zest
- 1 tablespoon grated (or ¼ cup shaved) Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- parsley leaves, for garnish
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- Preheat the oven to 425° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the Brussels sprouts in half, toss with drizzles of olive oil and pinches of salt and pepper, and spread on the baking sheet. Roast 30 to 40 minutes or until tender and golden brown around the edges.
- If desired, toss the roasted Brussels sprouts with the lemon juice, zest, Parmesan, and thyme leaves. Garnish with parsley and red pepper flakes.
My absolute favorite thing to prepare on Thanksgiving day. One it is the simplest, and two, it envelopes are whole house with the aroma of holiday! I highly recommend buying fresh cranberries if available!
- 1 pound fresh cranberries, washed and dried
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 orange, zested and juiced
- In a medium pot, combine the cranberries, sugar and water. Stir to blend.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat.
- Reduce to a simmer and add the cinnamon stick, allspice and nutmeg. Stir to blend and simmer for an additional 5 to 7 minutes. Some of the cranberries will burst and some will remain whole.
- Add the orange juice and zest, stir and allow to cool before serving.
Tip: Use leftover cranberry sauce to make a spread for turkey sandwiches. Mix two ounces of room temperature cream cheese for every 1-2 tablespoons of cranberry sauce.
*Spiced Eggnog Pumpkin Pie
It really is a fool proof dessert that is easy to make! Canned pumpkin and store bought crust always works here. I am going to change things up a bit and break from making a traditional pumpkin pie though this year. Instead, I plan to add a little eggnog and extra spice!
- pastry for single-crust pie (9 inches)
- 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
- 1-1/4 cups eggnog
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Roll out pastry to fit a 9-in. pie plate. Transfer pastry to pie plate. Trim pastry to 1/2 in. beyond edge of plate; flute edges with back of fork.
- Place the remaining ingredients in a large bowl; beat just until smooth. Pour into pastry.
- Bake at 425° for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°; bake 30-35 minutes longer or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. (Cover edges with foil during the last 15 minutes to prevent over browning if necessary.)
- Cool completely on a wire rack. Store in the refrigerator.
Bon Appetit and Happy Thanksgiving!
Thanks for stopping by!