2016 Thanksgiving Lineup
I started cooking the whole Thanksgiving dinner in 2013, when Jon and I moved to Virginia. We are too far from family to travel, and I really like staying home for the holidays.
On Thanksgiving Day, I usually don’t make breakfast or lunch. Instead I put out a spread of low sugar, no-cook appetizers. Low sugar because you never know if it’s going to be “playing outside weather” or not. And I don’t want my kids loaded up on sugar if it’s too cold or rainy to go out. I like to put out nuts, chips and dips, and some type of cheese and fruit to snack on.
I’ve evolved my lineup consistently. Each year, I do a different stuffing. The first year it was traditional cornbread stuffing. Next was Ina’s Mushroom and Leek bread pudding, which was incredible, but very rich…and dare I say, with the stuffed mushrooms (described below), there were too many mushrooms! I never thought I’d say that. Last year I did an oyster stuffing. It was good, but a lot of work, and not worth it in my opinion.
I used to do a store bought dessert because I was afraid to bake a pie. Last year I evolved somewhat and made an apple cobbler. But I still am a little weary of an intricate dessert. So this year, I’m making Ina’s Cranberry Apple Cake with either fresh whipped cream or store bought vanilla bean ice cream.
In addition to the recipes here, I am making mashed potatoes, homemade gravy, pesto roasted green beans (none of which I have recipes for because they are my own, and I haven’t written them yet), plus Pillsbury Crescent Rolls. I know they’re kind of trashy, but they’re delicious, and I love them.
I’m also making a recipe from Goop that I’m very excited to try: Carrot Souffle (there is no photo, so I thought it would get lost if I mixed it in with the rest of the post). I decided to try carrot souffle because I’ve never done souffle before. There are very few ingredients. And I don’t particularly care about sweet potatoes, but I do feel like you need something orange.
Here’s one more tip for a flawless Thanksgiving Day. Shop ahead. Way ahead. I buy all my pantry items, turkey, non perishables, alcohol (both for cooking and drinking), and even things like butter the first week of November. Yes, it’s early. But I hate crowds, and I also hate going into the store and having to settle for a weird brand of something or buying a bunch of small sizes of something (like whipping cream, etc) because all the large containers are gone. Then I buy the produce and perishables the Tuesday morning before Thanksgiving while my kids are in school. Then Wednesday morning I prep like a madman until I’m done. By the time Thursday comes, it’s a total cake walk. I can sip wine, watch the parade, sip wine (hold on, I didn’t repeat myself, did I?), play with the family, and just be close enough to the oven to stick stuff in and pull it out.
Oh wait! Another tip: Use your toaster oven as a second oven. Things like the mushrooms can be assembled in a half-sized casserole dish and baked in the toaster oven.
Okay, that’s all for now. The holiday season is officially here!
- Ina’s Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms: I’ve actually made these like 5 or 6 years now, starting back when I just brought a side dish to my grandmother’s. This is rich, buttery, so so good. It’s labor intensive, but worth it once a year. Last year, I realized I could prep the entire thing the day before and simply bake it on Thanksgiving Day. Easy, right? Last year I did almost everything the day before, and Thanksgiving Day was a total breeze. Loved it, and I’ll never leave things to the day of if I can help it.
2. Cleverly Simple’s Slow Cooker Cranberry Sauce: This is simple, so much better tasting than canned cranberry sauce (which I’ve never actually served), and another great make ahead thing. I did it all the day before, and it made the house smell delicious while I was prepping everything else.
3. Ina’s Leek and Artichoke Bread Pudding: Like I said before, I always change the stuffing up. I have hopes that this one will be my new favorite. I can’t do the stuffing the day before, well not all the way. I can do each individual part the day before, and then just assemble and bake it the day of.
4. Ina’s Herb Roasted Turkey Breast: The first two years we lived in Virginia, I did cornish game hens. They were cute, but kind of annoying. They take up a lot of room, and I didn’t like having to deal with 5 dead birds. Last year, I just did a turkey breast. Honestly, the turkey is, like, the least important part of Thanksgiving to me. I’d be cool with a rotisserie chicken, but that just doesn’t feel right. The turkey breast works for us because there’s only 6 of us, and most of us like the sides better than the actual turkey.
5. Ina’s Easy Cranberry Apple Cake: Last year was the first time I made dessert for Thanksgiving in Virginia. I did an “easy” apple cobbler. Yes, it was easy! It was pretty good, too. But I just thought it’d be fun to try something different. Ina’s cake just looks so pretty and has the perfect Thanksgiving flavors (we aren’t big pumpkin pie people). Of course, this can be made the day before, too. I’m not sure if I’ll get some vanilla bean ice cream or make fresh whipped cream. If I do make the whipped cream, I’ll definitely post that because it is so delicious and incredibly easy to make.