My Thanksgiving Menu [2014]

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is a little over two weeks away and this weekend I worked on getting my menu finalized. Many of you have asked what I am planning for Thanksgiving dinner, so I thought the easiest way to answer that question was to just put it all together in one place for everyone to check out! As is the case with most holidays, there is only a minimal amount of tweaking that happens year-to-year, as there are definitely favorites that need a spot on the menu no matter what. Tradition is tradition, after all :)  I keep an Excel spreadsheet with a record of what I’ve made each year, how much, and then notes about how much everyone liked it, if there was way too much, not enough, and how to tweak for the following year. It’s immensely helpful, as I could never, ever remember all of that if I didn’t write it down immediately!

For reference purposes, we’ll be hosting 11 to 13 people here for Thanksgiving (depending on two significant others who may or may not be able to come). Now, without further ado, this is what we’ll be feasting on in a couple of weeks…

DRINKS

Wine for Thanksgiving

We will have an assortment of red and white wines, a variety of beers, and soft drinks stocked in the fridge. We also keep Sambuca, Kahlua and Anisette on hand for those that like to add a kick to their after-dinner coffee (which is pretty much everyone, minus the pregnant lady).

APPETIZERS

Candied Pecans by @browneyedbaker :: www.browneyedbaker.com

I usually keep appetizers pretty light for Thanksgiving since the meal is so heavy, so I generally keep away from heavy foods and hot dips. Think simple and low maintenance. I’ll have a spread of these items to nibble on while the meal is being finished:

THE BIG BIRD

Deep-friend turkey!

I have brined a turkey for the last three years, and plan to do so again this year. Last year I used Jessica’s Maple-Bourbon Brine, and I’ve previously used Alton Brown’s Classic Brine, both of which have been huge hits. I’ll probably skip the bourbon this year and go with the classic brine.

We first deep-fried a turkey two years ago, and I don’t think we’ll ever look back. Everyone agreed that it was the best turkey, ever. We have the Butterball XL Indoor Turkey Fryer, which holds up to a 20-pound turkey (although we fried a 22-pound turkey last year without any issues). While it’s not necessarily cheap (peanut oil is pricey!), the indoor fryer is safe, easy to use, and the turkey cooks extremely quickly. We love it!

CRANBERRY SAUCE AND GRAVY

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

This year, I am again making the fresh relish-style cranberry sauce that is now on its fourth year, I believe. We’ll also serve a can of the jelly-style for those that like the tradition.

Last year, I made apple cider-bourbon gravy to go along with the maple-brined turkey and it was FABULOUS. However, I’m leaving the alcohol out this year, so I’m going back to my make-ahead gravy that always gets rave reviews.

SIDE DISHES!

Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Side dishes are my favorite part of Thanksgiving, so I naturally have a hard time narrowing down my menu. This is what I’ll be serving up along with the turkey:

  • Stuffing: Sausage Cornbread, as well as a plain bread stuffing for those that don’t like sausage
  • Perfect Mashed Potatoes – Last year, I made a triple batch and there wasn’t enough for leftovers (for shame!), so this year it’ll be quadrupled.
  • My mom’s sweet potato casserole
  • Mixed vegetable casserole
  • Brussels sprouts with pancetta, dried cranberries and pine nuts
  • Dinner rolls from our favorite local bakery

DESSERT

Pecan Pie

I have almost as much trouble narrowing down dessert! My grandma’s pillow cookies are a Thanksgiving tradition in our family, and are a must on the menu. The dessert menu is built around those and pumpkin pie, naturally :)

  • Pumpkin Pie (x2)
  • Pecan Pie
  • My grandma’s Italian Walnut Pillow Cookies
  • Chestnuts – For as long as I can remember, Thanksgiving wasn’t complete without roasting a huge pan of chestnuts. Even if only a few people still eat them, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it!

What are YOU making for Thanksgiving?!