Our Thanksgiving Menu

ThanksgivingMenu 2015

Would you believe I’ve never cooked the Thanksgiving meal before? Never! Sure, I’ve helped a little. But I’ve never done the majority of the cooking. This year, we’re having dinner with another family and a friend of ours (5 adults, 3 kids total). I wanted to do most of the cooking this year, so it will be a new adventure for me.

I wanted to share the menu with you guys.

A week ago, I asked my Instagram and Snapchat followers for favorite Thanksgiving recipes. And I got a lot of feedback! I investigated every single one and landed on the menu below. I’ll link to the specifics for you, if you want to check anything out. 

A few of these, I’ll make the day before. Some things I’ll prep ahead of time. And then, I’ll spend time on Thanksgiving day actually prepping and cooking. Carrie (the wife in the other family!) is letting me cook in her kitchen and is doing some of the prep work as well. She’s also doing the apple cider, so her house will smell amazing while we work.

If I remember, I’ll share my own pictures here, once things are cooked. The pictures above are professional photos of some of the recipes.

Happy Thanksgiving folks. Enjoy your time with your families!

UPDATE: Here are the recipes we loved and my notes for each one. Mostly it will help me out next year when I want to make them all again! Please see the links above for the recipes. 

Roast turkey with gravy – For my first attempt at roasting a whole turkey, it wasn’t too bad! I didn’t trust the cooking recommendation (30 minutes per 1 kg, or 2.2 lb) and started checking the turkey earlier than I should have. And then, I was supposed to cook it 15 minutes at a time after checking it. It ended up being another hour or more. If I’d let it in there longer initially, I think there would have been fewer 15-minute intervals, and it would have been a little less dry. That said, there were parts of it that weren’t dry at all. I forgot to baste it “occasionally”. And finally, I didn’t realize that the neck bone was inside the cavity, AND the giblets were inside the neck area (and not the cavity). So we cooked the giblets and neck! Oops. 

When it came to the gravy, it wasn’t all that difficult; I was just impatient. It was runnier than it should have been because I didn’t want to let it simmer for 20 minutes to thicken! 

Will I make this again? Yes! I would totally try a whole turkey with gravy again.

Green bean casserole – I should have known better… I prefer my green beans to be SOFT. These were very crunchy after the boiling and blanching. I assumed they might soften more in the baking process, but they did not (or not noticeably). Because of that, I didn’t care for this recipe. The sauce was amazing, though.

Will I make this again? I would like to try this again with much softer beans!

Homemade cranberry sauce – Delicious! I don’t know if I’ve ever had cranberry sauce that wasn’t canned. This version was much much different and also very tart. That’s probably because I didn’t measure the lemon juice! Next time I won’t use so much lemon juice and will add a touch more honey. (The recipe calls for some juice. I used orange juice for the bulk of it.)

Will I make this again? Definitely. 

Ciabatta and sausage stuffing – To be fair, I’ve never enjoyed stuffing/dressing. This one was … fine. But I just don’t like something that is in it. I don’t know if it’s a spice or an ingredient. My guess is the celery. The other folks at the table really enjoyed it.

Will I make this again? Maybe. I would soak the bread topping a little extra so that the final product is more dense; that’s how my husband likes it, and since I don’t like stuffing anyway, I might as well please him!

Pineapple casserole – What a surprise! This was totally delicious. I made the pineapple part the day before, then I added the crumb topping on Thanksgiving Day and baked it. 

Will I make this again? Definitely.

Sweet potato souffle – This was a follower submission! I didn’t measure the brown sugar that went into the sweet potatoes, and it wasn’t sweet enough inside. The topping was great though, even though I don’t care for pecans. It makes way more than 6 small ramekins! I should have used larger souffle dishes!

Will I make this again? Sure! I would add a little extra sweetness to the sweet potatoes themselves, but otherwise, I would eat this again as is.

Pecan pie bars – This is not a recipe I can link to since it was handwritten and shared with me! But WOW this might have been my favorite part of the meal. I’m not sure if I’ve had pecan pie before, so I don’t know how similar these are to actual pecan pie. But they were definitely a hit.

Will I make this again? 100% yes.

Slow cooker apple cider – I didn’t make this – my friend Carrie made it. It was delicious and made the house smell amazing!

Will I make this again? I would definitely add this to my Thanksgiving menu in the future! I’m not sure what changes I would make since I didn’t actually make it in the first place.