Archive for ‘Menu for Thanksgiving’

November 20, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner: The Roundup, Schedule, & Shopping List

And here we are – it’s Thanksgiving Week!  Here is the roundup of recipes we’ve gone over this month in preparation:

Thanksgiving Menu

Apple Martinis

Butternut Squash Soup
Roast Chicken & Stuffing
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Dinner Rolls (goes to King Arthur site with step-by-step picture instructions)

Pumpkin Pie
Apple Pielets

For those who still need or want to make turkey, gravy, and cranberry sauce, my sister shared with me this fantastic video by Mary Risley, a woman after my own heart.  Here’s everything you’ll need to know on these dishes:


Schedule & Shopping

Now, grab a glass of wine/beer/apple martini and relax.  Here’s a shopping list and schedule for you. The shopping list is based on one times each of the recipes, which will make a dinner for 4-6. You can edit both to fit your needs.

Thanksgiving Shopping List
Thanksgiving Timeline

Happy Thanksgiving!

May you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving full of happiness, laughter, cooking, and fun.  May the conversation at your table never be awkward, may your kitchen mishaps create funny stories, and may your family and friends enjoy health, love, and joy this year!

November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner: Pumpkin Pie

Growing up, my dad was always the pie baker in our house.  He was also the pie-pusher.  No, I don’t meant to say he insisted we all eat pie (though we all did eat it heartily).  He encouraged everyone make pie.  People are so afraid of pie crust, and yes it is daunting, but he would always smile and say “If I can do it, you can too.  I have the perfect recipe for you, with a secret ingredient.”

You know what that secret ingredient is?  Sour cream.


Yup! Sour cream.  It helps to make the crust flakier while still making it manageable to roll out. He is also always quick to give credit where credit is due.  This recipe comes from Edith Norton, who contributed it to the congregation cookbook, “Our Cup Runneth Over,” of the First United Methodist Church in Schenectady, New York.

And what about the filling?  Well, the filling is from my lovely grandmother, Grace, and it’s quite simply the best pumpkin pie recipe I know.  But, I’m biased by nostalgia so don’t take it from me – make it and tell me what you think!

With this recipe, you will not know when to stop making pies – pretty soon you’ll be making peach pie with a lattice top like I did for the first time this summer.  And you know what?  You’ll succeed.  Because this pie crust really is “Easy as Pie.”

Easy as Pie Crust

3 cups flour
2 sticks (= 1 cup) butter (the original recipe calls for margarine, I prefer butter)
6 tablespoons vegetable shortening (e.g., Crisco) (not oil)
at least 1/2 cup sour cream
Cut the fat into the flour using a fork until you have circa pea sized little pieces of mix. Add the sour cream. If you add too much sour cream, you end up with a sticky glob, so go on the low side to start with.

Cut the dough into two equal pieces and place a piece on a floured surface. Roll out and place the crust into your pie pan and crimp the edges how you like. You can use both halves in one pie (one for the bottom crust, one for a top crust for cherry or apple pies), or you can use the recipe to make two pies with just a bottom crust (recommended for this pumpkin pie recipe).

This dough can be frozen for at least 1 – 2 months or stored in refrigerator for 3 – 4 days.


Pumpkin Pie/Custard Mix

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees

Mix Dry Ingredients:

1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice (If you’re in Germany: this isn’t a spice I could find there when I lived there, so I used Spekulatius seasoning, which though a blend of spices tasted just as delicious)
1/4 tsp salt

Mix Wet Ingredients:

2 cups pumpkin (canned is fine; fresh winter squash works just as well
as fresh pumpkin)
2 slightly beaten eggs
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (or lemon juice)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tall can (about 1 2/3 cups) evaporated milk
1/2 cup of water (if you cook your own pumpkin and it is dry, use up to a full cup of water.  I’ve found half a cup is more than enough for canned pumpkin)

Combine the two mixtures and pour into prepared pie crust and bake 10 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit then 35 – 50 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner: Butternut Squash Soup

This basic recipe for butternut squash soup does not take too much to release the wonderful flavors of the squash.  However, it does allow for a lot of variations.  If you want to, you can add pretty much any root vegetable you want to spruce up the flavors (carrots, turnips, parsnips, potatoes, anything).  You could also take out the meat to make it vegetarian (in fact, the picture below is of a vegetarian version of this recipe that I made in culinary school).  You can make this soup days in advance (even weeks, though we don’t have those anymore) and freeze it, so you just defrost it on Thanksgiving and eat.  There are just so many options.  But, here is the basic recipe.  Have fun being creative!



One serving suggestion is to have this soup ready when people start to get hungry, or when guests arrive.  Just set out bowls (or even more informal, mugs) and spoons next to the pot in the kitchen (or living room if your kitchen is like mine and too small) and let people help themselves.  That way, your guests have something to munch while you’re pulling out the food from the oven and getting things on the table, but they don’t feel awkward eating the appetizer while you’re running in and out of the kitchen.

Butternut Squash Soup

olive oil for sauteing
1 cup cubed smoked ham
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery root, peeled and chopped (or, if you can’t find celery root, you can use regular celery, though the flavors are different)
1 stem leek, chopped
2 Tbsp dry white wine
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 medium-sized butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and chopped
4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable, if making vegetarian)
1 large bay leaf
chopped parsley for garnish

1. In a large soup pot, brown the smoked ham in the olive oil.  Remove from the pan and set aside. If making in advance, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until serving.

2. Add a little more oil to the pan and cook the onions, celery root, and leeks in olive oil until the onions are clear but not browned.  Add the white wine and cook a minute until it reduces.  Then add the garlic and cook for another thirty seconds to release the aromas.

3. Add the butternut squash, broth, and bay leaf to the vegetables, and cook until the squash is tender (about thirty minutes).

4. Remove the bay leaf and carefully, using an immersion blender, blend the ingredients until smooth.

5. Serve in bowls and garnish each dish with a few cubes of the browned ham and sprinkle with parsley.  Other optional toppings are sour cream, cinnamon, or homemade croutons (taking your favorite cookie cutter, cut out shapes in bread and brown in butter on the stove).

November 14, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner: Mashed Potatoes

Friends, I meant for this post to be a bit longer, with more flourish, but unfortunately I’ve succumbed to a nasty fall cold leaving me stranded in bed with a fever and a foggy head.  Perhaps you’ll be happy, since my last post on not making a turkey was so long. Either way, this one’s a short one.

Mashed potatoes are a crowd pleaser and are super easy to make!  You can dress them up Julia Child style if you like and make them with garlic simmered in cream, or you can just throw in some butter and cream and call it good.  Here is a recipe that will make about 4 side servings, but is easily scalable for more!

Garlic Mashed Potatoes a la Julia Child

4 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 8 pieces
1 head of garlic, peeled (you can easily do this in ten seconds by using this technique)
1 cup of cream (light is fine though heavy will taste richer obviously)
2 Tbsp of butter

1. In a large sauce pot, cove the potatoes with cold water and set on high heat on the stove.  Cover and bring to a boil and cook until soft (this will take about half an hour, depending on the strength of your stove).

2. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pot simmer all the cloves in the cream for about fifteen minutes, or until they fall apart.  This will produce very sweet, delicious creamed garlic (that is not too strong, trust me).

3. When the potatoes are cooked through, strain in a colander and return to the large saucepan.  Pour in the creamed garlic and add the butter.  Mash either with a potato ricer by hand, or an electric mixer until your desired texture is achieved (I like mine with a few lumps so people know they’re “real!”)

Bon Appetit!

November 11, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner: Roast Turkey


Today we’re going to focus on what most people consider to be the centerpiece of Thanksgiving: the turkey.  Now, there’s something you need to know about me: I don’t cook turkey well.  I’ve burnt it, I’ve had it take so long that we had to eat the rest of the dinner first, then the turkey for a first dessert before pie – basically, I’ve had more mishaps with turkey than I have had it go right.  So, why should you listen to me?  Well, because I have a secret for making the best turkey ever.