With a little over a week to go, Thanksgiving will be here before we know it.  Are you ready?  I’m in full planning mode.  Making my guest list, creating a menu, finding the perfect table linens, etc.  The most important part of planning in my opinion is the food.  If you plan a menu full of delicious food, yet items that won’t require you to spend the entire day in the kitchen, you can spend that time with family instead.  And what is better than your friends and family gathered at your house, a table full of food, with lots of laughs?

The menu I created for this year’s feast includes a few items you can make ahead of time and a few items to make the day of.  I love tradition and serving the same type of food each year because it’s what my company likes and expects, but this year is a little different.  Instead of Green Bean Casserole, I’m opting for Green Beans that are roasted with cranberries and walnuts.  Instead of baking my stuffing, I’m going to cook it in the crock pot (saves oven space and time).

Here is the menu I created:

 

The turkey, stuffing, and green beans will need to be prepared the day of.  The gravy, wild rice pilaf and cranberry sauce can be made a day ahead of time and reheated.  I’m going to serve store-bought rolls and pumpkin pie, so I don’t need to worry about making either of those.

Dry Rub Turkey – this recipe is so simple, and you’ll get a beautiful, flavorful bird.  You’ll need to rinse and dry the turkey, making sure to remove the neck and giblets found inside the turkey.  No one on my guest list wants to eat these so I tend to throw them away.  If you want to keep them, they make a nice gravy.

Place a few pieces of butter under the skin, then rub the seasoning mixture all over the turkey and inside the cavity, add some onion and garlic to the cavity, and bake.  The turkey comes out of the oven a beautiful golden-brown color with crispy skin and juicy meat.

The recipe can be found here.

Slow Cooker Stuffing – is my new favorite thing!  1), it’s delicious, and 2), you set it and forget it (for about 3 hours, then please remember it’s ready to eat).  I like to use unseasoned stuffing because I’m going to add my own herb mix.

Use butter to generously coat the inside of the slow cooker bowl.  This will prevent the bread from sticking to the sides.  Mix together the ingredients, pour into the slow cooker bowl, cover, set the timer, and let it cook.  It’s filled with homey flavors and toasty edges.

If you add too much liquid when combining all the ingredients that’s ok.  Just add a few handfuls of stuffing to absorb some of the liquid.  You want the stuffing to feel moist but not wet.

The recipe can be found here.

Green Beans with Cranberries and Walnuts – is a new recipe for me this year.  Roasted green beans are tender and full of flavor because they become slightly caramelized.  The cranberries and walnuts dress up this dish, giving it the perfect holiday feel.  The lemon juice adds a citrusy taste to the otherwise fresh and crisp green beans.

The recipe can be found here.

Cranberry Apple Wild Rice Pilaf – a savory side dish for the holidays!  The rice is simmered in a yummy combination of seasoned broth and fresh apple cider, then topped with dried cranberries and pecans.  Use a wild rice blend, which gives you a variety of flavors and textures.

Super easy to make!  Boil the liquids, add the rice, let it simmer, add the “toppings”, and enjoy.  This is a dish you can make a day ahead and reheat.  Just don’t add the cranberries or pecans until reheated and ready to serve.

The recipe can be found here.

Cranberry Sauce – and no, it’s not from a can!  Although I do love canned cranberry sauce 🙂  Use either fresh or frozen cranberries, boil them with some orange juice and sugar, mash, and enjoy.

This dish can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge so it’s ready to grab and serve.  Make sure to taste test before serving in case it became tart while cooling and adjust the sweetness to your liking.  It’s shocking how something so simple can taste so good!

The recipe can be found here.

No Drippings Gravy – the last item to prepare, but not the last item on the menu.  This is a very light gravy, meaning it’s light in taste and also in color, and has a peppery taste.  Here is how you make it:

Ingredients

  • 4 Cups Turkey Broth (or substitute chicken broth)
  • ½ Cup Butter
  • ½ Cup Flour
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

 

Directions

  1. Pour the broth into a medium sauce pan.  Heat to warm but do not boil.
  2. In a large skillet or saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the flour and whisk to combine.
  3. Slowly ladle the broth into the flour mixture and continue to stir to combine.
  4. Let cool slightly, this will help the gravy thicken.  Serve.

 

It pairs perfectly with turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes (if you’re serving them).

Last but not least, my menu ends with fresh rolls and a Pumpkin Pie, both found at my local Festival Foods.  I love the simplicity of buying these items at the store.  They are fresh, save you time, and are sure to please!

I hope you enjoy the recipes I’ve shared today!  If you don’t have time or aren’t in the mood to cook, you can always purchase a catered meal from Festival Foods – one item, two items, the whole meal, dessert only, etc.  There are so many options available!

Click here for complete meals

Click here for turkeys

Click here for side dishes

Click here for buns and rolls

Click here for pies

Happy Cooking and Happy Thanksgiving!

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