Can you believe Thanksgiving is almost here?  It’s been an interesting year (to say the least), so I’m looking forward to the holidays.  Although, the holidays might look a little different this year.  We still plan on seeing our immediate families for a nice Thanksgiving meal but will keep our gathering to 4-6 people.  We will miss traveling, seeing extended family, participating in some Black Friday shopping, and more this Thanksgiving, but will savor the time we do have with the few we choose to celebrate with…socially distanced with some delicious food 🙂

We are going to start our day with a nice fall-themed charcuterie board.  You need something to snack on while you cook, right?  If you’ve never made a charcuterie board before, you are in for a treat.  They are very simple to make, can include as many or as few ingredients as you choose, and make a great appetizer.  The only caveat is the “charcuterie” board must include meat.  Otherwise, it’s just a “board”.

Our board will include salami and prosciutto (so the meat portion is covered), 3-4 different kinds of cheese, olives, nuts, grapes, and crackers.  I suggest slicing the cheese in different ways – some rectangles, some triangles, etc. to add some dimension to the board.  I like to offer a variety of cheese flavors (cheddar, gouda, muenster, etc.) and a variety of colors.  For example, if you have 2 yellow cheeses, add 1-2 white cheeses or even a bleu cheese.  This will add nice color to the board.

The olives can be stuffed or unstuffed, and any flavor.  The nuts can also be any kind or a variety.  Put both of these items in like ramekins or dishes.  This will help keep them contained on the board and the juice from the olives won’t run all over.  I like using grapes because they hold up when set out, but you could peel clementine oranges to include on the board, slice a few apples, or just include berries.

Crackers are another story.  I like to have at least one cracker option, but a variety pack works well.  I also like to have little mini toast crackers available so you can make a tiny sandwich 🙂  If you have any honey or jam on hand, that will pair really well with the crackers and cheese.  Perhaps you could even add some candy corn (for a seasonal element) or chocolate pieces for anyone with a sweet tooth.  Anything to make the board a bit more colorful and fun!

To assemble the board, you will want a large platter of some kind.  Traditionally, charcuterie boards are served on wood, but you can use any platter you have on hand that is large enough to hold all the ingredients.  Start by doing all the prep work; slice the cheese, wash the fruit, drain the olives, etc.  Then, start to assemble your board.  Place the ramekins on the board and fill with the items.  Then arrange the meat and cheese around the ramekins in a fun pattern, making sure to alternate colors and “type” of food.  You don’t want all the cheese on one side of the board – spread it out!  Fill in any gaps with the fruit, crackers, and chocolate.  Voila!

Enough about our snack…let’s talk about the rest of the menu!  We’re going to have the following as our meal:


Cornish Game Hens were a fun idea we had for a socially distanced or more individual serving size theme.  Instead of carving a turkey tableside, each person will receive their own hen to carve themselves.  A Cornish Game Hen is typically about 1.25 lbs. so it’s the perfect size for one.  If you aren’t sure what a Cornish Game Hen is, it’s basically a very small and tender chicken.

The recipe we are going to use is for Rosemary Lemon Cornish Game Hens.  Super simple to make and very similar to roasting a turkey…you’re just roasting 4 small hens instead of 1 large turkey.  The lemon and rosemary infuse into the chicken and give off a lovely flavor in each bite.

The recipe can be found here.

Start by preheating the oven to 450 degrees F.  I like to use a roasting pan, but you can use a baking sheet if you prefer.  If you do use a baking sheet, make sure to line it with aluminum foil or parchment paper before baking.

Rinse each game hen and dry completely.  Make sure you are careful with this step, so you don’t cross contaminate anything in your kitchen!  You are working with raw poultry and we don’t want anyone getting sick.  Just make sure to clean your sink and counters well before moving on to the next step.

Rub butter over each game hen, making sure to coat the top and bottom.  Move around the wings to get into the crevasses too!  Then, sprinkle the top and bottom of each hen with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.  I use both hands to rub the butter on the hens, then I wash my hands, then I like to use one hand to sprinkle the seasoning and the other hand to turn the chicken.  This helps keep your spice containers germ free!

Place 1 lemon wedge, 1 rosemary sprig (you might need to fold it in half), and 4 garlic cloves inside each hen.  Place the hens on the roasting pan or baking sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.  Turn over the hens and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes or until the hens are golden brown and cooked through.  The internal temperature should be 165 degrees F.

Remove from the oven and let sit for about 10 minutes.  Serve warm and carve tableside.  Enjoy!

The recipe can be found here.

If Cornish Game Hens aren’t your thing, your local Festival Foods has plenty of turkeys available.  They also offer Whole Turkey Dinners or Sliced Turkey Dinners that feed 6-10, and Turkey Dinners for One or Turkey Dinners for TwoHam dinners are also an option (the big dinner feeds 6-8 people or you can get a serving for 1 or 2 people).  Make sure to inquire and/or order ahead of time!

Herb Sourdough Dressing is a new recipe for me this year.  I wanted to make a dressing that wasn’t store-bought but was still simple to assemble.  I taste tested this recipe and it was a success, so I’ll be making it again!

The sourdough absorbs the herb and broth flavor without being mushy and the onions add a nice texture.  You also don’t stuff the turkey with this recipe.  It’s the perfect side dish!

The recipe can be found here.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Cut or tear the sourdough into 1-inch pieces.  My sourdough was pre-sliced so all I had to do was cut it into chunks…super easy!  Place the bread in an even layer on the baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the bread has dried out.  The bread should have a stale texture when done.  Remove from the oven and let cool.  You could also do this step a day before to save time on Thanksgiving.

Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

In a large skillet, melt the entire stick of butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and celery and cook until the onions are translucent, and the celery is tender.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme.

Add the bread and onion mixture to a large mixing bowl.  Add 1 cup of chicken broth and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, add 1 cup of chicken broth, salt, pepper, and eggs.  Whisk to combine and pour over the bread.  Toss to coat.  If the bread is still dry, add a few more Tbsp of chicken broth.  You want the bread to soak up the liquid, but you don’t want it to be saturated and sitting in liquid.

Pour the stuffing mixture into the baking dish and spread in an even layer.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top and edges start to turn golden brown.  Serve warm, right out of the oven.

The recipe can be found here.

Store-bought stuffing is always an option.  Festival Foods has Traditional Stuffing available in 2 sizes; a smaller size that feeds 4-6 and a large (more party style) size that feeds 15-20.  You can also find Mashed Potatoes, Au Gratin Potatoes, Whipped Squash, and Green Bean Casserole in a variety of sizes.

Cheesy Sweet Corn Pie is my take on Creamed Corn.  I do love Creamed Corn, but sometimes it’s nice to try something new and switch up the “same old” recipes.  It doesn’t have the “creamy” texture of a traditional casserole, it’s more like eating tender corn off the cob.  It’s very flavorful and cheesy.

The recipe can be found here.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray.  I like to serve this like you would pie (in a slice), but you can just scoop it out if that’s easier.

In a medium skillet, melt 2 Tbsp butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until translucent.  Then, add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Add the corn, milk, ¾ cup cheddar cheese, ¾ cup fontina cheese, ½ cup breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and chives to a large mixing bowl.  Add the onion mixture to the same mixing bowl.  Mix to combine.

Then, add the eggs and mix until well incorporated.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pie pan.

Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a microwave safe bowl.  Add the remaining ¼ cup breadcrumbs, ¼ cup cheddar cheese, ¼ cup fontina cheese, and 1 Tbsp chives to the bowl.  Mix well.  Sprinkle this mixture over the top of the pie.  Press down slightly so it sticks to the top of the pie.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top starts to turn golden brown and the inside is set.  Sprinkle paprika over the top.  You can also add more chives to the top before serving.  Slice, serve, and enjoy!

The recipe can be found here.

It holds up really well and makes for great leftovers the next day.

I always need rolls and cranberry sauce to complete my Thanksgiving meal.  My cranberry sauce of choice comes from a can and is jellied.  It’s a super complicated recipe…stick with me…you buy the can, use a can opener to open the can, let the cranberry sauce slide out, and enjoy.  Ooooooh!  Ahhhhhh!  If you are feeling fancy you can slice it into thin rounds and arrange it on a plate.  Or you can dive right in with a spoon 🙂

Store-bought rolls are the way to go.  You can’t go wrong with King’s Hawaiian Rolls but Festival Foods has a great variety of breads for the occasion.  You can get a bread platter, bake-at-home breads, biscuits, focaccia, croissants, and more.  So, make sure to check out the bakery section on your next shopping trip, or order ahead for pickup!

Last but not least is dessertApple pie and pumpkin pie are classic Thanksgiving desserts.  My grandma has the perfect recipe for homemade apple pie, but that’s a discussion for another time.  I plan on buying pies this year from the store.  It’s easier after a day of cooking and they will be perfectly fresh!  You can find an assortment of pies at Festival Foods.  Like I mentioned above, you should check out the bakery section on your next shopping trip or order ahead for pickup.  In this case, I would suggest ordering ahead to ensure availability 🙂

However you spend Thanksgiving this year, with family or not, I hope you are able to enjoy the holiday and eat some delicious food.  Stay safe and health and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Cooking!

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