Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Every other year we have Thanksgiving at our house with John's family.  We are centrally located since they live in Colorado and North Carolina and especially now that another sister lives here, having everyone in the Rock is what makes the most sense.  It really is a sweet time, and I enjoy playing hostess.  However, since everyone is coming from far and wide, a lot of the prep work belongs to me.

I really do enjoy cooking, and I love tradition and holidays, so doing Thanksgiving is right up my alley.  Plus, I'm super thankful.  Obvs.

But - what I have realized is that to be able to host and ENJOY Thanksgiving at the same time requires a lot of working ahead, which is what I've been doing.  Which is why I'm blogging about it.  And - since I posted this picture on Instagram,


I've had a couple of inquiries about what I'm making and/or what I'm making ahead.  So - if you are cooking for Thanksgiving, you might find this post helpful.  If not - you probably didn't click on it to start with.

I have a Thanksgiving folder in my Evernote that is so helpful to return to every couple of years.  I had my menu from 2012, which included a detailed shopping list for each recipe, and since you really eat most of the same things each year, then this means I had much less planning work to do this year. Super bonus.

Here's what's on our Menu:

Turkey - usually we pressure cook this at CFA, which turns out amazing.  But, this year, John wants a break from being at the restaurant, which I totally get, and we are going to try grilling our turkey at home.  These are the instructions I plan on following - so wish us luck on that!

Stuffing - To be honest, I dislike stuffing and outsource this to my wonderful Mother-in-law on the day of.  She does a great job.  I do buy the stuff for her recipe.

Sweet Potato Casserole - I love this stuff.  Here's a recipe from a dear family friend that I always use. I made this the other night and stuck it in the freezer right before the part where you would bake it.  Then, I'll just defrost and bake the day of!

Casserole                                          Crumble Topping
3 C Mashed Sweet Potatoes             1 C Brown Sugar                              
1/4 C Evap. Milk                              1 C Chopped Pecans
1/4 C Flour                                       1/3 C Flour
3/4 C Honey                                     1/3 C Butter, melted
1 Stick of Butter
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Vanilla
2 tsp Cinnamon
2 Eggs, beaten

Combine in mixer til light and fluffy.  Sprinkle crumble topping over it all.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Mashed Potatoes - I also made this the other night and froze them.  Then, day of, I will stick them in the oven with foil on top until they are heated through.  What I've discovered is that you can almost never bake potatoes too much.  I don't have a recipe - I just keep adding a combination of butter, sour cream, a bit of milk, minced garlic, salt and pepper until they taste good to me.

Aunt Clara's Rolls - Aunt Clara may be gone, but her rolls live on forever.  These can also be made ahead and frozen, though I haven't made it to them yet.

Green Bean Casserole - Another item that I outsource to MIL or someone else day of.  I have a vivid memory of trying to choke down green beans as a child with a reward of an M'M Pumpkin Cookie dangled in front of me.  I mixed them with my spaghetti, because I really didn't like them then.  I still don't like them.

Pineapple Casserole - This is something that is traditional for my brother-in-law, and so he always makes it on the day of.  It's their family recipe, and it really is good.  Because who doesn't love pineapples + sugar + butter.

Orange Salad - We are big fans of regular cranberry salad, so I'm trying something a bit different, and I think my kids will dig it, and maybe once we broach this salad with them, they will start to realize how amazing salads are.  I haven't made it in quite a while, but it seems like a good addition.

1 Lg Package of Orange jello
1 Lg Carton Cottage Cheese (small curd)
1 Sm Can of Pineapple Chunks, drained
1 Sm Can of Mandarin Oranges, drained
1 Cup Mini Marshmallows
1 Md Carton Cool Whip

Mix it all up.
Now - if you're looking at that recipe and a bit confused about the sizes, just know that I'm feeling the same way.  I got it from my mom, and I think I did a poor job of writing it down several years ago.  However, I have a pretty good feeling that this one is hard to screw up.  The ratios are fluid.  Just go with it.

As you can see, our menu is basic and extremely traditional.  I think it would be really fun to mix it up one year, but it's also nice to just do the same things - especially since we only do it once a year!

And, for dessert, I have Pumpkin Cheesecake (I make this using crushed up Ginger Snaps in place of the graham crackers in the crust), Apple Pie and Chocolate Pie.  I am kind of a snob about home made crusts - here's the recipe I use.  Pie crust is also great to make ahead an freeze - in fact, you can make ahead the whole Apple pie and freeze it right before the bake it part.

Just now, as I was looking back through the recipes I have posted in the past, and I found these Cupcakes that look like Turkeys - those were really fun.  It's also crazy to me how little Lily is in those pictures.  Time does indeed fly.

I hope this gives you some ideas if you needed them!  I've also been making food for the rest of the week as well as freezer meals for December.  If I get a chance, I might link to some of those recipes in another blog post - I've found some winners!  Happy early Thanksgiving.


Carmen Smith said...

Freezer meals. Yes please!