Happy almost Thanksgiving! I’m finally writing huge post on the decorations and recipes that have worked for me in past Thanksgivings. I typically cook the entire dinner, so I have a lot of recipes and ideas to share! This year, I am actually joining my grandma Patty at her house with her family (Patty isn’t biological family, but she might as well be!) because my mom is off on vacation, so our house will be empty this year. It’s ok though because this is my mom’s first vacation in more than 4 years, so I am so incredibly excited for her to finally get that well-deserved break. Knowing her, though, she probably doesn’t know what to do with so much free time. But hey, like mother like daughter right? I haven’t taken a proper vacation since entering college ha!
Anyways, on with the recipes!
These are some photos from previous years:
For the gold leaves, I just bought gold spray paint and sprayed some leaves from our tree outside. I spray painted some pumpkins white and added some branches on it from outside. It was very last-minute, but it pulled together!
Here are some decoration ideas to inspire you. As you can see, you can spray paint the leaves copper as well to give it a more rustic look. My favorite is the heirloom corn wrapped around a candle!
So the main part of Thanksgiving is the turkey, right? And I have the best turkey recipe. I start by brining the turkey the night before and adding water, white wine, orange juice, kosher salt, brown sugar, chopped ginger, black peppercorns, bay leaves, and fresh thyme. All the ratios of ingredients are listed in the recipe. I let the turkey marinade for 24 hours – the longer the better. The recipe says anywhere from 12 to 24 hours, but try to get close to 24 hours. Then I remove the turkey from the brine, dry it with paper towels, and I rub butter all over the skin. Then I seal the butter to prevent it from burning with olive oil. After, I rub Emeril’s Essence spice all over the turkey and inside the turkey cavity as well. Then I bake at 400 degrees for about 2 hours.
In all the years we have celebrated this holiday, we have never attempted to make stuffing. So if you’re looking for a good stuffing recipe, I suggest going to foodnetwork.com and finding one there! Instead of adding stuffing inside the turkey once it’s done, we actually add grapes, rosemary, and thyme sprigs. We also lay the turkey down on grapes, italian parsley, thyme, sage, and more rosemary sprigs. Here is another picture up close.
The cranberry glaze is extremely easy to do. All you have to do is add to a pot: 1 bag fresh cranberries, chopped ginger, orange zest, a cup of sugar, 1/4 cup orange juice, and 1 1/4 cups water. Heat until the cranberries burst. I adjust the recipe a little bit and add 2-3 cinnamon sticks. Before straining the cranberries, I remove the sticks and throw them away. Then I strain the cranberries, and collect the sauce in a small dish.
As far as sides and appetizers, you can get pretty creative. If you have vegetarian or vegan guests, this menu can accommodate them. The desserts are my favorite part! The recipe for the pumpkin pie is here. You can also find my raw vegan chocolate truffle recipe on my blog here.
Mashed potatoes – I boil russet potatoes in milk (add enough milk just to cover the potatoes completely). Once they are done (and you can check if the potatoes are soft by sticking a fork in them), I remove the excess milk, immediately add butter and salt, and then use a fork to mash the potatoes. If you want them to be creamier, add a little bit of the milk that the potatoes were cooked in. Then top off the dish with chopped fresh chives. If you have vegan guests, then omit the milk and butter, and instead cook the potatoes in water and add olive oil.
Butternut squash soup – I take 2 butternut squashes and dice them into medium sized cubes. I saute the squash, 3 carrots, and 1 medium onion. Then I add 6 cups chicken broth (vegetable broth for a vegetarian and/or vegan substitute) and boil the butternut squash until soft. You can use an immersion blender to blend the soup up. Some toppings for garnish after that include just a simple sage leaf, thinly sliced nd toasted crostini, or bacon bits!
Roasted fall veggies – this is the simplest and most delicious side ever! I simply slice sweet potatoes, parsnip, brussels sprouts, and carrots, and roast them at 375 minutes until all are thoroughly cooked through. They’re typically coated with olive oil and different spices (typically whatever I have in the spice drawer, and always includes salt and pepper).
The salad in one of the pictures above is actually a recipe that was brought over by a guest that day, so I don’t actually know the recipe since it isn’t mine. However, those are sliced persimmons on the sides, and the salad was quinoa with veggies. Another great vegan option!
Goat cheese trios – I simply bought 3 goat cheese logs and roll one in chopped mixed herbs, another in cracked peppercorn, and the last one in chopped dried cranberries and cashews. I typically serve them next to baguette slices or crackers.
Bacon-wrapped dates – I de-pit the dried medjool dates and stuff them with ricotta or goat cheese. Then I wrap them in bacon and bake at 375 for 20 minutes.
The deconstructed salad – this is simply apple slices with beets (cooked) and walnuts sprinkled on top. Similar recipe here.