Alright. I’m spilling the beans on what I cook for thanksgiving. I host thanksgiving every year for about 20-25 people. It’s a really fun day, but a lot of work. I have people bring appetizers and desserts. If you are looking for appetizers, check out my post on some popular apps I bring. Also, one of my very best friends makes the prettiest charcuterie boards, which you can find here.
Here are some things I do to prep for Turkey Day.
- Order groceries at least a week before. Seriously. Thanksgiving week in the grocery store is NUTS.
- PLEASE THAW YOUR TURKEY ON TIME. Check chart below.
- Read over all recipes. Create a pile of things you can prepare ahead of time and things you have to make day of.
- Make a schedule for when you need to start making dishes. I set alarms in my phone all day and label the alarm with the food name.
- Make sure you have enough utensils and glasses for everyone. Create a beverage station with drinks for everyone. Don’t forget the kids!
- Put your tablescape together a day or two before. Name tags are key for family. 😉
- Make a playlist that you enjoy. You’ll be the one listening to it all day.
- Have a game or something to do to keep everyone busy while you’re in the kitchen. I have a corn hole tournament.
- All cleaning MUST be done before Thanksgiving. Do not plan on cleaning day of. PERIOD.
- HAVE FUN.
Okay now that we’ve prepped, let’s cook.
Turkey Brine and Cooking
- 1 gallon vegetable broth
- 1 cup sea salt
- 1 tablespoon crushed dried rosemary
- 1 tablespoon dried sage
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon dried savory
- 1 gallon ice water
- In a large stock pot, combine the vegetable broth, sea salt, rosemary, sage, thyme, and savory. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently to be sure salt is dissolved. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature.
- When the broth mixture is cool, pour it into a clean 5 gallon bucket. Stir in the ice water.
- Wash and dry your turkey. Make sure you have removed the innards. Place the turkey, breast down, into the brine. Make sure that the cavity gets filled. Place the bucket in the refrigerator overnight.
- Remove the turkey carefully draining off the excess brine and pat dry. Discard excess brine
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Bake turkey in the preheated oven, basting every 30 to 40 minutes, until no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear, 5 to 6 1/2 hours. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh should read 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Remove the turkey from the oven, cover with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil, and allow to rest 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.
Ashley’s Cranberry and Spinach Salad
- 1 pound spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- ½ cup white sugar
- 2 teaspoons minced onion
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup cider vinegar
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Cook and stir almonds in butter until lightly toasted. Remove from heat, and let cool.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, onion, paprika, white wine vinegar, cider vinegar, and vegetable oil. Toss with spinach just before serving.
- In a large bowl, combine the spinach with the toasted almonds and cranberries.
Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese
- 6 cups cooked macaroni
- 2 tablesppons butter, melted
- 4 cups evaporated milk
- 6 cups shredded cheese
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- In large mixing bowl, toss macaroni with butter. Stir in evaporated milk, cheese, salt, and pepper; place in 4 1/2 quart. Cook on high 2-3 hours.
Make Ahead Turkey Gravy
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 2 large turkey wings
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 10 cups cold water
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 cloves garlic (Optional)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
- Combine onion, carrots, celery, and vegetable oil in a large roasting pan and toss to coat. Place turkey wings on top of vegetables
- Place roasting pan in the preheated oven and cook until the turkey wings are browned and vegetables are caramelized and softened, 45 to 60 minutes.
- Transfer turkey wings and vegetables to a large stockpot. Place the roasting pan over a stovetop burner on medium heat. Pour 2 tablespoons cold water into the pan and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Transfer mixture to the stockpot and add 10 cups cold water, thyme, and garlic.
- Bring turkey wing mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until meat falls off the bone, about 3 hours. Skim off turkey fat throughout the process and set aside 2 tablespoons.
- Strain turkey stock and reserve 6 cups of stock; discard all the solids.
- Heat butter and 2 tablespoons reserved turkey fat in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour and cook, whisking continuously, until it begins to smell like cooked pie crust, 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly pour in turkey stock, whisking continuously. Increase heat to high and simmer until thick and warmed through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste.
- 1 (1 pound) loaf GF bread
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions, diced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ground black pepper to taste
- 2 cups gluten-free chicken broth
- 2 large eggs
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease a 3-quart baking dish
- Cut bread into cubes about 3/4-inch square and spread onto a baking sheet.
- Bake in the preheated oven until crisp, 12 to 17 minutes.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir onions and celery in the hot oil until soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir sage, thyme, salt, and black pepper into the vegetables. Mix toasted bread crumbs, chicken broth, and eggs into vegetables. Spoon dressing into the prepared baking dish and cover dish.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, uncover, and bake until top of dressing is crisp and lightly browned, about 10 more minutes.
- 1 (1 pound) loaf sliced white bread
- ¾ cup butter or margarine
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup chicken broth
- Let bread slices air dry for 1 to 2 hours, then cut into cubes.
- In a Dutch oven, melt butter or margarine over medium heat. Cook onion and celery until soft. Season with poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir in bread cubes until evenly coated. Moisten with chicken broth; mix well.
- Chill, and use as a stuffing for turkey, or bake in a buttered casserole dish at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 40 minutes.
Ranch Mashed Potatoes
- 1 (5lb) pkg red potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 (8oz) block cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 8oz pkg shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 8oz carton sour cream
- 1 oz envelope ranch dressing mix
- Combine potatoes and water to cover in a large pot; bring to a boil. Reduce head, and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
- Drain and return to pain. Add cream cheese and butter; mash with potato masher to desired consistency.
- Sir in cheese, sour cream, and ranch dressing mix
- Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat until potatoes are thoroughly heated.
Sweet Potato Casserole
- 5lbs sweet potatoes
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup quick cooking oats
- 1/4 cup butter cut into pieces
- 1 cup of chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place sweet potatoes on rimmed baking sheet; bake 40-50 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.
- Let stand until cool enough to handle; peel potatoes, and place in a large bowl
- Add sugar, milk, melted butter, eggs, and salt; mash with potato masher until combined but still chunky
- Spoon in mixture into a lightly greased 13×9 baking dish; sprinkle with topping. Bake 30-45 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
- For topping: stir together brwon sugar, flour, and oats into a small bowl. Cut in butter using a pastery blender or fork until mixture is crumbly; stir in nuts.
- 1 pound fresh cranberries, washed and dried
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 orange, zested and juiced
In a medium pot, combine the cranberries, sugar and water. Stir to blend. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and add the cinnamon stick, allspice and nutmeg. Stir to blend and simmer for an additional 5 to 7 minutes. Some of the cranberries will burst and some will remain whole. Add the orange juice and zest, stir and allow to cool before serving.
Okay. Lots of carbs. HOLLA.
I also cook just regular stove top green beans from our garden and yeast rolls from the bag. 😜